Kalashnikov Semi-Automatic Rifle II

Lead: Originally designed to help the Soviet army best the Germans in World War II, the AK-47 has become the weapon of choice for insurgent forces world-wide.

Intro: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts

Content: An automatic weapon, in particular the AK-47, has a relatively simple operating mechanism. When a firing pin hits the cartridge primer, the exploding gunpowder creates a wave of gas which propels the bullet out of the barrel at enormous speed. Caught between the bullet and the cartridge, the gas builds up pressure because it has no place to go. Near the muzzle there is a small opening which bleeds off some of the gas into a tube above or below the barrel. The pressure of the gas in the tube pushes the bolt backward, ejecting the spent cartridge and opening the firing chamber to receive a fresh cartridge from the magazine which is pushed upward into the chamber by a spring. As long as the trigger is depressed, the process repeats itself over and over.

Kalashnikov Semi-Automatic Rifle I

Lead: The world’s greatest killing machine, with some 250,000 victims a year, is a Russian invention, the Ak-47, Mr. Kalashnikov’s semi-automatic assault rifle.

Intro: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts

Content: At the high-point of Operation Barbarossa, Adolf Hitler’s ultimately disastrous invasion of Russia that began in 1941, units of the German Army were approaching the outskirts of Moscow. In September they arrived at Bryansk, a city buried in the forest along the Desna River southwest of Moscow. Nazi bombing nearly wiped out the town, killing more than 80,000. Nearly 200,000 were taken into slave camps.

Soviet Coup 1991 IV

Lead: With the world holding its breath, hard-line Communists led by the KGB, in late summer 1991 arrested Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev, and tried to take over the government. A man of courage climbed onto an armored vehicle and stopped them dead.

Intro. A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: As Muscovites headed to work on Monday August 19th, they had to deal with troops and tanks lining the streets. The coup leaders who called themselves the Extraordinary Commission had banned all demonstrations, political parties, and newspapers not associated with their movement, but did not have in custody all their opponents. The President of the Russian Republic, Boris Yeltsin, a former ally of Gorbachev who broke with him because his reforms did not go far enough, after initial hesitation, went to the Russian Parliament Building to oppose the coup. Finally, assured that at least some of the military units in the Moscow region would back him, just after noon he climbed onto an armored vehicle, pronounced the coup illegal and unconstitutional, and called for a general strike and for the return of Gorbachev. By the next morning 150,000 Russians stood outside the Parliament Building and several army units had joined the countercoup. By Tuesday evening it was clear that to succeed the Extraordinary Commission would need to use deadly force and this the leaders hesitated to do. That night, a small scuffle between protesters and a tank produced the only three deaths in their attempt to seize power. On Wednesday the coup collapsed. That night Gorbachev was back in Moscow.


Soviet Coup 1991 III

Lead: In the late summer of 1991, the KGB attempted to take over the Soviet government. For a time, it appeared it would succeed.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: Frustrated with the reforms of President Mikhail Gorbachev which were undermining Communist control of Soviet national life and sensing his weakness in the face of deteriorating economic, social and political conditions, hard-line members of the KGB and the military began to plot to get rid of him. The catalyst for the attempted coup was a series of treaties between the various constituent republics of the Soviet Union. The republics were to have more independence which meant even less power and cohesion for the Soviet Union.


Soviet Coup 1991 II

Lead: Frustrated as reality and the reforms of Mikhail Gorbachev dismantled their system of control, hard-line Communists led by the KGB attempted to hold back the march of events with a coup d'etat in the summer of 1991.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: Since 1985 Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev had pressed the nation away from totalitarianism toward openness and democracy. He had been less successful in reforming the economy. Gorbachev had come to power through the ranks of the Communist Party and was reluctant to jettison the main outlines of the old regime. He was a temporizer who rejected the command economy and the Stalinism that was required to keep it operating but as it crumbled, he was unable or unwilling to create a free market to take its place.

Soviet Coup 1991 I

Lead: In late summer 1991, conservative elements of the KGB and Communist Party tried to revive the collapsing Soviet system. For a breathless moment it looked as if they would succeed.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: For a dozen years prior to 1985 Mikhail Gorbachev was the golden boy of Soviet politics. After law school at Moscow State University, in 1955 he returned to his native region of Stavropol near the Caspian Sea in southwestern Russia. He held a number of posts in the Communist Party organization and was named a member of the Central Committee of the national Party in 1971. Under the guidance of his patron, the party's chief ideologue, Mikhail Suslov, Gorbachev moved quickly up the ranks and by 1980 was a full member of the Politburo. When Konstantin Chernenko died in 1985, Gorbachev was his logical successor as General Secretary of the Soviet Party.

Anna Larina Bukharin

Lead: As a teenager Anna Larina fell deeply in love with Nicholai Ivanovich Bukharin, a hero of the Russian Revolution, a man twenty-six years her elder. She shared his fate at the hands of Joseph Stalin.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: As a girl, Larina met most of the old Bolsheviks. Her father, Yuri was one of the inner circle and often in the 1920s Lenin or Stalin would dine in their apartment in the Metropole Hotel in Moscow. Bukharin lived just upstairs and soon her crush on him became evident to all around them. Once she wrote a love letter and slipped up the stairs to put it under his door. On the way she nearly ran into Stalin who was headed that way. She gave him the note to deliver. The irony of one of the twentieth century's great butchers passing romantic notes for a love-sick teenager is inescapable.


Barbarossa II


Lead: By December 1940 Adolf Hitler had decided to attack Soviet Russia late the following spring. In March he compounded that blunder with a catastrophic error born of pure rage.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: Before Hitler could attack Russia he had to clean up the deteriorating situation in the Balkans. He rescued the Italian Army which was being beaten up by Greeks, he dragooned the Bulgarians into the Tripartite Alliance with Germany and Italy, and he thought he had browbeaten the Yugoslav government into same fate, but the Yugoslavs were made of sterner stuff. A popular uprising in March overthrew the Yugoslav regime and let it be known that that little country would not be a puppet of Berlin. Hitler absolutely hit the ceiling, launching into a wild rage, and ordered his generals to level Belgrade with bombing and crush the Yugoslavs.