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Sabotage in Kazakhstan

Since Littlepage  visited so many mining regions, he was able to notice that this form of bitter class struggle, industrial sabotage, had developed all over the Soviet Union.

Here is how he described what he saw in Kazakhstan between 1932 and 1937, the year of the purge.

`(In October 1932,) An SOS had been sent out from the famous Ridder lead-zinc mines in Eastern Kazakstan, near the Chinese border ....

`(I was instructed) to take over the mines as chief engineer, and to apply whatever methods I considered best. At the same time the Communist managers apparently received instructions to give me a free hand and all possible assistance.

`The Government had spent large sums of money on modern American machinery and equipment for these mines, as for almost all others in Russia at that time .... But ... the engineers had been so ignorant of this equipment and the workmen so careless and stupid in handling any kind of machinery that much of these expensive importations were ruined beyond repair.'


Littlepage  and Bess,  op. cit. , pp. 106--107.

`Two of the younger Russian engineers there impressed me as particularly capable, and I took a great deal of pains to explain to them how things had gone wrong before, and how we had managed to get them going along the right track again. It seemed to me that these young fellows, with the training I had been able to give them, could provide the leadership necessary to keep the mines operating as they should.'


Ibid. , p. 111.

`The Ridder mines ... had gone on fairly well for two or three years after I had reorganized them in 1932. The two young engineers who had impressed me so favorably had carried out the instructions I had left them with noteworthy success ....

`Then an investigating commission had appeared from Alma Ata ...\ similar to the one sent to the mines at Kalata. From that time on, although the same engineers had remained in the mines, an entirely different system was introduced throughout, which any competent engineer could have foretold would cause the loss of a large part of the ore body in a few months. They had even mined pillars which we had left to protect the main working shafts, so that the ground close by had settled ....

`(T)he engineers of whom I had spoken were no longer at work in the mines when I arrived there in 1937, and I understood they had been arrested for alleged complicity in a nation-wide conspiracy to sabotage Soviet industries which had been disclosed in a trial of leading conspirators in January.

`When I had submitted my report I was shown the written confessions of the engineers I had befriended in 1932. They admitted that they had been drawn into a conspiracy against the Stalin régime by opposition Communists who convinced them that they were strong enough to overthrow Stalin and his associates and take over control of the Soviet Government. The conspirators proved to them, they said, that they had many supporters among Communists in high places. These engineers, although they themselves were not Communists, decided they would have to back one side or the other, and they picked the losing side.

`According to their confessions, the `investigating commission' had consisted of conspirators, who traveled around from mine to mine lining up supporters. After they had been persuaded to join the conspiracy the engineers at Ridder had taken my written instructions as the basis for wrecking the mines. They had deliberately introduced methods which I had warned against, and in this way had brought the mines close to destruction.'


Ibid. , pp. 112--114.

`I never followed the subtleties of political ideas and man uvres .... (But) I am firmly convinced that Stalin and his associates were a long time getting round to the discovery that disgruntled Communist revolutionaries were the most dangerous enemies they had ....

`My experience confirms the official explanation which, when it is stripped of a lot of high-flown and outlandish verbiage, comes down to the simple assertion that `outs' among the Communists conspired to overthrow the `ins', and resorted to underground conspiracy and industrial sabotage because the Soviet system has stifled all legitimate means for waging a political struggle.

`This Communist feud developed into such a big affair that many non-Communists were dragged into it, and had to pick one side or the other .... Disgruntled little persons of all kinds were in a mood to support any kind of underground opposition movement, simply because they were discontented with things as they stood.'


Ibid. , pp. 274--275.

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Fri Aug 25 09:03:42 PDT 1995