kochetkova, elena

East-West Competition and Forestry Cooperation in 1953 – 1964

Russia has usually been trying to reform its industrial, social and other sectors appealing to Western experience. Such a practice took place during the Soviet time in spite of a competition between two blocks. In my paper I study the transfer of Western technologies into the Soviet Union during the Cold War, focusing on Nikita Khrushchev`s modernization.

Khrushchev recognized officially an industrial backwardness of the country and pronounced an economic modernization. In 1956 he argued that it was vital to renew facilities, improve technologies and modernize industries with a focus on “significant increasing of forestry production”. All these initiatives correlated with a controversial ideological rhetoric. On the one hand, Khrushchev proclaimed that the Soviet Union had to “surpass and overwhelm the West”, but on the other hand he offered an idea of “peaceful coexistence” between two blocks. To solve problems within the country “the coexistence” was expected to provide time gain for industrial improvements and technology modernization as Khrushchev argued that a high economic level implied political superiority. Thus, the coexistence and technology transfer did not mean that the Soviet Union refused to compete with the West.

I focus on transfer of Western technologies into the Soviet forestry to explore how capitalistic technologies were brought into the socialistic ground. I study activities of Soviet specialists who were sent to Western countries (mostly to Finland) to study and transfer technologies. Their trips were to improve the Soviet forestry and, thus, to contribute to overwhelming of the capitalistic system with an aid of capitalism. The Soviet specialists had to investigate technologies and to prove the excellence of the Soviet system by their “proper” behavior and speech, talking “the truth” about the Soviet Union. My aim is to study how they fulfilled their tasks and to show specificity of East-West competition in 1953 – 1964.

Wednesday 24 October 16:45-18:45 Panels II, Panel 4 Between East and West during the Cold War (Auditorium II)