Lost illusion -Freda Utley – book

Lost illusion -Freda Utley – book

 

 

 

http://www.fredautley.com/pdffiles/book18.pdf

 

Books by 

FREDA UTLEY 

JAPAN’S FEET OF CLAY 

LANCASHIRE AND THE FAR EAST 

THE DREAM WE LOST 

LAST CHANCE IN CHINA 

MST ILLUSION 

FREDA UTLEY 

FIRESIDE PRESS, INC. 

WASHINGTON SQUARE PHILADELPHIA 

COPYRIGHT, 1948, BY FREDA UTLEY 

ALL RIGHTS RESERVED 

TYPOGRAPHY, PRINTING, AND BINDING IN THE U.S.A. BY 

KINGSPORT PRESS, INC., KINGSPORT, TENNESSEE 

TO MY SON, JON, 

In mmnory of his father. 

CONTENTS 

II 

III 

IV 

VI 

VII 

VIII 

IX 

XI 

XII 

XIII 

XIV 

xv 

XVI 

XVII 

XVIII 

Introduction 

How I Became a Communist 

I Marry a Russian 

Honeymoon in the Far East 

Spider’s Web 

Soviet Social Register 

Revival of Serfdom 

Arcadi Caught in the Web 

I Learn About Soviet Hospitals 

Arcadi’s Awakening 

Life in Moscow 

A Home at Last 

My Son Is Born 

My Institute Is Purged 

Tricks with Statistics 

The High Cost of Communism 

Red Tsar 

Scapegoats 

Arrest 

vii 

Vii 

I8 

30 

45 

61 

67 

87 

‘05 

“7 

‘35 

‘57 

‘75 

186 

‘99 

215 

223 

234 

263 

INTRODUCTION 

F REDA UTLEY’S life story as a communist who learned 

the rigors of totalitarian life in Russia the hard way, was 

published shortly before Pearl Harbor. The original limited 

edition could not compete with the turbulent emotions of 

our country on the verge of war. 

I was one of those who read and admired Freda Utley’s 

book, “The Dream We Lost,” and urged her at the end of 

the war to condense and revise it for republication as an 

important human document, particularly in the light of 

present events. 

Freda Utley has now rewritten her book and given it a 

I new title, “Lost Illusion.” 

The dream that Freda Utley lost during her six years in 

the USSR where she lived as a Russian, was a personal sort 

of disillusion. Today, aspects of her shattered dream are 

shared by so many others that her book now has a universal 

quality. Without ever having lived through the experiences 

which Miss Utley retails so vividly, most of us who read 

her book hoped that at the end of World War II Russia 

would take her place beside the capitalist nations to form one 

world. 

We hoped and believed that, by diplomatic give and take 

and for reasons of mutual self-interest, we could do business 

with Stalin and the Kremlin. Stalin himself, if one remembers 

correctly, concurred in that belief. Now, as we survey the 

recent wrecks of illusion, Miss Utley’s account of her stay 

in Soviet Russia assumes a new importance. 

ix 

X Introduction 

The more we can learn about the Russian mind, and how 

it works under its present controls, the better we will under- 

stand events and attitudes that seem incredible to us. “Lost 

Illusion,” more than any other book with which I am famil- 

iar, succeeds 

in giving a comprehensible picture of this mind. 

One of its great beauties is that the author never set out 

consciously to do so. She has achieved it by indirection. 

There are, one recalls, several other narratives, widely 

read and designed along similar lines. Among them, Eugene 

Lyons’ “Assignment in Utopia” comes first to mind, but Mr. 

Lyons, though once as much an enthusiast for the Com- 

munist experiment as Miss Utley, stepped behind the Iron 

Curtain as a newspaperman 

and an American citizen. 

Freda Utley went from England with her Russian husband 

prepared to throw in her lot with the people. She was a unit 

of the Marxist State, and one of the few who have escaped 

to 

tell. “I Chose Freedom” is a more recent book, but its author, 

Victor Kravchenko, was a Russian, reared in the Russian 

Communist party, and consequently speaks across the Rus- 

sian chasm. 

Freda Utley was born an English woman, taught in the 

best British tradition and became a trained observer and an 

excellent writer. Thus she can describe her Russian adven- 

tures in terms that are to us here entirely understandable, 

with reactions close to what ours might be in a similar situa- 

tion. 

No other Westerner who broke with the Communists 

has had quite her intimate experience with the Russian way 

of life. No Russian, or other foreigner, has been able to 

describe as she has the details of crowded living, servants, 

childbirth, the decline of belief in standards of behavior, the 

loss of integrity under police state government. 

“Lost Illusion” is a moving and tragic human document. 

Introduction xi 

Yet though it is written with deep emotion and conviction, 

it is also written with honesty, fairness and detachment. 

There could not be a better time than now for presenting a 

new and revised edition. 

Newburyport, 

Massachusetts. 

October I, 1947 

JOHN P. MARQUAND 

&ost IZZusion 

Xow I Became a ~om7iwnist 

FIRSTVISITED SOVIETRUSSIA in the summer 

of 1927, when Lenin’s “New Economic Policy” was 

still in force and Trotsky not yet exiled, although he had 

been eliminated from the political scene. The people 

were enjoying a measure of prosperity and a degree of 

liberty unknown three years later. There was still a so- 

ciety which might be called semi-socialist, but signs of 

degeneration were perceptible if I had had the wit to 

see them. 

But I did not see them. As a delegate, an enthusiastic 

and youthful Communist recently emerged from the 

chrysalis of the British Labor Party, I believed most, if 

not all, I was told. I was without previous experience of a 

police state to teach me that no one in Russia would dare 

speak his mind to a foreigner. My own days as a resident 

of Moscow were still far off. Such Russian friends as I 

had, although not all were Bolsheviks, fervently believed 

in the “good society” being created in the USSR. 

“One’s character is one’s fate,” and character is mainly 

the product of environment. It is only in middle age one 

sees how the influences of youth have determined the 

course of life. Those influences in my case were both 

2 Lost Illusion 

socialist and liberal. A passion for the emancipation of 

mankind, rather than the blueprint of a planned society 

or any mystical yearning to merge myself in a fellow- 

ship, led me to enter the Soviet Union and to leave it 

six years later with my political beliefs and my personal 

happiness alike shattered. 

I came to communism via Greek history, the French 

revolutionary literature I had read in childhood, and the 

English nineteenth-century poets of freedom. I came, 

not in revolt against a strict bourgeois upbringing, nor 

because of failure to make a place for myself in capitalist 

society, but profoundly influenced by a happy child- 

hood, a socialist father, and a Continental education. For 

me, then, the communist ideal seemed the fulfillment of 

the age-long struggle of mankind for freedom and jus- 

tice. 

My studies, both of ancient history and modern eco- 

nomics, made me abhor servitude in any form, and the 

Communists seemed to me to be the only socialists who 

really believed in world-wide equality and liberty. Yet 

the same influences which turned my hopes toward Rus- 

sia were to make it impossible for me to accept the Soviet 

regime once I came to know it intimately. 

I was, in Stalinist phraseology, a “rotten liberal,” a 

“petty bourgeois intellectual”-one who foolishly de- 

sired social justice, freedom, and equality, and who im- 

agined that socialism meant an end to oppression and in- 

justice. 

My mother, daughter of a radical Manchester family, 

How I Became a Communist

had met my father, William Herbert Utley, at the age 

of sixteen. Edward Averling, the son-in-law of Karl 

Marx and the translator of Das Kapital, brought him to 

my grandfather’s house. My grandfather, although a 

“bourgeois,” being a manufacturer, was a free-thinker 

and a republican, and boasted of how his wife’s mother, 

when old and very ill, had hidden the great Chartist 

leader, Feargus O’Connor, in her bed when the police 

were searching the house for him. 

My mother, one of nine children, had shown unusual 

independence by leaving her comfortable home to train 

as a nurse in London. There she secretly married my 

father against the wishes of my grandfather, who con- 

sidered marriage to a poor journalist most undesirable. 

My father was then editorial writer and music critic on 

the London Star, the most famous liberal newspaper of 

the time. George Bernard Shaw, its dramatic critic, was 

his friend, as also were Sidney and Beatrice Webb and 

other Fabians. For a time my father acted as Secretary of 

the Fabian Society. 

He would have stood for Parliament as a Socialist had 

not my arrival prevented it. Members of Parliament were 

not paid a salary in those days and I was the second child, 

so a political career was out of the question. In the years 

before he had a family to support, my father had taken 

part in the great labor struggles of the late eighties and 

early nineties. He had been arrested with John Burns at 

a demonstration of the unemployed in Trafalgar Square 

and had spoken from the same platform as Friedrich 

4 Lost lllus~on 

Engels in Manchester. Half a century later I was to find 

my father’s name on documents in the library of the 

Marx Engels Institute in Moscow. 

His influence over me was profound, and he early im- 

planted in my mind those libertarian values which have 

consciously or unconsciously motivated my life. His so- 

cialism, like that of many other Englishmen, was colored 

and humanized by the nineteenth century liberal atmos- 

phere. It was the kind of socialism believed in by Wil- 

liam Morris, the romantic Victorian rebel artist-poet 

whom my father had known in his youth, and whose in- 

fluence over the British Socialist movement was far 

greater than that of Karl Marx. Morris has been de- 

scribed as an emotional socialist. The basic difference be- 

tween him and the Marxists whose philosophy he re- 

pudiated, is that Morris was in revolt against poverty 

and oppression in any form and denounced the material- 

ist concepts of the age. He hated the sordid ugliness of 

nineteenth century industrialism and the values of capital- 

ist society and wanted men to think and feel differently. 

He was also contemptuous of Marx’s elaborate “scien- 

tific” theories about capitalism and class war. 

The early influences which shaped my thoughts and 

feelings were thus essentially liberal, based on belief in 

reason and logic and the desire for the emancipation of 

mankind in body and spirit. I failed in my youth to 

perceive that communism is a substitute for religion and 

is essentially irrational in its mystical belief in inevitable 

progress through revolution. Perhaps, however, in my 

case as in that of many young people today, the instinc- 

How I Became a Communist 5 

tive desire for a religion was the compelling force leading 

me, step by step, into the Communist trap. 

The experience of going to an expensive boarding 

school in England no doubt contributed to the psycho- 

logical foundations in my subconscious mind for the 

militant communism which in my twenties supplanted the 

socialist outlook. 

From the age of nine to thirteen, I lived on the Con- 

tinent. I traveled with my parents until, when I was 

eleven, I went to boarding school on Lake Geneva. 

Those two years in French Switzerland among German 

girls “finishing” their education, were one of the happiest 

periods of my life; the four succeeding years at boarding 

school in England among the most unhappy. 

At first I was the only English pupil in the Swiss 

school, and later one of two. I was also the youngest. 

The atmosphere was not unlike that of my home- 

studious, tolerant, kindly, and healthy. We skated, skied, 

and tobogganed in winter, bathed in Lake Geneva, and 

rowed and walked in the summer. But sport was re- 

garded as a pleasure, not as a duty, and study-real hard 

study-was demanded of us all. 

My brother was at a boy’s school a quarter of a mile 

away across the fields, and I had the run of his school as 

well as of my own. There were boys there from at least a 

dozen countries and of all ages from twelve to eighteen. 

I went there for fencing and riding lessons, and one 

summer I went hiking for a fortnight with the boys of 

his school, dressed as a boy and climbing the same moun- 

tains as youths of seventeen and eighteen. 

6 Lost Illusion 

In that period of my life I had no feeling that boys and 

girls were so very different; and mixing with English, 

Germans, French, Swiss, Italians, and other nationalities, 

speaking French fluently and German almost as well, I 

was little aware of national barriers. I naturally developed 

an international outlook which neither my father’s in- 

fluence nor theoretical socialist teaching alone could ever 

have given me. 

From those pleasant days in Switzerland, I was 

plunged into the frigid, mentality-destroying atmosphere 

of an English boarding school for girls which aped the 

British public schools for boys. There was no hazing and 

physical brutality but there was mental, or perhaps one 

should call it social, bullying of the worst kind. 

The greatest offenses against the social code which 

ruled our school were to study hard, or to show any 

originality in dress or behavior. I was handicapped from 

the start by having a slightly foreign accent. I can still 

remember being made to stand up in class to say “stir- 

rup” over and over again, unable to pronounce the r in 

the English way. 

I refused to be dictated to as to whether I should wear 

a black or a colored ribbon in my hair and avoided the 

disciplined games which bored me. My sins against the 

code were at first unconscious, then deliberate. The 

spirit of rebellion now, for the first time, had been 

awakened. Dimly I began to feel that the social hierarchy 

and the social code which governed our school were 

precisely that “capitalist system” which, as the daughter 

How I Became a Communist 7 

of a socialist, I had learned to think was the cause of all 

social injustice. 

The girls at my school came in later life to symbolize 

“the imperialist English bourgeoisie” in my subconscious 

mind: class-conscious, sublimely self-confident and 

scornful of learning. 

Of course I made some friends, but they were rebels 

like myself. I was a favorite of the head mistress, who 

imagined I was going to reflect glory on the school by 

future academic distinction. She gave me special facilities 

for study, in particular a room to myself, but in the end 

did more to awaken my budding revolutionary outlook 

than anyone else. 

When the war came in 19×4, my father was ruined. I 

was sixteen and had already passed Cambridge Uni- 

versity’s entrance examination. Mrs. Burton Brown, the 

head mistress, still thinking I would go to the University 

and win laurels for the school, gave me a year’s free tu- 

ition. I began working for a scholarship to Cambridge. 

But it soon became clear that when I got it I should not 

be able to go to the University, because my father was 

dying of tuberculosis and I should have to start earning 

money as soon as I left school. 

Then the head mistress began to make me feel that my 

presence was no longer desired. Instead of arranging for 

me to go to London University-where, as I learned 

later, I could have obtained a scholarship sufficient to 

keep me-she cast me off, as no longer of any interest or 

value to the school. She let it be known that I was in 

8 Lost Illusion 

the school free and that my people were now almost 

destitute. 

My home world had fallen to pieces, my brother was 

in the army, my father was so ill that we knew he would 

soon die. So at the age of seventeen I left school with no 

regrets, and with personal experience to teach me that 

the social system could fling one into poverty from se- 

curity, and prevent one from having an education even 

when one had proved one’s mental qualifications. 

At school I had been purposeful, wary, oversensitive 

and on guard against my fellow creatures, and, I imagine, 

sadly lacking in a sense of humor. Life was serious, life 

was earnest, and one must struggle without ceasing 

against one’s environment. But I began to find the world 

as friendly and decent a place as I had thought it when I 

lived in Switzerland, or traveled in France and Italy with 

my parents, once I began to work at the War Office. 

The white collar workers were friendly, kind, and pleas- 

ant people. I even learned to laugh. 

The death of my father in January 1918 was the first 

great grief of my life. I had loved him very dearly, and I 

had thought him the most wonderful person in the 

world-wise, tolerant, kind, never ill-tempered, and un- 

til the last absorbed in the course of history rather than 

in himself. 

He died in extreme poverty in a tiny cottage in Corn- 

wall, so primitive that my mother had to fetch water in 

a bucket from a pump across the fields. I had seen him 

choking to death as his exhausted heart could no longer 

pump blood th rough his diseased 

lungs. Half unconscious 

How i Became a Communist 9 

at the end, he murmured Shakespeare’s words about the 

bourne from which no traveler returns, and said to us 

he was now only curious to know whether he was right 

in thinking that death was nothingness. 

I brought my mother to London. She was broken in 

health by sorrow and the hard life she had lived nursing 

my father alone in Cornwall. My brother was far off in 

the war in Mesopotamia, and for a time I was my 

mother’s sole support. My grandfather had stopped the 

few shillings he had grudgingly allowed during the last 

months of my father’s life. He considered my mother’s 

poverty a just punishment. 

Mother and I lived on about eleven dollars a week I 

was earning at the War Office. With rent of three dollars 

a week and war prices for food, we were sometimes 

hungry. My brother, transferred to France in the sum- 

mer of 1918, was wounded for the second time just be- 

fore the end of the war, but by 1919 he was with us and 

life became a little easier. 

Although I worked as a clerk in the War Office at a 

small salary, my father’s teachings and my Continental 

education prevented me from becoming a “war patriot.” 

I never thought of the Germans, among whom I had 

been at school from the age of eleven to thirteen, as any 

worse than the English. The overdose of French litera- 

ture I had swallowed had given me a slight prejudice 

against the French whom I regarded as the most chau- 

vinist and military-minded nation in Europe, eternally 

seeking la gloire and honoring the Napoleonic tradition 

above the revolutionary one. 

IO Lost Illusion 

At the War Office I became branch secretary of a 

trade-union, the Association of Women Clerks and Sec- 

retaries, then endeavoring to organize women office 

workers. Through this union I obtained, in 1920, a 

scholarship at London University where my brother 

Temple was enrolled on a grant from an officers’ fund. 

Active now in the socialist movement, I served as 

secretary of the King’s College Socialist Society, and 

later as chairman of the London University Labor Party. 

Our scholarships were not sufficient for us to live on 

and support our mother, so my brother and I gave Eng- 

lish lessons to foreigners. My brother had pupils at the 

Czechoslovak Legation-his “checks” we called them- 

and I had Russians, employees of the Soviet Trade Dele- 

gation who first brought me in contact with Soviet of- 

ficials. 

From the beginning I had been a defender of the 

Russian Revolution; but I had no more knowledge or 

understanding of communist theories than the Park 

Avenue pinks of today have of Marx. Nor did my pupils 

enlighten me, for they were high Communist Party of- 

ficials out to enjoy life in the “capitalist world” after the 

rigors of Moscow. They confined their propaganda to 

jokes about England. 

Then I met Boris Plavnik, an Old Bolshevik exiled i 

after the revolution of 1905, to whom Communist theory Aj 

was the breath of life. He was honest and sincere, al- 

though extremely vain. His English lessons usually be- 

came my German lessons and lessons in Marxist theory, 

from which, however, I might have benefited more had 

How I Became a Communist II 

his arguments been less philosophical, dialectic and in- 

volved. 

I was by this time an ardent and active member of the 

Independent Labor Party. I admired the Soviet Union 

and was becoming convinced that the official British 

Labor Party was too reformist ever to establish socialism, 

and was thoroughly “imperialist.” 

Plavnik was the most humane of men, and later on in 

Moscow where he remained my friend, he sank more 

and more into his shell, unable to defend, but unwilling 

to condemn outright, the atrocities committed by Stalin. 

Like many Old Bolsheviks whom I met later, he would 

not let himself face the fact that the revolutionary move- 

ment to which he had given his life had failed and de- 

generated into tyranny. 

We saw less and less of him because meetings were 

too painful between friends who dared not speak out 

their thoughts to each other. Plavnik was lucky enough 

to go into an insane asylum just before the great purge 

began. At least that is where he was supposed to be, and 

we knew his mental faculties had been failing since the 

death of his wife a year or two before. 

As a passionate defender of the Soviet Union, I was 

the speaker in a college debate on Russia, together with 

H. N. Brailsford. Our opponents were C. H. Driver, a 

fellow history student, who later became a Professor at 

Yale, and Sir Bernard Pares. When next I met Pares 

twelve years later, he had become the defender of the 

USSR and I was back in England, hating Stalin’s Russia, 

but holding my tongue for my husband’s sake. 

12 Lost illusion 

From 1925 onwards I was drawing ever closer to the 

Communists. I stood with them against the right wing in 

the London University Labor Party, and in the Uni- 

versity Labor Federation. The only influence which de- 

layed my joining the Communist Party was that of 

Bertrand Russell, and unfortunately it was insufficient. I 

had met Russell when he came to speak for the King’s 

College Socialist Society, and this led to a friendship 

which has been one of the most precious experiences of 

my life. 

In the Easter vacation of 1926 I spent a month with 

him and Dora Russell in Cornwall, teaching his young 

son in the mornings, walking, talking, and bathing in the 

afternoons, reading aloud in the evenings. Bertrand 

Russell tried hard to convince me that the Marxist 

theory was untenable in the light of modem physics. 

He set me to reading the A.B.C. of Relativity and 

when I found I could not understand it he told me to 

read the A.B.C. of Atoms first. He hoped that if he ex- 

plained the difficult passages 

in these books I would be 

able to grasp the fact that Einstein had destroyed the 

basis of Marxist theory. As I wrote my brother at the 

time, I was being driven to study the theory of relativity 

in order to understand what Russell thought about 

Russia. 

Unfortunately I failed to appreciate the philosophical 

and political significance of Einstein’s discoveries. In 

spite of Russell’s patience and the time he was prepared 

to waste on my education, I could not understand either 

Einstein or the basic connection between Communism 

How I Became a Communist ‘3 

and Newton’s theory of gravity. Some of the Bolsheviks, 

however, understood it very well. 

The writings of Einstein were banned in Soviet Russia 

while I lived there. For all I know, Russia’s failure to 

keep abreast of America in physics, particularly the atom 

bomb, may be largely due to the communist sacrifice of 

scientific truth for political expediency. 

Russell also failed to convince me of the truth of his 

Theory and Practice of Bolshevism This book, written 

in 1920, is uncannily prophetic of present day Russia. 

Bertrand Russell was one of the very few who, in the 

earliest days of the Revolution, were able to perceive 

what manner of tree would grow from the seed which 

Lenin planted. 

Although only experience could teach me the truth of 

Bertrand Russell’s analysis and philosophy, and he failed 

to prevent my making a mess of my life, his teaching 

did at least help to save me from becoming a Trotskyist 

when I revolted against Stalinism. 

When I came back to England from Moscow in 193 I 

and stayed at his house, I was still convinced that the 

horrible society being created in Russia was Stalin’s 

,fault, and that if Lenin had lived or if Trotsky’s policy 

had been followed, all would have been well. 

Bertie would bang his fist on the table and say, “No! 

Freda, can’t you understand, even now, that the condi- 

tions you describe followed naturally from Lenin’s 

premises and Lenin’s acts. 

> Will you never learn and 

stop being romantic about politics?” 

The General Strike of 1926 was the turning point of 

‘4 Lost Illusion 

my political development. The betrayal of high hopes 

by the Trade Union Congress and the Labor Party led 

me into the Communist fold, convinced of the reality 

of the class war, and that socialism could not be ob- 

tained gradually. It seemed to me that there was no solu- 

tion for unemployment and low wages under capitalism, 

and that only the overthrow of the capitalist system and 

the “unity of the workers of the world” could save 

humanity. 

The General Strike stirred all my emotions, and the 

more so as I was then living at Westfield College of 

London University as research student among the most 

conservative set of University teachers I had ever met. 

My crude, somewhat childish, but I believe sincere, rev- 

olutionary reaction is expressed in the following letter 

written to my mother in Devonshire on May IO, 1926: 

“I have never lived through such a terrible week. I 

feel all hot inside and trembling all the time. It is such an 

unequal fight for us, and I want so much to help. I am 

speaking tonight at Edgware, I am glad to say. I wish I 

could speak all day-never was there a more unjust issue 

and more lies told by a government. 

“Yet the Government is so ruthless it may win. It is 

parading armored cars about and soldiers are all over the 

place. The buses are running with two policemen on 

each and volunteer O.M.S. labor. Everything is quite 

safe for ordinary people like me-1 almost wish it were 

not! I cannot write properly, dear, I am too worried and 

upset. 

How I Became a Communist 15 

“It is so dreadful not to be able to help and to have to 

listen to the misrepresentations of the capitalists. West- 

field is impossible except for a few students. I saw Wil- 

mot, (a minister in the British Labor Government of 

x945-6) who is half expecting to be arrested for sedition. 

Anything almost can be called sedition. The Archbishop 

of Canterbury and the churches proposed terms of 

peace: withdrawal of both lockout and strike. The Gov- 

ernment would not allow the proposal to be broadcast! 

It would be acceptable to us and not to them.” 

A few years later I was to realize that the behavior 

of the British Government was like that of a loving 

mother in comparison to that of the Soviet Government 

toward the Russian working class. But I still remember 

the passionate anger I felt in 1926 against the “capitalist 

government” and its most ruthless member, Winston 

Churchill, who was responsible for the show of armed 

force and whom we accused of being prepared to have 

the workers shot at if the strike went on. 

Long afterwards when Hitler went to war against 

Russia, Winston Churchill was to become the darling of 

the Communists and their fellow travelers; following 

Hitler’s defeat, he once again became the Kremlin’s 

favorite target. 

I was invested with my M.A. degree the day the Gen- 

eral Strike was called off. After bicycling across to the 

Senate House at South Kensington and sitting impa- 

tiently waiting in a borrowed cap and gown to receive 

my scroll, I tore off to the Trades Union Congress head- 

16 Lost Illusion 

quarters. The bitterness of defeat and the long agony of 

the miners which was to follow the General Strike have 

quite obliterated from my mind any feelings of satisfac- 

tion I may have had in receiving an M.A. degree with 

distinction. 

A year later I was invited to visit the Soviet Union as 

representative of all the Labor and Socialist clubs in 

British universities (the University Labor Federation). 

My writings had attracted the attention of Ivan Maisky, 

then Counselor of the Soviet Embassy in London. I had 

met Petrovsky, the Comintem representative in England 

during the General Strike, and had become very friendly 

with him and his wife. 

I was regarded, I suppose, as a promising young “rad- 

ical intellectual” whose complete conversion would be 

‘useful, and who had shown some understanding of Bol- 

shevik theory in the articles I was contributing to the 

New Leader, the Socialist Review, and the Labowr 

Monthly. I intended to join the Party as soon as I re- 

turned for the propaganda effect would be greater if I 

became a member after, not before, I visited Russia. 

My excitement at the coming trip to the Land of 

Promise knew no bounds. My brother, from his bed in 

a tuberculosis sanitarium in Surrey, wrote me a few last 

words of caution: 

“My dear Freda: 

“This is just to wish you luck in your adventure. I 

think in one way you are quite right. I would do the 

same thing if I wanted to, I expect. After all, one must 

How I Became a Communist 17 

follow one’s own thinking and one’s own desires. It is an 

adventure, but I do not expect for a moment that you 

will find what you are seeking for intellectually. Men 

are much of a muchness everywhere, and they behave 

much in the same way whatever they profess to believe. 

“Of course you will see the country and the people 

and society as you wish to believe they are, at first. But 

later, your skepticism will reassert itself. 

“But don’t join the Communist Party. It seems to me a 

terrible thing for any intelligent person to adhere to any 

creed or dogma; to have to say that you accept any 

empirical generalization as an article of faith. I do not 

see why you should not work for them and with them 

and yet reserve your opinion about their fundamental 

propositions. 

“The best of luck, my dear. All my love- 

“Temple” 

I brushed aside my brother’s arguments as I had those 

of Bertrand Russell. I couldn’t see that they had anything 

to do with the question of how to achieve socialism. I 

replied to Temple from Moscow: “In spite of what you 

say, I must join the Communist Party. I cannot live 

without feeling I am doing worth-while work, and I see 

no hope in the Labor Party. I think the Communist 

thesis is right.” 

II 

LMarry a %&man 

TRAVELED FROM BERLIN TO uoscowwith 

Ivan Maisky and J. W. Brown, secretary of one of the 

most militant trade unions in England, the Clerical As- 

sociation, made up of office workers in the Government 

Service. Maisky, then Counselor of the Soviet Embassy, 

later became Ambassador to England. 

Two days after our arrival we stood in the Red Square 

in Moscow to witness the funeral of Voikov, murdered 

in Poland. This was the first demonstration I saw in the 

“socialist fatherland.” I still remember vividly the exalta- 

tion, triumph, and excitement which filled my heart and 

mind as I stood close to Lenin’s mausoleum in the sun- 

light under a blue sky and saw the Red Army parade, 

and the thousands upon thousands of demonstrators. My 

mind was full of romantic libertarian images. 

I wrote my mother after the demonstration, “People 

in the street look well enough fed though poorly clothed, 

and there seems to be such vitality and purpose among 

the people one meets. , . , The soldiers in the demon- 

stration especially looked so splendid-more like the 

Greeks of Xenophon must have looked than like the 

usual wooden soldiers. . . .” 

18 

I Marry a Russian ‘9 

Visitors to the Soviet Union in those days were com- 

!P aratively rare. Only invited delegates from trade unions 

: and Labor Parties got the chance to travel over Russia. 

There was no Intourist which was organized later as a 

propaganda and money-making service to bring visitors 

to Russia. 

I was surrounded by kindness, hospitality, and good 

fellowship. The market places of Moscow and other 

towns I visited were filled with vegetables, dairy 

produce, milk, and other foods. New apartment houses 

and office buildings were being built in the severe but 

pleasing style introduced after the Revolution. 

There were no line-ups for bread and other foods at 

the state and co-operative shops, and one could buy the 

most delicious pastries for only five kopeks. There was a 

shortage of manufactured goods, but it was not to be 

compared to the shortage which came later after the 

“gigantic successes on the industrial front.” 

One is tempted to imagine what Russia might have 

become if the New Economic Policy had been con- 

tinued. As early as 1924 the “Scissors Crisis” (the dis- 

proportion between the price of manufactured goods 

and agricultural produce) had split the Central Com- 

mittee of the Bolsheviks into left and right factions. 

Disagreements began over how much to take from the 

peasants for industrial development, and ended in the 

bitter controversy over collectivization. With the aid of 

Bucharin, Tomsky, and the others on the right who 

maintained that any attempt to force the pace of in- 

dustrialization would destroy the stimulus to labor, 

20 Lost Illusion 

Stalin had overcome Trotsky and was soon to exile him 

and the rest of the left opposition. Once rid of the 

Trotsky&, Stalin, in 1929, was to wipe out the right 

opposition and embark upon an ultra-left policy of 

forced collectivization and intensive industrialization. 

The USSR was soon to become a country of starved 

peasants and undernourished workers, cowed and 

whipped by fierce punishments to toil endlessly for a 

state which could not provide them even with enough to 

eat. But, unfortunately for my own future, I saw the 

USSR during the brief period of prosperity which began 

in I 924 and ended in 1928. 

In September 1927 1 returned to England full of en- 

thusiasm and prepa,ed to tell the world of the wonders 

of the Russian socialist fatherland. I left the Independent 

Labor Party, joined the Communist Party, and addressed 

meetings all over England. 

I admitted that the standard of life in Russia was lower 

than in the Western capitalist countries; but I explained 

the need to accumulate capital for industrialization and 

demonsuated how, because there was no capitalist class 

to exploit the workers, the burden of saving was borne 

equally by all. 

I said that there was therefore no such acute misery as 

in the era of Britain’s industrialization in the early nine- 

teenth century, and that all Russians were enthusias- 

tically collaborating in constructing socialism. I felt 

that the gates opening upon the road to Paradise had 

been unlocked to mankind, and all I had to do was to 

I Marry a Russian 21 

help convince the workers of my own country of the 

need to overthrow the capitalist class and join up with 

the USSR. 

Looking back on that distant time, I now wonder, did 

I really believe it? I suppose I did, or I should never have 

thrown up my job in the capitalist world and gone off 

with my husband to take part, as we thought, in the con- 

struction of socialism. 

Arcadi Berdichevsky, who became my husband in 

1928, was a Russian Jew, who had studied at Zurich 

University and emigrated to the United States in I 9 I 4. 

In 1920 he had quit a good job in New York to work for 

the Soviet Government in London in their trading mis- 

sion. He was not a Bolshevik, but had been a member of 

the Bund, the Jewish Social Democratic party in Russian 

Poland, where he had lived before he went to study in 

Switzerland. 

Arcadi knew less about Soviet Russia than I did since 

he had spent his whole time in England since 1920. But 

he knew the old Russia too well not to perceive the 

naivete of the picture I painted of the USSR. Neverthe- 

less he was a sincere Socialist and believed as I did that a 

new and better world was being created in Russia. He 

wanted to take part in the building of the new socialist 

society. 

We knew that material conditions of life would be 

hard, that living space was difficult to obtain, and that 

the conveniences, the comforts and pleasures, which he 

had for many years enjoyed abroad, were not obtainable 

22 Lost Illusion 

in Russia. We also knew that, since he was not a member 

of the Communist Party, he could never rise to the 

highest positions in the Soviet state. 

In 192 3 Arcadi had been asked to join the Party, but 

he had the typical intellectual’s feeling that as he had 

played no part in the Revolution, he could not join now 

that the fighting was over. Also, he had something of my 

brother’s distrust of adherence to any creed or dogma. 

He worked with and for the Bolsheviks, but he was not 

prepared to subscribe entirely to their philosophy. 

Arcadi had reached a stage in which neither his per- 

sonal life nor his comfortable “bourgeois” existence in 

London as a well-paid Soviet specialist satisfied him. He 

had a wife and a young son, as years before in New York 

he had married the daughter of a well-to-do Jewish fam- 

ily of Russian extraction. They had become estranged 

when he gave up an income of $600 a month in the 

United States to work at Arcos for $ I so. 

By the time I knew him, Arcadi’s monthly salary had 

been increased to $500. But his wge, Anna Abramovna, 

had neither understanding nor sympathy for his political 

views and could not see why he was not satisfied with a 

comfortable home, a pretty wife, and a secure job. To 

the last she never understood why he had left her for me 

since, as she told her friends, I was not pretty and would 

never make him comfortable. 

Arcadi and I knew that we loved each other after 

only a few meetings, but his separation from Anna 

Abramovna was a long and painful business. In January 

1927 he asked her to divorce him, but she begged him 

I Marry a Russian 23 

to wait until she could join either her brother in New 

York or her sister in Paris. She said she could not bear 

the thought of their friends in London knowing he had 

left her. Later it became clear that she hoped all along 

that his feeling for me was a temporary infatuation and 

that if they continued to live in the same house he would 

return to her. 

Arcadi tried without success to obtain a visa for Anna 

Abramovna to go to the United States but eventually 

secured a visa for France. However, by that time he him- 

self was being expelled from England, and unfortunately 

for her own future she insisted on following him to 

Moscow. Since I had remained in England to finish my 

work, she continued to hope he would change his mind. 

When I finally came to Moscow they were divorced. 

Too inexperienced fully to appreciate Arcadi’s dif- 

ficulties, I had rebelled at his long delay in freeing him- 

self to be with me. I felt that he should either leave his 

wife at once or give me up. I knew that leaving his son 

was very difficult for him, but I failed to understand that 

the ties between a man and a woman who have loved 

each other are hard for a sensitive man to break when 

the woman tries with every means at her disposal to 

maintain the old relationship. 

Moreover, in leaving his wife, Arcadi was making a 

break with the “bourgeois” life he had lived since finish- 

ing his studies in Switzerland. For him I was a symbol 

as well as the companion in the new life in socialist 

society which we both expected to lead. Nearly ten 

years later the OGPU deprived me of the letters Arcadi 

Lost Illusion 

had written to me. But by chance one he wrote during 

this difficult period of our relationship remained hidden 

between the pages of a book. I quote from it here as re- 

vealing a little not only of Arcadi’s state of mind, but 

also as showing his attitude toward the Communists with 

whom he had decided to throw in his lot: 

“Darling Fredochka: 

“I suppose you are right in your own way, your brutal 

way, and that I shall never be able to satisfy you as to the 

validity of my reason for acting in the way I do. 

“I shall not pick a quarrel on what you say about my 

playing about with the idea of living a different sort of 

life; desiring to go on the same way as before and a 

number of other things read at the bottom of my heart. 

There is no use to argue about things on which we can 

never agree, and I shall not appeal to you to reverse your 

decision until I can tell you that the way is clear for_my 

giving you as much of myself as you can desire. 

“I love you and I cannot and shall not believe that I 

everything is over until you refuse to come to me when I 

shall ask you to do so on the strength of changes in my 1 

family life. There are for me two possibilities only in 

the future: either I shall embrace fully to the extent of 

IOO percent the creed which will keep me going and 

make me forget you, or I shall accept it partially as I 

have done until now and you will be my beloved com- 

rade in fighting all doubts which will arise. Nothing else i 

is possible and the desire to go on the same way as before I 

is death, which I do not feel I am ready to accept.” I 

I Marry a Russian 2s 

In September I 92 

7, while I was in Russia on my first 

visit, Arcadi was suddenly told by the British Home Of- 

fice that he must leave England at once. He thought his 

expulsion was due to the indiscreet and fervent letters I 

had sent to him from Russia, but it probably was be- 

cause the chairman of Arcos had detailed him as a trusted 

“specialist,” to be one of the few Soviet employees al- 

lowed to remain on the premises when the British Home 

Secretary, Joyson-Hicks, raided the Arcos offices in 

June ‘927. 

Although I was flattered to think that I was regarded 

as a dangerous revolutionary by the British Home Office, 

it was a great blow to have Arcadi expelled. I was very 

much in love, but I never for a moment thought of giv- 

ing up my work in England to go with him to Berlin 

where he was stationed for the next nine months. 

I visited him in Berlin during the 1927 Christmas va- 

cation but, so seriously did I take my political work that 

when, in February 192 8, he was allowed to come to 

London for ten days to represent Arcos in a lawsuit, I 

did not give up one single evening to him. I was then 

campaigning as the Communist Party’s candidate in the 

London County Council elections and was speaking 

either to indoor meetings or at street corners every after- 

noon and evening. 

Meanwhile I was earning a living, with the indulgence 

of C: M. Lloyd, my Director of Studies, as the holder of 

the Ratan Tata Research Fellowship at the London 

School of Economics. I also took Workers’ Educational 

Association classes, reviewed books, and wrote articles. I 

26 Lost Illusion 

was making a good living, and my mother had inherited 

a small income from her father. 

Although being a Communist was a handicap, my 

academic distinctions and the tolerance which distin- 

guishes most English universities ensured me a secure 

and pleasant career. But I scorned the fruits of past years 

of hard study and never paused to regret the life I was 

leaving. The study of history could not satisfy. I yearned 

to take part in making it. 

My fellowship came to an end in June 1928; Arcadi 

was in Russia but expecting to be sent to Japan, so I 

joined him in Moscow. Japan was the one country I 

particularly wished to visit, since my research work at 

the London School of Economics had concerned Eastern 

competition with the Lancashire cotton industry. This 

may sound dull but for me it meant a study in modern 

imperialism. 

I had chosen the subject immediately after having 

written an M.A. thesis on the trade guilds of the later 

Roman Empire, because I thought there was a parallel 

between the effect of slave labor on the conditions of 

free labor in the ancient world, and the effect of colonial 

labor on Western labor standards in the modem world. 

In the course of my studies I had become interested in 

Japan and wished to see that strange semi-feudal, semi- 

modern imperialist state. If we could not yet live in 

Moscow, I was glad to get a chance to go to the Far East. 

This time no smiling delegation met me at the Moscow 

station, and no luxurious quarters at the New Moscow 

I Marry a Russian 27 

Hotel awaited me. Arcadi took me to a tiny room, not 

more than fifteen by twelve feet, with a single bed, a 

chest of drawers, and two straight chairs. We did not 

even have a table, and I used to cook and iron and write 

on the window sill. 

But the kvartira, or flat, was clean, and there was only 

one family in each of the four rooms. For Moscow that 

was not too bad. Unfortunately the room was not ours, 

but only lent to my husband for a few weeks. During 

the three months we lived in Moscow we moved twice. 

Arcadi’s salary was 300 rubles a month. Since we were 

expecting to leave for Japan, I could not take a regular 

job. We just managed to live. Our rent was 50 rubles. 

Meals at a cheap restaurant cost a ruble each. But bread 

was still cheap; and butter, when obtainable, about the 

same price as in England, with the ruble stabilized at 

fifty cents. 

Cigarettes were our greatest extravagance and dif- 

ficulty. At the end of the month I used to cart bottles 

out to sell, or rake through our pockets for forgotten 

kopeks, to raise the price of a meal. We were very 

happy. Discomfort and comparative poverty do not mat- 

ter much so long as one has faith. And we both still had 

faith. I wrote to my mother: 

“I feel sometimes that having found Arcadi is too good 

to be true. . . . I feel that the fact that we have been 

able to be happy together in these conditions augurs well 

for the future. We have begun life together in the worst 

material conditions instead of the best. . . . All the 

28 Lost Illusion . 

same, we both look forward to the day when we have a 

bed each and spoons and knives, and a bath and toilet of 

our own.” 

I was kept busy for a time finishing a translation from 

the German, begun in England, of the Illustrated History 

of the Russian Revolution, but I found it very hard to 

work that summer. 

I attended the sixth Congress of the Comintern as a 

translator, listened to Bucharin from the visitors’ gallery 

and saw Michael Borodin, back from China, walking in 

the corridors, already disgraced but still a romantic 

figure. I thrilled at the sight of Comintern delegates, 

white, black, brown and yellow, from every corner of 

the globe assembled in the socialist capital, visible wit- 

nesses 

of the “Unity of the Workers of the World.” 

Even in those days I had some deviations which is the 

Communist Party expression for “heresy.” I thought of 

Trotsky as the greatest leader, and my communism was 

essentially internationalist. But I never dreamed that 

Stalin would have the power to destroy all that Lenin 

and Trotsky and the other Old Bolsheviks had created. 

Nor had I any inkling of the fundamental cancer at the 

root of the Marxist doctrine. You believe what you wish 

to believe, until experience bangs your head against the 

wall and awakens you from dreams founded on hope, a 

misreading of history, and ignorance both of human psy- 

chology and science. 

At last, after the OGPU had fully satisfied itself con- 

cerning my husband, he obtained his passport to go to 

Japan for the Commissariat of Foreign Trade. We left 

I Marry a Russian 29 

early in October, in the chill wet Russian autumn, with 

the first signs of coming hardships already visible in 

Moscow. 

For some weeks I had been spending more and more 

time chasing after food supplies from one shop to an- 

other. Rationing had not yet been enforced, but the 

peasants were refusing to sell their produce in return for 

money which could not buy them the clothing and other 

manufactured goods they required. Russia was on the 

eve of the Calvary of forced collectivization. 

III 

Xoneymoon in the j?a’ar East 

TV- 

E STARTED OUR JOURNEY FROM MOSCOW 

to Siberia in a compartment for two, traveling in “soft 

cars,” as second class is called in Russia. Unfortunately 

the Soviet Russian railroads do not trouble to separate 

men and women in making reservations for sleeping cars 

even for foreigners or top flight Communist officials. 

Madame Anikeeva, wife of the Soviet Trade Repre- 

sentative in Japan, happened to be on the same train, and 

very much objected to sharing her compartment with a 

strange man. So we reluctantly agreed to be separated 

and let Anikeeva share the humbler compartment with 

me while Arcadi removed himself to the Pullman. How- 

ever, she was a very nice woman and we had a pleasant 

journey. 

My greatest problem was to hide from Anikeeva the 

fact that the Comintem in Moscow had entrusted me 

with secret papers to take to China, and to invent a con- 

vincing story to explain why I was going to leave the 

train at Chita in Siberia to travel later to China alone, in- 

stead of directly to Japan. I managed it somehow but she 

must have suspected the truth. 

The day before I left Moscow I hunted in the shops 

30 

Honeymoon in the Far East 31 

for a corset in which I could hide the papers in approved 

secret service style. I was extremely uncomfortable, but 

the thrill of conceiving of myself as a real revolutionary, 

helping to fan the flames of world revolution and liberate 

the “oppressed colonial workers” sustained me even 

through the ordeal of being corseted for the first time 

in my life. 

All I remember of Chita is the intense cold, and the 

memorials of the Decembrists, the ISO exiled revolu- 

tionaries of I 82 5 who had dreamed of liberty, equality, 

and fraternity under the Iron Tsar, Nicholas I. 

Only later was it to be borne in on me how mild had 

been the tyranny of the Tsars compared to that of Stalin. 

All those nineteenth and early twentieth century revolu- 

tionaries whose lives were spared and who were allowed 

to live in Siberia with their families were in exile, it is 

true, but for the most part not in chains nor herded in 

concentration camps. They were abIe to escape abroad 

with ease if they were so minded. Today in Stalin’s 

Russia such humane and civilized treatment of political 

opponents is unheard of. 

I was looked after in Chita by a little OGPU man who 

had formerly been a sailor on American boats, and whom 

I was to meet years later in Moscow at the Comintem. 

He was the sort of person who loves being conspiratorial 

for its own sake, and his manner of putting me on the 

train two days later, from the tracks instead of the plat- 

form, into a specially reserved compartment, should have 

aroused the suspicion of the Japanese or Chinese spies, if 

there had been any. 

32 Lost Illusion 

I went through a bad half-hour at the Manchurian 

border. A German on the train remarked to me at the 

passport and customs-control office, that the system was 

to watch the faces of the travelers rather than to search 

their baggage carefully. A row of huge White Russian 

guards stood behind the Chinese customs officials staring 

at the passengers. I had an innocent face and a British 

passport, and they would need to have been very sus- 

picious to search the person of a British subject. My 

papers remained safe “in my bosom,” as the old novels 

would have said. 

The Comintem, with the inefficiency characteristic of 

all Russian institutions, had been unaware that the fight- 

ing going on in North China had stopped passenger 

traffic on the railway to Peking, and that I would there- 

fore have to get to Shanghai by sea from Dairen. The 

money the Communist International gave me for my 

journey was insufficient to meet the extra expense of 

waiting in the hotel at Dairen for passage 

on the crowded 

boats, and I had hardly a cent of my own. 

So in order to save enough to exist on in Shanghai for 

the ten days I planned to stay there, I economized in 

Dairen by eating only one meal a day. I took the table 

d’hote midday dinner at the Yamamoto Hotel and ate 

all through every one of its six or seven courses under 

the astonished and amused eyes of the Japanese waiters. 

Eventually I got a ship to Shanghai and delivered my 

documents. To do that I had to go to the Palace Hotel 

and telephone to a certain business office, ask for a Herr 

Honeymoon in the Far East 33 

Doctor Haber, and tell him I had brought the samples 

of silk hosiery. I enjoyed it all immensely, especially as 

I was allowed two days later to come and meet some of 

the Comintem agents in Shanghai, who plied me with 

questions about happenings in Moscow which, in my in- 

nocence, I was unable to answer. 

The agents I met, who were for the most part either 

Americans or Germans, were, if not Trotskyists, at least 

extremely unhappy revolutionaries. They had witnessed 

Stalin’s callous and cynical sacrifice of the Chinese Com- 

munists in 1927 and were watching with dismay the be- 

ginnings of his transformation of the Comintem into a 

mere sub-office of the Russian National State. 

For a couple of weeks I lived a double, or rather a 

triple life in Shanghai. I spent part of my time as a serious 

academic investigator of conditions in the cotton in- 

dustry, other hours as the guest of “British Imperialists” 

at luxurious dinner parties and dancing or going to 

theatres with them; and yet other hours in the secret 

meeting places of the Comintern’s agents. 

It was part of the Comintern game that I should mix 

with the “bourgeoisie,” and appear quite innocent of 

revolutionary activity; and my cotton industry investiga- 

tions were in any case absolutely genuine. I should not 

have been much good as a conspirator if any hard task 

had been assigned to me. My English upbringing and my 

character unfitted me for deceit, and my conception of 

a Communist was one of an honest and bold revolu- 

tionary. I was too eager to argue with the capitalists 

34 Lost illusion 

about what I believed to be the rottenness of their sys- . 

tern, and the cruelty of their exploitation of colonial 

peoples, to have been an underground worker. 

Thinking on one occasion to pour oil on the waters 

agitated by the views I had expressed, I told a Shanghai 

dinner party that I was doing some correspondence for 

the Manchester Guurdian. This was true, and I thought 

it should establish my bona @es in the capitalist world. 

However, all values are relative. To my mind the Man- 

chester Guurdian signified the capitalist press, but to my 

compatriots in Shanghai it was “that Red rag,” the paper 

for which “that awful fellow Arthur Ransome” wrote. 

This book is not about my adventures in the Far East, 

so I will pass over the year I spent in Japan with my hus- 

band. It was the happiest year of my life. We were in 

love. We had no money worries, for my husband was 

earning what seemed to me the princely salary of $500 

a month. I was investigating Oriental labor conditions, 

calculating costs of production in the cotton industry, 

studying Japanese economics and politics, doing a series 

of well-paid articles for the Manchester Guardian Com- 

mercial, and writing my first book, Lancashire and the 

Fm East. 

Japan, however, gave me my first experience of

police state. Happy as I was under its blue skies, enjpying 

harmonious companionship with the man I loved, the 

shadow of the tyranny under which the Japanese lived 

kept my revolutionary fervor alive. Moreover, what my 

brother used to call my Puritan conscience soon made 

me restless. Surrounded as we were by poverty and op- 

Honeymoon in the Far East 35 

pression I had a deep conviction that it was wrong to be 

living comfortably and enjoying the greatest happiness 

which life can give, life with someone I loved more 

and more dearly as the days passed. 

My letters to my mother expressed both my wonder 

and joy at my great happiness and my inner misgivings. 

I wrote that I could never have believed ten years before 

that life could be so complete and beautiful, but that my 

happiness was too great to last; that I must do something 

to deserve it. I must come back to England and work 

for what I believed. 

Of course, no one knows his real motive. Perhaps it 

was not really my feeling that no one has any right to 

great personal happiness so long as the majority of man- 

kind starve and toil without joy. It may have been love 

of power or the desire to make my mark in the world, 

which is the same thing as love of power, which impelled 

me to leave Arcadi and return to work in the Commu- 

nist Party in England. 

Also, it may have been the feeling I expressed in an- 

other letter to my mother, the feeling that Arcadi’s love 

for me was founded upon his conception of me as a 

revolutionary, an intellectual, an independent woman, 

not a mere wife. I felt that if I lost myself in his love I 

might lose it, that I must somehow continue being what 

I had been when he began to love me. 

Today I regret nothing more in my life than not hav- 

ing savored my happiness to the full and lived out the 

brief period Arcadi and I might have had together before 

we were engulfed in a hell of disillusionment and suffer- 

36 Lost Illusion 

ing in Soviet Russia. Today, I not only know that the 

gods are jealous gods, but that the only way to cheat 

them is not to be afraid of them. 

To be alive at all is wonderful, and to have known, 

even for only a short while, the greatest happiness which 

life can give-to love and be loved utterly-gives life a 

savor even if it has ended in tragedy. 

Although Arcadi knew he would be terribly lonely, 

he encouraged me to go back to England. For he, even 

as I, believed in what the Webbs call “the vocation of 

leadership”- that is, the duty of the Communist to sacri- 

fice personal happiness to political work. Yet we had 

already seen something in Japan of what Soviet society is 

really like. 

The intrigues, the calumnies, and the factional strug- 

gles which went on in our small Russian colony of em- 

ployees at the Trade Representation and the Embassy 

in Tokyo should have taught us what to expect in the 

USSR. But we ascribed these jealousies in the Russian 

colony to the “intellectuals.” We believed that in Russia 

the proletarians ensured a cleaner atmosphere. 

Moreover, both the Ambassador, Troyanovsky, and 

the Trade Representative, Anikeev, were decent men. 

The same could be said of my old acquaintance Ivan 

Maisky, at this time Counselor of the Embassy in Tokyo. 

But his wife, Maiskaya, and Madame Anikeeva were at 

daggers points. A telegram had to be sent to Moscow to 

settle the delicate question of precedence at Embassy 

dinner parties and Japanese state functions between the 

Honeymoon in the Far East 37 

wife of Maisky, and the wife of Anikeev, the Trade 

Representative. 

As I remember it, the question was settled in Madame 

Anikeeva’s favor, but the whole Russian colony was split 

into factions by the antagonism between these two 

women. They were fairly evenly matched, because al- 

though Maiskaya was a member of the Party and Ani- 

keeva was not, Maisky had not joined the Bolsheviks 

until 1924, whereas Anikeev was not only an Old Bol- 

shevik but also of proletarian origin, having once been a 

factory worker. 

Anikeeva being both a beautiful and an intelligent 

woman, became a sort of First Lady, in spite of Mais- 

kaya’s qualifications. Troyanovsky’s wife, who later ac- 

companied him to Washington when he became Am- 

bassador to the United States, was an unassuming lady, 

and played no part in the factional fights of “Red so- 

ciety.” 

Troyanovsky’s first wife had been a Bolshevik when 

he was a Menshevik, and the story was told that during 

the civil war she had condemned her husband to death 

when he was brought before her as a prisoner. Lenin 

himself had talked Troyanovsky into joining the Bolshe- 

viks and saved him from the death sentence imposed by 

his wife. I cannot vouch for the truth of this story, as 

whispered to me in Tokyo. But at least it explained 

Troyanovsky’s choice of a nonpolitical, rather colorless 

lady as his second wife. It is more pleasant to have a wife 

not likely to shoot you because of your political beliefs. 

38 Lost Illusion 

Soviet society cannot be described without some ac- 

count of the human factors. Russian women are just as 

prone to social discrimination, pride in their social status, 

love of fine clothes and admiration, as women in “bonr- 

geois society.” Soviet society has its hierarchies and its 

jealousies and is not composed of simple-minded, ardent 

revolutionaries with red cotton handkerchiefs on their 

heads, intent on constructing socialism regardless of per- 

sonal advancement and the material comforts such ad- 

vancement brings. 

The simply dressed men and women who march in 

the demonstrations of the proletariat for the newsreel 

cameras and the admiration of foreign tourists, are most 

of them longing to change places with the boyars of 

Communist bureaucracy who watch them from the re- 

served seats in the Red Square. 

Back in England I threw myself into the work of the 

British Communist Party, and tried to bury in my sub- 

conscious the growing suspicions concerning Soviet so- 

cialist life which had been engendered by my year in 

Tokyo, and by the fortnight I had spent in Moscow on 

my way home at the end of 1929. 

I campaigned for the British Communist Party among 

the textile workers in Lancashire and for the Communist 

candidate for Parliament at a by-election in Sheffield. 

I became a member of the Industrial Committee of the 

Party in London, wrote articles for Communist publica- 

tions, and a pamphlet on “What’s Wrong with the 

Cotton Trade.” 

My husband sent me money to live on, and I didn’t take 

Honeymoon in the Far East 39 

a penny from the Communist Party, even for my articles 

and pamphlets. I studied the works of Marx and Lenin, 

conscientiously and thoroughly, and tried to explain in 

simple language the basic tenets of Marxism to make 

them understand that only through the unity of the 

workers of the world could living standards be improved 

and unemployment eliminated. 

In speaking to the Lancashire cotton operatives and 

writing for them, for the first time I came up against the 

basic dilemma of the Marxist revolution, and also against 

the obstacle of the Cornintern’s cold and selfish indiffer- 

ence to the troubles of the working class, or its fate out- 

side of Russia. 

How could I convince the Lancashire cotton opera- 

tives that they should refuse to allow the cotton industry 

to be rationalized, refuse to work more looms, and go on 

strike for higher wages, when they knew as well as I did 

that the immediate result of such action would be more 

unemployment through the loss of markets to Japan and 

the other competing countries? 

To my mind it seemed clear that the basic need was to 

explain Marxist theory, to make them understand the 

meaning of “workers of the world, unite” by showing 

that if all textile workers in all countries got together in 

one organization they could establish higher wages for 

all. 

I tried to make them understand that the capitalist 

system, based on production for profit, inevitably 

doomed them to increasing poverty now that other 

countries besides England were industrialized, and work- 

40 Lost Xllusion 

ers in the East with lower standards of life competed 

against them. 

But now I came up against the Comintern, which was 

pursuing an ultra-left policy and insisting that agitation 

and agitation alone, was the task of the Communist. We 

were ordered not to make theoretical explanations, nor 

to waste our time or energy in exposing the dynamics of 

capitalism. We were only to foment strikes; to tell the 

workers to strike and strike whatever the consequences! 

The Comintern, in fact, was not concerned with the 

livelihood of foreign workers; it wished only to weaken 

the capitalist countries by continual strikes and the dis- 

location of economic life. The sole objective of the 

Communist International was the safety of Soviet Russia, 

and it recked nothing of the interests or sufferings of the 

workers. 

One day in Blackburn, the great weaving center of 

Lancashire, an elderly textile worker complained bitterly 

to me that it was all very well for the paid officials of 

the Communist Party to get themselves arrested for de- 

liberately and unnecessarily holding meetings where they 

obstructed traffic, but how could we expect men with 

families to do so, especially since it was an utterly useless 

performance? 

Of course, he did not know how proud Communist 

Party members were if, when they went to Moscow, 

they could boast that they had gone to jail in the class 

struggle. Such an accomplishment might be held to wipe 1 

out the stigma of their non-proletarian origin. I 

Finally I got myself into trouble with the Politbureau : 

Honeymoon in the Far East 4’ 

of the Party in London by writing an article which the 

editor of the Commmist Review had inadvertently al- 

lowed to be published. I had been reading Lenin’s writ- 

ings of the “Iskra period” and had discovered that he 

had condemned the “Economists,” who maintained that 

the intellectual has no role to play in the Party and that 

the socialist idea can spring “spontaneously” out of the 

experience of the working class. 

Lenin had insisted that the ordinary worker, by the 

experience of his daily life, develops not a full revolu- 

tionary class consciousness but only that of “a trade- 

unionist.” Clearly, to my mind, in this period of declining 

markets for Britain, the workers’ trade-union conscious- 

ness was likely to impel him to accept wage reductions 

and join with the bosses in attempting to recapture their 

markets. I did not, of course, foresee that this would lead 

all Europe to the development of increased nationalism 

and Germany to the horrors of National Socialism. 

But I dimly perceived that unless the Marxist concep- 

tion of international working-class unity could be put 

across to the workers, they would unite with their em- 

ployers against other countries. We have since seen how 

Hitler and Mussolini roused their people to fight under 

the slogan of the proletarian nations against the “pluto- 

democracies.” 

Although my article was buttressed by quotations 

from Lenin, I was told by my Communist superiors that 

I had deviated seriously from the Party line by maintain- 

ing that theory was of primary importance and that the 

intellectual. accordin&. need not nlav at beinp a nro- 

42 Lost Illusion I 

letarian, since he had an important part to perform in 

bringing knowledge of socialism to the working class. 

I was not directly accused of Trotskyism, but I was held 

to be slightly tainted with heresy. 

Nevertheless at this stage of my Communist experience 

I did not have enough sense to see that nothing good 

would come out of Soviet Russia and that the foreign 

Communist parties were already corrupted and impotent. 

I had a great respect and liking for Harry Pollitt, Secre- 

tary of the British Communist Party, who had encour- 

aged me and backed me up, and prevented the little 

bureaucrats in the Agitprop department from sabotag- 

ing my pamphlet and my Party work. 

To this day I find it difficult to understand how this 

British working-class leader of nonconformist traditions 

came to subordinate his conscience and sacrifice his per- 

sonal integrity to become a tool of Russian tyranny. The 

fact that Pollitt led the British Communist Party deluded 

me into thinking that it was still a revolutionary work- 

ing-class party seeking to establish liberty and social 

justice. 

After a year’s work in England I went to Moscow, 

Arcadi having written that he would join me there from 

Japan. Before leaving England I spent a few days with 

my brother on the yacht in which he was preparing to 

sail across the Atlantic and on to the South Seas. He 

wanted me to sail with him at least as far as Spain; but 

I was, as usual, driven by that nervous sense of urgency 

which has so often made me miss the greatest pleasures 

in life. 

Honeymoon in the Far East 43 

I expected Arcadi soon to reach Moscow from Japan, 

and, much as I loved sailing, I felt I could not just dash 

off like that to no purpose. 

My brother and I were more intimate those last days, 

sailing down the English coast to Cornwall, than since 

our childhood. His skeptical outlook on life, his avowed 

lack of any exalted motives, and his insistence on both 

the joyousness and futility of life, now seemed to me 

less reprehensible than a few years before. 

The same Norse sagas and Greek legends which had 

inspired me to dreams of human liberty through the eco- 

nomic reorganization of society, had led him to throw 

up his job in London to sail to the South Sea Islands, of 

which he had dreamed since childhood. Perhaps his 

dream was as worthy and no more futile than mine. This 

I would not yet acknowledge, but at least I had grown 

tolerant enough not to reproach him. 

In the night watches, sitting together on deck under 

the stars, Temple warned me of the certain disappoint- 

ments which awaited me. He knew the motive forces of 

my life better than I knew them myself. For me, as he 

realized, the concept of human freedom formed the axis 

of my socialist beliefs. 

I was in revolt against tyranny and oppression-not, 

as in the case of so many of those who have accepted 

Stalin’s tyranny, a craving to lose myself and my reason 

in a universal brotherhood. In my mind Pericles’ funeral 

speech, Shelley’s and Swinburne’s poems, Marx’s and 

Lenin’s writings, were all part and parcel of the same 

44 Lost Illusion 

striving for the emancipation of mankind from oppres- 

sion. 

Temple foresaw that I would not be able to accept 

and condone a new kind of oppression, even if tyranny 

wore the mask of socialism. 

“You will probably end up in a Siberian prison, my 

dear,” he said. “But so long as you don’t deceive your- 

self, they will not break you. Only don’t ever be a hypo- 

crite to yourself. That is the only real sin against the 

Holy Ghost.” 

Temple sailed away from Newlyn Harbor toward the 

setting sun one golden September evening. We never 

saw each other again, for he died five years later in Fiji. 

During those years we were about as far away from each 

other as one can be on this earth. But I remembered his 

farewell warning to me against hypocrisy. You can pre- 

serve your inner integrity anywhere, even under Com- 

munist tyranny, if you do not seek escape in illusions and 

deceive yourself in order to be comforted. 

IV 

Spd 

i er’s Web 

FTER HURRYING TO MOSCOW to meet Arcadi 

late in September, I was disappointed to learn that my 

husband had been ordered to make a trip to China before 

coming to Russia. He did not join me until the following 

January. I had three months alone in Moscow during 

which I was at last made aware of what manner of so- 

ciety and government was being created under Stalin. 

Yet I did not have the sense to dash off to China to 

stop my husband from entering the country. How often 

in future years was I to regret my stupidity! Or was it 

some last lingering hopes which led me to allow him to 

walk into the spider’s web from which he could never 

again be extricated? 

For it was soon made clear to me that if Arcadi re- 

turned to Russia, he would never get out again. Almost 

all the non-Party specialists had been recalled from 

abroad and now no passports were issued except to those 

of unimpeachable proletarian origin or to Communist 

Party members of long standing. 

The first great purge had begun, the purge which was 

to kill off so many of the old intellectuals–the engi- 

neers, technicians, scientists, and administrative personnel 

45 

46 Lost Illusion 

who had been educated under the Tsarist regime, but 

had not run away after the Revolution, and had been 

working loyally for the Soviet state ever since the intro- 

duction of the New Economic Policy. 

The Commissariat of Foreign Trade, anxious to keep 

a few qualified men abroad, wanted my husband to go 

to the United States to work at Amtorg. They cabled 

him to proceed straight to America from Shanghai, and 

offered to pay my fare to join him in New York via 

Hamburg. 

Arcadi insisted upon returning to Moscow. He wrote 

to me that after his long exile he wanted to play his part 

in the great creative work going on in the USSR. I 

realized later that he wanted to drown his doubts in work 

and to merge himself in the collective human effort with 

a subconscious desire to atone for his long years of di- 

vorce from the socialist movement, and for the indi- 

vidualism of his nature. 

Arcadi was an acutely sensitive person, reserved and 

somewhat unsocial by nature. He concentrated his love 

and affection upon very few individuals and rarely 

lowered the barriers of his reserve to any human being. 

For that reason, perhaps, he desired in a way which I 

often found difficult to understand, to merge himself in 

the stream of humanity, and to share a fraternal passion 

with those who, as individuals, repelled his fastidious 

standards of behavior. 

A keen sense of humor and a quick wit saved him from 

being a misanthrope. He could always ward off threats 

to his privacy by a joke and, although his wit could be 

Spider’s Web 47 

sharp and cutting, he directed it too frequently against 

himself for it to arouse rancor. 

Arcadi had convinced himself that it was immoral to 

continue to be a privileged intellectual working and liv- 

ing in comfort abroad and that he ought to come home 

and suffer with the mass of his people. Although a Jew, 

he was also a Russian; and Russians appear to have a kind 

of mystical urge to immolate themselves, to castigate and 

humble themselves. 

Russians seem to be the least individualistic of peoples 

and the most prone to servility and a kind of mystical 

masochism. Arcadi was essentially Western in education 

x and ideas, but even he suffered for a while from the Rus- 

sian martyr complex, so incomprehensible to those of us 

born and brought up in England or the United States. 

His tragedy was that, although he shared the Russian 

! intellectual’s desire for self-immolation upon the altar 

of an ideal and the Russian desire to merge his individu- 

i ality in a totality, he did not share the Russian aptitude 

for servility and sycophancy. He was unable to fawn 

upon the great or wheedle favors from the Communist 

Party bosses. 

Thus he could never adapt himself to Soviet condi- 

tions of life. Yet he would not, or could not, break away 

from Russia. He preferred working at a low salary with- 

out privileges to abasing himself sufficiently to obtain 

food supplies, a flat, and other perquisites. He was too 

much of a Westerner to fawn and beg; too much of a 

Russian to cut loose and escape. 

Narcomvneshtorg, the Commissariat of Foreign Trade, 

Lost Illusion 

thought so highly of Arcadi’s ability and knowledge, 

and was so certain that if he returned to Moscow the 

OGPU would not permit them to send him abroad again, 

that they eventually offered me my full fare to China, 

and thence to the United States, if I would go and per- 

suade him to sail for San Francisco. But I knew Arcadi 

too well to believe I could get him to change his decision. 

Perhaps my English capacity for straight thinking had 

been dulled by the gray and leaden Moscow atmosphere. 

The terror, which now began to oppress my spirits, pre- 

vented my writing to him fully and frankly. 

Even if I could have got a letter smuggled out to be 

posted in England, I had no other address than his office 

in Shanghai, where his mail probably was opened and 

read by an OGPU agent. If I told the truth about condi- 

tions in Russia, he might not believe me. Anything I 

wrote critical of the Soviet Union would endanger his 

life if after all he decided to return to Russia. 

Although I was aware in my subconscious that our 

dream was already lost, I clung to my illusions. I would 

not as yet admit even to myself that Russia had already 

gone too far along the road to bureaucratic tyranny for 

there to be any hope of turning back to the ideals of the 

October Revolution. 

Nor could I, being English, really accept the fact rhat 

if later we wished to leave Russia, my husband would 

not be able to do so. I sent telegrams, but I did not go to 

China, I waited in Moscow hoping against hope that he 

would not come, yet not daring to admit, even to myself, 

how fearful I was of the future should he come. 

Spider’s Web 49 

During this period I wrote two letters to my mother 

in England. In the first, I said: 

“Even Pickman-(an old Party member whom I had 

known in London) says it is just as well for Arcadi to 

spend the coming year in America. The fact of the mat- 

ter is that the economic position is so strained that there 

is no confidence in anyone, and the conditions of work 

for all intellectuals are very difficult indeed. Arcadi is 

one of the very few competent people left in whom they 

still have confidence.” 

A month later I realized it was dangerous to give even 

a hint of conditions in letters sent through the mail, and 

I sent a note through the hand of E. F. Wise, the English 

adviser of Catrosoyus, the Central organization of the 

Russian Co-operatives. Wise was not a Communist and 

I was fairly confident he would not show my letter to 

anyone, but I was not quite sure. So I tried to write 

guardedly but to convey my state of mind: 

“Only workers from the factory or men of proletarian 

origin are now allowed to go abroad. Whether Arcadi 

realizes the position or not I do not know. . . . The way 

business is now being run is hopeless. They put abso- 

lutely useless people into leading positions just because 

they are of proletarian origin. I suppose it can’t go on 

and there will be a reaction soon, but in the meantime 

it means the most terrible waste and inefficiency. 

“Things are very different from two years ago. Per- 

haps, dear, in the end I shall go back to being a historian. 

Only now am I beginning to learn a bit about mankind 

and its queerness. To understand a little what is meant 

so Lost Illusion 

by Menschen sind Menschen. To understand that life is 

not so simple, so to speak. I am still pretty certain of my 

main ground but the carrying out of what is wanted is 

not so simple.” 

I added a postscript not so much, I imagine, to reas- 

sure my mother as to allay suspicions should my letter 

fall into the hands of the secret police. I wrote: “Dear, 

you know it is the most interesting country in the world 

to be living in, and one must be philosophical enough to 

take the bad with the good, so long as one believes that 

in the end there will be more of the latter.” 

Life in Russia as I was soon to find out, consisted in 

learning the painful lesson that there was far more bad 

than good, and that the good was disappearing so rapidly 

that there was soon nothing but bad. 

While awaiting Arcadi’s arrival from the Far East I 

lived with his sister, Vera, and her two sons in their tiny 

two-room apartment in the Dam Politkatajan on Pok- 

rovka Street. This was the House of the “Political Hard- 

Labor Prisoners” -meaning those who had done hard 

labor in Siberia under the Tsar. 

Vera had been sent to a Siberian prison from Lodz in 

Poland while still in her teens. First, like Arcadi, a mem- 

ber of the Bund, she had become a Social Revolutionary 

in Siberia. She had joined the Bolsheviks in I 9 I 7, and had 

fought against the Japanese in the Intervention. Vera 

had been imprisoned by them but escaped. 

Vera’s life had been one of adventure, hardship, and 

sacrifice. But now she had a good job and was full of 

Spider’s Web 

confidence in the future. She radiated happiness. Her 

first child had died as a baby on the long trek in the snow 

across Siberia to the prison camp. Trying to shield it 

from the cold, she had suffocated it in her arms. 

Her second son, Shura, survived the rigors of prison 

and exile, and was now a youth of eighteen studying 

engineering at the Moscow University. Vera also had an 

adopted son, Grischa, whom she had taken in infancy 

from a poor peasant family in Siberia which had so many 

children it could not feed them. 

The two boys were devoted to each other and to their 

mother. They called her Vera and treated her as an elder 

sister. Vera’s husband had died fighting in the Red Army, 

but I gathered he had been a bit of a ne’er-do-well, and 

little love had been lost between them. 

Vera and my husband had been very close to each 

other in their youth. They had a stepmother who treated 

them cruelly, and they both became revolutionaries at 

about the same time. Curiously enough, the harsh treat- 

ment they experienced in childhood and which made 

Arcadi so distrustful of individual human beings did not 

affect Vera. She was very sociable and trustful of others 

and almost childlike in her faith. 

When they had met in Moscow in 1928 they had not 

seen each other for twenty-two years. It was typical of 

that meeting that Arcadi, when he saw Vera approach 

his oflice desk, merely said: “Hello Vera, how are you?” 

She had tears in her eyes and embraced him in front of 

everyone. During those twenty-two years Arcadi had 

52 Lost 1hsion 

studied in Zurich, worked in business in England and the 

United States, and acquired a Western manner and a 

truly English reserve. 

Vera’s life had been entirely different. She had had 

little education, had participated in the revolutionary 

struggles of two decades, had known hunger and cold, 

and in general lived a life of great hardship. She had 

often been in danger, but she had always lived among 

“comrades,” and never struggled on her own in an alien 

new world. 

Her attitude toward Arcadi retained something of the 

flavor of their youth. He was the educated clever elder 

brother who had instructed her in Marxist theory long 

ago in Poland. Although he was not a Party member, she 

felt no superiority. 

Her fate and Arcadi’s were to be similar. She was ar- 

rested and disappeared in 1937, a year later than Arcadi, 

when most of the inhabitants of the Hard Labor House 

were purged because their revolutionary pasts made 

Stalin fear that they might turn their revolutionary tech- 

niques against him. 

Vera was very proud of Shura, who, in Siberia before 

they came to Moscow, had been elected representative 

of all the Comsomols, members of the Young Communist 

Leaguk, of the Irkutsk region. But at the time I lived 

with them in Moscow he was causing her much anxiety. 

He did not conform sufficiently at the university, was 

apt to ask awkward questions at Young Communist 

meetings, and was in danger of being expelled from the 

Comsomols. His mother’s reputation and influence had 

Spider’s Web 

so far prevented this, but she was always begging Shura 

to hold his tongue. 

Shura once said to me: “How simple life was in Vera’s 

youth and how good it must have been. One was a revo- 

lutionary and one struggled against Tsarist tyranny. But 

now . . . ? 

” 

What Shura meant was what I often felt myself. 

Those very impulses of generous youth which in the old 

days had led so many of the students to become revolu- 

tionaries, now impelled them to protest against Soviet 

tyranny and injustice. Such protest today means being 

denounced as a counter-revolutionary. 

Vera was a product of the romantic past; Shura was a 

product of the disillusioned present, Whereas Vera knew 

little about theory, Shura was being educated in it, and 

the writings of Marx and Lenin impelled him to see 

more 

clearly than his mother the difference between theory 

and practice in the Soviet Union. 

Marx and Lenin were still available to all in unexpur- 

gated editions but Iater the government saw to it that the 

originals were hard to come by except for high Com- 

munist Party members with a ticket to the Party Book- 

shop. 

The Kremlin now permits only carefully edited ex- 

tracts from the books of Marx and Lenin for the educa- 

tion of the masses. Stalin’s speeches and writings have 

taken their place. 

Before I left Russia, Shura had ceased to take any in- 

terest in politics. Like so many of the best elements 

among the Soviet youth, he had become a cynical young 

54 Lost Illusion 

man, philosophically accepting life as it came, and no 

longer yearning for the fulfillment of the forgotten 

hopes of his early youth. Intent only upon earning 

enough to keep his young wife and child in reasonable 

comfort, he spent several years as an engineer in the Far 

North where the pay was highest. 

With her Jewish sense of family solidarity and her 

Siberian tradition of hospitality, Vera unquestioningly 

gave me shelter and shared her food with me. Having no 

job, I had no bread card and nowhere to get a meal. A 

post was offered me at the Marx Engels Institute, but 

only if I signed a contract for three years. Since I did not 

know whether or not Arcadi and I were going to Amer- 

ica, I could not take it. I got translating and editing work 

to do and wrote some articles, but this did not produce 

a food card. 

Those were cold and hungry days. In the morning WC 

had a meal of potatoes, bread, and herring. Unable to 

swallow the raw salted herring which is the most nour- 

ishing food available to the poorer Russians, I subsisted 

on bread and potatoes until 5 P.M. when the four of us 

shared the dinner for three to which they were entitled 

from the communal kitchen of the apartment house. It 

cost 65 kopeks (32 cents) a head and usually consisted 

of cabbage soup and chopped meat balls or pike, that 

heavy and unappetizing member of the shark family, 

which seems to have been the only fish to survive the 

Revolution. We never tasted butter, but the two boys, 

as industrial workers, got a monthly allowance of two 

pounds of margarine. 

Spider’s Web 55 

Twice a month Vera received the family’s meat ration. 

She would then telephone to her friends, and invite them 

to come and eat it with us. She made delicious Siberian 

meat dumplings in soup; and for one evening we would 

eat to repletion. 

She never thought of making the meat last several 

days. Vera had the old exile’s feeling that we should 

share all good things with our comrades, and like most 

Russians she was generous and had no disposition ever to 

save anything. 

There would be vodka and sweet Crimean wine, hard 

candies, and tea to follow, and we would sit around the 

table for hours talking and singing. I had a glimpse of the 

kind of people and the atmosphere of the old revolu- 

tionary days. These men and women, all of them former 

exiles and not yet corrupted by the privileged position 

the revolution had given Communists, were the salt of 

the Party. 

They were simple people, hearty and jolly, and full 

of faith. Times were hard, but they thought this was only 

a temporary phase. Mistakes were being made, but they 

would be rectified and socialism would soon be created. 

How could it not be so since “The Revolution” had 

been victorious? In contrast to the Communists of higher 

rank, they were comradely in their personal relations 

and were not acquisitive. 

For all her revolutionary Past, Vera was very house- 

proud, orderly and feminine. Her little flat was as clean 

as a pin. She hung lace curtains at the windows, she 

looked pained if a single object were out of place, she 

56 Lost Illusion 

dressed neatly, took great pains to arrange her flaming 

red hair becomingly, loved nice clothes although she 

had none, and told lies about her age. These lies were 

very naive. If she had been only as old as she said, she 

would have been a prisoner in Siberia and mother of a 

child at the age of fourteen. 

She was the soul of hospitality, emotional and tender, 

always full of vitality, good-tempered and sensitive to 

human suffering. Later I was to meet the type of Com- 

munist who would roughly turn a starving child from 

the door and warn me that I must on no account give 

anything to these little beggars since they were prob- 

ably the children of Kulaks. But Vera would always 

give a piece of bread or sugar to the destitute, although 

she knew that as a “good Bolshevik” she should not. 

Besides Vera, Shura, Grischa, and myself there was 

usually at least one other guest sleeping in our tiny 

rooms. Siberian friends passing through Moscow, or 

temporarily homeless in the capital, came to sleep on the 

floor or in one of the boy’s camp beds. 

We ate in the kitchen, which was also the bathroom. 

Getting a bath was a matter of luck, since we never 

knew at what hour and on what days the water would 

be heated for the hundreds of flats in our building. We 

were among the privileged. Rarely again in Moscow was 

I to live in a house where hot water was supplied even 

once or twice a week. 

Vera and the boys spoke only Russian. Since I knew 

only a few words, we communicated at first largely by 

signs. I made more rapid progress in the language than 

Spider’s Web 57 

at any later period and learned to make one word do the 

work of many. 

For instance, I can remember once wanting to convey 

to Shura the idea that I could see he was depressed. So 

I said to him “bad weather here” pointing to his head and 

heart. And he understood me and gave me the word 

nastrayenia for “mood.” Sometimes my limited vocabu- 

lary caused jokes at my expense as when I said over the 

telephone I desired a man, thinking I was saying that I 

wanted to speak to him. 

Vera’s greatest friend, Nina, was often with us, a 

woman of peasant origin, also a Communist Party mem- 

ber but hard put to it to support her two little girls living 

with their grandmother in the village. Her husband had 

deserted her years before, and she received no alimony. 

Nina knew a few words of English to help out our 

conversation, and I got very friendly with her and later 

visited her village. Plain in appearance and dressed almost 

like a man, she was gay and kind, full of enthusiasm and 

vitality, and particularly interested in the Communist 

movement abroad. 

Our life in the two small rooms was jolly and friendly 

and had for me a little of the flavor of adventure and 

that precious atmosphere of comradeship which was so 

rapidly fading elsewhere. Evenings at the flat kept my 

spirits up, but my days were dreary. I wished I had 

stayed in England until Arcadi arrived from the East, I 

wished even that I had sailed with my brother across the 

Atlantic as he had suggested. 

Since my association with Russia began, I had con- 

58 Lost Illusion 

t&ally been hurrying off somewhere and then been 

forced to wait weeks and months with nothing to do. It 

had been so in 1928, and now it was so again. I had 

rushed away from England without even waiting to ar- 

range publication of the book I had written for the 

London School of Economics. I had refused the joy of 

sailing at least as far as Spain with Temple; and here I 

was pacing the streets of Moscow with nothing to do. 

Early in November I spent a few days in Leningrad 

where Dementiev, a friend of Arcadi’s just arrived from 

Japan, was working. We went outside the town to look 

at the sea-a cold gray sea and a flat shore-but the sea 

nonetheless. I wished more than ever that I were with 

Temple on the high seas, 

since after all I could have gone 

with him instead of waiting so long for Arcadi in Russia. 

Nothing is more depressing than autumn in Moscow. 

It rains and rains. The streets are half-flooded, for the 

gutters don’t work properly. It is cold; and there is only 

occasional heating of the houses. We were expected to 

keep the windows shut all the time and preserve the 

warmth for three days until the house management put 

the heating on for another twelve hours. 

As I walked the streets the sadness of the atmosphere, 

the drab, grim-faced crowds, the miserable peasants sell- 

ing a few rotten apples or pickled cucumbers at the street 

corners, the homeless children, wet and hungry, de- 

pressed my spirits. 

I spent a good deal of time going to offices inquiring 

about the flat which had been promised to us, and for 

which we had already paid $500 in foreign currency and 

Spider’s Web 59 

far more in rubles. I was also negotiating for a Russian 

language edition of my Lancashire md the Far East, 

getting translation and other work, and seeing English 

and American comrades at the Comintem, the Marx 

Engels Institute, and the Lenin School. 

Already the world of these foreign Communists in 

Moscow seemed far removed from my own. Most of 

them lived in the Lux Hotel and had no worries about 

food or shelter. They knew nothing of the life of the 

ordinary Russians, and spent their time discussing theory, 

organization, and foreign affairs, or gossiping about each 

other within their own closed-off world. 

I felt a growing barrier between them and myself, a 

barrier caused by the constant need to put a half-hitch 

on my tongue, as they say in Devonshire. For them, all 

was for the best in the best of all possible worlds, the 

USSR. To question it even when the evidence was com- 

pletely to the contrary was dangerous heresy. 

The only man at the Lenin School who dared to ex- 

press some doubt to me was a Yorkshire miner whom I 

had known in England. There he had been unemployed 

but had lived in a three-room house with his wife and 

one child. In Moscow no employed worker dreamed of 

owning more than two rooms, and felt himself very 

lucky if he had one. 

I had other friends, Russians whom I had known in 

London at Arcos and at the Russian Trade Representa- 

tion, now occupying high positions in Moscow. The old 

friendliness persisted, but I thought they must be aware 

that I was no longer the naive enthusiast of two years 

60 Lost n1usion 

before. I even felt a certain embarrassment on their part 

at the difference between the idealized picture of Russia 

they had painted for me in London and the stark reality 

of the Soviet Byt (way of life). 

My conversation was guarded, but probably I failed 

to display the required enthusiasm when they held forth 

about the sacrifices “we are making” for the industrializa- 

tion of the Soviet Union. They were no fools, nor was 

I. They must have known that I perceived that high 

Communist Party functionaries were getting the best of 

everything and that all the sacrificing was being done by 

the dumb crowds, the dragooned peasants and the help- 

less workers. 

&viet JociaZ 5Qgister 

T HE VERY FIRST WEEK I WAS IN MOSCOW 

as a resident I discovered that my old friends the Plav- 

niks had supplies of good food when they invited me to 

dinner. Plavnik and his wife were old Socialists, who had 

spent a large part of their lives in exile in Germany, and 

were essentially Europeans with a civilized outlook and 

standard of personal behavior and honor. They were 

therefore apologetic about receiving more and better 

food than the workers. But others were not ashamed at 

all. 

In fact, a year or so later I heard wives boasting of the 

special stores at which they were entitled to buy since 

this showed the high rank of their husbands. I soon 

realized that there is social discrimination in Russia. The 

Soviet Social Register is written on the ration cards of 

the favored Communist bureaucracy, the new Russian 

nobility. I learned of the existence of exclusive shops 

catering to privileged high Party officials and called 

“closed distributors,” which sold foodstuffs and clothing 

unobtainable elsewhere, or only to be purchased on the 

“free market” at exorbitant prices. 

Other closed distributors with less attractive wares 

61 

62 Lost Illusion 

were opened later for lower grades in the social hier- 

archy, for second-class Party functionaries and non- 

Party specialists and for the workers in heavy industry. 

There came to be, roughly speaking, the following 

grades: First, what Russians call the Kremlin people, 

commissars, chairmen of big trusts, members of the Cen- 

tral Committee of the Soviets and of the Party-all the 

highest Communist Party members. 

Next came the OGPU shops which served food almost 

as good and as plentiful as the shops for the Krmdovsky 

(Kremlin) people. Then, Gort A, for high officials-all 

Party men-and for a very few specially favored scien- 

tists and engineers. Next, Gort B, for the “middle class” 

-that is, Party men of lower rank and highly qualified 

non-Party specialists. 

In addition there were well-stocked shops for the Red 

Army officers. There were also the various closed dis- 

tributors for the factories producing capital goods. These 

varied greatly from place to place. In some the workers 

could obtain the official ration of butter and milk and 

meat. In others none of these luxuries were ever on sale. 

But the Krelnlovsky shops, Gort A, and Znsnab, (the 

Foreigners Store) were always well stocked with food 

and clothing unavailable to the average Russian. 

My husband, as a specialist, eventually received a book 

for the Gort B shop allotting him two pounds of meat 

and two pounds of butter a month and a small ration of 

other food and some clothing. But this was not until 

more than a year after his return. His rations from Gort 

B were about the same as Vera received in her “Political 

Soviet Social Register 63 

Hard Labor Distributor.” Typical of the kind of joke 

that I heard in Moscow was a story about Vera’s shop 

where it was said that jam was on sale with a sign over 

it reading: “For sale only to regicides.” 

As my husband remarked, the Communist Party peo- 

ple and the other ex-revolutionaries were now drawing 

dividends on their investment in the Revolution years 

before. 

Gradations of social rank in Russia went according 

to our food ration much as in the ancient Byzantine Em- 

pire the salaries of imperial officials and generals were 

reckoned in measures of corn, wine, and oil. 

Only top-flight Communists were favored by ample 

supplies of food and clothing. This device of Stalin’s, 

which directly violated both Lenin’s formula of the 

Party maximum, and Marx’s injunction that the official 

was to be paid no more than a worker, was designed to 

keep Party men loyal to him personally. 

Any deviation from the Party line involved expul- 

sion from the Party and the loss of these precious food 

supplies. It also meant the withdrawal of many other 

privileges awarded in kind and not in money: use of an 

automobile, the pick of housing accommodations, special 

hospitals, and an exclusive medical service reserved for 

the new aristocracy alone. 

The closed distributors also enabled the government 

to discriminate in favor of the aristocracy with the 

scarcest goods, such as fruits, fresh vegetables, cocoa, 

chocolate, and butter and eggs. This system had the 

additional advantage of permitting the Soviet Govern- 

Lost illusion 

ment propagandists at that time to tell the world that 

Communist Party members never received salaries higher 

than the Party maximum of 300 rubles. 

Actually the salaries of high Communists were worth 

ten to twenty times as much as those of the non-Party 

specialists, who in theory were supposed to be getting 

more, and than those of the skilled workers, who were 

supposed to be paid about the same as the Party func- 

tionaries. 

I soon ran into the snobbishness of the Communist 

Party members. Friends from London who had known 

my husband and me there would try to ask me to parties 

without him because he was not a member of the Com- 

munist Party. Or if he were invited and went he was 

made to feel a social inferior. 

Although I had been very poor in England, I had 

never in my life before had any feeling of social in- 

feriority. Although I myself was treated as an equal be- 

cause I was a member of the British Communist Party, I 

was infuriated at the attempted social ostracism of my 

husband, who, as I knew, did work of far greater value 

than most of the Party functionaries and got much less 

than they did from the “socialist state” for doing it. 

Before Arcadi arrived, Mrs. Khinchuk, wife of the 

Soviet Trade Representative in Berlin, whom my friend 

Jane Tabrisky and I had known in London, asked her 

one day how I, a Party member, had happened to marry 

beneath me. Not that she was a Party member herself, 

but any Soviet woman not too unattractive or of too bad 

Soviet Social Register 

social origins endeavored to secure a Party man for a 

husband. 

Just as a “bourgeois” woman in capitalist society is 

expected to marry into her class and not into the labor- 

ing class, so in Soviet Russia you were declassk if you 

married outside the Communist Party. A woman was 

debarred from entry to the “best society” if she were not 

either herself a member of the Party or married to a 

member. 

Mrs. Kbinchuk was the perfect example of the new 

Moscow socialite, Soviet snob and hypocrite, but she 

was only one of thousands. She did no work, she shopped 

and visited in an automobile which she did not “own,” 

but which with its chauffeur was at her disposal day 

and night. And she loved to hold forth about the sacri- 

fices “we are making.” 

Jane Tabrisky, who was staying at the Khinchuk’s 

flat while awaiting the room promised her by the Marx 

Engels Institute, got so disgusted that she often came to 

Vera’s in order to get away from the society of the 

privileged. Khinchuk himself was decent and hardwork- 

ing, but as I had already perceived in Japan, it was the 

wives of the Bolsheviks who led the parade in the de- 

generation of the Party and showed so obviously the 

characteristics of the nouveau riche society then coming 

into being. 

Jane, who had been a member of the British Commu- 

nist Party since she was sixteen, who had been secretary 

of the London University Labor Party when I was chair- 

66 Lost Illusion 

man, and who had also been in the same Communist Party 

local with me in North London, had arrived in Novem- 

ber to take the job at the Marx Engels Institute which I 

had had to refuse. Her arrival in Moscow was my great- 

est joy while waiting for Arcadi in the autumn of 1930. 

She was an old and real friend to whom I could speak 

freely, and in Moscow this was a blessing above all 

others. 

VI 

@yival oj’ Serfdom 

ANE AND I LEARNED RAPIDLY, COkCtiViZatiOIl 

of agriculture, and the Five Year Plan in Four Years, 

were no longer matters of abstract theory to be discussed 

ad infinituwz in Party meetings in the comfortable bour- 

geois world of London. They had become painful reali- 

ties of our existence and of the lives of those around us. 

They meant starvation for many and near starvation for 

the majority. 

Collectivization and industrialization meant the forma- 

tion of a privileged aristocracy as cut off from the masses 

of the people by the conditions of their lives as the 

nobles of the an&n regime in France. 

Our lives were spent mainly with ordinary “middle 

class” Russians and what was going on around us could 

never again be for us just a remote social experiment. It 

was a terrible and moving reality involving untold suffer- 

ing for millions whom we could not regard as human 

guinea pigs in a social laboratory, as did the “Friends of 

the Soviet Union” abroad. 

We knew, of course, why there was famine in Russia, 

and the situation which had led up to the “liquidation of 

the Kulaks” with all its attendant cruelty and dislocation 

67 

Lost Illusion 

of the country’s economy. In 1927 and 1928 when I had 

received my first false impression of Soviet Russia, there 

had already been an economic and political crisis. 

The New Economic Policy, allowing limited free en- 

terprise, which had brought prosperity before Stalin 

stopped it, had also almost led to the revival of capitalism 

in Russia. 

By 1926, nearly two-thirds of the grain on the market 

was being sold by a mere six per cent of the peasants, the 

Kulaks. These Kulaks were selling to middlemen; and a 

new “petty bourgeoisie” of shopkeepers, restaurant op- 

erators, and small industrialists had cropped up like mush- 

rooms after a ram. The state could no longer lay its 

hands on enough grain to export even a small quantity 

to pay for the importation of machinery. Handicraft in- 

dustries were reviving to serve the local needs of the 

village. 

The peasants were creating their own self-subsistent 

economy outside the sphere of control of the Soviet 

state. The working class in the state industries suffered, 

and the elected local Soviets came more and more to 

represent the interests of the peasants. Stalin in I 92 

8 was 

still going with the tide. 

Anxious to secure his own power by enlisting the sup- 

port of the right wing of the Party against Trotsky, he 

had contemplated in 1925 giving each peasant a forty 

years tenure of his land. As against this “denationaliza- 

tion” of agriculture and stagnation of industry, which in 

truth must have led to the USSR becoming a semi- 

capitalist country, Trotsky proposed collectivization- 

Revival of Serfdom 

not the collectivization at the point of the bayonet which 

Stalin was later to enforce, but gradual collectivization 

through the grant by the government of credits and ma- 

chinery to those poorer peasants who would voluntarily 

join a collective farm. This could, however, be accom- 

plished only if the richer peasants were heavily taxed to 

finance the collective farms and to enable the state to 

import machinery for the manufacture of farm imple- 

ments, for the erection of power stations and for indus- 

trialization. 

Heavier taxation of the Kulaks would not only stunt 

the growth of this new capitalist class, but would enable 

the government to produce more manufactured goods, 

lower prices, and break the strike of the peasants. The 

farm population was responding to the shortage of in- 

dustrial goods by working less, consuming more of their 

own produce, and disposing of the rest to the Kulak 

middlemen, who, instead of selling it to the government, 

used it to support local handicraft industries. But, said 

the right opposition, if you bear down too hard on the 

Kulaks we shall have war between town and village. 

The difference of opinion between the right and left 

wings of the Bolshevik Party on the policy to be pursued 

was distorted by the struggle for personal power. 

Stalin had little theoretical knowledge, and in any 

case was not in the least concerned with the rightness or 

wrongness of a policy. He wanted absolute power, and 

he-saw his way to get it by crushing Trotsky and his 

left opposition with the aid of Bucharin and the right 

wing, and then to eliminate the right opposition by pur- 

70 Lost illusion 

suing a policy far more left than Trotsky’s. The final 

result was that the worst features of the policies of both 

sides were adopted by Stalin as the Party line. 

Stalin brought about super-industrialization on a scale 

never dreamed of by the left opposition, accompanied by 

the destruction of the elements in the Bolshevik Party 

most capable of carrying out such a policy, accompanied 

by accumulation of capital for industrial construction by 

robbing the peasants, and accompanied by the liquida- 

tion of the technicians and administrative personnel who 

alone could have made the new industries function effi- 

ciently. 

By 1928 the truth of Trotsky’s prophecies had become 

so obvious that he and his followers had to be eliminated 

if he were not to take Stalin’s place. The decreasing food 

supplies in the towns were convincing the proletariat 

that Trotsky was right in predicting the return of capi- 

talism. The workers of Leningrad appear to have been 

behind Trotsky almost to a man. The Kulaks were by 

now holding up food for the cities to force a rise in the 

price of grain. Trotsky and the left opposition leaders 

were arrested by the OGPU, which Stalin controlled, 

and imprisoned or exiled. 

Stalin was able to do this because he had the support of 

Bucharin, Tomsky, Kalinin, and the rest of the right 

wing of the Party. These men had no conception of 

Stalin’s real intentions until it was too late. They were 

sincere, and none of them appeared anxious for personal 

power. 

They were probably right in thinking that Trotsky’s 

Revival of Serfdom 7’ 

policies would have led to civil war between town and 

country and a revival of the horrors of the early Com- 

munist period. They did not dream that Stalin was plan- 

ning a civil war far more bloody than anything Trotsky 

had desired, and to be carried out in such a fashion as to 

destroy all hope of socialism in Russia. 

In July 1928, Stalin was still insisting that individual 

cultivation of the land must be supported, and collectivi- 

zation would be a mistake. But by October Stalin had 

reversed himself and Bucharin, Rykov, and Tomsky 

were being condemned as bourgeois liberals who desired 

the restoration of capitalism. Stalin was preparing to 

sponsor an adventurist policy of super-industrialization, 

complete collectivization, liquidation of the Kulaks, and 

savage coercion of the peasantry. 

The Kulaks were holding the government to ransom; 

less and less food was procurable in the towns, and the 

workers began to suffer. Grain stocks were seized from 

the Kulaks and even from the middle peasants. Those 

they had employed found themselves without work, 

since the Kulaks naturally saw no point in cultivating 

large farms if the produce was to be confiscated. 

By December 1928 the food shortage was making it- 

self felt even in Moscow, the most favored of Russian 

cities. Just after we left for Japan bread cards were in- 

troduced, unemployment increased, and real wages fell. 

Forced buying from the peasants at an unremunerative 

price and heavier taxes on the Kulaks could not solve the 

problem. 

The peasants hid their grain or refused to sow it and 

72 Lost lllzlsion 

murdered the Party functionaries who seized their crops. 

Military force might confiscate the food in the villages. 

But it could not, so long as individual farming persisted, 

coerce the peasant population to work for the benefit of 

the state. 

Coercion and intimidation were impracticable unless 

the peasants could be herded together like the workers 

in the factories. Collective farming was therefore or- 

dered by decree- not the voluntary pooling of resources 

by the poorer peasants, encouraged by state credits and 

able to produce more than individual farms by being 

supplied with machinery, which Trotsky had advocated 

-but collectivization by the knout. 

Not collectivization with the purpose of immediately 

increasing the productivity of the land by means of ma- 

chinery and modern methods of production, which ob- 

viously could not be introduced on small individual 

holdings, but collectivization with equipment suitable 

only to small-scale farming, with the object of getting 

all the peasants together under the control of the secret 

police so that they could be forced to labor. 

In November 1929, Stalin announced the end of indi- 

vidual farming, ordered the liquidation of the Kulaks as 

a class, and the establishment of collective farms every- 

where and for everyone. He had decided to solve the 

agricultural problem “in a socialist sense” by violence 

and terror. 

If collectivization had been accompanied by a rapid 

increase in the supply of manufactured goods to the vii- 

lages the peasants might perhaps have been reconciled 

Revival of Serfdom 73 

to the new system. But Stalin had simultaneously inaugu- 

rated the Five Year Plan for industrial development, 

which concentrated all the resources of the country on 

the production of capital goods and armaments. The 

peasants were expected to work practically for nothing 

since the government could not supply them with cloth- 

ing and other manufactures of prime necessity. 

Then began the wholesale murder of the Kulaks by 

the Soviet state, which is almost unparalleled in history 

for its cruelty. I use the word murder deliberately, for 

although the Kulaks were not lined up and shot, they 

were killed off in a manner far more cruel. Whole 

families, men, women, children and babies, were thrown 

out of their homes, their personal possessions seized, even 

their warm clothing torn off of them. Then, packed in- 

to unheated cattle cars in winter, they were sent off to 

Siberia or other waste parts of the Soviet Union. 

Some survived to start life again and build farms in 

the waste lands into which they had been exiled. Women 

and children perished. Hundreds of thousands of peasants 

were herded off to the timber prison camps in the Arctic 

regions, to die like flies from hunger, cold and exhausting 

labor, whipped by the OGPU guards and treated like the 

slaves of Pharaoh or of an Asiatic tyrant. 

Shura told me terrible stories of what was going on. 

He and Grischa had been sent on their vacation with 

other young students to help institute by these horrible 

cruelties a “socialist agricultural system” in the villages. 

A friend of Arcadi’s who worked in the Timber Export 

organization made my blood run cold with his account 

74 Lost illusion 

of the merciless treatment of the political prisoners at 

Archangel where the ex-Kulaks in chain gangs loaded 

wood for export. 

When the father of a Kulak family was arrested, all 

food in the house was confiscated, down to the last 

sack of flour. The wife and children were left to starve 

to death. Mothers sometimes killed their babies to save 

them from lingering death by famine. The story re- 

ported by Malcolm Muggeridge, then correspondent of 

the Manchester Guardian in the USSR, is typical of 

many of the gruesome tragedies of that terrible time. 

A woman in a Cossack village in the Caucasus, whose 

husband was arrested and taken off to forced labor as a 

Kulak, had her last sack of flour confiscated by the 

OGPU officer, Comrade Babel. When he had left she 

looked at her three children asleep by the stove. There 

was no food and no hope of securing any. She got an 

axe and killed the children as they slept. 

Then, after tying each child up in a flour sack, the 

mother went to town and reported to Comrade Babel 

that she had decided she ought no longer to defy the 

Dictatorship of the Proletariat, and confessed that she 

had three more sacks of flour hidden away. Comrade 

Babel went back with her, along the snowy road, to 

her house. She took him up to the loft and showed him 

three bulging sacks. As he bent under the rafters to 

look, she killed him with the axe. 

Of course the woman was shot, and Comrade Babel’s 

heroic death “on the class-war front” was reported in 

Moscow newspapers. Pravda spoke of the “plots” of 

Revival of Serfdom 

the class enemy, of the need “to root out mercilessly all 

hostile elements in the villages.” The case was reported 

as one in which “a notorious counter-revolutionary, wife 

of an exiled Kulak, lured Comrade Babel to her house 

with false promises and murdered him in the loft with 

an axe.” 

Such incidents as these were not recognized as acts 

of blind revenge. They were represented as “sympto- 

matic of the new tactics of Kulak elements” seeking to 

destroy the socialist state. 

Fear of reprisals by the desperate, starving, expro- 

priated peasants drove the Party to attempt to extermi- 

nate their victims. “We must destroy our enemies until 

not one is left,” was the daily cry in the newspapers. 

An orgy of cruelty raged in the countryside. We must 

go back to the days of the Mongol hordes sweeping 

across Asia and eastern Europe in the thirteenth century, 

or to the massacres by the Assyrians in Biblical times, 

for an historical parallel with the Communist “class 

war” against the Russian peasants. 

Many motives, fanatical faith, fear, sadism, revenge, 

played their role in this horrible massacre of the inno- 

cents by famine and the firing squad. Jews who re- 

membered old pogroms in the Russian villages, workers 

who had suffered under the Cossack whips in Tsarist 

times, gave vent to dusty and dim hatreds sanctified 

under the banner of the class war. 

Earnest young men and women whose best instincts 

were perverted by orders given them by the Communist 

Party, convinced themselves that in depriving the peas- 

76 Lost illusion 

ants of their last stores of food they were helping to 

build a socialist society. OGPU and Red army officers 

sent to carry on the “war on the agrarian front” feared 

that if they were not absolutely merciless they would be 

stabbed in the back on dark nights by desperate peasants. 

The Kulaks, now declared enemies of the state, were 

in theory the exploiting peasants, those who rented extra 

land and employed hired labor, or who advanced money 

or seed at high rates of interest to the poorest peasants. 

Kulak means a fist, and the word originally signified 

an exploiter and a usurer. Under Stalin the word came to 

mean any peasant who dared to oppose collectivization. 

Long before the period of forced collectivization, the 

Bolsheviks had endeavored to break the solid front which 

the villages presented to the cities and the Soviet state, 

by promoting a class war in the villages. It was hoped 

that if some peasants could be set against others, it 

would be possible to break the solid opposition of the 

peasants to what they viewed as an exploitation of the 

agricultural population for the benefit of the city 

workers. 

So in the New Economic Policy period, the state, 

which was encouraging the Kulaks with one set of 

decrees to “get rich” by producing more, was discourag- 

ing them by treating every prosperous peasant as a 

social outcast and inciting the poorer peasants against 

them. It was little wonder that the peasants brought 

less and less grain to the market. / 

In order to stimulate class warfare, the peasants were 

registered in three classes: Kulaki, Seredniaki (middle 

Revival of Serfdom 

peasants), and Bedniaki (poor peasants). In villages 

where there was a dead level of poverty, the local Com- 

munists were nevertheless ordered to find Kulaks even 

where none existed. 

A story was told me of how in one village the local 

chairman of the Committee of the Poor exibited a 

family of Kulaks quite in the manner of showing a 

family of lepers on whom the judgment of God had 

fallen. He regarded them with hopeless pity and said 

that all the troubles in the village dated from the time 

when the villagers had been compelled to divide them- 

selves into the three classes. 

When the query was put as to why the family was 

regarded as Kulaks, he replied that someone had to be 

a Kulak, and that this family many years before had 

owned a village inn. They no longer had it, but there 

was apparently no hope of their ever losing their status 

as a K&k family. 

If they should there would be no other family to take 

their place as the local Public Enemy, and for some 

reason unknown to anyone, the Soviet Government in- 

sisted that each village must produce at least one Kulak 

family to be hated and oppressed. 

These KuZaki had no electoral rights, had to pay 

forty per cent of their miserable income to the state, and 

their children were not allowed to go to school. Thus 

Stalin used the technique of artificially focussing hatred 

on the innocent, which Hitler copied in the case of the 

J ews. 

In practice, since in many parts of the country real 

78 Lost Illusion 

Kulaks who “exploited” other peasants were hard to find, 

the designation was applied to every peasant who was a 

little better off than his neighbors, to anyone who owned 

two horses and two cows, or had managed in some way 

to lift himself a little above the miserably low general 

standard of life in the Russian village. It meant that 

hard work and enterprise were penalized wherever they 

were found. What Tartar invasions and long centuries 

of feudal oppression had begun, the Soviet Government 

consummated. 

The Russian peasant sank further into slothfulness and 

hopelessness. Since to raise himself above the level of 

his beasts of burden was now accounted a crime against 

the state, he worked as little as possible, and ate and 

drank whenever he could without thought of the mor- 

row, which was almost certain to be worse than today. 

The fecklessness of the Russian character was the 

result of Russian history, but it was left to the Soviet 

Government to make laws penalizing all who worked 

hard and took thought for the morrow. Its treatment of 

the best and most progressive elements among the peas- 

antry might have been expressly designed to prove the 

truth of the old arguments against socialism. 

Precisely those peasants who had the knowledge, 

skill, and industry to raise Russian agriculture above its 

medieval level were liquidated. The collective farms were 

deprived of the men who could have made them function 

efficiently. 

The army of city workers sent down to coerce the 

peasants and manage the collectives took far more from 

Revival of Serfdom 79 

the villages in the shape of wages than the Kulaks had 

ever taken as profit. If, by allowing them a larger share of 

the produce than the other peasants, the Kulaks had been 

persuaded to run the new farms, instead of being killed 

off or imprisoned, the system might possibly have 

worked. 

It was, of course, argued that the Kulaks were irrec- 

oncilably hostile to the Soviet state. But they had never 

been given a chance to be other than hostile. The govern- 

ment discriminated against them, reviled them, and in- 

stigated everyone to loathe them. Naturally they hated 

the Soviet Government. But to argue that they were 

irreconcilable enemies of the Soviet state is like saying 

that the Jews in Germany deserved what they got 

because they hated the Nazi Government which op- 

pressed them. 

It was not only the Kulaks who were expropriated, 

exiled, or imprisoned. Except for the minority of land- 

less peasants, all regarded collectivization as expropria- 

tion. Ordered by the state to pool all their property and 

to give everything up to the Kolkhoz (collective farm), 

and faced with exile to Siberia or with slave labor in the 

concentration camps if they refused to join the Kolkhoz, 

the peasants naturally killed their pigs, their sheep, their 

cows, and their chickens, and ate them or sold the hides 

and the meat for money, which could be hidden. By 

1934, the number of horses in Russia was half what it 

had been in 1929, and the sheep and pigs less than half. 

Trotsky described the process in the following words: 

“Twenty-five million isolated peasant egoisms which 

80 Lost Illusion 

yesterday had been the sole motive force of agriculture- 

weak as an old farmer’s nag, but nevertheless forces-the 

bureaucracy tried to replace at one gesture by the com- 

mands of 2,000 collective farm administrative offices, 

lacking technical equipment, agricultural knowledge, and 

the support of the peasants themselves.” 

Trotsky called Stalin’s program a blind, violent gam- 

ble. The left opposition had never advocated anything 

so drastic, so rapid, and so unprepared. It had envisaged 

gradual collectivization over a period of fifteen years. 

Stalin, having at last decided upon collectivization, 

thought he could force it through by terror exercised 

against the whole peasant population. 

He laid waste the countryside and caused the death 

of between five and ten million peasants by starvation. 

Russian morale has never recovered from those terri- 

ble years. The Communist Party and the Comsomols be- 

came the expropriators of the people, an army of oc- 

cupation in their own country. 

Decent young men and women sent to the villages 

were persuaded that it was their duty as Communists to 

stifle all humanitarian scruples while driving the be- 

wildered, sullen, and resentful peasants into the collective 

farms, and to confiscate grain, milk, and meat from men 

and women whose children would starve to death in 

consequence. 

Those who would not perform the terrible deeds ex- 

pected of them were expelled from the Party as “rotten 

liberals.” Both duty and hopes of a career compelled the 

Party member and the Comsomol to utter ruthlessness and 

Revival of Serfdom 81 

inhumanity. Many of the young people became hardened 

and cynical careerists prepared to commit any atrocity 

commanded by Stalin. Some thus became moral perverts, 

sadists who enjoyed the tortures which they were 

ordered to inflict on the helpless victims of the OGPU. 

The war on the Russian peasants was more brutalizing 

than war against another nation, for the peasants were 

unarmed and defenseless. The present generation of 

Communists was brutalized in youth by the pogrom con- 

ducted against the peasants. 

Meanwhile the workers in the factories found them- 

selves suffering almost as great a degree of privation as 

in the years of civil war. Not only did Stalin’s violent 

agrarian policy drastically reduce the amount of food 

produced in Russia; his industrialization plans caused 

food and manufactures to be exported from Russia to 

pay for machinery imports. Butter and eggs disappeared 

from the worker’s table and were dumped abroad. Meat 

and even herring became a rare luxury. 

During my first year in Moscow it was believed that 

if once the peasants could be forced into the collective 

farms, the food problem would be solved. But, although 

by I 93 I most of the land had been taken over by col- 

lectives, the peasants had not yet been coerced to work 

for the profit of the state. 

Incentive was gone. Since they no longer owned the 

land, since intensive industrialization and concentration 

on the production of capital goods meant that the state 

had even less to sell them than before in the way of con- 

sumers’ goods, and since the state virtually confiscated 

82 Lost Illusion 

the grain by taking it at nominal prices, the collectivized 

peasants worked less than ever before. 

They opposed the government by the same passive re- 

sistance as before the New Economic Policy was intro- 

duced, afid sowed and reaped just enough to feed them- 

selves. This fact, coupled with drought in the Black Soil 

region, reduced the harvest to a much smaller amount 

than in previous years. But the government nevertheless 

enforced its full demands, telling the peasants that it was 

their own fault if they were short of food, and leaving 

them to die of starvation. 

A terrible famine set in, especially severe in the rich 

corn-bearing lands of the Ukraine. This time there was 

no food relief poured in to Russia from the United States 

as it was in 1922 under the leadership of Herbert Hoover, 

since the Soviet Government denied to foreigners that 

there was a famine. 

Foreign journalists were not allowed to visit the South. 

All Russia knew what was happening; but the hacks of 

the foreign press, obedient to Stalin for fear of losing 

their jobs, sent out no word. Only a few brave and hon- 

est correspondents like Eugene Lyons of the United 

Press, William Henry Chamberlin of the Christian Sci- 

ence Monitor, and Malcolm Muggeridge, then corre- 

spondent of the Manchester Guardian, told the truth and 

were expelled from Russia, or put in a position in which 

they were ultimately forced to leave. Others followed 

the lead of Walter Duranty of the New York Times and 

denied the existence of a famine, until years later. 

Revival of Serfdom 83 

Foreign visitors, carefully shepherded by Intourist, 

and given huge meals in the hotels of the starving land, 

went home to deny the rumors of famine. I well remem- 

ber the delegation from England in 1932 which included 

Mrs. G. D. H. Cole and various professors from London 

University. One of them, a lecturer at the London 

School of Economics, told me as we ate a bountiful meal 

at the New Moscow Hotel (at his expense) that it was 

all nonsense about the famine, for at Kiev he had been 

given caviar, butter, eggs, and coffee for breakfast! I had 

to let him talk, for I knew if I told him the truth and he 

repeated it, my husband would be sent to prison. 

Stalin’s utter ruthlessness won the day. The resistance 

of the peasants was broken. Since 1932 they have known 

that they wili starve unless they produce the quota taken 

by the government and in addition enough to feed tliem- 

selves. They have been forced to work on the govern- 

ment’s terms. They have become serfs again. Their work 

on the collective farms is forced labor, and corresponds 

to the labor service rendered to his overlord by the serf 

in medieval times. 

By 1935 it was recognized that the economic forces 

pulling Russia back to individual farming and private 

property were too strong even for a government main- 

tained by naked force. The peasants were given per- 

mission to sell on the free market any produce they could 

spare from their own subsistence after the government 

had collected its quotas which were always very large. 

More important was authorization to cultivate a small 

84 Lost Illusion 

allotment of ground to grow vegetables, fruit and some- 

times a little grain. The peasant was also allowed to own 

a pig, a cow or a goat as his private property. 

On this allotment he can work after hours for his own 

benefit. His labor on the collective farm produces a 

minimum for subsistence in good years. But since he 

knows that the government will always cheat him if, it 

can, he has no incentive to increase the productivity of 

the land. 

He knows that should the communal land be made to 

yield more, the state collections will be raised, or the 

amount set aside for capital improvements increased. 

Bitter experience has taught him that he cannot raise 

his standard of life, since a jealous government will in 

one way or another deprive him of all profit of his 

labors. Hence the veritable stagnation of Soviet agri- 

culture. 

In the following years the peasants naturally spent all 

the time they dared on cultivating the little personal 

plots of land, the produce of which they could eat them- 

selves, or sell for their own profit. This budding of 

private enterprise was blighted by the government by a 

series of decrees in 1939. 

These decrees declared that the peasant’s private al- 

lotment had been losing its subsidiary character and in 

many cases had been converted into the main source. of ’ 

income of the collective farmer. Consequently work on 

the collective farms had been neglected. 

Henceforth the maximum size of individually owned 

plots of land was strictly limited and a minimum number 

Revival of Serfdom 85 

of days set during which the peasant must work on the 

collective farms. Recalcitrant peasants were threatened 

with expropriation and exile called “transportation to 

sparsely populated regions.” 

The new drive against the peasants inaugurated just 

before the Second World War no doubt explains why 

the Germans succeeded in getting whole battalions of 

Russians under General Vlassov to join them. But the 

Germans, like Napoleon a century earlier, passed up 

a great opportunity to alter the course of the war. 

Napoleon in his memoirs wrote that if he had freed 

the Russian serfs he would not have been defeated, and 

that he had not done so because he had always been in 

favor of law and order. The Germans in the Ukraine, 

although allowing a limited return to private ownership 

of the land, were too anxious to get food from the coun- 

try to abolish the collective farms. They retained the 

Soviet system of squeezing the people. 

Collectivization has never surmounted the crisis of the 

twenties. The shortage of consumer’s goods remains 

acute, and has ever since 1936 been intensified by the 

diversion of industry to the supply of armaments. The 

disparity between the prices of industrial goods and the 

prices at which the agricultural population is forced to 

sell its produce to the state has grown much greater, not 

smaller, during the past decade. 

What collectivization has done is to make the state 

confiscation of crops by forced grain deliveries much 

easier. A small detachment of OGPU soldiers in each 

district can terrify the collectives into giving up the 

86 Lost Illusion 

greater pan’of the harvest, whereas an enormous number 

of troops would be required to terrorize each individual 

peasant cultivating his own farm. 

All the much-vaunted use of modern farm machinery 

imported or produced at tremendous sacrifice in the 

USSR has not increased the yield of the land or lowered 

the real cost of production. The tractors and other 

modem farm implements have not compensated either 

for the destruction of livestock in 1930 and 193 I, or for 

the lost incentive of the peasant to labor. 

The machinery paid for by the blood and sweat of a 

whole generation of Russians is often entirely useless 

because it has broken down and cannot be repaired, or 

partly wasted because it is not used to its full capacity. 

Neither the peasant nor the state has reaped any real 

benefit from the mechanization of agriculture concern- 

ing which the Soviet Union boasts so extravagantly. 

The net result of Stalin’s socialism is the reduction of 

the standard of living of the Russian people, while in- 

creasing taxation to support the Communist bureaucrats, 

the secret police and the Red Army. The income from 

the bread tax has been the largest item in the revenue of 

the Soviet Government. The peasants, like the city work- 

ers eat less and are worse clothed than they were under 

the Tsar. 

VII 

d..cadi ~azqht in the Web 

ANE TABRISKY AND I were not long in Moscow 

without sensing the terror then in full operation against 

non-Party intellectuals. Communist Party members still 

felt comparatively safe. They were not as likely to hear 

the fatal knock at the door in the night which meant 

that the OGPU had come to claim a victim. 

Every specialist, however loyal and long his service, 

feared arrest, for the government was attempting to lay 

the blame for the food shortage brought about by its 

agrarian policy upon the wretched non-Party engineers, 

agronomists, technicians and administrators, scientists 

and professors. Like Hitler, Stalin sought scapegoats for 

the masses, so that they would not blame the ruling 

party for the shortage of food and clothing and houses to 

live in, or for the universal misery and disorganization 

of life. 

They must be made to believe that “wreckers” were 

responsible, and lay the blame for their ever-increasing 

misery upon agents of the “foreign bourgeoisie” and 

Tsarist elements inimical to the proletariat and to the 

construction of socialism. 

Hence the increasing arrests of the non-Party spe- 

87 

88 Lost illusion 

cialists. This term included not only engineers, pro- 

fessors, and scientists, but all the educated: accountants, 

technicians, teachers, doctors, and those with admin- 

istrative experience, or knowledge of trade and finance. 

Stalin, whose pathological hatred for educated men 

and women was as yet restricted in its operation to those 

outside the Party, was doing his best to liquidate the 

intellectuals as a class. This senseless 

terror, which struck 

down or demoralized men essential to any successful in- 

dustrialization of the country, was perhaps as funda- 

mental a cause for the failure of the Five Year Plan to 

raise the standard of life of the Russian people, as the 

forced collectivization of agriculture. 

I remember the case of Arcadi’s friend, a gentle, 

elderly Jew named Kipman, which illustrates both the 

cruelty and stupidity of the OGPU. He was arrested 

the winter of 193 I on returning with his wife from 

London, where he had worked for several years at the 

Soviet Trade Representation. He was accused of having 

embezzled I 0,000 pounds. 

My friends who knew him were certain that he was 

absolutely honest. It was moreover obvious that if he 

had taken the money he and his wife, who were both 

over sixty years old, would have stayed in London and 

lived on it for the rest of their lives. However, Kipman 

“confessed” to the crime and was sent to a Siberian 

prison for five $years. 

His wife, in spite of her age and failing health, strug- 

gled valiantly for years to get him out of prison. She 

appealed, she made representations, she produced proofs 

Arcadi Caught in the Web 89 

of the falseness of the charge. At the end of three years 

she succeeded in getting his case re-examined. It was 

then found that the money had, in fact, never been 

lost, but there had been a mistake made in the accounts 

for which Kipman was in no way responsible. 

He was brought back to Moscow and set free, but a 

few days before he arrived his wife died, worn out by 

anxiety, poverty and her efforts to secure his release. 

I remember seeing Kipman in the Narcomveshtorg 

Stolovaya (Dining Room of Peoples Commissariat for 

Foreign Trade) one day, white-haired, stooped, with 

lifeless eyes. 

When I asked him later why he had confessed to a 

crime he had never committed, he said it was because 

the OGPU threatened to imprison his wife as well if 

he didn’t, and had promised him to leave her free if he 

confessed. The ruin of the lives of these two innocent 

old people was typical of countless human tragedies. 

I felt the prison house was closing in upon me. As it ap- 

peared more and more certain that Arcadi would come 

to Moscow my spirits sank. Whereas in 1927 and even 

in 1928 I had longed to live in the USSR, now I dreaded 

it. I was being rapidly initiated into the terror and the 

ghastly suffering of Soviet life. 

Finally, one cold December evening Pickman brought 

me the news that Arcadi was already on his way and 

would be in Moscow by the end of the year. My heart 

sank. For a moment I had a vision of the future, saw us 

both caught in the web. 

But I had to keep up appearances. Although my visitor 

90 Lost Illusion 

was an old friend and a most decent person, I knew 

how dangerous it was to let even my best friends guess 

my real thoughts. 

So I smiled and said how pleased I was, offered him a 

drink, and together we “celebrated” Arcadi’s approach- 

ing return. Shura could see I was unhappy and tried to 

cheer me up, but Vera rejoiced. 

Early on New Year’s Day, 193 I, I met my husband 

at the station. Coming from the Far East he was numbed 

by the bitter cold of that snowy and windy January 

day. We met, not quite as strangers, but as two people 

who had to get to know each other again after nearly a 

year and a half’s separation. 

I was already on the road to utter disillusionment. 

Arcadi was determined to believe. We began life to- 

gether, as before in one small room, as before loving 

each other, but invisibly separated by my lost hopes and 

the hopes he was determined not to lose. 

I had begun working at the Comintern before he ar- 

rived. He took up work at Promexport. Each evening I 

cut him with my cynical comments upon my futile work 

in the Comintem, and gibed at the marvels of Soviet 

“socialist” construction, which I said could better be 

called the construction of conditions for famine. He im- 

mersed himself in his work and closed his ears to my bit- 

ter criticism. 

Our love was not dead, but the old intimacy was lost. 

We had come together largely as the result of shared 

beliefs, and both of us had put political duty before the 

Arcadi Caught in the Web 9’ 

pleasure of being together. Now we no longer had be- 

liefs to share, andmwere not yet drawn to one another as 

the only refuge in a purgatory of our own blind choos- 

ing. The gaiety had gone out of our relationship, al- 

though later it was to return as a refuge from sorrow. 

Meanwhile the Terror struck closer and closer home, 

carrying off to the concentration camps men with whom 

Arcadi had worked abroad, men whom we knew as loyal 

and selfless specialists. He could not believe them guilty 

of counter-revolutionary activity and sabotage, but he 

would not admit that their arrest was other than acci- 

. dental, a mistake which would be rectified. 

The daily struggle for food and the recurring search 

for a room soon absorbed all my energies outside my of- 

fice work. I was brought down to the plane on which life 

is lived by most Russians, the plane of bitter primitive 

struggle for the primary necessities of life: food and 

shelter. 

In that first year, before either of us had access to a 

closed distributor, I learned what the life of the Russian 

masses is like. I learned also to be a wife in its primitive 

sense. It was my job to keep my man alive by seeing that 

he was fed and had shelter. He worked so hard and so 

late at the office that I, with my regular seven hours of 

useless labor at the Comintern, took over the job of 

shopping, cooking, cleaning, and washing. 

Of these domestic tasks it was the shopping which ex- 

hausted me. The search from shop to shop for food, the 

long standing in line to obtain our bread ration every 

92 Lost Illusion, 

evening, the bargaining with the peasants at the street 

corner in exchanging bread for milk became my real 

work. 

The peasants, deprived of all their grain and fodder 

by a merciless government, wanted bread to feed their 

cows. There had developed a “new and higher form of 

economy” under the Soviets whereby the peasants pro- 

duced milk for the townspeople in exchange for bread 

to produce that milk. 

Hundreds of thousands of peasants near the cities of 

Russia spent at least half a day traveling to and from 

their farms and standing in the market or at street cor- 

ners selling milk or a few miserable vegetables. To ar- 

range that one of their number should do the selling 

while the others worked on the land was forbidden. 

The seller would have been punished as a middleman, 

a speculator. Stalin had found a novel way to banish 

unemployment by forcing each peasant, with milk or 

other produce to dispose of, to spend the greater part of 

the day selling it to the consumer. 

I managed to rent a room in a new flat on Novinsky 

Boulevard. The owner, once a sailor on the famous ship 

Potemkin, whose crew had mutinied in 1905, was work- 

ing at the Soviet Consulate in London. His two daughters 

rented me a room at the “commercial price”-that is to 

say, I paid more for the one room than they paid for the 

whole flat. 

This was usual in Moscow at the time, although the 

subletting of rooms and country houses by privileged 

Party members was not yet the source of rentier income 

Arcadi Caught in the Web 93 

it later became. Subletting was also done by non-Party 

people; but, since it was the Communist Party members 

who secured most of the new flats, they were pre- 

dominantly the landlord class. 

Jania, the elder daughter of our landlord, was typical 

of the girls of the new aristocracy. She dressed well, she 

enjoyed life, and she had a job. Her work, however, did 

not provide her with half her income. She not only let 

a room, but she sold at commercial prices the large ration 

of eggs, butter, and other “luxuries” which it was her 

father’s privilege to receive as a member of the Moscow 

Soviet. 

The fact that he was working and living abroad and 

had Jania’s stepmother with him in London, did not 

mean that his ration was cut off. Jania drew eleven 

pounds of butter and a large number of eggs every ten 

days, Sold at commercial prices (about five times as high 

as the price she paid) these supplies produced an income 

equal to more than half her monthly salary as a clerk in 

an office. 

Jania’s flat was always full of young men in the 

evenings, and when I once remarked to her how popular 

she was, she replied seriously, 

“Oh, no, it isn’t that; they just all want to marry me 

because we have a flat.” 

Jania was a decent sort and honest. She made no pre- 

tense of admiring or believing in Soviet policies and 

eventually married beneath her. She was in love with a 

young engineering student who was not a Comsomol 

and could never be a member of the Communist Party, 

94 Lost Illusion 

because his father, a highly qualified engineer, was of 

bourgeois background. 

Years later I met Jania for the last time before leaving 

Russia. She was working in the Intourist office in Mos- 

cow where I bought my ticket to England. Very pale, 

very thin, all the gaiety and youth gone from her face, 

she was dying of tuberculosis and knew it. 

Because she had married outside her class, her father 

no longer had anything to do with her. Jania and her 

husband and child all lived in one room. She had, of 

course, no hope of getting to a sanatorium, since neither 

she nor her husband were members of the Communist 

Party. 

Our flat, on Novinsky Boulevard, was in an ultra- 

modern duplex apartment house completed in 1930. It 

was built on supporting pillars like a lake-dwelling, and 

a broad covered way ran along the front of each story. 

One side of the house was all glass, and no doubt it 

would have been very healthy and hygienic and com- 

fortable if there had been sufficient heating, or if only 

one family had inhabited each apartment. But to house 

several families, as most Russian flats do, it was most in- 

conveniently built. There was a large studio-type room, 

in which the second room was an open balcony above. 

Only the third room had both a door and a ceiling, and 

so some privacy. 

At first I slept in the hall-like room below, overlooked 

by Jania’s sister above and unable to go to bed or to work 

when the latter entertained her boy friends. When Ar- 

Arcadi Caught in the Web 9s 

cadi arrived, I persuaded Jania to let us have the enclosed 

room with tht! door on the balcony. 

The floors were of stone and we had no carpet. The 

only furniture was a single bed I had brought from 

England, a small table I had managed to buy, and three 

hard chairs. We kept our clothes in our trunks and our 

books and toilet articles on the window sill or on the 

floor. 

Nevertheless, life on Novinsky Boulevard was the best 

we were to know for many a year. There was a bath- 

room with a hot-water heater, and there was a gas stove 

in the kitchen. Also, this being a house occupied by im- 

portant Soviet officials, there was a communal kitchen 

where one could buy much better dinners than at 

Vera%. 

Unhappily, Jania’s father returned to Moscow in the 

summer of I 93 I and we had to move. I was at that time 

in London arranging the publication of my first book, 

Lancashire and the Far East, which, originally accepted 

for publication by the School of Economics, had been 

turned down by Sir William Beveridge, the Director of 

the School, after my departure from England. 

C. M. Lloyd, Director of the Social Science Depart- 

ment, had written to me that it could only be published 

by the School if I would modify my chapters on India. 

Rather than abate by a jot my indictment of British im- 

perialism, I had gone to England to arrange publication 

myself, with the assistance of C. M. Lloyd. 

When I returned to Moscow in September, 1931, 

96 Lost Illusion 

Arcadi had moved into a very small furnished room near 

the Sukharevsky Market. For this room and the right to 

share the kitchen and bathroom with the landlord’s fam- 

ily, we paid IOO rubles a month out of Arcadi’s salary of 

300 and mine of 275. 

Our landlord paid only 45 rubles monthly rent for the 

whole three-room flat. Our rent was cheap as rooms 

went; many people had to pay more. It was a cooperative 

apartment house. This meant that the landlord had 

acquired it by paying monthly installments into a co- 

operative building society. Like most other owners of 

apartments, he rented one of his three rooms and so se- 

cured a return on the capital he had invested. 

Being non-Party, he had had to wait years and pay 

several thousand rubles before getting his flat. Com- 

munist Party men, if not already in possession of a de- 

cent apartment built before the Revolution, and taken 

possession of during its early years, often secured a new 

flat without payment, or by only a year or so of mem- 

bership payments to a Cooperative. 

In any case, the Party men always had priority, and 

thus could secure the precious capital which a flat rep- 

resented without a large previous investment. Most own- 

ers made a super-profit on renting rooms, but whereas 

the Communist Party member could charge anything the 

market would bear, the non-Party man was afraid of 

doing this, for he might be accused of speculating. 

It was here in our room on Tmbnaya UZitsa, near the 

Sukharevsky Market, that I first witnessed the terrible 

exploitation of servants, Jania had done her own house- 

Arcadi Caught in the Web 97 

work and so did I. But our landlord and landlady here 

had a “domestic worker.” 

She was, like nearly all Moscow servants, a peasant 

girl. She worked from 7 A.M. until nearly midnight, 

cleaning, cooking, washing, and standing in line at the 

shops. The latter occupation was the most strenuous part 

of her labors and the most painful. For to stand in line in 

the cold Russian winter when you have neither proper 

footwear nor a really warm coat is agony. This girl had 

neither. Nor did she eat the good meat or fish meals she 

prepared. She lived on soup, black bread, and cereals, 

with an occasional bit of herring. 

At night she slept on the floor of the kitchen. The 

Kazaika (house mistress) cowed her, bullied her, and 

drove her. The girl was often in tears and always sad and 

miserable. When we asked her why she did not leave, she 

said she would be treated just the same anywhere else, 

and she couldn’t go to work in a factory since she had no 

room to live in. 

All through my stay in Moscow I found the same 

conditions for servants. In some of the old apartment 

houses I saw as many as five or six families all sharing one 

kitchen. A young Russian whom I had formerly known 

at the London School of Economics, and who lived in 

one room with his wife and child, shared a toilet and 

kitchen with 35 other people in the same flat. 

Several of the families housed in one apartment would 

each have a servant. It was not uncommon for three or 

four servants to sleep together in the kitchen, side by 

side on the floor or on the kitchen table. Bugs ran over 

98 Lost Illzlsion 

them at night, and the atmosphere was so fetid and foul 

that one hesitated to go in to boil water for tea or to 

wash. 

The employers of these girls were often little better 

off themselves. A family of four to a room, feeding 

poorly, would hire a servant mainly in order to have 

someone to stand in line at the shops for food. Even the 

limited rations called for by the food cards could not be 

obtained without a long wait; and this, together with 

foraging around for unrationed food occasionally avail- 

able in the shops, was almost a full-time occupation. 

The waste of labor entailed in the socialist fatherland 

by the hopelessly inefficient distribution system, and by 

the shortage of food and clothing, was such as to make 

it easy to believe that there could be no unemployment 

problem. If husband and wife both worked at a large 

enterprise and there were no children, a maid could be 

dispensed with since they could eat dinner in the stolo- 

vaya (restaurant) of the factory or office. 

But if there were children, food must be found for 

them somehow. Party men of high standing kept maids 

to spare their wives labor, but the great majority of the 

families who employed domestic workers did so in spite 

of their poverty, or because of their poverty. Enough 

food for the children could be bought only if both 

parents worked; but someone must do the shopping. 

Hence the necessity of having a servant. 

The terrible exploitation of domestic labor was in 

part due to the poverty of the employers, and in part to 

the exodus of peasant girls from the hunger-stricken 

Arcadi Caught in the Web 99 

villages. To be allowed to live in the towns and get 

some sort of a meal every day was to be incomparably 

better off than in the village, even if the girl had to work 

sixteen hours out of twenty-four. 

Work in the factories (even if obtainable without 

close probing into why they had left the village and as to 

whether their parents were Kulaks) could not secure 

them a shelter. So they went to work as servants. 

Servants were consequently easy to get and, being un- 

protected by Soviet law or by Russian custom, could be 

exploited mercilessly. There was no alternative for them 

except starvation, and they were practically slaves. On 

the other hand, they naturally had little moral sense. 

Their village world had been destroyed, they or their 

peasant neighbors had been expropriated and robbed by 

the state, and their religion vilified and reviled. 

To be religious was tantamount to being considered 

counter-revolutionary. So freed of moral and religious 

inhibitions, they stole whatever they could lay their 

hands on. Russian housewives locked up every bit of 

food and kept a strict watch upon their scanty ward- 

robes. 

It was typical of the relation between mistress and 

maid in the Soviet Union that when the German Com- 

munists, who still retained the socialist ideal of human 

equality, wanted their servants to sit and eat with them, 

they found themselves misunderstood. 

“The Kazaika,” the servants said, “is so afraid of our 

eating too much that she forces us to sit with her at table 

to keep an eye on how much food we consume.” 

100 Lost Illusion 

Servants were still treated like serfs by the Russians 

even when their conditions of life allowed them to give 

some elementary comforts to their domestic employees. 

Party men who secured large flats rarely provided their 

maids with a room of their own to sleep in. Even a 

family with four or five rooms at its disposal made the 

servant sleep in the kitchen, or at best in a kind of open 

cupboard, constructed over the front door in the most 

modern flats especially for servants to sleep in. 

For me the servant problem was at first insoluble. I 

could not drive people to work, and, being what the 

Russians, called a “petty bourgeois idealist,” I felt it was 

_. 

indecent to lock up our bread, sugar, and butter in a 

cupboard, and periodically to search the domestic work- 

er’s basket or suitcase for stolen goods. 

So after a couple of months during which a large part 

of my precious foreign clothing was stolen and our food 

supplies mysteriously disappeared, I went back to doing 

the housework myself. The difficulty was that we could 

never be sure whether the servant or the landlady had 

stolen our missing stuff. Each accused the other. I 

thought it was quite likely to have been the landlady, 

but, since she was already eager to turn us out of our 

room and we had nowhere to go, I could do nothing. 

We were paying “only” IOO rubles a month for our 

room, and by this time it was becoming easy to let rooms 

for IJO or 200, so we were no longer welcome. Arcadi 

was making the 300 ruble Party maximum, but he had no 

Party privileges. I also was now earning 300 rubles, hav- 

ing become a “textile specialist” at Promexport. All 

Arcadi Caught in the Web 101 

Arcadi’s savings from his years of work in England had 

been spent to buy a room in Moscow for his former wife 

and son. 

Out of our joint earnings, we now had to support 

Anna Abramova and the boy Vitia, so there was little 

left to feed ourselves after IOO rubles had gone for rent. 

As yet neither of us had a closed distributor but we did 

have first category food cards like industrial workers. 

So we each got two pounds of bread a day, half of 

which we exchanged for milk from the peasants on the 

street corner. We also received some sugar and two 

pounds of meat a month per person. Everything else had 

to be bought on the free market at high prices. 

Our only solution was extra work. Editing and trans- 

lating were easy to come by, but Arcadi worked late at 

the office every evening, and I couldn’t do Russian 

translations without him. Luckily, I got an advance of 

2500 rubles for the Russian edition of Lancashire and the 

Fur East, but we paid 1600 rubles of this into the Hous- 

ing Cooperative I had joined in 1928. 

In October we had managed to buy putofkas (accom- 

modations) in a Rest House at Gagri in the Caucasus. 

Here in the Land of the Golden Fleece, where Jason 

found Medea, we enjoyed our first relaxation together 

since Japan. Gagri is one of the loveliest places in the 

world and by its blue sea with the Caucasian mountains 

rising behind us we could almost forget the pushing, 

crowded petty life of Moscow. 

In the Caucasus there were very few signs of the 

“construction of socialism.” At Gagri there were ruins 

102 Lost Illusion 

of a castle of Mithridates whom Great Pompey con- 

quered and who had fled from the Roman legions to die 

in the Armenian mountains to the south. There was also 

a small Byzantine church of the Fifth Century which 

had withstood the ravages of the many races which had 

passed to and fro along this land bridge between Europe 

and Asia. 

It was a hungry holiday but a happy one. We used to 

supplement the meager food supplied by the Rest Home 

by eating large quantities of walnuts, the only reasonably 

cheap food obtainable in the few shops of the small town. 

Occasionally we bought grapes but they were very ex- 

pensive. The sea was still warm enough for swimming 

and the mountain walks were beautiful and gave us a 

feeling of release. 

Back in Moscow, securing a flat again bcame our main 

preoccupation. Since Arcadi’s hopes of getting the rooms 

long since promised, and long since paid for, were fad- 

ing, we began to concentrate on home hunting in my 

name instead. Since I was still a member of the British 

Communist Party, I had a better chance of securing 

something. Unfortunately, however, I had become a 

member of the Railway Worker’s Housing Cooperative 

up in Grusynski Val near the Alexandrovsky Station, 

and railway workers at that time were not a favored 

category. 

I had joined it originally in 1928, through MOPR (In- 

ternational Class War Prisoners Aid ) with which it was 

affiliated. The apartment house this Cooperative was 

building progressed very slowly because of lack of ma- 

Arcadi Caught in the Web 103 

terials, labor, and money. I had a friend on the board of 

the Cooperative, a Polish Communist Party member 

called Lofsky, whom I met when I was a delegate to 

Russia in 1927, and who had since been off on secret 

Comintem work in South America. He advised me to 

present the Chairman of the Cooperative with an Eng- 

lish woolen sweater and promised to keep an eye open 

in my interest. 

The art of securing the flat to which payments en- 

titled us consisted in haunting the premises of the Co- 

operative at the time when flats were being completed 

and about to be allocated. If around and about at the 

right moment a flat might be obtained. Otherwise unless 

the person were an important Communist Party official 

he would be overlooked no matter how high his priority 

number might be. 

Unfortunately, Arcadi was always working so hard 

at the office that he couldn’t hang around his Cooperative 

and kept on being passed over. My own hopes faded 

when Lofsky was again sent abroad. I never got my flat 

through all the succeeding years, nor was I able, when at 

last Arcadi got his, to secure the reimbursement of the 

4500 rubles I had paid down years before. 

For years every letter I wrote to my mother referred 

to our housing problem-the hope for an apartment in 

the spring, then in the autumn, then for the following 

year. At first I believed the promises; but after two years 

I was writing that I had given up having any confidence 

in Russian promises. 

The first lesson the Soviet citizen has to learn is that 

104 Lost Illusion 

promises and contracts mean nothing at all. The govem- 

ment cheats its citizens all the time in big things and 

little, and every official behaves in the same way. Only 

foolish foreigners, newly arrived in Moscow, think that 

the letter of the law, or the written contract, or the 

spoken promise have any meaning in Russia. 

There stands out in my memories of life in Moscow, a 

picture of the snowy street outside our apartment house 

along which I went to the office. Some construction 

work was going on near by, and every morning I saw 

carts full of bricks or wooden planks drawn by thin, 

miserable horses. 

Often the carts got stuck in the ruts in the thick snow, 

and the drivers dressed in rags of sacking whipped the 

horses mercilessly. The breath of the struggling horses 

and men formed a thick steam in the cold wintry air. I 

used to hurry along trying not to see the sores on the 

horses nor to hear their panting. Horses and men alike 

were starved, and the sufferings of the animals were 

only one degree worse than those of the wrecks of 

human beings who drove them. 

It was said that on the collective farms the peasants 

deliberately worked the horses to death so that they 

might get meat to eat. An inhuman system made men 

treat their beasts as cruelly as the government treated 

them, and with as little thought of preserving life, Cold, 

snow, misery, and want were the background of life in 

Russia. 

VIII 

I &earn dbozlt &Get 

HAD MY FIRST INTIMATE EXPERIENCE 

with the free medical service and the hospitals which 

foreign visitors to the Soviet Union describe in such 

glowing terms, during my second winter in Moscow. 

I was pregnant, and I was foolish enough, on New 

Year’s Eve, to carry home twenty-two pounds of po- 

tatoes which I had miraculously secured. The tram, as 

usual, was chock full and in the scuffle to get through it 

and out at the front my glasses were knocked off. In my 

near-sighted efforts to retrieve them, I was rather badly 

pushed about. 

I reached home exhausted and trembling but did not 

know I had injured myself. That night we went over to 

a New Year’s Eve party at Jane?. By midnight I was 

feeling ill, so we spent the night in Jane’s large room 

with her and Michael, another old friend, who had come 

to Moscow from England early in 193 I, and who was 

also a member of the British Communist Party. 

Next morning, alone with Michael after Jane and 

Arcadi had gone to work, I had the miscarriage. Michael 

105 

106 Lost Illusion 

could not get Arcadi by phone, for there was only one 

line at his office and it was out of order. So he fetched 

Jane home and went off in a droshki for Arcadi. 

Arcadi tried for two hours to get a doctor and finally 

came with one he had secured “commercially.” The 

doctor to whose services my trade-union membership 

entitled me arrived about six hours later and was ob- 

viously not a doctor at all, but a bedraggled, dirty, hag- 

gard young woman whom I would not have allowed to 

touch me. Her only use to me was to sign the necessary 

certificate for my office that I was ill. 

By evening the pain had lessened and the real doctor 

said if it did not get worse again I need only lie still. If 

the pain returned, I must go to the nearest “abortion 

house” and be scraped. 

Next day at noon I was in agony. Michael, having 

telephoned to Arcadi, sat beside me trying to soothe me 

until Arcadi managed at last to secure a taxi to move me 

to the hospital. There he had to leave me. I was strapped 

down upon an operating table and scraped by a “sur- 

geon” who did not even wash her hands before operat- 

ing, and whose whole painted appearance suggested a 

prostitute rather than a doctor. 

I was given no chloroform and the pain was excruci- 

ating. Then I was taken upstairs to a small room about 

twelve by twelve feet, with five beds in it. I was given 

an ice pack and then they left me. No one came near me, 

no one washed me. There was no nurse or attendant of 

any kind. The other patients begged me for the piece of 

soap I had brought with me. I was the only one of the 

I Learn About Soviet Hospitals ‘07 

five patients who had soap and none was provided by the 

hospital. 

At about eleven o’clock the following morning, after 

a breakfast of thin gruel, I was ordered to get up and 

come downstairs. I protested that I was bleeding and 

should not walk. No one paid any attention. Downstairs 

I was again put on the operating table, held down by 

four attendants, and scraped again. 

I yelled, “Why twice?” 

But no one paid any attention. After this I broke down 

and found myself weeping. I had been suffering for 

forty-eight hours, the pain was agonizing, the place was 

filthy, and I felt I was in a nightmare. When I asked for 

something to wipe away the blood, the “nurse” picked a 

dirty piece of cotton off the floor and handed it to me. 

I determined to get out of this terrible “hospital” be- 

fore I caught some awful disease. I sent a note to Arcadi 

telling him he must get me out somehow. At first they 

wouldn’t allow me to go, but after he had told them I 

was an English journalist, they got frightened. 

A nice, clean young woman doctor speaking French 

came to see me. She finally explained to me that the first 

“doctor” had forgotten to write down on my case sheet 

that I had already been operated upon; hence the second 

ordeal. 

Jane offered to nurse me and I was permitted to leave. 

I remember very vividly the joy of being back with her 

and Michael in their clean room after that terrible hos- 

pital. For a week I lay there in bed, Arcadi coming in 

the evenings for the dinner which Jane cooked for us 

108 Lost Illusion 

all. Poor Arcadi never got away from the office ,for 

dinner till eight or nine at night and then still had to get 

home by streetcar. He looked far more ill and exhausted 

than I did, and my experience had upset him badly. 

It was as well I did not have the baby, although I was 

very disappointed at the time. We did not secure a 

permanent room of our own until nearly two years later. 

What we should have done with a baby on our con- 

tinued moving from room to room I do not know. 

The companionship of Jane and Michael that winter 

lightened our hearts. Michael and I had worked at home 

in the same local of the British Communist Party. We 

had sold the Daily Worker together and he had been my 

bodyguard when I spoke from a soap box in the streets 

of London. So long as he and Jane Tabrisky remained in 

Russia I had trusted friends to whom I could open my 

heart and speak freely, for their reactions to Stalin’s 

Russia were the same as my own. 

Not that we agreed about everything. Liberals never 

do. And we were all liberals in the original sense of 

the word; none of us was seeking a career in Russia at 

the expense of our integrity or our friends. Arcadi did 

not easily make friends or give his confidence to anyone, 

but Michael and he liked each other immensely. 

Michael, like Arcadi, had had an unhappy childhood, 

and like him had learned at an early age to hide his feel- 

ings from a hostile world, and to take refuge in humor 

from the hurts which his sensitiveness would otherwise 

have found intolerable. When I would boil with rage 

and indignation at the divergence between Soviet pro- 

I Learn About Soviet Hospitals 109 

fessions and Soviet practice, Michael and Arcadi would 

make a joke of it. Whereas I hated Stalin as the brutal 

and callous oppressor, Michael and Arcadi saw him not 

as a bloodthirsty tyrant, but as an historic phenomenon. 

They argued that if there had been no Stalin, there 

would have been someone else like him. I then had lean- 

ings toward Trotskyism and was still convinced that if 

Trotsky instead of Stalin had led the Bolshevik party 

there would have been no famine, and no perversion of 

the revolutionary movement. 

They assured me that Trotskyism was sheer romanti- 

cism, and that the course which history was taking in 

i the Soviet Union followed logically from the founda- 

tions Lenin laid. Since this was so, it had to be accepted 

as socialism; and one could only hope, and work, to make 

it a little more tolerable. Life might be a tragedy to 

those who felt deeply but the wap to keep sane was by 

seeing it as a comedy. 

Michael had gone into the British army in the First 

World War at the age of sixteen and nearly died after- 

wards of tuberculosis. He had something of my brother’s 

cheerful skepticism and good humor, and like Arcadi had 

no great hopes that the world was at all likely to be run 

rationally and intelligently or justly. 

To Michael, Marxism was a tool, not a dogma, an aid 

to the understanding of history, past and present, not a 

revelation. What was happening in Russia must be ac- 

cepted as the consequence of the socialization of the 

means of prdduction and distribution by a minority in a 

backward country. Here was no society of the free and 

I IO Lost illusion 

equal, nor was it likely to become so. It was no use to 

get indignant because the new society was so very dif- 

ferent from what men had hoped for. 

Michael’s view of the Soviet Union was very much 

like that expressed years later by Max Eastman in Stalin’s 

Socialism. Since this was the society which had come out 

of the socialization of land and capital it was socialism. 

The fact that it bore no resemblance to the society which 

Socialists had envisioned and that there was even greater 

social and material inequality than under capitalism did 

not prove that it was not socialism. 

Michael and Arcadi were extraordinarily impersonal 

in their judgments. They saw men as moved by forces 

they could not understand, and the ills of the Soviet 

world as due more to the stupidity of its rulers than to 

their malignancy or wickedness. 

They taught me not to regard Stalin as a personal 

devil but rather to see him as the result of Russia’s past 

history and of the Bolshevik Revolution, not as a cause 

but as an effect of historical circumstances. I could not, 

however, at first accept their view that under Lenin or 

Trotsky it would have been essentially the same. 

Jane, whose knowledge of the writings of Marx and 

Lenin was exceptional, reminded us that Lenin himself 

had prophesied in 1905, that “anyone who attempts to 

achieve socialism by any other route than that of political 

democracy will inevitably arrive at the most absurd re- 

actionary deductions, both political and economic.” 

Michael, Jane and I would discuss by the hour the 

theory and practice of Bolshevism and the whys and 

I Learn About Soviet Hospitals III 

wherefores of Russia’s present miserable situation. Mi- 

chael always took the Marxist point of view that history, 

in broad outline, would have followed the same course 

had Lenin lived. Jane said that if Lenin had lived he 

would have shared Trotsky’s fate. 

I argued that then, at least, it would have been obvious 

to the whole world that there had been a counter-revolu- 

tion. That a Stalin who ousted Lenin would never have 

been able to win influence over the radical movements 

of the West. The Revolution would have been buried 

instead of its corpse poisoning the air of a whole genera- 

tion of progressives in Europe and America. As it was, 

Stalin had been able to camouflage his counter-revolu- 

tion, and to confuse socialists and liberals all over the 

world by his zigzags from right to left and back again, 

so that the very terms had lost all meaning. 

Arcadi, on the rare occasions when he had the leisure 

to join in our discussions, would remind us that it was 

Lenin himself who had laid the foundation for the 

Russia we were living in. He had himself met Lenin and 

heard him speak in Switzerland in the years before the 

First World War when Arcadi had been a student at 

Zurich University. 

My husband had been repelled by Lenin’s views at the 

time since they denied the democratic basis for socialism. 

Yet now, Arcadi was arguing that, after all, Lenin might 

have been right, and perhaps the present period of terror 

and want in Russia would lead to an era of plenty and 

freedom. 

He refused, as yet, to recognize that in considering the 

II2 Lost Illusion 

ultimate aim all important, and the means unimportant, 

Lenin had established the foundations for the permanent 

despotism of an aristocracy of Communists over the 

mass of the people. 

Jane would then quote Plekhanov, the father of Rus- 

sian Socialism who as early as 1907 had prophesied what 

Lenin’s policies would lead to, saying: “At the bitter 

end, everything will revolve around one man, who will 

ex pmvidentia unite all powers in himself.” 

Marx, although rather vague concerning the “dictator- 

ship of the proletariat,” had had no doubt that it was to 

be absolutely democratic, for in his view socialism was 

to come after capitalism had reduced all but a small 

minority to the condition of “proletarians.” For him, 

seizure of power by the proletariat meant the over- 

throw of a small group of capitalist exploiters by the 

overwhelming majority of the people. 

Socialist society was to be the only truly democratic 

society since socialism alone could deprive an exploiting 

class of its economic and political power. Engels, com- 

menting upon Marx’s vindication of the Paris Commune 

of I 87 I, had proclaimed that absolute democracy was 

the natural form of the dictatorship of the proletariat. As 

we have seen, Lenin himself in 1905, had declared that 

without democracy there could be no socialism. 

Nevertheless Lenin, in his insistence from 1907 on- 

wards that the Social Democratic Party should be com- 

posed of professional revolutionaries, was denying the 

democratic basis of Marxian socialism. This was realized 

by the minority of the Russian Social Democratic party 

I Learn About Soviet Hospitals I’3 

(the Mensheviks) and originally by Trotsky, who did 

not join the Bolsheviks (the majority party) until 1917. 

In effect, Lenin saw what the Social Democrats failed 

to see, that the working class did not naturally desire 

socialism, and that if one waited for it to become revo- 

lutionary by itself, one might wait until the end of time. 

Marx had believed that the course of capitalist de- 

velopment would of itself turn the working class into 

revolutionaries. Lenin saw before 1914 that it wouldn’t, 

and after 1914 that the workers were patriots first and a 

cIass-conscious proletariat second. He did not on that 

account reject Marxism. His solution was a revolution, 

led by professional revolutionaries who knew better 

than the workers what the latter needed for their own 

good: socialism. All along, Lenin distrusted “the masses” 

and saw “the Party” as necessary to prevent their falling 

away from the revolutionary path. 

This transmutation of Marxism was the easier for 

Lenin because he was a Russian. The belief in democracy 

was inherent and deep-rooted in the minds of the Marx- 

ists of Western Europe; and it was the rational side of 

Marx, not his mystical belief in the inevitability of 

progress, which appealed to them. 

But Lenin was a Russian, and his ideas were un- 

consciously affected by the fanaticism and naivete of his 

country and his people. For him the bedrock belief that 

history was “inevitably” leading mankind to a better 

social system, was fundamental. Marxism was a creed and 

a body of dogma which Lenin could interpret according 

to the practical needs of the moment. This made him far 

I ‘4 Lost illusion 

more resolute and immediately successful then the hes- 

itant, tolerant, and essentially humanitarian leaders of the 

western Social Democratic parties; but it also made pos- 

sible the later grotesque distortions of the aims of the 

Revolution by Stalin and his henchmen. 

Lenin wrote that the Bolsheviks should not “shrink 

from barbarous methods to fight barbarism,” nor be 

afraid to hasten Russia’s assimilation of Western civiliza- 

tion by dictatorial methods. He failed to perceive until 

too late that these precepts would lead to his party be- 

coming the instrument of a savage and barbarous Asiatic 

despotism. 

Before his death Lenin made unfailing efforts to stem 

the tide which was sweeping the Russian people toward 

a tyranny worse than that of the Tsars. But he could not 

command the waves to retire. 

When I saw Lenin’s embalmed body in the Red 

Square it seemed to me that his lips were set in a sardonic 

and bitter smile. In his last hours he had no God to whom 

to cry, “Why hast thou forsaken me? ” But his ex- 

pression suggested the realization that his life’s work had 

borne a bitter and unwholesome fruit. His goal had been 

human freedom. But by sanctioning the ruthless use of 

power by an elite minority, and by inflaming the hatreds 

of mankind, he had laid the foundations for a worse 

tyranny than the world had yet known, 

Friendship is very precious in an uncertain, savage 

and strange world, where everyone’s hand is against his 

neighbor, and fear and the struggle for bare subsistence 

drive even decent men and women to spy upon and to 

I Learn About Soviet Hospitals “5 

denounce one another. Life is endurable only if you 

have at least one human being to whom you can speak 

your mind freely and without fear. I had to come home, 

close the door, and shut out the world in which life was 

one continual pretense, a perpetual licking of the hand 

which smites you. 

A little freedom of expression, honesty of thought and 

speech, are as necessary as air. Without them one would 

suffocate in the foul Moscow atmosphere. The glaring 

contradictions between theory and practice, between 

what was supposed to be and what was, and the constant 

effort to say and look the opposite of what one thought, 

were by no means the least strain in Soviet life. I began 

to understand why so many Russians sought escape in 

drink, why the vodka shops were never empty, and why 

men lay drunk in the snow by the roadside. 

Such conditions draw you ever closer to the few 

people you love and trust. Like primitive man sheltering 

with his mate in a cave against the violence of the ele- 

ments and the fear of wild beasts, so in Soviet Russia you 

sheltered with your family in your room or corner from 

the storm of terror, hate, regimented sadism, hunger, 

cold, and wretchedness, and the nauseating cant and 

hypocrisy of Soviet life. 

Arcadi is lost to me, but to this day Jane in England 

and Michael now in the United Stares remain friends 

with whom the ties forged in that period of disillusion- 

ment and horror are stronger than the ties of friendship 

with anyone else in my life. 

We three talked ceaselesslv evening- after eveninp. and 

116 Lost Illusion 

this saved me from what would otherwise have been in- 

tolerable loneliness and long hours of brooding. For Ar- 

cadi was working literally twelve or thirteen hours a 

day. He came back late at night so tired out after a day 

at the office, practically without food, that my one care 

and interest was to feed him and get him to bed. Break- 

fast was the only meal at which we had much chance to 

talk. He often had to work even on his free day. 

CArcad? s &wakening 

IX 

HEN I RETURNEDTOMOSCOW in September 

1931, after three months in England arranging for the 

publication of my book, Lancashire and the Far East,

found my husband thin and pale and so nervous and 

worn out I was frightened. It was almost as if he wished 

to kill himself with work. Yet conditions for the non- 

Party men were such that most of his time and energy 

were wasted. Whatever he did to improve efficiency 

would be undone by someone else. Moreover, like the 

other specialists, Arcadi was in constant danger of being 

arrested as the scapegoat for the mistakes of his Com- 

munist Party supervisors. 

Toward the end of the year we received a visit from 

C. M. Lloyd, head of the Social Science Department of 

the London School of Economics, who had directed my 

research there. He was also Foreign Editor of the New 

States-man. Lloyd was a friend, intelligent and discreet, 

and I talked to him freely. 

Arcadi challenged my statements and denied the truth 

of what I said, or modified it. He convinced, or almost 

convinced, Lloyd that a socialist society was being cre- 

ated in the Soviet Union. Arcadi argued that the special 

117 

118 Lost Illusion 

privileges of the Communist Party members and the suf- 

fering of the people would pass, were not important, or 

were inevitable. 

Since he cared very little whether or not he shared 

those privileges, he dismissed them as unimportant. I was 

convinced they were the basis of all the corruption and 

distortion of the socialist idea. Lloyd went home and 

wrote a series of articles in the NOW Statesman which, 

although cautious in their optimism, showed his confi- 

dence in the Soviet system. 

After Lloyd had gone we continued the argument. 

Arcadi and I had our first, and I think our last, real 

quarrel. For weeks we were estranged. Arcadi, in op- 

posing me, as he later acknowledged, was really fighting 

his own doubts about the Soviet Union. He almost hated 

me for a while. I was miserable, but I could not recant. 

I still saw the English papers and the trickle of in- 

formation there about the ghastly conditions in the 

timber prison camps, and the famine in the Ukraine was 

confirmed not only by rumors in Moscow, but by the 

sight of the starving peasants. 

The food situation in Moscow during my second 

winter was far worse than the winter before. By this 

time Arcadi had Gort B rations and I had Ins-nab, the 

store for foreign specialists and Communists working in 

Moscow. This meant that we were infinitely better off 

than most people. Many of our acquaintances were half 

starving and were grateful for the gift of a pound of 

cereal from my rations. 

I had left my job in the Comintem to work as a 

Arcadi’s Awakening “9 

textile specialist in Promexport, the organization ex- 

porting manufactured goods. My visits to the textile 

districts in the course of my duties showed me the pitiful 

condition of the working class which was supposed to be 

the ruler of the country. 

At Ivanova Vosnysensk I had seen wretched men 

and women striving to “fulfill the plan” on a diet of 

black bread and mush. In the textile factory stolovayas 

the dinner consisted of millet with a little sunflower-seed 

oil. There was no herring to be had in the shops. 

A meat dish of sorts could be bought for two and a 

half rubles in a restaurant, but as the average monthly 

wage of the mill workers was only 70 or 80 rubles, few 

could afford it. The contrast between my living standard 

and that of ordinary Russian workers was greater than 

between ours and the Communist hierarchy. Workers 

still lived in barracks or in hovels and as one elderly 

woman said to me, “at least under the Tsar we had 

enough bread to eat.” 

I was receiving over four pounds of butter, thirteen 

pounds of meat, and thirty eggs a month, besides cheese, 

flour, millet, buckwheat, semolina, and even one pound 

of rice-most precious cereal in Russia. I could also buy 

milk if I arrived at the Insnab store at the right time, 

and quite often I could obtain metana and prostakwasha 

(sour cream and sour milk.) 

Sometimes vegetables, fruit and chocolate were also on 

sale. Arcadi’s ration was a good deal smaller than mine 

but compared to that of the workers, and that of the 

ordinary run of employees, we were rich. We could also 

120 Lost Illusion 

buy cigarettes and soap, which had become almost as 

great a luxury as butter. 

Arcadi finally broke down when he went on a Ko- 

rvtanderofka to Odessa in April I 93i. He came back 

white and miserable and shaken. In the South he had 

seen the starving and the dead in the streets. At each rail- 

way station en route there had been hundreds and hun- 

dreds of starving wretches, emaciated women with dying 

babies at their milkless breasts, children with the swollen 

stomachs of famine, all begging, begging for bread. 

In station waiting rooms he had seen hundreds of 

peasant families herded together awaiting transporta- 

tion to imprisonment in the concentration camps. He had 

seen children dying of starvation and typhus, scare- 

crows of men and women pushed and kicked by the 

OGPU guards. It sickened even those of us who were 

hardened to the sight of suffering in the Far East. 

Arcadi had relatives in Odessa. From them he learned 

the facts of the Ukrainian famine. The picture he painted 

for me, a picture which had seared him to the soul and 

shattered the optimistic view which he had until then 

insisted upon preserving, bore out all the rumors we had 

heard-was in fact worse. 

What perhaps shocked Arcadi most of all was to find 

that the train guards, conductors, and attendants were 

apparently all black market speculators. They were buy- 

ing food in Moscow, always better provided for than 

other cities, and selling it at fantastic prices down in the 

stricken southern land. 

Starving children are the most pitiful sight on earth. 

Arcads’s Awakening 121 

There were enough of them in Moscow to make one’s 

heart ache, but in the Ukraine they were legion. 

Bodies of the starving lay in the streets, and pitiful 

wrecks of humanity with great watery blisters and boils 

on their feet, legs, and arms, dragged themselves from 

place to place till they died in the vain quest for work 

and food. 

That summer we went on a holiday to the Crimea, 

taking with us my mother, who had just come from 

England. We left Moscow well provided with food for 

the long journey. But by the end of the first day my 

mother had given it all away to the starving wretches at 

the country railway stations. 

With tears streaming down her face she called my at- 

tention to one wretched beggar after another, especially 

to the pitiful children. That journey was an ordeal I 

shall never forget. It was a sea of misery which the few 

bits of food we had could do nothing to assuage. 

“Totia dai Kleb, Totia dai Kleb” (Auntie, give 

bread), will always ring in my ears as the national song 

of ‘Socialist Russia.” 

As in China, so in Russia you had to harden yourself 

to the sight of suffering in order to live. But at least in 

China the government does not hold it a crime to give 

aid to the starving. In Russia the officials told you that 

the starving were Kulaks or counter-revolutionaries not 

to be helped, although in reality they were bewildered, 

ignorant, powerless wretches sacrificed to the insensate 

ambitions and fanaticism of a man and a party, 

It was the contrasts which were always so appalling. 

122 Lost Illusion 

The fat officials in the dining car, the well-fed callous 

OGPU guards, and the starving people. We and they, we 

and they, rulers and ruled, oppressors and oppressed. 

In the rest home in the Crimea, where we had got 

places, there was abundant food. So abundant that bread 

and fruit, ices and cake were thrown away when left on 

the plates of the guests, for whom too much had been 

provided. This rest home belonged to the Central Com- 

mittee of the Soviets of the Crimean Republic, and we 

were there by the grace of Berkinghof, whom we had 

known in London. He was a prominent Bolshevik who 

belonged to this part of Russia. 

It was so very “upper class Communist” that we really 

had no business there, but it gave us an insight into the 

life of the Party aristocracy. The sight and 6ound of the 

starving was shut out from these former palaces and 

country houses of the Russian nobility, now as in the 

past. Now there was a new aristocracy. That seemed to 

be the only difference. 

This new Soviet aristocracy and its hangers-on were 

even more grasping, cruel, and ruthless than the old 

Tsarist aristocracy which had lived in conditions of less 

general want and misery. The Soviet bureaucracy and 

their employees were like the people in a shipwreck who 

have managed to get into the few lifeboats not smashed 

to pieces. If they helped the drowning wretches in the 

sea of misery into the boats, all would drown. So the 

lucky ones beat back the masses of the unfortunate with 

their oars. 

Arcadt’s Awakening 123 

Those who did not starve in the Soviet Union thus 

aided the government in repressing the masses who did, 

and denounced as counter-revolutionaries the famished 

who had once followed the Bolsheviks under the delu- 

sion that they would create a just social order and a 

prosperous economy. 

There was, of course, a convenient theory to justify 

the terrible social and material gulf between the rulers 

and the ruled. The rulers were held to be “indispensable” 

as the “builders of socialism.” They were so important 

that they must always be well fed and enjoy comfortable 

holidays in luxurious sanatoria and rest homes, else they 

would be unable to bear the great burden of their re- 

sponsibilities. 

The wretches dying of starvation and the ill-fed 

workers and peasants were just cannon fodder in the 

battle of socialism. If there were not enough food to go 

around, the officers of the socialist army must be well 

fed even if everyone else went short. In the future every- 

one would have plenty if the rulers were ruthless enough 

now to see millions die in the cause of industrialization. 

This theory did not explain why the survival and com- 

fort of the wives and children and mistresses of the Com- 

munist Party bureaucracy were also essential to the 

Revolution. I suppose it could be argued that the peace 

of mind of the rulers must also be preserved. 

Thus have aristocracies in all historical periods justi- 

fied their privileges. The Soviet aristocracy is no excep- 

tion. 

124 Lost Illusion 

Life in the Soviet Union might be uncomfortabIe and 

saddening, tragic and repulsive, but it taught us politi- 

cally as no other experience could have done. Michael, 

Jane, and I felt this even when the process of being edu- 

cated was most painful. We learned to recognize reality 

under false labels and were cured of political illusions, 

or at least of the propensity to fall for slogans, facile 

panaceas, and hypocritical pretenses. 

Ever since I lived in Russia it has been almost impos- 

sible for me to accept professions and declared aims at 

their face value anywhere. Perhaps I have gone too far 

to the other extreme, being now inclined to think that 

those who profess least virtue are likely to have most. In 

any case I am, I believe, forever cured of the Western 

intellectual’s preoccupation with external forms and 

labels. 

I cannot accept tyranny, cruelty and starvation as 

justified because they are being inflicted on people in 

the name of a humanitarian ideal. Nor can I understand 

how Western intellectuals who call themselves liberals 

or socialists can seek to bring on their own countries the 

Russian pattern of blood-stained dictatorship, misguid- 

edly called a “classless society.” 

Life in the Soviet Union also made me realize that 

some absolute standards of behavior are essential to man- 

kind if we are not to return to the level of the brute. 

Voltaire’s saying that if God did not exist, He would 

have to be invented, needs restating in new terms. Russia 

taught me that even if one does not believe in God one 

must have a moral code, must accept certain social values 

Arcadi’s Awakening 125 

as absolutes, and allow some freedom to the individual 

conscience. 

How can a just and humane social order be created if 

we root out our own humanity in the process of destroy- 

ing the old society? After long years of bitter experience 

I have come to accept Bertrand Russell’s social phi- 

losophy. 

I have learned that absolute power will corrupt any 

minority, that more evil is caused by fanatics than by 

wicked men, that no movement or individual can be 

certain enough of the effect their actions will have, to 

subordinate means entirely to ends. Six years in Soviet 

Russia have convinced me that democracy for all its in- 

efficiency is likely to secure more justice than any despot, 

however benevolent he may be or may profess himself 

to be. 

Why is it that only personal experience of Communist 

tyranny and terror, with the never-absent physical fear 

of the secret police, can shatter the illusions of those of 

us who call ourselves Western liberals, men like Henry 

Wallace who glibly speak of “our overemphasis on Bill 

of Rights democracy” and the superiority of Russia’s 

so-called economic democracy? 

Why is it that we who have enjoyed the human free- 

doms which our forefathers fought so hard to win and 

to bequeath to us, do not, with the example of Russia 

before us, realize the horrors of life without freedom? 

Why is it that we cannot understand that there is no such 

thing as embracing Communism as an experiment? It is a 

one-way street, ending in a cul de sac of secret police 

126 Lost Illusion 

terror, firing squads for the intellectuals and leaders and 

concentration camps and slave labor for the masses. 

There is no turning back; there is no escape. 

The coalescing of political and economic power which 

is taking place everywhere and has reached its consum- 

mation in totalitarian states, confronts mankind with new 

problems in urgent need of solution. A new set of prin- 

ciples and a new morality are needed to secure order, 

social unity, liberty, and the rational use of the vast pro- 

ductive forces science and technology have created. 

Yet instead of seeking for a way to combine order and 

control with individual liberty, most of our “progressive” 

intellectuals of recent years have taken refuge under the 

mantle of Stalin’s cruel despotism. Their critical faculties 

have become atrophied together with their liberalism; 

and, while barricading the front door against Brown Na- 

tional Socialism, they opened wide the back door to the 

Red variety of the same thing. 

Whether or not we can ever deepen and widen our 

democracy to control economic as well as political 

power, and thus cope with the problem of an over-ripe 

capitalism without destroying the liberties to which 

capitalism gave birth, is perhaps doubtful. But there 

would be a little more hope of our doing so if our one- 

time liberals had not been lured along the totalitarian 

path by the blood-red light of Stalin’s “socialism.” 

+ I also learned in the Soviet Union how slight are the 

differences between men, between the “good” and the 

“bad.” I remember one evening how Michael said to 

Jane and me: 

Arcadz’s Awakening ‘27. 

“Can’t you realize now that you and I, all of us, every- 

one we know, is capable here of deeds at which we now 

shudder?” 

What seems to differentiate men most, is their greater 

or lesser degree of courage-in particular the moral cour- 

age to face the fact that they have been mistaken in their 

beliefs. This was particularly obvious in Russia where the 

decent, humane and altruistic types of Communist too 

often recoiled before the realization that they had wasted 

their lives, sacrificed their personal happiness, and en- 

dured prison and exile to accomplish the opposite of 

what they had planned. 

Rather than acknowledge so terrible a truth they 

buried their heads in the sand and drowned their doubts 

in work or even in excessive cruelty to others. My 

brother had spoken more wisely than he knew when 

years before he had warned me that self-deception is the 

root of evil. But he who had never left the free Western 

world could never have imagined the compulsions which 

drive men under Communist dictatorship to drown their 

doubts and bow their heads before a hypocritical 

tyranny. 

Even men of high courage and integrity can be broken 

by an inhuman system. Men who can face hunger and 

prison and even torture for themselves cannot endure 

the starvation of their children. That breaks the hardiest 

spirit and enslaves the boldest. 

The American workman who goes on strike may be 

willing to see his children hungry if there is some hope of 

victory. But few men can face the prospect of their 

128 Lost Illusion 

wives and children being tossed out into the snow to die 

of starvation and cold, when they know there is no hope 

of winning out against the state which is employer, 

policeman, judge and executioner. 

Often in Russia I repeated to Arcadi the words which 

Euripides put into the mouth of Andromache when, 

after the fall of Troy, they take her little son away to be 

killed: “Oh, ye have found an anguish to outstrip all 

tortures of the East, ye gentle Greeks.” 

The Soviet state had found a more certain method of 

breaking human beings than the crude physical tortures 

inflicted by the Nazis on their victims. The Kremlin 

learned that the surest way to break resistance to tyranny 

was by threatening men through their wives and chil- 

dren. How can the Russian worker strike when he knows 

that not only will he be imprisoned but also that his 

family will be thrown into the street immediately, and 

his wife refused employment? 

How can the intellectual refuse to write or speak the 

lies demanded of him, when the NKVD tells him that if 

he will not his wife will also be imprisoned and his chil- 

dren left to become homeless waifs? Only the peasants, 

too brutish and too tough, may occasionally defy the 

Soviet Government by passive resistance. 

The Kremlin also knows that, whereas some men can 

face torture and death and even the reprisals inflicted on 

those they love, provided their sacrifice will inspire 

others to revolt, few men can bear to die behind closed 

doors without the opportunity to testify to the world 

what they are dying for. 

Arcadr’s Awakening ‘29 

When Christian martyrs faced the lions in the arena, 

or when in the religious wars Protestants or Catholics 

were burned at the stake, they could go to their death 

knowing that they had lighted a torch which others 

would carry on. They could endure tortures because 

they were convinced the sacrifice would not be in vain. 

But would they have suffered unflinchingly to the end 

if they had been shot without trial in some dark cellar, 

knowing that they would be accused, not only of crimes 

they had never committed, but of having aimed at the 

overthrow of what they were trying to save? 

An open counter-revolution in Russia might have left 

Communists and Socialists believing in their cause and 

prepared to start the struggle for social justice and lib- 

erty over again. But Stalin’s counter-revolution had been 

a long, secret, and disguised process. Men were not ex- 

pected to repudiate the old aims. They were instead re- 

quired to mouth the old slogans and testify to their be- 

lief in the old faith while the meaning of the slogans, 

theories, and words had been completely changed. 

The result necessarily was a mental, moral, and politi- 

cal confusion in which men could no longer clearly see 

the road before them. 

Arcadi, now revolted by the cruelty of the Commu- 

nist Party and its perversion of the Revolution, doubted 

whether there was any practical alternative to Stalin’s 

“socialism.” Although he was convinced that the gravest 

mistakes had been made, he was doubtful how they could 

now ever be remedied. 

I saw how the Russians, deprived of faith and of hope, 

130 Lost Illusion 

sank into apathy and skepticism, or made up their minds 

to do the best they could for themselves in this new 

anarchic, cruel world in which pity was a crime and 

fraud and hypocrisy the qualities essential for survival. 

The fight for bare existence absorbed the minds and 

energies of the masses, while the struggle for position 

and affluence seemed the main preoccupation of most of 

those fortunate enough to belong to the Communist 

pw- 

The best way, in fact the only way, to preserve your 

integrity and your life if you were an intellectual in 

Soviet Russia was to give up all expectation or desire for 

advancement and honor, and never to talk about any- 

thing but trivialities even to your closest friends. There 

were men of education who took jobs selling newspapers 

and books or cigarettes at street kiosks, happy to have 

found a niche where they were likely to be let alone, 

where no one would envy them or suspect them. Only 

by burying themselves could they call their souls their 

own. 

Specialists known to have exceptional qualifications 

could not thus hide themselves. The state insisted upon 

their working in factories, mines, and offices, on the rail- 

ways and communications. Here they were always in 

danger of being made into scapegoats. But if they could 

secure a Party patron likely to be “permanent” (the 

Soviet expression for a Party bureaucrat so well con- 

nected as to be unlikely to fall from favor), and toil 

loyally and unselfishly for him, letting him take the 

credit .for their cleverness and hard work, they might ’ 

Arcadi’s Awakening 131 

hope to survive. It was rather Iike the old Roman system 

of senators and clients. 

The word “protection” was openly used in the USSR. 

“So-and-so,” it would be said, “has a powerful protec- 

tion; he’s likely to be all right.” If a non-Party man could 

marry his daughter to a high Party official he felt very 

secure, but this was difficult unless she were particularly 

attractive, for Party men naturally wished to ally them- 

selves to those who could be of use to them, not to non- 

Party specialists. 

Of course, in the holocaust of Party members in the 

late thirties, the protection of the highest often came to 

mean disaster to his prottgb. When a powerful man 

was purged, a whole row of small skittles was knocked 

down with him. It was a storm in which the highest trees 

as well as the lowest were struck by the lightning, and 

no one felt safe. 

Sometimes I am asked about the Soviet educational 

system; questioned as to whether a great deal has not at 

least been done for the children. And I remember the 

homeless kids who slept in the loft above our flat in 

Ordinka and begged for crusts and hot water. I remem- 

ber the pale children of the textile workers at Ivanovo 

Vosnysensk, living crowded together in the tenements 

without beds to sleep upon. 

I remember the charwoman at Promexport who lived 

in a hallway with her two young children and considered 

that a soup made of bones was a great luxury. I remem- 

ber the babies at the Consultazia for mothers, where I 

took my son each week to be weighed. The mothers 

132 Lost Illusion 

could get free medical advice, but they could not afford 

milk, and had to feed their babies on black bread soaked 

in water. They took a photograph there one day of my 

son to exhibit because he was almost the only baby who 

did not have rickets. 

And I remember the children in the queues at the 

prison where I went with food after my husband’s arrest. 

One morning there was a boy who could not have been 

more than nine or ten years old, bringing a sack of food 

for his mother. When I showed my ignorance of the 

procedure he asked me with astonishment: “Is this the 

first time you have been here? ” 

There are brave children in Russia inured to “eating 

bitterness,” as the Chinese say; children sometimes left 

alone in an empty room when their parents are both ar- 

rested, and who sell all the pitiful small possessions of the 

the family to take food to their parents. If there is no 

relative to shelter them and neither parent comes home, 

they join the hordes of homeless children and learn to 

beg, to thieve and to live like little wild animals in the 

savage Soviet world. That is one kind of Communist 

education. 

Of all the cruel acts of Stalin the most horrible was the 

provision for the liquidation of the older homeless chil- 

dren. In 1935, when by decree the death penalty for 

theft was made applicable to children from the age of 

twel;e, the police were given the power to rid Soviet 

society of the unwanted children of the unfortunate. 

If your mother and father are docile, careful never to 

breathe a word of criticism of the government, work 

Arcadi’s Awakening ‘33 

hard, and are lucky, you may get a different sort of edu- 

cation. You may learn how wonderful Communism is, 

how many tons of iron and steel the Soviets can produce, 

and how many more they hope to produce; and how 

much more terrible is the life of the working class in the 

capitalist United States of America than in Russia. 

You will be taught to sing patriotic songs and do mili- 

tary exercises and to worship the great Stalin. You may 

even get the chance later to study to be an engineer or 

a pilot, or b t 

e rained for some other profession if your 

social origins are all right and if you have carefully con- 

formed throughout your school life. 

If you are the son or daughter of a prominent Com- 

munist Party member in Russia, the way will be made 

smooth for you and you will enjoy the same privileges as 

the children of the rich in any capitalist country. You 

will go to a select school with airy classrooms and the 

best teachers. At home you will have a room of your 

own to study in and plenty of books instead of trying, 

like the children of the workers, to do your homework 

in a small room in which your father and mother, 

brothers and sisters live and sleep. 

You will sleep in a good bed, not on the floor or in the 

same bed as your brother and sister. You will eat the best 

food and have long holidays in the country instead of 

feeding on black bread, cabbage soup, and cucumbers 

and spending the hot summer in the city. You will have 

servants to wait upon you instead of having to stand in 

line yourself at the shops when you come home from 

school. 

‘34 Lost Illusion 

Equality of opportunity in the Soviet Union is a myth. 

There are different schools for the masses and for the 

Communist aristocracy. There can be no equality in edu- 

cational opportunity where some children are under- 

nourished and housed little better than pigs, while others 

live in comparative luxury, 

afe in 3kzbscow 

Y SEARCH FOR SOME USEFUL WORK t0 per- 

form in Soviet society had caused me to change my job 

almost as frequently as we had changed rooms. My first 

work, that of a referent in the Anglo-American section 

of the Communist International, had been utterly futile. 

True that part of my job was to read and mark the Eng- 

lish language newspapers, and this at least kept me in 

touch with foreign affairs. 

But for the rest, I spent my time participating in use- 

less post-mortems on the activities of the British and 

American Communist Parties, and in assisting in writing 

memoranda and directives which were supposed to tell 

the English-speaking comrades what they ought to do. 

The directives were drawn up mainly with an eye to 

self-insurance, so that whatever happened the blame 

would not be placed on us. They consisted mostly of a 

lot of Party platitudes and abstract principles. 

Consequently, our directives were worse than useless 

as guidance to the British Communist Party and were 

probably never read. Instructions as to the Party line at 

any given moment came from higher sources in the 

135 

136 Lost Illusion 

Kremlin, and they were all the foreign parties needed to 

pay keen attention to. 

Fed up with the futility of my work at the Comintern 

and fearing also that if I continued in so-called political 

activity, I should soon be spotted as an unreliable heretic, 

I took advantage of an offer to work as a specialist on 

textiles. After six months work at Promexport I accepted 

the offer of a job at the newly created Commissariat of 

Light Industry. 

In these two posts I learned enough about how the 

Soviet economy functioned to understand why all the 

heavy labor and bitter privations of the Russian people 

failed to give them a tolerable existence. 

For months, our struggles to acquire a flat, or at least 

a room of our own, continued. For some weeks in the 

spring of 1932, we lived at the New Moscow Hotel, our 

room paid for by Lecterserio, the export organization of 

which Arcadi had been made vice-chairman. This room 

cost 25 rubles a day, which we could not, of course, have 

paid ourselves. The manner in which it was secured for 

us revealed to me something of the corruption now rife 

in Soviet life. 

Being without a room of any kind, Arcadi was living 

three in a room with Jane and Michael in Jane’s room at 

the Marx Engels Institute, while the Anikeevs were 

kindly putting me up. Anikeeva whom I had met in 

Japan was a dear, and never became a Soviet snob. In 

spite of her husband’s high position, they both remained 

our friends. 

Life in Moscow ‘37 

Not to have a home was bad enough, but we couldn’t 

continue to impose indefinitely upon our friends. So 

Arcadi and I more or less camped in the office of the man 

at Narcomuneshtorg who was supposed to secure rooms 

for employees of this Commissariat. We spent a whole 

day there, from IO A.M. to 7 P.M., refusing to budge until 

something was done for us. 

By now we understood a little of the Soviet way of 

life and only this kind of sit-down protest seemed likely 

to assure Arcadi his rights. For Nmcomzmesbtorg had 

promised him a room many weeks before if he would 

take the vice-chairmanship of Lecterserio, and in so 

doing give up the room he was to receive from Promex- 

port. 

The Communist Party member in charge of rooms at 

the Commissariat of Foreign Trade had over and over 

again promised Arcadi this room or that, only to give it 

to someone else. Arcadi had been absorbed in his work 

and was always passed over. Now we were determined 

to force the Commissariat to honor its contract. 

Finally, in the late afternoon, Comrade X got on the 

phone to the manager of the New Moscow Hotel. A 

long conversation followed. The manager of the hotel 

wanted a quid pro quo. He had been trying to get a 

Gort A ration book for one of his assistants not really 

entitled to it. If Comrade X would secure this for him, 

he would let us have a room at the hotel. But Comrade X 

only had a limited number of Gort A books to give 

away, and he wanted them for his own cronies. Getting 

138 Lost Illusion 

a room for a non-Party man was a small return for the 

Gort A book, since a non-Party man had no patronage 

with which to pay for a room to live in. 

Arcadi went off to Philip Rabinovitch, ex-chairman 

of Arcos in London, now high up the Soviet ladder of 

success, and almost a Vice-Commissar. Rabinovitch 

phoned Comrade X and told him to come up and talk to 

him. Finally we were saved. Reluctantly, Comrade X 

agreed to give the precious Gort A book to the Intourist 

manager’s assistant in return for a room for our humble 

selves. Triumphantly, we presented ourselves at the 

New Moscow Hotel. 

Food was now our greatest problem. I had Znsnab and 

Arcadi had Gort B rations, but how could we cook? In 

the New Moscow Hotel dining room a dinner cost about 

20 to 25 rubles, and so was out of the question. How- 

ever, Arcadi had brought a little electric saucepan and 

an electric kettle from Berlin in 1928, and with these 

I managed to make meals of a sort. 

Disposal of the rubbish was the greatest problem, since 

cooking in our room was forbidden. We solved it by 

carrying out potato peelings and other refuse in neat 

brown paper parcels which we disposed of in the street 

dustbins on the way to work. 

We were better off than many other people in our 

hotel. A few doors away lived Soermus, the well-known 

Finnish violinist who had played in the streets in England 

to collect money for the striking miners in 1926. His 

wife, an Irishwoman, had nothing to cook on except an 

electric iron. Ingeniously, she turned it upside down, put 

Life in Moscow ‘39 

a saucepan on it full of vegetables and meat, and left it to 

simmer all day. 

Once or twice a month we treated ourselves to a real 

dinner in the hotel dining room, and very occasionally a 

friend or acquaintance from England who was on a trip 

to Russia would give us some of his Intourist meal tickets 

entitling us to a free breakfast, lunch, or dinner. 

The manager of the restaurant, a Caucasian, spoke per- 

fect English and said he had been the headwaiter at the 

Ritz in London. I discovered this through a casual refer- 

ence to horse racing as the “opium of the people” in 

England. He remembered the name of every Derby 

winner for goodness knows how many years, and was so 

delighted to find someone who at least knew what horse 

racing meant, that he treated me to real coffee several 

times. \ 

Coffee-even now, years afterwards, I remember the 

delight with which we drank coffee in Moscow! Rarest 

of luxuries, greatest of joys! Whenever anyone I knew 

came to visit Russia, I asked them to bring coffee, coffee 

above all else, and secondly, soap and toilet paper. 

Even in this Intourist Hotel toilet paper was unknown 

for a long time. Then one afternoon, returning from 

work, the floor manageress took me by the arm, marched 

me triumphantly into the shower room and toilet, and 

pointing towards a few sheets of thin gray paper, ex- 

claimed, “Look-Kultur! ” However, this concrete evi- 

dence of Soviet Kultur was a fleeting phenomenon. The 

gesture made, the supply soon gave out and was not re- 

plenished. 

140 Lost Illusion 

Living in the New Moscow Hotel I also got an inkling 

of the luxurious lives of the secret police officers who 

occupied many of the rooms. Enormous meals were 

sent up to the next room to ours, and the sounds of 

drinking and song and laughter came through the wall 

late at night, when our OGPU neighbor entertained his 

friends. The diners in the restaurant were either for- 

eigners or OGPU officers, with very occasionally a 

couple of ordinary citizens blowing a quarter or half a 

month’s salary on a “bust.” 

I wrote to my mother in February 193 t : 

“I leave the office usually at about 4:45 or 5 o’clock, 

and rush up to the hmab shop to buy bread, and milk if 

there is any-which is very seldom now. I get home 

about seven o’clock and have some kind of a meal. Then 

I try to do some work -translation or editing. Or Jane 

and Michael come around and we talk or play cut-throat 

bridge. 

“Then Arcadi comes home much later and I make tea 

for him and something to eat. You can have no concep- 

tion how complicated life is and how much time one 

wastes over simple things like buying bread. . . . 

“I am sorry if I sound depressed, dear. I am not un- 

happy only I have never before in my life had work to 

do which was rather dull, and did not have to exercise 

my faculties to the full and felt that I was making no 

progress of any kind. . . . I suppose that most of all I 

miss the very full political life I had in England: speak- 

ing, writing, and so forth. I feel I am rusticating and 

losing all my mental faculties.” 

Life in Moscow 141 

Our semi-luxurious existence in the New Moscow 

Hotel came to an end late in April. May Day was ap- 

proaching, and we were told that all Russians (except, 

of course, the OGPU) must clear out to make way for 

the valzcta-paying foreigners. 

Again we were homeless. This time we both went 

over to Jane’s room. For a few days all four of us lived 

together. Eventually we secured, temporarily, the use of 

two rooms on Ostejenka Street in the flat of Gavrilov, 

an old Party member, whom we had known in England 

and who was again working abroad. For the first time 

since we came to Moscow we had two rooms in a mod- 

ern flat. 

I at once brought my mother from England. I could 

not send her any money, owing to the impossibility of 

exchanging rubles into foreign currency, and her own 

income was very small indeed. So the only solution was 

to have her live with us for a time. Her coming was in 

any case a great pleasure. At sixty-two she was still 

young, and the novelty of life in Russia pleased her. 

She loved the Russians, who are, in fact, a kindly 

people when not driven to be brutal by the government 

and by economic difficulties. Our Russian friends, for 

their part, thought Mother a wonderful woman, for her 

vitality, youthful appearance, and zest for living were 

unknown among old people in Russia. 

I got a servant, a nice clean German girl from the 

Volga. Her village had been devastated-no other word 

can convey my meaning-by the liquidation of the 

Kulaks. In the German Volga Republic the peasants, 

142 Lost Illusion 

who had been settled there two hundred years before to 

set an example to the Russians, had been better farmers 

and so enjoyed a higher standard of life than most peas- 

ants in Russia. Consequently, the greater part of them 

were classified as Kulaks and liquidated. 

What had been a region of model farming became 

almost a desert, for more than half the population was 

exiled or sent to concentration camps. The young people 

left the villages, the boys to go to the factories if they 

could get jobs, or to become vagabonds if they couldn’t. 

The girls came to the towns to work as servants, and 

were highly prized, since they were more competent, 

cleaner, more honest and self-respecting than the Rus- 

sian peasants. Curiously, they were the most purely 

Teutonic Germans I had ever seen, Germans like the 

pictures in Hans Andersen fairy tales, blue-eyed, with 

long golden plaits and lovely, fair skins. Being Protes- 

tants, and regarding the Russians around them as no 

better than barbarians, they had intermarried little and 

retained a racial purity which would no doubt have de- 

lighted Hitler. 

An echo of the tragic fate of Russia’s German Protes- 

tant population reached the world when the Mennonites 

flocked to Moscow and sought permission to leave the 

country. Some of these Germans had tried to obey the 

government and had formed collective farms, only to 

have them liquidated as Kulak collectives. Being first- 

class farmers, they had committed the crime of making 

even a Kolkhoz productive and prosperous. 

Others had quite simply been expropriated from their 

Life in Moscow 143 

individual holdings. All were in despair. Few were al- 

lowed to leave Russia. They were sent to Siberia to die, 

or herded into slave labor concentration camps. The 

crime of being good farmers was unforgivable, and they 

must suffer for this sin. 

My Hilda seemed a treasure. She could cook, she could 

read and write, she kept herself and the rooms clean and 

looked like a pink and flaxen doll. I could treat her as an 

equal without finding that this led to her stealing my 

clothes and doing no work. 

The servant problem in Moscow for Jane and me lay 

in our inability to bully and curse and drive, which was 

the only treatment the Russian servant understood. It 

was quite natural that this should be so, since Soviet 

society, like Tsarist society but to a far higher degree, 

was based on force and cheating. 

Cheat or be cheated, bully or be bullied, was the law 

of life. Only the German minority with their strong re- 

ligious and moral sense-the individual morality of the 

Protestant as opposed to the mass subservience demanded 

by the Greek Orthodox Church and the Soviet Govern- 

ment-retained their culture and even some courage 

under Stalin’s Terror. 

I was amazed at the outspoken way in which Hilda 

and Sophie (another German girl who worked for Jane) 

voiced their hatred and contempt of the Soviet Govern- 

ment. Sophie, one of thirteen children of a bedniak 

(poor peasant) would shake her fist and say: 

“Kulaks! The Kulaks are up there in the Kremlin, not 

in the village.” Since the word “Kulak” originally signi- 

‘44 Lost Illusion 

fied an exploiter and usurer, her meaning was quite plain. 

After a few months of civilized existence on Ostejenka 

Street, the Gavrilovs returned, and we were once more 

homeless. I sent my mother back to England with Jane, 

who was about to leave on a vacation. Michael had left 

Russia for good a short while before. 

Arcadi and I once again got a room at the New Mos- 

cow Hotel, This time we also had Hilda living in the 

room with us, sleeping on the couch. She had to manage 

the secret cooking on the electric stove. 

There was a young American named Clark Foreman 

living in the New Moscow Hotel who, years before, had 

been a friend of Jane’s when they were both students at 

the London School of Economics. He was in Russia 

studying social services for the Julius Rosenwald Foun- 

dation. Thanks largely to Jane and myself and to a Rus- 

sian friend of ours, Clark Foreman was one of the very 

few foreign visitors to learn something of the inside 

realities of Soviet life. 

A cheerful and intelligent young man with progressive 

views and few prejudices, he did not take the socialist 

tragedy as seriously as we did, but neither did he fail to 

see it. His American light-heartedness relieved the at- 

mosphere in which we lived, and through him we were 

brought into somewhat unwilling contact with other 

foreigners. 

We met Bernal, the Cambridge scientist who was to 

become an ardent Stalinist, and others like him in whose 

presence we had the greatest difficulty in keeping our 

mouths shut. Foreman was very loyal to all of us. How- 

Life in Moscow ‘45 

ever, he later forgot or chose to ignore the lessons he had 

learned.in Russia. In 1943 he became the organizer in 

New York for the Political Action Committee. 

Occasionally we went to those parties of the foreign 

colony in Moscow which Malcolm Muggeridge has de- 

scribed with biting irony in his book, Wtinter in Mos- 

cow. At these parties one found foreigners trying to 

recreate the London and New York radical Bohemian 

atmosphere of hard drinking and easy loving. But it was 

no longer youthful and harmless. It had been poisoned 

and become rather loathsome against the starvation and 

misery of the Russian background, and by the cant and 

hypocrisy of the Communists and the fellow travelers. 

Moscow’s Bohemia was not that of struggling writers, 

journalists, poets, artists, and students. It consisted of the 

fortunate, the doctrinaire and hard-boiled foreign Com- 

munists, and those foreigners of various kinds working 

in Moscow because they were failures at home, who en- 

joyed favors which their own merits could never have 

secured to them. 

They dined and wined on the produce bought at 

Insnab, while most Russians were starving. Michael pro- 

fessed to find it all a huge joke, but he did not relish this 

society any more than Jane or I did. Arcadi was far too 

busy for such parties, and anyhow had no liking for 

drink or salacious stories and songs. 

An English newspaperman, editor of the Moscow 

Daily News, who in his youthful revolutionary days had 

been a member of the International Workers of the 

World, but who was now a debauched, fat little man, 

146 Lost Illusion 

would lead in the singing of songs which might some- 

times be funny but were usually just nasty. He was 

known to be a homosexual, and was later expelled from 

the Soviet Union for corrupting young men. 

His immorality was, however, more honest than that 

of many who, under the guise of being Marxists, had 

come to the Soviet Union in order to find a society with- 

out restraints. In this they were mistaken. Russian society 

was not for the most part sexually licentious except per- 

haps in its upper ranks. Most Russians were far too busy 

struggling to live at all, to have time or energy to imi- 

tate the vices of Greenwich Village liberals, and mar- 

riage was usually a serious partnership, not a light liaison. 

In the midst of my disillusionment about Soviet Rus- 

sia, I found secret pleasure in the disappointment of 

youthful American and English Communists when they 

learned how difficult it is to enjoy light love affairs in 

Moscow. Many came to Russia to seek an unrestrained 

Bohemian paradise while posing as revolutionaries. They 

quickly learned that life is too grim and earnest for erotic 

pleasures. Romance dissolves when they discover that 

their mistresses are promptly enrolled by the secret po- 

lice to spy upon them. 

I remember leaving a party in the early hours of a 

spring morning with Jane and Michael, and Temple’s 

friend Rab, who had come from England to visit us. 

They walked home with me up Kropotkin Street. Out- 

side one of the stores a long queue of weary men and 

women had already formed waiting for it to open at 

Life in Moscow ‘47 

9 A.M. These people were standing in line to receive a 

small ration of food. 

We had left a party where caviar, hors d’oeuvres, ham, 

wine, vodka, chocolates, and fruit had been consumed 

in abundance, and where as we said goodbye, they had 

been singing revolutionary songs in drunken voices. 

They may of course have been drowning their carefully 

hidden disillusionment in this way. 

All this time, in spite of our housing difficulties, our 

standard of life was far above that of the majority of 

workers and employees. We,did not rank with the Com- 

munist aristocracy, but we were upper middle class. I 

myself, with my h-nab ration book, could in fact be 

counted as an aristocrat insofar as food was concerned. 

But, although our living conditions were far better 

than a year or two before, life for most people, that 

winter of 1932-33, was more miserable than ever. The 

scanty meat and butter rations which the industrial 

workers were supposed to be able to buy were usually 

unobtainable. Most Russians lived on black bread, millet, 

and buckwheat. 

That winter commercial shops began to be in evidence 

in Moscow-that is, state stores where meat, butter, eggs, 

vegetables, and clothing could be bought by anyone at 

prices at least ten times higher than those paid for the 

rations available to the privileged. 

Butter, which cost us three and one-half rubles a kilo 

could be bought in commercial shops for forty rubles; 

meat for ten rubles a kilo against the ration price of two 

148 Lost Illusion 

rubles; sugar at fifteen rubles a kilo instead of the one 

ruble we paid. Gradually the commercial prices were 

lowered to nearer five times the ration prices as a pre- 

liminary step to the derationing of food and clothing in 

1935. 

These commercial shops benefited the middle classes 

most. They were the specialists and employees who had 

no closed distributor, but whose salaries of 400 to 600 

rubles a month enabled them to buy some food at com- 

mercial prices, The shops also helped the small and select 

group of writers, dramatists, actors, and musicians, some 

of whom earned very large sums of money and could 

now buy as much as they needed of all essential foods. 

Previously they had bought on the restricted free 

market directly from the peasants, at prices higher than 

those in the new commercial shops. People like ourselves, 

who earned extra money by translation work or writing, 

could enjoy more food than allowed on our ration books. 

Money again came to have some value, and men often 

took on two jobs to earn enough to buy food at the new 

shops. 

There was a story told that winter of a Russian who 

returned from several years’ work abroad and went 

around seeing his friends. Each in turn told him of his 

difficulties. One had a salary of 600 rubles, but since he 

got only bread and sugar on his food card and had to buy 

everything else at commercial prices, life was very diffi- 

JXllt. 

Another with a salary of 500 rubles had the same tale 

to tell: only bread and sugar on the food card, and every- 

Life in Moscow ‘49 

thing else to be bought at commercial prices. “We hardly 

ever taste meat, and butter is our greatest luxury.” After 

questioning many people and always receiving the same 

answer, he met a girl who used to be his secretary. 

“And how are you ? he asked. “You must be finding 

life very hard.” 

“Oh, no,” she replied, “I’m doing fine. My salary is 

only I 20 rubles, but that provides me with a food card 

and so with bread and sugar; for the rest I undress at 

commercial prices.” 

Incidentally, this story illustrates a fact ignored by the 

tourist, who believed what he was told about the disap- 

pearance of prostitution in Soviet Russia. It had only 

disappeared in the sense that every prostitute needed 

some kind of a regular job to ensure possession of a food 

card. The job need not be her main source of income. 

There was also a joke in those days about giving to 

Mikoyan, the Commissar of Internal Trade, the task of 

liquidating prostitution. 

“Why Mikoyan?” 

“Well, because everything else he controls disap- 

pears! ” 

Even the commercial shops were not supplied with 

abundant quantities of essential foods. Long lines formed 

to secure milk, butter, eggs, and meat, even at the fan- 

tastically high prices at which they were sold. 

The other new shops which now opened up in one 

district after another were the Torgsin shops. Here one 

could buy better and more abundant supplies than any- 

where else except in the Kremlovsky distributors-if one 

150 Lost Ilhsion 

had gold or foreign currency. Prices for food at Torgsin 

were not much higher than world prices, and less than 

double pre-war Russian prices. Everyone who had the 

tiniest bit of gold–a ring, a bracelet, or jewels-could 

exchange it for Torgsin tokens and secure food. 

The only snag was that the OGPU was also on the 

lookout for possessors 

of gold, and might at any moment 

arrest you and force you by torture to disgorge any 

hidden wealth you had. So people went in fear and 

trepidation to Torgsin, driven by hunger but fearful of 

the OGPU. Torgsin was an outstanding example of the 

mixed system of terror and reward by which the Russian 

government seeks to increase its revenues. 

The greatest source of income of the Torgsin shops 

was remittances from abroad. Jews, in particular, often 

had relatives in foreign countries-in Poland, in Ger- 

many, and above all in the United States-who would 

send them a few dollars a month to save them from 

starvation. The percentage of Jewish people standing in 

the Torgsin queues-there were lines even at these shops 

since there were never enough sales people-was very 

high. 

Anti-Semitism, although officially condemned, took 

a new lease on life when the Russians saw their Jewish 

neighbors in the apartment kitchens cooking good food 

which they never had a chance to buy. A few years later, 

in the.great purge, countless Jewish families suffered for 

their past enjoyment of a little food bought with money 

received from abroad. 

By 1936 it was held to be a crime to have relatives out- 

Life in Moscow 151 

side of Russia. The Torgsin shops had been closed down, 

and many Jews were arrested and sent to concentration 

camps for the “crime” of having corresponded with for- 

eign relatives. But from 193 2 to 193 5, the Soviet State 

was anxious to secure valuta, foreign exchange, at any 

cost and Torgsin served to produce a large revenue. 

There was a story told in Moscow of two Jewish 

women friends who met after many years. One asked the 

other, a widow, how she was managing to live. 

“Oh, I’m all right,” she said. “My son provides for 

me.” 

“Oh,” said the other, “is that your eldest son Boris, 

whom I remember as a lad?” 

“No, not Boris; he’s an engineer in Sverdlovsk earning 

500 rubles, and since he has a wife and child he can’t, of 

course, spare me a kopek.” 

“Is it your son Ivan, then?” 

“No, Ivan is chief accountant at an export organiza- 

tion, and of course he can’t allow me anything out of his 

salary of 400 rubles.” 

“How, then, do you live?” 

“I’m all right because my youngest son, Grischa, is 

unemployed in America! ” 

It was in fact the case that even two or three dollars a 

month could ward off starvation, could enable the re- 

cipient to buy a little flour and fat at a cost of one-tenth 

of the prices paid for the same foods in Russian currency. 

Neither Torgsin nor the new commercial shops pro- 

vided relief except for a very small minority of the Rus- 

sians who had relatives abroad willing to send them dol- 

‘52 Lost Illusion 

lam, pounds or other foreign currency. The wages of 

most people were too low to permit them to buy at the 

commercial shops, and the gulf between the privileged 

and the oppressed was daily growing wider. 

Life that winter of 1932-3 3 became almost as hard for 

the majority of the people as in the famine of 192 I. As 

the Kremlin’s plans became more and more grandiose, 

and as the plaudits for the “gigantic successes of Soviet 

industrialization” swelled into a paean of praise, the con- 

ditions of life for workers, peasants, and employees be- 

came more and more terrible. 

I came to dread reading in the newspapers of great 

successes on the industrial front or of the “approach of 

socialism” because such announcements almost always 

heralded some new measure of oppression, some new 

sacrifice. 

A little Italian Communist from Trieste, who worked 

with Michael at the State Publishing Office, one day 

graphically expressed what we all felt. Dinner in Russia 

is eaten in the late afternoon and it was customary for a 

glass of “tea” to be served at the office a little before 

noon. One morning the “tea” was not even faintly yel- 

low; it was just plain water. Michael looked at it in dis- 

gust, and the Italian grinned. 

“When I first came to Russia,” he said, “we were 

served real tea with lemon and sugar in a glass on a 

saucer with a spoon. A year or so later there was no more 

lemon. The following year they started to give us ersatz 

tea made of dried carrots. Next there was no more sugar. 

Then there were no more spoons. Now, apparently they 

Life in Moscow ‘53 

have run short of the ersatz tea. But, Michael, cheer up, 

the water is still hot. We haven’t got socialism yet! ” 

The workers could not easily be induced to accept 

Stalin’s brand of socialism. Like the peasants they mi- 

grated from place to place in search of a job with suffi- 

cient food and a room to live in. 

The government retaliated with ever increasing meas- 

ures of compulsion. First it introduced the work certifi- 

cate, the device subsequently copied by Hitler to ensure 

the obedience of the working class to the all-powerful 

State and Party. 

This certificate was like a criminal dossier. In it was 

written the social origins of each worker, any fines he 

paid, any crimes he had committed, and the reasons for 

his dismissal from his place of employment. If he could 

not show good cause for having lost his job he was not 

to be allowed to work elsewhere. This meant starvation. 

Industrial workers were being reduced to the same 

servitude as the peasants. Whereas the workers were 

forbidden to leave their jobs, however bad their condi- 

tions of work, the various trusts were given the right to 

transfer them at will from one town or province to an- 

other, regardless of their wishes. 

This was all the more terrible in Russia, as compared 

with Germany, where the Nazis instituted a similar mo- 

bility of labor, because in the Soviet Union the shortage 

of housing accommodations was so acute that being 

evicted from home and sent to another town often meant 

being unable to find a room to house your family. 

The Labor Exchanges were closed down and unem- 

‘54 Lost Illusion 

ployment relief abolished. The unemployed were told 

to go wherever they were sent and to whatever job the 

state decreed. 

Another cruel decree was issued punishing the worker 

by dismissal if absent for a single day from the factory. 

Even if ill he must produce a certificate showing that he 

had a high temperature. Heavy fines were imposed for 

being a few minutes late to work. 

The cooperatives were placed under the direction of 

the factory management, so that a worker leaving his 

job or dismissed immediately lost his own and his family’s 

bread ration. 

The successive decrees tightening up labor discipline 

made us realize we were living in a world in which the 

working class which was supposed to be the master of 

the state had lost all liberty and human rights. Anyone 

who incurred the displeasure of foreman or manager 

could be thrown out of his job and deprived of room 

and food. 

The workers had long since lost the right to strike. 

Stopping work was equivalent to treason. The trade 

unions were deprived of even the nominal right to nego- 

tiate wages, which were already lower in terms of pur- 

chasing power than they had been under the Tsar. 

Even in 1936, the best year we have on record since 

the twenties, the price of bread was fifteen times higher 

than it had been in I 9 14 and the price of meat about 

twelve times higher, The cost of clothing had risen even 

more steeply. Yet even according to Soviet statistics the 

average wage had risen only fourfold. 

Life in Moscow ‘55 

Few tourists, however, ever troubled to enter the 

shops and compare the prices of necessities with wages 

earned, and foreign Communists in spite of evidence to 

the contrary, spread propaganda that material conditions 

of the Russian workers had been greatly improved in 

Socialist Russia. 

I remember once in Moscow reading in the Mmches- 

ter Guardian how a careful British worker spent his un- 

employment dole. Arcadi and I calculated that to buy the 

diet available to an unemployed worker’s family in Eng- 

land one required at least IOOO 

rubles in Moscow, which 

meant at least five times as much money as workers of 

average qualifications were then earning in Soviet Russia. 

All the penalties and terror could not prevent starving 

men from leaving their jobs. The Soviet press was filled 

with complaints about “flagrant violations of labor dis- 

cipline.” 

In a final attempt to tie the hungry workers to their 

jobs, and the dissatisfied peasants to the collective farms, 

Stalin resorted to an old Tsarist police measure in a more 

universal and rigorous form. The internal passport sys- 

tem was revived. 

The whole urban population, and the peasants living 

near the large towns, had to secure residence permits. 

Subsequently no one was allowed to move from the 

town or village in which he lived, even for a single night, 

without permission from the police. 

The internal passport, in which the social origins of 

each citizen were written down, was designed to clear 

out, and keep out, of Moscow and other large towns the 

156 Lost Illusion 

floating population drawn there by the slightly better 

food supply available in the cities. 

Violation of the internal passport regulations swelled 

the millions of Russians condemned to forced labor in 

concentration camps. Slave labor had become an essen- 

tial factor in the economy of Russia, not too unlike the 

dependence of the Southern States on negro slavery be- 

fore the American Civil War. 

Life as a so-called “free-worker,” bereft of nearly all 

freedom is bad enough; but the life of a slave laborer 

working for the vast organizations controlled by the 

NKVD is indescribable in its inhumanity and brutality. 

Perhaps the breaking of the human spirit into submis- 

sive, thoughtless robots is the most terrible feature of 

Stalin’s Russia. Humanity is bowed down. Every one 

cringes before his superiors, and those who abase them- 

selves seek outlets in bullying and terrifying the unfor- 

tunates beneath them. Integrity, courage and charity 

disappear in the stifling atmosphere of cant, falsehood 

and terror. 

Jane and I decided that the best term to apply to the 

“new and better” society being created in Soviet Russia 

was industrial feudalism Freedom of movement, collec- 

tive bargaining for wage increases, strikes and other such 

evils of capitalist society had been finally abolished. The 

workers as well as the peasants bad become serfs of the 

Party which owned the state. 

XI 

4 Wome at cast 

1 B OTH JANE AND I HAD VOLGA GERMAN GIRLS 

working for us, when it was specially decreed that all the 

German peasants should return home. My Hilda had no 

parents and Jane’s Sophie was one of thirteen children 

of a poor peasant. We both moved heaven and earth to 

keep them from the death by starvation which they 

assured us awaited them at home. 

In Hilda’s case the decree was particularly brutal since 

the spring floods had cut off her village from the nearest 

railway station forty miles away. Hilda wept and wept, 

and each day we tried to get her a permit to stay in 

Moscow. I spent hours at the Militia (police) station, 

and hours at the Public Prosecutor’s, pleading, begging 

that at least she be allowed to stay with me until the 

spring floods subsided. All ordinary avenues of appeal 

proved useless. 

Hilda’s aunt worked for Max Hoeltz, the famous Ger- 

man Spartacist leader. Early one morning we went to the 

Hotel Metropole to ask his help. I did not then know that 

he was practically a prisoner. Shortly after I talked to 

him about Hilda he was murdered by the OGPU. His 

insistent demand that he be allowed to return to Ger- 

I.57 

158 Lost Illusion 

many to fight the Nazis had aroused fears in the Comin- 

tern. 

Hoeltz was known to be more popular with the Ger- 

man working class than any of Moscow’s appointed 

leaders of the German Communist Party. He had been 

a modem Robin Hood in Germany in the Twenties and 

never an obedient servant of the Comintem. It was 

feared that if he got back to Germany he would success- 

fully oppose the Cornintern line of collaboration with 

the Nazis to overthrow German democracy in hopes of 

a Nazi-Communist alliance against the West. 

I knew nothing of his situation that morning that I 

talked with him in the Metropole Hotel about Hilda. He 

told me he had no influence. He had tried in other cases 

and failed. 

This tall, handsome man sat disconsolate, sad and suf- 

fering at the universal misery which surrounded him. 

He did not even attempt to pretend to me that there 

was any justification for the inhuman cruelty of Stalin’s 

government. Hoeltz was the only foreign Communist 

leader I met in Moscow who retained his integrity and 

his human sympathy for the oppressed and powerless 

common people, in whose name the Revolution had been 

carried out. Although he could not help Hilda, he treated 

her as a friend whose troubles were as important as his 

OWIl. 

Max Hoeltz’s end was tragic but at least he went down 

fighting. Before he was liquidated by the OGPU he beat 

up Fritz Heckert, the German representative in the 

A Home at Last ‘59 

Comintem who had announced that Hitler’s victory was 

not a defeat for the German working class. 

Some of my Moscow memories have faded, but I still 

remember as clearly as if it had happened yesterday my 

visit to Max Hoeltz a few days before his “suicide” was 

announced. He was shot and his body flung into the 

Volga by the secret police. I shall never forget that’ he 

thought the life of an obscure servant girl was worth 

saving at a time when he had already decided to sacrifice 

his own. 

A few days later I went to a friend of ours who had 

been and probably still was, in the secret police. He was 

a decent little man, very fond of a good joke and relish- 

ing my husband’s wit. Completely cynical, a bon vivant, 

a beautiful singer and a strong drinker, he was also kind- 

hearted and had heaps of friends. He gave me a note to 

a high Militia official. At last I had secured the right 

patronage. Hilda was saved. 

The sad end of the story of Hilda is that she was de- 

moralized by fear and idleness. During the month I had 

struggled to save her life, she had done no work. She had 

wept and stood in queues and wept again. Slowly she 

degenerated in the atmosphere of the New Moscow 

Hotel, and I am afraid eventually became “one of those 

of whom we know there are none,” as E. M. Delafield 

describes the prostitute she saw in the Metropole Hotel 

in Moscow. 

Michael had already gone home to England and soon 

Jane felt she could no longer stand living in Moscow. 

160 Lost Illusion 

There was no reason for her to remain. She was not tied 

to unhappy Russia by a husband she loved and she pined 

for the freedom of England. 

My mother had been living in Jane’s room and Jane 

took her back to England with her. We now had no 

place for mother to stay and she had accumulated 

enough of her tiny income and the rent from her apart- 

ment in London to live for a while at home. For the first 

time since Arcadi came from China I was alone with him 

in the Russian wilderness where I dared take no one else 

into my confidence. 

I took over Jane’s servant, Sophie, for whom she had 

finally also won the passport battle. Sophie was a treasure; 

but I lost her, too. She went home to her village a year 

later for a vacation, and being cleaner, better dressed, 

and generally far more “cultured” than the peasant girls, 

succeeded in marrying the catch of the village, the trac- 

tor-driver Party member. Presumably by now having 

joined the village squirearchy, Sophie has forgotten her 

former hatred of the Soviet Government. 

We had an anxious time securing a Moscow passport 

for Arcadi’s former wife and her son. She had a job by 

this time, but her social origins were exceedingly bad. 

Her father had been a wealthy merchant who fled to the 

United States at the time of the Bolshevik Revolution 

and her brother was an engineer with the General Elec- 

tric Company in New York, where Arcadi had met and 

married her. 

Partly out of fear that his son would be sent away 

from Moscow, and partly because they now had no room 

A Home at Last 161 

of their own but were sharing one with relatives, Arcadi 

and I gave them one of the two rooms which we at last 

obtained in February 1933. Her passport was then se- 

cured as Arcadi’s dependent living under his roof. 

The position of ex-wives and also of mistresses under 

Soviet law as interpreted by the courts was very pe- 

culiar. Although it was expressly stated that bigamy was 

illegal, a man was forbidden to turn out of his apartment 

or to refuse to support any woman by whom he had had 

a child, whether the child had been born in or out of 

wedlock. 

A case referred to by N. V. Krilenko when Commis- 

sar of Justice, in an article written in the Bolshevik in 

September 1936, is an illustration. 

He wrote: 

“We shall give several examples showing the influence 

of the old social order on Soviet family relations, and the 

revolutionary effect of Soviet law as it protects the 

family and teaches those who still follow the old customs. 

“Here is the case of Citizen and Citizeness Gentschke, 

who dismissed their servant Lebedeva and ordered her 

to leave their flat. Lebedeva had worked for Gentschke 

as a servant from I 927 to 1929. In 1929 Lebedeva ceased 

to receive payment for her work, for Citizen Gentschke 

started to have sexual intercourse with her. In the year 

193s the Gentschkes terminated the labor contract with 

Lebedeva and told her to clear out. 

“Lebedeva appealed to the court and said she was not 

a servant but in fact the wife of Gentschke. In her pass- 

port, which had been obtained for her by Gentschke, 

162 Lost Illusion 

she was shown as his dependent, and this is why she had 

a right to live in his flat. Lebedeva, an illiterate young 

woman, proved that she had been violated by Gentschke 

and had lived with him from 1929 to 1935. 

“The higher court to which the case was eventually 

transferred, did not recognize her as Gentschke’s wife 

because Soviet law only recognizes a marriage if a com- 

mon life together has been declared, differing only from 

a registered marriage by the fact that no registration has 

been made. 

“If the Court had recognized Lebedeva as a legal wife 

it would have meant recognizing a double marriage, 

which is not permissible in our law. Gentschke’s be- 

havior from the point of view of civil rights deserved 

criminal punishment for deceit and exploitation.” 

It is nevertheless implied that Citizen and Citizeness 

Gentschke had to allow Lebedeva to continue living in 

their flat. In another case of which details were given, a 

servant called Rakitnikova who had been the domestic 

worker of a Dr. Levinson, and had had two children by 

him, won her case in the courts when the doctor wanted 

to turn her out of his house. It was decided that he must 

give her a third of his flat. In the case of a mistress who 

had had children by a man, he must allow them all to 

live in his flat and must help to support them, or support 

them entirely if the woman is not working. 

Anna Abramovna, having been Arcadi’s wife before 

he divorced her in I 928 and having in addition had a 

son by him, had a legal right to obtain a passport as his 

dependent. 

A Home at Last ‘63 

Marriage and divorce prior to the tightening up of the 

laws in 1936 entailed merely a visit to Zaks for registra- 

tion, or, in the case of marriages, it was enough to regis- 

ter with the House Committee of the apartments as hus- 

band and wife jointly occupying a room or flat. This 

constituted a common law marriage, and by it the wife 

secured the same rights as if the marriage had been regis- 

tered at the Zaks. 

Arcadi and I were thus married in common law, but 

we had never registered at the Zaks because I was afraid 

of losing my British citizenship if I did. Originally I had 

wished to retain my British passport in order to be able 

to travel abroad freely, for Russian citizens had the 

greatest difficulty in obtaining visas to enter foreign 

countries. Later it became a question, not of the value 

of my British passport in entering other countries, but 

of its value in permitting me to escape from the Soviet 

Union. 

Divorce in Russia until 1935 required only a statement 

at Zaks by either husband or wife that the marriage was 

annulled. Today it is harder for one of the parties to 

obtain a divorce without the consent of the other, and 

the fee for a divorce has been made almost prohibitive 

for the mass of the population. It used to cost only a 

ruble or two. Now the cost is hundreds of rubles and in- 

creases so steeply after the second divorce that only the 

rich can afford several divorces. 

Most of the domestic relations cases brought before 

the courts arise from the difficulties caused by the hous- 

ing problem. Even when both husband and wife wish to 

‘64 Lost Illusion 

separate, it is almost impossible for them to do so because 

neither can find a room to move into. 

One couple of our acquaintance who had twice di- 

vorced each other always got together again because 

they had to go on living in the same flat. Since most 

families have only one room it is almost impossible to 

separate, just as young people are often unable to get 

married and therefore have light affairs instead because 

they cannot get a room to live in. 

Often married couples have to share the one room 

occupied by mother and father and brothers and sisters. 

A girl I had known in London lived with her mother 

and husband, who was also her uncle, in one very small 

room for years. Her uncle was a composer and the piano 

occupied nearly half their living space. 

The Soviet Government, however, ascribes all the 

misdemeanors of its citizens as due to the “remnants of 

bourgeois ideology,” and to the “rottenness of the old 

world, which still continues to poison the Soviet atmos- 

phere.” 

Krilenko cites a number of cases in which men tried 

to turn their former wives, or even their children by a 

former wife, out into the street in order to make room 

for a new one. He gives the following example of a 

wicked worker whom bourgeois ideology had caused to 

behave in a most shameless way: 

“To illustrate the influence of old traditions, even 

among working class people, we will cite the case of 

Alexander Maloletkin, a worker in a machine tool fac- 

tory in Moscow. He looked on woman as a chattel. He 

A Home at Last 165 

showed an unbounded cynicism in his sexual relations. 

“Maloletkin met a woman working in the same fac- 

tory. He swore that he loved her and promised to marry 

her. Two days later he told her that he did not intend 

to marry her and did not want to see her again. He did 

the same thing to another woman in the same factory, 

and to another woman in a different factory. He had 

sexual intercourse with all these women and then mocked 

them and abandoned them. 

“The women took the matter to court. . . . Unfortu- 

nately the judge then officiating had the same conceptions 

as Maloletkin. Maloletkin explained that he could not 

have married any of these women because in the first 

place they were light women, and in the second place be- 

cause he had no room of his own. In the third place he 

said that he was married already and had a wife in the 

village. All these excuses were due to the strong influence 

on his mind of capitalist conceptions of woman and the 

family. 

“In the sentence of the court it was written: 

“0. knew perfectly well that Maloletkin had no room 

and could not get married. Therefore if he made a prom- 

ise of marriage, the woman should have understood that 

a man may promise a lot of things at a moment of sexual 

excitement and should not have taken the promise seri- 

ously.” 

“This Court decision, which is impregnated with con- 

ceptions and a morality alien to us, was quashed in the 

Higher Court and the judge was dismissed.” 

As Marx had said, the cultural level cannot be higher 

I66 Lost Illusion 

than the material conditions on which it is based, and 

the Soviet theoretical conception of marriage has no 

reality in the absence of improved living standards-in 

particular housing accommodations–which would make 

a “new and higher morality” possible. 

The abolition of legal abortions since 1935 has, of 

course, made life for Russian women very much harder, 

and intensified the housing shortage. The upper classes, 

as elsewhere, are little affected by the change. They can 

buy contraceptives or they have a high enough “cultural 

level” to avoid excessive childbearing. 

But the women of the working class and the peasants 

now either have to resort secretly to unqualified abor- 

tionists, or maintain families of five, six, seven or more 

children in one room. Contraceptives are very rarely 

available for sale to the majority of the population. 

For five months Arcadi and I lived under conditions 

unbelievable except in Moscow. We shared our kitchen 

and bathroom with Arcadi’s divorced wife and child, 

and with another family of three persons, mother, father, 

and a boy of fourteen, who occupied the third room in 

the flat. 

Anna Abramovna hated me so much that she always 

left the kitchen when I entered, and she forbade Arcadi’s 

son to come into our room. If he wanted to talk to his 

father, he had to stand on the threshold. Her hatred did 

not prevent her accepting the share of my munificent 

h-nab rations which I regularly sent in to her. 

But never once in those five months did we speak to 

each other, although inevitably we saw each other every 

A Home at Last ‘67 

day. I was quite willing to be friendly, but she nursed 

her hatred and sought to make Arcadi’s son hate him 

as well as me. In her, indeed, what the Soviet press 

termed “the remnants of bourgeois ideology” were very 

strong. At last she secured a room elsewhere and for a 

few weeks we had our two rooms to ourselves. 

Then I went to England to bring mother back to 

Moscow again. On this visit I found it even more diffi- 

cult than on previous occasions to hold my tongue. 

Often in subsequent years I tried to recall what I may 

have said to be brought up against Arcadi later. I knew 

that no one in England had the remotest conception of 

what terror means. I knew that if I told them the truth 

about Russia they might unwittingly betray me. 

But it was so hard to keep silent when such foolish 

nonsense was being talked about Russia. One of the 

hells that Dante never thought of is that of knowing the 

truth and not daring to speak it for the sake of those you 

love. I was probably indiscreet but the only two people 

to whom I freely unburdened my heart were Bertrand 

Russell and C. M. Lloyd, the Foreign Editor of the 

iVm Statesmn. Both were discreet and intelligent and 

I know they never betrayed my confidence. 

But there were others, whom I subsequently learned 

had spoken of my “anti-Soviet” attitude in spite of their 

promises. Yet I cannot blame them for in truth they 

knew not what they did. Few people brought up in the 

free atmosphere of England and America can have any 

conception of what terror means. During my short va- 

cations in England I felt like a prisoner out on parole. 

168 Lost Zltmion 

My most lasting memories of life in Moscow concern 

the three years Arcadi and I spent in our two rooms on 

Ordinka near the Moscow River. They were our first 

home together and our last, for we did not secure our 

long-promised flat until three months before Arcadi’s 

arrest in April, 1936. 

Badly built, with doors and windows of unseasoned 

wood which would not shut properly, unpapered and 

thinly whitewashed walls, these two rooms were home. 

They were ours, not a temporarily secured shelter out 

of which we must move when the owners returned. 

By American or English standards, we were living in a 

squalid tenement house. But by Soviet Russian standards 

we were housed almost like Communist aristocrats. We 

not only had two rooms to live in, but we had the luxury 

of gas for cooking instead of a smelly oil stove. And 

best of all we had a bathroom with a lavatory, which we 

had to share with only one other family. 

My mother whom I had brought to Russia for the 

second time stayed with us a year and a half. After my 

baby was born Arcadi and I had little privacy, but we 

were happy in Ordinka Street. 

The Bar-skis in the third room of our apartment were 

pleasant, cultured people who had lived for some years 

in South America. Sharing the small kitchen and the 

bathroom and toilet, we rarely quarreled and could 

cooperatively keep things decently clean. We even man- 

aged to get the flat more or less clear of the bugs which 

haunt most apartment houses in Moscow. This can only 

A Home at Last 

be done by scrupulous cleanliness and constant paraffin- 

ing of floors and woodwork. 

In the flats where we had occupied only one room, 

the bug plague could not be coped with since our neigh- 

bors’ bugs would always invade us. Even in Ordinka we 

could not avoid occasionally bringing home bugs on 

our clothing after standing in the crowded streetcars. 

I protected my baby by standing the legs of his cot in 

tin cans filled with water. 

I considered myself an expert bug-catcher. They bite 

you at night in bed and the art of catching them consists 

in switching on the light and turning down the bed- 

clothes all in a second. You then catch the bug in the act 

of retreating at top speed into the darkness under the 

mattress. 

At the beginning we had a gas water heater for the 

bath, and this in itself was a rare luxury in Moscow. 

Unfortunately, one morning a month or so before my 

son was born, it blew up while I was waiting for my 

bath. A shower of bricks fell around me, and Mrs 

Barski rushed off for smelling salts, expecting at least 

a premature birth. We could never get the heater re- 

paired, so future baths could be taken only by boiling 

kettles of water. 

One of the minor annoyances of Soviet life was the 

impossibility of getting repairs done. Repairs are im- 

portant when the standard of living is low, but they were 

not regarded as sufficiently important for State planners 

to recognize them officially. The government provided 

1. 

170 Lost 1llus~on 

none, and any individual who set himself up as a tinker, 

tailor, or whatnot, was classed 

as a petty bourgeois and 

an enemy of the state. So naturally there was never any 

way of getting things mended, unless you were handy 

with hammer and saw and could obtain precious nails. 

Our flat was on a top floor lately added to an old 

house. Above us was a great loft with beams which 

barely kept out the rain and snow. Up in that freezing 

cold loft at night, there would be dozens of starving 

peasants 

or beggars 

-mostly children. These wretched 

little waifs, the bez~rizmnii, came daily to plead for 

crusts. 

Shivering with cold, they held out old tin cans for hot 

water. If one gave a piece of sugar 

to these poor children 

an ecstatic smile would break over their pale faces. Peri- 

odically the police would hound them out of their 

wretched shelter into the street, but after a few days 

there would be others. 

One of the most terrible and pitiful sights I saw was 

one late afternoon in November 1933. Looking out of 

the window I saw police driving some wrecks of human- 

ity down into the cellar of our building. More and more 

people were brought in as the evening fell. Going down 

into the courtyard I was told by other occupants of our 

apartment house 

what was happening. 

The police were rounding up all the beggars 

and the 

homeless 

in the city prior to the November Revolution 

celebrations. The foreigners must not see the starving, 

homeless 

hordes, so they were all to be dumped outside 

Moscow. 

A Home at Last 17.1’ 

Our cellar was one of the collection depots. Late in 

the evening trucks arrived, and the beggars were pushed 

into them. Some were sick, others lame. Many were 

,I children. They were to be taken forty or fifty miles 

1: 

outside Moscow and dumped on the road to die, like 

I’ abandoned dogs or cats. If the stronger ones managed 

to straggle back to Moscow the celebrations would be 

1 over by the time they got there. 

/ We all watched that pitiful exodus from our windows. 

A thin rain was falling and the air was damp and chilly. 

Although by this time I should have been conditioned to 

brutality, I was pregnant and it made me sick. Those 

mothers down there with their cold and hungry children 

being driven out into the desolate countryside must be 

;; suffering unbearable anguish. It would have been more 

1 merciful to shoot them outright. 

I shivered with icy foreboding at the world into 

which I should soon bring a child. But I am blessed, or 

cursed, with a sanguine temperament; and although I 

knew with my mind that one cannot escape from the 

Soviet Union, I still went on deluding myself in my 

heart that some day, somehow, Arcadi and I might get 

out. 

My moral and political degeneration in the communist 

atmosphere had proceeded so far that I no longer hoped 

for the liberation of the Russian people. I dreamed of 

escape from the horrors of Stalin’s Russia, not of the 

overthrow of his tyranny. 

In my imagination I conceived of my brother Temple, 

back from the South Seas, sailing his yacht to the Black 

Lost Illusion 

Sea and rescuing us. My mind played around with the 

idea. Arcadi and I could pretend to be going for a sail. 

Could I teach Arcadi to swim well enough to reach the 

yacht at night through the warm Crimean Sea? 

Escape in fantastic day dreams about which I never 

told Arcadi helped make life bearable. He would have 

laughed at such romantic fantasy. We hardly ever spoke 

of our desire to get out of the Soviet prison house. It 

was too painful to talk about and too dangerous even to 

think of for fear our thoughts might later inadvertently 

become words and betray us. 

Arcadi seemed to have resigned himself to life in 

Russia. He still got some satisfaction and comfort out of 

doing his job. After long hours of work he came home 

too tired to think very much. 

I had less strenuous work and too much time for think- 

ing. Since Jane’s and Michael’s departure I had felt my- 

self cut off entirely from my old life in England. I 

keenly missed my two friends with whom I could talk 

freely in the long hours when Arcadi was still at the 

office and I sat at home waiting for him. 

In those first years in Moscow I had believed that one 

day we should all get out into the free world again. Now 

I knew that the past was utterly past, that we were in- 

extricably caught in the Soviet web, and that a long vista 

of years in Russia stretched ahead of me. I myself could 

escape but since Arcadi could not it was futile to long 

for the free world we had both once lived in and fool- 

ishly left. 

Arcadi and I loved each other dearly and we were 

together and soon we should have a child. After all, 

A Home at Last ‘73 

that was more than many people ever got out of life 

even in the free world outside. Our love knew neither 

jealousy nor antagonism. We were comrades in a real 

sense, helping each other, considerate of each other, and 

so close in thought and feeling that we had little need for 

words to reassure one another of the depth of affection 

between us. 

Arcadi had a boyish playfulness which sweetened our 

relationship and kept him young in spite of his exhaust- 

ing office life. Illusions and false political beliefs had 

originally brought us together. Disillusionment, trouble, 

and hardship, the need each of us had of the other, and 

an attraction which the years had welded into a oneness 

of body and spirit, had firmly united us. 

We had lived so long in one tiny room, adapting 

ourselves the one to the other and never quarreling over 

small things as so many people with whole flats to live 

in do. I still felt, and I know Arcadi felt it too, that to 

be in prison-like Russia together was infinitely better 

than being separated in a free world. 

Arcadi would again and again tell me to save myself, 

to leave him and go back to England. But he knew I 

never would. I had wept when I left England after the 

few months I spent there in the summer of 1933. I 

would have given up almost anything in the world, ex- 

cept Arcadi, to get out of Russia. But I had at long last 

adapted myself, learned to hide my thoughts and feelings 

in public, learned to avoid any political subjects in con- 

versation, and to talk only about food or rooms or 

scandal, except to one or two intimate friends. 

Material conditions had become sliphtlv better. After 

‘74 Lost Illzbon 

the hellish years of starvation, life in 1934, 1935 and 1936 

seemed almost tolerable. We did not know that soon 

starvation was to return, and that even the poor life of the 

middle thirties was to be but a breathing space between 

two eras of famine and terror. 

In the last years of my life in Moscow conditions 

were both better and worse than in the days when I 

first lived the life of a Russian. We ourselves were 

better off and the mass of the people were suffering a 

little less than before or afterwards. But there was an 

ever increasing differentiation in the living standards be- 

tween the rulers and the ruled, and between the skilled 

workers and the unskilled. 

There was less actual starvation but the privileged 

were now more privileged and class distinctions more 

openly displayed. More and more commercial shops 

were opened with their windows full of food and cloth- 

ing which ordinary people could not afford to buy. 

Earlier when the meat, butter, chocolates, fruit, shoes 

and clothing had been supplied to the Communist aris- 

tocracy in closed distributors the masses were not fully 

aware of the great gulf between them and their rulers. 

Luxury had not been openly displayed but hidden and 

unavowed. Now it was obvious to the dullest intelligence 

that the fruits of their labor were not for the working 

class and probably never would be. A bitter saying began 

to be heard in Moscow, 

“Yes, they have constructed socialism for themselves.” 

XII 

3bzy ao?z Is Boni? 

Y SON WAS BORN on March IO, 1934, and 1 be- 

gan the happiest period of my life in Moscow. In any 

society at any historical period men and women have the 

same fundamental needs and satisfactions, and perhaps 

children are the greatest of these. With my son’s birth I 

began to accept life, to be more restful and more calm. 

I could even forget politics for long periods and be- 

come absorbed in Jon’s needs and his development. In 

fact, I became far too absorbed and was abruptly awak- 

ened one day by Mark Kazanin saying to me that it 

would matter far more to my son in the future, what his 

mother was and had done, than the fact that I had per- 

sonally attended to all his wants. 

Mark, an intellectual of the type one rarely finds out- 

side Russia, considered me far too much of the earth 

earthy and resented both my love for my husband and 

the fact that I had been so human as to have a child at 

all. But he was good for me, both as a stimulant and an 

irritant. Without his suggestions and encouragement I 

should probably never have written Japan’s Feet of Clay 

and would thus have failed to keep my link with the 

Western world outside. It is probable that this book 

17.5 

176 Lost Illusion 

saved me from being arrested with my husband two 

years after my baby was born. 

Jon’s birth was a long and painful business. I was 

thirty-six and he weighed nine pounds. I spent two 

nights and a day in a ward with nine other women who 

screamed most of the time. I had arrived about 4 A.M. 

after waiting two hours for Arcadi to find a taxi to get 

me to the maternity hospital. The doctors and nurses, 

working twelve-hour shifts, had no time to pay atten- 

tion to a pregnant woman except at the actual moment of 

birth. 

Three times in the second night I was brought into the 

delivery room, only to be taken back to the ward when I 

failed to give birth. No one offered me any advice or 

help, and no relief was prescribed for the pain. Narcotics 

of any kind were ruled out, since the hospitals had none. 

During the time I spent in the delivery room I saw many 

children born, for there were no screens and I just lay 

in pain watching the babies of others being delivered. 

Finally at about nine o’clock on the second morning, 

at the changing of the shifts, a doctor examined me and 

decided that my baby’s heart might soon cease to beat. 

He gave me an injection to revive my strength, and he 

and another doctor threw themselves in turn upon my 

chest and abdomen. Meanwhile a third doctor cut me a 

little, and at last my son was born. 

I lay and watched my screaming baby being cleaned 

and dressed, and then a ticket with his number was tied 

around my wrist. I was given a bowl of soup where I lay 

flat on my back on the padded table, and I wrote a note 

My Son Is Born 177 

to my husband waiting anxiously downstairs. I was then 

left where I was until three o’clock that afternoon before 

anyone had time to stitch me up. This was finally done 

without an anesthetic. 

After that I was moved into a comfortable bed in a 

ward for eight persons. The room was clean, but the 

windows were tightly shut. Here I remained eight days 

without seeing Arcadi or my mother, since no visitors 

were allowed in the hospital for fear of infection. 

I was in one of the best maternity hospitals in Russia, 

the Clara Zetkin Birth House, where I had made a res- 

ervation months before by a combination of wangling 

and money. The food was ample; but I nearly suffocated 

for lack of fresh air. 

Our babies were brought to us to be fed all swaddled 

up, but my son was allowed to have his head uncovered 

because he had so much hair. I longed to relieve him of 

the weight and discomfort of his swaddling clothes, and 

did so at once when I got him home. 

A few days after I came home Arcadi became terribly 

ill. They feared he had typhus, but in the end it wasn’t 

this dread disease and he recovered. The Russian servant 

I then had, Masha, quit in a panic when Arcadi became 

sick. It was impossible to hire a trained nurse and with 

only my mother to nurse him I had to get up. However, 

having a child agreed with me. I felt well, I looked years 

younger, and I had plenty of milk. 

Mrs. Barski, in the third room of our apartment, was 

kind and helpful. Her only fault was her incessant 

chatter. In the morninm she would follow Arcadi around 

178 Lost Ikrion 

talking, even into the bathroom while he shaved. On the 

rare occasions when I quarreled with her she would ob- 

ject to my hanging my baby’s diapers in the hall to dry 

and treat us to a few days of dignified silence. When we 

were friendly, Arcadi, exasperated by her unceasing 

conversation would say to me privately: “Can’t you 

pick a quarrel with Mrs. Barski so that she won’t talk so 

much?” 

Soon after my son was born I acquired Emma, the last 

and best of the Volga German servant girls I employed. 

She became a devoted friend, and was the only human 

being besides Arcadi’s sister who still dared to corre- 

spond with me after my husband was arrested. 

Emma had red hair and a quick temper. She horrified 

our Russian friends by “thouing” Arcadi and me and in 

general behaving like one of the family. She loved my 

son and she loved us, and, although I had to teach her 

everything, she was intelligent and quick to learn. 

I had to bring my boy up on a book and with my 

mother’s help, for Russian ideas about babies were almost 

medieval. Babies were all swaddled both when they went 

out and in their cradles, windows were. never opened, 

and the doctors at the Conrultatia (advisory clinic for 

mothers) said one must on no account hold them out 

before they were six months old. 

It was accepted that a baby should either be consti- 

pated or have diarrhoea. I had to trust to the instructions 

in the Truby King book I had and to such advice as I 

could get by air mail from an old school friend in 

London. 

My Son Is Born ‘79 

However, since I was able to nurse Jon entirely for 

six months and partly for nine, he was a healthy, happy 

baby and nothing ever went seriously wrong There 

were, of course, no baby foods to be had in Russia. If a 

mother could not nurse she had to give plain cow’s milk 

and water. Luckily some Australian Communist friends 

of ours, the Baracchis, were then living on foreign cur- 

rency exchange at the New Moscow Hotel, and had an 

h-nab ration book. 

They gave me their rations for four months, and this 

enabled us to live so well that I kept up my strength 

even when I went back to work and had to rush home at 

twelve and climb five flights of stairs to nurse Jon. We 

had plenty of money, for my Lancashire and the Far 

East had at last after many delays, been published in 

Moscow. I had received several thousand rubles in 

royalties, and this lasted a long time. 

The vicissitudes of publication in the USSR are well 

illustrated by what happened to my book. It was trans- 

lated originally in 193 I and an advance on royalties was 

paid to me. Then publication was delayed because an 

introduction praising it had been written by Safarov, 

who promptly thereafter fell into disgrace. 

Next the Russian manuscript was lost when the Com- 

munist Party publishing office moved to a new location. 

Finally two years later Karl Radek discovered the Eng- 

lish edition, sent for me, praised it very warmly, and 

arranged for its immediate translation and publication. It 

was once again translated into Russian and finally pub- 

lished, and I got a new contract and was paid over again. 

180 Lost Illusion 

Since the autumn of 1932 I had been employed by the 

Institute of World Economy and Politics, and my work 

there required no regular hours of attendance, although I 

had to spend a good deal of time away from home in 

the library, 

When my son was nine months old I paid a flying 

visit to England to make a contract for my projected 

book on Japan. 

Soon after my return, in March 1935, my mother went 

home. She had been with us a year and a half on this 

second visit and now that we had Jon, life in Moscow in 

two rooms for five of us, including Emma, had become 

very difficult. 

I was trying to provide English hygienic conditions 

for Jon, which meant his sleeping with the transom open 

in winter in a dark room. So in the evenings we all had 

to sit in the other room. At night Arcadi, Jon and I 

shared one room and Emma and my mother the other. 

The night my mother left I received a cable from 

Temple’s friend, Rab, in London that my brother had 

got blood poisoning in Fiji and might die. My mother 

was already on her way to England, and it was too late 

to stop her. She had to face the news of his death alone 

ten days later. That was in April, just a year before I was 

to lose Arcadi as well. 

Temple’s death brought home to me the passing of the 

years and of the hopes which had gone with them. I re- 

membered our happy childhood together, our college 

days after the war when the world had seemed to me a 

place of infinite promise, a progressive world on the way 

My Son Is Born 181 

to the establishment of a just society. Temple had never 

believed this. Romance for him had not lain in politics 

but in the South Seas, in getting away from civilization, 

not in remolding it nearer to the heart’s desire. 

He had died in the warmth and beauty of the tropics, 

but for him too the dream world in which he sailed 

freely for a while had become, after his second marriage, 

the humdrum provincial life of Suva where he had settled 

down to practice medicine. In one of the last letters he 

ever wrote he said to my mother: “Freda’s letter to me 

was in tone and spirit very sweet. Neither of us quite 

seems to have found our new world. Moral-do not read 

your children romantic tales in their infancy. However 

hard-boiled they may become afterwards, the original 

taint remains.” 

That last summer Arcadi and I took a datcha in the hot 

summer months because of Jon. Life at the datcha was 

wearing because in these wooden houses in the villages 

outside Moscow everything was primitive. Cooking had 

to be done on oilstoves, water had to be fetched in 

buckets, and food was obtained mainly in the city and 

carried the long distance from the local station. 

Our servant could not possibly do everything and 

look after my young child. So I had to do a great deal of 

the housework myself as well as travel to Moscow once 

or twice a week to the Institute. At the same time I was 

endeavoring to write Japan’s Feet of Clay. 

Arcadi could not get to the datcha every evening, but 

he was always with us over the weekend, and I some- 

times spent a night in town. 

182 Lost llliwion 

The datcha we lived in was a large house which KaI- 

manofsky, the Chairman of Promexport, got from the 

Soviet for the summer for about 600 rubles and which he 

exploited by renting out separate rooms at 500 rubles 

apiece. This was the normal practice. We had two rooms 

and a terrace. The other three families living in the 

house had only one room each. Kalmanofsky used two 

for himself, his beautiful wife, a well-known actress, and 

for his brother, who was a non-Party engineer. 

The other women in the datcba thought me very bold 

because I dared to walk alone in the dusk from the rail- 

road station along the narrow path through the forest. 

It was true that murders were reported with disquieting 

frequency, murders committed merely for the purpose of 

stealing the victim’s clothing. But, as I wore only a simple 

sarafan (a sleeveless cotton dress held up by straps) in 

the hot summer, I felt pretty safe. 

Russian women are usually very timid, as I had learned 

long before in Tokyo, where they had been afraid to go 

alone down the dark lane behind the Trade Representa- 

tion building. But Emma feared neither men nor gov- 

ernments. Superbly built, with arms strong enough to 

knock a man down, she had a scornful contempt for the 

pretty, delicate Kazaikas (housewives) who neither 

toiled nor spun, and who, even if their husbands were 

poor, spent their time in idleness. 

In late August and September when the weather was 

chilly, we longed for wood to make a fire. But I could 

not buy fuel in the village, although there was a forest 

all around us. One day there was a mighty thunder- 

.- 

My Son Is Born 183 

storm, one of the most magnificent I have ever seen. 

Three trees in the datcha garden were struck by light- 

ning, one falling over the terrace and just missing our 

house. 

We were delighted. Here was some wood at last. It 

was forbidden to cut trees-they belonged to the village 

Soviet-but we might take the branches. So we started 

to work, and Emma and I filled our terrace with enough 

wood to burn for many days. The other wives sent their 

servants and looked upon me with disapproval because I 

demeaned myself by such physical labor. 

“How can you, ” one of them asked, “an intellectual, 

a writer, go out with the servants to cut wood!” 

Five years before, no such remark could have been 

made. But already the Soviet upper classes had developed 

their caste theories. Moreover, since Russian men for the 

most part preferred ultra-feminine women, all who could 

do so lived up to this ideal. 

They pi-inked and painted, wore the highest heeled 

shoes they could find, would go without food to buy the 

fantastically expensive materials now on sale at a few 

shops, and considered me a hopeless blue-stocking and 

far too democratic in my behavior. The fact that Emma 

called me and Arcadi by our first names shocked them. 

What they really objected to was Emma’s status in my 

household. It made their own servants discontented to 

see us treat her as our equal and our friend. 

Russian summers are usually lovely and warm, but that 

summer at the datcha it was rainy and cold. Having 

spent so much money on the rental so that Jon might 

184 Lost Illusion 

have air and sunshine, we found the weather very disap- 

pointing. I was working hard and getting very little 

sleep as I used to arise at six o’clock with Jon. Although 

we were living in the country we now had much less 

nourishing food than at any time since the first year of 

our life in Russia. 

Znsnab had been discontinued in the early summer. 

Gort closed down in the fall. Everything had to be 

bought in the commercial shops or at the peasant markets 

at commercial prices. Arcadi’s salary remained at the 

same level of 600 rubles which he had been earning for 

two years past, and while working on my book I was 

making only my minimum salary of 300 rubles. 

We sold some old clothes, and Arcadi got one month’s 

extra salary as a bonus. I had received a few English 

pounds as an advance on my book, which we spent 

gingerly at Turgsin. We managed to feed Jon well and 

to live, but we went rather short of food and I twice 

came down with ‘flu. Temple’s death had saddened me, 

and I felt ill and old and depressed. I wrote to my mother 

that I realized the best of life is over before one knows it 

has begun. 

Finally in the fall after we returned to Moscow, I had 

a breakdown which the doctor called a heart neurosis or 

something like that. The Institute of World Economy 

and Politics which employed me sent me to a very good 

sanatorium for five weeks, It was reserved for scientific 

workers of high qualifications or Party members. The 

food was excellent and I had a beautiful room to myself. 

Soon I recovered the health which had enabled me to 

My Son Is Born ‘85 

stand all the rigors of life in Moscow, and bear up under 

the physical and nervous strain to which even privileged 

mothers are subject in Soviet Russia. Emma had looked 

after Jon and Arcadi during my absence but I had wor- 

ried about them and was happy to return to Ordinka 

Street. 

XIII 

ay Institute Is Twged 

HEN I RETURNED TO MOSCOW 1 felt Wd 

again and the depression had lifted from my spirits. I set- 

tled down to intensive concentration on my book. This 

writing and the previous research work I had done at the 

Institute of World Economy and Politics gave me a good 

deal of satisfaction. The Institute provided me with 

about the best employment I could have found in all 

Russia. 

As a “senior scientific worker” in the Pacific Ocean 

Cabinet, for three years I did research work on Japan in 

particular and the Far East in general. I received a reg- 

ular salary and in addition was paid for every article or 

report I wrote. We scientific workers had our own in- 

dividual plan to fulfill and worked very much as we 

liked. I had to attend meetings of various kinds, but 

otherwise I spent only as much time at the Institute as I 

pleased, or as I felt my work required. 

The head of the Institute, the well-known Hungarian 

Marxist, Eugene Varga, was a decent, kindly, and intelli- 

gent old man. He always toed the Party line and sur- 

vived successive waves of purges, but he was a real 

worker and tried to keep out of his Institute unqualified 

186 

My Institute Is Purged ‘87 

Party men looking for a soft job. Some attention was 

paid to scientific exactitude. Figures might be twisted to 

have various meanings, but at least the figures were ac- 

curate. 

The Institute contained many sections. There was a 

statistical bureau producing a Konjunktur journal on 

the model of a German business conditions publication, 

and there were various other divisions studying and 

analysing economic conditions in every part of the 

world. Since my assignment was Japan, and since, luckily 

for me, Japan remained unfriendly to the USSR all the 

time I worked at the Institute, I could do real research 

and honest writing. 

We had a wonderful library containing practically 

every book, old or new, in English, German or French 

I needed or desired to read. We had the newspapers 

from all countries and an excellent press-clipping depart- 

ment for reference purposes. It was, in fact, a first-class 

research institute, where, because it was occupied in 

making reports on economic and political conditions and 

developments abroad, I could do satisfactory work. 

The Central Committee of the Russian Communist 

Party, and the Commissariat of Foreign Trade, as well as 

the Comintem used the reports we produced. They 

might make queer uses of them, but that did not directly 

concern us nor greatly affect the quality of our work. 

There was a good story told about Varga which il- 

lustrates the little value of the political side of our efforts. 

While in Berlin, Varga received a telegram from the 

Central Committee of the Communist Party in Moscow 

188 Lost Illusion 

demanding that he should at once prepare a report on 

economic conditions in Europe. A few days later he 

wired back, 

“Analysis ready, telegraph at once what perspectives 

should be given.” 

In plain English, Varga was asking for instructions as 

to what he was required to prove by his figures. The 

story could have been an invention, but it illustrates 

perfectly how Communists use economic facts to prove a 

political thesis decreed from above, instead of deducing 

the political developments from the economic conditions, 

as intelligent Marxists are supposed to do. 

At the Institute I knew many decent and intelligent 

men and women. There was a somewhat cleaner and less 

hypocritical atmosphere than in most other Soviet insti- 

tutions, a little less frantic pushing and jealous denuncia- 

tion, a little more interest in work, and generally a 

“higher level of culture,” as the Russians would describe 

it. I never dared to speak freely or openly, but I felt that 

many of my Communist co-workers knew that I knew 

that they knew what was the real state of the USSR and 

of research work under Stalin’s tyranny. 

I was in and yet not of the life of the Institute. I was a 

foreigner and an English citizen. English and Americans 

were then the most favored foreigners in Moscow. This 

was the period of the Popular Front line in Comintern 

policy, and every effort was being made to conciliate 

British and American public opinion. 

I spoke Russian very badly. I deliberately did not at- 

tempt to improve my pronunciation or my grammar 

My Institute Is Purged ‘89 

since I could take refuge in language difficulties to save 

myself from the necessity of making speeches at meet- 

ings. So I escaped the necessity of lying and being a 

hypocrite and the dangers of denunciation if I did not 

publicly dissemble. 

I did my work conscientiously. As I am naturally of a 

friendly disposition, people did not dislike me. In fact 

they were very nice to me. I never sought to acquire a 

higher position by calumniating others, and I suppose 

that most of my fellow scientific workers felt I was 

harmless and lacking in ambition and might as well be 

left unmolested. 

Upon one occasion when it was reported to me that I 

had been criticized behind my back, I took the bull by 

the horns, marched in to Voitinsky, and demanded, in 

what Jane used to call my best British imperialist man- 

ner, an investigation of the accusation. My reaction was 

so unexpected and unusual that it took Voitinsky aback, 

and the attack on me was quashed. 

Mark, who also worked at the Institute as an expert on 

China was highly amused. He said that the normal Rus- 

sian way of dealing with such denunciations, would 

have been to start a counter-whispering campaign against 

the man who had accused me. But my English lack of 

finesse and method of direct attack were so unusual and 

unexpected as to have disarmed my enemies. However, I 

fully recognized the fact that only my British passport 

had enabled me to get away with it. No Russian could 

have dared to risk it. 

The German Communists at our Academy, and also 

190 Lost Illusion 

at the Marx Engels Institute nearby where Jane had 

worked, were in a most unhappy situation. Their excess 

zeal and very sincerity got them into trouble. They 

worked hard to learn the Russian language and to be- 

come an integral part of Soviet society. 

They religiously studied their Pravda and Izvestia and 

the Communist Party resolutions. They took the Party 

line seriously, and tried to understand it. In consequence 

they often rushed in where angels feared to tread. 

Germans were happy and proud to be able to make 

speeches and to show how thoroughly they understood 

Communist Party doctrine. Since the Party line and the 

interpretation of the sacred texts varied from season to 

season, this was a very dangerous way to behave. 

My complete withdrawal from politics, my indiffer- 

ence to the whole sorry game, and my poor knowledge 

of the Russian language enabled me to sit or stand 

through the meetings in safety, my thoughts miles away. 

But the Germans wanted to testify, and this often 

brought them to disaster. The poor devils still believed in 

Communism and were bewildered, confused, and un- 

done when the Party line changed overnight, or a new 

interpretation was given to last month’s Party resolution 

which they had so carefully studied. 

Also the Germans, many of them refugees from fas- 

cism, some of them escaped prisoners from German con- 

centration camps, were usually honest and painfully 

sincere. Nor had they lost their personal integrity. It was 

difficult, almost impossible, for them to lie and cheat. 

I remember the case of one German couple at the 

My Institute Is Purged ‘91 

Institute. The husband was condemned to prison as a 

Trotskyist. The wife was told she could keep her job if 

she would publicly denounce him as a Trotskyist spy, 

and repudiate him. She protested his innocence and re- 

fused to do so. So she was thrown out, to starve. How- 

ever, there was a rumor that Varga, who was a very, 

humane man, secretly secured her a job as a factory la- 

borer in a remote provincial town. 

The spirit of many of the German Communists who 

had taken refuge in the Soviet Union was broken in 

time. Looked upon always as potential foreign spies, dis- 

liked or envied for their superior knowledge or intel- 

ligence or diligence, with no government to protect 

them, and persuaded or forced to become Russian citi- 

zens, they were completely at the mercy of the Soviet 

government. 

Those who had been active revolutionaries in Ger- 

many were most suspected, and thousands disappeared 

during the great purges. Others became as shameless as 

the Russians in calumniating their comrades to try to 

save themselves by lying, hypocrisy, and false accusa- 

tions. 

American and British Party members, and in lesser de- 

gree the French, were then on the contrary the favored 

sons or daughters of the Soviet fatherland. There were 

so few Communists in the West that minor deviations 

were forgiven them. In Moscow they could count upon 

an easy life and a good position without any great effort 

on their part. 

I was no longer a member of the Communist aristoc- 

192 Lost Illusion 

racy. I had let my membership in the British Communist 

Party lapse and had not tried to transfer to the Russian 

Communist Party. Nevertheless as an Anglichanka 

(Englishwoman) I was in a privileged position. More- 

over the fact that I had had a book published both in 

England and the Soviet Union added greatly to my 

prestige. 

Some of the reports I had written on Japanese eco- 

nomics had been very favorably received. One of them, 

on Japan’s food resources and the likely effect of war on 

her economy, had been utilized by the Central Commit- 

tee of the Bolshevik Party, which in effect meant the 

Soviet Government. So my stock was pretty high in 

spite of the fact that I was no longer a member of the 

Communist Party. 

Only once was I seriously attacked. This was at a 

chiska shortly before my son was born. At these periodic 

“cleansings of the apparatus” everyone had to appear in 

a large assembly room before all his or her fellow work- 

ers to be questioned concerning social origins, work, gen- 

eral behavior and worthiness. I was denounced on this 

occasion on the charge that five years or so before I had 

written articles for the “capitalist press.” Had I not been 

a correspondent for the Manchester Guardian while in 

Japan? 

It was still the ultra-Left period of Comintem history. 

The Popular Front and democratic masquerade did not 

start until I 935. So the accusation was quite a serious one. 

However I was saved by a friend rising to my defense to 

point out that my work for the Manchester Gmwdia7t 

My Institute Is Purged 

had been a permissible camouflage for my revolutionary 

activities in the Far East. 

Others did not escape so easily. There was one poor 

Jewish woman, a widow with two children to support, 

who was denounced for having had her son circumcised 

fourteen years earlier. She could not deny the accusation 

and she lost her Party card and was dismissed from our 

Institute. 

The Soviet Government even in those days denied 

that it persecuted religion but it was a fact that anyone 

known to go to church or to a synagogue, or to have any 

religious beliefs, could rarely, if ever, obtain a good job. 

Membership in the Communist Party with the privileges 

this gave was, of course, out of the question for either 

Christians or orthodox Jews. 

My work at the Communist Academy kept me in 

touch with the outside world, kept my intelligence alive, 

and enabled me to earn a living without selling my soul. 

It also gave me the opportunity to write Japan’s Feet of 

Clay, which in the future was to save me and my son 

from destitution in England. The prestige of writing a 

book for publication in England rendered me almost im- 

mune from attack, and the work on it gave me immense 

satisfaction. 

My detestation of Japanese tyranny and hypocrisy 

was second only to my hatred of Soviet tyranny and 

hypocrisy, and it seemed to me that the world had almost 

as many illusions about Japan as about Russia. I could 

not do anything about the Russian illusions, but at least 

I could tear the veil from the face of Japanese tyranny. 

194 Lost Illusion 

At the Institute I had access to an immense quantity of 

material and time to do real research work, and the year 

I had previously spent in Japan gave me the necessary 

background. The fact that I had managed to make a 

contract for the book with Faber and Faber in England 

before I wrote it, so impressed the Institute that I was 

allowed to spend a year working on it without interfer- 

ence or supervision. 

I remember, though, that when it was finished and I 

had given some chapters to one of my few trusted 

friends to read he advised me to take out what I had writ- 

ten concerning outward conformity to the state creed 

and expressions of enthusiastic loyalty under a tyran- 

nical government. It was too obvious, he said, that I 

really meant the USSR when writing about Japan! 

The Pacific Ocean Cabinet of our Institute became 

the Russian branch of the Institute of Pacific Relations 

when the Kremlin switched over to the policy of estab- 

lishing good relations with liberal capitalist organizations 

and groups abroad. To keep up appearances a room was 

taken in another part of the town and a notice put up on 

the door saying “Soviet Council of the Institute of 

Pacific Relations.” When representatives of the Amer- 

ican Council visited Moscow a few members of our 

Institute would be delegated to sit in this room and re- 

ceive the foreigners. 

In 1936, however, the whole staff of our Pacific Ocean 

Cabinet had an all-day long session at the Institute with 

E. C. Carter, Owen La&more and Harriet Moore, lead- 

ing lights of the Institute of Pacific Relations. I was a 

My Institute Is Purged 19s 

little surprised at the time that these Americans should 

defer so often and so completely to the Russian view- 

point. 

I was still more astonished in the evening when Mr. 

Carter addressed a large gathering of Moscow Com- 

munist “actives” as leading members of the Party were 

called. Afterward Philip Rabinovitch remarked to me 

with a smile that it was strange that Mr. Carter who had 

formerly been Secretary of the World Y.M.C.A. spoke 

almost like a good Bolshevik. 

Owen Lattimore found it difficult at first to submit to 

the discipline required of Friends of the Soviet Union. 

He told me a few months later in London how he had al- 

most lost his job as Editor of Pacific Aflairs because he 

had published an article by the Trotsky&, Harold 

Isaacs. 

In later years in the United States it did not astonish 

me to find the Institute of Pacific Relations following the 

same general line as the DaiZy Worker in regard to China 

and Japan. 

I imagine the Institute of World Economy and Politics 

must have greatly changed since my day. In 1936 the 

great purge was seriously affecting our organization. 

When the leaders in the Communist Party fall they drag 

down many lesser men with them. 

For instance, when Madyar, who had been the chief 

theoretician of the Chinese revolution, was disgraced and 

imprisoned after Kirov’s murder at the end of 1935, 

there began a strenuous heresy hunt. 

The Red professors and scientific workers who spe- 

196 Lost Illusion 

cialized on China all started thumbing through each 

other’s old books and articles to discover Trotskyist 

deviations or signs of Madyar’s influence. Since Madyar’s 

word had been law to us, this was not difficult. Many a 

co-worker of mine in the Pacific Ocean Cabinet felt im- 

periled and tried to denounce his neighbor to prove his 

loyalty to Stalin and to escape being denounced himself. 

The situation was all the worse because Voitinsky, the 

chief of our department, had played a prominent role in 

the Comintern in I 92 7 and had then been made a scape- 

goat, together with Borodin, for the tragic fiasco of the 

Chinese revolution. 

Voitinsky had come back into favor only a few years 

before, and it is always those who have “deviated” and 

been disgraced in the past and then reinstated who are 

most unscrupulous about others. When the purge be- 

came serious, Voitinsky started accusing almost every- 

one under him. All those who worked on China feared 

for their jobs or their lives. 

Soon the whole Institute was panic stricken by the 

purge. Varga dismissed his brilliant Vice-Director, Mel- 

nitskaya, a woman of great intelligence and character 

and a real scholar. She managed to survive by taking an 

obscure position helping to produce the Encyclopaedia 

then being completed, but she has probably been liqui- 

dated by now. The other woman Party members were 

very jealous of her. She had been a Trotsky& years be- 

fore. Her husband, who worked at the Marx Engels 

Institute, was already under suspicion. 

I left Soviet Russia before the storm reached its height, 

My Institute Is Purged ‘97 

I so the fate of most of the men and women I worked with 

for three and a half years is unknown to me. But by 

noting the names of those who still write for the publi- 

cations of the Institute, I perceive that the non-Party men 

fared best. 

The Communists I knew have generally disappeared. 

One exception is Rogoff who had the desk next to mine 

and whom I met in China as chief Tass correspondent 

in 1938. He had never written a book and was not much 

of a scholar so I suppose he never had any provable 

deviations. 

Mao Tse-tung and the other Chinese Communist lead- 

ers remained prudently in Yenan in their own Soviet 

Chinese territory where they could not easily be inter- 

fered with although they accepted Moscow’s orders. 

We, the scientific workers at the Communist academy 

together with the personnel of the China division of the 

Comintem, were held responsible for their mistakes, 

failures and deviations. We who supplied them with 

their theoretical and practical instructions had to make 

quick turns when the Comintern line changed. 

Early in I 93 5 the Seventh Congress of the Comintem 

switched all the Communist parties of the world over to 

the Popular Front line or Trojan horse tactic. The Social 

Democrats, Labor Parties and Trade Unions of the West 

whom we had hitherto denounced as Social Fascists, 

worse than outright Nazis, were now to be counted as 

our allies. 

Similarly, in China, the Communists were instructed 

to cease fighting Chiang Kai-shek and the Kuomintang 

198 Lost Illusion 

and to try to make an alliance with them against Japan. 

The Chinese Communists were further instructed to 

cease killing landowners and to represent themselves as 

liberal agrarian reformers. 

Thus overnight everything we had said and written in 

previous years became heresy. The wise so-called scien- 

tific workers were those who had always taken care to 

say opposite things at the same time, and thus ensure 

themselves against sudden changes in the Party line. 

Everyone of us bore in mind the old Soviet precept: 

If you think don’t speak! 

If you speak don’t write! 

If you write don’t pvblish! 

If you publish recant immediately! 

Tricks with Statistics 

T IS ONLY WHEN THE PEOPLE submitblindly 

that a master can order tremendous sacrifices to produce 

very little.” 

Thus spoke the AbbC Custine concerning one of 

Stalin’s prototypes, the “Iron Tsar,” Nicholas I, who 

made it a crime for workers to strike. In the Abbe’s eyes 

the edifices erected by the Tsars represented “not the 

force of a great country, but the uselessly wasted sweat 

of a great people.” 

Tourists from the “capitalist world” to Stalin’s empire 

were less perceptive than the clerical visitor from France 

to the nineteenth-century empire of the Romanovs. They 

admired the gigantic edifices and were indifferent to the 

wasted sweat and the misery of the Russian people. 

Communists and fellow travelers, many of whom at 

home had never seen the inside of a factory or a power 

station, journalists and authors, school teachers and “in- 

tellectuals” of all kinds, came on conducted tours of the 

Soviet Union and worshipped before the shrine of the 

machine. 

It reminded me of the story I was told in Moscow by

Jewish-Russian immigrant to the United States. He came 

199 

200 Lost Illusion 

with other emigrants from a village in South Russia. Ar- 

rived in Philadelphia, he and his fellow villagers were 

astounded at the streetcars, the automobiles, and the fac- 

tories. 

They had never in their lives seen these things before. 

They did not know that they existed in Europe, and 

therefore became firmly convinced that the United 

States was the most wonderful country in the world. 

Many of the tourists to the Soviet Union were like 

this. The factories and power stations in the USSR were 

something they had never seen before at close quarters 

in their own countries, and they felt sure it was socialism 

which had created them. 

Nor apparently were they aware that the crkches, ma- 

ternity homes, kindergartens, and other social services so 

much boasted about in Russia were far more widespread 

and available to a larger proportion of the population in 

England, Germany, Austria and Scandinavia. 

For the tourists I met in Moscow it was enough that 

new factories and power stations, had been erected in 

Russia since the Revolution. They were not interested in 

the social cost or in the utility of these concrete signs 

of Soviet industrialization. 

Yet for the Russian people the much-admired “‘gi- 

gantic successes on the industrial front” meant only 

hardship, undernourishment, and overwork. These great 

edifices did not minister to their wants, and never would. 

The story of the peasant woman who saw a tractor for 

the first time, and exclaimed sadly and longingly, “What 

Tricks with Statistics 201 

a lot of nails could have been made out of all that iron,” 

illustrates the tragic farce of the Five Year Plan. 

The people required food, clothing, shoes, and houses, 

and ordinary tools to’ make a living. They were given 

instead a stone, in the shape of a few great factories pro- 

ducing either goods for export to obtain money to import 

more machinery, or armaments to defend the Soviet 

state. Not to defend the people for they had literally 

“nothing to lose but their chains.” 

One May Day, I marched in the procession in Moscow 

side by side with an Austrian Communist who had seen 

service with the Red Army in the civil wars as an aviator. 

Not yet having learned to hold my tongue on all occa- 

sions, I could not help remarking, as we passed the foun- 

dations of the Palace of Soviets, that it would have been 

better to have built flats for the workers first. 

“Ah,” he said, “don’t you realize that this is an Asiatic 

people? In order to make them obey the government, 

palaces must be built to overawe them with concrete 

proof of the power and glory of the government. This is 

far more important for social stability than giving the 

people decent houses to live in.” 

Admirers of the Soviet Union point to the statistics of 

industrial growth-so much more iron and steel pro- 

duced, so many more industrial workers, so huge an in- 

vestment in capital construction. The cost is never 

reckoned, and no comparison can be made between the 

social cost under Stalin’s so-called socialism and cap- 

italism. We do know, however, that the cost of the con- 

202 Lost Illusion 

struction carried out under the First Five Year Plan was 

very much higher than had been reckoned. 

The tourists were incapable of judging whether the 

“Giants of the Five Year Plan” functioned to their full 

capacity or not. But everyone in Russia who had any- 

thing to do with industry or trade knew that jerry-build- 

ing, poor materials, incompetent or skimped work, and 

hidden defects, made the factories and power stations 

erected at the cost of so much sweat and misery and 

hunger incapable of turning out more than a fraction of 

what they had been planned to produce. 

The machines imported in exchange for the food and 

manufactured goods so sorely needed by the Russian 

people, or in return for the timber produced by 

wretched slave laborers of the secret police, deteriorated 

rapidly and soon became defective or unworkable. These 

defects and shortcomings were often referred to in the 

Soviet Press. But they were always ascribed to sabotage 

or to the ignorance or inefficiency of individuals, never 

to the system which was in fact responsible. 

Yet it was the system to force engineers and tech- 

nicians, all the qualified experts, to work under Com- 

munist Party bosses who knew nothing about the enter- 

prises of which they were in charge, and could always 

put the blame on the non-Party specialists when things 

went wrong. However well or badly they worked, the 

result was the same: the concentration camp awaited the 

specialists in the short or the long run, so they tried to 

make the run as long as possible. 

The best way to put off the evil day of arrest was to 

Tricks with Statistics 203 

skimp work and allow others to skimp it, to close one’s 

eyes to defects, to say that everything was going splen- 

didly, and to flatter the Party boss who stood over you. 

Any specialist whose conscience drove him to the in- 

discretion of questioning or criticizing the orders of the 

ignorant Party chief was in for it. 

The social cost of the “gigantic successes on the in- 

dustrial front” cannot be calculated. For as early as 1930 

the state Planning Commission was purged of the non- 

Party experts capable of computing it. Thereafter it was 

decreed that statistics must “play a practical part in the 

war of Communism against Capitalism”; that there must 

henceforth be only “class statistics.” 

This was an indirect way of saying that statistics 

henceforth should not be reliable, but should serve the 

needs of progapanda. Since that date, statistics which 

could not be manipulated to prove the successes of “so- 

cialist construction” have simply not been issued at all. 

Included are statistics dealing with prices, currency, 

housing, and the cost of living. 

The Soviet Government has discovered all sorts of in- 

genious ways to delude simple-minded tourist friends 

from England and the United States. When you visit a 

factory in Russia, it is usual in reply to questions to be 

given misleading statistics, the planned figure, not the 

real one. 

In the course of my work at the Commissariat of Light 

Industry, I visited many textile factories. At Ivanovo 

Vosnysenk, I was handed a production report by the 

manager which I could not reconcile with what I had 

204 Lost illusion 

learned in the weaving rooms from the workers them- 

selves, or with my experience at Promexport of what 

this factory had been able to send to us for export. 

At last, after I had questioned the manager until he 

was weary, he exclaimed, 

“Oh, I see now; you want the facticbiske figures, not 

those po planu. All right, here they are.” 

The factual figures turned out to be about 35 per ten; 

less than the theoretical planned statistics. Since I was a 

foreigner, he had naturally given me the planned figures, 

not the real ones, as that was the customary procedure 

with visitors. 

Successes are usually claimed on the basis of figures 

stated in ruble values, not in units of production. The 

statistics of production as given in rubles are useless since 

prices are changeable and arbitrary. For instance, it may 

be stated that the production of shoes in a given year is 

to total 1,000 million rubles, as against 500 million in a 

previous year. But no one knows, and no one can com- 

pute, just how many pairs of shoes are made, or just 

what the value of the ruble is going to be, or what it was 

in the year used as a basis for comparison. 

Again, if retail trade turnover figures in a certain 

year are much higher than in the previous year, this does 

not necessarily mean that more goods became available 

for the consumers. There may have been fewer units of 

goods, but the state may arbitrarily have increased its 

profits on such sales by raising the price. 

When Stalin, after the conclusion of the First Five 

Year Plan, announced its realization as 93.7 per cent, and 

Tricks with Statistics 205 

said this meant that industrial production was three times 

the pre-war figure, he implied that he was speaking of 

volume or quantity. In reality he was basing his calcula- 

tion on arbitrary values translated into more or less 

fictitious rubles. 

No one knows therefore what was in fact accom- 

plished. In those branches of industry for which volume 

or quantity figures were published, production fell short 

of the Plan. This was notably the case with regard to 

iron, steel, and electricity. 

Coal, which made a better showing, was fourteen per 

cent below the planned figure. Since the factories could 

have fulfilled their production plans only if provided 

with the necessary fuel and raw materials, it is obvious 

that the shortages in fuel, iron, and steel production in- 

volved the failure of other industries for which no figures 

except the ruble value of their output were ever pub- 

lished. 

It was claimed that the metal and machine-building 

industries had greatly exceeded their planned figures of 

production. Either this was a plain lie, or the Plan never 

was a plan. An economy in which there was so little co- 

ordination between the parts that the planned produc- 

tion of iron and steel was vastly in excess of the planned 

production of the heavy industries as a whole, cannot be 

called a planned economy. Either there was no real plan 

or it failed. 

Soviet statistics have become more and more incom- 

plete and obscure in order to hide the failures. The “con- 

trol figures” in the basic industries appear to have been 

206 Lost Illusion 

slashed again and again in 1938 and I 939 to make it seem 

that the Plan was being fulfilled ninety per cent whereas 

in reality only about fifty per cent of the original 

planned figure had been produced. Since 1939 no official 

figures have been published. 

Russia’s vaunted planned economy has in fact almost 

ceased pretending to be anything of the kind. If year by 

year and quarter by quarter, the Plan is altered to fit in 

with the failure to execute it, and production in one 

branch of industry no longer bears anything but a hap- 

hazard relation to production in an allied branch, there 

cannot be said to be a Plan at all. 

Each industry is producing just what it can regardless 

of the Plan, or its former capital investment, or its 

theoretical capacity. Soviet economy is more anarchic 

than a capitalist free enterprise economy. 

The increased output of coal, iron, and steel prior to 

the war was won at a human cost which no country not 

ruled over by a ruthless and all-powerful despotism 

could contemplate. It is also doubtful whether the de- 

velopment of Russian heavy industry compensates, from 

the point of view of national strength, for the degrada- 

tion of agriculture and the drastically reduced standard 

of living and morale of the working class which ac- 

company it. 

The official statistics do not reveal anything as to 

quality of production. In the textile industry, in which I 

worked, it was “normal” for eighty per cent of the cloth 

to be defective. It was, of course, sold. But we had the 

Tricks with Statistics 207 

greatest difficulty in securing a sufficient quantity of un- 

damaged goods for export. 

Stalin’s remedy for the disastrous results of the speed- 

up, undernourishment, and ignorance, was, of course 

drastic punishments. During the second Five Year Plan 

he ordered five years’ imprisonment for bad workman- 

ship. 

The results of neglecting the human factor were most 

clearly demonstrated by inability to increase the output 

per worker. In spite of piece-work wages, threats, and 

paltry rewards, the undernourished, badly housed, and 

over-driven Soviet worker could not be forced to work 

harder. It was physically impossible for him to do so. 

The output per worker was planned to be increased by 

IOO per cent during the first Five Year Plan. The result 

showed that it can have increased little, if at all, since 

the number of wage-earners, planned to increase from 

I I ,3 million to I 5.8 million actually went up to 2 2.8 

million. In other words, seven million more workers 

were needed than had been estimated as necessary to 

produce the f~lZ planned figures of production. 

The cost of the “gigantic successes on the industrial 

front”-the actual investment in industrialization during 

the First Five Year Plan-came to I 20 milliard rubles in- 

stead of the 86 milliard planned. 

The finances of the country got into such a chaotic 

state that the State Bank stopped publishing balance 

sheets. The people paid through inflation and a sharp 

rise in prices for the government’s underestimate of the 

208 Lost Illusion 

real cost of its planned investment, and for the terrific 

wastage entailed by the Soviet system. 

The rise in prices in the four and a half years of the 

Plan gave the ruble only something like one-tenth of its 

previous value insofar as commercial prices were con- 

cerned. In view, however, of the rationing system and 

the special distributors, the ruble had all sorts of values 

depending on the social status of the purchaser. 

Although the results of the tremendous investment of 

human misery in the development of Russian industry 

were so meager, there was at least something to show for 

all the sacrifice. In agriculture there was no progress at 

all, but a terrible decline. So disastrous and wasteful had 

the First Five Year Plan proved in the field of agricul- 

ture that even Stalin saw he must not try to repeat it. 

The ravages must be repaired; the wounds of society 

healed. 

The Russian people, that sorry and starved nag which 

Stalin had harnessed to the heavy machine of “socialist 

construction,” had to be allowed a little rest and a little 

nourishment if it were not to collapse altogether. No 

Plan at all was produced in 193 

3, and the Second Five 

Year Plan, when it came, provided for a more modest in- 

crease in production. 

The famine continued and was even intensified 

through the terrible winter of 1932-3 3 and on into the 

spring. Then, as if Providence were taking pity on the 

most afflicted people on earth, the weather helped to pro- 

duce the best harvest in years. It was still below the 

pre-war level, but the numbers who died of starvation 

Tricks with Statistics 209 

decreased. In Socialist Russia one accounted it as wonder- 

ful happiness if there was nearly enough bread for every- 

one. 

Until 193 5 cost accounting was at a discount in the 

Soviet Union. Everything was being done by threats and 

force. Since the general scarcity of food and manufac- 

tured products for all but the families of the Communist 

Party bureaucracy was so great that money had almost 

lost its function as a measure of vaiue, the money cost of 

construction was regarded as of minor importance. It 

was assumed that as long as the construction plans were 

realized, nothing else mattered, so inflation was rapid and 

unchecked. 

The individual citizen was also affected. Money 

seemed to us comparatively unimportant. Privilege or 

priority was what mattered. To this day I have remained 

affected by the years in Moscow when I purchased any- 

thing available almost regardless of the cost. Money was 

comparatively easy to come by. Goods were more pre- 

cious than paper rubles. 

Finally the government recognized that some sta- 

bility must be given to the ruble if rationing were ever 

to be abolished. From I 935 on, the Bolshevik leaders 

started to demand cost accounting in all enterprises, and 

to stress the importance of the bookkeeper. The 

wretched accountants who had belonged to the lowest 

social strata suddenly found themselves elevated to al- 

most as hi& a rank as the engineers. 

However, the dearth of skilled accountants, the fact 

that they were almost always non-Party men, and their 

210 Lost Illusion 

subordination to Communist Party chiefs whose main 

concern was to make a good showing, rendered the keep- 

ing of accounts in Soviet enterprises too often the work 

of clever swindlers rather than of experts. 

Ordjonikidze, Commissar of Heavy Industry, railed 

against the managers who “kicked out their bookkeepers 

because they conscientiously did their jobs”; but few 

dared to go against the orders of the Communist Party 

boss on whom their living depended. 

Nevertheless the keeping of accounts has at least done 

something to restrain the anarchy of Soviet economy, 

even if the figures are often “cooked.” Unfortunately 

the Soviet Government, unwilling to let its own people 

or the outside world know how far performance falls 

short of the Plan, has published fewer and fewer statistics 

since I 93 5, and ceased 

publishing them altogether during 

and since the war. 

Soviet propagandists have sought to throw dust in the 

eyes of the world by their boasts as to the size of the new 

factories and power stations. The planners of the West- 

em world have faithfully mimicked them. It came to be 

argued that if socialist construction in the USSR had 

produced something larger than anything in the cap- 

italist world, then of necessity socialism was superior to 

capitalism. 

It was perhaps unconsciously felt that since the United 

States, the most advanced capitalist country, had the tall- 

est buildings in the world, if Russia could produce the 

biggest industrial enterprises she would somehow have 

proved herself superior. This Asiatic conception of 

Tricks with Statistics 211 

progress and grandeur has been accepted and adopted by 

many American admirers of the Soviet Union. 

In a backward country such as Russia, only the en- 

slavement of the people could make possible the rapid 

erection of gigantic power stations, canals, roads, and 

factories without credits from industrially advanced 

countries. The Pyramids could not have been built ex- 

cept by slave labor, and the same is true of the Russian 

“Giants of the Five Year Plan.” 

Some American liberals go so far as to excuse even 

the slavery practiced in Russia, such is their worship of 

the machine and of planning. But for the most part, the 

admirers of the Soviet Union stubbornly maintain, in 

face of all the evidence to the contrary, that the in- 

dustrialization of the Soviet Union has been carried out 

at the same time as an iwzprovement in working-class 

conditions. 

Of course, the nearer a country’s basic living level is to 

zero, the more imposing can its progress be made to ap- 

pear if reckoned in percentages. 

Up to 193 2 the Soviet Government still could count 

upon the enthusiastic labor of a section of the workers. 

But after 1932 nearly everyone lost faith. Exhausted and 

dissatisfied, the Russian workers are anxious to secure a 

soft job instead of working hard. Moreover, two factors 

militate against any possibility of repeating the effort of 

I 928 to I 932. Too many engineers, technicians, admin- 

istrators, specialists of all kinds, have been killed in the 

purges or are now human wrecks in NKVD slave labor 

camps. 

212 Lost Illusion 

The qualified personnel inherited from the Tsarist 

regime has been willfully destroyed by Stalin, and the 

new Soviet intelligentsia has not the knowledge, experi- 

ence, or devotion to its work of the old bourgeois spe- 

cialists. Nor is there any longer any class left possessing 

tangible wealth tihich can be seized to pay for new im- 

ports of machinery. 

All the gold in private possession came into the hands 

of the Russian Government long ago either through 

Torgsin or extorted by the tortures of the secret police. 

Except for their privately owned livestock, there is no 

longer anything left of which the peasants can be ex- 

propriated. The standard of life of the workers cannot 

be reduced further. 

In a word, the Soviet Government had exhausted all 

Russia’s fat, before the country was devastated by Nazi 

Germany. The Kremlin must now rely on increased pro- 

duction or foreign conquest to provide for necessary im- 

ports. Increased production is precisely what cannot be 

achieved under the Soviet system, which helps to explain 

Russia’s growing appetite for looting foreign countries. 

After I 93 7, industrial production slipped backward. 

The purge of 1936-39 had the inevitable result of dis- 

organizing the national economy. How could enter- 

prises function according to any kind of plan when man- 

agers, accountants and clerks were being arrested by the 

thousands and herded off as prisoners to cut timber or 

slave in the mines under the NKVD guards? 

Those who escaped arrest were too frightened and 

demoralized to work efficiently. The decline in produc- 

Tricks with Statistics 213 

tion was cumulative, since the less consumption goods 

were produced the less incentive the workers had to try 

to increase their earnings. 

Above all, the Stakhanov system-the tremendous 

speeding up without regard to its effect on men or ma- 

chinery-had the unavoidable result of decreasing pro- 

duction from year to year as more and more machinery 

broke down. 

Despite all the disillusionment, the idea persists in 

Western countries that Russia is a “socialist state,” still 

sanctified even if she has sinned. The pathetic belief in 

Russia of the die-hard Stalinists is based on their ob- 

session with the socialist formula. They argue that since 

there is state ownership of the means of production and 

distribution, there can be no exploiters in the Soviet 

Union and the condition of the working class must have 

improved. 

The claims of a planned economy are as much of a 

pretense as that collectivism has improved the condition 

of the masses. Obviously, if one branch of industry, or 

even certain factories within one branch, overfulfills its 

plan, it must have procured a larger amount of raw ma- 

terials than it was entitled to under the plan and so made 

its record at the expense of some other industry. If, on 

the other hand, another industry has failed to fulfill the 

Plan, it will have precluded fulfillment of the Plan by an 

industry dependent upon it for raw materials. 

Soviet statisticians endeavor to convince the world 

that the production plans have been fulfilled by dis- 

counting failures on one front by successes on another. 

214 Lost Illusion 

But any-economist knows this cannot be done. To take 

the simplest example, if the iron-ore production plan has 

been exceeded, and the coal production plan has failed, 

a lesser amount of steel is necessarily produced. Nor can 

the Plan for consumers’ goods production be said to have 

been fuElled if the planned figure for perfumery pro- 

duction has been exceeded and that for textiles fallen 

far short. 

The Third Five Year Plan was not announced until 

1939, and even then full details were not given as had 

been done for the previous plans. Obviously conditions 

were not such as to make it desirable for the government 

to publish statistics which would either reveal the de- 

cline in production or make it appear that little increase 

was contemplated in the production figures. 

Today, however the Soviet government can ascribe 

all its failures to the German invasion. Those who never 

knew Russia before 1941 are easily convinced that the 

misery, starvation and lack of the necessities of life are 

all due to the war. The few of us who lived in Russia 

earlier know that even in the best years preceding the 

Nazi attack the standard of life of the mass of the Rus– 

sian people was lower than under the Tsars. I 

The High Cost of Commzlnism 

T HE COST OF FINANCING the much boastedin- 

dustrialization of the USSR has been borne principally 

by the peasants, and in general is based on an enormous 

tax on food and a very large tax on all manufactured 

goods sold to the consumers. 

The Soviet Government collects from the peasants, in 

one form or another, nearly half of the produce of their 

labor on the collective farms, at a price which bears no 

relation at all to the cost of production. It sells this 

produce to the consumers at a profit of several hundred 

per cent. In this way it obtains, as the monopoly pur- 

chaser, not only the food to keep the urban workers 

alive, but also raw materials for industry, such as cotton, 

flax, wool, and hides, at similar arbitrary prices. 

The Soviet state sells manufactured goods for mass 

consumption at a price which averages double what it 

costs to produce them. Insofar as manufactured goods are 

concerned, the state exploits the consumer rather than 

the producer. 

But since producers and consumers are in the main the 

same people, it is really immaterial whether we say that 

the workers’ wages represent only a tiny fraction of 

215 

216 Lost Illusion 

the value (selling price) of the goods they produce, or 

whether we say that the state takes advantage of its 

monopoly position to force the workers to pay double 

the worth of the goods they consume. 

The state’s enormous profit on the goods it sells is 

taken in the form of a turnover tax-that is, a sales tax 

rather than a trading profit. In other words, the state’s 

profit is not collected at the factory as employer’s profit, 

nor at the state stores as a trader’s profit, but is collected 

in the form of a tax, which is paid in the end by the 

purchaser. 

In this way losses on capital goods are made up out of 

the profits on consumers’ goods. Both the cost of in- 

dustrialization and the losses due to the inefficiency of 

the greater part of heavy industry are paid for by the 

peasants as producers and consumers and by the workers 

and employees as consumers. 

Put in Marxist terminology, the surplus value created 

by the labor of the peasants and workers is appropriated 

by the state, which uses it as the government decrees. 

Since the people have no voice in the government, 

Soviet economy is a perfect example of state capitalism. 

The turnover tax has constituted the government’s 

largest source of income. In 1939 it provided 70 per cent 

of the total state budgetary revenue. Of this total, the 

tax on bread and other foods usually constitutes more 

than two-thirds. The turnover tax on manufactured 

goods varies according to the nature of the articles. 

Usually it is highest on goods of mass consumption 

The High Cost of Communism 217 

and lowest on luxury goods not purchased at all by the 

mass of the people. In general the tax is levied at a rate 

sufficiently high to prevent demand from outrunning 

the supply of any particular article. But since there is 

always a shortage of the goods of mass consumption, 

long lines of customers along the street leading to the 

shop doors have remained a permanent feature of Soviet 

life. 

When the output of light industry falls far short of the 

plan, as frequently occurs, or when the cost of construc- 

tion of new enterprises is higher than the estimate, as al- 

most always happens, the turnover tax is increased to en- 

sure necessary government revenue. 

The newspaper Finansoya Gazetta of January IO, 

1940, gave the actual yield of the turnover tax in 1939 as 

96.5 billion rubles as compared with 80.4 billion rubles 

in 1938. This increase of 16 billion rubles is the largest 

advance recorded over the preceding five years, and it 

coincided with an increased scarcity of consumers’ goods. 

Since the scarcity of manufactured goods on sale in 1939 

was more marked than in any year since 1935, it is ob- 

vious that the increased revenue from the turnover tax 

was due to inflation. 

What socialism has come to mean for the Russian 

people is illustrated by a story told in Moscow. A Com- 

munist Party propagandist goes to a village and gives 

the assembled peasants a glowing account of the wonders 

of construction of socialism. After he has spoken, one of 

the old peasants gets up and says: 

218 Lost Illusion 

“Yes, comrade, it sounds wonderful, but look at our 

clothing-nothing but rags to wear and nothing to be 

bought in the village shop.” 

The Communist answers him angrily and scornfully: 

“You making all that fuss about clothes! Why, in places 

like Africa and the South Seas people have no clothing 

at all.” 

The peasant scratches his head and then says thought- 

fully: “I suppose they’ve had socialism for a long time 

there.” 

It is, of course, absurd to suppose that the Russian 

people, workers, employers, or peasants, really desire to 

go on living on the barest level of subsistence under re- 

peated promises that it is for the benefit of future gen- 

erations. Only force can compel them to do so. 

If Soviet democracy were a reality, the planners 

would provide for a rapid increase in the production of 

consumers’ goods. Such an increase would probably 

lead to a more rapid development of heavy industry and 

light industry than has been accomplished by Stalin’s 

forced depreciation of the general standard of living to 

squeeze out capital for industrialization. 

No people can work efficiently on the meager diet of 

the Russian worker, living as he does in crowded tene- 

ments and forced to spend much of his “leisure” standing 

in line to secure food, clothing and other necessities, or 

attending long, dreary meetings where the sorry farce of 

pretending that “life is joyous” has to be played over 

and over again. The psychological strain of pretending 

that they are happy, and of always saying the opposite of 

The High Cost of Communism 219 

what they think, and the constant fear of arrest con- 

tribute to impairing the efficiency of the Russian 

workers. 

Slave labor long ago was recognized as unprofitable. 

Serfdom in most of Europe gave way to private owner- 

ship and free enterprise because the latter were more pro- 

ductive. These economic truths have been proved once 

again in Soviet Russia. 

The official Soviet figures of Russia’s total grain pro- 

duction bear wimess to the fact that the land yields no 

more, if as much, as in Tsarist times. It would, of course, 

be unfair to judge by Russia’s food production since the 

WS. 

Germany’s devastation of White Russia and the 

Ukraine has produced famine conditions for which the 

Soviet Government is not responsible. But in the years 

immediately preceding the Second World War the total 

grain yield was only a little above the pre-Revolutionary 

level in spite of all the capital invested in agriculture in 

the shape of tractors and other modem farm machinery. 

The total, in millions of tons, for the three years 1936- 

1938 averaged 99.3, as against 94. I in 1913. As regards 

meat and dairy produce it is well known that Russia has 

never recovered from the slaughter of livestock during 

the battle of collectivization. 

Thus the blood, sweat and tears of the expropriated 

peasant population have produced nothing but a barren 

claim on the part of their rulers to have socialized the 

agrarian economy. 

Since the peasants have to support a small army of 

220 Lost Illusion 

managers, controllers, accountants, tractor driver me- 

chanics and secret police, the overhead cost of producing 

food is undoubtedly higher than in Tsarist times when 

only the land-owners and usurers lived off the peasants’ 

labor. 

Toward the end of the period I lived in Soviet Russia 

the government claimed that the incomes of the peasants 

had trebled since 1913, but no mention was made of the 

ten to twenty-fold increase in the price of clothes, boots 

and other manufactured goods the peasant needs to buy. 

If the Soviet Government were not forced by its own 

policy to maintain millions of soldiers, militia, armed 

guards, and NKVD spies to keep the people in subjec- 

tion, it would have far greater resources for industrializ- 

ing the country. 

There is little doubt that the percentage of population 

employed by the Russian Government to coerce and 

terrorize the peasants and workers is a good deal larger 

than the “capitalist class” in most other countries. 

If one also takes into account the huge Soviet bureau- 

cracy, it is obvious that under Stalin’s collectivism the 

actual producers of the country’s wealth have to support 

a larger number of persons performing no productive 

labor than is the case under the capitalist system. 

The Friends of the Soviet Union, in the United States 

and England, when driven into a comer, will still fight 

on with the statement that unemployment has been abol- 

ished in the USSR. But even if the Soviet Government’s 

contention were true, which it is not, the same could 

have been said of Nazi Germany. 

The High Cost of Communism 221 

If the state has the power to compel men to labor for 

the barest subsistence on the production of armaments 

and military fortifications, or if, as in Soviet Russia, it 

herds millions into concentration camps where they labor 

as slaves in building roads, canals, and railways, or in 

cutting timber and working in mines in the Arctic, un- 

employment can, of course, be liquidated. 

Undeveloped countries under the capitalist system, 

such as the United States during most of the nineteenth 

century, and also Canada and Australia, did not suffer 

from unemployment. 

The enslaved negroes of Africa, forced to labor under 

European masters on the plantations, are never unem- 

ployed. If this is all the Soviet-loving liberals of Western 

Europe and America care about, they ought also to ad- 

mire the Nazi system, and the methods of exploiting 

colored races adopted by imperialist powers. 

The simple means adopted by the Soviet Government 

to cure unemployment during the First Five Year Plan 

was physical liquidation of the unemployed and the 

underemployed, or their conversion into convicts doing 

forced labor in the Arctic timber camps and construct- 

ing roads, railways, and canals. Any “capitalist” govern- 

ment able and willing to herd all the millions of unem- 

ployed into slave gangs, constructing public works or 

palaces for the ruling class, herded into barracks at night, 

and fed worse than pigs, would have little difficulty in 

solving the unemployment problem. 

It is to be surmised that the crisis in Russia’s national 

economy, which had been growing in intensity from 

222 Lost illusion 

1936 to 1939, was the basic cause for the Russo-German 

Pact. In the first place, Stalin knew that the Red Army, 

if put to the test of a one-front war against Germany 

would crumple up before the German Army, and that 

neither Soviet transport nor industry could supply the 

army for any length of time. 

Secondly, it was essential for the USSR to import 

new machinery and enlist the aid of foreign technicians. 

Since it was impossible to pay out cash or goods for this 

assistance, Germany was the only country with whom 

barter credits could be arranged on a big scale. By 1939 

German economic and technical aid had become es- 

sential to the survival of the Stalinist regime. Following 

1941 American Lend Lease saved Soviet Russia. 

Soviet aggression can in part be explained as due to the 

failure to increase the productivity of the country, and 

to the meager returns from the large capital investments 

in industry. Looking for new sources of capital ac- 

cumulation, and hoping to reinvigorate the decaying 

Soviet state by the tonic of national aggrandizement, 

conquest and glory, the Soviet Government in 1939 se- 

cured temporary new sources of revenue through the 

expropriation of the property of conquered Poles and 

Finns. After Germany’s defeat it followed the same 

path. 

Stalin’s socialist government having started by en- 

slaving the Russian peasants and workers, must continue 

to enslave other peoples in order to survive. 

XVI 

NCEWEHADSETTLEDD~WN~~ life in RUS- 

sia, and the shock of discovering the harsh reality behind 

the communist facade had worn off, we tried to de- 

termine the real nature of the society in which we lived. 

It seemed to us that Soviet economy had become the 

most perfect example of state capitalism in existence, 

since the state exploits (takes profit from the labor of) 

all the people. But this was only part of the picture. 

Since in Russia the people do not participate in the gov- 

ernment and have no control over it, the new society 

combines the methods of government of an oriental 

despotism with the worst features of capitalism. 

The Russian workers, like the peasants, have no say 

at all as regards the disposal of the wealth created by 

their labor. The Communist Party, although not in 

theory the “owner” of the means of production, ap- 

propriates to itself or for its own purposes the profit and 

benefits derived from the labor of the rest of the popula- 

tion. One can call the system state capitalism with the 

Bolshevik Party drawing the dividends. 

If a group of capitalists in the United States were able 

to acquire control of all land and productive capital, to 

223 

224 Lost Illusion 

abolish representative government, and to draw their 

dividends not as individual owners but as a ruling and 

managerial clique, the result would be in essence the 

same economic and political system as that of Soviet 

Russia. 

It would, of course, in the United States be a far more 

efficiently run operation, and it is unlikely that large 

numbers of people would starve, as they do in Russia. 

But basically it would be the same type of state cap- 

italism. 

The fact that the ruling group in the USSR is com- 

posed of men who did not start life as capitalists makes 

no vital difference. It means that they are far more in- 

competent, but it does not mean that they are not ex- 

ploiters. Collective exploitation is no more moral than 

individual exploitation nor is it any more bearable for 

those who are exploited. 

It is an extraordinary proof of mankind’s inability to 

see realities behind faqades, and its incorrigible pro- 

pensity to examine the label on the bottle instead of the 

contents, that so many of our American liberals and 

socialists fail to realize the true nature of the Soviet 

state. They think that because there are no capitalists in 

the USSR there cannot be any exploiting class, and that 

therefore of necessity Russia is a socialist state according 

to the original conception of the word socialism. 

There is in the Soviet Union a new society, a society 

in which the method of exploitation is new. Instead of 

the worker and peasant being exploited by a capitalist 

Red T& 225 

or a landowner, he is exploited by the state. The state 

appropriates the produce of all men’s labor beyond what 

is required to keep them alive at the lowest level of sub- 

sistence. Since the Communist Party has a monopoly of 

political power it owns the state. There is therefore col- 

lective exploitation by a group. 

The profits derived from the labors of the Russian 

people are disposed of as the Communist ruling class 

decrees. After allocating to itself the income it sees fit, 

it uses the remaining profits for the maintenance of the 

Army and the secret police and for new investments in 

productive enterprise. 

The number of functionaries in Russia has been com- 

puted by Stalin as eight millions. Some of these millions 

-the engineers, technicians, accountants, qualified ad- 

ministrators, clerks and typists-are performing labor as 

socially necessary as the workers and peasants. 

Others are engaged in such labors as praising Stalin and 

other advertising and public relations activities. A large 

but unknown number are engaged in spying on the pro- 

ductive workers, technicians and managers, in subjecting 

them to mental or physical tortures, and in guarding the 

slave workers. 

Another function of the parasitic Communist Party 

members is to occupy positions as commissars or as chair- 

men and directors of the state office organizations, or as 

directors or managers of factories, in which capacity 

they interfere with and ruin the work of the non-Party 

specialists. They further perform the “labor” of driving 

226 Lost Illusion 

others to work. In Russia there is a stock joke about be- 

ing “a responsible worker” as signifying the man who 

stands by and looks on while others labor. 

Of course, if you are a mystic, you might say that 

Stalin is the Supreme Father, or a kind of proletarian 

Russian Mikado who in some mysterious way unites in 

himself the souls of all his people and leads them by 

divine inspiration, in a spirit of true democracy. You 

may believe that, in sacrificing both material well-being 

and liberty to Stalin, the people are sacrificing to them- 

selves, since he is their god in their own image. 

This deification is Stalin’s own conception of himself, 

as he testified at his sixtieth birthday: 

“Your congratulations and greetings I credit to the 

account of the great party of the working class, which 

gave me birth and raised me in its own image.” 

The semi-mystical, semi-religious and altogether nau- 

seating outpourings in the Soviet Press in praise of 

Stalin assign to him such a universality. He is represented 

as the fountain of all goodness and all strength and of all 

achievement of the whole Russian people. 

Stalin is the divine Vozd (The Russian translation of 

Fiihrer, or leader.) He is the nation as a totality, the 

“image” of themselves set up by the working class. By 

praising him, the working class is supposed to adore it- 

self. 

Stalin is the “infallible,” the “incomparable,” “our 

sun” and “our soul.” He is the proletariat’s-or the Rus- 

sian’s-god “created in its own image.” He is the Red 

Tsar, and “Little Father” of his people. 

Red Tsar 227 

The Soviet apologist who is not satisfied with the 

mystical explanation for the deprivation of guarantees 

of human rights to the workers and for their oppression 

by the state, will argue that since the profit obtained 

from the labor of worker and peasant is invested in capi- 

tal construction for the future benefit of “all the toilers,” 

they have nothing to complain of. 

This argument ignores several pertinent facts. In the 

first place, the profit is often wasted in new enterprises 

which are so badly run that they fail to pay the social 

cost of their construction before the machinery wears 

out. 

In the second place, much of the profit goes to supply 

a comparatively luxurious life for Communist Party 

leaders, the Red Army officers, the police and the bu- 

reaucracy, instead of to raise the general standard of life. 

Thirdly, more and more of the national income has of 

recent years gone to support the armed forces and secret 

police which keep the workers and peasants in subjec- 

tion. / 

Whereas those who are moved by the humanitarian 

and libertarian hopes formerly held out by socialists have 

already turned their backs on Stalin’s Russia, there re- 

main many people whose sole interest in socialism is in 

seeing an “orderly and planned” economy take the place 

of “capitalist anarchy,” and who accept paper plans in- 

stead of the evidence of their eyes when they visit the 

USSR. 

These visitors are not in the least interested in the 

emancipation of mankind. They think that “planning” 

228 Lost Illusion 

justifies all, excuses all, and they desire to see everyone 

put to school and subjected to strict discipline for their 

own good. 

People of this type of mind look upon the Russian 

masses as so many guinea pigs in a laboratory, subjects 

for a “great social experiment” which is going on too far 

.away to menace the comfortable security of enlightened 

Western intellectuals. 

It was only when Stalin, in 1939, began to inflict on 

other peoples the treatment which he had hitherto only 

been able to impose upon his own, that many of the ad- 

mirers of the USSR began to recoil. Yet, as Max Eastman 

has expressed it, the bombing of Finland in 1939 was a 

polite and civilized gesture compared to Stalin’s domestic 

policies. 

The reality of Stalin’s Russia is in fact so horrible that 

most people, even in this age of conditioning to horror, 

refuse to believe that such things can be. The truth is dis- 

missed as an atrocity story; and so anxious are men to 

believe in the existence of the socialist heaven that they 

accept the crudest Communist propaganda as gospel 

truth. Those who have accepted Russian Communism as 

a religious faith, and whose reasoning powers have be- 

come atrophied, will no doubt continue to worship their 

bloody idol and to glorify the human sacrifices made to 

it. 

But it is still possible that those whose adherence to 

Stalinism is due to ignorance of what the Soviet Union 

is really like, and to the generous impulses which impel 

men and women to struggle for a better social order, 

Red Tsar 229 

will realize in time that slavery is slavery, even if coated 

o’er with a thin cast of Marxist dogma. 

Such writers as Sidney and Beatrice Webb did untold 

harm to the liberal and progressive movement of West- 

ern Europe. No Nazi or Communist Fifth Columnist 

could do so much to undermine democracy as Soviet 

Russia, A New Ciuilization, the book which stamped 

Soviet Russia with the approval of two of the best known 

liberal sociologists in the Western World. 

With the immense prestige of their long life of service 

in the British labor movement, and of their published 

works of careful historical research, these elderly British 

socialists who had founded the Fabian Society in their 

youth, led the procession of socialists and liberals into the 

abyss of totalitarianism. 

The conception of socialism as a juster, better social 

order, which was once a beacon to those who desired 

human freedom, has become a blood-red light of warn- 

ing. Socialism has been degraded to the level of the beasts, 

become synonymous with injustice, cruelty, oppression, 

and misery. 

Liberalism has been corrupted, deprived of meaning. 

Anyone whose human sympathies and intelligence are 

not atrophied must exclaim: “If Stalin’s Russia is what 

these socialists and liberals want, give me the most reac- 

tionary capitalism! ” 

The Webbs and their disciples and colleagues in Eng- 

land and America made the Soviet Union not only re- 

spectable, but admirable. With their Fabian mantle they 

hid the horrors, the starvation, the misery, the degrada- 

230 Lost Illusion 

tion of the human spirit and the barbarous methods of 

government of Stalin’s Russia. 

Not only this, their support emboldened Stalin to 

throw aside all restraint. If the Webbs could swallow 

the purges and the terror, the whole Western socialist 

and radical movement could be made to swallow atroc- 

ities. 

Prior to the Russo-German Pact, Stalin was courting 

the democracies, and had it not been for the chorus of 

praise which went up from the Western liberals, he 

might not have dared to execute untold thousands and 

condemn millions to slave labor without trial. By shut- 

ting their eyes to the atrocities committed by the Stalin 

regime, or sealing their lips, many so-called liberals made 

themselves accomplices to these crimes. 

No recent phenomena have been more sickening to 

the soul than the cold-blooded disregard of the lives of 

millions displayed by a multitude of deluded liberals in 

Western Europe and the United States. 

Liberal journals refused to publish condemnations of 

the Moscow trials, lied to their readers, put new mean- 

ings on old words. They redefined liberty to mean sub- 

ordination; they justified executions, tortures, imprison- 

ment of innocent men and women, even the shooting of 

children for theft, because it was done in the name of 

“planned economy.” Sadism became a virtue if it was 

socialistically administered sadism. 

Consciously or unconsciously, they subscribed in their 

writings to the Soviet newspapers’ concept that “infor- ( 

mation does not consist in the dissemination of news, but 

Red Tsar 231 

in the education of the masses.” “Information is an in- 

strument in the class struggle; not a mirror to reflect 

events objectively.” To he was to protect the socialist 

fatherland; to tell the truth was to be a reactionary or 

worse. 

The primary question is precisely the one which the 

Webbs completely ignored: Who owns the state? Their 

twaddle about the “vocation of leadership”-a euphe- 

mism for Communist tyranny-proves only their perver- 

sion of history and of psychology, and their willful 

blindness to the constraints which keep the Russian 

people subservient to totalitarian tyranny. 

Not only were the Webbs naive, they also made many 

statements which are positively untrue, as, for instance, 

when they wrote that “to this day the rulers of the USSR 

receive only the equivalent of the earnings of the most 

highly skilled and zealous craftsmen.” 

The party maximum which in Lenin’s day was a 

reality, had long ceased to be anything but the thinnest of 

pretenses when the Webbs visited Soviet Russia. All it 

meant was that the greater part of the income of the 

rulers was paid in kind. 

Since I 935 the profits taken from the productive labor 

of the Russian people by the Bolshevik party have not 

been hidden, and have also steadily increased in-volume. 

But long before 1935 the style of living of the Commu- 

nist Party bureaucracy, as compared to that of the 

workers and specialists, revealed how large a dividend 

it was drawing from its investment in Stalin’s counter- 

revolution. 

232 Lost Illusion 

Since the abolition of the closed distributors in 1935, 

the salaries of high officials have been anything from ten 

to thirty times as high as the wage of a worker of average 

qualifications. 

When I left the Soviet Union in the summer of 1936, 

chairmen of large enterprises were paid salaries of 2,000 

to 3,000 rubles a month. Although no one knew for cer- 

tain the amounts being paid to Commissars and others 

holding the highest positions in the state, it was generally 

believed in Moscow that they were receiving 7,000 or 

more. 

The Soviet Government never publishes figures show- 

ing the salaries of such high functionaries as Molotov and 

Vishinsky nor does it reveal the distribution of the na- 

tional income. Such statistics would make it too glaringly 

obvious to the outside world that Russia is as far from 

being a classless society of the equal as it is of the free. 

Our friends the Rabinovitches, who ranked as just 

below the top Party bureaucrats, had a large modern flat, 

a big datcha, and a private automobile all paid for by the 

Commissariat of Foreign Trade for which Philip Rabi- 

novitch worked. One of their two servants was also paid 

for by the Commissariat, and Philip received a handsome 

entertainment allowance over and above his salary. The 

Rabinovitches were higher in the Communist social scale 

than anyone else we knew, but their standard of life was 

far below that of others we heard of. 

The luxurious life lived by the Soviet aristocracy, 

which the ordinary citizen glimpses only from afar, and 

which is a direct violation of Lenin’s injunction that the 

Red Tsar 233 

Party members should receive salaries no higher than a 

worker’s wage, is one of the most striking features of 

Stalin’s Russia. 

A little of the puritanical and self-sacrificing spirit 

which had originally permeated the Bolshevik Party still 

survived when I first went to live in Russia. All restraints 

were openly discarded when Stalin told his henchmen 

to “live joyously,” obviously seeking thus to buy the 

loyalty of the Party members. 

Since 1935 the expectation of life of a Communist 

Party member has not been long. Any moment he may 

lose Stalin’s favor, or be ruined by accusations leveled 

at him by men on the next rung of the ladder seeking to 

supplant him. 

But while the going lasts it is exceedingly good, and 

since the poorest worker is as liable to be arrested as the 

high and mighty Party boss, the latter may well consider 

it worth while to gather as many rosebuds as he may, 

and as quickly as possible. 

At least when he comes to face the firing squad in the 

cellars of the Lubianka Prison, or finds himself a slave 

laborer in a concentration camp, he will have the satis- 

faction denied to the workers and peasants of knowing 

that he has enjoyed a good time for a few years. 

XVII 

Scapegoats 

NTHEYEARSIWORKEDATPROMEXPORT and 

in the Commissariat of Light Industry, I was continually 

amazed at the number of specialists who, in spite of every 

discrimination against them and the overwhelming diffi- 

culties of their work, continued loyally and conscien- 

tiously to carry out their duties. 

It was the non-Party specialists who had ensured the 

reconstruction of industry and transport after the break- 

down of the Bolshevik Revolution. Even now, when 

they went in constant fear of arrest, most of them con- 

tinued to devote their brains and energies to their work. 

Their material rewards grew smaller and smaller. They 

worked twelve to fourteen hours a day to overcome the 

muddles created by their superiors, the Communist Party 

bosses, and whenever there was a serious failure they 

were blamed for it and accused of being “wreckers.” 

The tragedy of these people was that in the very effort 

to work conscientiously and honestly they endangered 

their existence. Specialists who perceived that a plan 

could not be carried out without wrecking machinery or 

fatally depreciating it, were accused of sabotage and of 

x34 

Scapegoats 235 

being counter-revolutionaries preventing the construc- 

tion of socialism. 

Statisticians who made careful estimates based on an 

intelligent survey of materials available or production 

capacities were fdung into concentration camps. 

For insc wha$?bCosplan specialists who drew up the 

original Five Year Plan were shot for sabotage. Yet in 

193 2 it was found that the actual achievements under the 

Plan came to just about the figures of increased produc- 

tion which the executed men had estimated could be 

achieved. 

I knew an engineer in Moscow who was a friend of 

Arcadi’s, who had been in and out of prison three times. 

He was by then quite philosophical about it. He was 

highly qualified, and between imprisonments he received 

a good salary and lived well. He was conditioned to in- 

justice and had no hope for the future. His wife always 

had a suitcase packed ready for the moment when the 

secret police should once again knock at the door and 

take him away. 

This man’s position was better than that of many, for 

his qualifications were so special that he told us he felt 

pretty confident he would never be shot, however often 

he was made into a scapegoat and arrested. Even during 

the periods he was an unwilling guest of the OGPU he 

was comparatively well treated. 

I remember a young agronomist, a distant relative of 

my husband’s, who came to visit us in Moscow one eve- 

ning. He was faced, he said sadly, with the choice of 

236 Lost Illusion 

either going to prison that year for drawing up a plan 

for beet production which could be fulfilled, or of going 

to prison later for drawing up one which would satisfy 

the Party authorities, but could not possibly be fulfilled. 

In agriculture as in industry, St& +manded impos- 

sible plans which either could nut a!%.. w which 

would cause terrible distress if carried out. Then he per- 

secuted both those who said the Plans were impossible 

of achievement and those who of necessity failed to 

carry them through. 

The position of the non-Party specialists was particu- 

larly difficult in that they were everywhere working 

under the orders of a Communist who knew nothing and 

need learn little about the enterprise he controlled. His 

retention of the post and of the privileges which went 

with it depended not on knowledge, conscientiousness, 

or administrative capacity, but upon his being politically 

reliable; in other words, upon his being a Stalin yes-man 

and a good slave-driver. 

When things went wrong the communist manager 

or director could always lay the blame upon the non- 

Party specialists who worked under him, accusing the 

latter of being wreckers and counter-revolutionaries. 

Although the shadow of the concentration camps 

hung over everyone I worked with, they rarely if ever 

spoke of it. Expression of your fears might bring about 

the very thing you dreaded. 

The very few people who managed to survive a term 

of forced labor under the secret police and returned to 

Scapegoats 237 

Moscow dared not speak openly of their experiences lest 

they be sent back to the living death they had been re- 

leased from. 

One evening my husband brought home with him a 

friend of his youth whom he had by chance encountered. 

This man, whose name I will not mention since it is pos- 

sible he still lives, had been in prison both under the Tsar 

and under Stalin. 

Arcadi came to me in the kitchen to warn me not to 

ask him questions. 

“None of your English frankness, darling,” he said. 

“He has probably been warned not to talk as the price 

of his liberty. Let him talk if he will, but don’t ask ques- 

tions.” 

Our visitor gave us no details, but one remark was as 

revealing as any description of his suffering or that of 

others could have been. He said, 

“We ought to have thanked God for the mercy of the 

Tsar.” 

Year by year the slave labor camps became a more 

integral part of the Soviet system. They had been begun 

as places of punishment and of warning. Fear of being 

delivered into the cruel hands of the secret police drove 

the workers to accept regimentation, the deprivation of 

the last vestiges of trade-union rights, and the speed-up. 

Gradually, however, the secret police, by sweeping 

millions of victims into its camps, came to exercise a 

dominant role in the economic life of Russia. By the time 

its name had been changed to NKVD, the secret police 

238 Lost Illusion 

owned factories and farms as well as being in charge of 

the timber camps, canal construction, road and railway 

building and other public works. 

The number of slave laborers in Russia today is known 

to be larger than ever before, but it was already calcu- 

lated to be about ten million when I lived in Moscow. 

The Soviet brand of “democracy” averages two to three 

political prisoners for every enrolled Communist Party 

member in Russia. The Soviet economy could no longer 

function without slave labor. 

To retain its labor force the NKVD practiced cruel 

jokes upon the prisoners who had lived through their 

term of purgatory. For instance it was announced in the 

Russian press that the prisoners liberated on completion 

of the White Sea-Baltic Canal “had become so fond of 

working collectively,” that they were being “allowed” to 

take part in another great construction project, the 

Moscow-Volga Canal. 

New categories of victims were sought periodically to 

replenish the NKVD’s forced labor battalions, contin- 

ually depleted by the high death rate among the over- 

worked half-starved slaves. 

One day I found an American friend, Milly Mitchell, 

in tears in her hotel room. The secret police had taken 

her Russian husband, an actor, accusing him of the crime 

of homosexuality in an earlier period of his life. 

Russian friends regarded me as naive when I asked 

why such and such a person had been arrested and 

shrugged their shoulders. Arrest was regarded like death; 

the reaper who might strike anywhere. 

Scapegoats 239 

What was regarded as a funny story in the grim at- 

mosphere of our lives, was told me by our friend Erbes- 

feld who had worked for a time at Archangel. One day 

in the Stolovaya of the Timber Trust some bad mutton 

had been served. An employee called Boris had joked 

about it saying, “Stalin loves mutton but he wouldn’t 

eat this.” 

Next day Boris did not come to work. His disappear- 

ance was at once ascribed to his having used Stalin’s 

name in jest. It seemed quite natural to his comrades that 

he should have been arrested. 

What had actually happened to Boris was little less 

fantastic. He had in fact been summoned to the secret 

police offices. While waiting in the courtyard a gang of 

ex-Kulak slave laborers was driven in after a long march. 

When they were rounded up to proceed to their pIace 

of work, Boris was pushed in with them. He protested 

that he was not one of the gang, but a soldier prodded 

him with a bayonet and forced him to march. 

Meanwhile the OGPU was hunting for Boris, and 

decided he must have run away. They instituted a search 

for him and finally after six weeks discovered he was in 

one of their own slave camps. The story had a happy 

ending for Boris was released. The secret police had 

called him for questioning on a matter which did not 

concern him personally. The mutton had nothing to do 

with it. 

The only way in which the specialists could save their 

lives and liberty was to make themselves indispensable to 

their Party bosses, either by helping them to “cook ac- 

240 Lost illusion 

counts,” put on false fronts, and in general make it ap- 

pear that the enterprise was fulfilling the Plan, or even 

overfulfilling it, when in reality production was defec- 

tive, machinery deteriorating, and insufficient quantities 

of goods being produced. The best way to make a good 

showing and earn praise and rewards was to produce as 

large an amount as possible without paying any attention 

to quality. 

The great art in Soviet Russia, as practiced in particu- 

lar by clever and not too scrupulous specialists in the 

service of their Party masters, was blat, a word difficult 

to translate but meaning wangling, camouflage, favors 

done for favors received, the working out of personal 

combinations which make it possible to get around the 

obstacles created by the Plan which is no plan. 

In every enterprise the blatmeister is more indispen- 

sable than the expert. It is he who can convince visiting 

commissions and the NKVD that all is going according 

to plan, when in reality everything is in a mess. It is he 

who can obtain the materials necessary for fulfilling the 

quota, but unobtainable through normal channels. 

By providing the head of another enterprise with what 

he lacks, or by connections in high places, the blatmeister 

is able to secure materials to fulfill or overfulfill the PIan. 

Th e quotas having been drawn up without regard to real 

possibilities, and industry being continually disorganized 

by attempting overfulfillment of the Plan by those seek- 

ing honors and advancements, there are never enough 

materials for the fulfillment of the plans of all the enter- 

prises. So only those who do not rely on the official chan- 

Scapegoats 24’ 

nels for securing supplies can hope to obtain enough 

materials to fulfill their quota. 

Suppose, for instance, that I am the head of a rubber 

goods factory which badly needs some chemical to con- 

tinue manufacturing overshoes. The supply of this 

chemical is limited, so that I am unlikely to be able to 

obtain a sufficient quantity of it to fulfill my plan if I 

rely upon an official application in the normal way. 

My blatmeister, however, finds out that one of the de- 

partmental chiefs of the Chemical Trust, Comrade 

Gromyko, wants some building materials to finish his 

new summer residence outside the city. Though I have 

no such materials at my disposal, the director of the 

Building Cooperative of the Rosa Luxemburg Machine 

Tool factory has. 

By furnishing the latter with a supply of galoshes for 

his factory workers, I obtain the building materials for 

Comrade Gromyko, and the latter in return supplies me 

with my chemical, Thus-not according to the plan-do 

Soviet industry and trade function after a fashion. 

One of the best blatmeisters I ever met was a certain 

Manevitch at Promexport, who was a genius not only 

at working out combinations to secure delivery of our 

goods but also at presenting figures in such a way as to 

make it appear that our quota had been more than ful- 

filled. 

He was so useful to the chairman of our organization 

that ‘the latter-an old Party member-managed to 

wangle him into the Party. This was no mean feat, for 

at that time the proverbial camel had about as much 

242 Lost Illusion 

chance of passing through the needle’s eye as most intel- 

lectuals of entering the Communist Party. Manevitch 

was promoted to be vice-chairman, but eventually was 

arrested when an investigation revealed Promexport’s 

exaggeration of our achievements. The chairman, of 

course, abandoned him to his fate. 

But even the OGPU recognized Manevitch’s useful- 

ness, and he was soon put in charge of a section of the 

construction work on the Volga-Moscow canal. An- 

other blutmeister at our office, the head of the transport 

section, was invaluable at securing railway freight cars 

for our goods at the expense of other factories. But he 

was too obviously cynical and too frequently drunk to 

join the Party, and eventually got himself arrested for 

trying to supply a hospital, which badly needed sheets, 

with some from our export stock. Both Manevitch and 

the transport chief were decent fellows, not informers 

but wanglers. It was the conditions of work in the 

Soviet Union which drove them to turn their talents to 

blatzwistering. 

A far more unpleasant type of blatmeister was the 

titular head of one department at Promexport, who 

acted as general factotum and toady to Kalmanofsky, 

the chairman under whom I worked. He attended to the 

letting of the chairman’s datcha and to other personal 

affairs. He was always at Kalmanofsky’s side, fetched 

and carried for him, flattered him, and made himself 

useful in innumerable ways. 

Quite useless at his office job, this blutwzeister was in- 

valuable to the chairman for securing whatever he per- 

Scapegoats 243 

sonally required and in general in attending to his private 

affairs. He had no dignity at all. The chairman often 

treated him like a dog, stormed at him and vented his 

temper on him. 

Kalmanofsky was not stupid. He was in fact an able 

and intelligent man, an educated Jew who could ap- 

preciate merit and liked men like my husband who stood 

their ground and were never subservient. Under the 

capitalist system Kalmanofsky might have been an able 

and even an honest executive. 

But the Soviet system drove him to reward his blat- 

meisters, and to sacrifice real efficiency and profit on 

foreign trade for the sake of making a good showing. He 

and Manevitch together were so clever at window- 

dressing that Promexport got a banner as the best export 

organization, and Kalmanofsky received a decoration 

and a private motor car. In fact, according to my hus- 

band’s experiences in other export offices, Promexport 

was much better run than most Russian enterprises. 

Arcadi went back to work at Promexport in 1933, 

finding his position there as finance manager under 

Kalmanofsky preferable to the higher rank of vice- 

chairman of Lecterserio. Being a vice-chairman, if you 

were non-Party, was a rare distinction; but Arcadi found 

it an impossible assignment. Decisions concerning the 

work were arrived at in the Communist Party nucleus, 

which he was not entitled to attend, and yet he was made 

responsible for the results. 

His chief at Lecterserio, Comrade Berkinghof, al- 

though a friend of ours and a decent chap, was entirely 

244 Lost Illusion 

unsuited to his job. He was voluble, excitable, full of 

vigor and the joy of life, a keen Communist Party mem- 

ber of the sincere kind who had been an excellent officer 

in the Red Army during the Civil War, but had no ad- 

ministrative ability or business knowledge. Everything 

was thrown on Arcadi’s shoulders, and his being non- 

Party made him too vulnerable and aroused too much 

jealousy. 

Arcadi was glad to go back to work under Kalmanof- 

sky, who, although not as honest as Berkinghof in 

either his personal dealings or the manner in which he 

ran his enterprise, was much cleverer and cannier and a 

safer person to work for. Or so it seemed to us at the 

time. Both of these chiefs of Arcadi’s were liquidated 

later in the great purge-Kalmanofsky only after he had 

first thrown many of his subordinates to the lions, Berk- 

inghof early in 1936. 

The most honest and conscientious specialists usually 

came off worst. Engineers who could not bear to see 

beautiful new machinery shattered by reckless speeding 

up, or rapidly deteriorating through neglect of cleaning 

and repairs, the carrying out of which would involve a 

slackening in the mad pace of production; accountants 

trained in “bourgeois methods” who could not bring 

themselves to cook accounts in the interest of the direc- 

tor or chairman; heads of export departments who en- 

deavored to get a fair price abroad for goods sold, and 

accordingly managed to sell smaller quantities at higher 

prices than those who had over-fulfilled the plan by 

selling far below the world price level-these were the 

Scapegoats 245 

kind of specialists who inevitably, sooner or later, found 

themselves accused of sabotage, wrecking, and counter- 

revolution, and disappeared into the concentration 

camps. 

It was the flatterers, the sycophants, the men without 

dignity or pride, who got on well with the Party bosses 

by constant bootlicking, who secured promotions. The 

wonder was that so many of the old educated class, the 

men who had received their training under the Tsarist 

regime and whose cultural standards were bourgeois, 

continued to work as well as they were permitted to, 

without hope of reward and without losing their dignity 

and integrity. 

Of course conditions varied in different enterprises, 

some Party men being decent, honest, and anxious to do 

their jobs as well as possible. But such Communists rarely 

got to the top. The Communist who devoted his main 

energies to mastering his job, learning from his specialists 

and from experience, had no time to spend making up to 

the great, and thus to secure promotion. 

An Italian writer described Soviet society as a society 

based on calumny instead of competition. Calumny was 

another important method of securing promotion, espe- 

cially among Party members from 1935 onward in the 

period of the great purge. If you could discredit, slander, 

and accuse your superior or your rivals, and get them 

expelled from the Communist Party or arrested, you 

might secure a better job. 

Often the surest way of protecting yourself from an 

accusation which would ruin your life or cause your 

244 Lost Illusion 

death was to get in your accusation first. This applied 

with particular force to the so-called scientific institu- 

tions, like the Communist Academy-later christened 

the Academy of Sciences-where I worked my last three 

and a half years in Moscow. Here research work often 

consisted of a careful perusal of other people’s writings 

to spot their deviations from the Party line and then to 

denounce them. 

My claim to be a textile specialist rested on my book, 

Lancashire and the Far East. I did in fact know a good 

deal about market demands, prices, and costs of produc- 

tion from the studies I had made in the factories of Lan- 

cashire and Japan. I thought that in the job offered me 

at Promexport I should experience something of the satis- 

faction my husband found in doing real work instead of 

talking and writing a lot of foolishness and lies. I was to 

find myself much mistaken. 

Arcadi knew his people, and understood how to get 

really useful work done in spite of the many obstacles. 

He had tact and an uncanny understanding of men’s 

minds which enabled him to make his Party boss think 

he had made a decision himself, when in reality he had 

adopted one of Arcadi’s suggestions. 

Being without vanity or personal ambition, my hus- 

band was content if he could get a job well carried out 

even if he received no personal credit for it. 

Arcadi was respected by the better type of Commu- 

nist Party men, who recognized his ability, his real quali- 

fications and wide knowledge, and his integrity. He also 

had a dignity and a spirit which made it impossible for 

Scapegoats 247 

anyone to bully him. I think his long residence abroad 

and his Western manner and behavior over-awed even 

his Party bosses at times. At any rate, Arcadi survived 

the purge of the non-Party specialists in 1930-32. 

I, however, was treated at Promexport like a valuable 

ornament. The chairman and vice-chairman liked being 

able to say that they had a foreign specialist in their 

enterprise. They were extremely polite and even 

friendly, occasionally consulted me when they had men 

from other export organizations or commissariats in the 

office, took me to dinner with visiting foreign buyers, 

and for the rest did not care a rap what I did with my 

time. 

My immediate superior, the chief of the textile export 

department, was the afore-mentioned blameister Mane- 

vitch. A nice little man who had worked in England for 

some years and knew the language perfectly, he had little 

time to spare from blatnwistering to attend to his own 

department. The assistant manager was an ignoramus 

called Bessonoff, who knew nothing and did no work at 

all as far as I could see. But he had once been Lenin’s 

chauffeur, and this entitled him to a soft job for the 

rest of his life. 

The real responsibility fell on a poor man who had 

been the manager of a department store in Tsarist times. 

He was tall and stooped, with a drooping mustache, and 

prematurely aged. Kind-hearted, extremely courteous to 

everyone, conscientious and hard-working, he had 

neither the knowledge nor the capacity to run an export 

business of these dimensions. 

Lost illusion 

We were exporting cotton goods all over the world: 

to China, the Dutch East Indies, India, Persia, the Argen- 

tine, and some European markets. Persia was our largest 

market and the traditional outlet for Russian textiles. 

The Russian industry was adapted to this export trade, 

which had been carried on in Tsarist times. The taste of 

the Persians was known and catered to, and in any case 

the Soviet Union practically had a monopoly there. 

But our other export markets were far more difficult. 

Here we succeeded in selling only because we were 

ready to undercut every other country. My job was sup- 

posed to be that of advising what kinds of cotton cloth 

should be exported to different countries, and at what 

prices they should be sold. 

Obviously the price question should have been the 

affair of the Russian trading organizations on the spot, 

but at that date few qualified men were allowed to work 

abroad. Men like my husband, of long experience in for- 

eign trade and finance, were no longer permitted to leave 

Russia. 

The employees of the Commissariat of Foreign Trade 

from 1930 on had to be Communist Party members of 

proletarian origin, or old Bolsheviks without taint of 

heresy. Men of such qualifications rarely had any others. 

Nor could they usually speak any foreign language, and 

they often had not the faintest idea of how to trade. 

A Russian-speaking friend of mine at Arcos in London 

was asked by the Russian in charge of the department 

where he worked what a bill of exchange was. He found 

it difficult to get the Russian to understand because he 

Scapegoats 249 

had not the most elementary notion of the functions of a 

bank. Eventually the foreign staffs, which had become 

so useless, were drastically reduced. 

The export organizations, thereafter, had to do most 

of their trading at long distance from Moscow. Foreign 

buyers were advised to come to Moscow to make their 

purchases, and we had fairly frequent visits of big mer- 

chant buyers from England and Germany. In conse- 

quence of the utter uselessness of our trading represen- 

tatives abroad, we took to exporting through middlemen. 

Our sales to the Argentine were effected through the 

Manchester firm of Bakerjan, and those to the Dutch 

East Indies through a large London firm of merchant 

shippers. Mr. Bakerjan was an amiable Armenian who 

no doubt made a huge profit on the Soviet exports which 

he sold in competition with Lancashire goods, but who 

was very polite about it. 

For hours the vice-manager, Mr. Bakerjan and I 

would sit over the pattern books while he chose his 

stock. Often, however, what he ordered could not be de- 

livered and we had to pay penalties under our contracts. 

The real live wire of our department was a young non- 

Party technician, called Volovitch, who knew the Rus- 

sian cotton industry from A to 2. He would be able to 

say from memory not only which factory could produce 

which goods, but also which one was actually likely to 

be able to produce them under pressure. 

When Mr. Bakerjan, or the representative of the Eng- 

lish firm which sold our textiles in the Dutch East Indies, 

pleaded for wider cloth, or bleached goods, our techni- 

250 Lost Illusion 

cian went off to visit the factories in Ivanovo Vosnysenk 

and Tver to try to get them produced. Volovitch not 

only worked, but continually studied. He had all sorts 

of ideas for improving production. He made gallant ef- 

forts to secure export prices which would give us a little 

profit, and he never pretended that he had succeeded in 

exporting the planned quantity of goods when he hadn’t. 

Of course he ended up in prison. He was non-Party; 

he was of bourgeois origin, and he was well qualified 

and keen about his job. Few men of this type survive in 

the USSR. 

It was from him that I learned of the virtual extinction 

of the vast textile handweaving industry which had 

existed in Russia before the First Five Year Plan. The 

Soviet Government had liquidated this industry by treat- 

ing the village and small town weavers as capitalists. 

At first I used to spend much of my time making 

elaborate calculations of the price at which our goods 

could be sold in competition with English and Japanese 

cloth of the same kind. If the Japanese sold prints of such 

and such yarn with so many threads per inch at so much, 

we could, I argued, sell similar cloth by asking a price 

just a little lower. 

Manevitch let me do my petty calculations in peace, 

but got really irritated if I wanted him to make use of 

them. What did he, or the chairman, care whether or not 

we secured a fraction of a penny more a yard on our 

goods? Neither he, nor Promexport, nor the Commis- 

sariat of Foreign Trade would get any credit for that. 

All that mattered was to fulfill the Plan, and the Plan 

Scapegoats 

demanded the export of so many hundreds of thousands 

of yards of cloth a month. Price was a secondary ques- 

tion, and if they stopped to bother too much about that 

they would fail to fulfill the Plan. Moreover, it was easier 

to secure foreign currency by exporting a large quan- 

tity of goods at a very low price than to export a smaller 

quantity at a higher price. 

The ruble having a shifting and largely fictitious value, 

the factory cost of production and freight charge had 

little to do with the prices at which Soviet goods were 

sold abroad. If we obtained zo or 25 per cent of the fac- 

tory’s production cost, we had done brilliantly. It was 

more usual in the case of textiles to get about I 5 per cent 

of it. This percentage was called the pmecreta, and, al- 

though it varied considerably for different types of 

goods, it gave some indication of the real value of the 

ruble. 

The perecreta was kept secret to avoid foreign accusa- 

tions of dumping, and in order that gullible Communist 

tourists might continue to tell the folks at home what 

high wages the Russian workers were earning. For, of 

course, the same cloth we sold abroad for a song was also 

sold in Soviet shops-when available at all for the in- 

ternal market-at the full cost of production plus a big 

profit for the Soviet state. The Russian people as con- 

sumers subsidized our exports by the high price they 

paid for textiles. 

I started on my work at Promexport full of enthu- 

siasm. With Volovitch’s assistance I visited factories in 

different parts of the country and found out what they 

252 Lost Illusion 

were capable of producing. I advised my chiefs of the 

needs and tastes of foreign markets: widths, designs, 

quality, and so forth. 

I produced long reports concerning the possibilities 

of manufacturing goods of the required width and 

quality at our various factories, and made careful calcu- 

lations concerning competitive prices at which Soviet 

cloth could be sold in different countries. 

My reports on my visits to the textile districts were 

received politely, sometimes even with enthusiasm. I was 

given a foreign specialist’s food card, which was worth 

literally thousands of rubles. 

Although I was treated with honor and ensconced in 

a soft job, my work was absolutely useless. The Prom- 

export charwoman who received ninety rubles a month, 

lived with her children in a hallway and existed on black 

bread, cabbage soup, and an occasional herring, was per- 

forming a more useful social function than I was. 

No notice was taken of my reports for the simple rea- 

son that my suggestions, if acted upon would have made 

it appear that neither the textile factories nor the export- 

ing organization were fulfilling the Plan. To give a con- 

crete example: the factories working for textile export 

had in many cases looms wide enough to produce the 27- 

inch cloth required to make a pair of Chinese trousers, 

and China was one of our principal markets at that time. 

But to have made the required width would have 

meant producing a lesser number of thousands of yards 

per quarter year, than if they continued to manufacture 

the traditional Russian width of 24 inches. 

Scapegoats 253 

To produce a lesser number of yards would have 

meant nonfulfillment of the Plan; and a lot of people 

would have been shot or sent to concentration camps. 

The export organization in its turn would have been able 

to export only a smaller yardage than before and would 

also have failed to fulfill its quota. So we continued to 

sell a narrow cloth at great loss, since naturally the 

Chinese would buy a cloth too narrow to be convenient 

only if it were offered at bargain prices. 

It was simpler and safer for us to denude the Soviet 

market of the cloth of which the Russian people were in 

desperate need than to export a smaller quantity of the 

right kind of cloth at a higher price. 

The textile and other departments of Promexport 

made so good a showing in those years that Kalmanof- 

sky, as I have already related, was given a decoration and 

presented with a private automobile. This was done at 

the cost of stripping the Russian home market of vital 

necessities, and for a return in foreign currency which 

was pitifully small in comparison with the sacrifices made 

by the Russian population. 

The cloth we sold was very defective because the 

workers were forced to work at top speed on machinery 

which was often old and almost always neglected as re- 

gards cleaning and repairs. They could earn a living only 

if they paid no attention to quality. They too had their 

quota to fulfill, or woe betide them. Losing your job is 

no joke when it also entails losing your ration book, your 

room, and having your family turned into the street. 

At one period the percentage of defective cloth, even 

254 Lost Illusion 

in the good factories-which meant those working for 

export-was as high as 80 per cent of their total produc- 

tion. It all had to be printed, since bleached or dyed cloth 

showed up the defects too clearly. 

The bad quality of Soviet production was largely due, 

insofar as the textile industry was concerned, to the in- 

troduction of what was called the functional system- 

an imitation of American mass production methods 

which were entirely unsuited to the old looms and con- 

fined space of the Russian factories, and to the lack of 

skill of the average worker. 

When I was assigned to the Commissariat of Light In- 

dustry and tried to point out the disastrous results of 

setting a weaver to perform one function on 20 to 30 

looms working at top speed, instead of all functions on 

two looms, as she had been accustomed to do, the Rus- 

sian specialist who worked beside me told me I had 

better shut up, since several Russian engineers who had 

made the same kind of criticism had been arrested for 

sabotage. 

A year or two later the functional system was abol- 

ished, and those made to bear the responsibility for its 

adoption were accused of wrecking. Thus are mistakes 

rectified in the Soviet Union after they have caused un- 

told loss, and after those who originally pointed out and 

tried to prevent the mistakes have been liquidated. 

I transferred to the newly created Commissariat of 

Light Industry in the early spring of 1932, hoping that, 

having failed at Promexport to find work to do which 

Scapegoats 255 

would enable me to earn, as well as to receive, my bread, 

I might find a useful function to perform if I got closer 

to the direction of industry itself. 

However, my work at the Commissariat proved to be 

more futile even than at Promexport, where I had at least 

done the useful job of putting into correct English the 

letters we sent abroad. 

At the Commissariat I did a lot of traveling around, 

and got an intimate close-up of the terrible living and 

working conditions of the Russian textile workers. I am, 

of course, not an engineer, and that was the kind of spe- 

cialized knowledge I now required. But even if I had 

been so qualified no one would have paid any attention 

to my recommendations. 

After a year’s work as a textile specialist I was glad to 

accept an offer to join the Institute of World Economy 

and Politics at the Communist Academy, later renamed 

the Academy of Sciences. Here I could at least cultivate 

my own garden, study and learn, read and write. After 

my experience of Soviet industry and trade I relished the 

peace and quiet. 

Petrov’s delicious satire, The Little Golden Calf, pub- 

lished years ago when a little dangerous thinking was still 

permitted in the USSR, provided it took a humorous 

form, gives a picture of how work is done and how life 

is lived in the Soviet Union, which is a masterpiece of 

satire. 

One chapter tells of an accountant in a Soviet office 

who, in order to escape one of the periodic “cleansings 

256 Lost Illusion 

of the apparatus” and to get a little peace, manages to 

convince people that he is mad and to get himself sent 

to a lunatic asylum. 

Eventually his deception is discovered, and he is sent 

back to work at his old job. The other clerks and ac- 

countants cluster around him to hear of his experiences 

and he says: “Comrades, it was simply wonderful; of 

course it was a bedlam there too, but at least in that bed- 

lam they didn’t think that they were constructing so- 

cialism.” 

You could not work long at a Soviet institution with- 

out realizing that it was all a bedlam. But if you were 

wise, you did at Rome as the Romans do. You continued 

to pretend that you were constructing socialism even if 

you knew very well that you were only helping to 

create chaos, and playing a part in a gigantic hoax which 

might have been funny were it not so tragic. 

The German specialists were the ones who found it 

most difficult to adapt themselves to the bedlam. One of 

the characters in The Little Golden Calf is a German 

specialist brought to the Urals, who waits week after 

week, and month after month, to start work. The direc- 

tor of the trust who is supposed to give him his orders is 

never visible. 

Either there is a notice on his door saying, “Just gone 

out for a few minutes” or another notice saying, “Very 

busy, cannot be disturbed.” At all other times he is away 

traveling on a Komnderofka. 

The German gets more and more exasperated and 

Scapegoats 257 

angry. The Russians simply can’t understand him. 

“Why,” they say, “the man is drawing a huge salary and 

has nothing to do; why on earth isn’t he satisfied?” 

Such conditions as those I found in the textile industry 

were, of course, not peculiar to it. The same causes led 

to the same results in other industries. Defective work- 

manship and inefficiency were inevitable, since every 

man’s job, and frequently his life and liberty, depended 

upon his fulfilling a plan which had been drawn up at 

the command of dictator Stalin without reference to in- 

dustrial or human capacity. 

Soviet industry and transport, which recovered from 

the destruction and neglect of the Civil War period have 

never recovered from the mass arrests and imprisonment 

of experts in every field in the purge of the early thirties. 

Most of these experts had worked loyally for the Soviet 

power since 1920, although not pretending to be Com- 

munists. 

Stalin’s utter stupidity in liquidating or demoralizing 

qualified personnel has been one of the tragedies of Soviet 

Russian history. With power stations, blast furnaces, and 

factories being built by the colossal sacrifices of the Rus- 

sian people, it was essential to secure the willing and 

wholehearted collaboration of scientists, engineers and 

technicians, of statisticians, and of men with administra- 

tive experience. 

But Stalin has always imagined that compulsion and 

terror were the best way to secure efficient service. In- 

stead of continuing Lenin’s practice of conciliating the 

258 Lost Illusion 

specialists and rewarding loyal service, Stalin inaugu- 

rated a policy of arresting, shooting, or terrorizing non- 

Party specialists. 

Each year the muddle and waste became worse, and 

more and more of the honest and well-qualified Russians 

were liquidated or in fear and despair gave up trying to 

* bring order out of chaos. By the time the Soviet Gov- 

ernment started relaxing class distinctions, and modify- 

ing the terror against the non-Party specialists, it was too 

late to undo the damage, In any case there was only a 

brief respite. Soon bigger and better purges began which 

swept Communists and non-Party people alike into the 

concentration camps. 

There is a terrible retrogressive force inherent in the 

use of terror and repression as a means of government. 

The greater the fear of the government the greater the 

desire to overthrow it. Terror and compulsion by gener- 

ating ever greater discontent call forth more terror and 

increasingly drastic punishments. 

This negative progression is accelerated in Russia by 

the government’s continual search for scapegoats on 

whom to lay the blame for the intolerable conditions of 

life of the people. By indiscriminate arrests of those to 

whom it ascribes the blame for the ills caused by the sys- 

tem, the Soviet Government intensifies the economic dis- 

order. For inefficiency is the offspring of fear. 

The rulers of Soviet Russia are caught in a descending 

spiral they cannot escape from. The more the people 

fear them, the greater their own fear of the people. To 

prevent revolution and keep themselves in power, Stalin 

Scapegoats 259 

and his henchmen must continually exert more pressure 

to hold the lid down on the seething cauldron of popular 

hatred of their dictatorship. 

Any relaxation of the terror would open the flood 

gates to revolution. 

When an explosion seems imminent Stalin provides a 

safety valve by diverting popular hatred of the govern- 

ment to individuals. Hence the recurrent search for new 

and better scapegoats at home and abroad. 

During the years I worked as a foreign specialist the 

scapegoats were found among the qualified non-Party 

men of bourgeois origin, and peasants who clung to 

private ownership of their farms. 

By 1935, however, it was no longer possible to al- 

leviate popular discontent by the sacrifice of a dead or 

dying class. New victims were required. The Revolution 

started to devour its progenitors, the original members 

of the Communist Party. 

In the great purge which gathered momentum in 1936 

and increased in intensity up to the eve of the world war, 

Stalin disposed of the Communists who wanted to re- 

treat before the whirlwind of popular hatred and might 

have deposed him. He not only got rid of his enemies, 

he also used them as scapegoats. 

The ills of Soviet Russia were ascribed to the “Trot- 

skyist-Bucharinist-Fascist Vermin;” Russian agents of the 

British, French, Nazis and Japanese were alleged to be 

hiding in every branch of Soviet economy, and to have 

occupied the highest positions in the government. 

The falling of so many heads undoubtedly gave some 

260 Lost Illusion 

satisfaction to the workers and peasants who hate the 

Communist bureaucrats with a bitter hatred. But no 

amount of blood letting could restore health to the 

Soviet economy or alleviate the misery of the Russian 

people. 

It also seemed to me that having created a social sys- 

tem where want, misery, social injustice, and terror 

reigned supreme, a society which was the very antithesis 

of the system of plenty and social equality which had 

been the aim of Lenin and the Bolsheviks in 1917, Stalin 

set out to destroy all those who still retained any vestiges 

of the Marxist faith. 

The names of the executed and imprisoned which ap- 

peared in the press may have meant little to the foreign 

reader. But to us in Russia they read like a Who’s Who 

of the men and women who had led the Revolution in 

‘9’7. 

The unjust perished with the just, the corrupt and op- 

pressive officials with the best and most honest, Stalin’s 

oldest friends together with his old enemies who had 

recanted of their Trotskyist or Bucharinist heresies but 

had never been forgiven. With the great, fell countless 

minor victims whose names never appeared in the press 

and who disappeared without trace or trial. 

Only when all fear for themselves, their friends, and 

their families, could Stalin feel safe. According to the 

Trotskyists Stalin years ago revealed to his closest friends 

his great sociological and historical discovery: that all 

regimes in the past fell only because of the irresolution 

and vacillation of the ruling class. 

Scapegoats 

261 

According to this Stalinist doctrine any ruling class if 

ruthless enough in its struggle against its enemies can 

cope with all dangers. This theory would explain Stalin’s 

partiality for Hitler in 1939. 

Stalin could terrorize men by his utter ruthlessness, he 

could even force them to do work of a sort without hope 

of reward beyond a mere subsistence for their families. 

He could speed up the workers and lay heavy tribute on 

the peasants. But one thing he could not do: he could 

not terrorize machines into submission. 

Hard-driven and neglected machinery, rails and 

freight cars worn out by too heavy loads, trucks shaken 

to bits on bad roads, driven by men whose sole concern 

was to get through their allotted tasks and save their jobs 

-all these could not be forced to continue working by 

threats of starvation or imprisonment. Men might bow 

down before Stalin, but machinery he could only break. 

In every enterprise broken machinery and flagging 

production could be camouflaged only for a time. In a 

society where everyone was constrained by fear to cover 

up deficiencies and mistakes instead of setting them right, 

pretense, cheating, and camouflage became a fine art, 

and to lay the blame on someone else became the first 

lesson of the young Soviet worker. 

Everyone conspired to hide the defects in his own 

work and to denounce others lest he himself be de- 

nounced. When total breakdown threatened ,an enter- 

prise, the NKVD would shoot or imprison a few expia- 

tory victims and the game of camouflage would begin 

again under new management. 

262 Lost Illusion 

Soviet economy experiences crises far more acute than 

the cyclic depressions in a capitalist economy. They are 

temporarily overcome by executions instead of bank- 

ruptcies. 

Ever since I lived in Russia I have known by the news 

items from the Soviet Union when a crisis has arisen. For 

a few weeks the grievances of the workers are aired in 

the press. The discontent which has reached the boiling 

point is cooled by the dismissal, shooting or imprison- 

ment of the individuals singled out for blame. Like 

Moloch the Soviet state periodically demands the sacri- 

fice of innocent human beings. 

To maintain themselves in power, however, the rulers 

of the Soviet Union cannot rely entirely on the terror 

within their realm. They also frighten their people with 

an external menace. 

Before and during the Second World War no bogey 

had to be invented. There was a real threat from Nazi 

Germany. But before Hitler came to power, as now, 

Stalin conjured up a vision of capitalist encirclement. 

Today the exhausted Russian people is warned to bear its 

trials patiently and support its tyrannical government, 

lest worse befall them. The “reactionary capitalists” of 

the United States and England are represented as waiting 

only for the opportunity to devour them. 

XVIII 

4Yzft 

T LONG LAST ARCADI AND robtainedourown 

flat, in January 1936. Paid for years before in foreign 

exchange and in rubles, and long since due to us by the 

length of our membership in the Cooperative, we had al- 

most given up hope of ever getting it. Now suddenly it 

was ours. Not without a struggle, not without another 

bold threat by Arcadi to leave Promexport if the chair- 

man would not help him to secure his rights, but finally 

ours. 

We had to move in the middle of the night because a 

fight was going on between contenders for our old 

rooms at Ordinka. Both the Commissariat of Foreign 

Trade and the Commissariat’s Cooperative into whose 

block of flats we were moving, claimed possession. If we 

didn’t let in the people to whom the Cooperative had 

allocated the rooms, they would not give us the key of 

our new flat. 

So we made a lightning move at one o’clock in the 

morning. We sent Emma on first with my sleeping son 

in her arms to take possession and sit on the floor with 

him till we arrived with the furniture after admitting the 

new occupants to our old rooms. 

263 

264 Lost Illusion 

Our new flat had three rooms, a kitchen, and bath- 

room, but alas, no bath. After nearly two years with a 

bath and no hot-water heater we now had a hot-water 

heater and no bath. Such is life, but we were too happy 

at getting the flat to complain. 

We sold Arcadi’s bicycle and typewriter brought 

originally from Japan, to buy furniture. We reveled in 

our possession of a flat all our own. No longer had we 

to share a bath and lavatory, no longer tumble over 

another family in the kitchen. We ate and slept in a 

different room. We had real privacy at last. 

We should have known that misfortune awaits the 

fortunate. I remember saying to Arcadi after we moved 

in that, having at last got a home of our own in Moscow, 

we should perhaps now soon be leaving Russia. For all 

my life I had been giving up homes as soon as I was 

comfortably settled. When I was eleven we had left our 

London home to go abroad on account of my father’s 

tuberculosis. In 19 14 the war had deprived us of our 

Surrey country home. In 1928 I had abandoned the little 

flat in London where my mother and I had lived since 

my father died and which I had been able to make corn-’ 

fortable only a short while before leaving England. I had 

left Japan just after we had started living in a little house 

where we alone were the tenants. Now, after nearly six 

years of waiting, we had our own flat in Moscow. It 

would surely be our fate to move again soon. 

For the first time in all those years we could unpack 

our books and trunks and have ample space for every- 

Arrest 265 

thing. For the first time my son Jon had a large floor 

space to play in. 

I finished Japan’s Feet of Ctay early in March, but it 

took me three weeks of wangling to secure the paper 

on which to have it typed. Ordinary Russian paper was 

gray, soggy stuff, a little like blotting paper. It was 

admitted that it would be a disgrace to have my manu- 

script presented to an English publisher on such paper. 

But I could not secure a supply of better until Varga 

had himself spoken to a Vice-Commissar at the Commis- 

sariat of Light Industry. That three week’s delay pre- 

vented my being in England when they arrested Arcadi. 

On March IO, 1936 we had a housewarming party to 

celebrate Jon’s second birthday. But without Jane and 

Michael, parties were rather dull and lifeless. Our old 

friend from Japanese days, Mentich, was visiting Moscow 

from the South, where he worked. 

To him I opened my heart freely, knowing he was as 

loyal and devoted a friend as one could possess. 

A Com- 

munist Party member who had fought gallantly in the 

Civil War, he took no pleasure in the material privileges 

he received. He longed for the good old days when a 

revolutionary’s life was honest and dangerous, and was 

trying to get himself sent on an Arctic expedition. 

Mentich was a true Russian, huge, blond and blue- 

eyed, ponderous as a bear and with a laugh which 

warmed one’s spirit. He was arrested a month or so 

after Arcadi, and I have always hoped that they got 

sent to the same concentration camp, for on the postcard 

266 Lost illusion 

I received later from Arcadi from Archangel he said he 

had found an old friend among the prisoners. 

On the night of April tenth, Arcadi awakened me 

saying, 

“We have visitors! ” 

I sprang out of bed to see a soldier in the hall. Two 

secret police officers in uniform were in our sitting room, 

together with the janitor of our block of flats. 

The secret police officers warned us we must not 

speak to each other, and started on a methodical search 

of the whole flat. We had hundreds of books, and they 

went through every one of them, shaking out their 

leaves, scanning the titles. 

They went through all my papers as well as Arcadi’s, 

but they couldn’t read English, and, strangely enough, 

they accepted Arcadi’s word for the contents of my 

manuscript and other notes. 

We sat silent and tense. The slight up-and-down 

movement of Arcadi’s right foot crossed over his left 

was all that betrayed his feelings. As the hours passed 

and the search went on, I said to myself over and over 

again, 

“They will find nothing and then they will go. They 

will find nothing and then they will go.” Thus defen- 

sively did I try to keep up my courage, although I knew 

only too well that the innocent were just as likely to be 

arrested as the guilty. 

When Arcadi’s eyes and mine met, we gave each other 

a smile and a look of confidence and calm. One must 

keep calm. Is it a dream? Has the end come? Is this now 

Arrest 267 

happening to us which happened to so many others? 

Will the nightmare pass, or is this the end of our life 

and our love? 

Slowly the dawn came, but the search went on. The 

secret police officers were polite, silent, methodical. 

They selected a few books to take away, including a 

volume of Marx and one of Keynes. 

They took all my letters from Arcadi, preserved 

through the years. They took my address book. These, 

some office papers Arcadi had been working on at 

home, and the books they packed in a bag. At seven 

o’clock Jon awakened, and we gave him breakfast. 

At eight o’clock they told Arcadi they were taking 

him away to be examined, but the search was not yet 

completed. I made him coffee. My mind now was filled 

with only one purpose: to strengthen him for the ordeal 

before him. 

I knew he was innocent, but I also knew of the terrible, 

long, exhausting examinations to which the secret police 

subjects its victims. Arcadi had been up all night, and 

might be confused, too tired to think clearly. By this 

time they allowed us to talk a little. Jon was around the 

place, and him they could not silence. 

I might have asked Arcadi what I should do when he 

was gone; what I should do if he were imprisoned. But 

I still hoped he would come home in a few days or a 

few weeks. I wanted only to give him strength and 

confidence. 

I asked him no questions. I let him rest half-sitting, 

half-lying on the couch with his head sunk down and 

268 Lost Illusion 

his face very pale. I packed a small suitcase with brush 

and comb, soap, toothbrush, and a change of linen. 

At about nine o’clock they took him away. We 

kissed for the last time. At the door I said, “What can 

I do? To whom shall I go?” 

He shrugged his shoulders. “No one can help,” he 

said. 

No words of love passed between us. They were not 

needed. Reserved to the last and calm to the last, he 

gave me a gentle smile and was gone. 

I never saw him again. He passed out of my life on 

that lovely April morning, in his English flannel jacket, 

his black head hatless, a slight figure between the two 

khaki-clad Soviet secret police officers. 

Emma was in tears. I sent her out with Jon. I walked 

from room to room trying to think what I could do, 

to whom I could go, where I could discover what Arcadi 

was accused of. Finally I found myself vomiting. Fleet- 

ingly I remembered learning in a psychology class that 

the stomach, not the heart, is the seat of the emotions. 

“It must be a mistake,” I reasoned to myself. Queer 

things were going on at Promexport. The manager and 

assistant manager of a department had been arrested a 

few days before. That last evening Arcadi had told me 

about it, but he had not suggested that he himself was 

in danger. 

In order to maintain Promexport’s position as the 

leading export organization, Kalmanofsky, the chairman, 

had continued to sell certain goods abroad which should, 

according to a new policy have been retained for use in 

Arrest 269 

Russian industry. This had just been found out by the 

Workers’ and Peasants’ Inspection authorities. 

Kalmanofsky had placed the blame upon the manager 

of the department in question, although this man had 

only carried out Kalmanofsky’s orders and, being non- 

Party, would have lost his job had he refused to do so. 

As finance manager of Promexport, Arcadi signed alI 

contracts. Although he was in no way responsible for 

the kind of goods exported, it would have been a more or 

less normal procedure to rope him in for examination. 

This was, I believe, from what I learned later, the actual 

reason for his arrest. 

But once you are in the hands of the secret police, 

they don’t let you go easily. If they find nothing against 

you on one count, they hunt around for some other 

charge. 

The concentration camps are always hungry for more 

men, always in need of more labor. Almost every citi- 

zen has at some time or another said something, or been 

reported to have said something, critical of the regime, 

or of the Party line. Or perhaps it can be established 

that he has been friendly with an accused or condemned 

person. 

That first morning I went to the secret police office in 

Petrovka, where the officers had told me I could get 

information as to the reason for Arcadi’s arrest. It was 

the free day and it was closed. Next day I went again 

and waited in a line-up with others, only to be told that 

no information could be given me yet. I went each day, 

and was always given the same answer. 

270 Lost Illusion 

I went to the Commissariat of Foreign Trade. No one 

could or would help me. But Philip Rabinovitch, always 

kind, told me not to worry, and said of course Arcadi 

was innocent and would be home again soon. 

Others avoided me. Friends were afraid to speak to me. 

When some one is arrested in the USSR it is as if the 

plague had struck his family. All are afraid of any con- 

tact, afraid to be seen talking to the stricken relations. 

I was comparatively lucky. Several friends stuck by me. 

Mark Kazanin and other friends at the Institute were 

as friendly as before. Sophie Rabinovitch told me to come 

to their flat, in the same block as ours, whenever I felt 

like it. She and Philip had lived for years in the United 

States and England and had not lost all their decency 

and courage. Anikeeva, my friend since the distant days 

we had lived in Tokyo, tried to give me comfort. 

At the Institute many shunned me, but I was not 

dismissed. Varga was kind to me and tried to get in- 

formation as to why my husband had been arrested. 

One man at the Institute whom I had known years 

before in London attempted to console me by showing 

me that mine was the lot of all. He said, “I don’t suppose 

there is a family in Moscow which has not lost at least 

one member in the past years either through arrest or 

through typhus.” 

I went to Kalmanofsky, the Chairman of Promexport, 

in his home. He faced me in a dark room lit by a small 

lamp on his writing table. He was nervous and ill at ease. 

His fine Jewish eyes showed panic. I could see he was 

already afraid for himself, and that no help could come 

Arrest 271 

from him. Perhaps it was he who had falsely accused 

Arcadi to save himself. 

I went to an ex-OGPU friend. He promised to make 

inquiries. Two days later he told me I had nothing to 

fear, Arcadi was being held for questioning in connection 

with the case of the other Promexport men arrested and, 

since he could not be held responsible merely because 

he had signed the fatal contract as finance manager, I 

had nothing to worry about. I was advised to go to 

England with my book; and by the time I came back 

he was sure Arcadi would be free. 

I then made my decision. I already had my visa to 

go to England and return, having applied for it through 

the Institute before Arcadi’s arrest. I had even managed 

to secure permission to exchange rubles for thirty pounds 

for my trip to England to see Japan’s Feet of Clay 

through the press. 

I could take Jon out of the country into safety and 

return. All through that long week of anxiety, of 

traipsing from place to place and person to person, I 

had feared for our son. He was not a British subject 

because he had been born in Moscow. 

I knew how the secret police took hostages, how they 

frightened men into false confessions by threatening re- 

prisals on their children. I must get Jon out of the 

country while I could. Arcadi would want me to save 

him whatever happened. 

So I left Moscow one evening ten days after Arcadi’s 

arrest. Before leaving I handed a letter into the Lubianka 

prison for him, saying I was going but would return. I 

272 Lost Illusion 

shall never know whether or not the secret police let 

him have it. 

After we had crossed the Russian Frontier into Poland, 

the sick feeling I had had for days began to pass. My 

heart sang, “Jon is safe; Jon is safe.” I could breathe 

again. Looking after him on the three-day journey with- 

out a sleeper took all my energy and thoughts. Jon, now 

two years old, was excited and restless. In the first days 

after Arcadi’s arrest he had hunted for his father all 

over the flat in cupboards and even under the beds. 

At Berlin, where we waited three hours between trains, 

we had a bath, and I gave Jon the first banana he had 

ever tasted. Arrived in London at my mother’s flat, I 

wept for the first time. I think I determined then that 

somehow or other I would keep Jon in England. He 

must not grow up in Russia in that terrible atmosphere 

of cant and lying and cruelty and militarism. I must get 

him safely to England, and he must stay there. 

My delay, first in getting typewriter paper and then 

in waiting after Arcadi’s arrest, had made it too late for 

Faber’s to publish my book that season. It would have to 

wait until September. Their reader, G. F. Hudson, 

Fellow of All Souls at Oxford, who was unknown to me 

then but who in future years became one of my best 

friends, sent in a very favorable report. 

Mr. Faber, who had had sufficient confidence in me to 

contract for the book and pay me an advance on royal- 

ties a year before, encouraged me to hope the book 

would be a success. I began to think that if Arcadi were 

Arrest 273 

imprisoned and I could make a reputation in England 

it might help me to get him out. 

Vera telegraphed that they were taking away our flat, 

and I must come at once. Leaving Jon at a small nursery 

school in Sussex, for my mother was too old to look 

after him alone, I hurried back to Moscow. 

Emma had saved the flat by barricading herself in it 

for three days. She had bolted the door and refused to 

open it. Armed with a letter from Varga, I went to the 

house management and raised hell. They had intended to 

put in a friend of the House Committee chairman. Once 

I showed them that I was no cowed wife of a secret police 

victim, but a foreigner still employed at the Academy of 

Sciences, they abased themselves in Russian Soviet style 

with profuse apologies. 

The flat was saved for the time being, but the news 

about Arcadi was very foreboding. His sister, Vera had 

ascertained that he was now accused of a political 

offense. What offense they would not tell her, but 

everyone knew that a political charge was far graver 

than a mere accusation of having done wrong in business. 

There began for me the saddest, gloomiest, most try- 

ing and anxious period of my life. Day after day I went 

to the Public Prosecutor’s office and stood in line wait- 

ing my turn to speak to an official there. According to 

the Soviet Constitution, the State Prosecutor has “super- 

vision of the exact observance of the laws,” and “no one 

may be subject to arrest except upon the decision of a 

court or with the sanction of the Prosecutor.” 

274 Lost illusion 

So in theory the Prosecutor is supposed to know why 

a man or woman is arrested, and one is supposed to be 

able to obtain information at his office as to the charge. 

One would imagine that the Prosecutor should sign the 

warrants of arrests executed by the NKVD, as the secret 

police was now called. 

Actually, when Arcadi was arrested, no warrant or 

any kind of paper was shown to us. Perhaps the Prose- 

cutor does sign a batch of blank slips for the NKVD to 

fill in, but such a formality, if it does take place, is mean- 

ingless. 

After, as before, the promulgation of the New Con- 

stitution, the power of life and death was left in the 

hands of the NKVD, which continued to arrest anyone 

it pleased. The only difference the “inviolability of the 

person” clause in the Constitution made was that citizens 

now had to try to ascertain at the Public Prosecutor’s 

office why an arrest had been made, and to send in 

appeals through him instead of directly to the NKVD. 

Each time I finally got to see an official at the Prose- 

cutor’s, I was told to come back in four days or in a 

week’s time. When I came back, and had again spent 

hours standing in line, I was told that the case was now 

in the hands of another official. When I got to the other 

official the process was repeated. 

After five weeks of this I finally managed, through the 

help of an influential Party member to get to one of the 

Assistant Prosecutors, called, as far as I remember, Le- 

vine. He spoke German, and our conversation was brief: 

“Ihr Mann bat im Au.rhnd gearbeitet?” 

Arrest 275 

“ Ja.” 

“In Japan?” 

“ Ja.” 

“Nz112, er bat dart was gesagt dasr er nick sagen 

solhe.” 

That was all. Arcadi was in prison because of some re- 

mark he had made six or seven years before in Japan. 

Perhaps Anikeev was right. Perhaps it was one of his 

jokes which had been reported and filed away in his 

dossier, which had got him into trouble. 

I started to appeal. I wrote appeals to the Prosecutor, 

to Yezhov, then Assistant Commissar of the Commis- 

sariat of the Interior, (NKVD), and finally to Stalin 

himself. 

I never received even an acknowledgment of any of 

them. 

Meanwhile I was going twice weekly to the NKVD 

to fill in a form asking to be permitted to visit my hus- 

band. Nothing ever came of this either. 

Arcadi had been moved in May from Lubianka to the 

Butirky Prison. This meant either that his examination 

was completed or that the Lubianka was so full that he 

had been transferred while awaiting further examination. 

We could not know which of these alternatives it 

meant. If he were already condemned we had to go to 

the prison every three days to see if his name was yet 

posted on the list of those being sent away to a concen- 

tration camp. 

The NKVD does not even inform the arrested man’s 

family when he has been condemned and is to be sent 

276 Lost Illusion 

away. The family must watch the lists. It might be days 

or months before the arrested person was removed to a 

distant prison or concentration camp, and one had no 

means of knowing whether he or she had already been 

sentenced or not. 

Vera had a friend who knew a woman whose husband 

was a sort of a trusty among the condemned political 

prisoners in the Butirky Prison, and who was allowed a 

visit from his wife once in twelve days. Through this 

woman we found out that Arcadi was not among those 

already condemned, so he was evidently still in soli- 

tary confinement, or with others still under examina- 

tion. 

No one in the queues at the prison and at the Prose- 

cutor’s expected an arrested relative to be given a trial. 

It was taken for granted that all would be condemned 

without trial in secret, or, if a miracle occurred, released 

similarly without trial. 

The articles in the New Constitution guaranteeing 

trial in open court “with participation of the people’s 

associate judges” (Articles I 03 and I I I) were a dead 

letter from the beginning, for they contained a joker: 

“with the exception of cases specially provided for by 

law,” or “except in special cases.” 

These articles were only intended to delude gullible 

foreign “Friends of the Soviet Union,” who failed to 

appreciate the significance of the addition of the words 

“except in special cases.” No citizen of the USSR took 

the New Constitution for anything more than was in- 

tended, a thin fa$ade to cover the naked police regime, 

Arrest 277, 

a cruel mockery of the millions condemned without 

trial. 

Now that Arcadi had been transferred to Butirky 

Prison I could deliver food for him every eight days 

and a change of linen every sixteen days. To do this I 

went early in the morning with a sack or pillowcase and 

stood in line after filling in a form stating exactly what 

was in the sack. If anything forbidden, like cigarettes, 

was included, everything might be rejected. 

The first time I went, a friend of Vera’s, an old 

Social Revolutionary from Siberia, went with me to 

help. For the form had to be carefully filled out, and I 

might make a mistake over some of the Russian words. 

Vera’s friend was a Socialist of the old school. 

For hours that morning she helped poor, illiterate 

women in the line-up who could not write and feared 

their pitiful supplies of black bread and onion might be 

rejected unless they could sign their names on the form. 

Many of the women with their breadwinners arrested 

and children to support were obviously half-starved 

themselves, but they brought bread for their husbands. 

The case of most of the people waiting with us was so 

much more terrible than mine that I began to be almost 

ashamed of my grief. I had food and Jon had food. 

I could .support him and, being English, I was not 

likely to be arrested myself. But these wretched women 

faced starvation for themselves and their children. 

There was no poor relief in Russia. Their neighbors 

and relatives were too poor to help or were too afraid to 

help. Even if their children were old enough to leave 

278 Lost Illusion 

alone, it was almost impossible for women whose hus- 

bands had been arrested to get work. 

The proportion of working-class people standing in 

line seemed to be very high. There were different days 

for different letters of the alphabet. As far as I remember 

our day included all those whose names began with A, 

B, C, and D. At this one prison it took hours before my 

turn came to hand in my sack to the NKW official. It 

was therefore obvious to me that the prison was full of 

“politicals.” 

Strangely enough, there seemed more good will and 

friendliness among these people than in other line-ups in 

Moscow-a comradeship of the damned. They had little 

left to fear or hope for. The worst had befallen them 

already. 

On May Day, while I was in England and Vera 

stood in line for me, she heard a man ahead of her say, 

“Half of the population of Moscow is demonstrating to- 

day, while the other half is either in prison or waiting 

at the prison gates.” 

The great consolation we got by sending in food at the 

prison was the proof this afforded that husband or 

brother, father or wife or son still lived. For in the later 

afternoon we were given a receipt signed by the prisoner 

himself, and on the days for handing in clean clothing 

we received back the soiled linen. 

When I got Arcadi’s soiled underwear back for the 

first time after his arrest I broke down and cried. It was 

five weeks since they had taken him away, and this was 

the first occasion we had had to supply him with a clean 

Arrest 279 

shirt, pants, and socks. The stuff we got back was filthy, 

sweat-stained, black with grime. Somehow this brought 

home to me more vividly than anything else what he 

must be suffering. 

The prisons were terribly crowded, and I pictured 

Arcadi in the heat and dirt of a crowded cell. There 

would certainly be bugs. He would be sleeping on a 

plank bed, and the room would be airless. Arcadi who 

was so fastidiously clean had had to wear the same 

clothing for weeks. 

Yet I comforted myself in remembering his philoso- 

phic spirit, and his gift for understanding men and never 

losing his self-control. He would know from the foreign 

chocolates and soap I had sent him that I had been to 

England and come back and was still at liberty. That 

should give him good heart to endure. 

He might guess that I had left Jon safely in England. 

In any case, he knew I could provide for our son, and 

that I could fight for myself. The NKVD would not be 

able to force him to a false confession through threats 

against us. 

It was a perfect summer in Moscow. One lovely day 

succeeded another. I would sit on the balcony in the 

evenings looking down and hoping against hope that 

Arcadi might come walking along. I imagined the smile 

and the light or joking words he would surely use when 

he came home. I shut my mind to the terrible fears 

which returned with the darkness. 

One day in the street I met Berkinghof’s wife. He had 

been taken off the train to prison on his arrival from 

280 Lost Illusion 

Mongolia, where he had been the Soviet Trade Repre- 

sentative. She and their young son had been brought to 

Moscow by the lure of a false telegram purporting to 

come from him. They had lived well for years, but 

practically everything they possessed was in Mongolia. 

Varya was haggard and white, fearing most for the fu- 

ture of their small son, whom they adored. She was 

trying to get a job, but was refused employment every- 

where. 

I heard of one arrest after another among our friends 

and acquaintances. The scythe was sweeping higher. 

Important people were being taken. Everyone I knew 

looked afraid. Panic spread. It was clearly hopeless now 

to try to get anyone to help. All were consumed by fear 

for themselves. 

The radios in the street blared out, “Life is happy! 

Life is joyous ! ” Varya and I smiled bitterly as we said 

good-bye in Tverskaya Street. 

Vera did all she could about Arcadi, showing the 

same bold spirit as in her youth. But she was as helpless 

as I. She bravely assured me that no innocent man would 

be allowed to suffer. Since Arcadi was of course inno- 

cent, he would eventually be released. 

.Poor Vera was still clinging to her belief in the Com- 

munist Party. A year later, in April 1937, she was ar- 

rested herself when nearly all who belonged to the 

proud category of those who had done hard labor as 

political convicts in Tsarist prisons were purged by 

Stalin. The revolutionaries of the past were all suspect to 

the tyrant. 

Arrest 281 

Finally, late in July, I received a cable from my pub- 

lishers in London that I must come at once to correct 

final proofs on my book due to go to press. It was im- 

possible to tell how long Arcadi’s examination would 

last. It might be months more or only weeks. I had begun 

to think that the only way I could help was to go to 

England and there try to exert pressure on Moscow. 

Standing in line at the Public Prosecutor’s and sending 

in appeals was clearly absolutely useless. Moreover, my 

son had to be provided for in England. I must make some 

money. I. had plenty of rubles, since the thousands we 

had received from the sale of the typewriter were only 

partially expended, but none of this could be exchanged 

for English currency. 

I decided to fly to England and come back after my 

Y book was published. This time, however, I could not 

secure a return visa. The Russians gave me an exit visa, 

but told me to get my return visa in London because my 

British passport was about to expire. 

This was a valid reason, but I could not be sure that 

it was the real one. However, I had no choice. I must 

go to England and could only hope it was true that a 

visa to return to the Soviet Union would be given me in 

London. 

All this time the treatment I myself had received en- 

couraged the hope that they were not going to imprison 

Arcadi indefinitely. True that I was English, but other 

foreigners had been arrested and examined. Surely if 

they were trying to frame Arcadi they would do some- 

thing to implicate me as well. 

282 Lost Illusion 

I had the terrible feeling all along that perhaps he 

was suffering for my sins. I had never done anything 

against the Soviet Government, but I had thought a lot 

against it. I had not always been cautious enough when 

on trips to England. 

Occasionally I had revealed a little of the truth on 

conditions in the USSR to intimate friends. Arcadi, on 

the other hand, had not only never spoken dangerous 

thoughts, but had in fact accepted the USSR and had 

been convinced that no change for the better was pos- 

sible through a change of government. 

He had worked extremely hard, giving all his knowl- 

edge, energy, and talents to his job, feeling that this was 

the only way for conditions to be improved. 

Being a Jew and a Russian, he was far more of a fatalist 

than I, far more resigned and philosophical concerning 

ills that could not in his view be cured, but could be 

ameliorated if everyone tried to do his own job as well as 

possible. Indignation and anger were in his view unneces- 

sary and futile. 

I left everything I possessed 

behind in Moscow: books, 

clothes, linen, furniture, and of course money. The 

money I left with Vera, telling her to continue to pay 

the zoo rubles a month we always allowed to Arcadi’s 

former wife, Anna Abramovna, and Arcadi’s son Vitia. 

Anna Abramovna had had a job for some years past, 

and Vitia was now in his ‘teens. 

To keep the flat safe and occupied, I had already in- 

stalled in it a man and his wife whom I knew to be 

decent people who would vacate it if and when Arcadi 

Arrest 283 

was set free. They were glad to take Emma on as their 

servant. In the second room I placed Vera’s son and his 

wife and child, leaving Emma the smallest room as hers 

by right, whether employed by the other inmates or not. 

The last night I did not go to bed at all. After packing 

up everything we possessed, I sat down to write a long 

letter to Arcadi in case he should come home or be sent 

away before my return-or in case I never got back. 

I assured him that whatever happened, even if I did not 

see him for years, I would continue to love him. Life 

without him was unbearable and unthinkable and I 

promised that if he were condemned, I would return and 

try to be near him, but would leave Jon in England. I 

left the letter with friends, but Arcadi was never allowed 

to receive it. 

I left Moscow by airplane at four o’clock in the morn- 

ing. Emma tried to see me off but was not allowed to 

come to the airport. She wept and clung to me, saying 

good-bye forever. I assured her I should come back. She 

was certain that I would not. 

Emma was right and I was wrong. I myself feared she 

might be right as I said good-bye to Moscow, where I 

had known such joy and such grief. 

Lovely Moscow in the early morning sun with the 

blue sky over the Kremlin. One of the loveliest cities in 

the world, and the grave of Communist hopes and of 

Communist ideals. 

Nine years before, almost to a day, I had stood in the 

Red Square for the first time, my heart full of enthusiasm 

and faith. Now I was flying away to the west leaving 

284 Lost Illusion 

the dearest person in my life inside the prison house 

which the Soviet Union had become. Tears blinded my 

eyes as the plane rose into the air. 

I never got back to Soviet Russia. For two years I tried 

again and again in London to get a visa, but each time 

was put off by my old friend, Ambassador Maisky. He 

told me to be patient and to wait, until at last I realized 

that it was hopeless. 

Perhaps Maisky feared that I should be arrested too if 

I went back, and in that event he would have a lot of 

trouble with the British Foreign Office. Or perhaps he 

had been forbidden to give me a visa. 

Late in August 1936 Arcadi was sentenced to five 

years ‘imprisonment. Vera telephoned from Moscow to 

London to tell me. If I had been in Moscow I might have 

seen him once for a few minutes before he was sent off to 

an Arctic concentration camp. Vera saw him behind bars 

separating them by several feet. 

From Archangel he sent me a postcard assuring me of 

his love and telling me to be cheerful. Early in 1937 I 

received a second postcard, this time from Ust Usya in 

the far north of Siberia, where there was a mining con- 

centration camp. In May 1937 I received a third and last 

postcard telling me he was well and that he had now been 

given office work. This implied that previously he had 

been doing physical labor in the mines. 

I have never had another word from him to this day. 

Perhaps the first year of hard labor had ruined his health, 

for his heart was already strained and enlarged from 

overwork when we lived together. Whether Arcadi was 

Arrest 285 

shot or whether he died from hardship, ill treatment, 

cold, or lack of food, I shall never know. It is scarcely 

possible that he still lives, broken in health, and deprived 

of all hope of release. 

Perhaps of all my many letters and postcards to him 

not one was ever delivered, and, feeling that I had 

abandoned him, he ceased to write. This is the bitterest 

thought of all, but I do not believe he would doubt my 

love and my loyalty. 

His three postcards were full of confidence in my af- 

fection and in his own. In the last one he had said that 

one year of our five years’ separation had already passed, 

and he lived for the day when we should be together 

again. 

If by some miracle he is still alive it is impossible that 

we should ever meet again, since I can never return to the 

USSR and he can never leave it. But for years I have felt 

that he is dead. 

Emma continued to write to me and to send parcels of 

food to Arcadi until the late summer of 1937. Then I 

ceased to hear from her for four months. Finally, in 

December of I 93 7, I received a letter from her saying she 

had been four months in the “Krankenhaus” (obviously 

meaning prison) and had been very frightened, but that 

now she was out and had at once sent Arcadi a food 

parcel. She also sent me a new address for him. After 

that I never heard from Emma again. 

Perhaps she was arrested again. Perhaps her letters 

were stopped. She had proved the most loyal and fearless 

of my friends. Only she had dared to go on writing to me 

286 Lost Illusion 

after Vera was arrested. She had been my last link, my 

last source of information about Arcadi. 

Our flat had been confiscated, and the friends I had 

installed there thrown out. My money left with Vera 

had been taken by the secret police. Emma had my 

clothes and my books. I had told her to try to keep my 

books safe, but to sell my clothes and linen to buy food 

for Arcadi. When Emma was silenced, I was as cut off 

from Arcadi as if he were on another planet. 

In the summer of 1938, while I was in China, Am- 

bassador Maxim Litvinov told Lord Chilston, the British 

Ambassador, that Arcadi Berdichevsky was still alive. 

But Litvinov offered no proof, and it was obviously to 

the Soviet Government’s advantage to keep my mouth 

shut by an assurance that my husband was still living. So 

long as I had hope, I would keep silent and not expose 

the truth about Russia, which I, having lived there so 

long as an ordinary Moscow resident know so much bet- 

ter than most foreigners. 

I did not ask the help of the British Foreign Office un- 

til 1938, because I feared to harm Arcadi by doing so. 

When I did go to the Foreign Office the official there did 

all he could to help me. I sent appeals from England to 

Moscow. One was signed by Professor Harold Laski, 

Bertrand Russell, Kingsley Martin (Editor of the New 

Stateman), and C. M. Lloyd, with accompanying letters 

supporting the appeal from George Bernard Shaw, and 

Beatrice and Sidney Webb. 

Both George Bernard Shaw and the Webbs had 

known my father, but it was Bertrand Russell who made 

Arrest 287 

them support the appeal. Professor Laski sent off the ap- 

peal and he said he sent repeated reminders afterwards. 

But he never got any acknowledgment. 

It would be wearisome to tell of all the appeals and all 

the people whose aid I enlisted. It was all futile. The 

Soviet Government, assured of the enthusiastic support 

of so many liberals, disregarded my case. 

Vera had been told by the secret police that Arcadi 

had been condemned for “having been friendly or ac- 

quainted with a Trotskyist.” That was all. I gathered 

from Vera’s letter that the “Trotskyist” may have been 

Berkinghof. Arcadi had worked under him and I had 

known him for years before in London. 

It seems obvious that the whole thing was a frivolous, 

trumped-up charge made when nothing else could be 

found against him. Arcadi must have had the strength to 

resist all their attempts to force him into a false “con- 

fession.” So he got no trial and disappeared in silence, 

like so many millions of others. 

It would have dismayed some at least of the friends of 

the Soviet Union in England and the United States to 

learn that the Russian Government could be even more 

cruel than the Nazi Government. For the Nazis did at 

least allow communication between prisoners and their 

relatives, and informed the latter when a concentration 

camp victim died or was shot. Moreover, Arcadi’s case 

constituted clear proof of the fact that in the USSR men 

are condemned, not only without trial, but without any 

real charge against them. The Soviet Government, trying 

to convince the world that it was democratic, might have 

288 Lost Illusion 

let my husband go had I at once told my story to the 

world press. 

It took me years to become free again in mind and 

spirit. 

Perhaps my voice could not have affected public opin- 

ion any more than those other few voices which of recent 

years have told the truth about Soviet tyranny. But I 

wish I had immediately joined the goodly company 

which tried to save the world from the consequences of 

a false belief in communism and Russian intentions. That 

belief played a large part in bringing about the European 

war, in which millions were killed and mutilated. 

Against the tragedy of the Second World War, and 

its aftermath, my own personal tragedy is insignificant. 

That in itself helped me to make the decision to speak out 

boldly about Soviet Russia whatever the consequences to 

Arcadi, if he still lives. 

 

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  1. http://www.fredautley.com/pdffiles/book18.pdf

    The primary question is precisely the one which the
    Webbs completely ignored: Who owns the state?

    To retain its labor force the NKVD practiced cruel
    jokes upon the prisoners who had lived through their
    term of purgatory. For instance it was announced in the
    Russian press that the prisoners liberated on completion
    of the White Sea-Baltic Canal “had become so fond of
    working collectively,” that they were being “allowed” to
    take part in another great construction project, the
    Moscow-Volga Canal.

    I failed in my youth to perceive that communism is a substitute for religion and is essentially irrational in its mystical belief in inevitable progress through revolution.

    Arcadi Berdichevsky, who became my husband in
    1928, was a Russian Jew, who had studied at Zurich
    University and emigrated to the United States in I 9 I 4.

    They must have known that I perceived that high
    Communist Party functionaries were getting the best of
    everything and that all the sacrificing was being done by
    the dumb crowds, the dragooned peasants and the help-
    less workers.

    There came to be, roughly speaking, the following
    grades: First, what Russians call the Kremlin people,
    commissars, chairmen of big trusts, members of the Cen-
    tral Committee of the Soviets and of the Party-all the
    highest Communist Party members.
    Next came the OGPU shops which served food almost
    as good and as plentiful as the shops for the Krmdovsky
    (Kremlin) people. Then, Gort A, for high officials-all
    Party men-and for a very few specially favored scien-
    tists and engineers. Next, Gort B, for the “middle class”
    -that is, Party men of lower rank and highly qualified
    non-Party specialists.

    In addition there were well-stocked shops for the Red
    Army officers. There were also the various closed dis-
    tributors for the factories producing capital goods. These
    varied greatly from place to place. In some the workers
    could obtain the official ration of butter and milk and
    meat. In others none of these luxuries were ever on sale.
    But the Krelnlovsky shops, Gort A, and Znsnab, (the
    Foreigners Store) were always well stocked with food
    and clothing unavailable to the a

    But the Krelnlovsky shops, Gort A, and Znsnab, (the
    Foreigners Store) were always well stocked with food
    and clothing unavailable to the average Russian.
    My husband, as a specialist, eventually received a book
    for the Gort B shop allotting him two pounds of meat
    and two pounds of butter a month and a small ration of
    other food and some clothing. But this was not until
    more than a year after his return. His rations from Gort
    B were about the same as Vera received in her “Political

    Only top-flight Communists were favored by ample
    supplies of food and clothing. This device of Stalin’s,
    which directly violated both Lenin’s formula of the
    Party maximum, and Marx’s injunction that the official
    was to be paid no more than a worker, was designed to
    keep Party men loyal to him personally.
    Any deviation from the Party line involved expul-
    sion from the Party and the loss of these precious food
    supplies. It also meant the withdrawal of many other
    privileges awarded in kind and not in money: use of an
    automobile, the pick of housing accommodations, special
    hospitals, and an exclusive medical service reserved for
    the new aristocracy alone.

    The closed distributors also enabled the government
    to discriminate in favor of the aristocracy with the
    scarcest goods, such as fruits, fresh vegetables, cocoa,
    chocolate, and butter and eggs. This system had the
    additional advantage of permitting the Soviet Govern-

    ment propagandists at that time to tell the world that
    Communist Party members never received salaries higher
    than the Party maximum of 300 rubles.
    Actually the salaries of high Communists were worth
    ten to twenty times as much as those of the non-Party
    specialists, who in theory were supposed to be getting
    more, and than those of the skilled workers, who were
    supposed to be paid about the same as the Party func-
    tionaries.

    but as I had already perceived in Japan, it was the
    wives of the Bolsheviks who led the parade in the de-
    generation of the Party and showed so obviously the
    characteristics of the nouveau riche society then coming
    into being.

    We knew, of course, why there was famine in Russia,
    and the situation which had led up to the “liquidation of
    the Kulaks” with all its attendant cruelty and dislocation
    67
    By 1926, nearly two-thirds of the grain on the market
    was being sold by a mere six per cent of the peasants, the
    Kulaks. These Kulaks were selling to middlemen; and a
    new “petty bourgeoisie” of shopkeepers, restaurant op-
    erators, and small industrialists had cropped up like mush-
    rooms after a ram. The state could no longer lay its
    hands on enough grain to export even a small quantity
    to pay for the importation of machinery. Handicraft in-
    dustries were reviving to serve the local needs of the
    village.

    Coercion and intimidation were impracticable unless
    the peasants could be herded together like the workers
    in the factories. Collective farming was therefore or-
    dered by decree- not the voluntary pooling of resources
    by the poorer peasants, encouraged by state credits and
    able to produce more than individual farms by being
    supplied with machinery, which Trotsky had advocated
    -but collectivization by the knout.

    with the object of getting
    all the peasants together under the control of the secret
    police so that they could be forced to labor.

    Then began the wholesale murder of the Kulaks by
    the Soviet state, which is almost unparalleled in history
    for its cruelty. I use the word murder deliberately, for
    although the Kulaks were not lined up and shot, they
    were killed off in a manner far more cruel. Whole
    families, men, women, children and babies, were thrown
    out of their homes, their personal possessions seized, even
    their warm clothing torn off of them. Then, packed in-
    to unheated cattle cars in winter, they were sent off to
    Siberia or other waste parts of the Soviet Union.

    Some survived to start life again and build farms in
    the waste lands into which they had been exiled. Women
    and children perished. Hundreds of thousands of peasants
    were herded off to the timber prison camps in the Arctic
    regions, to die like flies from hunger, cold and exhausting
    labor, whipped by the OGPU guards and treated like the
    slaves of Pharaoh or of an Asiatic tyrant.
    Shura told me terrible stories of what was going on.
    He and Grischa had been sent on their vacation with
    other young students to help institute by these horrible
    cruelties a “socialist agricultural system” in the villages.
    A friend of Arcadi’s who worked in the Timber Export
    organization made my blood run cold with his account

    of the merciless treatment of the political prisoners at
    Archangel where the ex-Kulaks in chain gangs loaded
    wood for export.
    When the father of a Kulak family was arrested, all
    food in the house was confiscated, down to the last
    sack of flour. The wife and children were left to starve
    to death. Mothers sometimes killed their babies to save
    them from lingering death by famine. The story re-
    ported by Malcolm Muggeridge, then correspondent of
    the Manchester Guardian in the USSR, is typical of
    many of the gruesome tragedies of that terrible time.
    A woman in a Cossack village in the Caucasus, whose
    husband was arrested and taken off to forced labor as a
    Kulak, had her last sack of flour confiscated by the
    OGPU officer, Comrade Babel. When he had left she
    looked at her three children asleep by the stove. There
    was no food and no hope of securing any. She got an
    axe and killed the children as they slept.
    Then, after tying each child up in a flour sack, the
    mother went to town and reported to Comrade Babel
    that she had decided she ought no longer to defy the
    Dictatorship of the Proletariat, and confessed that she
    had three more sacks of flour hidden away. Comrade

    Babel went back with her, along the snowy road, to
    her house. She took him up to the loft and showed him
    three bulging sacks. As he bent under the rafters to
    look, she killed him with the axe.
    Of course the woman was shot, and Comrade Babel’s
    heroic death “on the class-war front” was reported in
    Moscow newspapers. Pravda spoke of the “plots” of

    the class enemy, of the need “to root out mercilessly all
    hostile elements in the villages.” The case was reported
    as one in which “a notorious counter-revolutionary, wife
    of an exiled Kulak, lured Comrade Babel to her house
    with false promises and murdered him in the loft with
    an axe.”
    Such incidents as these were not recognized as acts
    of blind revenge. They were represented as “sympto-
    matic of the new tactics of Kulak elements” seeking to
    destroy the socialist state.

    Fear of reprisals by the desperate, starving, expro-
    priated peasants drove the Party to attempt to extermi-
    nate their victims. “We must destroy our enemies until
    not one is left,” was the daily cry in the newspapers.
    An orgy of cruelty raged in the countryside. We must
    go back to the days of the Mongol hordes sweeping
    across Asia and eastern Europe in the thirteenth century,
    or to the massacres by the Assyrians in Biblical times,
    for an historical parallel with the Communist “class
    war” against the Russian peasants.
    Many motives, fanatical faith, fear, sadism, revenge,
    played their role in this horrible massacre of the inno-
    cents by famine and the firing squad. Jews who re-
    membered old pogroms in the Russian villages, workers
    who had suffered under the Cossack whips in Tsarist
    times, gave vent to dusty and dim hatreds sanctified
    under the banner of the class war.
    Earnest young men and women whose best instincts
    were perverted by orders given them by the Communist
    Party, convinced themselves that in depriving the peas-

    ants of their last stores of food they were helping to
    build a socialist society. OGPU and Red army officers
    sent to carry on the “war on the agrarian front” feared
    that if they were not absolutely merciless they would be
    stabbed in the back on dark nights by desperate peasants.
    The Kulaks, now declared enemies of the state, were
    in theory the exploiting peasants, those who rented extra
    land and employed hired labor, or who advanced money
    or seed at high rates of interest to the poorest peasants.
    Kulak means a fist, and the word originally signified
    an exploiter and a usurer. Under Stalin the word came to
    mean any peasant who dared to oppose collectivization.
    Long before the period of forced collectivization, the
    Bolsheviks had endeavored to break the solid front which
    the villages presented to the cities and the Soviet state,
    by promoting a class war in the villages. It was hoped
    that if some peasants could be set against others, it
    would be possible to break the solid opposition of the
    peasants to what they viewed as an exploitation of the
    agricultural population for the benefit of the city
    workers.

    In order to stimulate class warfare, the peasants were
    registered in three classes: Kulaki, Seredniaki (middle
    Revival of Serfdom
    peasants), and Bedniaki (poor peasants). In villages
    where there was a dead level of poverty, the local Com-
    munists were nevertheless ordered to find Kulaks even
    where none existed.
    A story was told me of how in one village the local
    chairman of the Committee of the Poor exibited a
    family of Kulaks quite in the manner of showing a
    family of lepers on whom the judgment of God had
    fallen. He regarded them with hopeless pity a

    and said
    that all the troubles in the village dated from the time
    when the villagers had been compelled to divide them-
    selves into the three classes.
    When the query was put as to why the family was
    regarded as Kulaks, he replied that someone had to be
    a Kulak, and that this family many years before had
    owned a village inn. They no longer had it, but there
    was apparently no hope of their ever losing their status
    as a K&k family.
    If they should there would be no other family to take
    their place as the local Public Enemy, and for some
    reason unknown to anyone, the Soviet Government in-
    sisted that each village must produce at least one Kulak
    family to be hated and oppressed.
    These KuZaki had no electoral rights, had to pay
    forty per cent of their miserable income to the state, and
    their children were not allowed to go to school. Thus
    Stalin used the technique of artificially focussing hatred
    on the innocent, which Hitler copied in the case of the
    J ews.

    Kulaks who “exploited” other peasants were hard to find,
    the designation was applied to every peasant who was a
    little better off than his neighbors, to anyone who owned
    two horses and two cows, or had managed in some way
    to lift himself a little above the miserably low general
    standard of life in the Russian village. It meant that
    hard work and enterprise were penalized wherever they
    were found. What Tartar invasions and long centuries
    of feudal oppression had begun, the Soviet Government
    consummated.

    Precisely those peasants who had the knowledge,
    skill, and industry to raise Russian agriculture above its
    medieval level were liquidated. The collective farms were
    deprived of the men who could have made them function
    efficiently.

    The army of city workers sent down to coerce the
    peasants and manage the collectives took far more from
    Revival of Serfdom 79
    the villages in the shape of wages than the Kulaks had
    ever taken as profit. If, by allowing them a larger share of
    the produce than the other peasants, the Kulaks had been
    persuaded to run the new farms, instead of being killed
    off or imprisoned, the system might possibly have
    worked.

    It was, of course, argued that the Kulaks were irrec-
    oncilably hostile to the Soviet state. But they had never
    been given a chance to be other than hostile. The govern-
    ment discriminated against them, reviled them, and in-
    stigated everyone to loathe them. Naturally they hated
    the Soviet Government. But to argue that they were
    irreconcilable enemies of the Soviet state is like saying
    that the Jews in Germany deserved what they got
    because they hated the Nazi Government which op-
    pressed them.

    By
    1934, the number of horses in Russia was half what it
    had been in 1929, and the sheep and pigs less than half.
    Trotsky described the process in the following words:
    “Twenty-five million isolated peasant egoisms which
    80 Lost Illusion
    yesterday had been the sole motive force of agriculture-
    weak as an old farmer’s nag, but nevertheless forces-the
    bureaucracy tried to replace at one gesture by the com-
    mands of 2,000 collective farm administrative offices,
    lacking technical equipment, agricultural knowledge, and
    the support of the peasants themselves.”
    Trotsky called Stalin’s program a blind, violent gam-
    ble. The left opposition had never advocated anything

    so drastic, so rapid, and so unprepared. It had envisaged
    gradual collectivization over a period of fifteen years.
    Stalin, having at last decided upon collectivization,
    thought he could force it through by terror exercised
    against the whole peasant population.
    He laid waste the countryside and caused the death
    of between five and ten million peasants by starvation.
    Russian morale has never recovered from those terri-
    ble years. The Communist Party and the Comsomols be-
    came the expropriators of the people, an army of oc-
    cupation in their own country.

    Revival of Serfdom

    inhumanity. Many of the young people became hardened
    and cynical careerists prepared to commit any atrocity
    commanded by Stalin. Some thus became moral perverts,
    sadists who enjoyed the tortures which they were
    ordered to inflict on the helpless victims of the OGPU.
    The war on the Russian peasants was more brutalizing
    than war against another nation, for the peasants were
    unarmed and defenseless. The present generation of
    Communists was brutalized in youth by the pogrom con-
    ducted against the peasants.
    Meanwhile the workers in the factories found them-
    selves suffering almost as great a degree of privation as
    in the years of civil war. Not only did Stalin’s violent

    A terrible famine set in, especially severe in the rich
    corn-bearing lands of the Ukraine. This time there was
    no food relief poured in to Russia from the United States
    as it was in 1922 under the leadership of Herbert Hoover,
    since the Soviet Government denied to foreigners that
    there was a famine.
    Foreign journalists were not allowed to visit the South.
    All Russia knew what was happening; but the hacks of
    the foreign press, obedient to Stalin for fear of losing
    their jobs, sent out no word. Only a few brave and hon-
    est correspondents like Eugene Lyons of the United
    Press, William Henry Chamberlin of the Christian Sci-
    ence Monitor, and Malcolm Muggeridge, then corre-
    spondent of the Manchester Guardian, told the truth and
    were expelled from Russia, or put in a position in which
    they were ultimately forced to leave. Others followed
    the lead of Walter Duranty of the New York Times and
    denied the existence of a famine, until years later.

    Foreign visitors, carefully shepherded by Intourist,
    and given huge meals in the hotels of the starving land,
    went home to deny the rumors of famine. I well remem-
    ber the delegation from England in 1932 which included
    Mrs. G. D. H. Cole and various professors from London
    University. One of them, a lecturer at the London
    School of Economics, told me as we ate a bountiful meal
    at the New Moscow Hotel (at his expense) that it was
    all nonsense about the famine, for at Kiev he had been
    given caviar, butter, eggs, and coffee for breakfast! I had
    to let him talk, for I knew if I told him the truth and he
    repeated it, my husband would be sent to prison.
    Stalin’s utter ruthlessness won the day. The resistance
    of the peasants was broken. Since 1932 they have known
    that they wili starve unless they produce the quota taken
    by the government and in addition enough to feed tliem-
    selves. They have been forced to work on the govern-
    ment’s terms. They have become serfs again. Their work
    on the collective farms is forced labor, and corresponds
    to the labor service rendered to his overlord by the serf
    in medieval times.

    Recalcitrant peasants were threatened
    with expropriation and exile called “transportation to
    sparsely populated regions.”
    The new drive against the peasants inaugurated just
    before the Second World War no doubt explains why
    the Germans succeeded in getting whole battalions of
    Russians under General Vlassov to join them. But the
    Germans, like Napoleon a century earlier, passed up
    a great opportunity to alter the course of the war.
    Napoleon in his memoirs wrote that if he had freed
    the Russian serfs he would not have been defeated, and
    that he had not done so because he had always been in
    favor of law and order. The Germans in the Ukraine,
    although allowing a limited return to private ownership
    of the land, were too anxious to get food from the coun-
    try to abolish the collective farms. They retained the
    Soviet system of squeezing the people.

    What collectivization has done is to make the state
    confiscation of crops by forced grain deliveries much
    easier. A small detachment of OGPU soldiers in each
    district can terrify the collectives into giving up the
    greater pan’of the harvest, whereas an enormous number
    of troops would be required to terrorize each individual
    peasant cultivating his own farm.

    J
    ANE TABRISKY AND I were not long in Moscow
    without sensing the terror then in full operation against
    non-Party intellectuals. Communist Party members still
    felt comparatively safe. They were not as likely to hear
    the fatal knock at the door in the night which meant
    that the OGPU had come to claim a victim.

    I remember the case of Arcadi’s friend, a gentle,
    elderly Jew named Kipman, which illustrates both the
    cruelty and stupidity of the OGPU. He was arrested
    the winter of 193 I on returning with his wife from
    London, where he had worked for several years at the
    Soviet Trade Representation. He was accused of having
    embezzled I 0,000 pounds.
    My friends who knew him were certain that he was
    absolutely honest. It was moreover obvious that if he
    had taken the money he and his wife, who were both
    over sixty years old, would have stayed in London and
    lived on it for the rest of their lives. However, Kipman
    “confessed” to the crime and was sent to a Siberian
    prison for five $years.
    His wife, in spite of her age and failing health, strug-
    gled valiantly for years to get him out of prison. She
    appealed, she made representations, she produced proofs

    of the falseness of the charge. At the end of three years
    she succeeded in getting his case re-examined. It was
    then found that the money had, in fact, never been
    lost, but there had been a mistake made in the accounts
    for which Kipman was in no way responsible.
    He was brought back to Moscow and set free, but a
    few days before he arrived his wife died, worn out by
    anxiety, poverty and her efforts to secure his release.
    I remember seeing Kipman in the Narcomveshtorg
    Stolovaya (Dining Room of Peoples Commissariat for
    Foreign Trade) one day, white-haired, stooped, with
    lifeless eyes.

    The fact that he was working and living abroad and
    had Jania’s stepmother with him in London, did not
    mean that his ration was cut off. Jania drew eleven
    pounds of butter and a large number of eggs every ten
    days, Sold at commercial prices (about five times as high
    as the price she paid) these supplies produced an income
    equal to more than half her monthly salary as a clerk in
    an office.
    Jania’s flat was always full of young men in the
    evenings, and when I once remarked to her how popular
    she was, she replied seriously,
    “Oh, no, it isn’t that; they just all want to marry me
    because we have a flat.”
    Jania was a decent sort and honest. She made no pre-
    tense of admiring or believing in Soviet policies and
    eventually married beneath her. She was in love with a
    young engineering student who was not a Comsomol
    and could never be a member of the Communist Party,
    because his father, a highly qualified engineer, was of
    bourgeois background.

    Years later I met Jania for the last time before leaving
    Russia. She was working in the Intourist office in Mos-
    cow where I bought my ticket to England. Very pale,
    very thin, all the gaiety and youth gone from her face,
    she was dying of tuberculosis and knew it.
    Because she had married outside her class, her father
    no longer had anything to do with her. Jania and her
    husband and child all lived in one room. She had, of
    course, no hope of getting to a sanatorium, since neither
    she nor her husband were members of the Communist
    Party.

    Being non-Party, he had had to wait years and pay
    several thousand rubles before getting his flat. Com-
    munist Party men, if not already in possession of a de-
    cent apartment built before the Revolution, and taken
    possession of during its early years, often secured a new
    flat without payment, or by only a year or so of mem-
    bership payments to a Cooperative.
    In any case, the Party men always had priority, and
    thus could secure the precious capital which a flat rep-
    resented without a large previous investment. Most own-
    ers made a super-profit on renting rooms, but whereas
    the Communist Party member could charge anything the
    market would bear, the non-Party man was afraid of
    doing this, for he might be accused of speculating.

    It was here in our room on Tmbnaya UZitsa, near the
    Sukharevsky Market, that I first witnessed the terrible
    exploitation of servants, Jania had done her own house-

    A young Russian whom I had formerly known
    at the London School of Economics, and who lived in
    one room with his wife and child, shared a toilet and
    kitchen with 35 other people in the same flat.
    Several of the families housed in one apartment would
    each have a servant. It was not uncommon for three or
    four servants to sleep together in the kitchen, side by
    side on the floor or on the kitchen table. Bugs ran over t
    hem at night, and the atmosphere was so fetid and foul
    that one hesitated to go in to boil water for tea or to
    wash.

    The employers of these girls were often little better
    off themselves. A family of four to a room, feeding
    poorly, would hire a servant main
    mainly in order to have
    someone to stand in line at the shops for food. Even the
    limited rations called for by the food cards could not be
    obtained without a long wait; and this, together with
    foraging around for unrationed food occasionally avail-
    able in the shops, was almost a full-time occupation.
    The waste of labor entailed in the socialist fatherland
    by the hopelessly inefficient distribution system, and by
    the shortage of food and clothing, was such as to make
    it easy to believe that there could be no unemployment
    problem. If husband and wife both worked at a large
    enterprise and there were no children, a maid could be
    dispensed with since they could eat dinner in the stolo-
    vaya (restaurant) of the factory or office.
    But if there were children, food must be found for
    them somehow. Party men of high standing kept maids
    to spare their wives labor, but the great majority of the
    families who employed domestic workers did so in spite
    of their poverty, or because of their poverty. Enough
    food for the children could be bought only if both
    parents worked; but someone must do the shopping.
    Hence the necessity of having a servant.

    The terrible exploitation of domestic labor was in
    part due to the poverty of the employers, and in part to
    the exodus of peasant girls from the hunger-stricken
    Arcadi Caught in the Web 99
    villages. To be allowed to live in the towns and get
    some sort of a meal every day was to be incomparably
    better off than in the village, even if the girl had to work
    sixteen hours out of twenty-four.
    Work in the factories (even if obtainable without
    close probing into why they had left the village and as to
    whether their parents were Kulaks) could not secure
    them a shelter. So they went to work as servants.
    Servants were consequently easy to get and, being un-
    protected by Soviet law or by Russian custom, could be
    exploited mercilessly. There was no alternative for them
    except starvation, and they were practically slaves. On
    the other hand, they naturally had little moral sense.
    Their village world had been destroyed, they or their
    peasant neighbors had been expropriated and robbed by
    the state, and their religion vilified and reviled.
    To be religious was tantamount to being considered
    counter-revolutionary. So freed of moral and religious
    inhibitions, they stole whatever they could lay their
    hands on. Russian housewives locked up every bit of
    food and kept a strict watch upon their scanty ward-
    robes.
    It was typical of the relation between mistress and
    maid in the Soviet Union that when the German Com-
    munists, who still retained the socialist ideal of human
    equality, wanted their servants to sit and eat with them,
    they found themselves misunderstood.
    “The Kazaika,” the servants said, “is so afraid of our
    eating too much that she forces us to sit with her at table
    to keep an eye on how much food we consume.”

    The contrast between my living standard
    and that of ordinary Russian workers was greater than
    between ours and the Communist hierarchy. Workers
    still lived in barracks or in hovels and as one elderly
    woman said to me, “at least under the Tsar we had
    enough bread to eat.”
    I was receiving over four pounds of butter, thirteen
    pounds of meat, and thirty eggs a month, besides cheese,
    flour, millet, buckwheat, semolina, and even one pound
    of rice-most precious cereal in Russia. I could also buy
    milk if I arrived at the Insnab store at the right time,
    and quite often I could obtain metana and prostakwasha
    (sour cream and sour milk.)
    Sometimes vegetables, fruit and chocolate were also on
    sale. Arcadi’s ration was a good deal smaller than mine
    but compared to that of the workers, and that of the
    ordinary run of employees, we were rich.

    Arcadi finally broke down when he went on a Ko-
    rvtanderofka to Odessa in April I 93i. He came back
    white and miserable and shaken. In the South he had
    seen the starving and the dead in the streets. At each rail-
    way station en route there had been hundreds and hun-
    dreds of starving wretches, emaciated women with dying
    babies at their milkless breasts, children with the swollen
    stomachs of famine, all begging, begging for bread.
    In station waiting rooms he had seen hundreds of
    peasant families herded together awaiting transporta-
    tion to imprisonment in the concentration camps. He had
    seen children dying of starvation and typhus, scare-

    crows of men and women pushed and kicked by the
    OGPU guards. It sickened even those of us who were
    hardened to the sight of suffering in the Far East.
    Arcadi had relatives in Odessa. From them he learned
    the facts of the Ukrainian famine. The picture he painted
    for me, a picture which had seared him to the soul and
    shattered the optimistic view which he had until then
    insisted upon preserving, bore out all the rumors we had
    heard-was in fact worse.
    What perhaps shocked Arcadi most of all was to find
    that the train guards, conductors, and attendants were
    apparently all black market speculators. They were buy-
    ing food in Moscow, always better provided for than
    other cities, and selling it at fantastic prices down in the
    stricken southern land.
    Starving children are the most pitiful sight on earth.

    Arcads’s Awakening 121
    There were enough of them in Moscow to make one’s
    heart ache, but in the Ukraine they were legion.
    Bodies of the starving lay in the streets, and pitiful
    wrecks of humanity with great watery blisters and boils
    on their feet, legs, and arms, dragged themselves from
    place to place till they died in the vain quest for work
    and food.
    That summer we went on a holiday to the Crimea,
    taking with us my mother, who had just come from
    England. We left Moscow well provided with food for
    the long journey. But by the end of the first day my
    mother had given it all away to the starving wretches at
    the country railway stations.
    With tears streaming down her face she called my at-
    tention to one wretched beggar after another, especially
    to the pitiful children. That journey was an ordeal I
    shall never forget. It was a sea of misery which the few

    bits of food we had could do nothing to assuage.
    “Totia dai Kleb, Totia dai Kleb” (Auntie, give
    bread), will always ring in my ears as the national song
    of ‘Socialist Russia.”
    As in China, so in Russia you had to harden yourself
    to the sight of suffering in order to live. But at least in
    China the government does not hold it a crime to give
    aid to the starving. In Russia the officials told you that
    the starving were Kulaks or counter-revolutionaries not
    to be helped, although in reality they were bewildered,
    ignorant, powerless wretches sacrificed to the insensate
    ambitions and fanaticism of a man and a party,
    It was the contrasts which were always so appalling.

    The fat officials in the dining car, the well-fed callous
    OGPU guards, and the starving people. We and they, we
    and they, rulers and ruled, oppressors and oppressed.
    In the rest home in the Crimea, where we had got
    places, there was abundant food. So abundant that bread
    and fruit, ices and cake were thrown away when left on
    the plates of the guests, for whom too much had been
    provided. This rest home belonged to the Central Com-
    mittee of the Soviets of the Crimean Republic, and we
    were there by the grace of Berkinghof, whom we had
    known in London. He was a prominent Bolshevik who
    belonged to this part of Russia.
    It was so very “upper class Communist” that we really
    had no business there, but it gave us an insight into the
    life of the Party aristocracy. The sight and 6ound of the
    starving was shut out from these former palaces and
    country houses of the Russian nobility, now as in the
    past. Now there was a new aristocracy. That seemed to
    be the only difference.
    This new Soviet aristocracy and its hangers-on were
    even more grasping, cruel, and ruthless than the old

    The Soviet state had found a more certain method of
    breaking human beings than the crude physical tortures
    inflicted by the Nazis on their victims. The Kremlin
    learned that the surest way to break resistance to tyranny
    was by threatening men through their wives and chil-
    dren. How can the Russian worker strike when he knows
    that not only will he be imprisoned but also that his
    family will be thrown into the street immediately, and
    his wife refused employment?
    How can the intellectual refuse to write or speak the
    lies demanded of him, when the NKVD tells him that if
    he will not his wife will also be imprisoned and his chil-
    dren left to become homeless waifs? Only the peasants,
    too brutish and too tough, may occasionally defy the Soviet
    Government by passive resistance.

    The word “protection” was openly used in the USSR.
    “So-and-so,” it would be said, “has a powerful protec-
    tion; he’s likely to be all right.” If a non-Party man could
    marry his daughter to a high Party official he felt very
    secure, but this was difficult unless she were particularly
    attractive, for Party men naturally wished to ally them-
    selves to those who could be of use to them, not to non-
    Party specialists.

    Of all the cruel acts of Stalin the most horrible was the
    provision for the liquidation of the older homeless chil-
    dren. In 1935, when by decree the death penalty for
    theft was made applicable to children from the age of
    twel;e, the police were given the power to rid Soviet
    society of the unwanted children of the unfortunate.

    If you are the son or daughter of a prominent Com-
    munist Party member in Russia, the way will be made
    smooth for you and you will enjoy the same privileges as
    the children of the rich in any capitalist country. You
    will go to a select school with airy classrooms and the
    best teachers. At home you will have a room of your
    own to study in and plenty of books instead of trying,
    like the children of the workers, to do your homework
    in a small room in which your father and mother,
    brothers and sisters live and sleep.
    You will sleep in a good bed, not on the floor or in the
    same bed as your brother and sister. You will eat the best
    food and have long holidays in the country instead of
    feeding on black bread, cabbage soup, and cucumbers
    and spending the hot summer in the city. You will have
    servants to wait upon you instead of having to stand in
    line yourself at the shops when you come home from
    school.

    ‘34 Lost Illusion
    Equality of opportunity in the Soviet Union is a myth.
    There are different schools for the masses and for the
    Communist aristocracy. There can be no equality in edu-
    cational opportunity where some children are under-
    nourished and housed little better than pigs, while others
    live in comparative luxury,

    140 Lost Illusion
    Living in the New Moscow Hotel I also got an inkling
    of the luxurious lives of the secret police officers who
    occupied many of the rooms. Enormous meals were
    sent up to the next room to ours, and the sounds of
    drinking and song and laughter came through the wall
    late at night, when our OGPU neighbor entertained his
    friends. The diners in the restaurant were either for-
    eigners or OGPU officers, with very occasionally a
    couple of ordinary citizens blowing a quarter or half a
    month’s salary on a “bust.”

    In 1943 he became the organizer in
    New York for the Political Action Committee.
    Clark Foreman

    Russian society
    was not for the most part sexually licentious except per-
    haps in its upper ranks. Most Russians were far too busy
    struggling to live at all, to have time or energy to imi-
    tate the vices of Greenwich Village liberals, and mar-
    riage was usually a serious partnership, not a light liaison.

    All this time, in spite of our housing difficulties, our
    standard of life was far above that of the majority of
    workers and employees. We,did not rank with the Com-
    munist aristocracy, but we were upper middle class. I
    myself, with my h-nab ration book, could in fact be
    counted as an aristocrat insofar as food was concerned.
    But, although our living conditions were far better
    than a year or two before, life for most people, that
    winter of 1932-33, was more miserable than ever. The
    scanty meat and butter rations which the industrial
    workers were supposed to be able to buy were usually
    unobtainable. Most Russians lived on black bread, millet,
    and buckwheat.
    That winter commercial shops began to be in evidence
    in Moscow-that is, state stores where meat, butter, eggs,
    vegetables, and clothing could be bought by anyone at
    prices at least ten times higher than those paid for the
    rations available to the privileged.
    Butter, which cost us three and one-half r

    “And how are you ? he asked. “You must be finding
    life very hard.”
    “Oh, no,” she replied, “I’m doing fine. My salary is
    only I 20 rubles, but that provides me with a food card
    and so with bread and sugar; for the rest I undress at
    commercial prices.”
    Incidentally, this story illustrates a fact ignored by the
    tourist, who believed what he was told about the disap-
    pearance of prostitution in Soviet Russia. It had only
    disappeared in the sense that every prostitute needed
    some kind of a regular job to ensure possession of a food
    card. The job need not be her main source of income.
    There was also a joke in those days about giving to
    Mikoyan, the Commissar of Internal Trade, the task of
    liquidating prostitution.
    “Why Mikoyan?”
    “Well, because everything else he controls disap-
    pears! ”

    Torgsin shops. Here one
    could buy better and more abundant supplies than any-
    where else except in the Kremlovsky distributors-if

    Prices for food at Torgsin
    were not much higher than world prices, and less than
    double pre-war Russian prices. Everyone who had the
    tiniest bit of gold–a ring, a bracelet, or jewels-could
    exchange it for Torgsin tokens and secure food.
    The only snag was that the OGPU was also on the
    lookout for possessors
    of gold, and might at any moment
    arrest you and force you by torture to disgorge any
    hidden wealth you had. So people went in fear and
    trepidation to Torgsin, driven by hunger but fearful of
    the OGPU. Torgsin was an outstanding example of the
    mixed system of terror and reward by which the Russian
    government seeks to increase its revenues.
    The greatest source of income of the Torgsin shops
    was remittances from abroad. Jews, in particular, often
    had relatives in foreign countries-in Poland, in Ger-
    many, and above all in the United States-who would
    send them a few dollars a month to save them from
    starvation. The percentage of Jewish people standing in
    the Torgsin queues-there were lines even at these shops
    since there were never enough sales people-was very
    high.

    Anti-Semitism, although officially condemned, took
    a new lease on life when the Russians saw their Jewish
    neighbors in the apartment kitchens cooking good food
    which they never had a chance to buy. A few years later,
    in the.great purge, countless Jewish families suffered for
    their past enjoyment of a little food bought with money
    received from abroad.

    By 1936 it was held to be a crime to have relatives out- side of Russia. The Torgsin shops had been closed down,
    and many Jews were arrested and sent to concentration
    camps for the “crime” of having corresponded with for-
    eign relatives. But from 193 2 to 193 5, the Soviet State
    was anxious to secure valuta, foreign exchange, at any
    cost and Torgsin served to produce a large revenue.
    There was a story told in Moscow of two Jewish
    women friends who met after many years. One asked the
    other, a widow, how she was managing to live.
    “Oh, I’m all right,” she said. “My son provides for
    me.”
    “Oh,” said the other, “is that your eldest son Boris,
    whom I remember as a lad?”
    “No, not Boris; he’s an engineer in Sverdlovsk earning
    500 rubles, and since he has a wife and child he can’t, of
    course, spare me a kopek.”
    “Is it your son Ivan, then?”
    “No, Ivan is chief accountant at an export organiza-
    tion, and of course he can’t allow me anything out of his
    salary of 400 rubles.”
    “How, then, do you live?”

    “I’m all right because my youngest son, Grischa, is
    unemployed in America! ”
    It was in fact the case that even two or three dollars a
    month could ward off starvation, could enable the re-
    cipient to buy a little flour and fat at a cost of one-tenth
    of the prices paid for the same foods in Russian currency.
    Neither Torgsin nor the new commercial shops pro-
    vided relief except for a very small minority of the Rus-
    sians who had relatives abroad willing to send them dol-

    The government retaliated with ever increasing meas-
    ures of compulsion. First it introduced the work certifi-
    cate, the device subsequently copied by Hitler to ensure
    the obedience of the working class to the all-powerful
    State and Party.
    This certificate was like a criminal dossier. In it was
    written the social origins of each worker, any fines he
    paid, any crimes he had committed, and the reasons for
    his dismissal from his place of employment. If he could
    not show good cause for having lost his job he was not
    to be allowed to work elsewhere. This meant starvation.
    Industrial workers were being reduced to the same
    servitude as the peasants. Whereas the workers were
    forbidden to leave their jobs, however bad their condi-
    tions of work, the various trusts were given the right to
    transfer them at will from one town or province to an-
    other, regardless of their wishes.

    The Labor Exchanges were closed down and unem-
    ‘54 Lost Illusion
    ployment relief abolished. The unemployed were told
    to go wherever they were sent and to whatever job the
    state decreed.

    Another cruel decree was issued punishing the worker
    by dismissal if absent for a single day from the factory.
    Even if ill he must produce a certificate showing that he
    had a high temperature. Heavy fines were imposed for
    being a few minutes late to work.
    The cooperatives were placed under the direction of
    the factory management, so that a worker leaving his
    job or dismissed immediately lost his own and his family’s
    bread ration.
    The successive decrees tightening up labor discipline
    made us realize we were living in a world in which the
    working class which was supposed to be the master of
    the state had lost all liberty and human rights. Anyone
    who incurred the displeasure of foreman or manager
    could be thrown out of his job and deprived of room
    and food.

    In a final attempt to tie the hungry workers to their
    jobs, and the dissatisfied peasants to the collective farms,
    Stalin resorted to an old Tsarist police measure in a more
    universal and rigorous form. The internal passport sys-
    tem was revived.
    The whole urban population, and the peasants living
    near the large towns, had to secure residence permits.
    Subsequently no one was allowed to move from the
    town or village in which he lived, even for a single night,
    without permission from the police.

    The internal passport, in which the social origins of
    each citizen were written down, was designed to clear
    out, and keep out, of Moscow and other large towns the
    156 Lost Illusion
    floating population drawn there by the slightly better
    food supply available in the cities.
    Violation of the internal passport regulations swelled
    the millions of Russians condemned to forced labor in
    concentration camps. Slave labor had become an essen-
    tial factor in the economy of Russia, not too unlike the
    dependence of the Southern States on negro slavery be-
    fore the American Civil War.
    Life as a so-called “free-worker,” bereft of nearly all
    freedom is bad enough; but the life of a slave laborer
    working for the vast organizations controlled
    but the life of a slave laborer
    working for the vast organizations controlled by the
    NKVD is indescribable in its inhumanity and brutality.
    Perhaps the breaking of the human spirit into submis-
    sive, thoughtless robots is the most terrible feature of
    Stalin’s Russia. Humanity is bowed down. Every one
    cringes before his superiors, and those who abase them-
    selves seek outlets in bullying and terrifying the unfor-
    tunates beneath them. Integrity, courage and charity
    disappear in the stifling atmosphere of cant, falsehood
    and terror.

    d terror.
    Jane and I decided that the best term to apply to the
    “new and better” society being created in Soviet Russia
    was industrial feudalism Freedom of movement, collec-
    tive bargaining for wage increases, strikes and other such
    evils of capitalist society had been finally abolished. The
    workers as well as the peasants bad become serfs of the
    Party which owned the state.

    Max Hoeltz’s end was tragic but at least he went down
    fighting. Before he was liquidated by the OGPU he beat
    up Fritz Heckert, the German representative in the
    A Home at Last ‘59
    Comintem who had announced that Hitler’s victory was
    not a defeat for the German working class.

    One of the most terrible and pitiful sights I saw was
    one late afternoon in November 1933. Looking out of
    the window I saw police driving some wrecks of human-
    ity down into the cellar of our building. More and more
    people were brought in as the evening fell. Going down
    into the courtyard I was told by other occupants of our
    apartment house
    what was happening.
    The police were rounding up all the beggars
    and the
    homeless
    in the city prior to the November Revolution
    celebrations. The foreigners must not see the starving,
    homeless
    hordes, so they were all to be dumped outside
    Moscow.

    Our cellar was one of the collection depots. Late in
    the evening trucks arrived, and the beggars were pushed
    into them. Some were sick, others lame. Many were
    ,I children. They were to be taken forty or fifty miles
    1:
    outside Moscow and dumped on the road to die, like
    I’ abandoned dogs or cats. If the stronger ones managed
    to straggle back to Moscow the celebrations would be
    1 over by the time they got there.
    / We all watched that pitiful exodus from our windows.
    I
    A thin rain was falling and the air was damp and chilly.
    Although by this time I should have been conditioned to
    brutality, I was pregnant and it made me sick. Those
    i
    mothers down there with their cold and hungry children
    being driven out into the desolate countryside must be
    ;; suffering unbearable anguish. It would have been more
    1 merciful to shoot them outright.

    There was less actual starvation but the privileged
    were now more privileged and class distinctions more
    openly displayed. More and more commercial shops
    were opened with their windows full of food and cloth-
    ing which ordinary people could not afford to buy.
    Earlier when the meat, butter, chocolates, fruit, shoes
    and clothing had been supplied to the Communist aris-
    tocracy in closed distributors the masses were not fully
    aware of the great gulf between them and their rulers.
    Luxury had not been openly displayed but hidden and
    unavowed. Now it was obvious to the dullest intelligence
    that the fruits of their labor were not for the working
    class and probably never would be. A bitter saying began
    to be heard in Moscow,

    “Yes, they have constructed socialism for themselves.”

    The spirit of many of the German Communists who
    had taken refuge in the Soviet Union was broken in
    time. Looked upon always as potential foreign spies, dis-
    liked or envied for their superior knowledge or intel-
    ligence or diligence, with no government to protect
    them, and persuaded or forced to become Russian citi-
    zens, they were completely at the mercy of the Soviet
    government.
    Those who had been active revolutionaries in Ger-
    many were most suspected, and thousands disappeared
    during the great purges. Others became as shameless as
    the Russians in calumniating their comrades to try to
    save themselves by lying, hypocrisy, and false accusa-
    tions.
    American and British Party members, and in lesser de-
    gree the French, were then on the contrary the favored
    sons or daughters of the Soviet fatherland. There were
    so few Communists in the West that minor deviations
    were forgiven them. In Moscow they could count upon
    an easy life and a good position without any great effort
    on their part.

    I was no longer a member of the Communist aristoc-
    192 Lost Illusion
    racy. I had let my membership in the British Communist
    Party lapse and had not tried to transfer to the Russian
    Communist Party. Nevertheless as an Anglichanka
    (Englishwoman) I was in a privileged position. More-
    over the fact that I had had a book published both in
    England and the Soviet Union added greatly to my
    prestige.

    Others did not escape so easily. There was one poor
    Jewish woman, a widow with two children to support,
    who was denounced for having had her son circumcised
    fourteen years earlier. She could not deny the accusation
    and she lost her Party card and was dismissed from our
    Institute.
    The Soviet Government even in those days denied
    that it persecuted religion but it was a fact that anyone
    known to go to church or to a synagogue, or to have any
    religious beliefs, could rarely, if ever, obtain a good job.
    Membership in the Communist Party with the privileges
    this gave was, of course, out of the question for either
    Christians or orthodox Jews.

    Mao Tse-tung and the other Chinese Communist lead-
    ers remained prudently in Yenan in their own Soviet
    Chinese territory where they could not easily be inter-
    fered with although they accepted Moscow’s orders.
    We, the scientific workers at the Communist academy
    together with the personnel of the China division of the
    Comintem, were held responsible for their mistakes,
    failures and deviations. We who supplied them with
    their theoretical and practical instructions had to make
    quick turns when the Comintern line changed.
    Early in I 93 5 the Seventh Congress of the Comintem
    switched all the Communist parties of the world over to
    the Popular Front line or Trojan horse tactic. The Social
    Democrats, Labor Parties and Trade Unions of the West
    whom we had hitherto denounced as Social Fascists,
    worse than outright Nazis, were now to be counted as
    our allies.
    Similarly, in China, the Communists were instructed
    to cease fighting Chiang Kai-shek and the Kuomintang

    and to try to make an alliance with them against Japan.
    The Chinese Communists were further instructed to
    cease killing landowners and to represent themselves as
    liberal agrarian reformers.
    Thus overnight everything we had said and written in
    previous years became heresy. The wise so-called scien-
    tific workers were those who had always taken care to
    say opposite things at the same time, and thus ensure
    themselves against sudden changes in the Party line.
    Everyone of us bore in mind the old Soviet precept:
    If you think don’t speak!
    If you speak don’t write!
    If you write don’t pvblish!
    If you publish recant immediately!

    All the gold in private possession came into the hands
    of the Russian Government long ago either through
    Torgsin or extorted by the tortures of the secret police.
    Except for their privately owned livestock, there is no
    longer anything left of which the peasants can be ex-
    propriated. The standard of life of the workers cannot
    be reduced further.

    Above all, the Stakhanov system-the tremendous
    speeding up without regard to its effect on men or ma-
    chinery-had the unavoidable result of decreasing pro-
    duction from year to year as more and more machinery
    broke down.

    Today, however the Soviet government can ascribe
    all its failures to the German invasion. Those who never
    knew Russia before 1941 are easily convinced that the
    misery, starvation and lack of the necessities of life are
    all due to the war. The few of us who lived in Russia
    earlier know that even in the best years preceding the
    Nazi attack the standard of life of the mass of the Rus–
    sian people was lower than under the Tsars.

    The Friends of the Soviet Union, in the United States
    and England, when driven into a comer, will still fight
    on with the statement that unemployment has been abol-
    ished in the USSR. But even if the Soviet Government’s
    contention were true, which it is not, the same could
    have been said of Nazi Germany.

    The number of functionaries in Russia has been com-
    puted by Stalin as eight millions. Some of these millions
    -the engineers, technicians, accountants, qualified ad-
    ministrators, clerks and typists-are performing labor as
    socially necessary as the workers and peasants.
    Others are engaged in such labors as praising Stalin and
    other advertising and public relations activities. A large
    but unknown number are engaged in spying on the pro-
    ductive workers, technicians and managers, in subjecting
    them to mental or physical tortures, and in guarding the
    slave workers.
    Another function of the parasitic Communist Party
    members is to occupy positions as commissars or as chair-
    men and directors of the state office organizations, or as
    directors or managers of factories, in which capacity
    they interfere with and ruin the work of the non-Party
    specialists. They further perform the “labor” of driving

    Our friends the Rabinovitches, who ranked as just
    below the top Party bureaucrats, had a large modern flat,
    a big datcha, and a private automobile all paid for by the
    Commissariat of Foreign Trade for which Philip Rabi-
    novitch worked. One of their two servants was also paid
    for by the Commissariat, and Philip received a handsome
    entertainment allowance over and above his salary. The
    Rabinovitches were higher in the Communist social scale
    than anyone else we knew, but their standard of life was
    far below that of others we heard of.
    The luxurious life lived by the Soviet aristocracy,
    which the ordinary citizen glimpses only from afar, and
    which is a direct violation of Lenin’s injunction that the Party members should receive salaries no higher than a
    worker’s wage, is one of the most striking features of
    Stalin’s Russia.
    A little of the puritanical and self-sacrificing spirit
    which had originally permeated the Bolshevik Party still
    survived when I first went to live in Russia. All restraints
    were openly discarded when Stalin told his henchmen
    to “live joyously,” obviously seeking thus to buy the
    loyalty of the Party members.
    Since 1935 the expectation of life of a Communist
    Party member has not been long. Any moment he may
    lose Stalin’s favor, or be ruined by accusations leveled
    at him by men on the next rung of the ladder seeking to
    supplant him.

    One evening my husband brought home with him a
    friend of his youth whom he had by chance encountered.
    This man, whose name I will not mention since it is pos-
    sible he still lives, had been in prison both under the Tsar
    and under Stalin.
    Arcadi came to me in the kitchen to warn me not to
    ask him questions.
    “None of your English frankness, darling,” he said.
    “He has probably been warned not to talk as the price
    of his liberty. Let him talk if he will, but don’t ask ques-
    tions.”
    Our visitor gave us no details, but one remark was as
    revealing as any description of his suffering or that of
    others could have been. He said,
    “We ought to have thanked God for the mercy of the
    Tsar.”

    By the time
    its name had been changed to NKVD, the secret police
    238 Lost Illusion
    owned factories and farms as well as being in charge of
    the timber camps, canal construction, road and railway
    building and other public works.

    It would have dismayed some at least of the friends of
    the Soviet Union in England and the United States to
    learn that the Russian Government could be even more
    cruel than the Nazi Government. For the Nazis did at
    least allow communication between prisoners and their
    relatives, and informed the latter when a concentration
    camp victim died or was shot.

    http://www.fredautley.com/pdffiles/book18.pdf


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