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Interview Transcript

Paul Pozner     (cont)

First was proposed by Lenin, the New Economic Policy.  It's exactly what happened right now.  It means give the freedom to small entrepreneurs, to the peasants, to small economy, with the control of  the state how to go, but give them the freedom to develop.  And this freedom was done from '20, I would say from '22, it existed through '25, '26.  And at that time it was amazing how fast the country developed and how the money, which costed nothing, by the end of '27 the ruble became very strong.  But if that would develop in this way, then the system of very strong control, of the product control, had to change.  It was impossible to continue.  There was another possibility which was proposed by Trotsky.  And Trotsky proposed in favor of the working class.  And, as the most progressive class among the classes, to exploit the whole society.  Wanted to create the working armies that they would work for, and that would generate money to build the heavy industry.  In eliminating Trotsky--eliminating NEP, the New Economic Policy, eliminating Bucharin, and Kamenyev, and Zinovyev, and all that group--Stalin put into life Trotsky's program--nothing else.   It was a slave work.  People worked for nothing and created value and created industry.  That's it.  You had one way or the other.  One way was a long way.  The other way was much faster, but it would bring a lot of losses, in human lives and in morale still true.  That's what happened.  So Stalin was the real Trotskyist.  He did--he practically did--what Trotsky said.  And the whole revolution--exactly what Napoleon did.  And the whole revolutionary guard, all the leaders, were executed, like in France. 

So, by that time, they said, "It's in the name of Communism, it's the Communist Party who was doing it," but it had nothing to do with the Communists.  It was a very strict authoritarian regime with the label "Communist."  It was not Communism.  It had nothing to do with Communist ideology, with the words of the scientists--what they said about nothing.  But everybody said Communist.  And even at that time, for the majority of the population--for the majority--the level of life became better than it was before the revolution, even with that.

And I am absolutely sure that this--you know the slave work--the slave work is a work that could be used after a certain moment--because it has not much result.  It could be done for all the buildings, for all the--but if you want to go for more sophisticated, a slave would never do it, because he has no initiative; he doesn't want to work for you.  And I'm sure that this period of development of the country would be over much sooner, if not the war, because of the war, at least 50 percent of the country was destroyed.  And here came back the necessity of this cheap, slavery work.  And that's why it was a new wave of purges in '48, '49.  We needed slave manpower.  That's what happened.

 But by Stalin's death, say, in '53, then also we can say that Stalin, say by the end of his life, he had a paranoia of being--that somebody wants to kill him, and people used that, and the purges were much important.  That's the consequence or the main reason why it happened.  It's not--the reason is not that he was paranoid, and then the purges came, the purges came, the purges came.  No, it's vice-versa.  That's how I understand it.

Question: Because of this second wave of slavery?

Yes.  And finally, I am sure that by '53, '54, the economic development was so important that even Stalin would make the changes, if he wouldn't be dead in March '53.  And then very fast came the change by Khrushchev, very fast.  In '56, the XX-th congress, and the first spring, and how--and look how was the enthusiasm in the country.  It was really, what they say, the nationalized deal in there, for two reasons.  First, people still believed in the Communist ideals.  They really had that very deep in their heart.  They were very proud of their country, who won in this terrible war against Fascism.  So they loved their country, they were proud about their country, then the first Sputnik came out and the first cosmonaut went up--all that.  And there was like that a freedom which was given to them in '56.  And look what kind of a flourishment of culture came out, from '56 through say '64, '67. All the literature which was out at that time, Akhmatova and the others.

Interviewer:  Of course the ballet and the youth...

Pozner:  Ballet always existed.  Yeah, I say what just came out where people can see new--new things.  And that happened at that time.  But the development had to go further.  The Old Guard didn't want to lull it, and here was the overthrow.  Of course Khrushchev was a guy like that in blood in Stalin's time.  But he understood that he had to change; as his hatred against Stalin, he did all that stuff against Stalin, but also because the economy pushed him to do it, and the society pushed him to do it.  The Old Guard didn't want it, and more than that, they didn't want to have an individual, a personality at the head, because that's always dangerous.  You cannot say what he will do the next day.  That's why Khrushchev with all the mistakes he did, because he did a lot of mistakes.  You know, people say that, you're a general, you do that, you do that, you do that.  He really believed it very difficult to be in that position and finally believe that you are the only person.  Very difficult.


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