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Yanks for Stalin
Interview Transcript

Sergei Dyakonov
Son of the Director of the Soviet GAZ auto factory from 1932-1938

The following interview was conducted as a part of the documentary program Yanks for Stalin concerning American aid in the industrial development of the Soviet Union during the 20's and 30's:


A. This is a picture of my father, Sergei Sergeyevich Dyakonov, director of Gorkovskiy Automotive Plant.  He was the director from 1932 to 1938.

Q. How did he end up at the automotive plant?  What was the reason?

A. The fact is that the plant had already been built, but difficulties were encountered in beginning production.  At that time, Sergo Ordzhanokidze sent Sergei Sergeyevich Dyakonov to the Gorkovskiy Automotive Plant.  He worked on beginning production at the plant, and the first cars were built there under his supervision.  There were 2 types, GAZ A, and GAZ AA.

Q.  Was that the first automated assembly line in Russia?

A.  That's difficult to say.  The plant was designed by Ford, and Ford installed the latest American technological innovations of the time, that is, those of the American automotive industry.  Not only were automated assembly lines installed there, but all intermediate production stages were automated as well.

Q.  Did he meet Ford?  If so, under what circumstances?

A.  Yes.  He was in the US twice, and he met Ford the second time.  Ford invited Dyakonov to his plant.  He showed Dyakonov the plant in Detroit, described how he got the Ford Motor Company started, and became friends with my father.  Photographs were taken, and Ford autographed them "From the American Ford to the Soviet Ford," meaning my father.  He gave my father a film about the Ford plant in Detroit, and also gave him a film projector so that he could show it at home.

Q.  How did he get it home?  It must have been a large piece of equipment.

A.  Well, it certainly was a large piece of equipment, but it wasn't the only thing Ford sent.  They were sending all sorts of machinery on steamers, carefully packed in crates.

Q.  Did Dyakanov show this film in Russia?

A.  Yes, of course.  First of all, many people saw this film at the Gorkovskiy plant.  It was very interesting to see how production was organized at Ford plants.  That's where the film was shot.

Q.  Did they have a friendly relationship?

A.  According to my father, they had a very good relationship.  He was invited to Ford's home, where they talked a lot.  Ford was his host, treated him to a formal dinner, and after that they met more than a few times to discuss issues that would arise.  Ford was always willing to meet with him.

Q.  And what happened to those photographs you mentioned?

A.  Unfortunately, after my father's arrest our house was searched, and all photographs that concerned foreigners in any way, or which featured foreigners posing with my father, were confiscated by the NKVD.

Q.  Why?

A.  Apparently they considered these photographs to be incriminating evidence against him.

Q.  Have you examined the case against him?

A.  Yes.

Q.  And what sort of evidence was there?  Was there anything, any proof against him?

A.  I examined my father's case in the KGB archives.  There were no photographs of any kind.  There was nothing but the testimonies of a few persons, records of proceedings against him, and KGB internal orders and memos.

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