Choijamts


Basic information
Interviewee ID: 990901
Name: Choijamts
Parent's name: [blank]
Ovog: [blank]
Sex: m
Year of Birth: 1928
Ethnicity: [unknown]

Additional Information
Education: [unknown]
Notes on education:
Work:
Belief:
Born in: Tüdevtei sum, Zavhan aimag
Lives in: sum (or part of UB), Ulaanbaatar aimag
Mother's profession:
Father's profession:


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Translation:



The Oral History of Twentieth Century Mongolia

Byambajav -

Would you tell me about your life in detail since you had moved to the city?

Choijamts -

At the end of 1939, in mid November I moved to Ulaanbaatar to reside. Leaving your birthplace, home, and herds for a distant place makes one feel a lot (sigh). Since I arrived Ulaanbaatar I have been homesick, felt down… occasionally I cried because of missing my home, birthplace, and cattle I herded. Even now I miss my birthplace, summer, spring, fall and winter places. I see clearly those places where I collected mushrooms, berries, gums and meheer (a kind of plant, D.N.) etc.

In that way I have become an Ulaanbaatar citizen. I’d talk about my parents now. My father’s name is Baljinnyam- an ordinary rural herder. He read Mongolian and Tibetan and wrote in them. He was a herder and a Mongol like any other religious, rural, Mongolian people. My mother is the same-a rural herder… a very generous Mongolian woman, who took care of her children and parents. I am one of her ten children. Only three of them are alive now. All the rest passed away. My parents also died. Because they paid a lot of attention to our bringing-up, development, and teaching in rights and wrongs we live like any other ordinary Mongols, Mongolian people, yet not rich and peacefully, and are able to separate rights from wrongs. These are results of their teaching (sigh).

In 1943…. no in September of 1930, 40 I went to the primary school 10 in Ulaanbaatar. My parents had a small ger in the bank compound. My aunt was neighboring. Because I did know old script and elementary math I moved to the second grade after while. Our teacher was a woman-Mijidmaa. She is originally from Selenge aimag. She spoke well and wrote distinctively. She did a lot and made efforts in teaching, getting us literate, and educating us… she was regarded as a tough teacher. Was tough because she, having pure, great heart like milk, wanted us to be good and educated people. I have been thinking about her toughness.

My school was established with two classes-the first and the second, 4 teachers and a director. When I graduated from the school in 1943 it had... 6 classes,… about 20 teachers. A new building was built and developed. In 1943 I graduated from my school I was assigned to the teachers’ school. At that time a decree of the Ministries of the Mongolian People’s Republic (MPR) was issued and the school of Officers was established to launch its classes in September 1943. I’d decided to study there. I did not go Teachers’ school and was registered as a student of the school of Officers. On 23 August, 1942 I went to the School of Officers. That school was situated in recent-time Gandan, aa…. there is the Construction College now. There was a two-story building on its right and there were two-story and four-story pinkish buildings on its left. Its director was Colonel Erdenedamba. I was registered there and get accommodated. That day I went to soldiers’ bath, received a uniform. My old clothes were collected. That day (voice raised) was the turning point of my life and I became an army person. Between 1943 to 1949 or during the six years spent in the school of Officers, in terms of education I got 10-years education, and in terms of army education I got average education…. Studied the programme. Programmes were many …so were books and notes. According to them preparation for fire, parade training and the first and second tests of battles took place. Many classes such as military unit’s regulation, discipline rule, parade rule, internal service rule, as well as tactics of various arms, geography, military engineering, army zoology, army medicine, cavalry and general education took place…. Was tough. Besides these as other army personnel in the winter, summer, fall and spring time we went to field trainings with other military units. During that time in summer and winter we were left in places where… no resident, aaa…no dwelling. There were commands ‘build an accommodation, dig trenches, and channels and get the dwelling’ rather than ‘there are trees’, ‘use this’… Nothing was available. We built our accommodation digging land, trenches and dugouts. We did in that way…and lived. Studied and went to the field. These were the ways of teaching and disciplining of that-time teachers and officers to get us learned and overcome difficulties. The school and all these things determined us who we would be, what to do, and how to behave. In other words, 6 years of schooling in the school of Officers’ or 10 years in army made us men. At the start the school of Officers had 30 to 40 officers and teachers including 11 teachers, course head, platoon commander and the director. Among them my …My teachers were Ochir, Batdorj, Sereeter, Jamsran, Dagzmaa, Damba, and the teacher of the Russian language -Ramanav. Dashdondog, Banzragch, Tomorbaatar were there. Those were our teachers. The number of students had been increasing and by winter of 1949 it reached 1,500. The number of teachers was around 60. The number of officers was approximately 70 to 80. The school became larger and had in total of 130, 140 to 150 officers. The first director of the school was Dagdan. The headquarters’ chief was Zandraa. There was Colonel Sandagaa, and the head of the state section was renowned commissar Dash. Course head was first, Sharavdorj, army’s aaa… Garmaa, Duinkhorjav, aaa…Samdan. Baymbajav and many others. The head of the hospital was Colonel Dugar, and the medical attendant was Monkhoo, a graduate from Leningrad Feldsher (medical attendant, D.N.) school. Later our Colonel Dugar had become the Minister of the Health. Well, during these 6 school years I felt hot and cold and sometimes hunger and tiredness, which we benefited from later. It was a school for raising me as a human.

In 1949 we-50 people graduated from the school of Officers. Some of them were sent to the zoology faculty of the University, some of them were trained for oversees schools-schools of tank, air forces, artillery and cavalry in the Soviet Union. 2 went to the school of tank (armour, D.N), one went to the school of air forces, and ten more stayed here. They were trained internally: the first pilots were trained in Mongolia in…1950, 51, …in 1949, 50, 51. That was it. Training took place in 1950, 52. In fall of 1952 Choibal aa…. I was posted to the 5th division of Dornod aimag. I worked there for a year, and moved to the technical platoon of the 5th division. Dornod service was a big place. It was disbanded, and there was a technical section- auto management with 30 to 40 technical machines affiliated to the 5th division. After I worked there for a year I took Janjin’s exam on 27 May, 1953, and that night I was demobilized from the army by the first demobilization. I demobilized on 29 May from Dornod 5th division, and moved to Ulaanbaatar. I had not been at my home for ten years. I came back home after being away for 10 years. At that time my father Baljinnyam passed away. My mother lived with my siblings. My brother, born after me, had gone to the Soviet Union to study. In this situation I had no right to talk about my further studying. I had to take care of my mother and my sisters and brothers. Therefore, I worked in fall of 195..4, 50... in fall 53, in fall 1954, in 1953 and 1954. There was so called Bank of Commerce and Industry, the corporate bank. I was a bank counter, later … a cashier, and had a job in the cash section. I worked as a general cashier for the Bank of Commerce and Industry, and a vice-director of the cash section. When my brother came back home as a graduate I had to go to school. In 1955 I took an exam. It was pre-naadam time. I had not left my job yet. I took the exam and passed it. For a balance the cash from the section of Yarmag bank should be sent to the central bank of the city. When I came back after transferring the cash I had a car accident. I was injured seriously. I went to doctor Sukhbaatar in Surgery hospital, and he stitched injures and treated me. I was not hospitalized. Then I could not go home, because my siblings were in a summer camp, the bank camp. I stayed in my acquaintance’s home for a couple of days, and when I felt better I went home. Meanwhile naadam had finished. I returned to my job, walking on crutches. Then I was requested to go through the Health commission by the human resource of the Central Bureau….the human resource of the city (voice raised). I went through this commission. I had hypertension. Nonetheless, I determined to go school that year. There was no choice. I should go because it was 1955, and 6 years had passed since I graduated from Tovchoo school. If I would not go it would have been too late, considering my age. Would be too late. Secondly, I was worrying about that I would forget all what I learnt at the School of Officers. Thus, I was keen to go to school in 1955. I needed schooling. In a couple of days I went again through the medical commission. By that time my blood pressure had been normalized. Then I went to see Samdan, the head of the human resource …the secretary of the Central Bureau. He asked me what school I wanted to enter in. I said that I would like to go to a school where demands are high and where I can acquire a lot. He said, “If so, go to Moscow Institute of Economics under the name of the Ministry of Industry”. The appointment letter was issued under the name of the Ministry of Industry. Then I went to my workplace. I explained that I would like to leave my job because this and that happened and because I decided to go to school. That time the head of Mongol Bank was Baljid, a nice person. Adding to that, as mentioned earlier, there was a two countries’ corporate bank- the Bank of Commerce and Industry. In 19…55, …54…1954 this bank did not exist as the bilateral corporate bank, instead the Bank of Commerce and Industry of the Mongolian People’s Republic was established. Our country had its first bank named Mongol Bank in 1954. The order on resignation was issued in 19…. I supposed to pass on my job during 10 days, between 15 and 24 August, 1954. Otherwise, I could have not arranged my things. I supposed to go on 24, 26 August. Before that I had to manage to shift my job. According to the bank regulation I had to pass on my job within a month. I was responsible for all kinds of currencies-the old and new, circulated in the country at that time; jewels, kept in the bank; gold and silver; foreign currencies; pricey things….swords of generals, and bonds. Within a month I should calculate, weigh and count and forward all these things.

I told them that I with people from registration commission would do it in 10 days and nights. There was no other way because I was going on 26 August. We agreed on it. From the state bank there were Dashjamts, the head of the transfer section, and Tsevelmaa senior accountant woman of the transfer section. In addition, there were Damchaajamts, a member of the general bureau, Budsuren, senior accountant of the state bank and so on. Representatives from the Internal affairs and the Council of Ministries were also obliged to present there. The work was completed on time. The work was finished and signed at 10 a.m. on 24 August.

There was a call from the Ministry of Industry . I was questioned why I, a designated person, had not provided the passport, CV, and why I had not got the payment for expenses. I went there and gave 15 tugriks to get passport and photos. I was told that I would go at 14.00 on 26 August, and by that time I should arrange all things. Some of colleagues were also going to school and they were ready for it. All they had already left their job, managed to do things and got their payment. I had got neither my passport nor payment. On 24 August I got my payment from the Ministry of Industry, and came back to my work, completed my job and signed it. According to an order of the general bureau of the state bank I received a grant of a month salary and vacation payment. My salary was 485 tugriks, which is a lot of money at that time. I used free electricity and ger. Water supply and fair wood also were free. These were norms. I left my job and went to see Baljid, the bank head. He asked whether I had prepared or bought anything. I said no. He said, ‘Let’s go. I have to help you’. He said it, probably considering that he was a friend of my uncle, who had worked for the bank before I entered. I worked for Mongol Bank satisfactorily, not bad, well. Baljid darga (head in Mongolian, D.N) got in his car and we headed to 18th store, the store for Ministries. The ministries had access to this store. Baljid guay said to shop assistants, “ He is our employee and is going to school. All other people had left their job and prepared things. He had nothing, although he is going on 26 August. Would you help him to find appropriate clothes?’. I had obtained 2,500 T as payment for clothes. I bought 3 good suits, 3 pairs of shoes, a coat, a winter cap, and underwear, etc. I had no suitcase to put them in. Then I bought 6m. cotton materials and got a kit-bag made there and put my thing in. I also got butter, sausages, canned food, fried cookies, and put them in another kit-bag. All these things were lifted by the head’s car. In that evening I came home in Bagatenger, by employees’ bus. I informed my mother that I would go in the morning of the 26th and that I had prepared my things. My poor mother was disturbed. Next day my siblings went somewhere in Bagatenger and collected berries, out of which my mother made me gem. My brother came back and worked as a pioneering expert of industrial goods for the Central Association of Corporations, named as Tovarer. Return of my brother provided me a big opportunity and made me easy. I was determined. In the morning, around 10 a.m. on August 26 I came to my workplace. I brought there desiccated and some boiled meat, prepared by my mom for my journey.

I came to train station after I had lunch in a family lived in the bank compound: I could not manage to do it at home. Baljid darga, Dayanjamts, the head of the transfer section, Siilegmaa guay, Tserendolgor, the head of the cash section, … and some Russian professionals from the bank came to the train station to see me off. The station was full of people, and there was the army music band. Interesting thing was that it played the hymn of the MPR, when the train had just departed. I was moved when we were seen off with the hymn of the MPR. It was the ceremony wishing us success in learning in faraway place, and returning home country as decent people. Well, we left on 26 August. It took a week to get Moscow from Ulaanbaatar. There were transfers in Naushk, Ulaan-Ud, and Irkutsk. In 7 days we arrived at Moscow. When we arrived Moscow, Embassy secretaries, responsible for education, officials from the Revolutionary Youth Union, Embassy secretaries, and consultants met us at Yaroslav train station. They took all of us to the Moscow Institute of Food. In two days representatives of each school came there and took us to respective schools. On 7 August, no, on 7 July, I arrived at the Moscow Institute of Economics. The institute director and faculty head met us and gave us advices. That day we took classes. The funny thing, not funny, may be interesting thing was that the first time I saw so many girls because I had not worked closely with many girls and women. When I first entered a lecture hall, it was full of girls and young ladies. The hall was spacious. The lecture on ‘Gorman deli’ was taught. I thought that I had to have a seat in the last row and was going there. Then a lady with brownish or black hair in the first row invited me to sit next to her. I had a seat there. That lady was a Polish. I had classes that day, but my Russian was not good. I had prepared for classes: had notebooks, a pen and pencils. In these ways, on 7 September I became a student of Moscow State Institute of Economics. Since then I had always had a seat next to the Polish lady. She became an emigrant when Poland was occupied by Germany in 1939 for two reasons: first, her father was a Jewish and second, he was a communist. It was dangerous to stay in Poland for Jewish people and communists. Since 1939 the poor lady went to Italy and lived there for 2 or 3 years. Because Italy had fascist regime staying long in the country was also dangerous. From there she moved to France, then to England because France was also occupied by fascist Germany. She lived in England for quite long time-until 19…50,1, 52 and came back to her country in 1952. In 1955 she graduated from high school in Warsaw and came to Moscow to study at our Institute… The director of the institute was Buzulukov. The faculty head was Spovalov. Among our teachers…well, there were renowned economists of that time- Strumelin, Iken, Kaminetser, Burkhovsky,…well, that general Shafiev; well-known Russian scholars and doctors-teachers taught us. They had very interesting methods of teaching and upbringing. They requested us to read books and to make notes. During the exam they made us ashamed. They said, “three questions on the sheet are not enough. You are good at these questions”. Then they probed us through additional queries, formulas, and additional questions. Thinking back, taking an exam and obtaining a grade took around 40 minutes of investigation and queries. Ordinary or senior teachers had no rights to take exams, only candidates of science and doctors took exams. I do not remember how I took my first-year exams, how the first year came to end, how I answered, and what I wrote. Was so embarrassed. After the completion of the first year my Russian had improved. My classmates helped me a lot to prepare exam questions. I also tried my best. My Russian was better at the end of the first grade. In that way I studied at the Moscow Institute of Economics for 5 years and defended my diploma work excellently. Well, I had three at some exams from previous years. I got three for economic geography. Three was given at this exam. That grade is on my diploma now. I would like to say one interesting thing here. It was said in my diploma that… chemical materials were regarded cheap. .. Chemical materials, artificial thread were broadly used particularly in textile factories. Economists of that time believed that these materials are cheap. First time during my diploma defense, I said that these materials were not cheap and the cost had been higher than the natural wool. Having said that I faced critics of my teachers.

After the diploma defense I obtained my diploma with specialization in engineer-economist of light industry. I had specialization in engineer-economist of textile industry. After the graduation I worked not only for a textile factory but for textile factories across Mongolia.

Byambajav -

You told me very interesting story. Would you tell me in detail about your impression on the city when you first arrived it from rural area?

Choijamts -

In 1939 we arrived in Ulaanbaatar through Shariin hővőő. It was about 8 o’clock in the evening.

That time UB was such a flashing place, as if many candles were lightening. It was such a glittering city. I was wondering what was there. Then I asked adults sitting next to me ‘Why there are so many lights?’ They told me that there were many lamps in Ulaanbaatar streets and they were lightening. We reached a bank yard in Ulaanbaatar around 9 or 10 o’clock. I arrived in Ulaanbaatar and met my father, mother, brothers and sisters. When entered in the ger it was full of light: there was great light behind the round glass. Well, I arrived in bright warm place and slept. That night I couldn’t sleep well because of noise “chag, chag chag”. We got up in early morning as usual rural children. I went to a latrine, which I supposed to use. Coming back I was lost in this yard because there were many gers. A prolonged song was heard when I passed a ger. Seemingly, a party was taking place. I thought Ulaanbaatar was strange, having party in the morning. I opened a door but there were an elderly man and woman. They asked me who I was, where I came from. I said that I was lost and introduced the family I came from. I suddenly saw a round, a black stuff- redocutor, producing the song. It was a radio. It was the first time I saw a radio and realized that it transmits those things. That woman guided us home. Afterward I became an Ulaanbaatar citizen. I had no idea about a city. Thus, Ulaanbaatar seemed to me as an enormous city. There were a very few, handful two- or three-story buildings: the Ministry of Internal affairs, the bank, the 4-storey building of the high school No1, the 3-storey residence building for the staff of the Ministry of Internal affairs, Lenin club, the government building on its left, the current Pedagogical Institute, the former Ministry of Militaries or the current Ministry of Agriculture, 3 to 4 residence buildings for the staff of the Ministry of Agriculture on the left, to the left the hospital, the general military school, the Russian embassy, the embassy of USSR, residences for Ulaan huaran military units…in total of 30-40 buildings. City households were dwelled in felt gers, had fences made of cut-down trees. Paved roads did not exist. There was so-called hemi-spherical green theater, situated in the place of the current government building. In its front there was a squire where parades, ceremonial meetings, naadam took place. Streets were skewed, muddy, …full of water and mud. The construction work had started in Ulaanbaatar in 1954. There is no comparison between Ulaanbaatar of 1939, the year I came, and current Ulaanbaatar. It has changed so much. It has changed so much that there is nothing left reminding you Ulaanbaatar of 1939 and 1940. Thanks to the assistance of USSR and great work and commitment of our constructors and laborers.

Ulaanbaatar had changed that much. Many buildings, new residence and office buildings have been built, Ulaanbaatar street and squires have been paved, and the ceremonial squire has become nice. In addition, it is full of buses now, and there are many taxis. In 1939 there were only two bus lines: Amgalanbaatar and Ulaankhuaran. Chinese carts provided transportation: lifted workers to Ulaankhuaran, Amgalan and the Industrial kombinat for 3 tugriks. Chinese horse carts served as public transportation. Only two buses run. The bus ticket was 10 to 15 mőngő. Well, I told you that how current city has emerged from that city. The difference is like the difference between day and night. Nowadays young people are not aware of Ulaanbaatar of 1939 and 1940. May be they will tell you that is not true if you show them a movie about Ulaanbaatar of that time. Some of them neglect things even they are aware of them. Let them think in their own way. Generallly, Ulaanbaatar has changed. Nothing was in Yarmag. The Meat processing factory was established in 1942 with the assistance of Soviets. It was 14 km. away from Ulaanbaatar and there was nothing in between. Those many building in Tolgoit, in front of the Meat processing factory did not exist. There was empty space. Nothing existed between the train station and the Sonsgolon bridge. Amgalan was apart from Ulaanbaatar. It was distant place in the left part. In the north there were neither Khandgait nor summer camps. People used to live in their summer houses at the northern edge of Tuul river. Nothing was nearby Zaisan, Ikh Tenger, Baga Tenger and Khurel Togoot. There was a train road between Nalaikh and Ulaanbaatar but it was small. There is a car at the train station now. It, running for 37 km., supplied the first power station with coals. Coals were delivered twice or trice a day. Ulaankhuaran was a distant place. Ulaanbaatar was like that. But current Ulaanbaatar is so big. Full town has emerged between Buyant-ukhaa and the former military airdrome. In addition there are Bagakhangai, Baganuur, Partisan collective farm have become Ulaanbaatar satellites. That time there were no signs of these towns and districts. That is it.

Byambajav -

When you arrived in Ulaanbaatar was there government building? Where was it?

Choijamts -

In 1939, when I came to Ulaanbaatar, there was a government house. Government house. It was in what’s now Pedagogical Institute. The building of … um … Pedagogical Institute … in the building of today’s Pedagogical Institute. At that time, the government house building had the one-storied north wing, the 3-storied south wing, and the 2-storied east wing, and from then on pedagogical … pedagogical institute expanded the east of the pedagogical institute, that 2-storied yellow building. And there was the government house in the building of today’s … Pedagogical Institute, University of Education, University of education building. Marshall Choibalsan used to work there. Also Tsedenbal used to work there. And the Party’s Central Committee was there and Tsedenbal was there. Two different offices were located there. …

Byambajav -

So when was this grey house (government house) built?

Choijamts -

The grey house, the new government house building was principally finalized in 1952. When Marshall Choibalsan passed away in 1952, his body was placed in the congress hall and ceremony was held there, and most of the government house … was completed; half of the building was occupied with government offices and the rest was under decoration. In 1952, the construction was almost completed. The mausoleum was in 1952, when Choibalsan, Marshall Choibalsan passed away, this mausoleum was built during the harsh winter, the cold of February, it was around Tsagaan Sar … was first built, then Marshall Choibalsan was placed there. And the government house was expanded later. The north wing, the north was sealed off , expanded, west side, south side, east side fourth store was constructed under military (51:37) construction engineer Demchigsuren’s command the expansion was completed. And the present building stayed the same since then. And at that time the Government and the Party Central Committee, Planning Committee, and … and also um …inspection offices, state and public inspection commission, the party inspection commission, all those bodies were seated here in the government house. After 1990s, that centralization was reduced and such organizations as public inspection commission, planning committee, and reserve commission, were pulled out from the building and provided with their own offices and only the government and the party central committee seated in the building. This is history of the government house.

Byambajav -

You mentioned that when you first came to the city, there were no paved roads. So when were the central street and the west crossroads built?

Choijamts -

When I first came to Ulaanbaatar, there was only one road from the west crossroads to the Central Union of firms. That was the paved road. The others were all dirt roads. Roads, the beginning of road construction, to build roads, the first expansion of roads, and the increase of road length began in 1954. According to the present terms, the road renovation. Then later … with the aid from PRC, with the help of Chinese workers, in 1954, in 1955 our country used to receive Chinese workers. Chinese workers were used in the restoration, no, in the development (of the country). They Nalaikh railroad, paved road to Nalaikh, and to the west … 22 and further and … with the aid from the Soviet Union, the Altanbulag and Ulaanbaatar railroad, no, paved road was built with the aid from the Soviet Union. And the roads etc. until 30s 1937, 38, 1940s the roads were built in this way. Only our people. And since 1954, the road and bridges came into the spotlight. A paved road was built to Ikh Tengeriin Am. A road was built to the airport. A road was constructed to Baga Tengeriin Am. A road to Nalaikh was built. (54: 58) and the main streets and squares within the city started to be built since 1954.

Byambajav -

Where was the school … school No 10 you went first to located? The …

Choijamts -

School No 10, school No 10 … was … Um to the west there is Chingeltei district Governor’s office. On the right of that building, there is Chingeltei district police department. Primary school No 10 was right there where these two buildings are today. There were only two classrooms in one building, and the building was divided into two rooms and 1st grade and 2nd grade were established. Then later in 1941 on the south a new building was built with 4 classrooms. That building was built in a very short period of time. In 1941-42 enrollment (i.e. academic year), children were accepted there. The two old classrooms were kept. Besides that, when it became crowded, one, two old wooden buildings in the courtyard. In one of the wooden houses, there was a small cafeteria, and a club was located in the other. A school club. At that time, we, the school children were given about two hundred grams of bread, um … twenty grams of butter, twenty grams of sugar, and one cup of tea. Besides that, the schools at that time had uniforms. A white fur hat, with ear flap, a fur deel covered with blue cloth, white felt boots, a blue cloth bag, all the pioneers had ties, and a kastyur made of metal. The uniform was like this. … They were given every year, and the country was taking care of the children, the future of the country, paying a lot of attention to educate children. Now there is no school that gives out free clothes, hats, bags and boots and snacks. But we , we … I studied there for three years, and during that three years I received 3 fur deels, white fur hats, felt boots, and every day bread, butter (58: 48), and tea for snacks. If we calculated, calculated the cost, it would be thousands of tugrugs, all were given free. The schools of that period, Ulaanbaatar Primary School No 4, Primary School No 3, Primary School No 9, Primary School No 10, Ulaanbaatar had a few schools. Few schools. Regarding secondary/middle schools, there was School No 2. There was School No 1. And in the area of the airport, um … there were … schools. They had gers, not buildings. Some of the schools were in gers. A ger was a classroom. There were four, five gers. There was a ger used as a teachers’ room where teachers put their stuff. Schools of 1939, 40 didn’t have multi-story buildings and gyms; they didn’t even have a gym. Nowadays, schools have become very pleasant. There is a possibility to educate, if they have a will. At that time, we didn’t use to have textbooks and our teachers used their lesson plans from teacher’s college to teach us. In a classroom, there was a book titled “Golden readings.” If there were two of them in a classroom, it was fabulous. If there was geography book, it was a treasure. There were things like nature study, botany, etc. If there was a textbook on those, it would be luck. And there were no textbooks on math, history, and so on, and our poor teacher taught us (those subjects) using their notes from teacher’s college and lesson plans prepared at teacher’s college. There were no visual aids, so teachers wrote everything on the blackboard. Homework assignments were also jotted on the blackboard. If there were anything to write, they wrote them on the blackboard. And calculation, teachers wrote on the blackboard themselves and taught. “This is how this number is written and this new letter is … written this way.” Teacher wrote everything on the blackboard. There weren’t textbooks. That was the situation (1:01:18) of schools. Teachers, in order to make children literate, strived and worked very hard. And when I think about the teachers of that period, I have sympathy for then that they had a hard task. …

Byambajav -

When you came, was there a Mongolian university? And when was a university first established?

Choijamts -

When I came to Ulaanbaatar in 1939, there was no Mongolian university. Maybe there were discussions to establish a Mongolian school … a university in Mongolia being held among high officials, government, or maybe at the party central committee. And I guess it was 1943, if I’m not mistaken, National University of Mongolia was established in 1943. But the NUM building was … built much more later. In 19 … 49, 50s the building of NUM was completed, maybe in 1949, the building of NUM was finished, and NUM came to this location. Before that, the University was established in 1943, the classes were held at schools … secondary school buildings, and other places like … cultural centres. And like there was no place to say this was the University. In 1943, 44, no, late 40s and early 50s the new building was built. And later Pedagogical Institute, the teacher’s college turned into Pedagogical Institute, in other words, all our universities branched out of NUM. Teacher’s college, branched out from NUM, and Technical University branched … separated from NUM. AI also branched out of NUM. and there was Economic Institute. Late … for some period, it was located at the party, party personnel institute and later … this … became an independent institution. And … there was Polytechnic Institute. That was what’s now TU. All of them branched out of NUM. in other words, NUM is the first in our country a parent of today’s public higher education institutions.

Byambajav -

As you know the city since 1939, what kind of people lived in the area between the Geser temple and 100 …

Choijamts -

Between the Geser temple and 100, there was the 1st khoroo of Ulaanbaatar. In the area of the Geser temple, … in front of … Lenin museum, in the area of … Yalalt cinema, there was Agricultural college. Agricultural college had a huge space, and to the north of Agricultural college till Green Lake, in that wide area, there was Chinese Tsaa gazar. They were called 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, and 9 streets and there were only Chinese, and they were … some of them went around and fixed houses, some of them traded, meat trade and vegetable trade, and others clean clothes, dyed clothes and other stuff, some of them were jewelers, some were bikers, opened bike repair, some opened cafeteria. And some of them, there was a Chinese commune and they had a few vehicles, trucks, and the Chinese commune members used to go … do … state transportation activities. They … were working like that. And some of them were water distributors. They were in charge of supplying ger district of Ulaanbaatar with water, they had a horse cart, two horses, and they carried water with them, and they lived on distributing water. And some of them in Amgalan, had farms in northern Ulaanbaatar and hey planted vegetables.

And then there was the 2nd khoroo. 2nd khoroo, west from 100 gers, the road to the north, … usually … there was Pioneer Palace, around that area … behind that there was nothing, empty. No gers, and 2nd khoroo was there, and 2nd khoroo was also Chinese. In Ulaanbaatar, at that period, there were a lot of Chinese, so there were many half-Chinese and half-Mongolians, their children were in great numbers in School No 9; it was called Shyanzan school. And in 2nd khoroo usually khalkhas, and further from there 4th khoroo, 100 gers, and south from 100 gers, (1:08;05) 4th khoroo, there usually lived khalkhas, there was buriat khoroo, west from School No 1 there was buriat khoroo. There were rich buriats, who had cows, sold milk, so it was called buriat khoroo. They had horse carts, sleigh, and there was 5th khoroo. And … um … I guess it’s called 2nd maternity house, in the east west, south from there, west from there, School No 2, Korean Embassy, Check Embassy, Bulgarian Embassy area was called 5th khoroo. There were School No 2 and School No 3, and there was also a ger district; even Yanjmaa used to live in 5th khoroo. And Amgalan was separate, Ulaankhuaran was separate, and 3rd khoroo was … west from the Sukhbaatar square, crossroads, south from there till railroad, this was 3rd khoroo. Administration. And khoroo-administration was, khoroo and then khorin; khorin had twenty families, so it was called khorin. It meant the number 20, twenty … And that was almost equal to the number of families in a bag in rural areas, and that was a khorin. And the complete secondary school No 3 was, complete secondary school No 1, complete secondary school No 5 was school No 2. Then 1st micro district had Shyanz … a school, our school, primary school No 10, the only schools in the city center, primary school No 4 was located at the north of teacher’s um University of Education, in the area where Ulaanbaatar Hotel is located now. And primary school No 4 was um the children from 4th khoroo, 5th khoroo, the half of 4th khoroo, and the half of 1st and 2nd khoroos used to go to primary school No 4. This is how it was like. And Amgalan. The Amgalan school was separate. There was one school in Ulaankhuaran and it was separate. And these were all schools in Ulaanbaatar. Few schools. And now Ulaanbaatar has over 100, around 120-30 (1;11;00) schools. And when the number of schools has turned into around 120, schools um most of the schools have two shifts. The number of children has increased so much. But when I was at school, schools used to have 250, 500 at most, children. The classes were held in the morning and in the afternoon the teachers worked at schools with their children, practice with them, and help them … and they went home at around 7 or 8 in the evening. … And the others were at school with their children. Ulaanbaatar was such a school. And the agricultural college joined AI … later. The agricultural college used to prepare well and water professionals and hydro technicians. That was the first technical school in our country. There was a veterinary college. From Ulaanbaatar … from narrow railroad, no, from the railway station, from the north of railway station till industrial district there were no residence areas. This area was open and the Dund river was visible. Now it is not the same. That is how it is changed.

And since I came in 1939, Ulaanbaatar power plant, power plant 1 was expanded 3 times; power plant 2 was built, power plant 3 was built, and power plant 4 was built. And all these power plants were built. Power plant was actually shut down. And now there three power plants that are active. And even these 3 power plants barely supply Ulaanbaatar with enough electricity. And barely supplies with heating. But at that time, there was only one power plant, and that plant supplied all offices and families, …and that makes me think that Ulaanbaatar has expanded enormously.

Byambajav -

(1;13;40) 1939 was the time of Khalkh gol war. So I assume the Russian soldiers were also engaged in expansion process. Where did they reside …

Choijamts -

When I came to Ulaanbaatar in 1939, the 1939 war was over. The soldiers who battled the war were discharged first in September and October 1939. And the men recruited from our region were being dismissed. And we, that was, there were 9th cavalry, communications battalion, artillery battalion, and an escadrille, and a general military school and a general school for outpost military. And there was Khujirbulan garrison and all these were military units located in Ulaanbaatar. And outside the city, there were 4, 5 battalions in the western region in Arkhangai, Bulgan, Zavkhan, Uvs, Khovd cavalry, and Uvurkhangai. In the eastern region, there were 4 cavalries, 5th division, 6th division, 7th division and 8th division, located in Undurkhaan, Tamsagbulag, and in Dornod aimag. In addition to those, a part of Soviet 17th army was located in Dornod aimag in Tamsag and Choibalsan. The most of 17th army was in Ulaanbaatar, staring from Maakhuur hill to Ulaankhuaran, and also … Maakhuurtolgoi, … how do you call it …

Byambajav -

Around Dambadarjaa?

Choijamts -

No. Not Dambadarjaa, there is one temple in the hill to the east, Mamba datsan it is, isn’t it? Further from that till Maakhuur hill, … the north section was full of Russian military units, units of 17th army, artillery unit, tank unit, and also infantry, a special unit in Zaisan, Zaisan was full of Russian military units. In Tsagaankhuaran, there was a zenith unit. Those were the Russian military units. And behind the Ministry of Defense there is a little hill and there was a zenith unit. Those were the Russian military units. Generally, the Russian military units had much more soldiers than Mongolian ones and such big was the 17th army in Mongolia. And in 1939, we fought the 1939 war (1;17;20) under the name Soviet and Mongolian military group. And in 1939 war, 17th army and from Mongolia 7th and 8th divisions, 5th division, and also Tamsag division took part. And 4th and 5th cavalries that were located west from Ulaanbaatar came to the western border and prevented from Khasag incident, Khasag riot and to prepare for that and 4th and 5th battalions were located there in the western aimags. And also there was a Soviet military unit located in Talyn Khundlun, 120 kilometres north-east from Khentii aimag. There was a Soviet military aerodrome, an aerodrome, and one aerodrome in Bayantumen. Soviet military … that was the military location. For some period, that was about Soviet military. And offices had Russian advisors. It was a time to have Russian advisors. The reason was that our people, we almost didn’t have any people with higher education, and aimag and soum governors were former militia, who were in the army and became literate. In other words, Mongolian People’s Revolutionary Army used to train intelligentsia, a kind of university. The only place where intelligentsia was prepared before 1939-40s was Mongolian People’s Revolutionary Army. After being dismissed from the army, they became aimag governors, soum governors, and bag governors, and other positions like secretaries, they were filling all those jobs. And the heads of various offices all almost … almost illiterates, barely literate. And the head of the bank, Baldugar, and union of firms Myagmarjav, all of them were barely literates. They were just barely literate in old Mongolian script. Knew simple calculation. … They were just barely literate in old Mongolian script. So … because they were the government and other officials in Mongolia, in that case inviting Russian specialists was the only option. (1;20;24) And when people talk about it now … they are mistaken. In the case where there were no professionals, in addition to bringing people who knew and specialized people to have the jobs done also train our people; because of these reasons, the Russian specialists were invited here. The Russians … to become Russian servants, the Russians didn’t come to invade … Russian specialists and Russian soldiers didn’t come here for this purpose. And today’s young people, democratic union people talk about it erroneously. There were no other options at that time, international condition, external circumstances, even our national condition, internal circumstances gave us no options. And it was true that there were many of them. There were no other options. Our people, our workers, many of them were in the countryside on horseback. So when they came to the city and started working on machineries, they couldn’t do it, didn’t know how to do it, so the Russians taught them. In other words, the Russians, the Russian people trained our working class, technical specialists, and professional workers at that time. Since that time, the party, government, the country took a lot of measures to prepare trained professionals. Based on that, … around 30, 40 thousand people, maybe even more than that, professional workers, and specialists with higher education were trained in the Soviet Union. Also people were trained in Germany, Check, Poland, Romania, Bulgaria, Yugoslavia, … China, and Korea. The reason to talk about it is that people say our society was not open. People were not easily sent to capitalist countries. But those who graduated from foreign and domestic universities and who were going to become language professionals were sent to England, France for short periods, for 2-3 months to in-service and for study tours. And regarding foreign relations, and economic relations (1;23;13), at first we didn’t have economic relations with countries other that the Soviet Union. And with China, economic relations, the Chinese money-lenders supplied us with their products and took our raw hides, gold and other treasures in return. Disregarding this, we had economic and trade relations only with the Soviet Union. There was no other way. And our demand was so tiny. And our demands were supplied fully by the Soviet Union. And after the war, our foreign relations got developed. We had relations with 10, over ten, eleven socialist countries. And later economic … economic, diplomatic, political relations began after economic relations. We started to train people. Besides that we started to have diplomatic relations with countries like England, France, and India. And generally, in 1989, late 80s and early 90s, we had established diplomatic relations with … around 100, over 100, almost 100 foreign countries. Also with such number of countries we had little trade and economic relations and exchanged products. Knowing all these facts, they talk about Mongolia being closed from outside world and Mongolia was closed for outside world. Such people exist. Especially, the people from democratic movements publicized like this. I consider it wrong, because I lived, worked, did with my hands, and participated in person in all those … I know it. We had relations with such many countries, such many students studied, … our … all of those who speak Russian studied in the Soviet Union. People who speak German learnt German in Germany. People who speak Check learnt it in Ger in Czech. And also Bulgarian, Chinese were studied in China. Korean was learnt in Korea. Japanese was learnt in Japan. French was learnt in France. (1;25;46) Even … if you think about it our Mongolians there are almost no places where there are no Mongolians. In Canada. In Southern America. In West Germany. In the whole Western Europe. African countries. … whole Asia … Mongolians are there. There are people in Japan. What it is resulted from, they didn’t go there because no one was sent abroad, no one knew about outside world. This was taught here to some extent, people who studied abroad learnt foreign languages, work and study abroad, … those people become agent to help people find jobs etc. but Mongolian … it not possible to bring people who never been abroad from the countryside and send them out, people who studied there do all these. And also Mongolian is taught in other countries. Having people who speak a little English, use English to do stuff, able to feed oneself with help of it, and use French to supply oneself … all these have something to do with when they learnt them , where and how they learnt them. Was Mongolia closed, no, there is no way to say that. But simple it was limit … limited. We didn’t train people in England. No one was trained in France and America. People were not trained in Japan. People were not trained in France. To talk about it this way is different, it is a different issue. But it is just simply a lie if you say Mongolia was completely separate from the outside world, … and to the outside world. That’s it.

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Interviews, transcriptions and translations provided by The Oral History of Twentieth Century Mongolia, University of Cambridge. Please acknowledge the source of materials in any publications or presentations that use them.