• U.S.

RUSSIA: Diaper Trouble

2 minute read

Many a child-bearing Russian housewife, already beset with a scarcity of salt, sugar, matches, soap, etc., last week faced the prospect of didying her infant with her own platok (kerchief) because of an acute shortage of diapers. The Government organ Izvestia revealed that of the 1938 quota of 3,170,000 diapers, the Commissariat of Light Industry had managed to turn out only 765,900 in the first nine months of the year. To make matters worse, Izvestia somewhat puzzlingly added, “many of these failed to reach the ultimate consumer.” Presaging a “purge” of the luckless officials, the paper blamed “inefficient organization.”

On trial in Moscow last week, accused in the Soviet Prosecutor’s scathing phrase of “producing 2,000,000 imaginary pencils,” were the Soviet executives of the famed Sacco & Vanzetti Pencil Factory.

The State bought the factory in 1930 from the famed Hammer family, U. S. small-businessmen who bought a pencil-manufacture monopoly in the Soviet Union from the State under the NEP or “New Economic Policy” of Nikolai Lenin. They cleaned up huge profits making pencils for Communists to plan with, and the Stalin State finally paid the Hammers $1,000,000 for their going concern, let them take out Romanov antiques which they now sell on Manhattan’s Fifth Avenue.

The post-Hammer Soviet management, finding its pencil-making falling each year a little further behind the Five-Year Plan, took to falsifying the Sacco & Vanzetti Pencil production figures, are now being tried for their group-crime.

More Must-Reads from TIME

Contact us at letters@time.com