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The Soviet Problem with Two "Unknowns": How an American Architect and a Soviet Negotiator Jump-Started the Industrialization of Russia, Part I: Albert Kahn

Sonia Melnikova-Raich
IA. The Journal of the Society for Industrial Archeology
Vol. 36, No. 2 (2010), pp. 57-80
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/41933723
Page Count: 24
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The Soviet Problem with Two "Unknowns": How an American Architect and a Soviet Negotiator Jump-Started the Industrialization of Russia, Part I: Albert Kahn
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Abstract

Soviet industnalization was a complex economic and political undertaking about which much remains unclear. Rather than examine the process as a whole, this essay focuses on two fairly unknown players in the history of Soviet-Amencan relations — one Amencan firm and one Soviet negotiator — and their contnbution to the amazingly rapid Soviet industnalization of the early 1930s, emphasizing some human and business factors behind Stalin's Five-Year Plan. Saul G. Bron, dwring his tenure as chairman of Amtorg Trading Corporation in 1927-1930, contracted with hading Amencan companies to help build Soviet industnal infrastructure and commissioned the firm of the foremost Amencan industnal architect from Detroit, Albert Kahn, as consulting architects to the Soviet Government. The work of both played a major role in laying the foundation of the Soviet automotive, tractor, and tank industry and led to the development of Soviet defense capabilities, which in turn played an important role in the Allies' defeat of Nazi Germany in World War II. Drawing on Russian and English-language sources, this essay is based on comprehensive research including previously-unknown archival documents, contemporaneous and current materials, and private archives.

Notes and References

This item contains 111 references.

Notes
  • 1
    Maxine Block, "Albert Kahn," in Current Biography: Who's News and Why (New York: H.W. Wilson Company, 1942), 17:431.
  • 2
    This reference contains 2 citations:
    • Y.V. Yemelianov, Marshal Stalin, Creator of the Great Victory (Moscow: Yauza, 2007),
    • "Volgograd renamed Stal- ingrad for day as the Second World War battle remembered," The Telegraph, 2 February 2013, http://www.telegraph.co.uk/ news/worldnews/europe/russia/9843929/Volgograd-renamed- Stalingrad-for-day-as-the-Second-World-War-battle-remembered. html (last accessed 2 February 2013).
  • 3
    Adolf Hitler, Mein Kampf (New York: Reynal and Hitchcock, 1941), 958.
  • 4
    "Tractors in the Soviet Union," Soviet Union Review 10, no. 2 (Feb- ruary 1932): 35.
  • 5
    Za industrializatsiiu, 11 April 1932 (cited in Norton T. Dodge and Dana G. Dalrymple, "The Stalingrad Tractor Plant in Early So- viet Planning," Soviet Studies 18, no. 2 [October 1966]: 165).
  • 6
    Charles E. Sorensen, My Forty Years with Ford (New York: W.W. Norton 8c Co., 1956), 201-203.
  • 7
    Allan Nevins and Frank E. Hill, "The Russian Adventures," in Ford: The Times, the Man, the Company, 3 vols. (New York: Scribner, 1954), 2:678.
  • 8
    Dodge, "Stalingrad Tractor Plant," 165 (see n. 5).
  • 10
    Report of the Ford Delegation to the U.S.S.R., 1926, Acc. 1870, Box 1, 184-187, Ford Motor Company Archives, Dearborn, Mich.
  • 11
    Y. Ilyin and B. Galin, eds., Those Who Built Stalingrad as Told by Themselves (New York: International Publishers, 1934), 29-31.
  • 12
    This reference contains 4 citations:
    • I.V. Stalin, "Itogi pervoi piatiletki," in I.V. Stalin, Complete Works, 18 vols. (Moscow: Gospolitizdat, 1951), 13:172.
    • E.H. Carr and R.W. Davies, Foundations of a Planned Economy 1926- 1929 (London: Macmillan, 1969)
    • David R. Shearer, Industry, State, and Society in Stalin's Russia, 1926-1934 (Ithaca, N.Y.: Cor- nell University Press, 1996).
    • Alec Nove, An Economic History of the USSR, 1917-1991, 3rd ed. (New York: Penguin, 1993),
  • 13
    Joseph M. Pavloff, The Upbuilding of Soviet Russia (New York: Am- torg Trading Corporation, 1929), 18-19.
  • 14
    Saul G. Bron, Soviet Economic Development and American Business (New York: Horace Liveright, 1930), 51.
  • 15
    Hubert R. Knickerbocker, The Red Trade Menace: Progress of the Soviet Five-year Plan (New York: Dodd, Mead and Company, 1931), 81.
  • 16
    Stalin, "Itogi pervoi piatiletki," 13:178-180 (see n. 12).
  • 17
    This reference contains 7 citations:
    • Important analyses of Albert Kahn's work include: Federico Bucci, Albert Kahn: Architect of Ford (New York: Princeton Architectural Press, 2002);
    • W. Hawkins Ferry, The Legacy of Albert Kahn (Detroit, Mich.: Wayne State University Press, 1987);
    • Grant Hildebrand, Designing for Industry: The Architecture of Albert Kahn (Cambridge, Mass.: The MIT Press, 1974);
    • George Nelson, Industrial Architecture of Albert Kahn (New York: Architectural Book Publishing Company, 1939).
    • Albert Kahn Memorial Issue, Weekly Bulletin 17, no. 13 (30 March 1943)
    • William R Brashear, Albert Kahn and His Family in Peace and War (Ann Arbor, Mich.: Bentley Historical Library, University of Michigan, 2008)
    • Edgar Kahn, "Albert Kahn: His Son Remembers," Michigan History (July-August 1985)
  • 18
    This reference contains 7 citations:
    • Milka Bliznakov, "The Realization of Utopia: West- ern Technology and Soviet Avant-Garde Architecture" and Anatole Kopp, "Foreign Architects in the Soviet Union During the Two First Five-Year Plans" in William C. Brumfield, Reshaping Russian Architec- ture: Western Technology, Utopian Dreams (Washington, D.C.: Wood- row Wilson International Center for Scholars and New York: Cam- bridge University Press, 1990), 145-213;
    • Bay Brown, "Albert Kahn: The Russian Legacy," Project Russia, no. 7b (1997): 92-96;
    • Anatole Senkevitch, "Albert Kahn's Great Soviet Venture as Architect of the First Five-Year Plan, 1929-1932," Dimensions 10 (1996): 35-49.
    • Titles in Russian include I. Kasianenko, "Ispol'zovanie amerikan- skogo opyta v period stanovleniia sovetskogo promyshlennogo zodchestva," in Vzaimodeistvie kul'tur SSSR i SShA XVIII-XX vv, ed. O.E. Tuganova (Moscow: Nauka, 1987), 111-121;
    • Igor A. Kazus', I. A. Sovetskaia arkhitektura 1920-kh godov: organizatsiia proektirovaniia (Moscow: Progress-Traditsiia, 2009);
    • Dmitry S. Khmelnitsky, "Tanki za khleb: Amerikanskie korni sovetskoi voennoi promyshlennosti" in Pravda Viktora Suvorova, ed. Dmitry S. Khmelnitsky (Moscow: Yauza, 2007), 332-348;
    • Mark G. Meerovich, "Al'bert Kan v istorii sovetskoi industrializatsii," Architecton (June 2009): 65-73.
  • 19
    Saul G. Bron, is pro- vided in Part II of this article to be published in the next issue of IA (volume 37, nos. 1-2).
  • 20
    This reference contains 2 citations:
    • "Con- tract for Design of Tractor Factory Concluded With American Firm," Economic Review of the Soviet Union 4, no. 11(1 June 1929): 220
    • Abe L. Drabkin, "American Architects and Engineers in Russia," Pencil Points 11, no. 6 (June 1930): 438.
  • 21
    This reference contains 3 citations:
    • Albert Kahn, speech delivered at the Detroit Bohemian Club, 29 October 1930, Albert Kahn Associates, Inc.;
    • "Industrial Buildings: Albert Kahn," The Architectural Forum tifò (August 1938): 89-90;
    • Al- bert Kahn, Inc., Industrial & Commercial Buildings (Detroit, Mich.: Albert Kahn, Inc., 1936).
  • 22
    This reference contains 3 citations:
    • Jean-Louis Cohen, Christina Lodder, and Richard Pare, Building the Revolution: Soviet Art and Architecture 1915-1935 (London: Royal Academy of Arts, 2011);
    • Anatole Kopp, Constructivist Architecture in the USSR (Lon- don: Academy Editions, 1985);
    • Richard Pare and Jean-Louis Co- hen, The Lost Vanguard: Russian Modernist Architecture 1922-1932 (New York: Crown Publishing Group, 2007).
  • 23
    This reference contains 3 citations:
    • Senkevitch, "Albert Kahn's Great Soviet Venture," 45 (see n. 18);
    • Lewis H. Siegelbaum, Cars for Comrades: the Life of the Soviet Automo- bile (Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 2008), 40.
    • Thomas P. Hughes, American Genesis: A Century of Invention and Technological Enthusiasm (Chicago, Ill.: The Univer- sity of Chicago Press, 2004), particularly Chapter 6, "Taylorismus + Fordismus = Amerikanismus."
  • 24
    This reference contains 2 citations:
    • Alan M. Ball, Imagining America: Influence and Images in Twenti- eth-Century Russia (New York: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 2003);
    • Boris M. Shpotov, Henry Ford: Life and Business (Moscow: KDU, 2005).
  • 25
    This reference contains 2 citations:
    • Malcolm W. Bingay, Detroit Is My Own Home Town (New York: Bobbs- Merrill, 1946), 308;
    • "American to Build Soviet Auto Plants," The New York Times, 7 May 1929.
  • 26
    Albert Kahn, Inc., for construction of the Stalingrad Tractor Plant, The Russian State Archive of the Economy, Moscow (hereafter RGAE), f. 7620, op. 1, d. 712, 1. 25-28.
  • 27
    "Soviet Plans Factory to Build Tractors" and "American to Build Soviet Auto Plants," The New York Times, 5 and 7 May 1929.
  • 28
    "Agreement is signed about technical aid to Traktorstroi," Torgovo- promyshlennaia gazeta, 16 May 1929.
  • 29
    Drabkin, "American Architects," 438 (see n. 20).
  • 30
    A.I. Rykov's speech at the XVI Congress of VKP(b), Pravda, 24 April 1929.
  • 31
    I.V. Stalin, "God velikogo pereloma," Pravda, 7 November 1929 (incl. in Stalin, Complete Works, 12:118-135 [see n. 12]).
  • 32
    S.S. Khromov, Industrializatsiia Sovetskogo Soiuza: novye do- kumenty, novye fakty, novye podkhody, 2 vols. [Moscow: In-t rossiiskoi istorii RAN, 1997], 1:267
  • 33
    VSNKh and American Firm "Albert Kahn," July-December 1930, The State Archive of the Russian Federation (hereafter GARF), Moscow, f. R5446, op. 11a, d. 448, ll. 1-18.
  • 34
    "Kahn Contract Signed," Economic Review of the Soviet Union 5, no. 3 (15 February 1930): 55.
  • 35
    "Albert Kahn, Inc., Get Contract as Consulting Architects in Five-Year Plan," The New York Times, 11 January 1930.
  • 36
    "Industrial Buildings: Albert Kahn," 90 (see n. 21).
  • 37
    "Moritz Kahn s statement to press, Economic Review of the Soviet Union 5, no. 3 (15 February 1930): 55.
  • 38
    Izvestia, no. 35 (5 February 1930): 4.
  • 39
    This reference contains 2 citations:
    • Dispatch from Louis Sussdorff, Legation of the U.S., 18 February 1930, Riga, Latvia, U.S. State Dept. Decimal File 86 1.602/Albert Kahn, NARA;
    • "Moritz Kahn's statement to press," 55 (see n. 37).
  • 40
    This reference contains 2 citations:
    • Kazus', Sovetskaia arkhitektura, 228 (see n. 18);
    • Resolution of Sovnarkom "About measures for organization of major industrial construction," 1 June 1928 (incl. in Resheniia partii i praviteVstva po khoziaistvennym voprosam [Moscow: Politizdat, 1967], 1:724-742).
  • 42
    "Kahn Firm Sends His Ablest," Detroit Times, 17 March 1930.
  • 43
    George K. Scrymgeour, postcard to Albert Kahn, March 1930, Box 13, Albert Kahn Papers, Scrapbook "Russia," Bentley Historical Library, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.
  • 44
    Louis Kahn, memo, 7 February 1944, Box 13, Albert Kahn Papers, Scrapbook "Russian Work," Bentley Historical Library, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.
  • 45
    Scrymgeour, "Russian Life As I Saw It" (February 1934), Box 20, Fold- er 37, p. 11, Hoover Institution Archives, Russian Subject Collection.
  • 46
    This reference contains 3 citations:
    • Annual report of Gosproektstroi, RGAE, f. 5741, op. 2, d. 149;
    • Moritz Kahn, "Work of Soviet Construction Designing Board," Economic Review of the Soviet Union 6, no. 14 (15 July 1931): 331;
    • Al- len B. Crow, "What Russia Got from Capitalist Detroit," American Affairs 8, no. 3 (July 1946): 216-218.
  • 47
    Albert Kahn, "Putting Architecture on a Business Basis," address delivered to Cleveland Engineering Society, 16 December 1930, Box 1, Albert Kahn Papers, Bentley Historical Library, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.
  • 48
    "Disputes of Reds and Americans Revealed," The New York Times, 27 October 1929.
  • 49
    Albert Kahn, "Our Work in Russia," unpublished paper read to the Detroit chapter of American Institute of Architects, 10 De- cember 1931, Albert Kahn Associates, Inc.
  • 50
    Albert Kahn's letter to VSNKh, 14 October 1930, Za industrializat- siiu, 17 February 1931 (cited in Kazus', Sovetskaia arkhitektura, 141 [see n. 18]).
  • 51
    This reference contains 2 citations:
    • Albert Kahn, "Putting Architecture on a Business Basis" (see n. 47);
    • "An American Engineering Firm in the U.S.S.R.," Economic Review of the Soviet Union 6, no. 2 (15 January 1931): 41.
  • 52
    Scrymgeour, "Russian Life" (see n. 45).
  • 53
    "Conditions in Soviet Russia," Dispatch 213 from John P. Hurley, U.S. Consulate, Riga, Latvia, 27 November 1930, U.S. State Dept. Decimal File 861.641/9, NARA.
  • 54
    This reference contains 2 citations:
    • Albert Kahn, Inc., Industrial & Commercial Buildings (see n. 21);
    • Kahn, "Our Work in Russia" (see n. 49).
  • 55
    Evidendy, this had not been done. Albert Kahn, Inc., Report on Outbreak of Ty- phoid Fever at Stalingrad, RGAE, f. 7620, op. 1, f. 712, Il. 1-5.
  • 56
    Moritz Kahn, letter to Albert Kahn, 10 October 1929, Albert E. Kahn family archive.
  • 57
    "Kahn Predicts Soviet Success," The Detroit Free Press, 1931.
  • 58
    This reference contains 2 citations:
    • Hughes, American Genesis, 272 (see n. 23)
    • Russia. Dodge, "Stalingrad Tractor Plant," 165 (see n. 5).
  • 59
    This reference contains 2 citations:
    • "The Stalingrad Tractor Plant," Economic Review of the Soviet Union 5, no. 7 (1 April 1930): 134-135;
    • Walter S. Dunn, Jr., Stalin's Keys to Victory: The Rebirth of the Red Army in World War II (Mechanicsburg, Pa.: Stackpole Books, 2007), 92.
  • 60
    This reference contains 2 citations:
    • "The Stalingrad Plant," Economic Review of the Soviet Union 4, no. 19 (1 October 1929): 336-337 ;
    • Kahn, "Our Work in Russia" (see n. 49).
  • 62
    This reference contains 3 citations:
    • Drabkin, "American Architects," 438 (see n. 20);
    • The Iron Trade Review 86 (1930): 101.
    • "44 American Firms Are Aiding Soviet," The New York Times, 30 November 1930.
  • 64
    "Technical Help," Soviet Union Review 7, no. 5 (May 1929): 72.
  • 65
    This reference contains 3 citations:
    • RTsKhlDNI, f. 17, op. 3, d. 698, Il. 3-4 (see n. 32);
    • U.S.S.R., 23 April 1929, RGAE, f. 5240, op. 18, d. 243, 1. 218 (incl. in Russia and the USA: Eco- nomic Relations 1917-1933, ed. G.N. Sevost'ianov and E.A. Tiurina [Moscow: Nauka 1997], 286);
    • Economic Handbook of the Soviet Union (New York: American-Russian Chamber of Commerce, 1931).
  • 67
    Kahn, "Our Work in Russia" (see n. 49).
  • 68
    Pravda, 18 June 1930 (incl. in Stalin, Complete Works, 12:234 [see n. 12]).
  • 69
    Economic Review of the Soviet Union 5, no. 14 (1 August 1930): 314.
  • 71
    "Stenographic report of interview with Ellwood T. Riesing," Dis- patch from John E. Kehl, American Consul General, Hamburg, Germany (8 May 1931), U.S. State Dept. Decimal File 806.5017, Living Conditions/248, NARA.
  • 72
    Dispatch from Robert D. Murphy, American Consul, Paris, France (8 February 1932), U.S. State Dept. Decimal File 861.20/420, NARA.
  • 73
    Dunn, Stalin's Keys, 36 (see n. 59).
  • 74
    Geoffrey Rob- erts, Victory at Stalingrad: The Battle That Changed History (London: Longman, 2003).
  • 75
    This reference contains 2 citations:
    • Bingay, Detroit, 310 (see n. 25);
    • Bingay, "Good Morning," Detroit Free Press, 16 July 1942.
  • 76
    Kahn, "Our Work in Russia" (see n. 49).
  • 77
    Leon A. Swajian, "Building the Kharkov Tractor Plant," Economic Review of the Soviet Union 6, no. 18 (15 September 1931): 414.
  • 78
    "Tractors in the Soviet Union," 35 (see n. 4).
  • 79
    M.N. Svirin, Bronevoi shchit Stalina. Istoriia sovetskogo tanka. 1937-1943 (Moscow: Yauza, 2006).
  • 80
    Viktor E. Gurevich, Cheliabinskaia bailada ili kak eto delalos' tog- da (St. Petersburg: XXI Vek, 2007).
  • 81
    Sergei Ustiantsev, Elita rossiiskoi industrii: Cheliabinskii traktornyi zavod (Yekaterinburg: Nezavisimyi Institut istorii material'noi kul'tury, 2008), 12.
  • 82
    Albert Kahn, presentation at the Rotary Club of Bay City, Mich., 20 May 1930.
  • 83
    L.S. Komarov et al., Letopis' Cheliabinskogo traktomogo (1929-1945) (Moscow: Profizdat, 1972), 23.
  • 84
    W.H.G. Armytage, The Rise of the Technocrats. A Social History (London: Routledge, 1965), 222.
  • 85
    Dunn, Stalin's Keys, 92 (see n. 59).
  • 86
    "The Opening of the Chelyabinsk Tractor Plant," USSR in Construc- tion 8 (August 1933).
  • 87
    Lennart Samuelson, Tankograd: The Formation of a Soviet Company Town: Cheliabinsk, 1900s-1950s (U.K.: Palgrave Macmillan, 2000), 109.
  • 88
    Dana G. Dalrymple, "The American Tractor Comes to Soviet Ag- riculture: The Transfer of a Technology," Technology and Culture 5, no. 2 (Spring 1964): 197.
  • 89
    USSR In Construction 8 (August 1933).
  • 90
    M.V. Frunze, "Front i tyl v voine budushchego," Pravda, 31 August 1924.
  • 91
    Mikhail V. Frunze's premature death in 1925
  • 92
    The Fifteenth Congress of the VKP(b). Stenographic report. (Moscow: Gosizdat, 1928), 886, 887.
  • 93
    Harold James, Krupp: A History of the Legendary German Firm (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 2012), 152-153.
  • 94
    This reference contains 2 citations:
    • M.Y. Mukhin, "Amtorg. Amerikanskie tanki dlia RKKA," Otechest- vennaia istoriia, May 2001, 56, 57;
    • D. Sizov, "Stanovlenie Cheli- abinska kak tsentra oboronnoi promyshlennosti," Rodina, no. 2 (2008).
  • 95
    Russian State Military Archive (hereafter RGVA), Moscow, f. 33987, op. 3, d. 155, 1. 91.
  • 96
    Nizhny Novgorod is described in Part II of this article (see n. 19).
  • 97
    RGVA, f. 33987, op. 3, d. 179, Il. 122, 123 (cited in Samuelson, Plans for Stalin's War Machine: Tukhachevsky and Military-Economic Plan- ning 1925-1941 [New York: St. Martin's Press, Ine, 2000], 133).
  • 98
    Speech of G.K. Ordzhonikidze at the VII Congress of Soviet Councils, Pravda, 2 February 1935.
  • 99
    Komarov, Letopis' Cheliabinskogo traktomogo, 168 (see n. 83).
  • 100
    This reference contains 3 citations:
    • I.V. Stalin, in 1958
    • Chelyabinsk Tractor Plant (less "Sta- lin"); in 1971
    • ChTZ-Uraltrac, LLC.
  • 101
    This reference contains 2 citations:
    • Dunn, Stalin's Keys, 36-37 (see n. 59);
    • Samuelson, Tankograd, 259 (see n. 87).
  • 102
    Russian State Archive of Socio-Political History (hereafter RGAS- PI), f. 558, op. 1, d. 5388 (incl. in Pis'ma I.V. Stalina V.M. Molo- tovu, 1925-1936. Collection of documents, ed. L. Kosheleva, et al. [Moscow: Rossiia molodaia, 1995], 204).
  • 103
    RGASPI, f. 558, op. 11, d. 739, 11. 28-39 (incl. in Stalin i Kagan- ovich. Perepiska. 1931-1936, ed. O.V. Khlevniuk, et al. [Moscow: Russian Political Encyclopedia, 2001], 54-56).
  • 104
    RGASPI, f. 558, op. P, d. 76, 11. 33, 34 (incl. in Stalin i Kaganovich, 64 [see n. 103]).
  • 106
    RGASPI, f. 81, op. 3, d. 99, 11. 4-6; f. 558, op. 11, d. 739, 11. 48-55; f. 81, op. 3, d. 99, 11. 12-14; f. 558, op. 11, d. 739, 11. 56-64 and 96- 105 (incl. in Stalin i Kaganovich, 65, 65, 72, 73, 94 [see n. 103]).
  • 107
    Hildebrand, Designing for Industry, 130 (see n. 17).
  • 108
    "Russians Lose Aid of Kahn, American Who Has Saved Soviet Mil- lions," The New York Times, 26 March 1932.
  • 109
    "About permission to extend agreement for technical assistance in design of industrial enterprises with American firm 'Albert Kahn,"' July-August 1932, GARF, f. R5446, op. 13a, d. 873, 11. 1-5.
  • 110
    Bron, Soviet Economic Development, 67 (see n. 14).
  • 111
    Kahn, "Our Work in Russia" (see n. 49).
  • 112
    This reference contains 2 citations:
    • Louis Kahn, memo (see n. 44).
    • Weekly Bulletin, Al- bert Kahn Memorial Issue (see n. 17),
  • 113
    V.D. Tsvetaev, Sovremennaia fabrichno-zavodskaia arkhitektura (Mos- cow-Leningrad: Gosstroiizdat, 1933).
  • 114
    Meerovich, "Al'bert Kan," 65 (see n. 18).
  • 115
    "Khlestakovskie otkroveniia Al'berta Kana," Arkhitektura SSSR, no. 10 (1938), 89.
  • 116
    Philip A. Adler, "Stalingrad As I Saw It," The Detroit News, 28 Sep- tember 1942.
  • 117
    Viktor A. Vesnin, Western Union telegram to Ernestine Kahn, 16 December 1942, Box 1, Kahn Family Papers, Folder "Letters to Ernestine," Bentley Historical Library, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.
  • 118
    Albert Kahn, Inc., Industrial and Commercial Buildings (Detroit, Mich.: Albert Kahn, Inc., 1936).