Table of Contents:
- AK-47 rifle was agriculture’s giant loss?
- War, agriculture, destiny
- What might have been for agriculture? Looking at the life of Mikhail Kalashnikov, father of the AK-47, the question looms large.
Kalashnikov was born in Siberia in 1919, the 17th of 19 children in a peasant family. But during Joseph Stalin’s collectivization of agriculture, the Kalashnikov land was swallowed up in 1930. His father was labeled a class enemy and the entire family was sent packing in a cattle car. In short, Stalin’s collective farming policy ensured that Mikhail Kalashnikov and agricultural innovation would never merge.
Instead, Kalashnikov went on to create the most famous gun in the world. Over the last two decades of his life, Kalashnikov was often condemned and blamed for the losses related to his AK-47 creation. But Kalashnikov never tolerated such criticism, although his view changed as he aged: “It is not my fault that the Kalashnikov became very well known in the world, that it was used in many troubled places. I think the policies of these countries are to blame, not the weapons designers,” he told The Independent.
From Izvestia: “Let the politicians who start wars sleep badly. The designer is not to blame.”
From Business Insider: “I didn’t put it in the hands of bandits and terrorists, and it’s not my fault that it has mushroomed uncontrollably across the globe. Can I be blamed that they consider it the most reliable weapon?”
And yet, Kalashnikov recognized the fragile circumstances of his early life: "If it wasn't for war, I would have been doing machines to help agriculture - so it was Germans who forced me to invent it," he told the Siberian Times.
At 93, Kalashnikov wrote a letter to the head of the Russian Orthodox Church, torn by guilt: “My spiritual torment is unbearable. One and the same question: if my rifle killed people does that mean that I, Mikhail Kalashnikov, 93 years of age, the son of a peasant, Christian and orthodox by faith, am responsible for people’s deaths, even if they were enemies?”
For more on Kalashnikov's letter, see Kalashnikov expressed guilt over assault rifle invention in letter to Church
What might have been? Maybe Kalashnikov was thinking back to his lost family fields when he was quoted in 2002: “I would prefer to have invented a machine that people could use and that would help farmers with their work …”
* Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons, Valio Subaru