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Report from Russia E-W Zeebox dean of the summer session at the University of Minnesota and 10 other university faculty members recently completed a 30 day 9000 mile trip to the Soviet Union. The trip was financed by a grant from the family foundation of St. Paul. While in Russia Dean Ziebart interviewed his colleagues and obtained their first hand impressions for this program. Now here is Dean Zeba. Ladies and Gentlemen this is his e-bike speaking from Moscow in the Soviet Union. I've just returned with several other observers from the nine thousand mile plus trip to this enormous nation and we've talked with many many Russians at almost every walk of life all of course the sample is far from complete dark and I suggest that any of us can pretend to know this country well the people are generally friendly. There are signs of progress here very dramatic here but the government of course is rigid and uncompromising. The police state is any pressing aspect of life here and
the foreign policy there is very little apparent relation to the slogan Mir bought peace and friendship which we hear everywhere. Seated with me here in my Moscow hotel room at the Ukraine hotel giant structure towering over most of the Moscow skyline and new yet somehow not Western are two friends and colleagues who have just returned with me by a Russian jet plane from Irkutsk in far off side area and I would like to open our microphone as we compare some observations after 30 days of living and working here. And after about nine thousand miles of travel inside the Soviet Union My guests are Dr. J.W. book Professor of Physics and associate dean at the University of Minnesota and currently with the National Science Foundation in Washington D.C. And Dr. William Howard chairman of the department of speech at the University of Minnesota and a specialist in international communication. Gentlemen I have a feeling that there are
courage ng signs of progress in this nation. But at the same time I'm very deeply disturbed by one thing which almost every visitor here notes and that is a lack of information about the United States but it goes beyond that. I'm concerned about the lack of information or what i regard to be the lack of information about the government of this nation itself. Have you observed the same thing and if so is it impressed you as it has me. Yes I was greatly disturbed by Guy The Graduate of the university Musk who said he was concerned by the fact that the government here we do to tell them certain decisions are made. Even such a relatively minor decision as to the closing of the city for a week or two to which we cannot because it was closed we were not given the reason some weeks. 10 days later
the reason did appear and they had a governmental convention there and hotel space was not available. But just for me but you said it was not a very concerned as to why the government does it. The government was all knowing and well they had no concern. I talked with a very intelligent young man about the desirability of going out because I had heard a rumor that there was a cholera epidemic sweeping in and I asked him about it and he said if there is you'll never know about it and neither will we. We don't want to know about such things because they disturb people and it's bad for people. If there's a car out there the government would like to go and I raised the same kind of question with him and he seemed to feel that this was a satisfactory way to perceive that someone in the central government in Moscow is simply make this decision on behalf of the people of latter day but never
let the journalism they do have any similar experiences or did you draw the same inference. Well you see on the trip I tried to talk to as many college students as I could and I found not only ignorance of the official policy of the government of the Soviet Union but fairly complete disinterest. These young men were not nearly as politically conscious as I thought they might be. They seem to take pride in not paying any attention to the government or what it was doing. Let me hasten to say that in my case at least when I speak of their lack of information I'm not at the same time speaking about ignorance because the majority of the people with whom we talked in this course was a highly selected group either exposed to the educational process whether as workers as workers on a collective farm or art students or were reading voraciously I've never seen in the United States lines in bookstores for example
as we have seen here in Moscow and Leningrad in Kiev and Russia and even a small light in here could. You're again just asking informal A Do check with the UN that does this square with your observation. Yes I was surprised to find the number of bookstores. Book stalls on the street people lined up in front of the crowd before the counters. They have more book stores here. I think we have it pretty well we should mention JD first for American books and all of us had this trip to make over again. I'm sure that we would include more pocket books in our suitcases. I'm sure we would because one request these people who have relatively little consumer goods relatively little although more than they had a few years ago certainly when one asks what he can send to a Russian who has been kind to him the answer is almost inevitably. Books
and very frequently the answer in my case at least has been books about America books about American history or books about the way you live. Yeah that was my experience. Doing it. What should I send him. He said. Send me a book on art. We had a number on our journey. We leave this city. I'm sure many of us. Promise ourselves to send books to the young people in this cut off. I certainly am looking forward to sending a number of books on American history to number of people names and addresses. My list just about as popular as books American books and the Soviet Union are American phonograph records. Remember to put in a few records of American popular music and found that if you had cared to venture into the black
market I could have acquired a truly astounding number of roubles for those records. I gave them to the people who had been most helpful to me and their reception was. Very very grateful indeed. They just love to get recordings of American popular music. Did you record. Stores down the street. Yes we purchased a phonograph record and although everything in the Soviet Union seems to be very expensive relatively phonograph records are about as cheap and as available as any product we saw. Everything is expensive you know so when you're. Cutting cutting cutting. BB Yes but a chocolate bar. Let me hasten to point out is by our standards tremendously expensive happen to have one on the dresser just across the way which cost me and it's an ordinary chocolate bar a little bit larger than the
nickel dime and we get it all but it cost about $2. There are exceptions to my own generalization about everything being expensive it seemed to me that rent room rent or apartment rent in the Soviet Union is very reasonable. Very highly subsidized Of course the food cost on the other hand a good deal of that subsidy and are relatively top of bars I'm sure pay for the printing everything. This brings us quite naturally into a discussion of the availability of consumer goods were you surprised or did you find that consumer goods were available at about the level you expected to find them here. People do not have the choice that we have and all. But there's a big variety in. A department store right across the street from our hotel here. After an already crowded consumer goods. But there are more than expected.
The surprising thing about the situation in the stores for me was the fact that Jay just mentioned that the stores are always crowded. Here it seems that demand always exceeds supply and it took us some time to get used to the idea of there never being enough of anything to go around. It's interesting to note the pricing in the stores here. Another matter effecting the authoritarian kind of government you'll recall I can't remember whether either or both of you were with me that adding the large shoe factory and cut off. There you may recall that the price of the shoes was stamped at the factory in the sole of the shoe. Presumably this price would never change and be the same all over the Soviet Union and there would be no reduction because of lack of demand although incidentally I should add that there are rare cases in which stocks do last which they virtually never especially issues. And did you notice that there are the ration of the car not
the price rather not being controlled by the cost of production. Certain shoes certainly are priced very high priced but the relative price ranges granted by the lady style shoes I saw for three hundred and fifty and four hundred roubles a year. Yes I'm sure the men's suits not particularly well tailored it's a little bit difficult to judge quality but it's relatively easy to judge tailoring very well tailored which would run about a hundred eighty American dollars at this rate of conversion. Some other much wanted consumer goods running into these fabulous costs. I was approached I know Doctor book too. Perhaps you were to build approached a number of times on the street by people quite literally asking me whether I wanted to sell the suit that I was wearing the shoes that I was wearing or another seat that I might have at the hotel. The
sort of thing indicating a great desire for American goods. Yes last evening as I got the street to a young man they stopped me and wanted to buy my raincoat which was pretty well wrinkled and didn't look too good. Satisfactory as far as I was concerned I put out his Ringgold or top. Russian material. Kerry's not as good as yours but your coking from my colleagues came to me and my shoes came from Italy. Kind of an international garb speaking of internationalism. This city certainly the capital of not only the Soviet Union but the capital of this part of the world coming down in the elevator today on a single elevator I heard Chinese English Russian French
and German being spoken by a group numbering I would suppose not more than eighteen or twenty although these are pretty sizable elevators. We have time I think just for one more question I'd like to direct it to you if I may. Student of international propaganda the people here in the Soviet Union seemed relatively friendly to us personally. By no means friendly to our government or our policies. The propaganda which they receive daily we see it in signs in newspapers hear it on the radio continuously is this propaganda effective. That's a very difficult question to answer easy because we know that people read it and listen to it every day. The depth of the fact is I think probably unmeasurable. I think we have one indication that it is not completely effective in the attitude of the people toward us as Americans. They use the
language of propaganda. And talking to us occasionally and it hurts. That was quite a shock and then I realized that when I was addressed as a capitalist or an imperialist person talking to me usually did it with a smile. And that finally became used to being a rather lovable imperialist aggressor. Well the old capitalist agenda but it's been very nice of you to stop by to add Ladies and Gentlemen this is a devotee Ziebart reporting from Moscow and with me were Dr. J.W. booked and Dr. William Howe just completed 30 days in the Soviet Union and some 9000 miles of internal travel. Thanks very much gentleman. You heard the E-W Zeebox dean of the summer session at the University of Minnesota in another recorded report from Russia. This series is edited by station KUNM University of Minnesota. The programs are distributed to the station through the facilities of the National Association of educational
broadcasters. This is the Radio Network.
Report from Russia
Dr. J.W. Buchta and Dr. William Howell
Producing Organization
National Association of Educational Broadcasters
KUOM (Radio station : Minneapolis, Minn.)
Contributing Organization
University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
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Episode Description
The series concludes with E.W. Ziebarth interviewing Dr. J.W. Buchta and Dr. William Howell about the trip to the Soviet Union that they embarked upon.
Series Description
E.W. Ziebarth, Dean of the summer session at University of Minnesota, and ten other faculty members embarked upon a month-long trip through the Soviet Union. Ziebarth interviewed his peers about their thoughts on the trip.
Broadcast Date
Global Affairs
Public Affairs
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Host: Ziebarth, E. W. (Elmer William), 1910-
Interviewee: Buchta, J.W.
Interviewee: Howell, William
Producing Organization: National Association of Educational Broadcasters
Producing Organization: KUOM (Radio station : Minneapolis, Minn.)
AAPB Contributor Holdings
University of Maryland
Identifier: 59-17-11 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
Duration: 00:14:30
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Chicago: “Report from Russia; Dr. J.W. Buchta and Dr. William Howell,” 1959-01-01, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed July 25, 2024,
MLA: “Report from Russia; Dr. J.W. Buchta and Dr. William Howell.” 1959-01-01. University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. July 25, 2024. <>.
APA: Report from Russia; Dr. J.W. Buchta and Dr. William Howell. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from