Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Averbakh 21: World Defence Committee.

On page 126 whilst discussing Living Chess Averbakh relates:

Most of the money from selling tickets went to the World Defence Fund, and this gave chess a political significance, and it was well looked upon by the authorities.

I am not convinced that all readers would recognise the words World Defence Fund. There should have been a note. The Russian is Комитета защиты мира. That would probably be better translated as World Peace Committee. The Soviet Union's World Peace Committee was established in 1949, it was a member of the World Peace Council, also established in 1949. The latter has a website here. It is a non-governmental member of the United Nations. Its aims include the elimination of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons, as well as a reduction in conventional arms stocks. Its first president was the physicist Frédéric Joliot-Curie of France.

Rapid collectivisation (i.e. the elimination of private ownership of farms and so forth) was a reality of the tightening of Stalin's grip in 1948 on eastern Europe. The dictator at that time did not feel secure in the recent aggrandisement of his empire: for there was no Soviet nuclear bomb until August 1949. Given Stalin's paranoid nature, an international body devoted to world peace was useful as a means of discouraging a pre-emptive nuclear strike from the USA, regardless of whether the Americans intended to do such a thing or not.

Averbakh's words as to the political significance of the money going to the World Peace Committee are well chosen.

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