Crashing the Wall around Foreigners
FROM THE DAY THE CHEKA CAME into being in the autumn of 1918, the social status of a foreigner in Russia began to sink towards that of a leper. This was not due to any feeling of aloofness or contempt among the Russian people. On the contrary, the Russians have, or had, a primitive respect, almost a veneration, for foreigners. Many of them have, indeed, paid with their lives for an irresistible urge to commune with free men. But under pressure from the Cheka-GPU- NKVD-MVD, most of them gradually learned to confine their contacts with non-Russians within the scope of official duty or special assignment. Functionaries of the Foreign Office would meet diplomats and correspondents. Officials of the Trade Commissariat would dine with visiting businessmen. But after Lenin's death even foreign Communists began to find it difficult to meet socially with Russian party men other than those especially assigned for the task.
This barrier remained intact for some time after the Rights took over. It was futile in those days to invite a Muscovite to one's home. The mere suggestion of visiting a foreigner would bring on a panic. This notwithstanding, the telephone of foreign