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With the president in the Caucasus (1996)
Report by  Hans-M. Beyer (1996)

"(...) We had agreed to meet at the beginning of August 1996 in the Caucasus. Shortly before I was due to leave, I telephoned Koffmann who was already in Moscow. She told me that she had fallen down at the airport and had broken two ribs (...). Therefore, her arrival in the Caucasus would be delayed, but nevertheless she wanted to come.(...) After my arrival I waited a week and lived with Muaed, Koffmann's former friend. I visited a few people that I had met in previous years. (...) I undertook a few small excursions on foot to study the plant and animal life in the area. (...) It is interesting that several types of birds, which by us are very rare, for example the Hoopoe, can be continually observed. Without having to try hard, I found some fossil Bivalvia and a Nautilus at the roadside. (...)

In the evening neighbours came to visit or we visited Muaed's friends. Naturally, we had a lot of time to talk. (...) I told Muaed about Koffmann´s invitation to work together and he said, someone who never before or later made a negative observation about her, `You should know she is a communist from head to foot. I don't understand how someone who spent seven years in the Gulag, can still remain a communist. I think she is going to teach you a few lessons!´ He didn't want to say any more, although I asked him. (...) I was, naturally, surprised and irritated because I understood his words to be a warning. Because of that, I decided to ask her no unnecessary questions and look into the matter myself. (...)

Gorge in the Caucasus

Gorge in the North Caucasus.

A few days later Koffmann arrived (...) remembering her negative words about him in Paris, I was astonished when she heartily greeted Muaed and put her arms around him.(...) ´He w a s my friend!´ she had said in connection with her report of the 1992 expedition. I was greeted with obvious coolness, almost like an uninvited guest and quite differently to in Paris. (...) That was the beginning of three interesting weeks in which I got to know the other side of Koffmann's face (...) probably unknown in the West. From then on I worked mostly on her property which contained the ´Research Laboratory´. Porshnev, who was there in the 1960´s, wrote about it very graphically. (...) " (Porshnev, 1968/1974) "The general condition is bad, but it is not the ´Ruin´ that the Moscow professor described. I got to know kabardinian families who live under much worse conditions. (...) On the first day, Koffmann said, ´We cannot go into the mountains because of the many bandits there. We must bring my base in order because one cannot live and work in it as it is´. (...)

I spent the following days doing various jobs on her property. I chopped wood and built a timber yard. Because the roof of the qarage leaked, wood for the winter which was stored there lay in mud, I repaired the roof (...). In the Garage I found the old chassis of the legendary SAPOROJETS, in which Porshnev had been driven through the Kabarda. It is a Russian mini-car from the 1960's and hand-painted bright yellow. (...) I heated tar to seal her kitchen roof because rainwater came through the roof via the electrical fuses.(...) and I collected the rubbish from around the property and did a lot more things.(...) Later, I bought various things she needed, including geographical maps of the region.(...) Until then, Koffmann had never had any maps of the region. Because such maps were unavailable for private persons in the old Soviet Union, Koffmann had to work with maps she had drawn herself.

(...) I noticed that Koffmann's local helpers, two kabardinian families, were friendly, but noticeably distant to me (...), quite contrary to other people that I had met there.(...) I don't know if they are members of the RSC. I suspect, today, that they were instructed by Koffmann to be careful with the foreigner.(...) I experienced how Koffmann spoke to these people, who have no idea of Paris and the world that Koffmann comes from, in a very psychologically skilful manner. (...)

In these three weeks I got to know an impolite, violent tempered and moody woman. Impatient and uncontrolled, even small problems were sufficient for her to break into a fit of rage. She was always very friendly to the local people.(...) When we were alone, it was curses and scolding at every opportunity. (...) For a woman of her age she has amazing energy and vitality.(...) Sometimes, when I did not fully understand her instructions, she would spit French curses at me. I heard some of them so often that I was able get them translated when I got home. (...) She got exited every day, for example, that I used too much water when washing my hands after work. But I collected the water myself from neighbours because the house did not have a water connection.

In my opinion, she did not effectively organise the necessary work; once, she fell into a rage when I returned a few minutes later than expected. She is not only a choleric type, but also, I suspect, she deliberately tried to provoke a conflict although no real ground existed. (...) and I carried out her instructions.(...) I find it difficult to imagine how such a person can work on such a sensitive subject. (...) At evening tea in her house she said, among other things, that her organisation did not have enough money to buy stamps to send members correspondence and that the RSC did not even have a computer. I asked her to inform the RSC leadership of our proposed financial and technical help(...)". (The SGP planned to offer help, including a computer and other technical equipment, as well as financial assistance. We never received a reply from Moscow.)

It occurred to me as we talked about the subject of the Almasty, that many of her comments were incompatible with earlier published facts. (...) But in the circumstances, I refrained from pointing this out to her. In the evenings I wrote my experiences in my diary.(...) Koffmann talked a lot about bears and wolves, although these are rare to see. I was all the more surprised to find out that she could not name the important character species of the area, despite having worked for more than thirty years in the region. (...) Once, for example, we encountered a large flock of Bee-eaters at the edge of the village, a zoogeographically interesting and conspicuous common character species of the region. I asked her the Russian name for the species. She didn't know. To her they were simply ´Ptizy´." (Russian for 'birds').

"In general, I found that Koffmann knew little about local animal and plant species, although she often said, ´I know every stone here!´ (...) This came as a surprise to me since she described herself as a biologist to, for example, the Mahuziers and had this indeed herself published." (Mahuzier, 1982:.80; Koffmann, 1965: 60). "I consider precise knowledge about species to be an important foundation for field-work because it is necessary to explain and understand the survival of hominids in this environment. (...)

I suggested to Koffmann that I, alone, collected the vehicle for the RSC from my friends based in the neighbouring Republic. She refused because she believed this to be too dangerous. In the end we drove together in her 30 year-old Russian offroad vehicle 'Gasik' to pick up the 'Lada Niva' from where it was kept by my friends. (...) Although I had no enthusiasm to give the vehicle to the RSC after my experience with her, I decided to keep our promise. Also, I was afraid that my report would appear unbelievable later in Germany. (...) Over the more than 200 km long journey I became acquainted with Koffmann´s curious car (...).

The driver's cabin is self-made (...). The doors are half made of wood. Previously, the car had only been covered with cloth. In Mahuzier´s book, the car can be seen in its original condition. On the journey, the car broke down frequently and I had to crank the engine by hand until it fired, often to the accompaniment of Koffmann´s curses. (...) Once, as the car came to a stop in the middle of the road and I couldn't get it to start by cranking, she demanded indeed that, using the crank-handle, I move the car to the roadside. But the vehicle weighs 2 tons and my attempt ended, naturally, in failure. The result was a fit of Koffmann's rage.(...) Back in the Kabarda, we drove to the main town to complete the formalities of the donation.Koffmann requested a personal interview with the republics senior customs officer. (...) She wanted to ask him to assess a lower customs duty, because this duty could have been several thousand dollars. (...) In preparation for this interview she wrote a rough draft for the official application in my notebook - there was no other paper at that moment.(...)".

This hand-written draft from Koffmann is today in our archives. In it she writes that the vehicle represented "a valuable assistance" for the work of the RSC. One must realise, that such a car represented a great value for ordinary people in Russia. In this draft she writes also about the preparation of the cooperation of kabardinian, german and french scientists.

"A further surprise: During the talk with the senior customs officer of Kabardino - Balkaria, Ruslan Kyatov, she showed him a folder containing newspaper articles from around the world. (...) These articles reported the Koffmann-Pallix-Expedition of 1992 and appeared on the initiative of the french journalist Sylvain Pallix. Koffmann declared that she had made the region famous worldwide through her work. (...) But, this was the same collection of articles which she had already shown to me in Paris and had got excited about because it had been done by Pallix against her wishes. He had spread many lies. (...)

The officer approved a lower customs duty. (...) He told us to go to a specialist who would estimate the value of the car so that the customs duty could be assessed. (...) and Koffmann gave the specialist, who was supposed to value the vehicle, a financial present in her handshake - a standard Russian custom - so that the value would be extremely low and thereby a smaller duty paid. (...) After Koffmann´s description of the poverty stricken situation of the RSC, I offered, as already agreed with you, to pay part of the customs duty. (...) To my surprise, she refused this on the basis that this was a matter for the RSC. Shortly before, she had however reported that the RSC did not have enough money even to pay for postage stamps. (...)"   (A few weeks after,
H.Beyer had departed, she asked Muaed Mysyrjan for financial help, he said 1997).

"I signed several documents referring to the donation of the vehicle and had to give up my car papers to the officials, who gave us a temporary replacement document. (...) However, in these last days with Koffmann, after it was certain that the vehicle was the property of the RSC, her behaviour took on an unbelievable, grotesque form. (...) My only logical explanation is that she wanted, at all cost, to provoke a scandale. (...) During our drives in the main town in this days with the LADA NIVA, for example, she would suddenly claim that I did not know the Russian traffic regulations and did not observe them. (...) Russian traffic regulations are not different from those that are in force in all the other countries in which I have driven.(...) I have driven thousands of kilometres with a car through Russia. (...)

I learned, that until now, I had done everything wrong. (...) I tried to remain calm. Although on straight country roads no reason existed, Koffmann as front-seat passenger had fits of rage, cursed and complained. It was not possible to have a sensible talk with her. (...) Naturally, I already regretted our help. At the next opportunity, she insulted me in front of Caucasian local people. (...) In a Moslem patriarchal society, when a man is insulted, in the presence of other men, by a woman, he looses much social respect and his standing is damaged forever.(...) Koffmann knows this.(...)

It was a very difficult situation for me. Naturally, I wanted to avoid a scandal which, I believe today, she obviously wanted to provoke. Therefore, I said nothing. (...) My departure from the field-work on her command was easy for me to bear. Without speaking, she shook my hand. I never heard a word of thanks, either for the car or for the other things.(...) Muaed discharged me cordially and said: 'Well, I think you got some lessons in the last weeks.´ It was right. (...) My first reading after my return to Germany was Bayanov´s book ´In the Footsteps...´. Not long ago, after reading his exhortation ´Hominologists of all lands, unite...!´ I understood better Koffmann's surprising invitation to work together (...) A really difficult task.(...)"

(Translated from the German by A. Braun)

So far, the abbreviated transcription of the many hours of his report. We do not doubt his credibility, although we were very surprised - as were as some of our foreign friends, American Bigfoot enthusiasts, whom we informed later. It contains more, unusual experiences, which cannot all be published here. It need hardly be mentioned that the other members of the SGP have no enthusiasm for further co-operation on Koffmann's command. However, in December 1996, Karl C. Beyer received a letter from her which we believe better explains her actions.