UNDERGROUND MILLIONAIRES OF THE SOVIET UNION
by Ivor Benson
"Ye shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free"
THE NEW TIMES
In the following article, the distinguished South African journalist and writer examines an incredible story to come out of the Soviet Union, and asks if it is further evidence that the whole world is being prepared for a further move towards a con- vergence of the Communist and non-Communist world in an attempt to create a New World Order.
The Soviet Union has given up another of its biggest and
best-kept secrets-the great socialist republic, dictatorship
of the proletariat, is swarming with millionaire capitalists,
every one of them a Soviet citizen, and many in the same
league as the super-rich of the capitalist west!
Strange and significant, yes, but not altogether surprising
when it is remembered that Western journalists and
academics haven't yet even got around to admitting that the
Western super-rich with their banks and multi-national
companies have likewise been swarming all over the vast
country ever since the Bolshevik Revolution promoting
another kind of economic colonialism. *
There is no reason to doubt the accuracy of the facts sup- plied, but good reason to examine closely and critically the meaning which Simis and the Fortune editors give to these astonishing facts which have emerged so suddenly and without warning from what is certainly the biggest area of secrecy and disinformation (i.e. lying) in the history of man-kind.
We have been permitted to peep into what Winston Chur-
chill once described as "a riddle, wrapped in a mystery in-
side an enigma" - but not for our final disillusionment, we
may be sure. "How to Succeed in Business Where Business is a Crime",
says Fortune's supplementary headline.
Writes Simis: "Everyone knows that the Soviet state is
the monopoly owner of all means of production and that
private enterprise is a crime. But the remarkable reality is
that in the Soviet Union a great many private enterprises
operate-at great profit. Indeed, a network of privately
controlled factories spreads across the whole country and
these factories manufacture goods worth hundreds of
millions - perhaps even billions - of rubles (A ruble is currently worth $1.40...)"
But how do they manage to do that in a country where
every citizen is encouraged to spy on his neighbour?
Part of the answer: "A private enterprise will co-exist
under the same name and the same roof, with a state factory; it could not exist without this cover. In this symbiotic
relationship the state factory manufactures goods as called
for by the state plan. These goods appear on the factories
books and are distributed through commercial channels for
sale. But alongside these official goods the same factory is
manufacturing goods not registered in any documents.”
Goods of the first kind are called "registered for" and the
others, in the jargon of the underground are described as
Writes Simis: "For historical reasons, the underground business milieu in the large cities of Russia, the Ukraine and the Baltic republics has been predominantly Jewish. While my clients included Geogians, Armenians and members of other groups, the great majority were Jewish - like myself".
What "historical reasons"? Simis says that the Russian Jews, after having been discriminated against by the Czarist regime, were "liberated" by the Bolshevik Revolution, thereafter throwing themselves eagerly into spheres of life previously closed to them, like science, the arts, literature, etc. He tells us that during and after World War II, Stalin turned against the Jews, many of who were then forced to find outlets for their energies in "underground business."
Elsewhere in his article, however, he tells us about one Isaac Back who in the mid 1930s set about creating a family company which by 1940 (when Stalin was at the peak of his power) owned "at least a dozen factories manufacturing underwear, souvenirs and notions, operating at the same time a network of stores in all the republics of the Soviet Union".
Some of these Jewish entrepreneurs, including Back and one of the three Glazenberg brothers were prosecuted and imprisoned, but evidently not enough of them to discourage the rest. It was decided to "sacrifice" young Lazar Glazenberg, says Simis, whose job it was to defend them in court, "at least partly because of his playboy life-style as reflected in his two dozen suits and the wardrobe of his wife..."
It is significant, surely, that although private enterprise carried on in secret must be regarded as the most dangerous and destructive form of sabotage, being the exact antithesis of Marxist socialism, there is no mention of this class of big- fish offender among the hundreds of individual cases discussed by Alexander Solzhenitsyn in the three volumes of his Gulag Archipelago; indeed, Jewish prisoners are rarely mentioned by Solzhenitsyn, whereas, judging by their names, there was no scarcity of Jews among the slave camp bosses —Aron Solts, Jakov Rappaport, Matvei Berman, Lazar Kogan and, most notorious of all, Naftaly Frenkel who appears to have master-minded the whole technique of slave labour. Nor have big businessmen figured at all pro- minently in the great show trials, which the Western media were permitted to report and dramatise.
Next question: Why should this kind of activity with its almost fabulous rewards, plus attendant dangers, be confined almost exclusively to Jewish citizens of the Soviet Union?
DOLLARS FOR ISRAEL
Simis gives us what is obviously an important part of the answer: "The sense of national identity among Jewish underground businessmen is strong - much stronger than that of the Soviet Jewish intelligentsia. There may not be many among them who understand what Zionism is all about - even fewer who are prepared to relinquish their for- tunes and emigrate to Israel - yet I never met a single one who was indifferent to the fate of that country and who did not feel a blood relationship with it. It came as no surprise to me that during the Six-day War the underground business-men in many cities donated large sums in dollars - not rubles but dollars - to Israel"
These underground business tycoons would have been much assisted, we may be sure, by another circumstance revealed by Simis: "Nevertheless many Jewish underground businessmen of all ages eagerly join the Communist party for desperately practical motives: to enhance their social prestige and gain some shield - beyond bribery - to keep them from being prosecuted by the DCMSP".
Here he seems to have forgotten what he told us a few
paragraphs back - that Jews were forced into underground
business by discrimination that excluded them from the par-
ty and state hierarchy.
TO WHAT END?
It would appear that the underground businessmen who are caught and punished are those whose operations have become too glaringly obvious, like one Golidze who "owned two magnificent houses, luxuriously furnished with antiques bought from dealers in Moscow and Leningrad" and who "entertained officials with banquets which would go on for hours..." Most Soviet tycoons try not to be too ostentatious as they stash away most of their wealth in foreign currencies, precious stones, metals and gold coins. Simis tells us that during the 1960s and 1970s the salon of one Elizabeth Mirkien enjoyed great popularity in Moscow, for here middle-aged businessmen could enjoy excellent meals, plus the euphoria of feeling rich as they risked the loss of huge stakes at cards and roulette.
"But all to what end?" asks Simis rhetorically. "Dealers in precious stones in Moscow, Tashkent, Riga and other cities continue to operate diligently to this day, filling the caches of underground millionaires with their wares. These caches amount to vast treasures, probably worth more than all the pirate booty in Caribbean waters. And yet - what about their owners? What are they waiting for? A fabulous future time when they will be able to unearth their riches and regally use them? Or the downfall of the Soviet regime?"
So what does it all mean? Simis himself doesn't seem to
know, for he ends his article and, presumable, also the book
he has been writing, with unanswered questions.
"AN INSPIRED GUESS"
In these circumstances, the truth, if it is to be found is more likely to be the product of what, for want of any better description, we call insight, or, as some would say, "an in- spired guess", than the product of a detailed and laborious study and juxtaposition of all the available facts — which, in any case, are always in short supply. Therefore we should know in advance that the truth we are seeking is not some- thing that can ever be "proved" with evidence and argu- ment; it is "truth" of a kind which only unfolding history can prove or refute.
For example, no one was ever able to "prove" Oswald Spengler's axiom that "there is no proletarian movement, not even a Communist one, which does not operate in the in- terest of money...” and yet it is one that continues to offer the clearest, most coherent and most consistent explanation of much that has happened in the world since those words were written more than 60 years ago. Likewise, Douglas Reed's dictum that "similar men, with a common aim, secretly rule in both camps"- the capitalist West and the Soviet Union.
Insights of this kind are not pure guesswork, but can be described metaphorically as the product of some higher computing process of the mind in which the enquirer, having absorbed as many as possible of the available hard facts, is able to "tune in" emotionally to the motivational systems involved - rather like having electronic bugging devices planted inside the minds of those men whose policies and ac- tions are being studied. The infinitely wise Chinese call this jen ai, putting yourself in the place of the other person, the secret of all skill in human relations, whether these are friendly or hostile.
Now then, let us place ourselves in the position of
Konstantin Simis and of his former Kremlin bosses and see
what turns up. We are told in a biographical piece in Fortune
that from 1953 Simis acted as defence lawyer for dozens of
prominent underground businessmen, giving up his practice
in 1971 to join the Ministry of Justice as an international law
All this does not make good sense in terms of the ostensible motives and expected natural reactions of those involved - whereas, the expulsion of Solzhenitsyn is precisely what could have been expected by those able to share with the Soviet bosses the awful dilemma of what to do with a man who had become the glowing symbol of an awakened and aroused young Russian intelligentsia.
A BIG CHANGE COMING?
In our interpretation, what we are seeing today are the first signs of dramatic change in the picture of the Soviet Union as presented by the Western media and contemporary historians. In other words, the whole story of what has hap- pened since the Bolshevik Revolution is going to have to be retold in a revised form.
Chapman Pincher in his book Their Trade is Treachery tells us that KGB agents like Kim Philby, Guy Burgess and others had been taught that when being investigated they must keep their interrogators talking for the purpose of finding out how much these interrogators already know for certain, so that their own story can be tailored to fit in with facts that cannot be disputed. Moreover, finding out what is already known, the person being investigated is warned in time to change his original story as he goes along.
The story which the people of the West have been getting
since before the Bolshevik Revolution is now going to be adjusted to accommodate and absorb information, which has
been seeping through and which could quite soon be common property. For the future edification of a deliberately
stupefied public opinion in the West, there are to be, as it
were, "guided tours" through what were hitherto "no-go"
areas in the realm of news reporting, public debate and con-
temporary history writing.
Implied in the policies and actions of the leading Western
powers, the U.S.A. in particular, is the assumption that all
are working towards the "ideal" of some sort of convergence of the two worlds, an ''ideal'' that does not, however,
exclude the possibility of a third world war.
*Vodka-Cola, Charles Levinson's massive "expose" of the
involvement of Western banks and multi-national companies in the
expanding Soviet economy, and the publicity given to this book in a
BBC television documentary earlier this year, must be seen as part of
the same historical phenomena as the Simis report.