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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Prize Jewish Engineer Put Out to Pasture Early

His name was never mentioned in the open press, and he was shielded from any sort of exposure, but many knew him as a key scientist and organizer, a specialist in the area of electronics and the latest in communications technology.

His name? Frol Lipsman, now well into his ninth decade. For years, Lipsman was the head of a division of one of the largest institutes of radio technology in the country. More than 40 years ago, he organized a new, so-called "post office box," now known as the Moscow Scientific Research Institute of Radio Technology, a unique center for the development of the latest in radio communications, complicated data-relay systems and equipment for the space program. He was the institute’s chief engineer and designer. In those days, one of the responsibilities of this "apparatus" was ensuring that the country’s leadership could view the launching of satellites on television in Moscow, thousands of kilometers from the launch site.

A person of amazing modesty and a man who loved his work, Lipsman gathered around him the best minds. But his higher-ups could not forgive him for not paying them lip service, for not promising "to fulfill the plan and overfulfill the plan."

Lipsman had one other "fault" that the higher-ups couldn’t tolerate. In helping the institute choose the best and brightest employees to head its various divisions, he selected candidates solely on their merits, knowledge and ability to work with others. It turned out that many heads of the divisions were Jews, and Lipsman, a recipient of Lenin and State prizes for his myriad efforts and achievements, was pressured by anti-Semites. Mountains of letters about the predominance of Jews at the institute flooded into party offices.

In response, the authorities named to the post of institute director a man recommended for his ability to fight against "the predominance of Jews." There followed the tried and true method of squeezing out the unwelcome scientists and division heads and then creating a vacuum around Lipsman. He subsequently found it impossible to work, and, at the tender age of 64, the esteemed scientist and engineer decided to retire. And his superiors shamelessly agreed to let him go.

Lipsman recently celebrated his 86th birthday. Although his health is not what is used to be, he still maintains a positive attitude, and he often likes to visit his old institute, his stomping grounds of so many years. The former "chief" is met warmly by the institute veterans who are still working there. Together, they reminisce about the former halcyon days of their collaborative work and fondly remember their colleagues — some of the best and brightest — who have emigrated to Israel and the United States.

Vladislav Schnitzer is a pensioner and freelance journalist.