Willy Knoblauch was a model worker at the hot carbide furnaces of the Piesteritz nitrogen plant in Communist East Germany. The comrade leaders of the plant union liked Willy. But Willy did not care much for them.

When comrade leaders came to him one day last summer and offered to designate him an Aktivist (the East German equivalent of Russia's speedup Stakhano-vites), Willy calmly replied, "Nein. There are better people here than me." The union leaders were astounded; after all, as an Aktivist, Willy would be entitled to a 10,000-mark bonus every month. They reported Willy's refusal to the Chemical...

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