Inspired Labour in the Land of the Soviets


Review of the book by Predrag Milicevic “From the Wooden Plough to Supersonic and Space Flights. Triumph of the creators. History of the birth, formation and achievements of the Russian aviation enterprise MAKB “Temp” - Research and Production Enterprise “EGA” - M.: Publishing house “Ves mir”, 2006. – 336 pages.

“We are born to turn dream into reality”

From an aviation march “Higher and higher” by Pavel German

Until now we have known Predrag Milicevic as a writer with the incisive gift of unveiling the imperialistic sharks, which prepared the breakdown and change of the social system in his native land – Yugoslavia and revisionism in the Communist movement.

However, with great temperament and craftsmanship Milicevic was able to tell us about the formation of the heroic epoch of the building of the new socialist life in the USSR. Milicevic wrote about life filled with creative labour and the lives of happy people, selflessly devoted to their socialist native land.

By its form Milicevic’s book is not any different from the memoir style of literature. It has the preface, remarks from the author, and records the enterprise’s history in chronological order, where the author had worked for decades.

In the annotation to the book it says: “The book contains rich material from the history of foundation, formation and the greatest achievements by Research and Production Enterprise “EGA”, one of the leading Soviet and Russian enterprises producing systems of automatic control and fuel feed of gas-turbine and rocket engines. These systems were intended for the engine control of military and commercial airplanes, helicopters, and rocket and space industry”.

However, the content uncommon today is incorporated into this usual form. Historically, the vanguard working class of the USSR was concentrated, first of all, in this defence industry. Access to the defence enterprises was extremely limited, the achievements of these enterprises could be judged only by ultimate results. It was not common to talk about the people behind the most advanced technologies.

And the merit of the author is the fact that he, after having done enormous, tedious research, presented to the reader numerous living people, creators of new technologies, Soviet working class, Soviet engineers and other specialists.

In today’s Russia, it is customary to consider as the outstanding people, as the elite, businessmen who know how to make money.

This book challenges this insolent claim to consider as elite a pack of swindlers who pretend to revive the greatness of Russia.

“In the last two decades the Russian way of mass brain-washing, rarely speaking about the greatness of Russia, as a rule, mean its vast landscapes, forests, the innumerable riches of the Far East, Kolyma, Chukotka, Norilsk, Kolski Peninsula, Far North, the Urals, Siberia, which with their “black” and “blue” gold ensure high standard of living of EU countries, the flow of petrodollars, and modern standard of living of Russia, not to mention the standard of living of the well known oligarchs. The same oligarchs, successful financial managers and merchants, criminals, officials and actors of all sorts flicker on the pages of all possible publications and on the television channels. All these natural resources and the mentioned above “heroes” of printed publications and telecasts are considered to be the inseparable part of Russia and, from the “commercial-bank” point of view, are the decisive characteristics of its greatness. However, there is in the people of Russia another definition of its greatness, which frequently can be heard among workers. It is the belief that Russia is great, first of all, by its working people, by talented, gifted with nature with keenness and kindness, who gravitate towards collective work, which does not diminish but, on the contrary, increases wealth and beauty of the Russian land”. (c. 9).

The author loves his heroes, the enterprise collective, together with whom he worked for more than 50 years. And this allowed Milicevic to describe very different people - from the metal craftsman, the recipient of two Orders of the Glory of Labour Petr Danilovich Lysikov to chief designer Fedor Amosovich Korotkov.

When the monumental history of building socialism in our country will be written, in it will be also be a place for these people.

This book is first of all, about the Soviet people who were born “to turn a dream into reality”.

Here, on the photograph on page 24 we see the first workers of the aviation repair shop №1. They look like five ordinary men. However, they have accomplished a heroic act, driven mostly by their enthusiasm, under severe conditions of the winter of 1922 they were able to equip the workshops and start working on the assignments of the Military Air Force.

Is it not the model of the highest consciousness when the workers of the PVM preserved the enterprise under the conditions of the NEP in the absence of any orders along its profile?

“The workers understood that the retention of workshops under the conditions of general unemployment was vitally importantly to all of them, and they did everything possible to increase productivity, to reduce the cost of production, otherwise workshops would not survive and would not win the competition with the private capitalist enterprises… A decision to reduce prices and to decrease the wage of each worker was made, in order not to lay anyone off. Nevertheless, the number of workers eventually was reduced. Of 223 workers who worked in 1923 at the end of 1924 only 96 were retained…” (p. 26).

And here such people of “Korchagin” type withstood and conquered. “The workshops became profitable, wages increased and new equipment was acquired”. The enterprise veteran A. Barkovski recalls: “We ceased to fear competition; we felt we were victorious in this economic struggle with the petty private traders, we worked confidently, without supervision” (p. 26).

They try to convince us that only “masters” - capitalists are capable of organizing highly productive work!

There is no need to follow all steps of the development of enterprise. But one must note that in its life there were more critical moments. There were production difficulties and research failures; however, the power and solidarity of people had won. The people were united under one goal: to lead Soviet aviation to the world’s forefront positions.

An example of this is the story about the adoption by the management of the aircraft industry of the decision about re-profiling the enterprise’s production.

At the open party meeting, to which almost the entire association arrived, all speakers subjected to criticism the already adopted decision. The question about the specialization of enterprise was reviewed three months after the petition of the management of enterprise together with the association. The enterprise was ordered to produce fuel equipment for aircraft engines. Life showed that the association of enterprise critically approached its words. The task of the mastery of the production of carburetors for the aircraft engines, which were being imported earlier, was then solved.

Especially I want to note how the working class of the land of the Soviets dealt with rewards for the results of work. In connection with the 15th anniversary of the October Revolution by the order of the People’s Commissar of Heavy Industry T.K. Ordzhonikidze the enterprise was rewarded with 50 thousand roubles. The enterprise decided to spend this money on building a cultural club for the workers, on improvements in the workers’ cafeteria, on building of a kindergarten and first aid station, on the completion of the living quarters for the workers.

In a short time, after having started from the mastery of aggregates according to foreign licenses, the association of enterprise reached the level, which allowed it to develop and to manufacture reliable carburetors for the engines of aircraft, which were being created at that time under the motto: “Further, Higher, Faster!”

This enterprise has it is contribution to the fact that the crews of V.P. Chkalov and M.M. Gromov, after completing on-stop flights over the North Pole into North America, proved to the entire world the high level of Soviet aircraft construction.

World War II occupies a special page in the history of the enterprise.

Under the harshest conditions, when one part of the enterprise was evacuated, and another remained in Moscow, working along with the other tasks for the front, people of the enterprise provided Soviet aviation with the reliable elements of fuel.

“Surprising historic evidence: entire park of the Air Force of the country – bombers of A.N. Tupolev, the attack aircraft of A.A. Ilpenin, the dive-bombers of V.M. Petlyakova, the fighters of S.A. Lavochkin, A.S. Yakovlev, A.I. Mikoyan, O.P. Sukhoi on the motors of A.D. Shvetsov, A.A. Mikulin, V.Y. Klimov, A.D. Charomski, participating in the bloody struggles and numerous military operations against fascist Germany, were equipped with the carburetors, developed by our workers under the management of F.A. Korotkov”, reports the author (p. 49).

It is hard to overestimate the salient contribution of the collective of the enterprise to the postwar years. Fundamentally new tasks before the developers of the systems of engine control arose with the production of aircraft with jet engines and the creation of a rocket section. The workers of the enterprise, true to the traditions of their glorious predecessors, with honour held the banner of domestic aircraft construction and space technology. More than a hundred world and domestic records, established by our test pilots, their unique appearances at the international air shows would be unthinkable without the creative truly avant-garde labour of the workers of the Research and Production Enterprise “EGA”.

“People reluctantly believe in bookish communism. One may write in a book whatever he wishes. But this will liven up fantasies at once and will show the true essence and real flesh of communism.”

These lines of outstanding Soviet poet Vladimir Mayakovski involuntarily come to mind when reading the new book by Predrag Milicevic.

And even though as a result of changed social system in the country, the collective of the enterprise underwent a smashing blow, I believe that its conscious part will be able to withstand and will arise into the advance guard of fight for the bright future -- socialism.

The book does not provide a straight answer to the question: How could it happen that advance detachment of working class - the workers of the defence industry – remain apathetic to the fate of socialism in the USSR? And we are not inclined to see this lack of an answer as a deficiency in the book, which has a completely different purpose. Let us only note that the inquisitive reader will find in the book some features which will help him draw a correct conclusion independently.

To confirm, I will lead extensive endurance from the recollections of the general foreman of № 103 of enterprise, veteran of Research and Production Enterprise “EGA” Yuri Anatolevich Ilyushkin: “In 1972, I became a member of the CPSU, and in 1978 I was elected the secretary of the party committee of the enterprise. Probably, 80% of the workers of the enterprise called me respectfully by my first name and patronymic name, all treated me benevolently, they knew me through work and through collective leisure in our recreation center “Birch”. Therefore, I was not afraid of the work as the secretary of the enterprise party committee. And I dove into a new activity with love and desire to work as well as possible. However, an insignificant event occurred. After half a year of work in the party committee, I visited the district committee’s cafeteria to have a bite, especially since there, in the cafeteria, there was not a soul, with the exception of one table, at which the secretaries of the party district committee sat. The waitress whispered to me: “When the secretaries of the party district committee have dinner we do not serve anyone else.” This strongly struck me and left its imprint on my further work in this post. Years later, when the catastrophic for country and people perestroika took off, I understood: this is where the destruction of party and state discipline began; this is where the elevation of the “lords” started, the separation of the high and the low, the very rich and the very poor developed, and all together led to the catastrophe of there no longer being the most powerful super-state” (p. 256)

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