Sorokin and Kondratieff

 

L to R; Nikolai Kondratieff and wife, Elena Sorokin, Pitirim Sorokin; Minnesota, 1927

Of … memorable reunions in Minneapolis, that with my closest old friend, Professor N. Kondratieff, must be mentioned. As a foremost agricultural economist and expert on business cycles, he was permitted by the Soviet Government to visit American universities and research institutions in his field. This task brought him to the University of Minnesota where he stayed with us for several days. It was a real joy for us to see him alive and well and to talk with him about our Russian friends, the economic and political conditions in Russia, and the basic problems of the world at large. Unfortunately this reunion was our last meeting. A few years after his return to Russia, he was accused by Stalin in 1931 of being the leading ideologist and planner of an anti-Communist reconstruction of Russian agriculture. As such, he was “purged,” and disappeared. We heard rumors that he had been banished and had perished somewhere in Turkestan or Mongolia. But exactly how and where he perished we have never learned up to the present time. Requiem eternam et lux perpetua to you, our dearest friend!

A Long Journey: The Autobiography of Pitirim A. Sorokin, pg. 233

 

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As the semester [at the University of Minnesota] got under way, they learned that their old friend Nikolai Kondratieff would be visiting in early November. Kondratieff was widely known in Russia as a theorist of economic cycles, a statistician, and an agricultural economist. Pitirim had not seen Kondratieff since staying with him in Moscow after being released by the Chekha. They had first met as boys at the Khrenovo Teachers’ Seminary when Pitirim was fourteen and Nikolai almost eleven. Kondratieff, like Sorokin, was expelled for revolutionary activities. When he learned that Pitirim was in night school at the Tscherniayevskye Kursy, he went to St. Petersburg, where the two were roommates for several years. They completed night school together and went on to the University of St. Petersburg. Nikolai had met Elena shortly after she became acquainted with Pitirim, and all had endured the trials of the revolution. Kondratieff had also served in the Kerensky government as the deputy minister for food.

Kondratieff’s visit lasted for nearly a month, and the Sorokins delighted in showing him the Twin Cities. Pitirim also introduced Nikolai to some of his colleagues in the department and to others in agricultural economics. As Kondratieff’s work had not yet been translated into English, American scholars were largely unaware of his ideas, although some knew of him as a Soviet economic planner and farm expert. Sorokin kept Kondratieff’s visit quiet because he feared that their association might create problems when his friend returned to Russia. Pitirim’s concern actually foreshadowed his friend’s ultimate fate. Five years later, Kondratieff’s economic ideas brought him into conflict with Soviet policies. He was jailed in 1930 and appeared in the mock trials of 1931-32 in which Stalin purged so-called enemies of the state. However, Pitirim did not sense that when Nikolai left for Washington in early December 1924 it would be the last time he would see his boyhood friend. Kondratieff..

Barry V. Johnston, Pitirim A. Sorokin: An Intellectual Biography, pp. 29-30

 

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Kondratiev was removed from the directorship of the Institute of Conjuncture in 1928 and arrested in July 1930, accused of being a member of a “Peasants Labour Party” (a non-existent party invented by the NKVD). Convicted as a “kulak-professor” and sentenced to 8 years in prison, Kondratiev served his sentence, from February 1932 onwards, at Suzdal, near Moscow. Although his health deteriorated under poor conditions, Kondratiev continued his research and decided to prepare five new books, as he mentioned in a letter to his wife. Some of these texts were indeed completed and were published.

His last letter was sent to his daughter, Elena Kondratieva, on 31 August 1938. In September 1938 during Stalin’s Great Purge, he was subjected to a second trial, condemned to ten years without the right to correspond with the outside world. However, Kondratiev was executed at the Kommunarka shooting ground by firing squad on the same day the sentence was issued. Kondratiev was 46 at the time of his execution.

Wikipedia

 

— posted by Roger W.  Smith

     December 2022

Author: Roger W. Smith

Roger W. Smith is a writer and independent scholar based in New York City. His experience includes freelance writing and editing, business writing, book reviewing, and the teaching of writing and literature as an adjunct professor at St. John’s University. Mr. Smith's interests include personal essays and opinion pieces; American and world literature; culture, especially books and reading; classical music; current issues that involve social, moral, and philosophical views; and experiences of daily living from a ground level perspective. Sites on WordPress hosted by Mr. Smith include: (1) rogersgleanings.com (a personal site comprised of essays on a wide range of topics) ; (2) rogers-rhetoric.com (covering principles and practices of writing); (3) roger-w-smiths-dreiser.site (devoted to the author Theodore Dreiser); and (4) pitirimsorokin.com (devoted to sociologist and social philosopher Pitirim A. Sorokin).

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