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´.
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. (...)
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.
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').
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. (...)
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 (...).
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.(...)".
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.
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. (...)
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).
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. (...)
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
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.(...)"
from the German by A. Braun)
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.