Tag Archives: NKVD

An American in Vilnius

On the Soviet Basketball Court

It was an age of suspicion. It was a time within the Soviet Union that all foreigners, especially an English-speaking foreigner and more so an “American” came under immediate suspicion by the NKVD. Americans and those who knew or had relatives in the West had to be shunned, after all, the USSR was surrounded by its enemies.

Stalin and his sycophants had spoken, and their words were sacred to the Soviet masses.

Enter this young, naïve, 19-year-old American-born, educated in Detroit, into the Soviet world to learn about the Soviet culture. Ah, the lessons he would learn. Old textbooks would not help; Soviets played by different rules, rules they made up as the game of life was played out daily. This was a world of dialectic materialism, of “he who works, eats”; of socialism where everyone is paid according to his ability, not yet of communism when everyone will be compensated according to his needs (and who would determine my needs, dear comrade?)

It would take time for me to digest this and the black, sawdust-stuffed, water-drowned bread to digest.

Despite the intense and increasingly aggressive anti-American propaganda and its omnipresent billboards, depicting Americans as rattle snakes or rats, parasites crawling and gnawing at the carcasses of the working class, the word “American” continued to carry some respect among those who somehow knew the truth. No amount of Soviet propaganda apparently could erase from the minds of the Russian people the fact that had it not been for the United States and its Lend Lease program, the geography of Europe may have been different.

In the summer of 1950 as a member of the Institute of Physical Culture’s basketball team, I took my first trip into the heartland of the USSR. I traveled by train from Erevan to Vilnius, a journey of more than a thousand miles. Vilnius is the capital of what was then the Soviet Republic of Lithuania and remains the capital today of a free and independent Lithuania.

When we arrived in Vilnius, the Soviet capital, our team was driven from the train depot by bus to what appeared to me to be once the stables for Nicholas II’s cavalry unit. My teammates accepted the accommodations without comment. Even if I had known the language, I would not have complained. One just didn’t complain in Stalin’s Russia.

I placed my duffel bag on a cot and sat down and waited for further instructions from our coaching staff. As I sat there wondering where the other teams would be housed. My thoughts were interrupted by my coach who ordered the team to gather our belongings for we were going to be moved to another site. I was told that maybe our coach, a decorated World War II hero, had complained and the Lithuanians decided to upgrade us to the university’s facilities.

A few minutes later, a bus pulled up and we boarded it. The driver drove to a newly-opened hotel, located in the central business district in Vilnius, and our players got off the bus, entered a beautifully decorated hotel and were assigned two to a room with all the modern conveniences including running water and a toilet. The food was edible.

I was stunned at the reception our team would receive during the next 10 days. Later, I asked one of the players what caused the Lithuanians to change their attitude toward our team.

The player responded, “You did.”

“Me?” I was speechless. I had done nothing and, in fact, had stayed out of sight most of the time. My teammate explained…one of our team members let it be known to the hosts that “There was an American on the team.”

And that one word “American” apparently commanded the respect of the Lithuanians. It was obvious to me that no matter what the Soviet propaganda machine churned out here, there were those who remained profoundly grateful and respected the people of the United States for what they have done for them over the years.

***

bookTom Mooradian was one of 151 Americans who traveled to Soviet Armenia to repatriate during the 1940’s. Thought to be a spy by the KGB, Tom miraculously survived 13 years behind the Iron Curtain winning the hearts of the Soviets through his basketball prowess.  Filled with political drama, romance, and intrigue, Tom’s autobiography, The Repatriate reads like a novel, and will have you guessing how Tom managed to return to America alive.
The Second Edition is now available on Kindle and in Paperback!

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A Phone Call from Paris

Soviet Basketball team
Some of the students that Tom coached

“A teacher may forget a student; but a student will never forget a teacher.” I found that to be true over the years, for many of my former Soviet students have continued to keep in touch with me thanks to the Internet.

One such student, who was on staff at the BBC in London, serving on the Russian Bureau until he retired, contacted me by phone from Paris to tell me how much he enjoyed the book.

“I knew all of the characters in the book, Mr. Tom,” he said. “I am so happy that you are alive and found time to write it. Do you remember who I am?”

I conceded that the four decades of separation had dimmed my memory.

“Do you remember when the Harlem Globetrotters came to Tiflis and you had picked ten players to go watch them play?”

I admitted that I remembered when the professional black basketball team visited the USSR, but I did not remember the incident of choosing my players to attend the exhibition game. “That was so long ago.”

“It doesn’t matter, of course,” my former student said, “But I was No. 11, and I didn’t get to go. And I cried all night and that’s why I remember it so well.”

I profusely apologized for the sadness I had inadvertently caused, and told him I was very sorry.

“Oh, I ready didn’t care…I was just happy playing for you.”

Curious, I asked, “Do you recall what the administration at the school said when I didn’t show up in the gym to conduct my class?”

“Oh, yes, yes, of course, I do. They said that Tavahrishch Tom was sick, and that you have been taken to a sanatorium to get some rest. And that you would soon come back.”

Interesting, I thought. “Did you and the others believe what they said?”

“Of course not, Mr. Tom.” There was a pause. “We knew better. We knew you were somewhere in Siberia.”

***

bookTom Mooradian was one of 151 Americans who traveled to Soviet Armenia to repatriate during the 1940’s. Thought to be a spy by the KGB, Tom miraculously survived 13 years behind the Iron Curtain winning the hearts of the Soviets through his basketball prowess.  Filled with political drama, romance, and intrigue, Tom’s autobiography, The Repatriate reads like a novel, and will have you guessing how Tom managed to return to America alive.
The Second Edition is now available on Kindle and in Paperback!

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Time does not ease the pain

Armenian Repatriation

She sat there in the living room of our Southfield, Michigan, home her eyes glued to the book. Not once as she was reading did she glance at her husband, who was sitting directly across from her. I had left to make some tea and when I returned with a cup and saucer she was in tears.

“What’s wrong?” I asked, “Why the tears?”

“Your story brings back memories. Tragic events that I had long since forgotten.” And then she told her story.

“My father was employed by the NKVD and the event you mentioned here, about the massive round up of dissidents that night, he was ordered by the ministry to help out. When he returned early the following day I could hear him sobbing and shouting and then he sat at our kitchen table pounding his head. He said he felt guilt for those he had arrested and conveyed to the train depot. They were just ordinary people. Innocent people who were as loyal as he was to the Party were arrested during another one of Stalin’s reign of terror.

“’Why! Why!’ My father sobbed over and over again.”

In the spring of 1949 thousands of Soviet citizens and hundreds residing in Soviet Armenia, including repatriates who had earlier belonged to the nationalist Tashnag Party or to the Ramgavars, but returned after World War II to their homeland in hopes of building a better life for their families, were rounded up and exiled.

She continued her story, “The next day I went to school and when I entered my classroom I looked for my two closest friends. I thought it strange, for they were never late. I took my seat and waited. When our teacher entered the classroom, we stood, as we usually did, and greeted her. She asked us to take our seats. I continued to look at their empty desks, they did not come. Noticing my gaze, the teacher ordered me to pay attention.

“They will not be attending class today,” she said firmly, the words being directed at me. “Their families are enemies of our state. I have wasted my time on them.”

She said that it was on that day she had vowed she would marry someone who would get her out of the Soviet Union and take her to a land where she and her family would not have to fear the government.

***

bookTom Mooradian was one of 151 Americans who traveled to Soviet Armenia to repatriate during the 1940’s. Thought to be a spy by the KGB, Tom miraculously survived 13 years behind the Iron Curtain winning the hearts of the Soviets through his basketball prowess.  Filled with political drama, romance, and intrigue, Tom’s autobiography, The Repatriate reads like a novel, and will have you guessing how Tom managed to return to America alive.
The Second Edition is now available on Kindle and in Paperback!

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Tears of joy

Ararat-Eskijian
It would be my first of seven talks in California that I would give on The Cold War and my recently published book, “The Repatriate: Love Basketball and the KGB”. Our first stop was Mission Hills, a serene senior citizens community that has a notable museum, the Ararat Eskijian, on its spacious and plush site.

After describing some of the hardships that Soviets and Armenian American repatriates faced daily, the long bread lines, the night vigils at stores waiting for them to open in hopes of finding sugar or butter or any edible items in the morning to place on the table for their families, I spotted an elderly woman in the crowd with tears in her eyes. I continued with my talk, though I paused briefly to tell the woman that my story did have a happy ending – that I actually survived 13 years in the USSR. She smiled, but one could see torment on her face.

I was not there to arouse anger, or pity, or any other emotion…I was there to provide information about a group of 151 Armenian Armenians who in 1947 made history by returning to their ancestral lands, controlled by the Soviets at the time, to help rebuild a war-torn nation, a nation that was, incidentally, an ally to the USA during World War II.

“There was a lot of disinformation spread on both sides of the Atlantic,” I told the gathering. “The US was also eager to stop the repatriation of Armenians to a country with which it was now locked in an ideological war. I produced an article published in 1951 in a prominent Armenian publication that noted that the Soviets seized from Armenian Americans all their cars, refrigerators, stoves, and valuable possessions upon landing on Soviet soil. That was not true.

“But, after a month in the Soviet Union, living in fear of the secret police, and hungry, most repatriates would have gladly given up all of their possessions if the Soviets would have granted them exit visas.”

Shortly after my talk, the woman whose eyes betrayed her emotions, came up to me, hugged and kissed me on my cheeks – a typical Armenian greeting. She apologized for interrupting the talk, “You see, Mr. Mooradian, I was 11 at the time. My father had also decided to take us on that first ship, but my mother told him he could go but she and her two daughters would not leave America. We stayed here. I have heard many rumors and stories about what happened, but you have given me a first-hand account. I thank God that we stayed here. And I truly am sorry or what you and the others had to go through.”

***

bookTom Mooradian was one of 151 Americans who traveled to Soviet Armenia to repatriate during the 1940’s. Thought to be a spy by the KGB, Tom miraculously survived 13 years behind the Iron Curtain winning the hearts of the Soviets through his basketball prowess.  Filled with political drama, romance, and intrigue, Tom’s autobiography, The Repatriate reads like a novel, and will have you guessing how Tom managed to return to America alive.
The Second Edition is now available on Kindle and in Paperback!

 

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A Visit to American House

Moscow Visit
During one of my many visits to Moscow I had met and befriended a Michigan State University language professor who, after listening to my story, asked whether he could be of any assistance to me. I asked if possible, would he contact my parents and tell them that I am in good health and in good spirits.

The professor, probably in his forties, who taught Russian (Slavic Languages) said that he would gladly carry the news back home. “Anything else?”

I thought for a moment, “No. Not really.”

He said he would be attending a program at the American House the following evening and asked if I would be his guest. I was flabbergasted by his invitation, and initially refused the generous offer. I had heard about the exclusive building from my Soviet friends and knew that it was a building that the KGB had in its sights twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. To get into the building, one had to produce an American passport. I again thanked the professor and reminded him that, though born in the United States, I did not have an American passport and was considered by the Soviets to be a Soviet, not an American, citizen.

“You would be my guest,” the professor repeated. “I don’t think the Soviets would want to create a scene on what is considered American property.”

That remark piqued my curiosity. If I was on US property could the Soviets demand that the Americans hand me over to them? I had had my run-ins with Stalin’s NKVD and Khrushchev’s KGB and was still standing on my two feet. I told the professor I was ready to risk it, if he was.

Although the professor spoke Russian fluently, I felt certain that he was not an informer. I trusted him implicitly because of his knowledge of Michigan. The Soviets knew that Detroit made cars but they didn’t know what state Detroit was in.

I accepted the professor’s invitation. He told me it would be best if I wore a suit, white shirt, and tie. It would draw less attention to me by the KGB who patrolled the area leading to American House.

I smiled and said I understood.

We breezed past the Soviet guards and reached the door where several people were waiting to get inside. We went in and I was greeted by a mysterious harmony of music and laughter – people actually laughing. My God how I had missed it. How I had forgotten the special joy that laughter brings to the heart. To the soul. People do laugh. People do smile. People do greet one another.

Into a dimly lit room I rushed like a child in Toyland. The door closed. I prayed that I would never have to go back into the street. I knew I had left the valley of the death. In one corner I spotted something that I had not seen in ages – and I rushed over and hugged it. It was a jukebox. I stood there listening. The songs and the singers were new – but it was American. Before me a buffet laden with the fruits and food of my past opened up. I rushed to the table and immediately learned that all was free. Eat all you want. And I did. I couldn’t stop. Somewhere between the jukebox and the food I lost the professor.

It was a crucial mistake to lose contact with my host. Seconds later, when I walked up to the bar and the bartender asked, “What will you have, sir?” the knell sounded for me. I had heard of, but never had Scotch and Soda, so I ordered it. The bartender asked, “Do you want that on the rocks?”

I paused for a second, not knowing what to say. “On the rocks?”…what did it mean? I did not want any rocks in my drink, I told him. He returned my puzzled look with a look of suspicion. I caught him looking over my shoulders into the dark corner of the room. Quickly I was surrounded by two muscular men. One asked if I was an American citizen.

I answered that I was born in Detroit.

“That’s not what I asked,” the man said with a tone that definitely meant business. He demanded to see my passport.

“I don’t have one on me.”

“Show me your driver’s license or any ID.”

The only identification I had was my Soviet internal passport and I surely wouldn’t show them that.

Both men looked at me and the one who was asking all the questions invited me to leave the premises. If fact, the other grabbed me by my arm and led me to the door.

I was fortunate; he didn’t toss me from the building.

I had not realized it at the time, but the prolonged absence from my native land created a cultural abyss that I would have to bridge before I would be accepted back into the culture I once knew so well.

***

bookTom Mooradian was one of 151 Americans who traveled to Soviet Armenia to repatriate during the 1940’s. Thought to be a spy by the KGB, Tom miraculously survived 13 years behind the Iron Curtain winning the hearts of the Soviets through his basketball prowess.  Filled with political drama, romance, and intrigue, Tom’s autobiography, The Repatriate reads like a novel, and will have you guessing how Tom managed to return to America alive.
The Second Edition is now available on Kindle and in Paperback!

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Voting: USA vs. USSR

Image courtesy of Nirots and FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Image courtesy of Nirots and FreeDigitalPhotos.net

I was 31-years-old before I could vote in an U.S. Presidential election. The year was 1960, and the major candidates were Vice President Richard M. Nixon and Senator John F. Kennedy, and having seen and heard the Vice President in Moscow during the summer of 1959, I came away very impressed with him. Nixon had been in Moscow for the opening ceremonies of the inaugural United States Exhibition. American commercial and agricultural goods were put on display in Sokolniki Park for the Russians to view. The Nixon tour took an unexpected turn when he and Nikita Khruschchev, then the First Secretary of the Communist Party, debated the virtues of capitalism vs. communism. At one point, they literally stood toe-to-toe. The Soviets had never seen a Western official argue with their First Secretary and they were aghast, watching with their mouths open. I half-expected them to exchange blows.

The incident went down in our history books as the “Kitchen Debate”…that is another story.

Back to the voting booth in 1960…

At that time 21-year olds were eligible to vote (Congress lowered the eligibility age to 18 in the 1970’s). It wasn’t indifference to civic duty that stopped me from voting previously. I had not cast a single ballot in an American election from November 1, 1947, until July 23, 1960, because I was behind the Iron Curtain.

On July 23, 1960, the American Consul in Moscow, John A. McVickar, handed me my American Passport and told me I could return to my native land. My thirteen years behind the Iron Curtain were finally over. And, in November, 1960, I chose Richard M. Nixon over John F. Kennedy. The reason I have mentioned the above facts is that one of my readers raised the question: “Did I ever vote in the USSR?” And that was followed up with a second question: “What was it like to vote in a totalitarian state?”

I believe, as a former citizen of the USSR. I am qualified to answer that question.

But first, let me say that the Soviet Constitution I lived under was called the Stalin Constitution, adopted by the Soviets on December 5, 1926. It went down in history as one of the most liberal constitutions in the history of mankind. Not only did it provide a Bill of Rights, those rights included and guaranteed Soviet citizens the right to work, universal medical care, and the right to a free college education, among other things.

In addition, the Constitution read:

Article 124

…guarantees freedom of religion, universal direct suffrage and the right to work.

Chapter XI

…..deputies to The Supreme Soviets and the Presidium of the Supreme Soviets …are chosen by the electors on the basis of universal and equal suffrage by secret ballot.

…Women have the right to elect and be elected on equal terms with men…and chosen by the electors on the basis of universal, direct and equal suffrage by secret ballot.

Article 135

…elections are universal: all citizens of the USSR who have reached the age of 18, irrespective of race or nationality, religion, educational or residential background have the right to vote…

Article 141

…candidates are nominated according to electoral area. The right to nominate candidates is secured to public organizations and societies of the working people, the Communist Party, trade unions, cooperatives, youth organizations, and cultural societies.

Enough! Enough! Enough!

Fiction. Fiction. That is all Stalin’s Constitution represented. The words signified nothing but deception, propaganda that deceived millions into believing in the Soviet Workers Paradise, which was, in truth, Dante’s Hell.

The first time I cast a ballot…

The year was 1948 in the early morning hours. There is a knock at our apartment door, located on Kalinin Street in Yerevan, the capital of Soviet Armenia. He is “The Party’s” messenger…

“Is this the home of Comrades Mooradian, Simonian and Ketegian?”

Simonian, who spoke Armenian, replied that it was. The messenger continued: “Comrades, greetings from The Party. Today is Election Day. Here is the list of candidates, unanimously agreed upon by The Party, who will represent us as our deputies….Please sign your names here.” He handed Mr. Simonian the paper. Simonian briefly looked at the paper, then signed. One vote cast for The Party’s candidates. He handed the paper over to me and pointed to where I should sign. I had had a previous experience with the NKVD. I didn’t need another. I quickly signed. Two votes for “The Party”. I gave the paper to Johnny. Johnny, the rebel among us, said: “I don’t know what the F—this paper says. I won’t sign.” Simonian gave him a threatening glance that had made me shudder. In English, Simonian reminded Johnny that his parents would soon be arriving in Soviet Armenia from New York, “and you don’t want this on their record.”

Simonian’s urgency lead me to remind Johnny that he and I were not working and were dependent on Simonian for food and even the wood to keep the stove burning. If this was that important to him, we should do it. Johnny signed. Not many years later I learned that refusing to vote, labeled you a dissident, and there would be consequences.

A few days later, Simonian read an article in one of the newspapers to us that proudly announced the results of the election, stressing that 97 percent of the electorate had voted.

And, shamefully, many in the West would believe these figures and use them to promote communism.

I question the dignity of words that proclaim freedom and liberty and justice in documents of nations whose foundations are built on words ending in “ism”.

As English statesman Edmund Burke, pointed out more than 150 years ago: “The only thing necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing.”

 ***

bookTom Mooradian was one of 151 Americans who traveled to Soviet Armenia to repatriate during the 1940’s. Thought to be a spy by the KGB, Tom miraculously survived 13 years behind the Iron Curtain winning the hearts of the Soviets through his basketball prowess.  Filled with political drama, romance, and intrigue, Tom’s autobiography, The Repatriate reads like a novel, and will have you guessing how Tom managed to return to America alive.
The Second Edition is now available on Kindle and in Paperback!

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A Slave to Nightmares

Russian PassportRead more about Tom’s return to the US in A Person of Interest Part 1 and Part 2

Inside the walls of the days and nights of my past I became a slave to my nightmares. I had been in the shadows of the KGB for so many years their ghosts became real and they were the masters of my mind.   The encounter with the FBI raised my anxiety level. I sought psychiatric help. Stopped after one session after I found out how much it cost.

There was no place for me to hide. To run. I felt exposed. Scorned. An outcast in my own country. And I dared not reveal my secret life to my family. They would not understand.

I had always walked with confidence at my side – the two agencies took that away from me. No one, I believe, would read this prose without stamping it the work of a paranoiac. But, in the final analysis, it was my life. I know the truth.

Did the KGB make a conscious effort to follow up on the threat it had made to me in Moscow that, if I became a “tool of the capitalists” there would be repercussions?

Did the FBI interrogate me after my return?

And did the KGB walk in my footsteps when I walked the streets of Detroit?

It will be you who will judge and decide upon the evidence.

After the dissolution of the Soviet Union, there appeared in a newspaper article published in the now free republic of Armenia that carried the headline: “What Happened to Basketball in Armenia…” In that article, which did not have a byline, the writer describes the rise and fall of the sport in Armenia and goes on to mention the names of some of the top players of the 1950’s. My name appeared in that list. For all of the others mentioned, statistics and playing information was recalled, but following my name, there were intimate details of my personal life in America. A good editor would have asked the writer: “What the hell does this all have to do with basketball” and edit the paragraph out of the story.

I do believe the KGB made a conscious effort to monitor my actions in America. It is obvious that the FBI also considered me a “person of interest” until, like their counterparts in Moscow, interest waned. But, the evil that lived and thrived throughout the 20th century – suspicion, ambition, greed, hunger, exploitation and segregation – lives on unabated in the 21st century.

Despite all of the political nonsense we hear today from those who would be president, even those who advocate “Making America Great, Again”, I have always cherished and loved my country and have celebrated its achievements.

I would say to those who celebrate our country and wish to “Make America Great, Again” that America Has Always Been Great.

Let us all work together to “Make America GREATER!”

Read more about Tom’s return to the US in A Person of Interest Part 1 and Part 2

 ***

bookTom Mooradian was one of 151 Americans who traveled to Soviet Armenia to repatriate during the 1940’s. Thought to be a spy by the KGB, Tom miraculously survived 13 years behind the Iron Curtain winning the hearts of the Soviets through his basketball prowess.  Filled with political drama, romance, and intrigue, Tom’s autobiography, The Repatriate reads like a novel, and will have you guessing how Tom managed to return to America alive.
The Second Edition is now available on Kindle and in Paperback!

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A Person of Interest…Part 2

Armenian passport
Tom Mooradian’s passport: in Armenian and Russian

This is Part 2 of A Person of Interest. Read Part 1 here.

Do you not think that a man or woman who was born, raised and educated in the United States and disappeared for thirteen years behind the Iron Curtain, and then suddenly appeared in the United State would not raise J. Edgar Hoover’s eyebrows?

Would not the director of the FBI see “The Repatriate” as a possible “Manchurian Candidate”, waiting for someone to ring a bell or display a card so that the young man from Behind the Iron Curtain would execute his mission in the USA?

I was flown to Washington, D.C. and was met at the airport by one of the agents who drove me to the Mayflower Hotel. The next day, at about 9 a.m., the same agent drove me to a building where I was questioned about my life in the USSR. I answered the agency’s questions to the best of my knowledge. During the interrogation I also was given a lie-detector test.

I went along with my “hosts” through this process. Upon reflection I think it was because I had completely forgotten about my rights, after all, I had just graduated from high school when I had left America with the group of repatriates. I, and all of the teenagers who sailed on the Rossia, believed we could return to the States whenever we wanted to. To our dismay we discovered that was not true.

On day I-do-not-know-which, the FBI introduced me to a Russian-speaking interrogator. He began this session of questioning asking me about my life in the USSR, my travels, and then questioned me about the KGB and why I was permitted to leave when no others had. (I had been the first American to leave. Only a small group of French women who had gone to the Soviet Union with their Armenian husbands had returned to their homeland before I.)

That interview with the Russian brought back all of my nightmares. It reminded of what my KGB handler had told me back in Moscow: “Remember, Tommy, wherever you are we can reach you. Do not become a tool of the capitalist.”

The psychological effect of being in the same room with a Russian-speaking interrogator, his eyes and his glares, his sarcasm, his methodical questioning and degrading “the accused” to make him feel inferior, emasculating the “prisoner” ultimately unleashed the frustration, the hatred I had held back of the loathsome Soviet system …I fired back with a volley of four letter Russian words that I had picked up in the locker rooms of his country. He stood up slowly, deliberately, and I stood to confront him. There we were, toe to toe… A door behind me quickly opened and my “handler” rushed into the room and separated us…

Finally safe in my native land, the home of the free, I stood there thinking, I must be guilty. Why did they bring me here if I wasn’t “guilty”?

But of what?

Back in 1949, I was taught a life-and-death lesson by the Cheka. The Soviets stopped me from boarding a plane bound for Moscow from Yerevan because their pawns had informed them I was heading for the US embassy with some important papers. They tossed me in a truck and drove me to their headquarters. The Soviet interrogators told me that if I confessed they would be lenient. “We never arrest anyone who is not guilty…and we can’t release you, because our citizens would think that we are arresting innocent people.”

So, what do you confess to?

I wanted to scream. But, instead I bit my lip and waited from their next move.

Silence, at times, is a powerful word.

This is Part 2 of A Person of Interest. Read Part 1 here.

 ***

bookTom Mooradian was one of 151 Americans who traveled to Soviet Armenia to repatriate during the 1940’s. Thought to be a spy by the KGB, Tom miraculously survived 13 years behind the Iron Curtain winning the hearts of the Soviets through his basketball prowess.  Filled with political drama, romance, and intrigue, Tom’s autobiography, The Repatriate reads like a novel, and will have you guessing how Tom managed to return to America alive.
The Second Edition is now available on Kindle and in Paperback!

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Valley of Death

Lenin's Tomb in Moscow

I have walked in the valley of death….and I have seen the face of evil.

Born an American, I lived in Stalin’s Russia for thirteen years.  Humiliated because of my past and impoverished by a system that suppressed private enterprise and individuality, and considered “a tool of the capitalist”, I quickly found there were no green pastures for an American in the Soviet Union.

My enemies were everywhere…on the streets, in our workplace….and even extended into our homes. Evil wore the uniforms of the Cheka….the NKVD….the KGB….and the omnipresent informers. Beasts in human flesh…waiting…waiting…waiting for me to make a fatal mistake. Shadows of men who refused to come out into the light to confront their victim.  There was no such thing as “due process” for those who would criticize Stalin or the Communist Party.

I swore they would never, never dance on my grave.

I turned my cheek and with each slap, I vowed I would not yield. I stood my ground, lost some battles, but when my personal ordeal was over, they hugged me and wished me well as I was placed on a Soviet jet headed for Copenhagen, New York and home.

Never once did I confront my enemies with a weapon. With a gun.  Or violence.

I knew inevitably justice would prevail.

And now, after a half century of freedom, I live in fear again: for my country, my family, my children and grandchildren.

A thousand nations have come and gone, but for how long can one nation divided, engaged in three wars, patronizing conceited politicians who build their own egos instead of working together for the good of the people, the nation, long stand?

Our people are our strength – and they came from the four corners of this planet, and there are those who would stop the flow; our middle class was the engine that kept the economy moving and its numbers decline with each day; and we fight endless wars to prove what? That we can kill? And be killed. And each day we are awakened to read from in newspapers or see on our TV and computer screens that yet another horrific crime has been committed by some deranged psychopath or a group of misguided religious fanatics.

We have come too far, worked too hard, fought many bloody battles and won our share of wars. If Congress and the President truly derive their powers from the people, the people have an obligation to pay close attention to what its elected officials are saying and doing.

And then show that power at the voting booth.

It is time to “awaken the sleeping giant.”

 

 ***

bookTom Mooradian was one of 151 Americans who traveled to Soviet Armenia to repatriate during the 1940’s. Thought to be a spy by the KGB, Tom miraculously survived 13 years behind the Iron Curtain winning the hearts of the Soviets through his basketball prowess.  Filled with political drama, romance, and intrigue, Tom’s autobiography, The Repatriate reads like a novel, and will have you guessing how Tom managed to return to America alive.
The Second Edition is now available on Kindle and in Paperback!

Save