Love in a Cold War Climate

Love in a Cold War Climate

Mini Teaser: The name Aino Kuusinen is all but unknown in the United States. This is unfortunate, for the life story of this undercover agent--a highly attractive, intelligent, and courageous woman, who spoke her English with an American accent--is a parable t

by Author(s): Peter Day

The name Aino Kuusinen is all but unknown in the United States. This is unfortunate, for the life story of this undercover agent--a highly attractive, intelligent, and courageous woman, who spoke her English with an American accent--is a parable that illuminates an entire age.

In the early 1920s she escaped from the ties of a respectable middle-class Finnish family by marrying a fellow Finn in the new communist nomenklatura in Moscow. She then worked for the Communist International (Comintern) and met virtually everyone who was anyone in that world. For most of the 1930s she traveled as a Soviet agent: to depression-struck New York where for some three years she worked for the Comintern; through Europe as Hitler consolidated his power; to Tokyo where for another three years she worked for the Red Army in collaboration with the Sorge spy ring. In the 1940s and 1950s, by falling back on her original vocation as a nurse, she survived some fifteen years in Stalin's Gulag. In 1966, still vigorous and spirited, the old lady outwitted her minders to escape to Western Europe, where she wrote her memoirs. She subsequently suffered a not uncommon fate for defectors, dying as a lonely recluse in exile. Despite this, in her survival of the camps and her escape from the empire she once served may be found those elements of courage and hope which occasionally alleviate the grim narrative of twentieth-century totalitarianism.

A Non-Person in America

Two decades ago, when her memoirs first appeared in Europe, they were well received. But when a U.S. edition was published in 1975, it was effectively strangled at birth. American academics dismissed Aino Kuusinen as an "adventuress" with a "vivid imagination." Her credibility was destroyed by a Cold War "hatchet job": the use of scholarly authority in support of an outright libel, which has remained undetected, and whose consequences persist. Perhaps the most baleful of these consequences is that today's scholars have been deprived of an important source on the roots of the perestroika movement which ultimately brought down the Soviet empire.

Any American scholar who today picks up a copy of her memoirs will light upon a brief preface written by a reputable scholar, warning that the memoirs are effectively worthless as an historical source. The authority of the man who supplied this preface--a Professor John Hodgson of Syracuse University--is supported in a separate foreword to the memoirs by the noted German commentator on Soviet affairs, Wolfgang Leonhard. Leonhard describes how he befriended Kuusinen after her defection, discussed the writing of her memoirs, and accepted responsibility for their posthumous publication. It was he who contacted Hodgson--as a "leading expert"--to help check the manuscript and he thanks Hodgson fulsomely for his contribution.

The particular significance of Aino Kuusinen's credibility, or lack thereof, is that she was not only a Soviet agent; she was also the wife of Otto Kuusinen, an "old Bolshevik" who survived near the center of power in Moscow from the time of Lenin until his death under Brezhnev. The important role of the shadowy Otto Kuusinen in the genesis of Gorbachev's perestroika is now acknowledged. Professor Charles Fairbanks, Jr. of Johns Hopkins, for example, makes much of his seminal influence: he points out that Kuusinen's protŽgŽs included a whole raft of reform-minded young intellectuals within the old Soviet apparat--and Yuri Andropov. Fairbanks observes that after Kuusinen's death in 1964, Andropov "inherited the subsequently influential intellectuals" from his old mentor. Then, when Andropov selected Gorbachev as his heir apparent before his death in 1984, "this entire heritage came into the hands of Gorbachev and those who influenced him. . . ." Fairbanks quotes one of Gorbachev's perestroika group, Georgi Arbatov, as acknowledging how "indebted" they all were to Kuusinen as a teacher.

Even in 1974, when the Soviet Union seemed a permanent fixture, the historical face value of Aino Kuusinen's memoirs was significant. As Leonhard points out in his foreword, this was the first time the wife of such a high-ranking Soviet official had come over to the West. Her "deeply impressive and absorbing" memoirs covered nearly five decades of Soviet communism, from 1918 to 1965, from "dizzy heights to the utmost depths."

But Leonhard also spices this with some mild disclaimers about Aino Kuusinen's reliability. He writes that her account was colored by the emotional effect of her experiences, particularly in the labor camps. This is the sort of comment that was once routinely made about any memoirist who survived the Gulag. But since Leonhard was the old lady's self-described friend, patron, and editor, the American reader could readily infer that he was actually tempering his criticism through a sense of de mortuis nil nisi bonum, and that it had been left to his esteemed colleague Hodgson to deliver the merciful coup de grace.

Hodgson put forth the allegation that she was an habitual liar. In support of it, he offered just one specific example of a lie that she allegedly told. This was so self-evidently damning, apparently, that no further support was necessary. "With the vivid imagination of a self-centered adventuress," he wrote, "she claims in the face of contradictory evidence that she sought assistance from the U.S. embassy in Moscow on two occasions, in 1947 and 1948, after her release from the Vorkuta camp."
Hodgson did not bother to spell out the "contradictory evidence" to which he claimed to be privy. In any case, the truth, contained in a detailed report to be found in the archives of the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency, is that she did visit the U.S. embassy in Moscow after her release from Vorkuta, exactly as she described.

The Bukharin Connection

"It seems extraordinary," Aino Kuusinen wrote of her husband, "that this man who so profoundly influenced the policy of a great nation was not a Russian by birth but an outsider, who at heart cared nothing for Soviet interests." Although Leonhard opined in the 1970s that she sometimes portrayed Kuusinen as being "more important than he actually was," Western scholars now generally acknowledge that he had more influence than they previously had realized. He is a key figure in the debate over the roots of Gorbachev's perestroika, and especially over whether those roots may be traced to the relatively liberal approach of the 1920s Soviet New Economic Policy (NEP) and the cultural influence of the nep's champion, Nikolai Bukharin. Stephen Cohen, Bukharin's biographer, is the scholar most widely identified with this view. On the other side, Charles Fairbanks finds no "concrete historical link" with the NEP or Bukharin. He argues instead for the paradox of "the Stalinist roots of perestroika." Kuusinen and his protŽgŽ Andropov, Fairbanks asserts, were "left-Stalinists" or "Zhdanovites"--a reference to Andrei Zhdanov, the brutal Stalinist who laid down the ideological justification for the Great Terror of the 1930s. But we can see from Aino Kuusinen's memoirs that there is a link between Gorbachev's ginger group and the NEP. Bukharin and Otto Kuusinen were personally very close.

Fairbanks is of course not alone in his apparent ignorance of the friendship between Kuusinen and Bukharin; even Cohen, in his Bukharin and the Bolshevik Revolution (Oxford University Press, 1980), seems unaware of it. This is perhaps not surprising in a work which is styled a "political" biography and largely eschews personal life. For one of Kuusinen's traits--and a key reason for his survival under Stalin--was his avoidance of "politics." Aino Kuusinen explained that as a Finn, and thus an outsider, her husband was able to detach himself from much of the internecine conflict around him. She writes that he was "at pains to be considered a foreigner who had no concern with conflicts inside the Kremlin and no ambition to supplant anyone." He "avoided official receptions and ceremonies whenever he could and the only time he wore his Soviet medals was on the day of his lying in state. Speech making and popularity hunting were not for him." This explains his obscurity: in an extremely dangerous environment, he retained the invisibility of a stick insect.

But Bukharin used to seek him out. To the extent that Cohen's description of Bukharin as "in every respect a twentieth-century intellectual" is justified, it may also be applied to Kuusinen: they were both linguists with interests in international literature, theater, politics, and particularly art. Those broad intellectual interests set them apart from the Russian leadership. Kuusinen's apartment became a kind of home away from home for Bukharin, who was the only person Kuusinen permitted to visit unannounced. In Aino Kuusinen's words, after Bukharin had put Pravda to press, he would come and "sit till the small hours discussing Comintern affairs or problems of Marxism and socialism, and fetching snacks from the larder. . . ." When Bukharin succeeded Zinoviev as chairman of the Comintern in 1926, it was "a good thing for Otto," she said, "as Bukharin was his closest friend among the Russian communists."

Sexual Superman?

But let us return to the issue of Aino Kuusinen's credibility. Professor Hodgson gave her a motive for discrediting her husband, specifically saying she possessed "the pride of a woman scorned by a man whose philosophy, as stated by Otto Kuusinen himself, was that he was too developed both intellectually and physically to find satisfaction in a single woman. . . ."

This "philosophy" does flesh out rather nicely the reptilian personality picture of the man which emerges from other sources. Treachery and servility were important elements in his survival. When his protoge Andropov came to power in late 1982, Otto Kuusinen was presented to readers of the New York Times as a brave father figure. Harrison Salisbury described how, "[Andropov's] mentor, the late politburo member Otto Kuusinen went to Stalin after his son's [Esa's] arrest and begged for his life." This was the exact opposite of the truth. Russian historians agree that Kuusinen did nothing to save his son--less than nothing, in fact. Anton Antonov-Ovseyenko, in The Time of Stalin, relates how Stalin asked Kuusinen why he didn't petition for his son's release: "Kuusinen bowed submissively before the sultan: 'Apparently there were substantial reasons for his arrest. . . .'" Roy Medvedev gives almost exactly the same account in his Let History Judge. These authorities thus support Aino Kuusinen, who wrote, "He did not lift a finger when his own son was arrested in Karelia and sent to Siberia, where he contracted tuberculosis. When Beria discovered who it was he had the boy released, but it was too late, and he soon died of the disease." (The son's wife, who was arrested with him, died in the camps.) Given his response to the arrest of his own son, it is hardly surprising to discover that, as Aino wrote, "Kuusinen did nothing to save his principal Comintern assistants or his first wife's brother. . . In the same way Kuusinen did nothing to help his Finnish comrades, and was partly responsible for their liquidation."

It is evident that Kuusinen had no more loyalty for the women in his life than he did for his immediate family or his political comrades. But Hodgson did not explain why this should be held to diminish Aino Kuusinen's credibility. There is certainly no evidence in her memoirs that she was overly perturbed by his sexual misdemeanors. The only mention she made of them was the bland observation that he was "far from blameless in his official relationships" as a senior Comintern official. She compared him to the notorious Zinoviev: "an inveterate skirt-chaser and convinced that no female could resist his charms."
There is no doubt of the charms that attracted Otto Kuusinen to the woman he made his wife--the charms, in Leonhard's words, of a "beautiful, intelligent, educated and self-possessed woman." They met in 1919, in Helsinki. She was a young, unhappily married housewife; he an outlawed revolutionary on a clandestine visit to the city. He had fled into exile in Moscow the previous year, leaving behind a wife and several children, following the defeat of the Finnish "Reds" in a brief civil war. According to the memoirs of Arvo Tuominen, a close Finnish communist friend of Otto's (see his The Bells of the Kremlin, University Press of New England, 1983), when Kuusinen returned to the city he fell "head over heels in love" with the "elegantly dressed, very attractive" Aino. He courted her assiduously. Tuominen reported seeing literally hundreds of pages of effusive, romantic love poems which Kuusinen wrote her. Aino said that at the time she was looking for a way of "making something more out of my life than merely being a housewife." For a while she made efforts to start a private medical clinic in Helsinki as a trained nurse, but they came to nothing. She and Kuusinen married in Moscow in 1922.
Tuominen's memoirs suggest that they separated some years later, not because Otto was "too developed both intellectually and physically," but because she offended his amour propre in ways that he did not want to admit. From 1924 she was a full-time Comintern "advisor on Scandinavia," with a large office at the Lux Hotel and German assistants. As a member of what their friend Bukharin identified as the "new class" of the Soviet bureaucracy, she made friends with other talented, educated, and ambitious women, including Alexandra Kollontay, the feminist firebrand and apostle of women's sexual liberation, for whom Otto Kuusinen bore an ill-disguised antipathy.

She also made friends among other Comintern men. Tuominen records that "something slight" developed between her and another prominent Finnish communist, Yrgo Sirola. Tuominen thought it was "at most a fleeting kiss." From the context, the time seems almost certainly to have been early 1922, before she married Kuusinen. But whatever and whenever it was, when Sirola later confessed it to Otto Kuusinen, Tuominen says it caused "a serious break" between the two men.

Tuominen, who received his information mainly from Kuusinen himself, after he arrived in Moscow to stay with him some years later, reported that Aino had "angered the women in the Comintern's women's division with her lust for power, her intelligence (and perhaps her feminine charm) and caused unrest also in some men. . . " He wrote, "When his wife created such havoc within the Comintern circle, Kuusinen began sending her on missions outside Moscow."

Aino's recollection in her memoirs was that it was Sirola who in 1930 first mentioned the proposed mission to the United States. She agreed--but only provided her husband did also. "I was careful not to say how pleased I was at the prospect," she wrote. Then one night Otto asked her if she would like to go. "I said I would," she recalled, "to which he replied angrily, 'Aha, now I know you want to leave me.' I made no answer, and neither of us spoke another word that evening."

Her desire to leave Moscow is in no way surprising. She wrote, "I had no regrets at leaving Moscow and was glad of a respite from the petty bureaucracy of the Comintern and the growing atmosphere of depression generally. The forced collectivization campaign that had just begun threw a dark shadow over daily life. There were frightful tales of cruelty and starvation. . . ."

Stalin's Spin Doctor

Bukharin was the leading opponent of collectivization, and as such Stalin's last outstanding rival. In April 1929, on the day Bukharin was dismissed from the Comintern and the editorship of Pravda, Aino Kuusinen ran into Stalin's Georgian protŽgŽ Beso Lominadze in the Comintern building. Lominadze was leading the Stalinist attack on Bukharin. She recalled, "Like everyone else he knew of the close links between Bukharin and Kuusinen, and he asked me: "'What does Kuusinen think of things now?'

"'How do you mean?'

"'Well, it looks to us in the youth organization as though he'll be for it next. What do you think?'

"'I'd rather not say, but I know nothing will happen to Kuusinen.'

"'How can you be so sure?'

"'It's quite simple--Otto knows how to keep out of trouble.'"

And so he did. Kuusinen immediately denounced his old friend. Aino said he "always knew exactly when to switch to a new master. This was how he managed to survive the paroxysm of the terror, when heads were rolling on every side."

As Bukharin once observed, Stalin was "consumed with a craving to become an acknowledged theoretician. He thinks that this is the only thing he lacks." Kuusinen stepped into the breach: he became Stalin's private spin doctor. Tuominen said that, apart from himself, Kuusinen was "the only Finnish communist leader (in the Soviet Union) to survive," and that he did so because "he was a specialist whom Stalin needed. . . there was not another one like him." Tuominen called him Stalin's "advisor on ideological and international questions." He was able to produce theoretical condemnations of the old Bolsheviks to order by keeping up card files on their ideological "heresies." One of the doomed, Karl Radek, called Otto Kuusinen "Stalin's noose-greaser."

For all his servility, Kuusinen possessed the spin doctor's typical secret contempt for his master. According to Aino Kuusinen, "He never for a moment thought anybody his intellectual superior, least of all Stalin." Tuominen supports this with various anecdotes. He tells us that while churning out one-liners deifying Stalin, Kuusinen privately enjoyed parodies such as "the sun rises in the east and sets in the west, as the great Stalin has so aptly put it." Tuominen agreed that Kuusinen was never a Stalinist, that "the despot was repulsive to him." But in the atmosphere of immense suspicion created by a paranoid dictator, it worked to Kuusinen's advantage that he was a foreigner, so that, "neither Stalin nor Khrushchev had to fear that Kuusinen would try to overthrow him."

Thus, Kuusinen was able to survive the tyrant, becoming a key influence on the younger generation of postwar bureaucrats, particularly from 1959 to his death in 1964. This was the period which saw the rebirth of Bukharinist ideas and approaches, before the long stagnation under Brezhnev. Tuominen wrote that, under Khrushchev, Kuusinen "finally got a chance officially to disown all the work in which he too had participated, and to prove Stalin the most heretical of all heretics. Surely those were the greatest moments of Kuusinen's life."

Femme Fatale

It is true that Aino Kuusinen's life in the 1930s sounds like the figment of a vivid imagination: a beautiful blonde espionage agent, traveling under various glamorous aliases through the capitals of Europe, and traversing the globe in ocean liners, in the era when, as Evelyn Waugh observed, the going was still good. Scholarship aside, the wrongful discrediting of her memoirs robbed American readers of the extraordinary story of a most extraordinary woman. Yet her memoirs are quite down-to-earth--unlike some of the earlier fbi reports on her, which suggest what a memoirist with a "vivid imagination" might well have made of such a life. Some of these read like script submissions for Hitchcock melodramas, with Aino Kuusinen in the Garbo role and Peter Lorre and Sydney Greenstreet characters everywhere. She is even presented as a master of disguise, who once attended a national party convention "masquerading as a man," ˆ la Marlene Dietrich. Naturally, the city of Shanghai, espionage capital of the Orient, where Aino Kuusinen did indeed spend many months, figured prominently in these lurid adventures. One agent speculated that she was the "attractive young blonde attired in a squirrel fur coat" whose photograph, taken in Shanghai, was discovered among the papers of a Nazi double agent killed by a cab driver in New York's Times Square in 1941. Great stuff.

Nonetheless, the FBI's most prized ex-communist informants, including Whittaker Chambers, confirmed that Aino had indeed been active in the United States during the early 1930s. The reports of the FBI's Finnish informants also confirmed Aino's account that her mission consisted mainly of rationalizing the various Finnish-language American newspapers under Communist Party control. These reports brought out that she was a tough operator who did not hesitate to remove from the Party payroll employees who refused to toe the Moscow line. The Finnish-language newspaper Vapaa Sana reported that this "youthful, beautiful blonde" had been capable of reducing at least one Communist Party member to tears.

J. Edgar Hoover's inquiries into Aino Kuusinen's activities originally arose out of a puzzle over the identity of "Ingrid," sometimes also known as "Olga:" a mysterious blonde with an American accent who reported to Moscow from Tokyo through the spy ring of Victor Sorge, the brilliant Soviet agent who in the 1930s had wormed his way into the German embassy in Tokyo posing as a good Nazi newsman. His ring's most famous coup was warning Stalin--a month in advance--of Hitler's June 1941 attack on Russia. (Stalin took no notice of the warning, nor of similar ones given by the British on the basis of "Ultra" intercepts.) The Sorge ring was captured by the Japanese late in 1941, and after the war records of their interrogations became available to the American occupation forces. Sorge and his associate Max Klausen did not disclose the true identity of "Ingrid," and Aino Kuusinen in 1948 did not disclose the code names or aliases she had used in Japan. But eventually Hoover found that the Sorge/Klausen descriptions of "Ingrid," and the information Aino had given the military attache in Moscow about her activities in Japan, matched completely.

In May 1953, Hoover formally instructed his investigators that the "Ingrid" mystery had been solved: she was definitely Aino Kuusinen. But this was only publicly revealed by Aino herself, when her memoirs were published. And because of the scholarly black hole into which the memoirs fell at the time of their publication, "Ingrid's" identity remained unknown in America, even to scholars with a specific interest in the Sorge ring--including the late Professor Gordon Prange, chief of the Historical Section of General Douglas MacArthur's postwar forces in Japan and the acknowledged authority on Sorge. In his 1984 book Target Tokyo, Prange assumed "Ingrid" was a Swedish journalist "with an exquisite profile like Greta Garbo's." This was Aino Kuusinen's cover.

She returned to Moscow with this glamour intact. Recalling a visit to Aino's Moscow apartment in the mid-1930s, Arvo Tuominen wrote: "She lived lavishly with elegant travel souvenirs from all over the world. . . She was accompanied on her trips by a retinue of a lady's maid or two, and occasionally a male servant. She passed for an English lady or an American dollar princess, and the setting had to be appropriate to the station. When we visited her, the room was overflowing with American and English trunks."

But shortly after she was recalled from Tokyo to Moscow at the height of the purges, this leisurely, glamorous, globe-trotting life came to an abrupt end.

Into the Gulag

By the end of 1937, even Otto Kuusinen's charmed life seemed over. In July of that year a secret police official named Zaitsev, in the presence of his chief, the dreaded Yezhov, had warned Tuominen that his friend Kuusinen could be arrested at any moment. When Tuominen relayed Yezhov's warning to his friend, the usually imperturbable Kuusinen began to tremble so badly that he could barely hold a cigarette in his lips. Unconsoled by Stalin's assurance that he would be safe, Kuusinen feverishly cleared out his files. His anxiety was justified: the secret police decided to have Aino condemn him as a British spy.

There is no reason to suspect that she exaggerated the sufferings she endured under interrogation. When she refused to denounce Kuusinen, she was forced to stand for days without food or drink, or to sit lightly clad in icy cold rooms while shifts of interrogators questioned her for hours on end. After about six months in the Lubyanka she was taken to the even more notorious prison at Lefortovo. For months she was kept in solitary confinement in the dungeons there, next to a torture chamber from which came tormented screams and cries. One morning she was forced to look at the mangled corpse of a man she had heard thrashed to death. And each night the document accusing Otto Kuusinen of being a British spy was thrust at her to sign, and each night she refused. Thus the "father" of perestroika survived the purges.

How did she survive the Gulag for fifteen years? Leonhard maintains that she "faced the atrocious reality of her situation without great soul-searching, without tragic disappointment, without allowing her whole inner world to collapse." This was true enough, but it was true almost by definition of any long-term camp survivor. What almost certainly allowed Aino to survive was her return to her original vocation of nursing, something which emerges quite unselfconsciously from her memoirs. In the summer of 1939 a group of about forty women prisoners, most of them Finnish, set out for the city of Archangel on a paddle steamer from a transit camp called Kotlas. This was the second leg of a journey from Moscow to the frozen hell of the vast Vorkuta camp complex, beyond the Arctic Circle. Elisabeth von Fait, an Austrian doctor, was in charge of medical arrangements. Aino wrote: "When she heard I was a trained nurse, she asked me if I would be her assistant. I hesitated but finally agreed, as I had kept up an interest in medical matters over the years. I am convinced that her offer saved my life. . . as looking after the sick brought with it some material alleviations as well as spiritual ones."

The Winter War

As it happens, it was precisely at the time of her return to nursing that Otto Kuusinen, having survived the worst of the purges, was planning his imminent apotheosis as "prime minister" of Finland. The 1939 pact with Hitler's Germany had placed Finland within the Soviet sphere. At first, Stalin seemed interested only in some Finnish territory which, being not far from Leningrad, was deemed to be of vital strategic interest to the Soviet Union. But the resolute Finns would make no concessions. On November 30, after some months of fruitless talks, Stalin launched his "Winter War" against tiny Finland. Now Soviet aims became anything but limited, and as the Red Army crossed the Finnish border and Soviet bombers raided Helsinki, Moscow radio announced the formation of a new "people's government" of Finland, led by Otto Kuusinen.

Aino Kuusinen's comments on the Winter War seemed particularly to infuriate the author of the preface to her memoirs. Hodgson objected to "the impression that. . . her former husband, in contrast to herself, was an embittered emigrant whose loathing for Finland. . . was epitomized in an alleged desire to march back to Helsinki at the head of the Red Army." This is extremely odd. There was nothing "alleged" about it: it is a matter of history that in November 1939, Kuusinen was planning to enter Helsinki precisely as Aino described.

But by January 1940 Finnish resistance had quashed any Soviet ambitions of conquest. Now, Moscow could not enter peace talks with the Helsinki government without implicitly disowning its own embryonic puppet regime. Eventually the Finns established secret contact with the Kremlin through the Soviet ambassador in Sweden: none other than Kuusinen's old bugbear, Alexandra Kollontay. On January 29, 1940, Kollontay, the woman whom Kuusinen had once dismissed as always being "carried away by hopeless causes," delivered a note from the Kremlin to Swedish mediators which spelled the end of the Kuusinen "government." Fighting would continue for some time. But with the note, Stalin had agreed in principle to talks with Helsinki. This was a critical reversal: Finland's independence was no longer in question and Kuusinen quietly folded his tents and went back to Moscow.

One day in the late autumn of 1940, a nurse and prisoner in Vorkuta, Aino Kuusinen was standing knee-deep in snow in front of her hut when she heard Otto Kuusinen's voice crackling over the camp speakers. It was a radio broadcast hailing the incorporation of a new country into the Soviet Union--not Finland, but poor Estonia. She wrote that when she heard from incoming prisoners about the Finns' courage in defending their country, "the news filled me with pride and thankfulness. Finnish courage and patriotism were being praised in all countries and all languages, and my country had become famous among people who till then had scarcely heard of it."

The Winter War was a disaster for the Soviet Union. Among other things, the Red Army's humiliation by a numerically far inferior foe proved to Hitler the devastation caused in the Red Army officer corps by the purges. And the delay in bringing hostilities to an end was immensely costly. As an historian of the war, Anthony Upton, remarked, "thousands died needlessly" on both sides as a result of the "pathetic charade" of Kuusinen's puppet regime-in-waiting, the formation of which had "an immense influence on the course of the war." But Otto Kuusinen survived even this. The most plausible explanation of how he did is given by Aino in her memoirs. "He was so skillful in making his ideas palatable," she wrote, "that Stalin imagined them to be his own."

According to Wolfgang Leonhard, when Aino Kuusinen made contact with him in 1966, shortly after her arrival in Western Europe, she was "possessed by the desire to write her memoirs." She was full of life, writing in the first pages of her manuscript, "I have been through many adventures, and have suffered fate's ironies perhaps more frequently than most of my contemporaries, but none of my unhappy experiences have broken me, and I have not lost my taste for living."

But Leonhard said that after she had finished her memoirs, a great change came over this previously "intensely active" old woman. She "complained increasingly of the state of her health, and her all-embracing optimism gave way to pessimism and despair." She became reclusive and refused to have her memoirs published until after her death. Perhaps she had begun to understand that somehow the "experts" would succeed, where the Soviets had failed, in robbing her survival of much of its meaning.

Essay Types: Essay