Russo-US Economic Ties Moscow Exhibit Shows How America and Russia Cooperated on Investment Projects Early On
Daniel Sneider, writer of The Christian Science Monitor, The Christian Science Monitor
AMID the turbulent days of war and revolution in Russia in the summer of 1917, a group of American railway engineers arrived in Petrograd. Their mission was to maintain the Trans-Siberian railway, a vital causeway for American aid to the war effort against the kaiser's Germany.
Frank Golder, a young history professor, was drafted to work as an interpreter for the engineers. But he spent his spare time collecting political posters in the street. Observing the revolution, then in its interregnum between the liberal anti-monarchist revolt of February and the Bolshevik takeover of October, Professor Golder wrote:
"Although I have no sympathy with the gang of anarchists and disturbers who are now at work in Russia, yet I occasionally catch a glimpse of their ideals and they are not all bad."
Golder later become the first collector of Russian documents for the famous archives of the Hoover Institution on War, Revolution and Peace created in 1919 at Stanford University in Palo Alto, Calif., by Herbert Hoover, who later became president of the United States.
These recollections from the Hoover archives, along with an equally compelling set of historic documents from previously closed Russian archives, are part of a joint Russian-American exhibit. The Hoover Institution and Roskomarkhiv, the Russian state-archive authority, have organized this display entitled "Making Things Work:Russian-American Economic Relations from 1900-1930." It opened here in the Russian parliament building and will move to the Hoover Institution in March.
The joint show is the result of a broader agreement between the two scholarly institutions, reflecting the consequences of Russia's decision to begin opening its once secret archives following the collapse of Soviet rule. The two organizations are engaged in a major project to microfilm the archives of the Communist Party of the former Soviet Union and make them available for scholarly use.
This exhibit provides a remarkable record of American-Russian ties during a time of vast change in both countries. It begins with the first forays of American bankers, investors, and traders in Czarist Russia, moving to the growing American role during World War I. The Russian revolution ushers in a new phase, when American entrepreneurs gained concessions from the young Bolshevik regime and adventurers and revolutionaries came to help the Soviet state build its agricultural and industrial base.
There are also photos, letters, diaries, and other evidence of the unique American relief effort to avert a massive famine during the turmoil that followed the Bolshevik revolution. The American Relief Administration was led by Mr. Hoover, who had spent time in Russia as a mining engineer. …