Manuscripts/Mixed Material Interview with Hans N. Tuch
At any rate, one other aspect of this was peculiar. When these were advertised by our administrative officer as brand-new Soviet apartments, the best new construction available, and we took this with a grain of salt. There was one Soviet newspaper in those days, which was the Moscow evening newspaper, the MDUL/Chernya Moskva.MDNM/, which was not always only devoted to official decrees. They had a little bit of news items from time to time in that paper. It so happened, just in those days when we were to move, there was a major expose in that newspaper which one of my colleagues discovered and read out loud in translation, because Idar Rimestad didn't speak any Russian, so at the staff meeting, he translated for those who didn't speak Russian. It appears that a new housing complex had been built and had been built so badly that the citizens who lived in that housing complex started complaining to their local Communist Party headquarters about the bad conditions. For instance, when one stepped out of the balcony, the balcony crumpled and collapsed, so it couldn't even hold one person out on the balcony, the concrete was so bad. People had to hold onto the railing in order not to be catapulted to the ground. As a result of these complaints, the local engineer had turned off the hot water and told the occupants of this housing block that they could not get their hot water back until they stopped complaining to Communist Party headquarters. So they had been without hot water, plus their bad living conditions, for about two weeks. Then in the last final paragraph, the address was given of this housing block, and it was the housing block where we were moving in, the Ninski Prospect number four. [Laughter] That was our housing block.
At any rate, we moved into this place and it was fairly much of a shambles for at least the next year or two. The apartment size depended on the number of people we had, so we were given two apartments on the same floor, one two-room apartment and one three-room apartment, separated by the hallway. We had two children with us. One was a first-grader and the other one was kindergarten. We also had brought with us, because this was really the only way to handle it, we had brought with us a German au pair, who was to kind of help us with the children, because the Soviet situation with help was very unreliable, because when the Soviets would get mad or wanted to do you a dirty trick, they would just withdraw the maid and say, “Well, nobody wants to work for you American spies and you American warmongers,” and you couldn't get any help. In the meantime, your wife, at that time, also was really very much preoccupied and occupied with, really, making the family be able to live. She stood in line in the stores during the day to shop, because there was no Soviet diplomatic grocery store. There was not even a dollar store where you could buy things for dollars, as now exists throughout the Soviet Union. We were completely dependent upon our own resources.