Graphic Witness: Hugo Gellert
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Hugo Gellert: Comrade Gulliver

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UNDERTOW

MY Sweetie, as they say in America, invited a group of her friends to meet the "wild Bolshevik". I surmised that a representative group of the Intelligentsia was present -- both men and women. They seemed very curious about Russia and asked me all kinds of questions. It was astounding how misinformed they were about us. For instance, they talked of Stalin as a dictator. They compared him to Hitler! One asked, "Were you sent over here to make propaganda?"

"Yes," I answered, "propaganda. When I get back to my country I'll tell them all about America. You see, I'll be spreading American propaganda."

Everyone laughed. But I didn't see anything funny about that. I told them that was precisely the reason I came to America. Of course, I did not boast about the trip being a reward for the best shock brigader of the Moscow ball-bearing factory. * I asked how many of them expected to be visiting our Soviet Union and thus see what I described, for themselves. Again they laughed.

"Can you hitch-hike across there?" asked one. "Because that was the only way I could come down from the country to be here tonight."

"What is your profession?" I asked.

He laughed: "I'm an actor, but I guess only an amateur, because I haven't earned a nickel at it during the past three years. I'm raising potatoes for my food. And if I would act out there in the potato field, I guess I would have to make-believe about eating too! Beatrice, you want to tell him about yourself?" He turned to a very pretty girl.

"Oh, I'm still dancing," she said. "Come around and see me sometime -- at Childs'. I glide from table to table, to the kitchen and back again, gracefully, with a trayful of dishes. Oh, I get a 'break' now and then." They all laughed.

As bottle after bottle was uncorked professional secrets flowed with the wine. "You see this?" asked one of the guests, lifting a bottle. "Me," and he patted his chest, "the great builder of skyscrapers, I designed this! If I were not full of its contents I'd be ashamed to admit it even to myself." But nobody laughed at him.

*Originally, my trip was to be confined to our Soviet land, but Mr. Keen's invitation to come to the United States arrived just at that moment and I accepted it.

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