Stalins speeches were usually recorded on gramophone records so that they could reach everyone and could be played back at later party meetings. One such speech that was delivered in 1937, took four entire records, but the last side of the fourth record was merely applause. It was not an easy or safe thing to disrupt the display of a
nation's love in the form of a long standing ovation. It was not so bad if Stalin himself was on the tribune. With his fatherly gesture,
he would give a sign that the show of love was convincing enough.
It was worse when the nation broke into applause in the absence of the Leader himself. During the time of the awful terror of 1937, at a meeting in a certain city just out of Moscow, where a new secretary was taking over the office (as the previous one had been arrested), a
servile address was red out first. Those gathered, of course, rose from their seats and clapped and clapped and clapped... nobody was brave enough to be the first to break the applause. The presidium of the meeting were ready to clap until they collapsed. After a
dozen or so minutes of clapping, people began to look around at each other, showing their enthusiasm and love for their Leader and carried on clapping.
This would have probably carried on for ever if it was not for one director of a factory who decided to stop clapping. Maybe he had to wipe the sweat from his brow, or maybe his arthritic hands just became too painful, who knows, in either case it was not due to a lack of enthusiasm. No-one will ever get to the bottom of it, but the entire hall slowly followed his lead, and the meeting was able to carry on.
The very next day, the director of the particular factory was arrested. He got ten (years in prison), for other mishaps, of course. He could have gotten nine (grams), so in essence he was dealt with fairly.
It was in this way that the prisoners of the Gulags joked amongst themselves. They preffered ten years, than nine grams, as this was the exact weight of the bullet that would finish the life of the man in question. Stalin believed that people are a bother, and therefore if you don't have people, you
don't have the bother. You were left with a body, by this could be proffesionally taken care of by tens of thousands of
well trained specialists.