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The Trend of History Towards The Times Of Moshiach
Swords Into Plowshares: Annual Report
By Rabbi Shimon Silman, Director of the Rabbi Yisroel Aryeh Leib Research Institute on Moshiach & the Sciences, Professor of Mathematics, Touro College

Eight years ago this week (the week of Parshas Mishpatim, 5752), a well known conference took place in New York City at the United Nations between the leaders of the major nations of the world, including President Bush, Yeltsin, and other leaders of major military powers. In this meeting they made a joint declaration and commitment to begin reduction of armaments and use the resources and technology to further the improvement of economic conditions in the world, to increase food production, and to benefit mankind in general.

Although this meeting and declaration was probably overlooked by most of us, the Rebbe Melech HaMoshiach, who sees the truth, talked at length about this the next day at the farbrengen of Shabbos Parshas Mishpatim, 5752. Melech HaMoshiach explained that this announcement by the leaders of the nations of the world to reduce their military operations and increase food production is the beginning of the fulfillment of the prophecy of Yeshayahu HaNavi that in the times of Moshiach the nations of the world will beat their swords into plowshares. The Rebbe MH”M emphasizes that this was the direct effect of Melech HaMoshiach on the nations of the world. Melech HaMoshiach’s spreading Chassidus and Yiddishkeit throughout the world for decades, and especially the spreading of Sheva Mitzvos Bnei Noach among the non Jews, is what eventually lead to the collapse of the atheistic government in Russia and ultimately to this strong declaration by these nations to beat their swords into plowshares. Another aspect of the Geula had thus begun to unfold before our eyes.

Since this is an act of Melech HaMoshiach and an event of Yemos HaMoshiach, once it starts it continues and progresses. It was not a single isolated event that took place back then. Rather, it was the beginning of a process, which now continues at an accelerated pace.

Various international organizations have been established to document it and several books have been written to report on it. At the annual Moshiach & Science conferences of the Rabbi Yisroel Aryeh Leib Research Institute on Moshiach and the Sciences we report on what’s new in “Swords Into Plowshares.” The Swords Into Plowshares transformation has become so prevalent throughout the world that a group of physicists from the China Academy of Engineering Physics were prompted to write, “The peaceful use of military technology represents the trend of history,” or, in our terminology, “We are in the Era of Moshiach.”

In this year’s report we will look at the transformation of a major Russian military research institute and the transformation of two Russian military bases in Poland.


The Transformation of a Military Research Institute

First we will discuss the restructuring of the Central Aerohydrodynamic Research Institute (TsAGI) from a military research center into a research center for peaceful applications.

TsAGI was established in Moscow in 1918 and grew to become the largest aerospace test center in the world. Its facilities were moved to Zhukovsky outside Moscow in 1939. Zhukovsky is now a city of 100,000 people whose economy revolves around the aviation industry. By World War II, TsAGI had already branched out into several divisions.

TsAGI has been involved in the design and testing of every major Soviet military and commercial airplane, helicopter, missile, and spacecraft. It also engages in flight-simulator design and training. Its facilities include wind tunnels for subsonic, transonic, and supersonic aerodynamic tests as well as chambers for thermal strength testing. Some of these facilities are the most advanced in the world. It has extensive software development and computational capabilities as well as prototype manufacturing facilities that are used for producing test instrumentation and experimental models.

After the Swords Into Plowshares declaration, TsAGI began to reorganize itself in a way that would make maximum use of its technology and facilities to develop new products and provide services of economic benefit while retaining its key technical personnel and providing challenging scientific work for them. (While many of its employees left and went into other commercial pursuits, this itself is considered by many analysts to be a “passive conversion” from military to peaceful.)

To achieve these goals, TsAGI formally consolidated its core aerodynamic, thermal, and mechanical testing facilities into the TsAGI State Science Center (TSSC) in 1994. The Science Center itself has three categories of subsidiaries (see diagram). Category I comprises companies that are most closely linked to the Science Center’s core capabilities and activities. They all involve high technology and use key scientific personnel from what was TsAGI before the establishment of the Science Center. Some of these subsidiaries are also involved in marketing the services of TSSC to domestic aerospace customers who could not afford the higher costs of working directly with the TSSC. The main difference between these Category I subsidiaries and the Science Center itself is that while TSSC provides technology services for the state (it’s similar to government owned national laboratories in the US), the Category I subsidiaries are involved in providing these services for private customers, both inside and outside Russia.

In addition to carrying out commercial businesses, these subsidiaries engage in advanced applied research that may have further commercial potential. The objectives of these subsidiaries are clearly the long-term enhancement of TsAGI’s basic capabilities and commercial viability.

Subsidiaries in this category include a helicopter plant, facilities for producing measurement instruments, testing-equipment supply and testing services, and a software firm. Aerospace technology has been reapplied by enterprises in this category to produce automobile testing equipment and medical equipment.

The second cotegory of subsidiaries also involves technology and skilled personnel from TsAGI, but the technology is used to develop new commercial products and services that don’t involve the basic testing services of the Science Center as the main element of the product or service. These subsidiaries are basically free to do business on their own. Much of the required capital comes from private investors.

As an example, one of these Category II subsidiaries specializes in solar heaters. The enterprise grew out of a research group at TsAGI that was working on commercializing technical processes developed at the institute. Initially focusing on prefabricated building materials, the group utilized a flexible thin metal sheet developed by TsAGI. Later the group turned to the development of solar panels. The metal sheet technology enabled the group to develop piping for the panel that was cheaper and more efficient than the traditional copper models. TsAGI’s aerospace technology in surface coverings was also applied to the solar panel to increase its absorptive capacity and dampen energy release. While the solar-collector project was initially oriented toward developing a solar water heater, in 1994 TsAGI researchers began developing applications in air conditioning, desalinization, drying equipment, and other areas. The firm has received orders from the Moscow Regional Government and even from some foreign companies.

Other enterprises in this category include a firm that provides repair and certification work for foreign aircraft, an enterprise that uses a large vacuum chamber for high-altitude thermal strength testing, a producer of machine tools for wood processing, and a flight simulator.

Category III comprises subsidiaries that were established to provide employment for excess production workers, to utilize idle space and equipment, and to generate revenue without monetary investment. Some of these subsidiaries stress employment, while others stress income.

It is important to emphasize the significance of this step. One of the aspects of Marxist philosophy that the Rebbe Melech HaMoshiach criticized was the idea that the individual good must be sacrificed “for the good of society.” Judaism, l’havdil, emphasizes the significance of the individual and says that a single act or even a single thought of an individual can bring about a change for the good of the entire world. In the formation of these Category III subsidiaries we see a complete reversal of the Marxist philosophy: An institute is reorganized and a subsidiary is set up whose primary purpose is to provide employment for the former employees of the original institute. (Even in the U.S. we do not always see this step taken in the reorganization of corporations.)

The Category III subsidiaries are low-technology product ventures such as production of furniture and shoes or services such as a cafeteria and a management training program, but they have little or nothing to do with the science center’s base activities. From a Swords Into Plowshares perspective, however, these subsidiaries are especially important since they were established primarily to provide employment and their products are consumer goods.

Other examples of Category III subsidiaries are: 1) A subsidiary that manufactures various instruments. TsAGI provides the building, equipment, and personnel; an Israeli firm provides technology and some equipment, a US firm provides marketing and sales and a Swiss firm provides financing. Each partner receives 25 percent ownership. 2) An industrial diamond manufacturer. This is a joint venture with 55 percent ownership by TsAGI and participation by firms from Eretz Yisroel, the United States, and Sweden. 3) A management-training program (55 percent owned by TsAGI with participation by Moscow State University, the Open University (UK), and University of Michigan). 4) A wood-processing plant, and 5) a food-services organization.

Here we have seen how a major military research institute has subdivided into divisions where the military technology itself is used for peaceful uses, as well as divisions which directly provide consumer goods.


The Transformation of Military Bases

Military bases throughout Russia and Eastern Europe, as well as military research institutes, have been transformed and are being used for peaceful purposes. We will look at two Russian military installations in Poland and see how they have been transformed.

Following World War II, the Soviet Union took over the former German barracks facility in Poland’s northwestern port city of Szczecin. Situated directly between Berlin and Gdansk, this city of 420,000 is the logistic and population center of the region. Shortly after the Russian soldiers withdrew from Szczecin, the barracks complex was converted into an educational complex consisting of three schools: 1) the Institute of Computer Science of the Szczecin Technical University, 2) a campus of the University of Szczecin, and 3) the Maritime University of Szczecin. The barracks hospital was converted into a civilian hospital owned and operated by the city. The current level of activity in this complex greatly exceeds the former, military base level.

The city of Legnica is located in southwestern Poland and is the capital of Legnica Province. During World War II, it was the Eastern Forces Headquarters of the German army. As the Russian troops advanced, the Germans abandoned it. The Russian army took it over and in 1955 it became the headquarters for the entire Soviet Northern Group Forces.

During their presence in Lognica the Soviet troops occupied 1200 buildings — 840 that had been built by the Germans and 360 that the Russians themselves built. To assure security and separation from the residents of the city, the Russians built walls around various sections of the city that contained these military buildings. One such walled section, called the Russian Square, a five-block area in the heart of Legnica, housed the Russian elite, officers and high ranking party officials. It consists of massive houses, which are at least a hundred years old, with large yards.

After the Russians left, these buildings were used for housing. The larger buildings were bought by developers to transform into apartment buildings and the smaller buildings were sold to individuals for private homes.

One building located just outside Russian Square had been built by the Germans in the 1800’s as a villa for visiting athletes. After World War II the Soviet military took over the residence as a guest house for visiting officers. After the Russians left, the city government converted the building into a retirement home under the management of the Legnica City Office of Social Assistance. After a lengthy and expensive renovation it began functioning as a home for seniors in 1996.

Finally we mention that several military airbases are in the process of being transformed into civilian airports. But this takes much longer because of the tremendous expense involved in removing the pollution and contamination left by the military, rebuilding and expanding the buildings and the runways, and, in general, meeting the safety requirements for a civilian airport.

* * *

As we consider the above examples and follow this trend of transformation of military technology, military research institutes and their personnel, military airbases, army bases and naval bases etc. into peaceful uses, and the redirection of the funds previously used to finance these operations to peaceful purposes, we see that Swords Into Plowshares is indeed “the trend of history.”

(This paper was written for the z’chus of the Mara D’Asra, HaRav Chaim Yehuda Kalman ben Rochel, sh’yichyeh, for an immediate refua shleima.)


The Swords Into Plowshares transformation has become so prevalent throughout the world that a group of physicists from the China Academy of Engineering Physics were prompted to write: “The peaceful use of military technology represents the trend of history,” or, in our terminology, “We are in the Era of Moshiach.”


The “Russian Square” in Legnica, Poland:
Former location of the Headquarters of the Soviet Northern Group Forces, now transformed into housing projects for private citizens.



One of the aspects of Marxist philosophy that the Rebbe Melech HaMoshiach criticized was the idea that the individual good must be sacrificed “for the good of society.”


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