Holidays, Archives, and Cars

Posted: June 16, 2014 in Uncategorized
Tags: , , , ,

Things have been pretty slow lately as Thursday was Russia Day. The archives closed early on Wednesday and they didn’t reopen until 12PM on Monday. Mostly I’ve been adjusting to the time change and exploring Moscow. On Friday morning I joined one of my friends from Ulyanovsk and her friend for a boat tour of Moscow. We got our tickets and waited to board the boat, but it left early and had to wait about half an hour in line for the next one to show up. The guy behind us in line talked to us a little and then joined us at our table on the boat. We got cold so we headed inside the boat and the guy joined us. He insisted on giving me a map of Moscow that he wrote a note, as well as his name, phone number, email, and address on. He was from another, smaller city in Russia and invited us to visit him, especially in 2018 when Russia hosts the World Cup.

The guy who joined us as he was writing all of his contact info onto a map for me.

The guy who joined us as he was writing all of his contact info onto a map for me.

When the boat tour was over, he invited us to a café with him. My friends said that they had a full schedule and needed to go to the planetarium. He said he had never been there, had a free schedule, and would join us. Thankfully we dissuaded him from following us when my friends said they were just going to buy tickets for something else before heading back to the hotel to change. My plan was to go back to my dorm anyway to prepare a little before Saturday’s excursion to the Memorial Museum of German Anti-Fascists.

The Memorial Museum of German Anti-Fascists is a former POW camp located in a suburb of Moscow called Krasnogorsk. I found out about the museum through a book that they had published. The museum actually covers a wide variety of topics ranging from Soviet anti-fascist movements, German concentration camps, and Soviet treatment of German prisoners of war. The exhibits were interesting, but my real interest in the museum is that it houses its own archive. I was the only person in the museum on Saturday and the woman who worked there was very nice and spoke with me for about 20 or 30 minutes after I looked at all of the exhibits. We discussed which books I had read on the topic and she showed me a few more that I had not previously discovered. She then also gave me the name of the director of the archives to call on Monday to see if I can set up seeing what’s in their collections. I have the feeling that I’ll try to stick working in the archives in Moscow, though, as the museum takes almost 90 minutes to get to. I have to go to almost the last stop on one of the metro lines and then take a bus for about 40 minutes. The bus ride was pretty interesting in that I now know Moscow has an indoor ski area, apparently the largest in Europe.

Memorial Museum of German Anti-Fascists

Memorial Museum of German Anti-Fascists

Not too much else happened over the weekend. I did notice that the kiosk across the street from the dormitory sells Dr. Pepper, which I previously could not find in Russia, except in a specialty store for about $20 for a six pack of airplane sized cans. The other fun thing was listening to the accordionist in the underground crossing playing Linkin Park’s Numb. Lastly, while in the checkout line at the grocery store, the cashier asked where my neighbor and I were from. She then told me that she collects foreign currency, especially coins, and said that she would buy money from us.

The glorious kiosk that sells multiple flavors of Dr. Pepper in standard 12 oz cans.

The glorious kiosk that sells multiple flavors of Dr. Pepper in standard 12 oz cans.

I finally made it to GARF (The State Archive of the Russian Federation) today, thought I took a slight detour on the way in to the the Museum of Retro Automobiles.

It's me. I can't see a sign like that an ignore it.

It’s me. I can’t see a sign like that an ignore it.

This is a satellite location that houses a private collection of cars. The much larger collection is housed somewhere else in the city. The private collection featured only foreign cars. I got really excited walked up to the museum when I noticed a few 1930s Mercedes through the window. The collection of Benzes was actually quite spectacular. The only place that compares is the Mercedes Museum in Stuttgart, but this one was a tiny bit better because I could walk right up to a Gullwing. The Gullwing in Stuttgart is behind a barrier. My only issue with this particular Gullwing was that it was missing the special luggage set. Oh well, not everything is perfect.

A Gullwing in all of its glory.

A Gullwing in all of its glory.

The collection also included a fabulous 190SL, though for the life of me I can’t figure out why anyone would put it next to something so pedestrian as a Corvette.

A Corvette does not belong in the same exhibition as a 190SL or some old Porsches.

A Corvette does not belong in the same exhibition as a 190SL or some old Porsches.

There were also two nice old Porsches on the upper level. The lower level housed yet another of my favorite Mercedes, the 540K. I think I really need to reevaluate my career choice given my automotive preferences.

The ever impressive 540K.

The ever impressive 540K.

After the automotive museum, I finally managed to get into the archive where I had fun dealing with paperwork. The archive where I’ll be doing most of my work actually contains the reading rooms for both the State Archive (GARF) and the Economics Archive (RGAE), so I had to register for each portion separately. The woman at the GARF desk was unfriendly, but the one for RGAE was a sweet lady who was patient and nice. Having registered I attempted to get documents that had been ordered for me in advance of my arrival, but that didn’t work out and I was sent off to the fifth floor of a far away building to read through an archive guide to select some documents. I spent about two hours reading through a guide and taking notes on the folders that I need to order. Unfortunately this will be a very slow process as I can order a maximum of five folders at a time, and it takes three days to receive the folders. I may or may not have had the Archives theme from GoldenEye stuck in my head all day.

The archive was also interesting today in that I recognized someone from my Fulbright cohort who is also currently a graduate student of Russian history. Sadly he’s leaving in a few days, but we managed to grab a quick drink and catch up at Red Square tonight. I also recognized another graduate student from a program that I was accepted into. He left before I could speak with him, but hopefully we’ll hang out in the future and commiserate over the fun that is the archives.

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