National Geographic : 1942 Jul
The National Geographic Magazine Soviet Farmers Harvest Bumper Crops on the North Caucasus Steppes This collective farm is in the heart of the Soviet Union's richest grain region, lying between the Black and Caspian Seas north of the mountains. Crops move to market over a network of railroads. Gateway to the entire area is Rostov on the Don, river port and railway junction as large as Newark, New Jersey. tourist, the Soviet tourist organization for for eigners, have this privilege. Since 1939, how ever, foreign expeditions have been almost entirely prohibited because of a not unjustifi able fear of espionage. Sport for Defense Every summer in peacetime, sport groups of the trade unions camp around Elbrus in tent colonies for a short course in moun taineering. One year, for instance, the Lenin grad metalworkers had a camp in the region west of Elbrus, and the Nauka (science) group, organized by the union for scientific professions, camped in an adjacent valley. These mountain-climbing expeditions are organized and planned by the central Moscow commission for sports. The aim is frankly represented as training for defense of the Soviet Union. Equipment, even shoes and clothing, is furnished free (pages 99, 102). By their semimilitary sport organization, the Russians have built up a reserve army for mountain warfare. Should German troops land in Transcaucasia or break into the North Caucasus by way of Rostov, the Soviet sport organization would get its supreme test. One of the most interesting sections of the Caucasus is Svanetia, southeast of Elbrus, and the rapidity of its cultural development is just as amazing as that of Balkaria, its northern neighbor. From the time of the Russian civil war, until 1928, when I entered my first Svan village, no foreign expedition had set foot on Svan soil. The mayor, elder, or chairman of the vil lage council-all different names for the same dignitary-came proudly and inquisitively to meet me. He was the only man in the whole village who spoke Russian. "Where do you come from?" he asked. "From Vienna." "Where is that?"