MEMORANDUM FOR THE RECORD FROM:
SlfJECT: Soviet Visit Report
Attached is an East-West report based on an article. Yelchaninov that was published in thessue of Russkaya Mysl undorti^lp. Impressions of the Soviet Union.
Mr. Yelchaninov spent five weeks in Moscowguide at-th*'Frenchin
Hp was urged by many Soviet visitors to the French pavilion to tell the West about what he had seen and heard in the Soviet Union: "We know what Com-rmiiism is, let the West know about it."
Mr.onclusion is that is is hard to be objective in evaluating the USSR. Tourists often claim to have seen everi-Jhingeek's stay7-and usually their imprea8ions reflect the political views, they had upon arrival in the Soviet Union. Those who have "leftist"see only the brighthe gay young people, the crowdedand churches. Those who are anti-Soviet gloat over the queues, the rudeness of the salesladies, the shabby crowds, the ramshackle little, houses.
From their different anglee both aides are right, but the truth about the regime and life in the Soviet Union lies deeper than these, conflicting statements.
"Material things are unimportant,*', aaid a'young writer towe gowe may have enough to, fill our bellies. is that we are ruledunch of bigwigs, they think for us,our problems twenty years inis nothing for us tojoin in the chorus and sing their praises, of keep our mouths shut." isoviet poet said: "We value freedomeans of makingnot because we like to choose, but because -we want to choose And this is the Soviet tragedy--the people are groaningpressurehronic economic crisis, and we, the intelligentsia,say and write things we do not
Yelchaninov believes that this continuous.lying is the key to theriddle: everybodywriters, the radio, the;press, the -officials, Khrushchev. Some IIf from conviction, some under duress.
The young poet produced an anthology of his poetry with the lines he had to change under pressure. ublic worker showed Yelchaninov an article about the happy life of the Soviet man. It had been published under his name, but he never wrote it. eporter was given the assignment ofthe blissful existence of kolkhoz workers just after their -cows had been taken away from then and putommon herd. He sppks to them,theirkolkhoz women cried over the loss of their cows. When he got back to Moscow, helowing article about their happy lives.
And this is what the tourist cannot see at firsttruththe tissue of lies. He is usually charmed byhe Riipsianolk art. One journalist said: "If you only knewoathe the Piatnitsky choir, Ukrainian dancing, thell the gaudy tinsel! Some Western tourists fall forthers for folk dancing, "babas" in colorful headsoarves, and few have an idea of the hardships of the Soyiet people behind the edifice of lies."!
Life in the Soviet Union is easiest for. thoseighereducation and specialize in some limited field which makes themto the regime.
S0VieCis expected to kow-tow to the regime and to "bring up conscious citizens."
A writer who has been silentong time comes under Suspicion especially if he does not shave: thisign of free-thinking and in-'
BVe 0ner i5 Siberia,"
earded student of philosophy. An art student said: "Tho trouble is not that we have to paint theut that tne kolkhoznik teach us how to paint kolkhorniki."
eto helP build Corrrnunism, evenare sick of Soviet Socialism. And who wouldn't be, hearingaaoh as these over the radio: "ThisunnyuUapplneas and victories, end
r, "Our life is beautiful." From morning until night loudspeakers in parks of culture and rest promise happiness under Communlam. No wonder that strollers in the parks can hardly wait for "culture" to end andest to begin.
YovnZavid readers of Western literature. Very fewWestern writers have been translated, but the little thatis snapped up immediately. Hemingway, Saint-Exupery,R. Holland are tremendously UflrQ
theatre and arts section of the French exhibition was constantly mobbed anduides were hardly able to cope with the aval enSe of questions. Excessive curiosity was the undoing of many Soviet citizens
Hthose who spent tofmjchthe French personnel were subjected to long
^Yelchaninov received frequent requests from students for books that were banned in thehe Bible, or works byanS clnu. They usually returned these books after copying parts that were of Intel rest to them. The desire for free thought is so great among students tha-
SJUSi lef!fg PoH8hto be iSS to read WesterTuterature in Polish translation available with difficulty in the USSR.
to.theof talta with Soviet citizens, Yelchaninov mokes thebreakdown of their attitudes towards the regime:
1.' Fanatical devotion, especially in youth imbued with the -spirit of Marxism. Their rigid dogmatism and total inability to understand Western thinking preclude* all discussionhowever, who lose faith in Marxism and know nothing outside of dialectical materialism, become desciples . of Jean Paul Sartre without even knowing it.
"'category includesyoung girls--
who are glad not* .to have to think for themselves and justheir lesson on dialectical materialism.
I 2. Defenders of Marxism. These are primarily the idealistselieveransition from socialism to .Communism. ize the shortcomings of the regime, the hardships of Sovietften they even disagree with Khrushchev and Party policies, but say: "Come-to this country.in ten to fifteen years and you will-:
see!" And others: "So what- does the West have to offer us instead
of Communism? Capitalism?! No, thank you." They are totallyof the West and its political setup.
Naturally, the hundreds of thousands of higher -Partyaries, who depend on the regime for:their living, are alsoit, although many join the Party for tactical reasonstold Yelchaninov that his sons were all Party members,but added: "You should hear what they say about the Partycoming Communism when they are at
People grumble about the shortage of food and thestanding in lines. The following anecdote-was circulatingMoscow: "In ten years we will all have our own helicopters. for? Well, if thereumor that potatoes'nKiev, we fly there and buy potatoes. When.the papershipment of cooking oil has arrived
3. Most of the people Yelchaninov spoke to, however, acceptas an unavoidable .evil. This group Includes manyi* wno love their country and .Russian culture. They lead a
double life: on the one hand they are loyal to the regime,compulsory meetings; .and on the other hand, they live in theirprivate world, wrapped up in the Russianijvsky, Tolstoy, the They can talk for hours of'lujfulev, Bt'ii, Mandelstamm. And, above all, they seek theand hate lies and
: 4. Yelchaninov also met people who hate the regime for the, ferlngs it brought. It ia interesting .to note that this group consists of either elderly people who still remember the oldor the very young; people in th&ir fifties; who were brought up under Stalin, are hard to approach and>avoid discussions.
To sum up, the Soviet youth and intelligentsia are beginning
to think more for themselves (the poet Yevtushenko is one of the many examples). It is hard to predict where this will end,f the -authorities do not take drastic steps'-tot may grow with elemental force.
Rr-ligion In the USSR
Since .the publication of the new CPSU program, the anti-religiousbeen intensified. In recenthurches, many monasteriesof the eight seminaries were closed. Inhe position ofOrthodox Church is much worse than it was under'Stalin. -It isoppressed by excessivef its income from.
Churches are closed in the following manner: an official, assigned to each bishop,riest and takesso his parish is closed.
Monasteries and convents are closed at night. Monksew days notice. Older monks are given the choice of moving either to friends or to homes for the aged; the young ones are sent to work in production. The remaining monks and nuns are taken away at night in trucks to an unknown destination. The monastery is closed and surroundedordon of militia in the moitiing.
The remaining churches are filled to capacity, mostly by women over fifty. Yelchaninov met many young engineers, chemists, physicians whoin God but were afraid to be seenhurch lest they be dismissed from work or universities.
One priest said to Yelchaninov: "How lucky you are to he able toyour religionree church which is not ruled by the Cornmunlstlike ours. Profit from this freedom and tell the world about theof ourOriginal document.