PATHS TO RUSSIA: From War to Peace by F. Wilhelm Christians

PATHS TO RUSSIA: From War to Peace

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A prominent German banker (who first traveled to Russia as a soldier in Hitler's Wehrmacht) describes his experiences with Russians and the Soviet system. Christians, chairman of the advisory board of Deutsche Bank, repeatedly contrasts his wartime experiences on the Russian front with his attempts (starting in 1969 and continuing until the present) to do business with the Soviet government as an executive of Germany's most important bank. He describes himself as a tough negotiator who, although sympathetic to the Soviet Union and desirous of improving its economic lot, frequently has stood up to Soviet attempts to win negotiations through intimidation. Unlike Hedrick Smith (The New Russians, reviewed below), Christians does not discuss the ordinary people of the Soviet Union, but only the Party and industrial officials with whom he does business. He movingly describes his meetings with Soviet officials who, in some cases, were soldiers in the Red Army in battles opposing him. These experiences lead him to hope that his transactions with the Soviet government will enhance the prospects of continued peace. While some of the details here are enlightening (such as the discussion of American opposition to the controversial Yamal pipeline deal that supplied Soviet oil to Europe), Christians tells us little about the Soviet Union as a whole. He makes almost no mention, for instance, of human-rights issues, and no allusion to the nationalist movements in the republics. Still, a useful reminder of the importance of Western aid to the Soviet Union for the peaceful consummation of its program of reform.

Pub Date: Jan. 1st, 1990
Publisher: Macmillan