Mark wrote: "I had read about US people who went there to work in auto
plants and were unable to get out after finding out things were not so
When Ford ceased production of the Model A, Henry Ford sold the dies etc
to Russia. At the same time, Soviet recruiters hired foremen and skilled
Ford workers, who of course were being laid off in great numbers because
of the Depression, and promised them good jobs and benefits in the
Workers' Paradise. It really worked out for them, in the short run. They
turned out thousands of Ford vans (presumably with a different marque)
and lived in villages of their own. There was an American newspaper in
Moscow and other cities and a baseball league and American schools.
They did however have to surrender their passports, and when the Model A
vans became obsolescent, the factories were closed down and most of the
workers wound up being driven to the Lubyanka in the same vans they had
assembled. Few of them survived. Some of the workers went home before
the borders were sealed in 1937.
I suppose this was the inspiration for "Mister Smith" in the great film
a year or so ago about the prisoners who escaped to India (The Way Home?
something like that). The American character struck me as very
improbable until I read the book, "Forsaken". My review of it is here:
-- Dan Ford US