The Ghost of the Executed Engineer: Technology and the Fall of the Soviet Union

The Ghost of the Executed Engineer: Technology and the Fall of the Soviet Union

Loren R. Graham

Language: English

Pages: 160


Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

Stalin ordered his execution, but here Peter Palchinsky has the last word. Palchinsky tells of Soviet technology and industry, the mistakes he condemned in his lifetime, the corruption and collapse he predicted, the ultimate price paid for silencing those who were not afraid to speak out. The story of this visionary engineer’s life and work, as Graham tells it, is also the story of the Soviet Union’s industrial promise and failure.

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suffered from being oppressed, What had forced us to strain our strength, Let this all in this speech be expressed, And approved by the ringing of glasses. Let the business of mining be growing, Let the Institute blossom and brighten, Let our merger and labor be stronger, Labor intelligent, powerful, skillful. I drink to the prosperity of mining! Conflicts with the Communist Party Palchinsky was eager to work with the Soviet authorities and the Communist Party in planning industry and increasing

of time-and-motion studies that revolutionized machine-shop practice. He also rationalized the use of machinery and tools by workers and the layout of the workplace. Henry Ford introduced the principle of production flow and the assembly line to the manufacture of automobiles. He put his system into practice at Highland Park, Michigan, in 191 3, just four years before the Bolsheviks came to power. The application of Taylor's and Ford's methods in American factories improved productivity but also

environmentalist observed in 1980: 'The money spent to control erosion on the shores of the Dnieper reservoirs and to combat the seemingly indestructible blue-green algae has long since exceeded the short-term advantages the power plant once yielded." 8 The original planners of the dam should perhaps not be blamed for disregarding ecological effects, since little was known in their time about environmental damage from reservoirs . But they did knowingly ignore the calls of Palchinsky and his

books, and 4 T H E G H O ST O F TH E E XEC U TE D EN G I NEE R historical accounts that he found in his home. At the same time, he lamented to his mother his lack of close friends. She recognized that Peter was unusually self-contained, and she urged him to be more expressive with others. 8 But she also praised his academic accomplishments, which included mastery of French and German by the age of seventeen.9 Later he would add English and Italian to his linguistic repertory. In the fall of

American Historical Review 79 (1974), p. 452, citing Vestnik inzhenerov 1-2 (1924), pp. 9-11. Bailes's report that Palchinsky translated a book by Herbert Hoover must be mistaken, as no record of that book can be found in the Lenin Library in Moscow nor in Palchinsky's very careful listings of his writings and translations. 32. Palchinsky, "Roi' i zadachi inzhenerov v ekonomicheskom stroitel'stve Rossii," TsGAOR, f. 3348, op. 1, ed. khr. 695. 33. In 1926 Palchinsky got into a controversy with the

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