I was born in Tallinn, in August 1941. My school years were as school years go; although, they could also have
come to a halt due to me falling ill with tuberculosis. This was so long ago that antibiotics had not yet reached
the Soviet countries - thus, there were no medications. LUCKILY I came across a book that was published a few
decades earlier on YOGA BREATHING, i.e. pranayama. Since I had nothing to lose, I started doing the
breathing exercises every day …and by miracle, in approx. eight months the tuberculosis had subsided.
Leningrad was especially good for me. My institute was made into an EXPERIMENTAL institute. The party and government were interested in
finding out what the Soviet students were really capable of.
What did that “experiment” constitute?
Firstly: The great heads of state came up with an idea: why pay scholarship to the students (although it was basically provided by the state
during those years) when they can earn it themselves. So it was decided that we would begin WORKING full-time from the first course/first day
to earn our livelihood. Of course it was still necessary to teach us. The solution was that EVERY OTHER DAY we had a long workday in two
shifts and, EVERY OTHER DAY, a long day of studying in two shifts. How long is the modern school day - ours was 7-8 hours. If you multiply
that by two, you get the length of our day + a 2 hour lunch break. The question, how many hours does that leave for living and sleeping,
proposes itself, especially considering that the way from home to school and back again in the large city was 45 minutes one way. I will
provide the answer myself - 4-6 hours.
Now the workday. The place I worked at was rather far away - 1.5 hours by tram in one direction + 10-15 minutes by foot. The official length
of a two shift day during the Soviet times was 11 hours and 50 minutes.
Secondly: The second half of the experiment arose from the fact that everybody held the belief that the Soviet youth should not embarrass
themselves or the nation in front of FOREIGN guests with their intelligence, their developed ability to think or their knowledge. Thus, the result
was that we learned approximately the volume of THREE standard institutes during the 5 year study period.
As a result I have studied: ALL forms of chemistry, among them inorganic, organic, colloidal and physical chemistry, etc.; nearly all
forms of physics, mechanics, algebra, geometry, further mathematics, strength of materials, electricity, electrical engineering, circuitry,
thermal engineering, refrigeration, mechanic devices, refrigeration equipment, heating equipment, as well as anatomy, microbiology, physiology
(one of our tasks was observing the chemical changes of bread on its journey from entering the mouth until exiting the human body). We even
studied construction technology/architecture and sanitary engineering. We also had various other lectures - history of the Soviet Union, ethics,
aesthetics, political economy, philosophy, accounting (both the Soviet system and the one valid in capitalist countries), and law (only Soviet).
And then: all of a sudden, the Soviet powers became afraid of “people like us” - they feared that people with reason could begin to threaten the
public order or take the power instead of “them” and thus, this experiment only lasted for our class.
Even going to the army significantly broadened my knowledge. Immediately after graduating from the Leningrad Institute I was sent to serve
at a top secret military unit that dealt with managing sputniks, training cosmonauts; even the colour TV technology SECAM was brought into
the Soviet Union from France through our unit. Due to the French we spent most of our service in civilian clothes pretending to be students
because the government did not want the French scientists to understand WHERE and who they were working with.
"... what we have to prove to others has little value.
No matter whom we should prove it to. Valuable is that, what we can
PROVE TO OURSELVES."