The Arms race was a good stimulus


Andrey Fomin

Aviation engineer
Soviet Union

In 1978, Andrey Fomin graduated from Leningrad University of Airspace Instrumentation and joined the Army for two years of mandatory military service. Andrey served mostly in the nearby Baltic Republics, where he realized that the local citizens’ attitude towards Soviet soldiers was fairly hostile. Skeptical about communist ideals Andrey, refused to join the Party. Nevertheless, he was impressed by his country’s scientific and technical development, which he attributes to the Cold War and arms race.


German Democratic Republic, Berlin
13.24; 52.31
Postcard frontside, author: Andrey Fomin
Postcard backside, author: Andrey Fomin
The International Year of Peace 1986
The United Nations declared 1986 the International Year of Peace. Many countries, including the Soviet Union, issued stamps to commemorate it.
To: to Fomins, Leningrad, Richard Sorge Street, building 14 apt 92. Andrey's mother-in-law writes from her trip to Eastern Germany. As a member of the élite she was able to go abroad on holidays.
Postcard Text
Here I am in Dresden. Feeling weird. The last time, in ‘45, it was quite different. Bought a lot of presents. A pair of high boots for Polenka. Love, Mom.
Dresden was a major industrial centre in the German Democratic Republic. After the war, even if many important historic buildings were rebuilt, the city was largely reconstructed in a "Socialist modern" style. This was due to economic reasons, but also to break away from the city's past as the royal capital of Saxony and a stronghold of the German bourgeoisie.

personal archives

In Lettonia

Andrey Formin during his military service near Riga in Lettonia.

country: Soviet Union / year:

Andrey Formin during his military service near Riga in Latvia. In 1978 Andrey was stationed near Riga for his two years of military service. The attitude towards the Soviet military there was somewhat guarded, but not out-and-out aggressive, so Fomin took the chance to enjoy being in a more “westernized” city.

Military exercises

With a fellow soldier during his military service.

country: Soviet Union / year:

With a fellow soldier during his military service. As engineering troops, Andrey and his comrades’ main task was to solve combat missions’ technical problems, particularly in terms of maintenance quality for technical equipment. Maintenance of the fairly "antiquated" equipment, was a priority for the army. That caused some tension with the soldiers, even if there was not a lot of violence against younger conscripts in the army.

Military service

Andrey with two comrades

country: Soviet Union / year:

Andrey with two comrades. After graduating with a degree in aviation engineering in 1978, Andrey Formin went to do his military service. Military service was compulsory and lasted 2 years. Soldiers had a proverb for that: “Demobilization is as inevitable as the collapse of world imperialism!”

The military camp

Andrey’s wife and their daughter Polina in the military camp.

country: Soviet Union / year:

Andrey’s wife and their daughter Polina on the base. Army officers had certain privileges, including being able to get on-base housing for their families. After another officer left for Libya, Andrey moved into his apartment with his wife and their daughter. Living on base sometimes turned into a permanent solution. One of Andrey's friends even stayed there after his service was over, because the Soviet Union was facing such serious housing shortages that he didn’t have anywhere else to go.

Life in the military camp

Andrey and his daughter Polina in the military camp.

country: Soviet Union / year:

Andrey and his daughter Polina on the base. On weekends, Andrey could show his daughter the military equipment or take her for walks off base. Andrey recalls that there was a beautiful pine forest near the camp and how soldiers painted pine logs silver to make fake “decoy” rockets for a decoy rocket launcher to confuse foreign air intelligence services.