Manuscripts/Mixed Material Interview with Hans N. Tuch
Well, in '57, before being transferred to Moscow, there were visa problems. The Soviets would not permit a second officer to be assigned to Moscow for cultural and press affairs, and so I was given a job as a Voice of America correspondent and editorial writer in Munich. I spent a year in Munich for the Voice of America before being transferred to Moscow in the summer of 1958.
Q: You talked about Russian training. Let me just go back. You came from where in Germany originally?
Q: And your father was a professional?
TUCH: My father and my mother both originally came from the—at that time, German province of Posen, city of Posen, and moved to Berlin right after World War I. My father was a professional person who died very young of natural causes when I was 11 years old. Then my mother stayed there, and she then later joined me in Kansas City, where I was by that time living. It took her longer to get out of Germany than it did me primarily because of visas and affidavits to come to the United States.
But my interest in Russia and the Soviet Union came, really, with college. I took some Russian courses, and I really minored in Russian history in undergraduate work. Then in graduate work, I continued working with Russian a little bit, but you didn't take language courses in graduate school.
Q: The reason I asked you was you said the State Department sent you for intensive Russian. Of course, the State Department has good language programs, but I notice on your curriculum vitae, of course, you are a native German speaker, and the Russian you picked up. I assume Portuguese, Bulgarian, and French you picked up along the way. Or was it because most Europeans are multi-lingual?
TUCH: No. The only thing I had when I came to the United States, I didn't have any English, but I did have some French. I didn't have really very much English, but when you live in the Middle West as a school boy, you learn it very quickly. You conform. That's one of the things, I didn't have anybody in my family to speak a word of German except an uncle, and so I learned English that way.
Q: Sink or swim.