Military Review

Write me, mother, to Egypt ...

Memories of a military translator

1. Soviet rocket men at the Egyptian pyramids


Egypt burst into my life unexpectedly in 1962. I graduated from the pedagogical institute in Magnitogorsk. In winter, they called me to the military registration and enlistment office and offered to become a military translator. In the summer I was given the military rank of junior lieutenant. In September, I arrived in Moscow for courses of military translators.
October 1 as part of a small group of graduates of Soviet universities with knowledge of the English language, flew to Cairo to work as an interpreter with Soviet military experts.

I knew almost nothing about Egypt and the Middle East. I heard that the young officers made a revolution, expelled the king, nationalized the Suez Canal. A bunch of bankers in England and France attempted to punish them and forced the subordinate governments to organize the so-called "triple aggression" against Egypt and re-occupy the Suez Canal zone, and the Israeli troops - Sinai. However, it was enough for the governments of the USSR and the USA to shout how France, England and Israel reluctantly were forced to leave the land of others.

As I descended the ladder onto Egyptian land, none of my comrades, military interpreters, realized that fate had abandoned us to the Middle East not by chance that during our life this region would become the most dangerous hot spot on the planet, that it would become the main focus of Israel’s -Arab wars, initiated by a handful of international bankers and oil barons.

At the airport we were met by officers in civilian clothes. We got on the bus and drove across Cairo to our place of service. They reached the Nile. Five bridges lay across the famous river. One by one we enter Zamalik. Before the July revolution, Egyptian beys and foreign colonial rulers of Egypt lived on this island. This is the area of ​​the rich and the embassies. At the beginning of 1960's, the Soviet Embassy was located here on a quiet street right on the banks of the Nile.

With our mouths open, we looked at Eastern exoticism with all our eyes: the streets packed with cars of all brands, buses, trucks of odd form, but not a single Soviet one; on the little shops with the pyramids of apples, orange, mandarin in baskets, standing right on the sidewalk, on the shelves. The police were dressed in black uniform and white leggings. Everything was mixed up: people, cars, two-wheeled carts with donkeys; fumes, gasoline, the roar of engines, the voices of people who spoke a strange guttural language.

Cairo struck us with a jumble of Eastern and European architecture, arrows of minarets, a multitude of shops, shops and crowds of people. It seemed that all citizens did not live in houses, but on the street.

The smell of gas mixed with some oriental spices. In the coffee shops and on the sidewalks, bored men sat at tables, drinking coffee from tiny cups, washing it down with cold water and smoking shishi (a pipe in which smoke passes the water). Noise, din, hum. Cairo worked, talked, hurried, lived a life that was completely incomprehensible to us.

I could not believe that I came to this exotic eastern country not as a tourist, but as a foreign worker. At that time I did not know that I would have to work in this country for several years and that I would leave it permanently only in September 1971.

We stopped at the office of the Soviet military mission. The mission was led by Lieutenant-General Pozharsky (unfortunately, I do not remember the name of the patronymic of this remarkable general. Can you not help?). It was located near the Soviet Embassy, ​​on a quiet narrow street in a high-rise building on Zamalik. We climbed to the third floor. Surrendered their "red passport" for registration. We were given an advance in Egyptian pounds. The salary of translators, as we later found out, was equal to the wage of the Egyptian lieutenant colonel. Not bad for a lieutenant. For a year, if you wanted, you could save money for a Moskvich and buy it without a queue in the USSR!

On that first day of my stay in Cairo, I did not yet know that a year later, after the holidays, I would return again with my family to the UAR. We will rent an apartment near the Office on Zamalik. This island on the Nile will enter forever in my life as a monument to the best years of our youth, happy years of extraordinary luck in life.

Zamalik was considered one of the oldest fashionable areas of Cairo. In the summer it was cooled from all sides by the turbid waters of the Nile. Most of the island was occupied in English by the well-groomed Gezira Sports Club with a swimming pool, tennis courts, and various game venues. Next to the club 180 meter Tower, the symbol of the new independent Egypt. It has a spinning restaurant and a terrace for exploring Cairo.

I did not know that in a year we would settle in one of the apartments of a house on a poorly populated quiet street next to this club. In the evenings, we will walk along the embankment of the Nile, along the Andalusian garden under the ever-green palm trees, along the flowerbeds with bright colors, be photographed against their background. This green oasis stretches along the Nile. Almost every evening we will walk to the villa at the Soviet Embassy in the street past the Office.

There in the library we will take new magazines and books in Russian, watch new Soviet films, meet with Soviet movie stars who came at the invitation of the Arab side - Batalov, Smoktunovsky, Doronina, Fateyeva and others. I remember that Hamlet with Smoktunovsky in the lead role went half a year simultaneously in three Cairo cinemas with full halls. Even James Bond films didn’t have such phenomenal success. Smoktunovsky played the role of Hamlet brilliantly. Where Vysotsky was before him !!

As for the USSR, the authority of our country was with the working people of the West and among the peoples of Asia and Africa is enormous. He walked by leaps and bounds to the "bright future." Soviet cosmonauts flew in space. The American reconnaissance aircraft was shot down in the Urals, and the pilot publicly admitted that such reconnaissance flights by the United States Air Force were performed on instructions from the CIA all the time and not only over the USSR.

With officers at the Sphinx

We looked with curiosity at the three famous pyramids, that is, at that tourist complex with a stone Sphinx, which is seen by all tourists coming to Egypt. Then, driving past the pyramids of Giza, we still did not know that in a couple of weeks we would be taken on a tour of the pyramids. We will be inside the pyramid of Cheops, we will stand at the Sphinx, that by them we will constantly go to the city center - to Opera Square, to the Soviet villa every week. Returning to Dashur, the so-called place where our training center was located, we will silently look at the illuminated streets of Cairo, and after passing the pyramids, we will sing our favorite songs and quietly be sad for our loved ones and relatives.

Behind the pyramids of Giza, the bus somewhere turned left - into the desert, and soon we were in front of a barrier. The driver shouted something to the soldier, the barrier got up, and we, picking up speed, rushed along a narrow deserted highway into the depths of the empty, bare desert.

- A closed area starts from this checkpoint. Except for the military, nobody is allowed into it, they explained to us.

Twenty minutes later, the bus stopped at the gates of the Air Defense Training Center, fenced from all sides of the desert with a barbed wire fence. He ran for a short time along a narrow highway that disappeared into the distance. Then the fence turned to the two pyramids and disappeared into the light yellow desert. Their name was Dashur. Therefore, in the office and in the Soviet villa, our center was called Dashursky. Around where the gaze could reach was the hot sands of the sun.

Behind the fence stood several one-story and two-story buildings. On the very first day, we learned that officers, soldiers and sergeants serving rocket technology live in the two-story barracks. In single-story buildings in more comfortable conditions — spacious rooms for two, senior officers lived — teachers and translators. The food block and the dining room were in a separate building. Officers, sergeants, and soldiers dined together in the same dining room. The menu is not very rich, but the dishes are plentiful. Pork chop did not fit on a large dish.


After dinner at five o'clock us, newcomers. collected, the head of the translation agency. By age, he was our father. Thin, angular. Unremarkable Russian face. In a white shirt without a tie, he looked more like a collective farm accountant than an officer.

- Let's get acquainted. Briefly tell about yourself: what university did you graduate from and when, was there a military department in your university? But before I tell you about myself.

During the Great Patriotic War, he, a sophomore at the Faculty of Foreign Languages, sailed the American courts as an English translator. They transported military equipment and weapons under Lend-Lease from America to Arkhangelsk and Murmansk. After graduating from the Institute, he worked as a translator in military intelligence, and after the closure of the Military Institute and the abolition of military interpreters in military units, he was transferred to work in the personnel department. Last year, unexpectedly summoned to the General Staff. Arrived in the UAR, along with officers-rocket men.

- Better, of course, if we were Arabists, knew Arabic, customs, traditions, history country. But alas! Arabists in the Soviet army is almost gone. They are urgently prepared at the Military Institute, which has been reopened at the Military Diplomatic Academy. Before closing, the best professorship of the country worked in it. There was an excellent library in all languages ​​of the world, as well as its own publishing house and printing house. There was a beautiful Oriental faculty. While the Arabists, who have been transferred to the reserve, will now search for, collect, time will pass, and you and I need to work today and teach our players to own a new one. weapons and help this country create its own air defense system. By the way, Israel has similar American-made ground-to-air missiles. Soviet missiles will cover the sky over Egypt. We will teach our wards to own new weapons, to help Egypt create a modern air defense system.

The Arab officers you have to work with speak English. They graduated from electrical engineering departments, mobilized into the army and sent to study at our training center, he continued. - Moscow has set before us, officers of the training center, the task of teaching our Arab friends to use modern weapons. To this end, the Dvina C-75 mobile anti-aircraft missile system will be delivered to Egypt. It was put into service in the USSR in 1957. Soon it was declassified and began to be sold to developing countries.

However, in Egypt, its data and our training center are classified. In a Soviet villa, you say that you work in civilian facilities in Hiluan or with geologists. In the summer of 1963, demonstration shooting will take place by the forces of the Arab rocket men trained by us. The shooting will visit the top leadership of the country. According to the results of the firing, contracts will be concluded for the supply of missile systems to this country, which has embarked on strengthening the bonds of friendship and military cooperation with the USSR and on building “Arab socialism” in its own country. The situation in the Middle East is complicated. You understand how much responsibility we have. We must do everything possible to prepare first-class rocket specialists. The situation in the Middle East is complex.

Then in the class we learned that the range of destruction of the targets by the complex was more than 30 km, and the height range of the destruction of targets 3-22 km. The maximum speed of the targeted targets is up to 2300 km / h.

The head of the translation bureau explained to us the internal routine of the training center: work in classrooms, on platforms with equipment, in stations up to two in the afternoon. Then lunch. Arab officers on buses leave for Cairo. We have lunch, rest. In the evening, free time and preparation for classes for tomorrow. Officers are allowed to travel to Cairo three times a week; soldiers and sergeants - only on Fridays. On weekends, the Arab side organizes sightseeing trips for us to travel to other cities.

“Since we know little of this country, the customs of the traditions of the Arab people must be studied.” I recommend not to miss excursions. They will help you quickly explore the host country. It is recommended to walk around the city in small groups in order to avoid minor provocations. I would not call the attitude to the Soviet people very friendly. Egypt is a capitalist country. Come to the buses in advance in the evening. They go to Dashur from Opera Square in 21.00, from the embassy villa in 21.15. Don't be late. Our area is closed. The training center is classified. In letters to your homeland, do not mention the host country or the work we do.

The lieutenant colonel divided us into study groups. I was sent as a translator to a training group that studied the work of a missile guidance station.
The technical stuffing of the training center — rockets, tankers, detection and guidance stations — was disguised. In the mornings of us all - about two hundred people - the buses were taken to the training camp. Our soldiers serviced equipment. Study groups worked with teachers and translators. At two o'clock the classes ended, the buses brought us to the residential area. The same buses brought Arab officers from Cairo and took them back in the afternoon.

At first, we did not attach importance to the established order: foreign teachers lived and worked in the desert behind barbed wire, and only two or three times they were allowed to travel outside the “zone” on an excursion or to Cairo. Listeners, like gentlemen, came to the area for a few hours and returned home - to the familiar world of a big city.

Looking back to those distant 60s today, I recall how we, Soviet instructors and translators, walked in the evenings in small groups along “Broadway,” as we called the road connecting the residential and educational complexes and surrounded by the emptiness and silence of the endless desert. From any point of the center Dashur pyramids were visible.

Being on a mission abroad, Soviet officers changed their habits. Few who allowed themselves to drink an extra bottle of beer or wine, buy a block of cigarettes. Many saved the currency. We were all warmed by the idea that we would be able to save money, buy gifts, and surprise our relatives with beautiful things, which then in the Soviet Union could be found only for big money.

Thus began our military service at the Dashur Air Defense Training Center.

I worked with the captain. The teacher, a young stocky guy, knew his subject perfectly. He had already learned a couple of dozen terms in English. For two months he had to work practically without an interpreter. He smartly explained the schemes: "the signal passes," "the signal does not pass," and so on. I occasionally helped him, prompting words that he did not know. If he explained the material only according to the schemes, he would not need a translator at all. However, he did not understand the questions that the cadets asked him. I translated the questions to him. With my appearance, the Arab officers cheered up. The productivity of classes has increased.

The group could not do without me when the captain explained the theoretical material, dictated the procedure for working with the instruments in different situations. On the eve he brought me his summary and showed the pages that tomorrow we will give to the cadets under the recording. I took the only copy of the “Electrotechnical Russian-English Dictionary” (we sometimes literally fought because of it in the evenings preparing for classes), wrote out the terms and crammed them until late at night.

In between classes, we could discuss with the Arab officers many of the questions that interest us: the last news, Arab socialism, rock'n'roll, French films, etc. These conversations were more interesting and richer in terms of language and emotion. We asked officers about the history of Egypt, the July 1952 revolution. They were happy to tell us about the revolution, about Arab socialism, and about Gamal Abdel Nasser, the leader of the nation respected by all Arabs.

Egyptian officers came from different sections of the middle class who supported the July revolution and the nationalization of the Suez Canal. They all managed to get a higher education. They were well-versed in political issues, but at first they rarely and with great caution expressed their opinion about the essence of the events taking place in the country. As the Soviet lecturers explained to us later, in the Egyptian army every third officer was associated with the Egyptian counterintelligence, and we, the atheists, the atheists, the communists, were wary of us.
Already in the first month we learned that a group of young officers led by G.A. Nasser in July 1952 overthrew King Farouk, a glutton, a drunkard, a libertine and a British henchman. We visited the summer residence of Farouk in Alexandria, in his hunting lodges. The king lived pretty well!
We, graduates of provincial pedagogical institutes, heard something about Israel, but did not pay special attention to the Middle East region. We were more interested in the history and culture of Western countries. The east seemed to us a dark, underdeveloped, oppressed by colonizers array. It turned out that our ideas about the Middle East are outdated.

They learned that Nasser kept the Communists and the leaders of the national-chauvinistic Muslim Brotherhood Party in prisons, that the Egyptians treated the Communists with caution and distrust. That in July, 1961, the country's leadership set out to build "Arab socialism." What it decided to create a public sector in the economy and began to implement the accelerated industrialization of the country.

We learned that the Egyptian bourgeoisie and the landowners are unhappy with the Naser policy of bringing Egypt closer to the socialist countries, the accelerated democratization of the country, the creation of parliament and the election of a non-capitalist development path; that the Assuan dam and power station are being built in the Nile, that thousands of Soviet specialists are working on their construction, and that the Egyptian fellahs will soon receive thousands of hectares of new irrigated land.

In other words, Nasser carried out reforms that were supposed to direct Egypt along a non-capitalist path of development.


Our center was headed by Major General Huseyn Dzhumshudovich (Dzhumshud oglu) Rassulbekov, an Azerbaijani by nationality, a kind-hearted person. In the army of such commanders, soldiers and officers lovingly call them “fathers”, because before they dine, they are not too lazy to go to the soldiers' canteen and make sure that his young soldiers will be fed tasty and satisfying. They will order the officer who has arrived to the unit to arrange a more comfortable accommodation in the dormitory until the apartment for his family is free. Detect negligence in the work of the officer insincerity, try to rehabilitate him.

The subordinate will stumble - they will achieve that the guilty will realize his offense and correct himself. They solve all the internal problems of the unit on their own and are sometimes forced to replace the heads of the political department, because with their troubles people go to those who understand their sorrows and sorrows. Everyone knows that it’s embarrassing and unfair to fail a “baty”: after all, he is one for everything and for everyone in the response, including for the miscalculations of his subordinates.

The broad, erect, almost round eastern face of the general spoke to the Arabs without a word that he was Asian and came from a Muslim family. In his fat, short figure they saw a fellow believer, and therefore it was easy for him to deal with the Egyptian side all the issues related to our work and leisure. There was no refusal to him. The military personnel officers did their best: they found a real “batu” to our group.

Raised in the spirit of internationalism and respect for all nationalities, we did not pay attention to the fact that he was not a Russian, but an Azerbaijani, set to command us. Nationalism was alien and incomprehensible to us. Among translators and teachers, Russians, Ukrainians and Belarusians prevailed. Among the translators were one Avarian, two Georgians, and two Russified Jews. We, ethnic Russians (as a Russian, can only speak on their behalf), have never paid attention to the nationality of a person, considering all nations and nationalities equal to us. We used to appreciate only human qualities in people and live in peace and friendship with all nations, and over two hundred of them lived in the USSR.

We, Russians, are completely devoid of any superiority over other ethnic groups and have never protruded our Russianness over other nationalities. Ordinary Russian people - workers and peasants - did not have and do not have today the so-called “imperial (in the sense of the colonialist) spirit”, about which Russophobes so much love to write. Talking about some kind of oppression by the Russians of some other nation on the basis of nationality or race in Soviet times is a most vile lie.

Communal relations, which developed into collectivism under socialism, gave rise to that form of collectivist psychology, which everyone who came to the Soviet Union from the countries of the West could not overlook. This developed collectivist psychology was one of the bright advantages of socialist collectivism over bourgeois individualism. The psychology of individualism gives rise to disrespect for the culture of another person, for another people. This psychology is the basis of any form of conscious or unconscious superiority: the leader over the tribesmen, the king over the vassals, the white race over the black, the West over Russia, the Arab, Asian countries and so on.

A developed sense of collectivism and fraternity among the Russians helped them to liberate all of Europe from fascism in 1945. It was also clearly manifested in its disinterested support of the struggle of the colonially enslaved peoples against European and American imperialism, as well as in the USSR military-technical assistance to the liberated, developing countries .

In Dashur, it seemed to us, translators, that we would not have to serve in the army for a long time, that when we returned home we would be released on all four sides, that each of us would return to our civilian specialty, that all of our operetta life is Egyptian exotics, a high salary ; newspapers, magazines, books in foreign languages; beautiful and good consumer goods run out.

If many of us civilians were given military service, then after a few years, the career of a military translator in the Union will become prestigious, and every self-respecting general will dream of sending his son to study at the Military Institute and seek to send him to work abroad, and the whole family will receive access to the prestigious Berezki currency stores.

I did not consider myself a "military bone". Muscovites, returning from trips abroad, preferred to quit and return to civilian specialties. Many provincials in the army remained and after the mission abroad they served as translators in academies, military schools, and taught the language in Suvorov schools.

We, the generation of Soviet people born before, during or after World War II, were instilled in childhood that all nations — Russians, Jews, Kazakhs, Turkmen, all nations of the world — are equal and have every right to equality, freedom and independence from Eurocolonialism in whatever form it imposes on them — a direct colonial yoke, a world trading society, a free market, or globalism.

We were told that no nation, no race in the world has the moral right to consider itself “chosen” and to oppress other peoples by the right of election, regardless of their social and cultural development; that God does not exist for selected nations on earth who could dictate to other nations how to live and on what path to develop; that all nations on earth, all indigenous peoples of America, Palestine, Europe, Asia and Africa have the right to freedom and independence from the colonial and Zionist yoke.

From the first class, we, Soviet people, were taught to be irreconcilable to national oppression, selfishness and separatism. They taught to expose the theories of national and racial superiority, to be intolerant of fascism, racism, racial segregation, Zionism. They taught to condemn cosmopolitanism, which is based on indifference, nihilistic attitude of certain groups of people in the state to their homeland, to the nations inhabiting it, to their interests and culture, to the rejection of any national traditions. We called the USSR not "this country", but "our Homeland".

Internationalism in combination with national patriotism is the friendship of peoples at the intergovernmental and international level; it is friendly and respectful relations between representatives of all nations in their everyday life.

Internationalism is an interest in national cultures and languages ​​of both the West and the East. At the institute we studied the works of Goethe, Dickens, Whitman and Byron. The whole country was read in the novels of Hemingway, Dreiser, and the tales of Mark Twain and Jack London. The best works of foreign classics were translated in the USSR. The translation school was the best in the world. But ask an American or an Englishman about Pushkin and Yesenin. They have no idea about these saints for the Russian people.

Internationalism is a struggle against bourgeois nationalism, with incitement of hostility between peoples on all continents, in all regions of the world. With the exaltation of one nation to the detriment of others. With all the forces of evil, hiding the relationship of inequality and submission and masking their aggressive aspirations under demagogic slogans about democracy and equal human rights.

Internationalism is by and large the cooperation and solidarity of the working people of the entire planet in the struggle for peace against imperialism, colonialism, racial discrimination and segregation, Zionism and apartheid. Genuine internationalism is achievable only in a very developed socialist society. Not today and not in the 21 century.
That is why none of the officers paid attention to the nationality of General Rassulbekov. He was our “Batey”, and we loved and respected him for his high moral and business qualities.


We must live in the East to learn to drink coffee in small sips from a scanty cup, in order to turn this sacred act into pleasure, into a need of life, into pleasure, into meditation. That is why in Cairo coffee houses you always see quiet visitors, facing only a cup of coffee and a tall glass of ice water on the table. They sit for a long time, meditating, watching the life of the street, slowly flowing in front of them.

In our Dashur bar in the evenings we drank coffee and Coca-Cola, smoked and discussed the information received from Egyptian officers in private conversations, watched movies, shared impressions and exchanged addresses of shops where you could buy good things as a gift to relatives. We didn’t know much about politics and tried to understand why the Arabs couldn’t agree with the Israelis.

And it was to discuss that! In October, we greedily read in the newspapers reports on the development of the so-called Cuban crisis between the USSR and the USA and naturally supported the actions of N.S. Khrushchev, General Secretary of the CPSU. The American government, by order of the ruling circles, put its missiles aimed at our homeland in Turkey. Why the Soviet government could not answer the mirror, putting their missiles in Cuba or in another American country? As we were glad that common sense triumphed and the American hawks did not manage to start a third world war.

A lot of events that took place in Egypt at the beginning of 60's before our eyes were discussed over a cup of coffee with our friends in our Dashur cafe, and later over a beer in a cafe in a Soviet villa. In February 1960, the Egyptian government nationalized the big banks. In May, all newspaper corporations were transferred to the ownership of the National Union, the only officially recognized political organization in the country. In July, 1961. All private banks and insurance companies, dozens of large companies in transport and foreign trade passed into the ownership of the state; and adopted a new agrarian law. He set the land ownership maximum to one hundred, and in a few years to 50 feddans (one feddan equals 0,42 ha). It will take several years and 1969 57 percent of all land will be in the hands of small landowners. The state will help them create cooperatives, give interest-free loans, fertilizers and agricultural equipment.)

In 1961-1964 The government carried out a number of major social changes in the interests of the workers. The 42 hourly working week has been established. A minimum wage has been entered. Work was done to reduce unemployment. Canceled tuition fees. The arbitrary dismissal of workers from work was prohibited. In the same year, the government developed a ten-year development plan for the country and began its implementation. Particular attention was paid to the development of heavy industry and the improvement of the material well-being of the working masses.

In November, Nasser dissolved the National Assembly and the National Union 1961. The deputies refused to support the revolutionary democratic reforms that the Egyptian leadership put forward. In 1962, the authorities created a National Congress of People’s Force. More than a third of the delegates were workers' representatives. Congress adopted the National Charter. It emphasized that Egypt would build Arab socialism (Soviet scientists would call it “by socialist orientation”), that at least half of those elected to all political and public organizations should be workers and peasants. (Can you imagine what would begin in Russia today if the reforms of Nasser of those years began to be carried out by the current bourgeois government of the Russian Federation ?!).

In October, 1962, when our translation team arrived in Cairo, Nasser issued a decree establishing the political organization of the Arab Socialist Union. Two years later, elections were held to the National Assembly. 53 percent of the deputies were workers and peasants. At the same time, a temporary constitutional declaration was adopted. It stated that the UAR was a “democratic, socialist state based on a union of labor forces” and that the ultimate goal was the construction of a socialist state.

The working class and the middle strata of the urban population grew rapidly. A public sector was created. By 1965, he already gave 85 percent of all industrial products in the country.

Almost every month new reforms were announced. Nasser and his like-minded people were in a hurry to restore social justice in the ancient land of Egypt. They threatened the millennial traditions of economic, financial, political, family slavery. They removed from the government opponents of reform. They dictated their conditions to conditions of cooperation with the state to owners of lands and companies that were completely unprecedented in the country before. They sought to preserve class peace in the country, naively believing that they would succeed in attracting a growing middle class to their side and make a revolution in the minds of the Arabs.

We understood that in Egypt before our eyes there is a sharp class struggle. The ongoing reforms met with fierce, underground resistance from big landowners and the big bourgeoisie. All who openly opposed reform, Nasser and his associates isolated and held in prisons. Mukhabarat (counterintelligence) had enormous powers and it was not by chance that the bourgeois press called Nasser a “dictator”. In prisons he kept national extremists and communists. He was the last to be released only at the start of the 1960.

The reforms caused heated debates among Arab officers, and translators often participated in them and defended Arab socialist reforms, telling them how they differed from the socialist order in their homeland. It was difficult to criticize Nasser, because everyone knew that he did not become rich after the revolution, unlike some of his associates, and he did not acquire a company, a store, or an estate. Everyone knew that he had five children and that he was a wonderful family man. He set himself a salary in Egyptian pounds at 500 and passed a law according to which no one in the country could receive a salary a month more than him.

Even in the 18 years of his reign, Nasser did not acquire either a palace or a plot of land. He did not take bribes and severely punished corrupt officials. When he died, the Egyptians learned that the Nasser family did not have any property in their hands, except for the apartment that he bought before the revolution, being a lieutenant colonel, and several thousand pounds in a single bank account. He did not have accounts in either Swiss or American banks (as it turned out, by the way, Stalin, Khrushchev and Brezhnev did not turn out !!).

Nasser often performed on radio and television. Addressing ordinary people, he urged them to support the reforms carried out by his government. He explained their essence. He exposed the intrigues of imperialism and Zionism. He called on all Arab peoples for unity in the fight against neo-colonialism. None of the Arab leaders in the Middle East of that time could contend with Nasser in popularity and authority.

We were convinced that the Zionists were the aggressors, that the Arabs were the victims of international imperialism and Zionism. With a common mind, it is difficult to understand how the UN General Assembly could have created a essentially Jewish colonial and racist state in Palestine against the will of the Arab peoples already in 1948. ?! Having proclaimed itself a fighter for peace and security, the UN created a special type of colony on the land in which the Jews had not had their own statehood for many centuries. Thus, in the Middle East many political ticking mines were laid. Some of them have already exploded. (Many politicians and political scientists of our time believe that the third world war has already been unleashed in this region in a new, non-traditional form).

“Why do the imperialist states want to control the Arab lands?” - asked the Egyptian officers when we embarked on them at leisure in swimming in the stormy ocean of international politics.

Indeed, why, by what right? We discussed a lot of questions with our Arab peers. They asked us a lot of questions. Why did the Zionists create Israel in Palestine? Why don't Jews move from other countries to their new homeland, preferring to live in Europe and America? Why, under the pretext of recreating the Hebrew state, which was conquered two thousand years ago by the Roman Empire, created a bridgehead of imperialism near the sources of Arab energy and the Suez Canal? Why are the imperialist powers of the West so worried about the Jews, and not about the Mongols, for example? Why the Mongols can not restore the Mongolian empire of Genghis Khan, because it existed only some seven centuries ago, and the Jews can be?

Did Nasser act unfairly by nationalizing the Suez Canal, built by the hands of the Egyptians and passing from Port Said on the Mediterranean Sea to Suez on the Red Sea on Egyptian territory? Has he acted unjustly, spending money received from the canal, to build the Assuan dam and to carry out deep democratic reforms in a country in which an absolute majority of the population continued to languish in inconceivable poverty?

What heated discussions were conducted by translators and Arab officers at the breaks between classes, when we all got acquainted and made friends!


Our "Dad", like us all, arrived in Egypt without a family. He provided transportation of the training missile system from Odessa to Alexandria, and then to Dashur. He traveled with us on all excursions. I dined in the same dining room with us. A couple of times a month he walked around the officers and soldiers dormitories. I talked with everyone, wondering what the relatives of the house were writing about. We talked, but we all were silent about one thing, without saying a word, that we missed our wives, our children, our parents. Bored strongly, to tears, to pain in the heart. Apparently, not only I, having read letters from my wife, wept quietly at night into a pillow from my own powerlessness to change anything in my fate.

On excursion

My wife missed you too. My daughter grew up. Here she said the word "mom". So she took the first steps. I could not believe that the little helpless creature, which I gently and cautiously wore in my arms before leaving for a foreign business trip, already thought, said, walked. I wanted to be close to my wife and daughter. I was, in fact, deprived of a paternity year because of contrived secrecy. How I wanted to quit everything - Egypt, the rocket center - and fly away to my wife and daughter. My wife wrote that she loves, misses, waits. Almost every day we wrote letters to each other.

Have I been jealous of my wife? Of course, I was jealous. Especially when she went to the institute for the winter session. All the officers, not just me, were tormented by jealous thoughts. Everyone was looking forward to letters from home. They arrived through the General Staff and the Soviet Embassy once a week. Were upset if the mail was delayed. Were happy if we received several letters at a time. You can read and reread them as much as you want and keep them as treasure.

When the letters came to the center, the officers had a holiday. We went to the rooms. They read and immediately took up the pen. Here they took up the pen and wrote the answers: they were explained to their wives in love. For an hour or two, the center plunged into silence. Then he gradually came to life. There were funny voices. Gathered at the bar. Beer was discussing news from home.

Sometimes, some officers received the sad "bad" news from the "well-wisher" that the wife of the house spree, meets with a man. Few who survived. As usual, stoked grief in wine. The general called the poor fellow to himself. About something long talked with him and gave him time off. After a couple of days, the officer, haunted by grief, was returning to service.

We could not give a reason for the wives to doubt our loyalty to them, although the "Madame" was offered in Cairo at every crossroads (as it is now in Russia). For us, prostitution was the beginning of the exploitation of man by man - the exploitation of the body of another person. Love and respect for the friends of life, strict control over our behavior, discipline, a high moral and psychological climate, the shame of early secondment to the Union, thoughtful organizations of collective leisure, lack of contact with Arab women helped us to withstand the test of loneliness. None of the officers and soldiers of the training center was seconded ahead of time for this “delicate” reason to the Union.

Family troubles could have been avoided if the Soviet side had agreed to an offer from the Arab side to immediately open a missile training center in Alexandria. However, for the purpose of secrecy, it was decided to open this center in the desert - at the Dashur pyramids.

From a human point of view, it was hardly possible to approve the decision of the Soviet side to send officers to fulfill their “military and international duty” without families for a year. This “duty” could be performed even better, having arrived in Egypt with my family. The Egyptian side insisted on the opening of the rocket training center in Alexandria and it opened it, as it had planned, a year later, and all the Soviet teachers arrived with their wives.
A few years later, when I met with translators with whom I served in Dashur, I learned that, after returning from a Dashur mission, six of our officers divorced their wives. How many secret betrayals and family scandals could not tell anyone. One of the officers shot himself because of jealousy. Such was the payment of officers for the secrecy of the training center, for the callousness of the authorities.

It was easier for our bachelors. They met our translators at the ambassadorial villa. A year later, several couples played a wedding.
[/ b] Young officers could not help but take interest in the nightlife in Cairo. At that time, a series of American films about nightlife in cities of America and Europe was in Cairo cinemas. On the screens danced and belly dance, and dances dragged dancers with poles. On the streets of Cairo, pimps who offered "madame" pestered us; porn magazines were sold (in short, as they are in Russia today). Knowing our unhealthy interest in such films and in order to bring down this interest, “Dad” asked the Arab side to invite our entire group to the most popular at that time night club “Auberge de Pyramid” in Giza on the night of the new 1963 year.

Let's go with the whole group, including the soldiers and sergeants. First a hearty dinner and wine, then a show. The first part of the concert - European girls, the second - the Arab dancers. For the first time we watched a belly dance in reality, not in the movies. An impressive sight - exciting and bewitching!
We noticed: on each table there is a small pyramid with a number, we called the garcon.

- Why is this number pyramid?

- To tell the actress at what table her waits for this evening gentleman. If she likes a cavalier, she will sit down to him after the end of the performance.

But to invite the dancers did not give us our strict "Dad". As soon as the performance was completed, he gave the command: “By horses”! And we were taken to Dashur. The jokers complained while sitting in the bus: “The“ Dad ”deprived us of the possibility of jumping on real horses”. It was already four in the morning when we returned to the training center ...

We are very lucky with the "Bate". And later I had to work with the generals and officers from whom I took the example. I learned from them decency and kindness, courage and courage, decisiveness and hard work. It is a pity that fate divorced us after returning to our homeland. Many of them could become friends who could be relied upon in a difficult hour of life and with whom one could safely go on reconnaissance even at night.


Time flew by quickly. On Mondays and Thursdays after lunch we went to Cairo. Returned around ten in the evening. On weekends (on Fridays) in the morning we left Dashur for Cairo. We visited the pyramids, on the night view of the Sphinx. The National Museum on Tahrir Square looked at the treasures of Tutankhamen and the mummies of the pharaohs. Once a month on weekends we made long-distance tourist trips: now to Alexandria, then to Port Said, then to Port Fuad, or swam in the Red Sea .... Everything was interesting to us in Egypt. To explore the sights could spend a lifetime. Tourist business is brought to perfection.

Every tourist trip gave food for thought. You sit by the window on the bus, you look at the endless desert and start to dream, imagine what could happen in these parts thousands of years ago, what could happen in the village and small towns two hundred years ago. The pyramids did not believe that 160 years ago, the enlightened Napoleon fired a cannon at the Sphinx, like the Taliban in our day were firing at Buddha statues in Afghanistan. Both Napoleon and Churchill and many other well-known and unknown politicians stared, mouth open at the pyramids, like us, admiring the preserved wonders of the ancient Egyptian civilization.

We were returning from Cairo, taking excursions on dark winter evenings to Dashur, saying goodbye to the bright advertisements of Giza, when our bus dived under the barrier, we began to quietly and sadly sing Soviet songs. They sang "Moscow Nights", "Dark Night", "The girl escorted the fighter to the position." We sang Soviet songs about war, friendship and love, remembering our parents who survived the terrible war with Euro-fascism, loved ones and relatives. And heart sorrowed melancholy, and powerlessness disturbed my soul, and I wanted to give up everything, find fabulous wings or sit on a flying carpet and fly straight from the bus to the Far East to my wife and daughter!

When traveling on excursions, I always carefully looked out of the bus window at the mighty Nile, at palm groves in the oases, surrounded by endless desert sands, at the green fields belonging to Egyptian feudal lords. Poorly illiterate fellahs bent on landowners. And I always had the idea of ​​how little change in people's lives occurred in this country over hundreds of years. Similarly, their ancestors, slaves, bent their backs on the pharaohs and his entourage. Here, to the Nile, in the years of famine, nomadic Jewish tribes came running.

During excursions we became tourists. How sweet it is to be a careless and fun tourist at least once a week! Everywhere - at the pyramids, in mosques and museums, at the Golden Bazaar, in the hunting lodges of King Farouk - we merged with a multilingual stream of tourists from Europe, America, Japan, flying like flies to honey, to ancient Egyptian landmarks. We, the Soviet people, were not familiar, but we liked to play the role of tourists - such rich, carefree Pinocchio. I do not know how other translators felt, but I began to play this role of a tourist in my life for the first time in Egypt.

At meetings, the head of the translation bureau constantly urged us to study the host country, Arab mores and customs, culture, history of Arab countries, Egypt, as well as Arabic. Before leaving for the United Arab Republic, I managed to buy an Arabic textbook and a dictionary. I sat down at the textbook. Learned to write and speak. A year later, I understood something and even spoke Arabic a little.

I bought books about Egypt, as well as novels and stories of English classic Somerset Maugham in soft covers. He was fond of my new friend - a translator from Voronezh. It was comparatively not expensive for my pocket.

At Cairo Airport

It seemed to us that the service of military translators would not last long - a year or two or three. Then they will let us go home - to the citizen. Muscovites dreamed of leaving the army as soon as possible. None of us was going to enter the military academies. I wanted to earn some money for life in the Union.

Immediately after their arrival, Muscovites found old acquaintances and fellow students among civilian translators, and they often went to the Soviet villa in Zamalik. Some of them took part in amateur performances, performed at concerts organized during the days of the Soviet revolutionary holidays. On them all Soviet colony gathered.

Foreign - this is life at a party, on other people's apartments in the literal and literal sense. This is a study, this is a long series of discoveries in a new culture, within which we are trying to establish our new life. We do not give up our national habits and traditions. At the same time, we must adapt to a new life and live, coexist with a society alien to us.

In the first period, a new country seems to us an ordinary theater stage. Our eye is looking for beautiful scenery, and we begin to live in an illusory world that we still do not understand. We still do not know the backstage life and see only the front facade, the exotic, something unusual and not familiar, which does not fit into our existing notions about life.

The study of a new culture is the ability to bring closer to oneself what is alien and alien, to admire the unknown and the unexpected; it is an art to break through illusions and scenery to the truth of life. Gradually, our eyes move deep into the scene, and we strive to learn the rules of backstage life. A new life appears gradually, showing us its contradictions that objectively exist in society.

The process of approaching a new life is complex and diverse. Requires keys to locked doors in history, culture, politics of a foreign country. Travel curiosity alone is not enough. Serious systematic work on oneself is necessary. Requires mastery of the methods of working with keys. Only systematic work on oneself will help open the doors and penetrate behind the scenes into the thick of someone else’s life in a foreign country.

Coming to work in Egypt, we, translators of the English language, graduates of the faculties of Romance-Germanic philology, found themselves in an extremely difficult situation. We did not know either the Arabic language, or the Arabic history and culture, nor the Muslim customs and customs. The Middle East was a new planida on which the Soviet spacecraft landed us. We had to study the country literally “from scratch”.
Idealists translators bravely rushed into the river of new knowledge and tried to overcome their ignorance. But there were less of these than pragmatists. The latter said: “In a couple of years we will resign from the army and work with those European languages ​​that we studied at the institute. Why do we need Arabic? You cannot learn Arabic to work on it. ”

It would be possible to simplify our lives by allowing us to attend evening Arabic courses. In a year we could use the knowledge gained for the good of the cause. However, the embassy forbade us not only studies, but even contacts with the local population. Since childhood, we were inspired that we live in the most progressive society on the planet - a socialist one, that all other countries belong to the rotting world of capitalism. We are sincerely proud of our system. And how can it not be proud if in Egypt we have seen with our own eyes tens of millions of poor, destitute, humiliated, illiterate.

We were “very far away” from the Egyptian people, from the bourgeoisie, from the middle class, from the Egyptian intelligentsia, even from the officers. For the Egyptians, we were foreigners, atheists, and gentiles. The local authorities were afraid of the Soviet people as much as we were. If employees of foreign companies working in Egypt communicated with the local population, taught them English, married Arab women, then all this was strictly forbidden to Soviet people.

The Soviet Arabic military translators were hardly closer to the Egyptians either. They were few. I remember the arrival of two Arabists in 1964. They graduated from the Military Institute before it was closed. They were demobilized under Khrushchev. They were forced to work as teachers of English at school. The military enlistment office found them, returned them to the army and sent them to work in Arab countries. In Cairo, they were given a couple of months to adapt to the Egyptian dialect. On the study of military terminology. Then they worked with superiors in the departments of the armed forces of the UAR.

The first group of Arabists from the Soviet Asian republics arrived in 1965. After 1967, young graduates and cadets of the Military Institute began to stay in Egypt. However, the translators with the English language were much more than the Arabists.


It would be foolish to live in Cairo not to study its history, not to wander in places of revolutionary glory.

This is the glory that this magnificent and controversial city gained in the Middle Ages: “Travelers say that there is no city on earth more beautiful than Cairo with its Nile ... Those who have not seen Cairo have not seen the world. His land is gold and his Nile is a marvel, his women are gurias and the houses in it are palaces, and the air there is even, and the fragrance surpasses and confuses aloe. Yes, and how not to be such Cairo, when Cairo is the whole world ... And if you would see his gardens in the evenings, when the shadows lean over them. You would truly see a miracle and bow down to it in delight. ”

I also thank fate for the fact that she gave me the opportunity not only to see this miracle, but also to live in it. Decades have passed since I left this wonderful city, but I remember with delight those days that I spent in this city on the Nile.

If traveling around the country from Dashur pushed me to study Egypt, then later, after moving to Cairo, I had the opportunity to improve my Arabic language skills and study the sights of the thousand-year city on my own.

Cairo is a city-museum that has grown along the high-water Nile for thousands of years. With pleasure and curiosity, we and our comrades walked through its streets and parks. We admired the Nile, bridges over it, embankments, floating hotels and restaurants under weeping willows.

We loved to sit on the bench at the round 180-meter Cairo tower. It can be seen from every corner of Cairo. From a distance, it seems to be an openwork and gentle creation of the Arab spirit. Up close, when you sit in a cafe under the tower, it seems to be a huge and stately building. Around giant trees give shade and long-awaited coolness. The staircase is made of red Assuan granite. A high-speed elevator takes you upstairs. And from the tower, from a bird's eye, down to all four sides stretches a majestic, many-sided, oriental city with its ancient gardens and minaret peaks, piercing the ever-blue sky.

From the tower you can see the Feluccas with white triangular sails floating along the blue Nile road, fenced along the banks with date palms. A tiny cutter pulls several long barges on one rounding. One is filled with clay pots, the other is pressed straw, and the third is filled with fruit in boxes. Overtaking them, glide white pleasure boats with tourists.

From the tower you can reach the sight of the pyramids of Giza and the Citadel, hovering over the city. We loved to go on a trip to the Citadel. After the July Revolution, it became one of the main attractions of Cairo, a must-see object visited by an absolute majority of tourists. In the 1960 in the evenings in the Citadel and on the pyramids were night performances of "Sound and Light."

Cairo is a wonderful country. She basks in the sun. Green fertile fields in the suburbs bring landowners several harvests a year. Helwan fumes the pipes of nascent heavy industry. It seemed to us that the country was living a peaceful and peaceful life, and we had forgotten that, starting from 1948 year over Cairo, over Egypt, the entire Arab East hangs a constant and frightening threat from Israel and the backstage of the world behind it.


The job of a translator abroad has its own characteristics. If in his homeland a military translator works in a foreign language only during working hours, he communicates with foreigners constantly abroad. As a translator, he works part of the time, the rest of the time he talks to foreigners as a private person. He has the opportunity to express to them his own opinions on issues of interest to him and his interlocutors, to talk about himself, about his interests, about his country and the culture of his people. He can joke, tell jokes, criticize the government, ask him questions of interest. He has his own circle of acquaintances and friends among foreigners.

In addition, while working abroad, the translator had the opportunity to read literature and the press in foreign languages, prohibited or not supplied in the USSR, watch foreign films and TV shows, listen to "enemy voices" while experiencing pressure from bourgeois ideology.
On the one hand, he could freely obtain new knowledge, expanding his horizons. He could compare the parameters of the life of Soviet people with the life of the local population in a foreign country, the methods of conducting and the content of the informational, ideological war of the opposing sides.
On the other hand, the generals of the Cold War made him ponder over many questions of being, reconsider his political views, change his convictions, or strengthen himself in the correctness of the Soviet ideology. Excess information, however, did not prevent the Soviet translators from remaining committed to the ideals they had absorbed since childhood.

We could not but experience the pressure of the Soviet ideological machine, which educates us in the spirit of "devotion to the communist party and the Soviet government" and "ideas of Marxism-Leninism." This pressure strengthened our patriotic sympathies and pride in the Soviet system. I don’t remember a single case when someone from the translators, my colleagues, betrayed their homeland and fled to the West or stayed in Egypt. By the way, I don’t remember a case when some Egyptian officer remained in the USSR for ideological reasons.

Excess political information forces the translator to constantly work on himself. He is obliged to know, almost professionally, international relations, international law, the history and culture of the host country, that is, that which I graduated from at the Pedagogical Institute, which I did not study. At the institute, we were given lectures on history, culture and literature in England. In Egypt, we also needed knowledge of Arabic culture and language.

To become a professional translator, it was necessary to study the political life in the host country, to freely navigate the international relations that were taking shape in the Middle East. We were obliged to know at least in general terms the history of Israel and the Israeli-Arab wars, the history of Zionism and the Jewish question. All this helped us to work with the Arab officers.

Work abroad exposes, makes transparent those secret relations between citizens of different countries of the world that exist and are supported by any government in one form or another. We knew for sure that we were under the hood of two counterintelligence missions - Soviet and Egyptian. Our letters to their homeland were perused. Many Soviet officers in the hotel were "bugs" of the Egyptian special services, as we are constantly reminded of our superiors. The Nasser regime restricted the activities of the Egyptian Communist Party. Until 1964, he kept the leaders of the Communist Party in prison. They were released before the arrival of Khrushchev, Secretary General of the CPSU, to the UAR.

Dashur Left Sasha Kvasov Yura Gorbunov Dushkin

With a view to conspiracy, we were ordered to call the Komsomol organization "sports", the party - "trade union." We were allowed to hold Komsomol and party meetings only at the Pozharsky Office. In Dashur, we took chairs with us and went into the desert and held meetings in the open air. The Arab side knew that all Soviet officers, as a rule, are members of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, the youth were members of the Komsomol, but were forced to turn a blind eye to our naive conspiracy.

Of course, we, the translators, preferred to stay as far as possible from the "specialists." We were all tiny cogs of a huge state mechanism. We were all pawns in the big political game of the two superpowers. We understood that the most important thing in life abroad is not to fall into the silent and wildly spinning gears of this mechanism. Therefore, the main concern of the "screw" is to see and understand how the gears spin in the life-threatening zone, but stay away from this zone.

The perennial habit of living under the “cap” of special services abroad, and therefore in the Union, worked out in the translator, I would call it, a particular style of “enlightened” thinking. This style helps him to guess the real reasons for any international political or military actions, as well as possible secret, carefully concealed mechanisms for the realization of these actions by forces of special services. Not only Soviet, but also Western, Israeli, Arab.

Such a style of thinking helps researchers of the history of international relations to see behind the loud official statements of politicians and propaganda tricks of the corrupt media the real goals of the ruling classes in any country of the world to distinguish red from white, genuine, popular socialist democracy from "monetary" bourgeois democracy. This style makes a skeptic man, a cynic, but it is difficult to hold on to the chaff or to be deceived by the cheap political rhetoric of the yellow press.

The habit of living "under the hood" worked out for translators a special style of behavior - with an eye on their own and others' special services. Not only do you not get used to the "cap", but you also look at any comrade with caution, suspecting that he was a "informer." The authorities instructed the translators to look after the specialists and not to translate their ill-considered statements or greasy anecdotes by the Arab “wards”. It recommended that advisers report to him on any suspicious behavior of translators.

Surveillance of workers abroad is commonplace for all counterintelligence of the world. Counterintelligence agents are interested in who their fellow citizens spend their time with, what they read, what they are interested in, and what they write about to their friends and relatives. For evidence, do not go far in our days. Everyone knows what a scandal caused the publication of secret documents of WikiLeaks and the message of the tsaraeushnik Stound that the special services listened to and recorded the talks of all Americans, governmental, public, international organizations.

In the USSR, in 1960, all White Guard literature of Russian nationalists was considered anti-Soviet, in which they truthfully described the bloody events of the October coup and the civil war, executions of "white" officers and soldiers, millions of Cossacks by orders of Lenin, Trotsky and other non-Russian commissars.

I was not interested in this literature. In our childhood we were inspired that the whole of the White Guard was a complete lie, a libel against the "power of the workers and peasants." By the way, nobody offered us such literature in Cairo. I remember that in 1964 we rented an apartment in a house in which a Russian (White Guard) family lived on the floor below, who had settled in this city back in the 1920s. Her head once surprised me by speaking to me in Russian in an elevator:
- Which floor?
- Fourth. Do you live in this house?
- It's a long time.

In accordance with the instructions, I was obliged to immediately report a meeting with the White Guard to the head of the political department. What I did. A few days later he called me and said that this family was politically inactive and advised her not to lead a friendship. That's exactly what I did. Only strangely it worked: Russians were forbidden to communicate with Russians abroad. Then I still did not understand why we were forbidden to meet and communicate with their Russian compatriots.

They said that before the war, a relatively large colony of Russian nationalists lived in Cairo. They built two Orthodox churches and a shelter. Gradually, they and their children left for Europe or America. In 1960-s there are a few oldies left in the shelter. I regret that there was neither the time nor the desire to go to our Orthodox Church and talk to the Russian old men. Now I would definitely go. Then I was afraid.

Until now, I regret not having got acquainted closer with the family of the Russian émigré. They had a large library of Russian authors in the living room and I could read the books of my Russian compatriots. In them, I would find that part of Russian truth, which non-Russian rulers of the USSR had hidden during all the years of Soviet power, which would awaken the Russian national consciousness in us, Russians, and helped us defend Russian socialist civilization. We built it, starting with the adoption of the "Stalinist" Constitution in 1936.


What did I understand for the first year of work as a military translator? That the work of a military translator is creative. He is obliged to constantly increase his special knowledge: to study the military-strategic doctrines of the leading powers of the world, the experience of modern wars, to accumulate tactical and technical data on the latest military equipment.

He should be an interesting interlocutor: be able to skillfully build a conversation, own a simultaneous translation, listen carefully and catch all shades of thought and feelings of the interlocutors, guess the meaning of expressed and hidden ideas, not quite correctly formed thoughts.

It should be a storehouse of the most diverse information and be able to use it in the work environment and outside it, when you have to make contact with both your own compatriots and foreigners yourself.

The work of a translator can become creative if he is inclined to work hard and hard to expand his own regional geographic, political, cultural, philological, literary outlook, if he is not confined to the narrow framework of military technical problems. Expanding horizons will sooner or later lead the translator to the next stage - applying new knowledge in practice, in life and work.

A military translator is a peaceful, humane profession. He must be a comprehensively developed person, to understand the literature, to love opera, classical music, to know art. This knowledge can come in handy when specialists whose conversations he translates suddenly turn to topics far from military affairs.

If I were asked what requirements were presented to a Soviet military translator, I would call the following:
1. Be a patriot of their homeland.
2. Love your people, their language and culture.
3. Serve faithfully to his people and government.
4. Keep loyalty to the military oath.
5. To be an exemplary officer, to adequately represent your homeland abroad.
6. To be committed to the humane ideals of their system.
7. With sincere respect to treat foreign soldiers who have to work.
8. Friendly to the local population in the host country.
9. To be interested, to study, to love culture, history, literature, religion, sources of spiritual culture of the nation, the language of which he studies or knows.
10. To study the manners, customs of the people in the host country.
11. Regularly read the local press, watch local television, constantly be interested in news about events in the world.
12. Show vigilance and caution in relations with the local population in order not to become an object of foreign special services.
13. Closely monitor the changing attitude of the officers of the friendly army towards the Soviet, Russian citizens.


For almost half a year, the West did not know about the existence of our training center. At the end of January, 1963, the Voice of America, conveyed a message that in Egypt, Soviet specialists were training Arab rocket engineers and creating a modern air defense system, that the ground-to-air missile had already entered service for the UAR army.

Arriving in Cairo at the weekend, the buses stopped at the white-stone building of the Opera Theater, built at the time of the opening of the Suez Canal specifically for the production of Verdi's opera "Aida". (We, officers, sergeants and soldiers together with "Batey", watched this opera in that Opera Theater in winter of 1963)

The ubiquitous journalists could not help but notice that on Fridays, three or four buses arrive at the Opera Square in the center of Cairo, of which about a hundred young foreigners, men in white shirts and dark trousers, leave. According to their military bearing, it is not difficult to guess that these are service people. In the evening, they go to a closed area in the desert. A training rocket center operates near the Dashur pyramids. It trains about 200 Arab officers.

In the spring of 1963 in England, a government crisis broke out in connection with the Porfyumo case. British newspapers wrote that the drunken war minister was blushing out secret information from a young dancer from a nightclub. She was allegedly recruited by Soviet intelligence officer Yevgeny Ivanov, a captain of the second rank, an assistant naval attache. We read with interest the first revelations of the dancer. She really liked the Soviet officer. Of course, after a few weeks, the British "democrats" banned the publication of revelations. That's what drove the nightclubs! This was the Soviet intelligence revenge for the "spy case of Penkovsky." 11 May 1963 O.V. Penkovsky was found guilty of treason. The Military Collegium of the USSR Supreme Court sentenced him to death. 16 May sentence was carried out.

In the summer of 1963, Soviet C-75 missiles were launched at the test site. The generals, led by President G. A. Nasser, arrived to watch the shooting at real air targets. All missiles launched by Arab missile hit air targets. We have fulfilled the task set by the party and the government. Missile firing was widely reported in the Arab press. Newspapers published laudatory articles about the high accuracy of Soviet missiles and the high combat skills of Egyptian rocket engineers. Soviet ground-to-air missiles were placed on combat duty in Egypt.
Further events in the Middle East showed how correct and timely the decision of the government of Nasser to create air defense troops in the UAR was. It is a pity that the young republic did not have enough time to complete the social and cultural revolution begun in the country. The army needed a competent soldier and officer. It is a pity that she did not have enough funds to create a reliable air defense over the entire territory of the country.

Nasser put forward ambitious goals: to create a modern army, to equip it with the latest weapons, to train the entire personnel of the armed forces to possess it. However, the Egyptian leadership did not manage to fully implement these plans for 1967. This circumstance was one of the main reasons for the defeat of Egypt in the “six-day war” with Israel. The world behind the scenes was in a hurry to crack down on Nasser, to halt and reverse the ongoing democratic democratic reforms in the Arab countries, inside the richest energy resources of the Middle East.
50 years have passed since the start of my career as a military translator in Egypt. Much water has flowed in the Nile since that wonderful pore. However, there are questions that I am looking for answers for and I do not find yet.

Did Gamal Abdel Nasser (1918-1970) correctly assess the situation in the region in 60-ies if the war unleashed by the West in June 1967 was lost by the Arab United Republic? Did the Soviet leadership, the party and the government correctly understand the situation developing in the Middle East, if in 1972 more than ten thousand Soviet military advisers and translators, including the air defense division, were expelled from Egypt by President Anwar Sadat (1918-1981), the closest ally Nasser. I think that these and other questions require an answer from military oriental historians and international political scientists.
Articles from this series:
Write me, mom, to Egypt...
Write me, mom, to Egypt ... (part 2)
Write me, mom, to Egypt ... (part 3)
Write me, mom, to Egypt ... (part 4)
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  1. SmacXnumx
    SmacXnumx 1 July 2013 10: 38
    Greetings to the author from Magnitogorsk and many thanks for the interesting article.
  2. omsbon
    omsbon 1 July 2013 11: 19
    I liked the article (+), very interesting, thanks to the author!
  3. Consul-t
    Consul-t 1 July 2013 11: 42
    Thank you, the article is interesting and opens another hidden page of our history.
  4. Pushkar
    Pushkar 1 July 2013 17: 14
    "Did the Soviet leadership, party and government understand the situation in the Middle East correctly if in 1972 more than ten thousand Soviet military advisers and translators, including an air defense division, were expelled from Egypt by President Anwar Sadat (1918-1981), the closest companion of Nasser "? Alas, this is the whole result of the gigantic financial, political and military efforts of the Soviet Union in Egypt. Everything else in the article is memories of exotic and romantic youth. PS Egypt and four allied states began the 1967 six-day war with Israel.
  5. Pushkar
    Pushkar 1 July 2013 17: 37
    I apologize for the error. Israel began the six-day war by bombing Egypt airfields.
  6. faraon
    faraon 1 July 2013 21: 24
    Quote: Pushkar
    I apologize for the error. Israel began the six-day war by bombing Egypt airfields.

    Yes, perhaps you are right, and what was left for Israel to do with neighbors such as Egypt, Jordan, Syria, who openly threatened Israel without concealing their goals. They told the whole world how they would throw the Jews into the sea. But that’s not the question, article in principle, very good. It very accurately reflects the realities of that time. We were all internationalists in the flesh until the age of 90. Nobody asked anyone about nationality. And our ideology itself contributed to this. Imagine that I thought we were helping the fraternal people of Egypt, Syria, Iran, Avganistan.etc. Why didn’t anyone tell us about the imperial ambitions of the Egyptian President Nasser who wanted to create the United Arab Republic in the Middle East. That he, under the flag of internationalism and world revolution, received loans from the USSR for weapons of specialists. to save money in order to bring gifts to the USSR, buy a tattered Muscovite, (the limit of Soviet man’s dreams), and no one talked about the fact that the country gave the last for some kind of incomprehensible Arab socialism. That it would be possible for the people of the USSR not to there was a restructuring.
    We again begin to advocate for Middle Eastern countries such as Syria, but let's look back at our previous experience, have our mistakes never taught us anything. Again, helping the brotherly people of Syria - what kind of Russian brotherly people are they? What do we have in common? Culture, religion, we have some common interests, no. Tomorrow this people (brotherly) will start a war against Russia without thinking that in difficult times Russia helped him. People think this is the East, the country of merchants. Where in the holy book KORAN it is written what to do with infidels.
  7. elenagromova
    elenagromova 2 July 2013 00: 36
    USSR policy was correct. But Nasser did not seem to die himself. Perhaps Sadat was involved in his death ...
  8. Kovrovsky
    Kovrovsky 10 July 2013 13: 39
    In the last photo everyone is alike, like brothers!
  9. sunkate
    sunkate 7 December 2013 15: 07
    Very wonderful article! It is interesting enough to learn the details of the military-political life of countries precisely from people who were directly involved in it. Thank!!!