Wednesday, 9 July 2014

Moscow 1941 eyes of American photographer


Writes blogger samsebeskazal: «Favourite places and photos from the book" Taking off Russian war "Margaret Bourke-White, the summer of 1941 which was the only foreign photographer in the Soviet Union. Her book - a unique material consisting of rare photographs, descriptions of events through the eyes of Western man and interesting domestic details. This post - continued. The first part consisted entirely of photos with captions. In this I decided to add that seemed interesting to me in the text book. But the letters turned out so much that I had readability dilute their photographs from the archives of LIFE. They also authored Bourke-White, but has long been in the network, so it is more known. I must clarify that this is not a literal translation of the text, and freestyle attempt to retell the contents of some chapters without distorting the facts mentioned therein. The book was published in New York in 1942. I have the original edition, not bought ebay.



In the Soviet Union, Margaret went along with her husband, writer and journalist Erskine Caldwell. Their union was short-lived. They married in 1939 and divorced in 1942. The trip does not publicized and was not coordinated, and all that she could get - this resolution and the U.S. State Department visa to the USSR. The representative of the Soviet embassy warned her that for the past several years in the Soviet Union ban on the employment of foreign photographers and he could not guarantee that she will get permission to take photographs. One of the few who knew about the trip, Margaret, was the photo editor of the magazine LIFE. Her husband Erskine went as a freelancer. He had a preliminary agreement with CBS and LIFE magazine on the publication of future materials, if any, and will be of interest. The Soviet Union was selected as a country that was soon to enter the war against Germany. In America this is no doubt. The whole question was when it would happen. "


1. Margaret spent almost a month before the trip to prepare lessons and equipment repair of photographic equipment, realizing that something has happened with technology in the USSR, it would be with this problem alone. From 3000 she took a lamp to flash, a huge number of films, five cameras, twenty-two lenses, portable equipment for printing and developing, photochemistry, duplicates all the screws used in the equipment, and much more. Best part of it was sent by sea to Hong Kong. All it weighed about 300 pounds. In late March 1941, they embarked on their long way to go: New York - Indianapolis - Honolulu - Midway Island - Wake Island - Manila - Hong Kong - Chongqing - Lanzhou - Gobi - Hami - Almaty - Moscow. The journey was long, with stops and change of transport.Where could get planes. Where there was no such possibility, rode in cars. China alone they took a whole month. On the Soviet customs in Almaty they carefully watched the equipment checked the contents of all the bottles using sticks. Suddenly there is hidden.Then there was a long flight to Moscow with several landings, which took them a half day.In the capital of the USSR, they arrived at the beginning of May.

 2. Gorky Street in the direction of the Historical Museum.
With three previous visits to the Soviet Union and with the help of the Writers' Union and the Society of cultural exchange with foreign countries, she managed to get permission to take photographs. Despite a lot of prohibitions and restrictions imposed, it was still very happy. In addition to the prohibitions shooting hampered by bad weather. In May 1941 in Moscow, it was snowing, and the sky is almost the whole month was covered with gray clouds. In addition to the clouds, the sky hung a premonition of a future war. Though acted nonaggression pact, Germans could be found in all Moscow hotels, and the Soviet press did not write any anti-German words in everyday conversations and moods interlocutors felt speedy and inevitable offensive war.


3. People listen to the speech in the Park of Culture and Recreation.
In Moscow they met Yevgeny Petrov, with whom Margaret met in New York during his joint Ilf travel America (Ilf died in 1937). Sergei Eisenstein arranged for them a special screening of his film "Alexander Nevsky". After the session, Eisenstein shrewdly observed that very soon the film will return to the big screen.

4. Workers Mikoyan meat processing plant.
Most Margaret shook news that in his speech on May 5, 1941, addressed to graduates of military academies, Stalin declared that Germany is the real enemy of the USSR. In the text of the newspaper was in a redacted form, but the essence is still reached Western journalists in Moscow. Convey this news editors did not allow censorship. One of the correspondents, who was able to secretly send the information about it abroad, was expelled from the USSR during the week.

5. Queue mausoleum.
American Ambassador Steinhardt for several weeks led to the preparation of future evacuation of diplomatic representation. Backing the U.S. embassy was equipped in the country, 30 kilometers from Moscow to Leningrad Highway. He was completely absorbed in the matter and chose the colors for painting walls and a thick cloth to curtain windows.Tissue, as well as many other things that it was impossible to get in Moscow, brought from Stockholm by special courier. He ordered from the United States several large tents and set them under the trees next to the house for the deployment of U.S. citizens who have to leave the hotel in the event of hostilities. Until the last moment he did not know that the place chosen by him for the evacuation was dangerously close to several factories for the production of munitions that have undergone massive bombings. When it became known that there was no room and time to look for something else.

6. Queue in a clothing store on Gorky Street.
Margaret and her husband lived in a room at the "National", which almost half was inhabited by Germans. The room cost 96 rubles a day ($ 18 at the then exchange rate). The rooms are to Gorky Street - Fifth Avenue in Moscow, she named her. From the windows of visible cheese shop, store sparkling wines, toy store and more just hit her store diet. Inside attended by a physician who is selected individually free diet and gave recommendations for healthy eating. Yet it struck Diet salads and 32 types of bread. She began to go there all the time because of the chocolate. In a typical deli tiles cost $ 2.50 (if translated into dollars) in dietary same tiles specially made chocolate was worth only 50 cents.

7. Gorky Street.
Margaret noted that in ordinary conversations, people are increasingly turning to the topic of politics and war. Became walk many jokes about Hitler. Here's one she heard in Moscow. After reaching the coast of the English Channel, Hitler realized that before him irresistible water barrier and he does not know what to do and how to translate the army on the other side. In seeking a solution, he turns to the old rabbi for advice: - Tell me Rabbi, I go through the channel?  - It's not difficult, he replies. Moses had the exact same problem a thousand years ago.  - What did he do? Hitler asks. - He acted very simple. He took his staff, thrust it into the water, and she parted before him. - Oh! This is what I need. Where can I get this staff? 
- The British Museum, said the rabbi.

8. Lobby Hotel Moscow.
Another indicator of the deteriorating situation in the country was a travel ban on foreigners outside of Moscow. Even diplomats had to obtain special permission to travel to the Soviet Union. Many refuse. At first it caused outrage among diplomats, but then they realized that the measure is directed against the Germans, who were thus kept away from what is happening in the regions. In early June, Margaret and Erskine manages to get permission for a little trip to the Soviet Union, and with Evgeny Petrov they are sent on a trip to Ukraine, the Caucasus and the Crimea.

9. Kislovodsk.
News about the beginning of the war finds them on the way back when they travel by train from Sochi to Moscow. Overall picture of what is happening is not. Reach them only scraps of information from radio stations and news that people pass on word of mouth. Along the way they encounter many trains with soldiers and military equipment. One of the soldiers transmits them through the window of the newspaper and read out to the holes, passing from car to car. In Moscow, they returned only on June 27 and settle in the same "National".They give the room that until recently lived Sales Representative Germany to the USSR. This huge apartment with a piano and a private terrace, which overlooks the Red Square and Lenin's mausoleum. The most amazing thing that's worth it the same 96 rubles per day.Margaret questioned the receptionist and learned that the Germans began to massively leave the hotel a week before the war began. During this time, all German representatives urgently left Moscow. By Saturday, June 21 there was no one but two men who fled in a hurry in the morning, leaving their bags and not paying for accommodation.

10. The gates of the Kremlin.
The next morning, the first thing that Margaret finds - it was a new order (she calls him anticamera law), on the basis of which to each person holding the camera can shoot without warning. At that moment she realizes that she fell greatest chance in her life. She is the only representative of the photographer and the foreign press in the vast country, which became one of the largest wars in history. The second problem is the U.S. ordered a mandatory evacuation of U.S. citizens from Moscow. Part of the aircraft are taken in Stockholm, and the rest are sent by train to Vladivostok. Ambassador Steinhardt warns them as soon as possible bombardment of the city and said that the last two remaining free space in the car and that it was their last chance to leave. Margaret and her husband refused to meet him that came to Moscow to work, not to escape in one of the most important moments in history.

11. Moscow in the moonlight.
Evacuation of children not officially declared, even when the front approached Smolensk.Instead, it was said that 20,000 students will be sent to summer holidays in the northern areas "for research", and even 50,000 will go on an expedition to Central Asia "for geological survey." When the Germans came closer to Moscow, the streets around the station were filled with thousands of women with children who have actually lived there for many days in anticipation of free space on the train.

12. Street trade.
When Margaret went to the hairdresser to wash your hair and nails done, I saw an ad that Moscow no longer manicurist and the service is not provided. To the question "Why" - she received an answer, that all workers sent to the rear for child care. Margaret had the most to learn to paint and polish your nails.

13. Camouflage on Manezh Square.

14. Crowds Muscovites facing the street from the metro station Sverdlov Square, where they hid during the next air raid. The building in the photo - this hotel "Moscow". U.S. Ambassador moved accompanied by six officers of the NKVD, who were both his bodyguards and officers (Margaret nicknamed their YMCA Boys). His every move was under control, wherever he went. The same fate befell the other diplomats. Changed only the number of employees deputed, which depended on the status of the accompanying person.Ambassador almost no contact with them, but, by his own admission, two years so used to the silent fellow travelers that when they were not around, it started to miss them. She remembered the time when, during a dinner at one of the best and most expensive restaurants in Moscow people at the next table without objection and as teammates got up and left, leaving a half-eaten plates of food. And all this only because it was necessary to plant followed after NKVD, who immediately ordered a most exquisite and expensive meals.Who paid for all this, and whether it is paid, and remains unknown. When the ambassador came to him in the hotel, the two were on the street to protect the car, one is standing at the entrance to the hotel, one looked for stairs and elevator on their floor, and the two stood in the corridor outside the room doors. NKVD did not impede the movement of the city, and one day when they, along with Ambassador descended into the subway, those helping them, away from the hustle and crowds.

15. Escalator in the metro, which raises people up to speed three times faster than in New York.

16. Mayakovsky Metro Station.
First bombing at the ready with a camera Margaret met on July 26 in Spazzo House, residence of the U.S. ambassador, which was used at the time as the embassy. It was the only place where she was sure that no one disturbed her during a raid and can not prohibit to shoot. That night Ambassador Steinhardt left the cottage, and the building remained only a few Soviet officials who followed the roof and had to extinguish incendiary bombs. It all started at ten o'clock in the evening. Margaret and her husband got out on the sloping roof outside the ambassador's office and began to watch the sky, jagged dozens of powerful spotlights rays. Over their heads there, here there is an outbreak of exploding shells, traces of tracer bullets and incendiary bombs bright flame, slowly descended by parachute. On the same night was shot down the first German plane, and one of the 500-kilogram bombs exploded near the house Spazzo, falling on the building at the Vakhtangov Theater and completely destroying it. An explosion killed the people who were in the shelter of the theater, as well as actors Basil Cuza and Nikolay Chistyakov, who were on duty that night on the roof. Residence building escaped with only broken windows. Back at the hotel, Margaret began to display and print the resulting pictures, but the process was interrupted by another air raid and the sound of the alarm. To save pictures, she had to stay in the room and hide under the bed from the watchful attendants who checked the room and the hotel guests were driven to near a bomb shelter.

17. The people in the bomb shelter.

18. Ukrainian collective farmers. When the war began, the woman voluntarily undertook the work that lay ahead on the shoulders of men. "We have to work three times as much" - they told me. Once for himself, once for the men went to the front, and one time - for our homeland. Morale was so strong that women no longer go to work, they marched at her.They even began to keep their farm tools as a real weapon. Due to this they alone managed to harvest just as effectively as if they were close to their sons and husbands.

19. Factory posters. When I saw this scene, I thought that he was in the studio of Walt Disney. Artists, writers and poets worked together. Pictured right they show a new series of posters with the letters of the alphabet, publishing one new letter every day. The left you can see the cookie cutter copies of works by Ivan thymidine. Posters were made using a stencil, pencil and gouache. Work in full swing 24 hours a day.

20. Since Russian letters G and H in foreign names sound the same, they use it in their propaganda. Handsome as Goebbels. Slim as Goering. Blonde, like Hitler.

21. Posters in the health food store on Gorky Street.

22. Orlova Russian film star and her husband, film director Alexander. Without any doubt, Lyubov Orlova - the most famous actress in the Soviet Union and one of the few women in the country who wear slacks. It is so popular that when Alexander wants to go somewhere where many soldiers and guards, he takes her with him. Nobody is blocking their way, do not ask documents, and the soldiers only affably waving and say Orlova passport is not needed. Everybody knows it. She tomboy and loves jargon, which is trying to teach me. It is a universal favorite, and her husband adores her and removes all movies exclusively for its participation.

23. Alexandrov and Orlov greeted guests at his country house, which is located 40 kilometers from Moscow towards Smolensk. Alexander himself designed the house, bringing architectural ideas from California and Mexico, where he worked on the film with Eisenstein. From the terrace you can watch the air raids on Moscow, and the road to the side cottages crammed military equipment and soldiers marching toward the front.

24. They have a large living room and fireplace, which is very rare in Russia. Alexandrov Charlie calls his wife since they first met in one of the survey sites. Instead of the usual in this situation (in America) cocktails served white and red wine.

25. Alexandrov does not drink anything stronger than wine, while his wife prefers Georgian vodka. Have cottage can afford only famous writers, artists, people associated with the theater and cinema, scientists, party leaders and other people with high incomes.

26. Poster in the Park of Culture and Recreation. Park became a center of learning defense.The poster shows how to deal with fallen onto the roof of incendiary bombs. Near the signature: "Demolish the invaders," and "Death to the bloody fascists!" Muscovites have long and rich tradition in the fire fighting. Even before the war they were engaged in preventive training. When the British sent their experts from London, then they said that they have nothing to teach Russian, so well and smoothly they all do. On the roofs of all duty, including women and children. Eisenstein, Shostakovich, Aleksandrov, Tisse, opera singers, scientists and many others - all of them have extensive experience in the fight against incendiary bombs.

27. Ptashkina (right in the photo) - a heroic woman who was able to remove from the roof of 35 firebombs overnight. She is disabled, but refused to be evacuated and organized a brigade to fight the fire, consisting of some students. In the photo they sprinkled sand bomb training and poured water from a hose. Ptashkina was awarded a medal and a prize of 500 rubles.

28. Ivan the Great Bell in the Kremlin during the air raid. When incendiary bomb dropped, then the German pilots an opportunity to find them on the ground desired goal. Black and white photo does not convey the whole brightness of colors that night. Tracer bullets reserve the bright red marks, explosions from anti-aircraft shells may be blue, yellow or orange, firebombs light of different colors, from yellow and orange to red. Large always shine bright white light.

29. The White Nights of Moscow - is a phrase that Muscovites used for centuries, but it was during the war, it made sense. Windows and silhouettes of houses on the left photo real. They are painted with non-combustible paint on canvas, which are covered with buildings of the Kremlin. It is part of multi-color camouflage Kremlin. On the walls are painted as non-existent buildings and trees covered with a camouflage net Tsar Cannon and Tsar Bell. Photo taken from a 12-minute delay. I apologize for the errors and possible curvature expressions in text. Everything is written in one today, more precisely for free time, which was not much.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...