APPROVED FORW KISietfiCflL KZVieW FaCGRflM
TITLE: oviet Tour
AUTHOR: John Anthony Dahms
A eollcclico ol artldes on the historical, operational, doctrinal, and thcorotlcal aspects ol intelligence.
All siaiements of laci. opinion or analysis expressed in Studies in Imelhgence are ihose of
the authors They do not necessarily refleci official positions or views of the Central Intelligence Agency or any other US Government eniiry, past or present. Nothing in the contents should be construed as asserting or implying US Government endorsement of anactual statements and interpretations.
Leaves from the diary of an intiUi-genceminded interpreter withpertise in Industrial matters
OVIET TOUR John Anthony Dahms
Tho main Job of the interpreteroviet delegation around 'this country is to facilitate communication. He should not be to loaded with other assignments that he reaches the point of exhaustion In which,oviet interpreter once put ft. he feelsiseunderstands everything but cannotord. Yet if he Veepsecondary function be can elicit, andhe elidtation of. usefulood deal more these days than in the first years of the exchangeometimes he stumbles on it; sometimes he works for it and succeeds, sometimes fails. And exceptionally he may be deluged with more than be can absorb How he goes about it can most easily be shown by holding up some pages from his life.
ear the top of the temporary ladder leading to the second floor of the new Paducah city hall, open to the sky during construe-ben, the December fog from the Ohio river is so thickannot see whether the two missing members of the Soviet delegation are there. Twisting around on the topow spot the two ghostly figures at tbe far end of thesimultaneously slip and nearlyicture the headline in the Paducah paper: "State Department Interpreter Breaks Leg in Fall: John Dahms, who accompanied the Soviet delegation ofonstructionto dams and construction sites around Paducah, It said to be in satisfactory condition"
The sliparningm overanxious. The reason for my eagerness Is that these two Soviets, Ihe most communicative ofor the moment are alone. All week the bead of theAndrei Sehepetyev, has blocked my every move to talk to them without his supervision. Here is my chaoce.pproach them amid the pipes, conduits, and constructionan tell
or. "Tbe Interprets a> anludlrs IV I, p.t.
from their stance and dramatic gestures that their conversation is of (he heart-to-heart kind. art hear it
Ptaottno, ptavilnof Clrenko is agreeing with something. The big man of magnetic personality Ls head ofonstruction workers In the South Ural economicold-starred Hero of the Soviet Union,elegate to the Supreme Soviet.
oldrote them; but it did norotests Denyega, an idealistic, obstinate, and bitter Ukrainian whose job is tothe production of construction machinery throughout the USSR He Is thirty-seven but looks fifty. The head of the delegation appears to bate him.
From the commodious pockets of my trenchcoat, from among the neosynephrine, aspirin, cough drops, and indigestion pillsmall bos of chocolates which were to have been my(try orderingozen.hungry Russians in Paducah when they want real Central Asian kefir and won't settle for buttermilk or even yogurt) and hold it out to them. "Chocolates, Pavel Cavrilovich. Andreiith an automatic ipasibo they munch the candy and continue talking.eam, haseport in which he Is going to take on the entire Cosstroy chain of command and doesn't care what happens.
Drug moi, proshu oasgcmjachUes. Like an old coach calming down his star player, Circnko In his velvety basso tells his friend not to get excited and act rashly because he will only hurt himself. Denyegarustrated kick at an Imaginarythen reluctantly concedes, "You are right But how long do we have to wait? It is not for ma It Ls for the good of all"
"You can bonswers Circnko with great power of persuasion lo his voice, "that soon there will be changes. Enormous changes. Life demands It But right now be calm and do not criticize them."
hink, the insiders, thenterrupt.mound you. Shepctycv worries when you are rnissing."
"Let him. We are notays Denyega, justxpected.
sk you, is this building of Interest to you? It is old-style custom construction, monumental type. The last delegation from Cosstroyad was only interested in mass production methods, prefabricated parts and all that"
That's absolutelyays Denyega, and Cirenko nods. "If Our responsible people were not so blinded by dogmatics, they would learn muchwould see our wraknesses."
"What do you mean?"
"Rhythm, Ivan Antonovich. Rhythm."
I am pu riled, and both smile at me. "Better speak Russian, not constructionsuggests Cirenko, lighting another Russian long cigarette
"LookI" Denyega paints bis dream. The second floor is put on top of the first with all the electrical conduits and outlets, all the pipes already in place. The building emerges from theogical organica squash coming up from,the earth, Themasons, electricians*truckers all work in rhythm doing the right thing at the rightplayersymphony, like our great Moscow orchestra under Koodrashin. Have you heard bim? Now do you understand?"
Iolready knew that some buildings were quickly assembled in the USSR out of prefabricated parts. Whal'i wrong?
Again they smile at my naivete, True weuilding together. But ft Is only the shell Then come the pipefitters and poke it full of holes. Then the elecblcianj and make more holes, then the plumbers who usually flood It forxplains Denyega
"And chip off all thereaks in Cirenko. "So before your customer wdl sign the acceptance you practically have to refmish the whole building, and then esplain the delay to the bankyriad of supervisors. Oh, fvan Antonovich. you have no idea what unpleasant negotiations one has to carry on! Youave an ulcer, don't you?"
'Not only buildings: even roads. Remember thesks Denyega. beginning to laugh.
"Yes, theoars Cirenko. and then the two of them,each other and doubling over with laughter, gasp out the story of bow SOX) kilometersighway Cirenko had just built were torn up so that telegraph wires could be placed under it.
I realizemare moment ofaccumulated frustration suddenly expressing itself Inlaynderstand that under your system each enterprise makes its own plans and sends them to Cosplan for approval What goes wrong?"
mother-rapenl" explodes Denyega "Our cross and crown ofays Girenko, rolling his eyes to the foggy sky.
"We in Washington uc accustomed to thin Wing of them as top experts surrounded with computers, etc Are we mistaken?"
"Partly. They have good engineers, good staff. But keyoften made by unqualified people at the top- Overallthe individual building organizations. Here yourdo what common sense tells them. We frequently canIs our grief.ot your factories and engineers thatcontinue* Denyega. "Man for man. plant for plant, wegood as you are. But fai system ofyouwe should take lessons
"Ach. we know allircnko says. "We didn't have to come to America to see the changes that arc needed. Life demands them. Life teaches us. It isuestion of time, we will make them. And then, mark my words, we will catch up with you.*
At this juncture the head of the delegation comes climbing up and slips on the sameid It does not improve his humor. "Well, have you found anythinge asks Denyega and Clrenko.
"Then why waste time?"
"Well, no* iirtrr waste. Ko*euse stamped pipe damps We sull cast them. It it cheaper theirays Denyega
"Aha. Aha I" Shepetyev is pleased and tells the secretary. Kauri-nov. always at his elbow, to note the name and location of the factory that makes this minor item "Now please, Ivan Antonovich. do stay at mye turns to me. "My colleagues need you. What were you discussing here so long?"
The delegate* very kindly explained some facts about building planning that confused me."
"Later,ill personally explain and answer all your ques-bdoi. They are not specialists In this field and should not try to educatem theill talk to you later. But right now please work with me. Every rninutc is valuable. This trip is very expensive and we are not rich Uke you. Sliall we go?"
Some Notes and Thoughts
At theuickly make notes on the conversation, andeat my recall from briefookeek ago on another incident involving Denyega.
My notes, like those of most interpreters trained by the Stale Department, are based on the principle of Egyptian ideographsew key words, letters, or symbol* added. In the twinkling of anhole idea or incident can thus be recorded. Ihis method releases the interpreter's attention for listening aodOf course it takes practice. The principles of toierpieUng impressed on us in the instruction are the following:
t,*arn to listen; subordinate yourself. Listen for the Ideas, to what the man Is selling, not what be is saying. Interpret the man's ideas rather than Ms words wheneverake your notes suggestive,to stimulate your memory. These personal rernintJers will also be secure.
m pleasedeem to recall fulfy the week-old Incident fromew ideographs and words and can compareith what |ust happened at Paducah city hall. Here is how it goes.
Tlie letternd thed. tell me that3 we were at tbe Lorain factory near Cleveland which makes cranes, and the incident took place in therudelyish skeleton and the words Loch Ness,* welded remind me that we were lookingowereet high made of welded tubular sleet instead of the usual riveted flat members. It therefore had unusual lightness and strength. And it did looke like the skeletonoch Ness Monster.
The letters D, K, O, and the word Caspianine through it mean that Denyega, Kararlnov. and an engineer named Oierov who builds cranes assured me they knew of such crane corutrucrion and wanted to build some, but Cosplan objected. Or, ralher, it upheld the steel Industry, which did not want to have topecial small production run for the tubing.
Ford 'V tells how.sked the engineers why they could not place an order with say tlie famous Uralmash. they replied that this wealthy combine, with its own sanatoriauge director's fund from which special bonuses can be given rts employees. Is slow to change models and soot of money but produces machinery they consideredhought of Henry Ford clinging lo hisnd makingew millions by not changing.
The last symbolook with the letter K. This is mythat Kazarinov, the secretary, who at borneenior engineer at CosiUoy and tests all tlie foreign machinery for it (to compare it
with the Soviet, heKazarinov,ace like Shosta kovich and as tall and lean as an Olympic track star,abulous note-taker. Looking over hisee that he too uses symbols and Ideographs, and hearvelous sketcher. When he cannot take pictures (as he does by the hundreds) or get photos or drawings from the plant, he takes notes In order to make sketches later. The design of this connector is so interesting" he confidesappy smile.
1 bet he will have aner cent recall of every plantsite, and construction project we visited, as well asof new machinery.ote that the Americans shytelling him everything. Usually they hold back aboutMaybe this is one reason the Soviets still have totechnical data and..yj...
SU months later, in the summerm in St Louis with anotherigh-powered one. it includes: Nov An v. head of Gositroy and deputy to Klirusbchev in the Council of Ministers; Neporozhny. top man on electrification and builder of the Aswan Dam, just backisit to Egypt with Khrushchev; severalof Construction from large republics; Pctya Chcrnyshev. builder of the largest turbines for electric generatorsecent Hero of the Soviet Union The lastudgy, nervous, pleasant young man who speaks in snatches. His hands testify that be did indeed start his careerathe operator at the plant where he is now the principa] engineer.
1 no sooner step into the hotelm told toumber In Washington "no matter what the timeecognize the number as that of my backstop.annot make tbe call. Reason: his most communistic majesty Ignaty Trofimovfch Novikov chooses to have tantrums and summons me and the tour manager to his suite and bawls us out because no crowds, nodo press and photographers met him at the airport. He bad wanted topeech on Soviet-USA friendship there at eleven o'clock atouring rain. We express anguish at his displeasure, promise to phone Washington, and hope to do better in the future. Thanh to Neporozhny we are dismissedonciliatory pat on the hackumbler of Ukrainian vodka aptly called Coritto, the Burner.
et Sean out of bed and get the news, which Is good. The host company has been briefed by the local CIA office and is
cooperating hilly In (Ik? effort to get answer* lo Inielligenceoung engineer named Joe is the key man.hould work withave seen the questions, and they are good. They are clear. logical, and not probing sensitive matters aboutelegate cannot tactfully be asked. Enough background is given for the questioner to understand the problem. Pctya (tlie Turbine) Cheroysliev Is the main target.
Tbe next morning Gnds me workingreak. Since the tour began, ten daysave notingle question,ave bought technical books1 and periodicals as gifts, have givenlastic raincoat, have made some useful suggestions from prior experience In some of theave put the Soviets under obligation toave helped them and tbey know it
I spot Joe easily. Hemart youngurbineHe and Petya enjoy talking to each other through me. But there never is an opportunity for them really to get together. The next day is the same. The third day it tains,mart of the group goes outower plant under construction, puts oq rubber boots, and sloshes through the foot-deep mud at the site.
As we start back Joeake our move. Joe says he wasts Petya to ride with us. Petya is moat agreeable, for he has questions on the huge new turbine he has seen. But the other Sovietsry as if Petya is being kidnapped, and the Americans not in on the game side with them. Shortly everybody is hopping in and out ofMack Sennet comedy in them getting dirty looks from everybody. Petya ignoies them and gets into the car next to Joe, who is at theet in and shut the door and we drive off. The others follow, then overtake us as we slow down for conversation.
Petya wants to know why the compressor Ls located where it is on the newough question, but Petya sketches theand Joe explains why. Petya understands, takes notes, and begins to look like the cat that swallowed the canary. Then Joe asks him questions about hU turbine and his problems withuggest that he sketch it pleading the very iral difficulty oftechnical descriptions. Petya does, and pcesto he shows its
ere parUeiiUily lnienxted IB the "critical path raelbMT ot po-giuniuiDg ceastnicOoo.
onfiguration, ill sire, the steam Sow. and many othertverytlung we wanted to know.
Joe takes the sketch while driving. He glances at it points to he exhaust, and says. "Tell him. John, there's where his troubleetya rums beet-colored and bursts out with something incompre-lensible. showering my face with saliva. Then he chokesighter as he wipes my face with his haodriendly Soviethimave trouble herend he points to the ast section where tbe blades are longest He says Joe is real bright ind pats his shoulder.Joe says Pety'is^sTreal bright and pats'him tack He says both Westinghouse and General Electric badxactly these same spots when they were fa the design stage fetya asks about steels, and Joe tells him something but seemsecall the roll answer.
Suddenly Joe honks madly. The lead car has forgotten torn. Joe makes the rum, and soon we are driving along thewithout the other car. Joe asks if Petya wouldide to tee another plant with anwater Intake. Would he? Why it's tbe river of Maik Twain. He lias read "Life on theo another hour of talk about turbines. Tlie two promise to write to each other; Joe will send Petya some steel specifications when he finds them.
When we arrive at the hotel Novikov's personal secretary Isat the entrance, angry and impatient. He demands what Petya was doing forong time. Petya pats the pocket where hisisappy expression and says he was learning things about turbines and viewing the Mississippi. "And bow wassks the secretary. "Wet" says Petya and walks away.
Joeompare notes. He reveals he was the one that made the wrongpurpose. He agrees toeport for Washing-Ion. Petya is at leastbehind us, he says But he is bright. If he knew English he would recommend thehire him. "He's no competition now. but be will be.*
Although the people who work and live In Schenectady call it an ugly and dull companyoundool, immaculately kept little city, set in an emerald valley and having wide boulevards, magnificent factories,ovely old section of colonial homes with large neat lawns and flowering shrubs that have Georgetown
, beat all hollow. Furdiermore, Ncpororhny. hit secretary, and Petya (the Turbine) Chentyshev. who were there with me oa the closing days of their tour, agreed with me wholeheartedly
When the tour of the factories was over we walked throughlection, and the Soviet* daydreamed bke kids, pickinghouse they would like to live fn. They praisedthe American engineers and managers and labor andand the whole United States. Schenectady and thevalley is just like rsMiritryside ln tbe Wcwdty of ktey,tbey'were getting
Maybe Schenectady looked so good because all of us were happy, the Sovietst they had learnedith thead gathered. For after St. Ixxiis, and particularly after Los Angeles, midway In theI had taken care of Neporoihny when he fell ill and got himiracle-working doctor who had him back on bis feet in onetour became for meovable feast of facts and interpretations. My main frustration was inabdity to absorb all of tbe particulars and details that were thrust upon me from all sides; It is my practice not to take notes during such conversations. Consider the following:
Item one. The Minister of Conitruction from Kazakhstan, shaken by the colossal irrigation and flood-control works In southernbegan to tell me all about Ail irrigation scheme. The Minister from the Ukraine said his was much bigger, and both started reeling off names and details concerning the crash program that seems to be under way in the USSR. Neporozhny,ischievous twinkle in his eye. said tbe program was drawn up personally by his friend Nikita Khrushchev, who sequesteredhole month at his dacha after tbe disastrous crop failure, helped by only ooe expert.
Item two. Nepororhny revealedostould teD had been well briefed intelligence-wise) his problem with costs in electric power production, Ithey seem to be twice the average to tbe United States, and bow all the turbines In the world will not lower them signuscantly as long as Cosplan makes the electric industry use the worst coal in the RSFSR so it can give the best to the chemical and steel Industries. 'Right now the chemists in the Soviet Unionr ande saidm having to use my cadres on building twenty factories for them"
Item three. At the amazing Enrico Fermi atomic plant in Detroit, again In Boston at an experimental plant that generates electTtcrcy
directly from burning gases, and again In Schenectady the Soviet electric power specialist* made no secret of their philosophy for expansion of the industry, their troublesong-rangesystem which they had been boosting for sale to Ihe United States, the high cost of atomic fuel in the Soviet Union, apparently precluding large-scale commercial useast breeder reactor is perfected, and their troubles with bursting boilers, symptomatic of ihe general stand-still In electrical engineering until therereakthrough In metallurgy. The American hosts agreed theysimilar troubles; electricity know's^no' politics. Buthis area we seem to be ahead, sometimesose and sometimes by several lengths.
Item four. On one longambit byad not yetelegation that liked Cosplan. Tbe delegatesagreed and told the following story:
"We understand that the mythical figure Jesus Christ once worked an utterly improbable miracle; he fed ihe multitudes with five loaves and two fishes. Well, it might have been possible after alL He did not have the Cosplan allocating his material resources."
Then, referring to speeches ofsked his secretary if Novikov was satisfied that he could bring about with his existing authority and organization the programmed improvements in the construction industry.as the reply, "he has asked the Council of Ministers for some added powers, which Cosplan, headed by Lomako. now has."
For the next several hours, five miles up in theas afforded Insight Into the workings of Ihe minds of the lop Soviet echelon as the various Ministers dropped in on this bull session. They com-plained that insufficient funds are allocated for planning andThe difference between us and theaid the six-foot-seven Minister from the Ukraine, "is that here they think before they start contraction, and weven Novikov joined the party to remark that Ministers should merely execute orders whileintelligentihe winking for them.
Mulling all this over at the Schenectadyhould make one more try. for tbe answerolleague has asked about Soviet organization. So another gambit ive
activity with defense requirements. What kind of experts doeshave? Neporozhny says Utinovs staff is small but he caUs in experts as needed. Whatsk.
The no* familiar twinkle comes intontense blue eyes. "Preference is given toe says. "They grab the ministers by the scruff of the neck and seat of the pants,fashion, and pull them off each other. For Ustinovmall man and not very strong.an like Novikov. whoormer coal miner, be wouldn'thancel"
now when I'm licked art" put the bookew notes, openly this time. Neporozhny continues to answer questions and talk freely on other problems of economic organization andconsolidation, capitallabor productivity, and its scarcity under the new priority for agriculture.skentral planning system canfor the lack of the built-in incentives to cut costs In asystem, he says, "Since you raise this question, you are the person best qualified to answer it Come to Moscow and we will give you all tbe information neededomparative study."
"Do you think it would be useful?*
ays Neporozhny. "the more meaningful fact isystemeople at their present stage of development At one time your system gave you very rapid growth. Your mastery of technology Is beyondmagined It to be; yet your growth has slowed down. Clearly something is wrong if. having such fine cadres of labor and engineers, such abundance of resources, andod-sent climate, you are not working at your highestWe are. Our growth is more rapid than yours. So Communism is in our blood and there can be no hinteturn to Ihe part."
I explainas not thinking of that, but of the capacity of their system to evolve, as ours has also evolved. "Yes, wee replies. "So long as new ideas do not conflict with basic Marxism and dialectical materialism, we adapt them for our use.ay adapt; we do not copy. Neither machinery nor ideas do we copy. AD require adaptation before being incorporated la our system."
Neporozhny, who hadrofessor of electrical engineering with many published works, says he became an industrialist when, under Khrushchev's reformsecision was made to have the economic life of the country run not by politicians but by top
skhD. Again sparks By from Neporoihnys eyes and he cannotitticism. "He. political engmeer. he says, leaving me to ponder the double meaning while his colleagues turn red.
The tour is over. At the Kennedy airport, is the delegation prepares to emplane, Novikov gets off his last speechew Americans, including theartmost. Compared with his initialonth agoVthls showshanged man. He is more related, far more thoughtful The strident, self-confident style of the udarntk, the shock worker. Is mercifully gone. He speaks of tbe usefulness of the tour, simply, with dignity and sincerity. He asks tbe Americans to come and visit the USSR, where they loo may leam something His talk of peace and friendship does not sound like propaganda Tbe dapper Ambassador Fedotenko. delegate to the UN. tr em Wing in the presence of Novikov. translates his speech. He faltersave the satisfaction of prompting him.
hall see that Novikovavorable and fair interview to Pravda on his return to Moscow. Then intelligenceof the tour, its one really big purpose, has been accomplished:ough, doctrinaire Communist like Novikov bas been deeply impressed hy the United States. And this is the usual pattern for everyave accompanied At first impatience, bragga-docio. suspicion, and unreasonable demands. Then the big thaweriod of good feeling. Then the thoughtful, quiet parting, the warmthonths comradeship dissipated as tbe Soviets make ready to be whisked back into their perilous, rigid world
What impressed them? Notope, our industrial might, roads, cars, realope it is our people and their attitude towards life: the semi-employed workman speakinginister about bis car, his mortgage, his union benefits, his sons to school or in the army, the lovely air hostess who qui. My learns enough Russian to offer them koft all chai; the soft-spoken colored porter who graciously refuses their tip; the earnest college students poring over books in tbe library
As for the fhtelhgroce objective, the interpreter Is greatly aided if there Is no break in the question chain that originate* with the specialists In Washington and endsooperative host- The latter is in by far the best position to ask questions at the usual
meeting winding upplant visit To tbe Soviets it seems only fair that reasonable questions should be put to them by Americans engaged in the same line of work This then gives the interpreter an opening to follow up with more questions and develop the topic more fully. It is quiteostileutterlyan interpreter to start the questions on his own
Aside from factual information there is need for interpretive insight into wliat stands behind it The integral meaning of what lies openly before us Is probably one of the more Important problems in Soviet^ studies today, and tbe interpreter who livesonthoviet group isood position to achieve some insight into deeper meanings.Original document.