Monday, October 30, 2017
Christmas Eve, 1945. Moscow was blanketed under a thick coat of snow. There were almost no cars about. His driver eased down ruined streets that made it look like a country still at war. The winter blizzards had begun before the rebuilding had gotten under way, and now it would have to wait for the thaw. Unfinished buildings stood frozen in time. Stores looked dark and uninviting, and appeared to offer little for sale. Even so, huge numbers of people gathered outside the shops and still more filled the crowded sidewalks, all carrying parcels. Most were poorly dressed, covered heads bent against the swirling white. Over twenty-seven million Soviet citizens died defeating the Nazis, nearly a third of the country's former wealth was gone, but Russia was already on the rebound. There were children everywhere. Babies - so many babies - bundled up within an inch of their lives against the bitter cold. Despite its drab appearance, the capital was alive and teeming with humanity. James Conant was a Yankee from hardy New England stock, but he had to admit he was impressed with the Russians. They were a tough race, tested by war, insurrection, and an unforgiving climate. "There is no foolishness in this nation," he wrote in his diary. "Nothing soft."
-Jennet Conant, Man Of The Hour: James B. Conant: Warrior Scientist