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People under communism. This is a transcribed series of programs based on documented evidence and expert knowledge about the power and intention of the Soviet Union. This series is presented by the National Association of educational broadcasters in consultation with scholars from the Russian Research Center at Harvard University. The Russian Institute of Columbia University and the Hoover Institute and library at Stanford University. The program you're about to hear is based on materials provided by Dr Alex. And social relations at Harvard University and author of public opinion. Dr. Alex incl is research director of a project in which almost 500
former Soviet citizens were interviewed in the western zone of Germany in the fall and winter of 1950 and 51. In addition over 2000 former Soviet citizens filled out questionnaires about their experiences in the Soviet Union. Here is Dr. Engel is to introduce a documentary on the man who will make them the performance of Soviet MiG jets in the skies over Korea is tangible evidence of the industrial capabilities of the USSR and the foundation of those capabilities. Is the Soviet factory the Soviet factory is a major key to understanding the weaknesses and strengths of communist Russia. We would like to take you inside one of those factories for a night and a day to expose its inna workings to your view as it was exposed to our view by former Soviet direct doors and juniors and workers who escaped to the west in developing
this documentary. We have drawn on the experiences in many cases the very words of former Soviet citizens as they told American interviewers the story of their lives in Soviet factories. And now the men who make the MiGs. Telephone call from the ministry come right correct. Yes. Yes comrade minister. I know this is the last month in the factories behind in the plan. But how do you think I got behind in production by sucking my thumb no. I was handed an extra assignment. I manufacture valves and you forced me to add pipe fittings. Well no no
I'm not offering excuses just facts. Well you know what you did to me throw production out of whack with three months. That's what Tom admits that listen I'm trying trying to make the plan especially the valves for the makes but. All right. All right I won't just try. I'll do it. Goodbye come administer. No excuses no excuses. Let your bureaucrats sitting behind desks in Moscow don't know the first thing about factoring problems. Yes comrade party secretary to see you. Yes come out directly and look at our chief engineer. Tell him to come at once. Expect a visit from this sly one knows about the ministry. Oh good do you think government body secretary I was not expecting you but of course I would always find time to see you.
I was a bit early for the factory meeting and the thought came to me how always my good friend comrade director looked troubled comrade. I just tired. Too many nights in the factory. My wife say she is a factory would go to bed tired is one looked a bit troubled another. When I walked in here I said to myself Sergei Sergeyevitch something something is bothering to be trained on a bitch. And then a thought came to me. Perhaps it was the phone call a phone call. When I first asked to see you your secretary told me you were tied up with an important phone call. Bad news comrades he was mistaken. It was only a call from our supply probably should have been hours I sat outside I played a little game with myself I kept guessing who this important phone call was from regional party headquarters. Perhaps a spokesman from the Central Committee not likely the secret police or perhaps just the ministry you were a mistake. Well I'm here I'll give you the latest results on socialist competition among the shops. Allow me to say that while the results have not been all we hope for yet considering the fact that the
workers are tired and that socialist competition is not too successful in a period of frantic all out effort that verges on Starman we are not to share your dislike of the parties with the word but the facts are we are running man and machines night and day. We are engaged in a coordinated effort to meet the plan and I want about the production races between the show. It's going well especially in shops 3:08 and trial but production is up only about 10 percent. Not enough. Remember this is the last month and we're behind but it could be improved if say komrade director. Double Yes double the prize for the winning shot. That kind of talk is this where the blast furnace is about need to go. Built with 10 percent prizes something is troubling you after all. Such emotion. All right. Double the price. That's better. Well I must go know how to give a few instructions to some of the Communist Youth League boys before the meeting tonight I trust I'll be seeing your child may I yes how be at the meeting.
Oh I had lunch with the regional party secretary. He was asking about the factory of course pointed out that only the director and I was the true state of the factory but that it was my impression that you had the situation and had that was the right answer wasn't it. Is this why you sent me such a message. Come to the director's office at once. I thought it was something really serious like shift from making valves to women's dresses. He's serious and I have a huge gob the ministry is nothing to joke about. Worry too much. Of course we will have to get out the valves for the MIGs you know nonmilitary the worst that could happen is that we fall a few percent behind the plane so we don't get our bonuses. I don't like. Still not done badly for these past 2 years. Always had a little set aside for
emergencies. We have a good plant a good direct workers and in me you have the best of. So what have we to worry about the PADI secretary. That's what we have to worry about. It was just in him you know is about the ministry. Did he say no was too smart. Doesn't want to involve himself. But I got what MS friend of the regional party headquarters. No Friend or no friend the party secretary is tied to the factory. We make a bad showing or reflect on him. You know sometimes I sit here and wonder. Here I am a long time party member and still they got that party secretary sitting here in the factory watching every move I make. I don't know. I suppose it's because I'm an engineer. Let others play with politics with us it's the machines degree of out of each. Just give us a machine and we'll build and create. There is a morning the morning I shall never forget when I deal with the
secretaries. It was in 1937. I was young fresh out of the Institute working as an engineer in a machine building and living grad. I came into work one morning and asked Where is the chief engineer. I was told that he had not come in yet that maybe he went some. This is strange I thought. Usually should be there at that time. Then I went to his secretary and she whispered to me. They took him away at night. I then asked the director where is he. He says I don't know what to do. I don't know what is going on. You cannot trust anyone. First I thought of the secret police took him away. It was something there but I know it was work like the palm of my hand and I began to think would he be a wreck of a saboteur. Later I learned it was the party secretary who denounced him. He got 10 years in a Siberian labor camp. That was the purge. The heads of Engineers were rolling all over the Soviet Union.
These days it's different. The party knows better how much you can count on it's technical people. Still the party secretary is not to be taken lightly nor is planned fulfillment. A short time after the arrest of my chief in 37 I was appointed chief engineer. I was young and naive and filled with such enthusiasm. I was determined to succeed and I worked or how I worked 14 16 18 hours a day sometimes even sleeping in the factory. You know how the plan squeezes you how it cuts every corner. The plan never gives any man a break. Well I had only half. Half the men and machines called for in the play. And yet I fulfilled 70 80 and sometimes 100 percent. You think the officials in Moscow were satisfied. No. They kept bothering me every minute with constant calls demands accounts commissions commissions so many commissions in two months of the summer of 1938. I had 15 commissions investigating me. No. 15 and I can name
them government commissions body commission secret police class sanitation and on and on and never stopped. I met an old friend at the regional party headquarters one day. And he says to me hello Dimitri of on the beach how are you. What are you producing. What am I producing as a testimony testimony for commissions and producing testimony. Almost funny. Well I learned from this experience. You can chase them all away with two magic words planned fulfillment. They don't care how you do it as long as the plan is met. Time to cremate comic director. Alright now now we are involved in all sorts of problems and I have to drop everything to go and listen to a lot of ego what guys tell me how to run my factory. Don't worry Dimitri of on of which we can meet the plane if we can only keep minute machines going at the present rate. What's to stop us. Three things in this series that Doctor can you have at the clinic giving out too many
certificates of illness to the workers. Then our mechanical engineer is pulling against us. He resists pushing his machine so hard and finally many of the workers are not fulfilling their work orders. They're tired they're tired but they can get more. Let's get the agitators working on this problem. I'll talk with the party secretary about the agitators and I'll get to a mechanical engineer first thing in the morning. What about doctor. Evidently that reprimand was not enough. I think I'll drop in at the clinic tomorrow for a checkup and have a little talk with you. There is something else. Those workers who belong to the Communist Youth League they're getting out of children they're forever getting turned away by their own slogan that's just the trouble. They're making pests of themselves going around criticizing everybody and everything in the factory. We'd better be on the lookout tonight at the meeting. Is director aware of the poor organization of factories canteen.
Day after day work experience long long delays in getting their lunch all their record breaking work many noticed a kind of ice in the kitchen. Director aware that green kid telling me off credit workers because of the delays and I can't find a vacant van to make it back to the machines and time. A worker cannot do his best work under such conditions if the administration wants to increase production. Let them strike what the picture should like this climate not like by the man but a good worker will fill this quota with dangerous and thou comrades a very serious matter. Why is management not making use of all of a local machinery. I know my shop and some of the others and I can see five new machines not did you get it yet.
We never got the pan belts for those machines. Think what those machines could put in tribute to our factories plan our country's five year plan. I ask you comrade direct Why are these machines working to accomplish the five year plan in four years. Why are they running for the factory and the country. Let us pray this mystery which. Who is going to offer a pledge management let us let us all take a pledge to our socialist state and to the party of money and the love of a comrade through work day and night and man by one day prostrated percent suicide would never make it we don't need to work with love and enthusiasm for our factory our state on the potty break and started the place to be a lot of rich. Can't we do something to head it off after a patriotic outburst like that what can I do. What can you was Chief Engineer do anything which he would sound like we were obstructing the plan but once the
pledges made to Moscow we're stuck. If we didn't live up to it wrong that would be in a terrible fate. The chairman has recognized one of the workers. It's all been Jaff. Listen you all. You all know that some say that there is only the factory not a factory. When we went too far yes. Then there is here with his dad the factory grow up around and here he watch it. 1928 only for shops that make shops 10 12 chops and the Spaniards help build this spell and this
is going to be hired by hiring a prime rib Party segment. But. 24 years is a long time I was proud of the bill of the boys country and the people. Then dear once the Billabong bought then no mistake. Mistake to try too much that. Means to push machines break but to push back. Accidents. This. Has one of. The all.
Can't believe I don't know maybe because I was. Well spoken. Plans no matter how energetic and sincere must still be realistic. And that's all come upon the secretary. Yes this is true. Plans must be realistic and of course the party respects the opinions of its older workers but on the other hand no obstacle is too great for a true about her victory over a comrade party secretary I bow to the wisdom of the director in such technical matters I'm withdrawing my play I don't know the plant as well as the director but I do know my machine and I echo your back in as an example to all will double my workload from Iowa. I don't know.
I meant by can I have made careful notes during your excellent critique and with the exception of the idle machines which are not in use because we would have supplied the fan belt for them with I say this important exception. Your comments are well taken. Comrades I am particularly shocked by the report on I love factory paint TV. This cannot continue this way. If we ask you to fulfill. And all fulfill your work quotas. You are obliged to demand from us that we take care of you and we will take care of. These delays will not be tolerated any longer. I assure you that we will make every effort to remedy this a tolerable situation. My only wish is that I could have known this sooner this Soviet factory meeting. What is it all about. This is Alex Sink us again and perhaps I can best answer that
by having you listen to what a Soviet engineer told us about the factory meeting. He was one of 500 former Soviet citizens. We interviewed in the western zone of Germany the Soviet system is a dictatorship. But on the other hand you must recognize that there is much public criticism of both minor and responsible officials. The party makes the workers criticize the factory directors with the single condition that the criticism be aimed against the director personally and not against the Soviet system or the polity. What was the party after encouraging the workers to criticize the name of the party. I was too sure that as a factory director the things I had done the mistakes I had made were not done by the party or the government. The critical speeches were made to defend the interests of the party. In other words the party disguised its interests as the
interests of the people it wished it to appear that I was under the control of the people as they were the people who were supporting the potty. What were the limits or boundaries to such criticism. Of course criticism of the party as such or of the Soviet regime. The Central Committee of the Politburo or stallion was impossible. It was not but no doubt in their authority could be expressed word against them. And that was the end of you. Our program continues following a 10 second pause for station identification. You are listening to people under communism a
transcribed series of all our programs based on documented evidence and expert knowledge about the power and intention of the Soviet Union. We continue now with the man. Who make them me. Here is Dr Alex lists of the Russian Research Center at Harvard University. The minister the director the party secretary the chief engineer in the Communist Youth they're all talking about the plan. Perhaps you've begun to think that this is really a documentary about this thing called the plan. And you wouldn't be far from wrong. The plan is the central theme in Soviet society. This fact emerged time and time again from our talks with former Soviet citizens. The plan is something in the very atmosphere which Soviet citizens breed. It is the law which decides what and how much shall be produced when and by whom it shall be done. The plan the five year plan emanates
from Moscow from the Kremlin and the Polit Bureau. Then it is broken down to create a separate yearly plan for each sector of the economy for each ministry factory and shop eventually through the system of daily work quotas or norms. The plan reaches the most lowly worker in the most distant factory. Keep in mind that in the Soviet Union the state owns and controls all industry and the ministries of the central government agencies which direct the work of the factories in different branches of the economy the ministry takes its orders from the Communist Party headed up in the Polit Bureau which sets the policy for the government and controls all aspects of Soviet life. Although the party includes only a small proportion of the population roughly 3 percent its influence is all pervasive through its units at every territorial level in every office. Trade union farm and factory the Polit Bureau makes certain that its orders are carried out in accord with the party
line. The party secretary you met is the head of the party unit within our valve factory. When a factory has begun to fall behind in fulfilling its plan the ministry and party organizations begin to apply pressure on the director. And there is only one thing he can do to get his factory out of trouble and that's to fulfill the plan. Oiling the machine is the machine that will set the new rack on. Make history. Oh absolutely right.
It is not the machine but you claim that will make a story and money too. You can use the extra cash. I suppose you'll be proud of you. After all not every double quote gets his name on the record breaking stuff. I know Michael is a big juror in the paper. Yes I can see the caption under the big print grew up but maybe you think they'll tear up the cornerstone and put in a new one saying. Growing up I couldn't go by what I have. You won't be laughing US afternoon when I break a record. I'll show you when the others what a radio worker can do.
I ask you camera director for Drew's Union if not your genius. Will Lead boy call you out there on the shop worry about me and my machine. All he wants to do is break a record. Comrade mechanical engineer you can talk to doomsday. But maintenance is still postponed on all machines. What happens if that machine breaks down. You think I can pick up the telephone and say hello this is version you can send me a regime that has to take men and kill days making pot. Are you blaming me for the shortage of spare parts. Where have you been all your life. You never heard of a spare parts shortage in our country. No no I blame you for seeing things too narrowly. The machines they go crazy night and day. The end of every month maintenance is postponed. What happens. We spend the beginning of the next month trying to undo the damage and get the machines back
in shape. But then it's the end of the month and the machines must go like crazy ones. The cyclist murder. If you keep it up sooner or later the machines wear out break the plan man the plan I'm supposed to report fulfillment to Moscow every month. I can't do it if you're drooling over these machines. Can't you see what happens instead of spending a few hours doing preventive maintenance at the proper time we wind up spending days or weeks fixing broken machines. Why do you trouble yourself so. We fulfilled the plan you'll get your bonus. I want to says a fine but I can satisfy an investigating commission with a bonus. Don't forget I'm responsible to the Ministry for these machines and I any less responsible not only for the machines but for the whole factory. But how long fraud you know you may be transferred tomorrow. I've been in this factory 10 years and had seven directors so I know directors come and go but your opinion stays with the factory and the machine. What do you want a medal for having lived through so many directors.
There is a law calling for a definite make and schedule and another law the law of planned fulfillment. I will not be held responsible I am covering myself. I am writing reports. I wouldn't do that if I were you. I'm not afraid. Rouge. Ya gotta step on a bitch. Must we fight like children. Isn't this something we can do to lick this problem. New machines to make Trayvon a bitch. If we could get them an operation to take the load off the other. I've tried every trick in the trade to get the fan belts for those machines. At one mosque I was afraid of a shadow he would blow his nose without written permission and six copies to shame. Brand new machines and we can use them. The devil with all the promises that we can get legally we'll get some other way. The supply troubleshooter might not have been famous yet. Remember how we came through with those six months ago. Sneak them right under the nose of the ministry troubleshooter All right.
He has influence always when and where to invest a few rubles or arrange a few favors and there is nothing like him. Yes a widget is going solve our problem. I don't want any trouble. I just want to live quietly peacefully. But it pains me to see the machine. What's the matter. Look. Look at that boy out there in the shot. I mean yes. Look look how he drives his machine says he's going to make a record on my machine and come around this afternoon take his picture put it in the paper and call him a hero. But what of the machine. Nobody takes a picture of the machine. Deeply director.
Dr. Kanya scheme. What do you do with that stethoscope do in radio must go deep. This is Alex and Cholas again. A doctor holds a very critical position in the Soviet Union. A certificate of illness from a doctor is just about the only accepted excuse for a Soviet worker if he's late or absent from work. Otherwise the worker gets fined or imprisoned the fine is stiff. Usually a quarter of his paycheck for six months and it literally means a semi starvation diet for the man and his family. The Soviet trade union offers the worker no protection against such fines. The only hope is a certificate of illness
from a doctor. That's it. Have you been working on the duct work and have a stop to night pushing to meet the plan. Very serious situation. This is the last month. Every machine every man is needed. I am aware of the factory's production problems. I was reprimanded by the District Health Committee on this matter three months ago. I'm sorry about that. Some people are awfully blunt you know I'm sure that if someone had only come to you and said Doctor we are faced with a serious problem in meeting the plan we need every work and then nothing further would have necessary. After all we're both administrators you have the clinic I have the factory. We understand these problems.
People under communism
Men who make the MiGs, part one
Producing Organization
National Association of Educational Broadcasters
Contributing Organization
University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
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Episode Description
Part one of the third episode in this series, dramatizes flaws in the Soviet system, as well as the pressures that Soviet citizens are under in order to get by professionally and personally.
Series Description
A series of documentaries, interviews and talks based upon documented evidence and expert knowledge about the power and intentions of the Soviet Union.
Broadcast Date
Politics and Government
Mikoyan MFI (Jet fighter plane)
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Advisor: Inkeles, Alex, 1920-
Advisor: Hoover Institute and Library on War, Revolution, and Peace
Advisor: Columbia University. Russian Institute
Advisor: Harvard University. Russian Research Center
Funder: Fund for Adult Education (U.S.)
Host: Inkeles, Alex, 1920-
Producing Organization: National Association of Educational Broadcasters
Writer: Tangney, Ralph
AAPB Contributor Holdings
University of Maryland
Identifier: 52-38-3 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
Duration: 00:32:00
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Chicago: “People under communism; Men who make the MiGs, part one,” 1952-12-21, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed April 14, 2024,
MLA: “People under communism; Men who make the MiGs, part one.” 1952-12-21. University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. April 14, 2024. <>.
APA: People under communism; Men who make the MiGs, part one. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from