One of the most brilliant foreign engineers in the Soviet Union during the 1930s, Zara Witkin left for Russia in 1932, fired by the belief that a noble attempt to refashion human society was taking place there and intent on finding the woman who had come to symbolize for him the dignified and joyous race that would populate the socialist utopia now being built.In the course of his two-year stay he found, and then lost, Emma; and in his mission to help modernize Soviet construction methods he fought, and ultimately was defeated by, the red tape, cynicism, and venality that were strangling Soviet Russia more surely than the "capitalist encirclement" of which official propaganda warned.Zara began to follow Soviet affairs with interest and sympathy in his teens.The Great Depression following the stock market crash of 1929 did more to persuade Witkin of the bankruptcy of capitalist civilization than any Soviet propaganda, while the initiation of a planned economy in the USSR in 1928 convinced him that this was the most promising experiment in human history, the creation of a society run not for profit but for human needs, a society based not on the anarchic laws of the market but on the rational satisfaction of the interests of the entire population.In the film Her Way of Love the full-figured beauty again played a peasant woman liberated by communism, strong and defiant, taking up arms to defend the Revolution.Witkin became obsessed with her, returning to watch the film eight times.
Born in 1900 to a family of Jewish emigrants from Russia (his last name is an Americanized form of the Russian Utkin ), Witkin attended a polytechnic high school and entered the University of California in 1917, at the age of sixteen.
Berkeley: University of California Press, c1991 1991.
wish to thank the following for their contributions to this volume: Victoria Bonnell of the Sociology Department of the University of California at Berkeley, Sheila Levine of the University of California Press, and Elena Danielson of the Hoover Institution Archives, for their early and unflagging support for the project; Kenneth Patsel, Galina Aleksandrova, and Svetlana Afanaseva, for obtaining Emma Tsesarskaia's original consent for an interview; Liudmila Budiak and Tatiana Krylova of the All-Union Research Institute of Cinema Art in Moscow for their help in locating Tsesarskaia and arranging the interview; Holland Hunter, emeritus of the Economics Department of Haverford College, for his evaluation of Witkin's statistical work on the five-year plans; Peter Kenez of the University of California at Santa Cruz, for his expertise; Jeffrey Pott, for providing photographs of Witkin's buildings (one of which now serves as headquarters for the Church of Scientology and discharges suspicious and unpleasant chaperones to intimidate photographers); Bernard Witkin, for sharing information about his brother; the research staff of the library at Franklin and Marshall College, for answering scores of questions; Dore Brown of the University of California Press, for her painstaking and creative copyediting; and most important, Emma Tsesarskaia herself, for the kindness and generosity she showed by meeting me.
He designed the Curran Theater in San Francisco in 1921.
Beginning in 1923 he served as chief engineer of a major construction firm in Los Angeles, where he supervised construction of scores of edifices, including the Hollywood Bowl and the Wilshire Temple.