The Soviet Problem with Two ‘Unknowns’: How an American Architect and a Soviet Negotiator Jump-Started the Industrialization of Russia. Part I: Albert Kahn. IA: The Journal of the Society for Industrial Archeology, vol. 36 (2), 57-80 (2010)
The Soviet Problem with Two ‘Unknowns’: How an American Architect and a Soviet Negotiator Jump-Started the Industrialization of Russia. Part II: Saul Bron. IA: The Journal of the Society for Industrial Archeology, vol. 37 (1/2), 5-28 (2011)
Soviet industrialization was a complex economic and political undertaking. Rather than examine the process as a whole, this essay focuses on two fairly unknown players in the history of Soviet-American relations — an American firm and a Soviet envoy — and their contribution to the amazingly rapid Soviet industrialization of the early 1930s, emphasizing some human and business factors behind Stalin's Five-Year Plan. Saul G. Bron, during his 1927-1930 tenure as chairman of Amtorg Trading Corporation in New York, contracted with leading American companies to help build Soviet industrial infrastructure and commissioned the firm of the foremost American industrial architect from Detroit, Albert Kahn, as consulting architects to the Soviet Government. The work of both played a major role in laying the foundation of the Soviet automotive, tractor, and tank industry and led to the development of Soviet defense capabilities, which in turn played an important role in the Allies' defeat of Nazi Germany in World War II. Drawing on Russian and English-language sources, this essay is based on comprehensive research including previously unknown archival documents, contemporaneous and current materials, and private archives.
Whence Did It All Come: Two Contracts, Girls in Socks, and the Great Turning Point, in Detroit-Moscow-Detroit: An Architecture for Industrialization, 1917-1945, eds. J-L. Cohen, C.E. Crawford, C. Zimmerman, The MIT Press (2023)
This chapter is a ‘sequel’ to the previously published two-part research “The Soviet Problem With Two ‘Unknowns’: How an American Architect and a Soviet Negotiator Jump-started the Industrialization of Russia” (Industrial Archeology Journal, 2010 & 2011). While the first two parts focused mainly on the role of Saul G. Bron, the chairman of the Soviet trade agency Amtorg in New York, and Albert Kahn, the foremost American industrial architect from Detroit, in laying the foundation of the Soviet automotive, tractor and tank industry leading to the development of Soviet defense capabilities prior to WWII, this chapter illustrates how Kahn's principles of architectural design formed the basis of the Soviet school of standardization in industrial construction and how his assembly-line design process became a universal working method in Soviet architectural organizations. It also offers a close view at the interpersonal relations between Soviet and Americans engineers in Detroit and in Moscow, with the Soviet economic and political climate of the time in the background. Based on Russian and American sources, archival documents, and previously unknown private letters and eyewitness records.
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