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My mother's account of her trip to Russia in 1970

The next time we went to Russia I went with Daddy. That was the anatomical meeting in Leningrad. He wanted me to see Moscow.

[They flew to Moscow and then took the train to Leningrad/St. Petersburg. I didn't digitize many of the Moscow photos]

That was the year we went to the Passion Play. We stayed in Oberammegau with the member of the Passion Play who was one of the disciples. Somehow I got a terrible case of diarrhea. They had had heavy rains. Alice Miller had been there ahead of me and the floods had almost rained it out. Everyone was warned not to drink the water. I don't know what I ate but I had the most gosh awful cramps and it grabbed me in the middle of the Passion Play. I didn't think I would be gone that long. We signaled to a Schwester. She took me back underneath and they had little booths underneath the amphitheater. After I got myself cleaned up she took me to the doctor and he gave me a pill and a glass of water. I said, do I drink this water. And he said, of course. I sat there for awhile before I went back to the play. But that night I was up half the night. The next day we had to leave for Moscow. As we got on the plane I saw the headlines that there was a cholera epidemic at the Black Sea. I told Daddy, don't let them take me to the hospital. I managed to make it into Moscow.

My mom's photo of my dad
My dad and the guide who is wearing a bright red dress
My mom standing with the guide

At the hotel, still under construction, the dearest little old man took us up to the room, furnished in the style of Sears Roebuck 1930. He was so proud of it. We have a living room, a bed room, and a bath room. '

My dad reflected in the hotel mirror from the bathroom

He flushed the toilet and looked ecstatic. It was amusing... and pathetic. The first meal that we went to I met the wife of one of the other anatomists. She said, "Mrs. Figge I had always thought that your husband was one of the most intelligent men in the anatomical society. But if this is the second time he has been to Russia I am beginning to doubt it."

Display of Sobotta Atlas of Anatomy - my dad was the American editor - it was published in Germany

We had taken a copy of Sobotta and some magazines through customs to give to the anatomists and never heard a word of thanks and it has probably been plagiarized all through Russia. Our new hotel was on the river and across from the palace which was a museum.

Our guide pointed out that in contrast to this country, the common ordinary people really appreciated and took care of the wonderful things in museums, the things the czars had collected, they appreciated and enjoyed. We saw some marvelous things. But I also saw a beautiful girl on a scaffolding from a plank held with ropes, seven floors up, with her hands red in the wind, and she was putting mortar between bricks.


I decided then they could keep equality to themselves. You'd see old women — they looked old, I'm sure they were not very old laying cobblestones— with some man standing there telling them what to do.


We went to the winter palace on a hydrofoil but we couldn't go in at all.


Posted by greatgrandmaR 00:00 Archived in Russia

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Thanks for sharing your historic narrative and photographs. Those were dark times for the Soviet Union and its people...

by Vic_IV

Hi ,Interesting account in our history time. I went to the Passion play theatre with my mother in the late 70s,i wish she had kept a diary.-- I didn.t venture to Russia till 2010, because of the things you mention. Thanks for Blog.

by alectrevor

How old were your mother when they visited Russia?
Is this whole entry on her narrative?
I am just curious, if so your own entrys sounds very much like your mothers, you both have way of looking things and write about them which makes one just want to keep on reading :)

by hennaonthetrek

My mom was 61 and my dad was 66 on the second trip to Russia. The lady in the bright red dress is their guide. In the second photo my dad is standing next to the guide and in the fifth photo my mom is standing with the guide.

Almost the whole entry other than the part in brackets at the beginning is her narrative which I transcribed. Sometimes I rearranged or added a word or two to make it more understandable, but it is basically her narrative. Most of the photos are my dads I think - it is hard to tell as they both took 35 mm pictures. I can only tell for sure if one of them is in the photo.

It is interesting that you think we sound alike. I would not have seen that myself. What I write is a little different from what my sister writes - she writes about what she experiences viscerally (sounds smells, feelings) and I am more of a story teller. I think that is how I am like my mom.

by greatgrandmaR

There is similarities in the personal details of the text, how you view things and tell about them :)

I wonder if your sister describes the smells and sounds in same manner :)

by hennaonthetrek

I guess so - we have been doing a ebook on a site called Storyworth and what she remembers about our childhood is pretty much different from what I remember, although when she writes about it, it is familiar to me. But we interpret what we heard and saw differently.

by greatgrandmaR

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