LIFE IN SOVIET RUSSIA
Russian Jews who had been arrested for speculation. They secured
their transfer to the prison hospital through bribery and secured,
through the same means, approximately competent surgical attention
for their troubles. The whole arrangement was negotiated through
bribery and graft and they obtained what none others could get, even
to the extent of having sent to them from the city, Mellenkrodt's
ether (made in St. Louis) for their own use and safety. They bribed
the nurse for extra care. They paid for services of a special doctor,—
the regular surgeon was away on his vacation and the money these
men distributed paid for the services of another. Sterilization of instruments and dressings which no others could obtain were theirs.
Special arrangements were made for the exclusive care and safety
of these three Jewish speculators whose life in the present hospital
was one long violation of the communistic theories. These three men
were not exceptions of their type. There were many such.
One of the chief reasons why I was anxious to be transferred
to the prison hospital was that we had understood that the food in
the hospital was better. We were getting one-third of a pound of
jread daily in the prison, and it was rumored that the ration in the
nospital was one and a half pounds. There was little more food
available in the hospital, but considering its nutritive value, in reality,
it was less. The bread ration at the hospital was one-half pound.
There was a great deal of unrest and complaint on account of insufficiency of the food, and many patients were asking to go back to other
prisons where, in spite of less freedom of movement, the food was
better. Our bread ration for twenty-four hours—always less than
two hundred grams—was given to us in the morning with hot water.
There were two diets, regulation and so-called light, but there was
little difference between the two so far as nutritive value was concerned. The regulation diet included a bowl of fish or cabbage soup,
the former with the fat skimmed off before it reached the ward. Sometimes at noon we would receive small pieces of boiled meat. The
quantity allowed for each, one may judge from the fact that the contents of an ordinary washbasin was divided among thirty-five men.
For supper we had a small portion of millet or some grain, boiled,
with no salt or seasoning. A little later a kettle of boiling water was
sent into the ward with which we were supposed to make tea. The
tea we furnished ourselves, if we could. In addition we had what
was called a coffee ration, consisting of ground-up grains, acorns and
other things, to the extent of one teaspoonful. Real coffee was never
actually furnished. We were also allowed fifteen grams of sugar
each day, but oftentimes it never came. Our fat allowance in the
form of butter, which in theory was supposed to be furnished, was
so small that it was said to be included in a portion of boiled rice
or millet furnished at supper time. As a matter of fact it was never
there, the authorities failing to furnish it, or possibly it had been stolen.
Ten months after arrest, eight months of which were spent in
the prison and two in the prison hospital, I received my first American
Red Cross package, having lost forty pounds in weight.
Speculators and bandits, and those who had relatives and friends
in the city (with money), could receive food packages five times a
week and, relatively speaking, they fared very well. I secured food
oftentimes by selling my clothing,—socks, boots, shirts, etc., to guards.
It became noised throughout the hospital that an American dentist
was there, and through the intervention of friends, I was transferred