Sunday, January 10, 2010

Vienna Mystery Revealed

I recently retold a story I read about in one of Viktor Suvorov's books: back in the late 60s, a huge package, several meters square, weighing several tons- with no radioactive or magnetic emissions- was sent from the Soviet embassy in Vienna back to Moscow via 'diplomatic pouch.' What was in the package?

Several years earlier, when Krushchev took power, some party flak had a bright idea: to publish a fawning biography of the new General Secretary. All Soviet embassies throughout the world received thousands of copies. Big problem: just about *nobody* would buy a copy. That was *not* what the foreign ministry back in Moscow wanted to hear- all the embassies were *strongly* encouraged to step up sales. The embassies soon learned that they couldn't even give away copies. Finally, the embassy in Vienna hit upon a brilliant idea- buy up thousands of copies of the Khrushchev biography, and stow them in the embassy attic- stacked floor to ceiling and wall to wall- and there they remained for many years, gathering dust. Until one day, the head GRU (Soviet Military Intelligence) officer asked the Ambassador for more space.

"How about the attic?"

", that's already taken."

"With *what*?"

"Thousands and thousands and thousands of copies of unsold Khrushchev biographies."

"No problem, we'll just put them out in the garbage."

"*Huge* problem- word will get out, and there will be a huge scandal, and the people responsible will have their careers ruined (or maybe imprisoned or even *shot*)."

"Okay, how about we just burn them?"

"No way- word gets out that a Soviet Embassy is burning documents- usually an immediate prelude to war- *huge* international incident- the people responsible will have their careers ruined- maybe even imprisoned or *shot*."

Soooo, the GRU officer finally came up with the bright idea of sending all those unused, unread, unwanted copies of Khruschev's biography back to Moscow by diplomatic pouch. (By this time, the Communist Party of the USSR had a new General Secretary- and Khrushchev had long since breathed his last).

All things considered, I'm *really* glad the West won the Cold War.

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