This article is intended not only for lovers of Russian history, but, first of all, perhaps, for those who today bitterly complain about the “too harsh”, in their personal opinion, quarantine measures introduced by the Russian authorities to combat the coronavirus epidemic. At the same time, because it was precisely the extreme rigidity and, I would say, the harshness of the measures taken in the Celestial Empire that saved China from terrifying human casualties and economic losses, for some reason such an audience does not convince at all.
"We are not Chinese - there is nothing for us to establish strictness here!" - they cry, not understanding what they are trying to protest against. Well, ladies and gentlemen, would you like to know exactly how "extraordinary" and the most active participation in the anti-epidemic operations of representatives of the special services saved the Soviet Union from outbreaks of the most deadly diseases?
Go against socialism - who is who?
The somewhat shocking phrase that sounds today is that either socialism will defeat lice, or louse will prevail over socialism, belongs to none other than the leader of the world proletariat, Vladimir Ilyich Lenin. The problem of infectious diseases was not something that was extremely acute for the barely born Soviet Russia - it directly threatened its very existence. The consequences of the First World War and the erupting Civil ... The worst devastation, completely destroyed medicine, hellish unsanitary conditions ... This is not a complete list of the troubles that those who tried to build the world's first state of workers and peasants on our land had to start with. At the same time, just in 1918, the pandemic of the flu pandemic, the so-called “Spanish woman”, about which I spoke a little earlier, broke out in the world almost the worst in the history of mankind. Some "historians" are trying to argue that more than 3 million people died from this disease in Russia, which amounted to about 3.5% of its population at that time. Bullshit, sorry for being rude! First of all, there are absolutely no reliable data either on the real number of inhabitants of our Motherland at that time, or, moreover, on how many of them died (and not, say, emigrated from the country) and for what specific reason. The figures are clearly overstated, not even at times, but tens of times, at least. However, even without the "Spaniard" the most diverse ailments that mowed the people left and right, while not even knowing who is for the Reds, who is for the Whites, more than enough. Cholera, diphtheria, scarlet fever, tuberculosis ... And, of course, typhoid - at least three varieties (abdominal, rash, recurrent). It was he who was carried, first of all, by lice, on which Vladimir Ilyich quite rightly took up arms. The RSFSR had more than real chances of extinction - without any white armies and interventions.
If someone thinks that the collapse, the dirt and the abomination of desolation reigned exclusively somewhere in the deaf and godforsaken provinces, then he is very deeply mistaken. There, in small towns, things were often much better. But Moscow literally drowned in ... yes, yes, yes - in this very, and in the absolutely literal sense of the word! What can I say, if in some courtyards of the Kremlin a layer, sorry for the rudeness, of manure, lay, according to the memoirs of contemporaries, "an arshin and a half." That is - a meter or more. And, again, one should not blame exclusively the revolution and the Bolsheviks in this situation - in fact, they stopped taking out the garbage from Zlatoglava back in 1916. Slightly less than a tenth of Moscow households lost their water supply and sewage systems due to the lack of heating and pipes broken through by severe winters. But two-thirds of Moscow houses (as, again, in 1916) never had them at all! The capital needed to be cleaned as urgently as the legendary Augean stables. But they could only solve the matter in such a quick and radical way, as Hercules did, the Bolsheviks who took up it, of course could not. To eliminate the problem at the beginning of 1920, the Moscow Emergency Sanitary Commission was established. The powers granted to her were, of course, smaller than that of the famous Cheka, which was fighting the counter-revolution, but not to say much. To attract transport and citizens to carry out its tasks, the "sanitary Cheka" could, in fact, without restrictions. Do you want to dirty your hands? But shish instead of food ration! By the way, Ilyich personally proposed this measure. However, things could have turned out even cooler - for sabotage of events of the Ministry of Emergencies, one could easily get under the tribunal and go to the concentration camp for three months. There were precedents ... Especially malicious saboteurs and violators of sanitary norms, besides, they had every chance to get to know the “ordinary” Cheka more closely - with all the ensuing consequences.
It is possible to tell for a long time about what titanic and literally nationwide efforts Moscow and other cities (in which their not less severe CSK began to operate over time) were cleared of garbage that was taken out and destroyed by tons and mountains. By the way, which later became a textbook photograph “Ilyich with a log” was taken just during one of the subbotniks to free the capital from all kinds of vile things and rubbish. Everyone carried what was, was. With all my deepest respect for Mikhail Bulgakov and love for his work, I am forced to make one clarification. Moscow was saved from epidemics of the “rash” and cholera, literally pulled it out of the mud not only the professors and doctors of the “old school”, like Preobrazhensky and Bormental, but also, first of all, the employees of the very “cleansing” that Mikhail Afanasevich with such profound contempt deduced in his immortal "Dog Heart". Incidentally, in the RSFSR there was another type of “medical Cheka”, which appeared in some places even earlier, in 1919 - Extraordinary Commissions for Fighting Typhoid. Especially fiercely this disease raged beyond the Urals, in Siberia. According to some estimates, she took more lives there than the fierce battles of the red detachments with the Kolchak army, on both sides. And, by the way, it was precisely the “anti-typhoid” Cheka that was the first to create ... the “troika” for the quick and decisive fulfillment of the tasks they faced to combat the disease. One of the three was, necessarily, a doctor, but the other two - as a rule, severe comrades in leather jackets and under the Nagans or Mausers. To cope with the spread of the infection was possible only with the most severe measures of restriction and coercion. And they did it ... It was later, after the formation of the Soviet Union, the eradication of epidemics threatening epidemics was carried out by the rapid development of medicine and sanitation, universal vaccination and, simply, an unprecedented improvement in the standard of living of most people. However, from time to time, the Chekists again had to engage in battle with the deadly infection.
Find, neutralize, cure!
In 1939, the USSR had one of the most advanced, and, most importantly, mass and public health systems. Such a terrible disease, like the plague, was considered long defeated and outdated from the life of Soviet people. Nevertheless, work on preparations for its treatment continued, not least because the plague pathogen could well be used by the enemies of our country as a biological weapon. How correct these actions were, it became clear much later - in 1945, when it turned out that the "plague" ammunition was in service with the ominous Japanese "Detachment 731" and was used by them in China. It could well have been used against our troops ... One of the places where the relevant studies were conducted was the Saratov Scientific Research Institute of Microbiology and Epidemiology. Nobody will ever know exactly what mistake the scientist Abram Berlin who participated in them made, however, the deadly microbe managed to escape into the laboratory where he worked. The worst thing is that immediately after an unsuccessful experiment, Berlin went to Moscow. He was far from the last category in science, and therefore he settled not in any where, but in the “National”, managed to attend the board of the People’s Commissariat of Health and continue to communicate with colleagues in the restaurant. It was there that he felt ill. The doctors called out could not even think of the true diagnosis of a colleague, but they sent him to the hospital just in case. In the clinic of the 1st medical institute, a simple doctor on duty, Simon Gorelik, prevented the tragedy from threatening the capital. This man showed not only true professionalism, being able to determine what infected Berlin. Gorelik made a real feat of self-sacrifice - having informed the remaining doctors about what had happened, he left with the patient who had turned into a "biological bomb" into the bowels of hospital cellars, where both remained until their own death, which did not make them wait.
Naturally, a state of emergency of this magnitude was immediately followed by a report directly to Lavrenty Beria, who raised the alarm over the entire personnel of the Moscow NKVD. The main tasks were to identify everyone who had contacted Berlin for at least a few seconds and placed them in the most severe quarantine, as well as preventing panic in the city. The second part was dealt with relatively easily, even the National was washed to sterility and disinfected late at night - so that no one could see or chat. The Chekists also performed the first and main point, however, “excellently”. The clinic was cordoned off, staff isolated. One can only imagine the horror of high-ranking employees of the People's Commissariat of Health who heard in the silence of the night: “Open! NKVD ... "In 1939, such visits, you know, caused nervous attacks even in the most powerful in spirit. Nevertheless, thanks to the quick and clear actions of the enkvedists and doctors, all the involuntary participants in the incident were lucky. In addition to one thing, the hairdresser, who had been shorn on that fateful day in Berlin, died of the plague ... Lavrenty Pavlovich breathed a sigh of relief and returned to the usual trapping of spies and enemies of the people. The next battle with the most, perhaps, the most terrifying of diseases, was to come in two decades to another generation of Chekists - the employees of the State Security Committee. Once again, an “infection” came to Moscow, which was able to mow the metropolis in a matter of days and weeks - smallpox. In our country, the fight against this most dangerous disease has been conducted at the state level since the eighteenth century - the Empress Catherine the Great personally made a huge contribution to this matter. The USSR forgot about the pestilence in the second half of the 30s, thanks, again, to completely universal vaccination and excellent medicine. And then the smallpox returned again ... It should be noted that this time the circumstances of the threat were completely different.
The culprit of the incident was not a doctor or scientist, but the famous Soviet artist, author of many posters, Alexei Kokorekin. Having reached (obviously in search of inspiration) right up to India itself, this brush master accidentally witnessed the funeral rite of one of the brahmanas. And I did not find anything better than to touch the body of the deceased before burning ... From what he died, you guessed it, of course. Arriving home in December 1959, Moscow Kokorekin did not live long - he died in the hospital on the very day when he crossed the threshold of his native home, from where the ambulance took him to the hospital. The doctors who performed the autopsy could not understand what exactly killed the patient - the symptoms were somehow strange, only vaguely reminiscent of something. And it was only by chance that an old prosector from Leningrad, who found himself in the “anatomical”, not believing in himself, exclaimed: “Bah, this is variola vera!” They did not listen to him, writing off a terrible revelation almost on insanity, and very in vain. Smallpox, as you know, spreads no worse than a forest fire. Within a couple of days, similar symptoms appeared, at least in two people from the hospital's medical staff who had contact with the artist. Moreover, the guy lying on the floor below, whose bed was under the ventilation grill and the hospital stoker, just passing by Kokorekin’s ward, were also infected with smallpox! They started taking the tests seriously, and on January 15, 1960, Nikita Khrushchev was informed of the mortal threat hanging over Moscow and the whole country. It was then that the KGB entered into business. The order was simple and clear: “Find all the same people who“ intersected ”with the artist and isolate immediately!” The family of the deceased, the crew and all passengers of the plane in which Kokorekin was returning to his homeland, customs officers and border guards from Vnukovo who met the flight — all were quarantined. However, the farther the “smallpox investigation" went, the more work fell on the investigators.
As it turned out, the mountain-traveler returned to the capital a day earlier than the officially announced date. This day he spent with his mistress. And quarantine her! And her friends! What, one of them took students offsets ?! Students there too! Moreover, a loving man of art turned out to be generous. From India, he brought all his “ladies of heart”, as well as some acquaintances, souvenirs and gifts - mostly bright and catchy clothes made there. Some of the gifted have already managed to demolish these exotic rags in the commission. Some were bought right away ... Imagine for a second - to identify all the stores, their employees, customers who have become “happy” owners of deadly new things and generally visited the store. Find everyone, isolate everyone! Not only the employees of the State Security Committee, but also the Moscow police, who helped them with all their strength, fell from their feet. And yet ... The crown of the hard labor of law enforcement officers was the identification of 10 thousand (!) People who could be potential carriers of the virus. Several closed medical institutions were allocated for their maintenance, and the Botkin hospital, where Kokorekin died, was completely isolated - neither patients nor doctors could leave it. The whole Moscow was also “tightly sealed”, interrupting any communication with the rest of the country - from aviation to automobile. The reinforced roadblocks that stood on all roads passed only the products and goods necessary to prevent an epidemic. First of all, these were medicines. 10 million doses of anti-fowl serum extracted from the storage facilities of specialized institutes and sanitary-epidemiological stations were transferred to the capital within three days by military aircraft. Total (200 thousand people a day) vaccination began. A month later, all Muscovites and the guests of the capital who were in the city (about 7 million people) were vaccinated. The threat was recognized as having passed ... Ultimately, 46 people were infected with smallpox, from which millions of Soviet citizens could die. Three have passed away! The brilliant work of the special services played a significant role in this.
Coronavirus is certainly not a plague or smallpox. And yet, before thoughtlessly blaming the "evil" power, which does not allow for a picnic or a familiar walk, it is worth understanding the simplest truth - even the most "advanced" medicine is not able to save a society consisting of nonsense and slobs. Before eliminating the source of infection, it must be completely localized, without giving the disease any chance of spreading - only then the victims will be minimal. Our own history proves this more than convincingly.