A.A. Berzin Memoir on Soviet Whaling Published

IFAW was pleased to contribute to a unique project just published by NOAA's National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) about a memoir written by a now deceased Russian scientist documenting the Soviet Union's whaling activities from roughly the period of 1950-1980 is available from the NMFS site.

The memoir, written by A.A. Berzin is described by the author in the following preface:

I have always condemned (and to do anything more was not within our power or abilities) the illegal and sometimes destructive whaling by the Soviet Union. This opinion was expressed in numerous documents, including reports and records of presentations at scientific and other meetings; these documents are the witnesses to this condemnation. However, none of these documents ever saw the light of day: all of them were marked with the sinister stamp “secret.” When necessary in this memoir, my opinion of the whaling will be supported by data drawn from these documents.


I was not and did not want to be a member of the Communist Party; but I always acted lawfully, and I never had thoughts of publishing the things that I promised to keep secret. Moreover, as it was in the interests of our State at the time, I did my best to ensure that no confidential information was leaked (I was working as the expert on whaling in the “Primorskiy Kraylit”1).


I do not know how clearly I have managed to express my position regarding the whalers themselves, but even during the whaling period and now in this memoir I do not indict the whalers for what was happening in this business, especially during the last few years before whaling was stopped. It would be the same as accusing soldiers for their actions during a war. But whose fault was it? I have tried to explain all these things in this memoir.


We can now hope that these older unhappy times have been consigned to the past. The new administration has allowed people to reveal the real history of the country, including even the most brutal parts.


A more realistic and accurate interpretation has now been made of many events which occurred during various periods of the development of different types of socialism and communism in our country. The government declassified everything that was possible, including most of the documents related to whaling.


However, to date none of these whaling documents (except for some numbers found in highly specialized papers) have actually been made public. There have been no published analyses or interpretations regarding what happened.   


This is not justifiable, and from the perspective of both citizens and scientists it makes no sense to continue to play hide and seek (as some people are still doing), and to not reveal the formerly hidden truth about Soviet whaling.

A.A. Berzin
June 1994

Pretty amazing stuff...and although nothing will bring those whales back...an important document for reference in the current struggle...many thanks to the departed comrade for his dilligence and foresight.

Comments: 1

8 years ago

How old is that photograph? Where'd ya find it, for that matter?

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