Hektoen International

A Journal of Medical Humanities

Tag: Soviet Union

  • Saving the starving Soviets with Spam

    Howard FischerUppsala, Sweden “Without Spam, we wouldn’t have been able to feed our army. We had lost our most fertile lands.”1– Nikita Khrushchev In 1941, Nazi Germany invaded the USSR. The “breadbasket” agricultural regions of Southern Russia and the Ukraine were quickly occupied, causing a food crisis for the USSR. Russian soldiers’ food rations consisted…

  • Béla Bartók (1881-1945): The years in America, triumph over tragedy

    James L. Franklin George Dunea Chicago, Illinois, United States   Fig 1. Béla Bartók in 1927. Unknown Photographer. Via Wikimedia. Black clouds of war were hanging over the world when Béla Bartók and his wife Ditta Pásztory (1903-1982) disembarked in New York Harbor on October 30, 1940. For the remainder of his life, Bartók would…

  • Embalming Vladimir Lenin

    In 1997, two years after the dissolution of the Soviet Union, Ilya Zbarsky wrote a book about embalming the body of Vladimir Lenin, a process in which both he and his father (Boris Zbarsky) took part during the decades of terror of the Bolshevik reign. It all seems to have begun in 1918, when a…

  • Shostakovich and his mysterious neurologic disease

    For most of his life Dmitri Shostakovich lived under the shadow of Joseph Stalin, the brutal dictator of the Soviet Union. In 1936, Stalin and some members of the Politburo attended a performance of Shostakovich’s Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk. Stalin did not like it. The next day, the opera was criticized, denounced, and ridiculed in…