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The Forsaken

The Forsaken: An American Tragedy in Stalin's Russia (Tim Tzouliadis) Look for this book at Amazon.com

Not about Poland, to be sure, but a splendid account of what it was like to live in "Stalin's Russia" as a foreigner and therefore a threat to the peace and harmony of the worker's paradise. Ironically, the story focuses on some workers--the Americans who went to the Soviet Union in the 1930s, whether because they actually believed the stuff about the proletariat, or because jobs were more available there than in Depression-era America, or because they were needed to build a Ford Motor Company plant and then to assemble the Model A cars and trucks that were now outdated at home. (Henry Ford cleverly sold the plant when he was ready to produce the V-8s that would make even richer than the four-cylinder cars had done.)

The Amtorg trade agency in New York received more than one hundred thousand applications for jobs in the USSR. Ten thousand were hired. p.6

By winter 1931 enough Americans in Moscow to support a weekly (later daily) English-language newspaper, The Moscow News, edited by the American leftist Anna Louise Strong, an occasional guest of Eleanor Roosevelt at the White House. p.13

Walter Duranty of the New York Times wrote glowing reports of life in the Soviet Union, including life in the Gulag: "Each concentration camp forms a sort of 'commune' where everyone lives comparatively free, not imprisoned but compelled to work for the good of the community. They are fed and housed gratis and receive pay for their work.... They are certainly not convicts in the American sense of the word." p.27 (from NYT 3 Feb 1931)

By early 1930s, English-language schools for the children of Americans workers in Moscow, Leningrad, Stalingrad, Kharkov (site of a tractor factory), and Nizhni Novgorod (site of the Ford plant). p.30 In addition to the blueprints and machinery, Ford had sold 75,000 Model A assembly kits for $40 million (close to a billion of today's debauched greenbacks). At a Stalingrad tractor factory, a 23-year-old American earned $250 a month compared to $140 at Ford's in Detroit, along with rent-free housing, a maid, thirty days' vacation a year, and free passage to the USSR. p.31

By 1937, Soviet borders sealed tight. p.80

The saying in Moscow: "Thieves, prostitutes, and the NKVD work mainly at night." p.81

Lovett Forte-Whiteman (born in Dallas, graduate of Tuskegee, founder of the American Negro Labor Congress, boxer, went to Moscow to work for the Comintern, taught at the American School) applied for a visa to leave the Soviet Union and instead was arrested and sent to a labor camp in Kazakhstan. Beaten because he failed to meet his work quota, teeth knocked out, died 13 Jan 1939 of starvation at the age of forty-four. pp.98-99

By 1937 the American village at the Ford plant in Gorky was deserted. Of the hundreds of Americans who had been hired to work there, only twenty remained. p.100

US ambassador Joseph Davies wrote of Stalin that he "gives the impression of a strong mind which is composed and wise. His brown eyes are exceedingly kind and gentle. A child would like to sit in his lap and a dog would slide up to him" (not to mention an American diplomat!).

April 1937 the embassy produced a list of 872 Americans living in the Soviet Union. p.144

Secret report by Nikita Khrushchev found that from 1935 to 1941 the NKVD had arrested 19 million citizens, of whom 7 million were shot immediately. p.159

Benito Mussolini after the Red Army invaded eastern Poland: "Bolshevism is dead. In its place is a kind of Slavonic fascism." p.188

In 1940 Stalin delivered 700,000 tons of Russian oil to Germany to support the war machine. He also delivered some German communists who'd been sent to the Gulag, and who now faed the same fate in the German camps. p.189

June 15-17 1940: Red Army occupied the Baltic nations of Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia, and some 1.2 million Balts disappear into the Gulag. p.191

May 1944 American vice president Henry Wallace visited a Potemkin Village version of a Gulag mining camp. In his diary, described the NKVD: "old soldiers with blue tops on their caps. Everyone treated them with great respect." What he didn't know was that the role of prisoner-miners was also played by the NKVD. p.220

In 1951, when the bloom was off the rose, a State Department press release gave the figure of two thousand Americans trapped in the Soviet Union. p.294

1952, CIA eyewitness report of three hundred American prisoners transport from China to the Siberian city of Molotov (now Perm). p.295

Post-USSR, a Russian-American task force found that 119 American prisoners in Germany had been held back by the NKVD because they had Russian, Ukrainian, or Jewish names. p.337

A Russian document referred to "2,836 Americans" held in the Komi Republic, in the far north of European Russia during the 1950s. p.340

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