Posts Tagged ‘Paul Gregory’

Former Baltic president Vaira Vīķe-Freiberga: “Ukraine is being dismembered and torn apart.”

Thursday, October 16th, 2014
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At Stanford, Latvian president recalled the long, hard road to independence. (Photo: Jim Hatlo, EyeDoMedia)

Former Latvian president Vaira Vīķe-Freiberga was in town last week – and, just as I anticipated before my live-tweet session below, she was smart and bold and knew how to throw a punch. She has been an outspoken critic of Russia’s recent incursions into its former Soviet vassal-states and criticized what she called “wobbly” Western resolve to support Eastern Europe. Stanford historian Norman Naimark, who introduced her, said she had provided “the moral straight-shooting that Latvia needed.” Stanford got a taste of it, too.

The woman who shepherded Latvia into NATO and the EU during her term as president (from 1999 to 2004) spoke about recent Baltic history in her keynote address, “Against All Odds: The Path of the Baltic States to the EU and NATO,” for the “War, Revolution and Freedom: The Baltic Countries in the 20th Century” conference sponsored by the Hoover Institution Library & Archives and Stanford University.

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Kind of a straight-shooter himself

During the question-and-answer session, Hoover scholar Paul Gregory asked the question that was on everyone’s mind: what did she predict for Ukraine?

“Ukraine is being dismembered and torn apart – it’s the Russian resolve to get Ukraine in its grips again,” she said. Their diplomatic weapon of choice? “A whole bouquet of arguments.” She took the petals off, one by one. For example, she challenged the Russian claim that “there’s no such thing as a Ukrainian people, it’s just another kind of Russian.” A related argument is that Russia had “brought a life of civilization and culture” to its western neighbor. Yet, she said, Kiev had been the center of the Rus civilization way back when St. Petersburg was still marshlands.

Finally, the Russians contend that the Ukrainians “don’t know how to govern themselves.” Without endorsing the Russian argument, she conceded that Ukraine had not made the “painful reforms” that the Baltic states were required to make for entry into NATO and EU.  She noted the vast amounts of money that had flowed through Ukraine to a few kleptocrats, which had  “polluted and subverted the political system.” However, “that is not an excuse for neighbors saying we’ll do a better job of it.” She compared the situation to a hypothetical one in which Mexico reasoned that, with so many compatriots in the U.S., it had a right to invade, using a  standoff between the president and Congress as proof of U.S. incompetence to manage itself and a reasonable pretext to bring in  tanks. “How would you feel about it?” she asked.

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Democracy as “an acquired trait.” (Photo: Jim Hatlo, EyeDoMedia)

She remembered Latvia’s history after World War I, when Latvia became a democratic parliamentary republic, and said that “hardly ever was there a nation with less going for it to become an independent nation.” However, democracy “is not an inherited trait, but an acquired trait,” for “anybody who wants to make a go of it.” In 1940, however, the country was forcibly incorporated into the Soviet Union, then invaded and occupied by Nazi Germany the following year, and the reoccupied by the Soviets in 1944. It found freedom at last with the fall of the USSR in 1991.

When she took office, the prospect of Euro-Atlantic integration was not as bright as it might have looked, she said. While some EU/NATO countries thought integration might be a good idea, “very few countries were deeply convinced.” In the end, their consent was a “political decision that had to be taken at political level,” she said. “It was the political leaders who would have the last words …it was very plain and simple as that.”

“There was lots of negative PR about our countries,” she recalled. The Balts were accused of turning their backs on Russia, which was precisely what they had intended to do. “We would be reproached for being Nazis because we did not want to stay within the embrace of Moscow.” She recalled nasty, and untrue, accusations about Latvian collaboration during the Holocaust.

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Afraid of bears

The EU worried that the Balts would drain the finances of the organization. They had voiced the same concerns, she said, when considering Poland’s entry, saying “the Polish plumber would be distinct danger to countries in Western Europe.” Now, however, “Poland has one of the highest growth rates in Europe – higher than those countries who sneered at it,” she said. She joked that “any number of Frenchmen ask me, ‘Where are those Polish plumbers? We need them.’”

A major hesitation for political leaders considering Baltic entry into NATO was “the bright idea that, in order not to offend or displease Russia, the enlargement of NATO and EU should proceed cautiously.” French president Jacques Chirac warned, “You must not pull the whiskers of the bear, it’s a very dangerous thing to do.” She battled a prevailing attitude that “whatever we do, must not offend Russia. Such sensitive souls, such delicate violets! Easily humiliated!”

“Their economy is a shambles, their social security systems are in disarray, but the point is we must not upset them,” she said, with a note of exasperation as well as amusement.

As for my first frenetic foray into live-tweeting, you can see the results below – with an occasional assist from my colleague, Lisa Trei.

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“My friendship with him was perhaps the longest he’d ever had.” Stanford’s Paul Gregory on Lee Harvey Oswald

Thursday, November 7th, 2013
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gregory_paulr_biophotoI’ve known Paul Gregory for several years (and written about him here and here and here) –  I know him as a compelling writer, a fine Russian scholar, and the author of books on the women of the U.S.S.R.’s gulag, Nikolai Bukharin, and Lenin’s brain. He’s mentioned before that he knew Lee Harvey Oswald, but I certainly didn’t know how well until I read today’s story in the New York Times Magazine. I also learned of his unusual donation to the Hoover Archives – more on that below.

Like everything Paul writes, the current NYT story is an excellent read.  It’s also a profoundly sad one, the story of an insecure and misguided misfit’s attempt for grandeur, and how an unlucky confluence of events led him to shoot and kill President John F. Kennedy on November 22, 1963.  It’s also the story of his wife, Marina Oswald, a confused and abused Russian wife pulled into an international crisis before she knew more than a handful of English words and phrases.  So many theories have been spun around the assassin since – after reading this, the theories seem bigger than the man.

But I’ll let Paul tell the story:

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Oswald arrested at the Texas Theatre

It was 7 a.m. on Sunday when the single phone at the bottom of the stairs echoed through my parents’ red-brick house, right off Monticello Park in Fort Worth. “Mr. Gregory,” a woman said as my father picked up, “I need your help.” Who are you? he asked in his Texas-Russian accent, still half-asleep.

The caller said only that she had been a student in his Russian language course at our local library, and that he knew her son. In that instant, my father, Pete Gregory, linked the voice to a nurse who sat in the back of his class and had once identified herself as “Oswald.” Until this phone call, he hadn’t realized that she was the mother of Lee Harvey Oswald, a Marine who had defected to the Soviet Union only to return two and a half years later with a Russian wife and a 4-month-old daughter. My father helped Lee and his young family get settled in Fort Worth a year earlier. The Oswalds had been my friends. …

time-coverMy father recounted that weekend’s events to me a few days later over Thanksgiving dinner, when I returned home from the University of Oklahoma, where I had just begun graduate school. Through my father, I had become a close — or, as Robert Oswald would later say, almost the only — friend of Lee and Marina Oswald’s from virtually the moment they arrived in Fort Worth, in June 1962, until the end of that November. While that five-month period might seem fleeting, it was a significant period in Oswald’s life. He was never in the same place for long. By age 17, he had already moved some 20 times. Then he dropped out of high school and joined the Marines, before being released and traveling to Moscow. He avoided deportation by attempting suicide and was sent to Minsk, where he met Marina. In the year and a half after he returned to the United States, he moved several more times. My friendship with him was perhaps the longest he’d ever had.

My family tried to put those tragic events behind us, but over the ensuing decades, as I became an academic and a research fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford, I felt compelled to combine my memories and the historical record to present my own sense of Oswald. Most Americans believe that Oswald shot Kennedy. Yet according to one recent A.P. poll, only a quarter of Americans believe that one man acted alone to kill Kennedy. “Would Oswald,” as Norman Mailer wrote, “pushed to such an extreme, have the soul of a killer?” As I pored back over those months, I realized that I was watching that soul take shape…

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A postcard from the Oswalds (Photo: Hoover Archives)

Read the rest here.  But this fascinating postscript is not in the New York Times – Paul has just made a valuable  donation to the Hoover Archives.  The story behind it:  Young Paul Gregory began taking Russian lessons from Marina.  Here’s what he says in the article about it on one occasion:  “As I was leaving their house, he raced to the bedroom and returned with a faded pocket English-Russian dictionary that he used during his time in Minsk. ‘Take this,’ Lee told me. Only later did I realize that Oswald was showing off in front of Marina, pointing out that he didn’t need the dictionary but that I did.”  Now that dictionary is at the Hoover archives, thanks to Paul’s generosity.  Read about it here.  Paul also donated the postcard from the Oswalds that may have ended their friendship. Paul had congratulated Marina on her English after receiving the postcard, with a few corrections. Then he got a phone call from the distraught wife:  “’I did not write that letter. Lee did.’ Her tone told me all I needed to know; Lee had been deeply insulted and mortified by my response. Marina then told me she was unhappy. She hinted at physical abuse and explained that she had left him only to reconcile after he pleaded for her to attend Thanksgiving at his brother’s house.”

Women of the Gulag: when life meets history

Monday, September 16th, 2013
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women-of-gulagToday Joseph Stalin is one of the most admired figures in contemporary Russia.  Go figure.

Sure he did bad things, but it was worth it, right? So the line of thinking goes. Paul Gregory, author of Women of the Gulag, talked about the matter in a recent talk at Hoover Institution, during its annual summer workshop, which draws international scholars to the world-famous archives (I’ve written about it here ). His new book “attempts to capture the sights, sounds, and smells of the Great Terror of 1937-38 through the eyes of five women caught up in extraordinary circumstances.” (I’ve written about the documentary that accompanies the film, by the Russian-American filmmaker Marianna Yarovskaya, here.)

“Stalin is purported to have said that the death of one person is a tragedy, the death of a million is a statistic.  Those of us who study Soviet Russia fall into this trap,” he said. “We think we can convince people of Stalin’s evil by citing the millions who died in his famines, the hundreds of thousands shot during the Great Terror of 1937-38, and the millions of men, women, and children who sat in his concentration camps and special settlements.”

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Head of family at 11

With his book, Paul hopes to make statistics into individual stories.  Paul said that “overwhelmingly his victims were ordinary people, confused why they had been singled out. They tell us of the fine dividing line between perpetrator and victim.”  When Paul began looking, he knew that his chances of finding living survivors was slim – they would be women in their 80s or 90s – but he persevered.  ”Lo and behold, we found three of our primary characters still living, ornery, and lucid, and in the locale in which their stories take place.  In other cases, we found their daughters, who were old enough to tell their family’s stories.” Ages ranged from 86 to 96.

His research assistant Natalia Reshetova tells the story of the search for one of them, “Fekla,” in the current issue of the Hoover Digest. Fekla’s family of “kulaks,” middle-class peasant farmers (we’ve written about that effort here), were targeted by Stalin’s “dekulakization” of the Soviet countryside.  She grew up to become a founding member of Memorial, the society to preserve the memory of these terrible times. An excerpt from the article:

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Executed

She found herself in the fall of 1931, just short of five years old, in a cold earthen dugout that was part of the vast Gulag system.  … Small children in the children in the Martyush settlement stayed in earthen pits, dug in the birch forest, from fall until spring. They played in those dark, cold dwelling places—digging little rivulets in the dirt walls and watching the soil run down. Fekla’s grandmother gave her grandchildren almost all of her daily allotment of bread; she died of hunger and illness in April 1932, not having survived a year. The children of the settlement rarely saw their parents, who were peasants used to working the land but were now forced to toil as industrial workers from morning to night—Fekla’s father at an aluminum factory and her mother in the mines. After her father’s arrest, the only man left in the family was her grandfather. He worked as a guard, and until his death in 1944 he helped his daughter-in-law and grandchildren as best he could. …

She last saw her father the day after his arrest on March 29, 1938. He was in the cellar of a secret-police building among tens of other prisoners—all standing because there was no room to sit. The NKVD guards pretended not to notice the children who crawled to the window to talk to the prisoners. Fekla remembers how the others told her father, “Andreev, your eldest daughter is here.” He struggled to get to the window and managed to speak only a few words to Fekla, addressing her as an adult even though she was just eleven and a half. “Now you are in charge of the family,” he said. “Educate your sisters. It is harder to oppress an educated person. Get an education, too, and do not abandon your mother and grandpa.”

“I followed his will,” Fekla concluded. …

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Fekla today.

Fekla not only became an educated person who taught for many years, first at a local school and then at the university level, but also completed her dissertation on the celebrated author Alexander Pushkin. Later she also became a historian of the Martyush settlement. She collected hundreds of documents and traveled extensively through areas where the camps and settlements of the Gulag had once stood. She published several books and helped many people achieve rehabilitation: 419, by her count. …

Fekla’s father never returned, and the family did not receive any news of him. Only many years later, after Stalin’s death, did Fekla begin to search for information about his fate. Ultimately she learned that he had been condemned to death by firing squad on September 29, 1938, and executed on October 4, 1938. As one of the innocent victims of the Great Terror, he was among 725,000 people who were unjustly shot.

“It was a real genocide,” Fekla said in the film. “Why did they wipe out five generations of our family?”

Read the whole article here.  Meanwhile, we’ll try to tell some more of these women’s stories in the coming weeks.

 

Terror’s human face: Women of the Gulag – the book and the movie. Help make it happen.

Saturday, October 27th, 2012
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Marianna Yarovskaya on location

I met Paul Gregory a couple years back, when his Politics, Murder, and Love in Stalin’s Kremlin: The Story of Nikolai Bukharin and Anna Larina (Hoover Institution Press, 2010) was just out.  I wrote about it, with a video of Paul, here) … well, “writing” might be too strong a word.  His noontime presentation at Stanford was so tight and so compelling that I pretty much presented what he said, as he said it.  I didn’t have to do much more.  (I’ve written about his Lenin’s Brain and Other Tales from the Secret Soviet Archives here).  Since meeting him, he’s become a high-powered economics blogger at Forbes 

Filmmaker Marianna

The Bukharin book was such a great story, I kept seeing it as a film.  Instead, he’s saved the film for his newest book, Women of the Gulag.  He’s teamed with Muscovite documentary filmmaker Marianna Yarovskaya.  Paul told me some time ago about his newest effort: I was against several deadlines and didn’t have the extra brain cells to process it then, but given his previous book, I had little doubt that he would knock it out of the ball park.

He has.  From his introduction:

A remark often attributed to Stalin is, “A single death is a tragedy, a million deaths is a statistic.”

This is the story of five such tragedies. They are stories about women because, as in so many cases, it was the wives and daughters who survived to tell what happened.

These five women put a human face on the terror of Stalin’s purges and the Gulag in the Soviet Union of the 1930s.  They show how the impersonal orders emanating from the Kremlin office of “the Master” brought tragedy to their lives. They cover the gamut of victims. Two are wives and daughters in ordinary families unable to comprehend why such misfortune has overtaken them. A third is a young bride living in the household of a high party official. The last two are wives of the Master’s executioners. These stories are based on their memoirs—some written by themselves, others by close friends or by their children.

Writer Gregory

Here’s the deal.  The book will be out early next year with Hoover Institution Press.  But the movie is in limbo until you pitch in over at kickstarter here.  The filmmaker is trying to raise $30,000 to finish the film, and she has 57 more days to raise the money on the kickstarter deal, which ends December 23.  Think of it as a Christmas present to Russia … or better yet, to mankind, because this history is important to record.

Applebaum at Stanford

“Why film a bunch of old babushkas?” Marianna is asked.  According to Washington Post‘s Pulitzer-prizewinning Anne Applebaum, who appears in the film, “Aside from its historic value, a project like this one has special significance in the light of contemporary Russian politics. In recent years, under President Putin, Soviet and Russian history have been re-politicized, and the Stalin period has come to be viewed with ambiguity by politicians, writers, film makers, and regrettably the public. The stories of the victims of the gulag, told by simple people who had little or no understanding of why this was happening to them, make an excellent antidote to creeping historical amnesia. This project is also urgent, of course, because most of their subjects are in their advanced years, and their stories have to be recorded now.”

Filmmaker Marianna explains why she’s passing the hat:  “We are now continuing the campaign and the project and are in post-production. We are also interviewing more women in other parts of Russia. We already have almost 40 hours of footage. These funds will go towards recording more testimonies on HD video and towards editing the footage we have gathered. Clearly the timing is urgent as the survivors and the heroines of the original Stalin gulag are getting very old. This is “the last chance.” (Marcel Krüger has an interview with her here.)

The film below gives a preview of their work.  I hope you find it as riveting as I do – and please do pony up whatever you can over at Kickstarter here.  Time is of the essence.  As always.

Boris Pasternak: Family Correspondence: British praise, American silence … so far

Tuesday, February 1st, 2011
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Portrait of the artist as a young man: cover painting by Leonid Pasternak, the Nobel laureate's father

In general, Hoover Press isn’t known for its groundbreaking literary fare — its more usual titles embrace such topics as Social Security: The Unfinished Work and The Wave: Man, God, and the Ballot Box in the Middle East. So last summer, as I attended a reception for the appearance of Boris Pasternak: Family Correspondence, 1921-1960, I wondered how how much press attention the first English of the Nobel laureate’s family letters would get.

So here’s the upshot:  some reviews in top-notch British literary journals — The Times Literary Supplement and The Literary Review; zip in America. All the votes have not been cast, of course — the slower literary journals may yet make an appearance (perhaps they’re teaming it up with the new Peavear/Volokhonsky translation of Doctor Zhivago, but the surprise is that some of the more mainstream dailies on both sides of the Atlantic have ignored it.

Or rather, not a surprise.  The point is (and here is where I turn into a scold), that is exactly what the prominent reviewers and their editors used to do: ferret out the good from a basket of seasonal rubbish.  But book reviews have been shaved and then butchered; unemployed and hungry literary critics are feeding out of dumpsters.

That’s the bad news.  Here’s the good.  The book has received two awards: the American Library Association’s  Choice award for Outstanding Academic Title for 2010.  It also received the BookBuilders West prize.

One American has written about the book:  moi.  Here’s what I wrote about the book last summer (the rest is here):

The newly published correspondence is important: The Pasternak family was a close-knit one, and leading figures like Leo Tolstoy were family friends. Boris’ father, Leonid Pasternak, was an important post-Impressionist painter, and his mother, an accomplished pianist; they immigrated to Germany in 1921. After 1923, Pasternak was never to see his parents or two sisters again, except for one visit with a sister.

Slater said he originally began translating these letters out of a feeling of family loyalty. Pasternak did not write much about arrests, imprisonments and executions, but his intimate letters to his family have been considered works of art in themselves.

As the Nazis took power in Germany, Pasternak’s Jewish parents began to consider returning to Russia. According to Slater, “Boris found himself writing contorted letters in which he on the one hand assured his parents that he would love to have them living with him, and that they wouldn’t be a burden, but simultaneously tried his hardest to dissuade them from coming – since he knew, but couldn’t tell them, that their lives would be in danger if they came.

“I don’t think they understood his hints, and they probably did find him a bit inhospitable.” (They took refuge with Slater’s parents at Oxford instead.)

The book has, at least, gotten a few favorable reviews in the British press.  Peter France, writing in the Times Literary Supplement:

“It is not a complete translation, and one may regret the omission of certain passages discussing poems in detail, and above all the natural decision to focus on the letters of Pasternak himself. But the translator, Nicolas Pasternak Slater, the poet’s nephew, has done an admirable job, writing with enough freedom to bring across the meaning strongly, but enough faithfulness to convey something of the sheer oddity of Pasternak’s range: his exalted tone, his obscurity and his idiosyncratic eloquence. …

At Hoover reception: Anastasia Pasternak, great-granddaughter of the poet; Oxford scholar Ann Pasternak Slater, niece of the poet; Maya Slater, editor of the new volume, and her husband Nicolas Pasternak Slater, translator of the new volume and nephew of the poet. Anastasia Pasternak, great-granddaughter of the poet; Oxford scholar Ann Pasternak Slater, niece of the poet; Maya Slater, editor of the new volume, and her husband Nicolas Pasternak Slater, translator of the new volume and nephew of the poet.

Boris Pasternak has sometimes been seen as a happy man who survived miraculously when his fellow writers were meeting tragic fates.  What comes over most strongly here, however, is the sheer difficulty of his life: the anxiety, fear and depression with which he struggled for decades. … It was an increasingly hard place to be, with the arbitrary arrests, exiles, and executions, the horrors of collectivization, and, less tangibly, what Pasternak calls ‘the dark night of materialism.’”

And George Gömöri (one of the contributors, incidentally, to An Invisible Rope: Portraits of Czeslaw Milosz … couldn’t resist the plug for my book), wrote in the Literary Review’s “Prisoner of Peredelkino” that the new volume of letters “will remain an indispensable source of information for future biographers” writes that Pasternak’s fortunes worsened considerably after the trial and execution of Nikolai Bukharin (we’ve written about that here, following the publication of Paul Gregory‘s engrossing book on the subject, The Story of Nikolai Bukharin and Anna Larina, last year).

One American had some nice words to say about the kudos drifting in from awards committees — even if from the very farthest corner of America, the far-flung islands to the west. John Stephan, professor emeritus of the University of Hawaii wrote:

“The Pasternak book richly deserves the awards. It’s a pleasure to see intellectual integrity and scholarly quality win public recognition.

It’s a marvelous work, rich in literary and historical insights, meticulously edited and handsomely produced.  Its utility for researchers is enhanced by an excellent index–notable not only for completeness and accuracy but for bio info (years of birth & death–and in some cases manner of death) of each individual mentioned in the text.  A standard all editors should emulate.”

The curious and complicated history of Lenin’s brain

Sunday, September 5th, 2010
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Jozef Stalin slaughtered millions, but even murderous totalitarian dictators need to catch a break.

After all, everyone needs a hobby.  And he had one.  Lenin’s brain.

It’s not like the two leaders had been the best of buddies.  The friction between the two men had become so toxic that Vladimir Lenin, dying from his fourth stroke (possibly complicated by syphilis) in 1924, warned on his deathbed that Stalin should be jettisoned as the party’s General Secretary.

Too late.  And Stalin got his brain instead.

Not exactly buddies

This riveting story is told in 2008′s  Lenin’s Brain and Other Tales from the Secret Soviet Archives.  On his way back to Houston, author Paul Gregory had pressed it into my hands (figuratively speaking) as a thankee after my article on his current book, Politics, Murder and Love in Stalin’s Kremlin: The Story of Nikolai Bukharin and Anna Larina.  One thing I learned after listening to Paul speaking about the book last summer: He’s a great storyteller.  He summarizes the Soviet imbroglio:

The Institute of Lenin served as a repository for Lenin’s writings and for other Lenin memorabilia.  Among its most unusual items was Lenin’s brain, preserved in a formaldehyde solution in a glass jar.  This is the story of the study of Lenin’s brain from early 1925 to 1936 as told by the sixty-three-page secret collection of documents from the Central Committee’s special files.  It is not necessarily a tale about Stalin, although Stalin’s guiding hand can be seen throughout. … Throughout the story Stalin was either acutely aware of what was going on or was guiding events.

The display of Lenin’s embalmed body and the publication of this writings was a PR move to raise the fallen hero to the Immortals — but a team of physicians insisted that his brain receive scientific study.  Not surprisingly, Russians needed scientific proof that Lenin was a genius. This was decided while the body was still warm.

A specimen of the brain was sent to a leading neurologist, Oskar Vogt, at the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute in Berlin.

Embalming: A kind of immortality

Their bad:  “Whether Lenin was a genius or dullard would be decided by a foreigner!” Gregory exclaimed.  Their worst fears were realized.  In 1932, one party hack wrote that the fragment of Lenin’s brain was being kept under intolerable security conditions, without guards, and that no work was being done on the brain in Berlin.

Moreover, “Vogt’s presentations are of a questionable nature; he compares Lenin’s brain with those of criminals and assorted other persons.”  One of the “indices” associated the structure of Lenin’s brain with mental retardation.

Voices were raised against Vogt, bearing the hallmarks of Stalin’s operations. But how to get rid of Vogt without creating an international scandal?

Enter Adolf Hitler.

The Russians had been holding out for their own “Institute of the Brain” — and they got one.   A delegation was sent to Berlin, ostensibly to beg Vogt to lead the new institute – but actually, to put the kibosh on him, while blaming Hitler.

It really does look like a walnut

Vogt had already fallen into disfavor with the the Führer, and his apartment had been searched, his telephone bugged, and any visa to Moscow out of the question (not that he’d been to Russia much in the last few years).  Mission accomplished!  But don’t cry:  Vogt, too, had kind of a happy ending, as much as could be expected in the circumstances.  The German government punished him by drafting him into the army (although he was in his 60s), but he was discharged after six weeks.

Meanwhile, the Moscow Institute of the Brain had not been sitting idly on its hands.  It had managed to collect better brains from better people.  No more would Lenin’s brain be compared with the man in the street, but instead he would be ranked alongside poet Vladimir Mayakovsky, Alexander Bogdanov, and even Nobel laureate I.V. Pavlov, who had died in February 1936 and whose brain could now be added to the collection.

The Institute built the case it needed to:  “Its report cites the indices proving the extraordinary nature of Lenin’s brain, while pointing out that the Institute could provide even more convincing evidence if the Politburo awarded it new funds and new premises.”  Just like academics everywhere.

Meanwhile, the 1936 report concluded with a resounding recommendation:  “The final point is an order to the Central Executive Committee to organize a specialized equipment for the the preservation of the brains of leading personalities.”

A happy ending for everyone, really.