Solidarité Ukraine
INED Éditions. Archives Sonores, Mémoires européennes du Goulag

European Memories

of the Gulag


The Soviet economy

Once I asked the supplies officer, “Bring me an egg in your pocket. I haven’t eaten one for eight years.” He said, “Where do you expect me to find one for you? We have no poultry at home.” The Soviet economy was stupid! In the centuries-old birch forests the soil was so rich that poultry could have fed on the vegetation alone. Yes. But the requisition quota was 57 eggs per hen. It was so much extra that they preferred to stop keeping poultry. I’m ignorant about these things because I come from Budapest, but in our camp, on top of the 1,400 prisoners there were at least 1,000 other people, guards, staff and families. It was a whole village. There were only six pigs. Those of us who came from the countryside were amazed, “How do the manage to have only six pigs?” Six hundred pigs makes a good village. Sixty pigs makes a poor village. But six pigs… Here again, the requisition quota was such that they simply did not want to be accused of not fulfilling the norm: so they did nothing… an unspeakable stupidity… The Soviet Union, the richest country in the world! But the stupidity of the system was even greater…