Manuscripts/Mixed Material Interview with Hans N. Tuch
The other interesting point to mention about the whole assignment, my three years in Moscow, I was the first American embassy officer to serve more than two years after World War II. There was a hard and fast rule by the Department of State that you could not serve longer than two years in Moscow, a rule that Tommy Thompson had tried to break for a number of years, because he felt that some people didn't become useful to the embassy until they'd been there for about two years. [Laughter] And so he negotiated with George Allen, who was at that time the Director of USIA, who was also, of course, a State Department officer, career Foreign Service officer, on whether he could assign me for a third year. He did that without asking me. Then when George Allen said yes, he called me in and said, “I would like to keep you for a third year.” Well, I felt so flattered by being asked anything by Tommy Thompson, that I immediately said yes, and only then realized I should really talk this over with my wife first, because the assignment in Moscow, professionally, probably one of the most interesting assignments one could have, the roughness or the really bad part of the assignment was more on the wife and the children than it was on the officer, because the officer had the interesting political developments to contend with, whereas the wife only had the hardships to contend with.
Q: Which comes to a good point, because I was about to ask you, since this is your interview, the personal side—where you lived, how you existed, whether you lived on the local economy or had to bring in foodstuffs from outside the country, the day-to-day living, schooling for the children, whether or not your wife and children became fluent in Russian, etc. If you'd speak about that.
I might ask you, since you're all part of this tutorial, if there's some aspect you feel that should be emphasized during the course of the interview, either because of the nature of the interview itself or because something you know about our interviewing that you feel, either through modesty or neglect or forgetting about it, he should bring in, please jump in, although he's doing quite well.
TUCH: Well, life was pretty tough in Moscow in those days.
Q: There was no compound as there is today?