KINDLING – Part III: Many faces of the Soviet Union

Russian Bravery Against the Nazi Invasion

The Russian story relates that Czar Nicholas drew a red arrow line on a map directly from Moscow to St. Petersburg and they built the train exactly on a straight line drawn from city to city.  He also moved the capitol from Moscow to St. Petersburg during his reign.

The 13 U.S. journalists boarded the “Red Arrow Express” late in the evening from Moscow, traveling to St. Petersburg.  We had assigned berths in a private railroad car for the overnight journey.

We were only in that city for several days, but it was very memorable.  First, our communist hosts took us to the Smolny labor hall  where Lenin and his wife lived in a tiny one room apartment, now a museum.  Smolny was where Lenin made his fiery speeches preaching revolution and revolt against the Russian royalty.  

We were shown a movie depicting the Nazi invasion of the city that lasted almost two years bombing and starving the inhabitants. resulting in millions of deaths by bombs and starvation. However, Hitler’s 6th army was never able to cross the Volga river and capture the city.  Eventually, the Russians surrounded the German army, captured thousands of Nazi troops, and started pushing the  German army all the way back to Berlin where they reaped severe revenge.

Following the indoctrination movie routine, we were bused to the Hermitage Museum,  the second largest museum in the world, containing countless works of western art collected by empress Catherine The Great who constructed the museum.   One of the most famous art collections of Rembrandts was donated to the Soviets by Armand Hammer, founder of Occidental Petroleum.  In later weeks we were to visit the retirement home of Lenin in Gorky, outside of Moscow,  where Henry Ford had gifted a large crank handled oak telephone to the ailing leader.  We learned at the home that part of his success was electrification of the entire Soviet empire with a  huge map showing the electric grid that he completed, bringing electric power to the impoverished nation.  This  was indeed a feat that led to his popularity among the rural country peasants.  Apparently there was a lasting friendship established between Lenin and Henry Ford.   Years later, back in the USA, I read about the founding in America of the REA, (Rural Electrification of America).  Some early day critics denounced the project comparing it to Lenin’s Russia involvement of government control in the utility business.  

Today, St. Petersburg may be called Volgograd and Putin has suggested renaming it Stalingrad once again.

Lenin was in poor health at his Gorky residence suffering from an assassination attempt, wounded by a pistol shot.

The Hermitage museum was a masterpiece of European art, Russian jewels and many of Peter The Great’s inventions.  We only had several hours to tour, but this is a world class tourist destination.

A lasting memory was walking around the canal channeled city seeing cornerstones from the czar era of Masonic emblems on some of the brick and stone buildings. Relics of the royalty who ruled the nation until the revolution that occurred in 1917, resulting in the rise of the Marxist regime spearheaded by Vladimir Lenin-

We returned to Moscow, boarding the train for an all-night trip back to the Intourist hotel in Moscow.

I was not sleeping well so I arose from my bottom train berth and entered the railcar hallway around 5 a.m.  I was met by a young lady in uniform that was the train car supervisor and she offered me a cup of tea that I readily accepted.

As we entered the outskirts of Moscow, I observed large groups of people huddled around fires attempting to keep warm in the cold November winter.  Apparently these were homeless Russians suffering from the failure of communism.  To be continued: 

Inside the Kremlin walls

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