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Yanks for Stalin (1999) is a 60-minute History Undercover series special documentary that aired on the History Channel. It chronicles the story of American white- and blue-collar workers who left the United States during the Great Depression to work in the Soviet Union to bolster Joseph Stalin's five-year plans.

Though the American white collar workers received special treatment there, the blue collar laborers often had to suffer the same deplorable conditions as Soviet workers. As one testified: "Men froze, hungered and suffered, but the construction work went on with a disregard for individuals and a mass heroism seldom paralleled in history."

The program examines both how the Soviets spun the facts and how American industry concealed the help it provided to the Soviet Union.


Books related to American workers in the Soviet Union

  • Black on Red: My 44 Years Inside the Soviet Union (ISBN 0874918855) by Robert Robinson is the story of a Jamaican-born Ford toolmaker who left the U.S. to work in the Soviet Union during the 1930s.
  • They Took My Father: Finnish Americans in Stalin's Russia (ISBN 0816643369) by Mayme Sevander, Laurie Hertzel
  • Behind the Urals: An American Worker in Russia's City of Steel (ISBN 0253106001) by John Scott
  • American Engineer in Stalin's Russia: The Memoirs of Zara Witkin, 1932-1934 (ISBN 0520071344) by Zara Witkin
  • In Coming Out of the Ice (ISBN 0915031027) by Victor Herman, the author recounts how, as a young American, he was brought to Russia in 1931 by his father, who returned to his native land to open and run an automobile plant. While there, Victor wins a medal for his athletic abilities, but is sent to a Gulag when he refuses to sign a paper testifying that he is a Russian.
  • Dancing Under the Red Star (ISBN 1400070783) by Karl Tobien relates the true story of Margaret Werner, the only American woman known to have been imprisoned in Stalin's Gulags. She comes to Gorky in 1932 when Henry Ford sends 450 of his Detroit employees to operate the Gorky Automobile Plant. Her father is arrested on trumped-up charges and Margaret and her mother are left to eke out a wretched life, at times facing starvation and terror. Margaret is eventually arrested herself and sent to live in a Soviet Gulag for ten years.
  • The Forsaken: An American Tragedy in Stalin's Russia (ISBN 978-1-59420-168-4) by Tim Tzouliadis chronicles the terrible fate that awaited those who left depression-era Americans for the "workers' paradise" of Soviet Russia in the 1930s. It continues with tales of American POWs from World War II and the Korean War who became part of the Soviet Union's gulag system.

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