“Lev, this is Julie. Do you remember me?” The voice on the phone sounded familiar.
She went on: “Almost forty years ago, I believe the year was 1975, I went to see your play ‘Welcome to Soviet America!’ at Carnegie Hall. It was a one-actor play, in which you played all the roles, while my husband was helping you to set the stage and change the lighting, which was part of the script.”
Well, of course I remember Julie and her husband Alexei Tumerman, who passed away a few years ago. We met them here in New York, and Alyosha, as we called him, became my devoted friend and follower.
The only child of a well-known Soviet physicist Lev Tumerman and the author Lydia Shatunovskaya, he became an orphan at age seven. He was raised by his grandmother after both his parents got arrested. Tumerman’s research laboratory was taken away from him, and he and his wife were, without a trial, declared “enemies of the people” and sent to a concentration camp in Siberia.
We heard that story while still in Moscow, when my wife went to work for Academician Skobeltsyn, head of the Lebedev Physical Institute of the USSR Academy of Sciences (FIAN) and editor of the Soviet branch of the international magazine “Nuclear Physics,” headed by Prof. Rosenfeld and published in Copenhagen, Denmark.
The above detail is important. The arrest of Lev Tumerman, much loved and respected by his associates, who devoted his life to the creation of the institute, came as a shock to everybody — it heralded the beginning of a new wave of arrests. The boy and his grandmother remained penniless. So former Prof. Tumerman’s colleagues at the Academy of Sciences initiated a money-raising campaign to help the now orphaned child financially: for years, every month they delivered the money to Alexei’s grandmother.
Extremely bright and intellectually astute, Alexei never went to college. He became a human rights activist and close friend of Academician Andrei Sakharov.
Alexei emigrated from Soviet Russia to the United States, and that was where we met. A bitter enemy of the Soviet regime, he became part of our life — he shared my views and assisted me in every way he could.
On our arrival to the United States, after I published my book “The Education of Lev Navrozov: A Life in the Closed World Once Called Russia,” I embarked on a world lecture tour, explaining the Soviet criminal system. First it was American university audiences, then Canada, South America, Japan, France, and Italy. The response in the press was very enthusiastic. And yet, I was not satisfied. Something else had to be done — with some visual effects.
I could not fail to notice that my message to explain the harm to freedom and democracy done by the liberal, socialist ideas was appreciated mostly by conservative audiences (the Yale Conservative party, New York’s East Side Conservative Club, and the like), while the liberal press pursued their own agenda.
My first attack was on the liberal New York Times, which for years concealed from the American public the atrocities perpetrated by the Stalin regime.
Stalin’s best friend was Walter Duranty of the New York Times. For decades, the newspaper carried his dispatches from Moscow, repeating Soviet propaganda, depicting happy lives of the people in “Stalin’s paradise,” which were outright lies and concealed the ugly truth and suffering of the Russian people enslaved by Stalin’s criminal henchmen.
And that was why I wrote the play “Welcome to Soviet America!”
The plot of the play and my message were very simple — to show the life in socialist America after it was conquered from within by the liberal, progressive, Marxist socialist ideas espoused by the New York Times and the rest of the liberal social media.
I tried to show how the fragile fabric of American freedoms, guaranteed by the American Constitution, was being destroyed. Americans lost the right to bear arms to defend themselves. Businesses lost their competitiveness, the American middle class disappeared, rural food-producing areas went out of business, and general poverty set in.
Government bureaucracy, however, thrived. The New York City was renamed to Bonoski City. Government bureaucrats kept their luxury apartments and houses. Their children went to special private schools, and their salaries skyrocketed. Outwardly, there was no taxation — government withdrew taxes secretly, the Soviet style — which gave them a good pretense to say that in Soviet America the middle class is not taxed. The American people are free and happy. American medicine, which used to be the best in the world, has been socialized, streamlined the Soviet way. Everyone can get it for free, but nobody can afford to see his/her own doctor (except those high-paid government bureaucrats paid by the American voters). In other words, the country became the American paradise Soviet style!
The Carnegie Hall in New York was packed. When the lights went up, the audience did not want to leave. Everybody wanted to talk to me, to sign my book, which was being sold right there. In other words, the play was a success. It was, however, a one-time event, because I had no means to cover all the production expenses.
I also was a merciless critic of American unwise foreign policy. President Ronald Regan published my criticism in his monthly magazine.
I found in my archives, a letter from the White House (Graham M. Kinahan, The White House, Room 93. Washington, D.C. 20500. February 24, 1988): “I have come to value your keen insights on so many issues of national security. Your timely words of concern read like a carillon call blasting forth a message we should all heed. Your faithful readers share a keen desire to stem the tide, to do what we may to buttress our pluralistic society in the face of so much apathy and malaise. Dare I say it, we carry on as if we had a ‘death wish’, a desire to flirt with the possibility of losing our free and open society. I fear, however, that Americans as a whole will continue to fall prey to the liberal press and the wily ways of formidable totalitarian adversaries … I am grateful that we live in a society where options like yours are heard. …”
Should I say that the above letter resonates so well with Obama’s present-day foreign policy? The Russian gazeta.ru/politics/2012/08/31 carries an item on Putin’s “Modernization [of the Russian military — L.N.] the Way Stalin Did in the 1930s”.
With friends like Putin, Obama does not need to have enemies.
Lev Navrozov can be reached by e-mail at email@example.com.