tv Reel America Manhoff Film Archive of 1950s Soviet Union CSPAN January 19, 2020 4:00pm-4:35pm EST
basis. at 6:00 p.m. eastern, it is american artifacts. m4 sherman of the tank is explained. and later, at 8:00 p.m. eastern, on the presidency, a discussion about the george w. bush decision to increase american troop levels in iraq -- american troop levels in iraq. that is what is coming up. a military attaché for more than it two years he was also an avid photographer, taking hundreds of color slides and of 16mm color film inside the soviet union, including the only known footage of general stalin's funeral. the forgotten film was sitting in cardboard boxes for many years until our guest helped to
identify them. he is the author of a book, "the forgotten story: how the united states save the soviet union from ruin." happen?this >> luck. they had no children, and i was called in, and pretty much everything in the house was of no value. they had collected a lot, and in the last room i went to, sure enough, i found these covered boxes, opened them up, and there i found the thousands of slides as well as the canisters of film, and the first one i had had written on it "stalin's funeral." >> what did you think? >> i did know. i had to have it digitized. it was 16mm film. i had to wait weeks before it was finished, and then i knew it was historic. through andwalk us
let us know, but man half was an avid photographer. avidnhoff was an photographer. standing on the street with his camera filming. behind him is the ukraine hotel, which is under construction. this is him in uniform. stationed ins he the soviet union? donald: he went to the university of washington. he was in rotc there. 4, and afterplus the war come he was trained in military intelligence both here in washington, d.c., and in monterey, california, and was sent to the soviet union to be the assistant at shea. wife, how did he meet his jan?
donald: they were both art majors. painting whilef in the soviet union. in moscow.re they have the zenith radio behind them so they could tune hadmerican news, and they that little kitty that they adopted. steve: and we have the balcony, where the film was shot. explain what we are looking at. donald: right. this was the old u.s. embassy, directly across from the kremlin. it was a seven-story building. it still stands today, and the u.s. embassy, the chancellery, as it was called, was located here until 1953, where it was moved much further away from the kremlin. that is a nice piece of real estate. steve: so you are there and open up this canister, and there you see "joseph stalin's funeral 1953."
where mynd that is hands started to shake. "this is too good to be true." the morning it was officially announced that stalin was dead, and then march 9, the actual funeral itself, and i did a bit of research, and i fairly quickly realized this was the only nonofficial movie footage we have of stalin's funeral. steve: we will have a look at that in a moment, but first, him i amis wife, jan, and assuming he took it of her, and she took it of him. donald: yes. this is right around the time that they were married. they were in new york after world war ii. nyu, and sheart at was, i think, still working for the red cross, which she had done at the end of the war. steve: what do you know about them? donald: i never met them, but the trustee just adore them,
said they were wonderful people. this is the funeral and the film of martin manhoff. at? are we looking donald: this is the morning of march 9. what you're looking at on the right is the hotel moscow, and then there are the house in unions, where the body laid in state, and the view is from the old u.s. embassy, the route the cortez took to the red square. here we see stalin. this strange, glass bubble over the face, and i do not fully understand why it was. maybe that was they could prove that was, indeed, stalin inside, being marched off, and inside were all of the top figures of the soviet union, khrushchev, various people like that, marching across the square.
areas, theyme stabilized and enlarged to the film to get an idea of what we are looking at. explain this moment in the history of the soviet union. donald: well, this is a cataclysmic event, obviously, because he was in rule, the late 1920's, had seen them through industrialization, world war ii, a brutal tyrant. what is interesting about this film is that the whole center of the city had been cordoned off. the inner sense of calm and the lack of people, but what is happening outside the frame is huge numbers of people who have flocked to moscow because of this. untold dozens if not more were killed in these people outside, trying to get into the funeral space. steve: try to explain joseph stalin, his bio stating he had been treated cruelly by other children, and a question of
whether he took that approach as a leader of the soviet union as a tough tactic. donald: yes. where his brutality comes from is hard to pin down, and some will look for a more psychological approach. others will look at the life and revolutionary movement itself, in the bolshevik party, and the brutal tactics that they did to sort of overthrow things. at the casket, that bubble across the top portion, where his face is. donald: exactly. a very cold, cold day in moscow, and you will see the guards along the route there, jumping up and down, trying to stay warm. steve: why do you think martin manhoff decided to take the film? donald: that is something i struggled with. he was assistant military attaché. it is his job to record
everything he could about life for intelligence gathering purposes. he was also an avid photographer. he loved to shoot pictures. he loved to take film. so there was also a personal element. steve >> did anyone try to stop steve: did anyone try to stop him, as far as you know? donald: there is nothing i found that anyone took his camera or something like that when he was out photographing, which is rare. because i've read the accounts of western correspondence who were then in the soviet union and they were constantly being harassed whenever they tried to take pictures. steve: how is joseph stalin viewed today in russia? donald: he is very popular with a lot of people, a lot of people. steve: why? donald: they say he is the one who won the war that if it had not been for stalin they would not have won the war against nazi germany. steve: he is also been attributed to the deaths of 20 million people.
donald: right. that does not get talked about as much. it is generally as the general who defeated hitler. this was the height of the cold war. so when martin manhoff goes over there, the korean war is going on. tensions between the u.s. and the soviet union are probably at one of the worst points ever, so there is a great deal of surveillance. there is a great deal of fear and suspicion, and his job as an attaché in gathering information is very restricted. there is very little he can probably do on his own freely. steve: you mentioned the future soviet leaders. was there a succession plan after joseph stalin died? donald: no, there really was not. there were sort of a free-for-all among the top leaders of the soviet union and a struggle for power. there was an overthrow led by
khrushchev, and he was executed as a spy. steve: how did stalin rise to his position? donald: he was an old bolshevik, part of the party from before the revolution. he had helped rob banks to get money for the bolsheviks. he rose up the ranks and eventually was a master at building support within the party ranks and outflanking the others. steve they are all wearing : black. donald: yes. there was not a lot of color in the wardrobe in 1953. steve: what were people thinking? if you could go back and talk to those who were mourning the death of joseph stalin, what was the reaction among those in moscow, in particular, as they saw this funeral procession unfold? donald: there are number of accounts by russians of what they experienced when they heard stalin had died. it really is strange, but there is that true outpouring of grief.
part of it i think is because the country was traumatized by decades of living under stalin, and they could not imagine -- you know, he was deified as a god come officially. they could not imagine this man was no one there ruling the country. steve: a year before his death, a may day parade that major manhoff filmed. now, you have bright colors, and this, of course, is in may of 1952. what are we looking at? donald: the great public holidays in the soviet union were revolution day, november 7, and then mayday, which was an american holiday but became the second biggest holiday in the soviet union. they would always put on these elaborate public parades and celebrations, demonstrations. and manhoff is here filming from the u.s. embassy, the throngs of people marching through and military hardware goes through , and they have signs and flowers, and they are organized by, you know, factories and groups and things and so this
was one of the great events in the life of soviet russia. steve: and in russia today, do they still hold these types of events? donald: nothing like this. it says glory to stalin with the portrait even though he is no longer. this might have been 1952 or 1953. he is still alive then. here they are going up the gentle rise into red square and you see saint basil's cathedral in the back and the state historical museum to the right and one of the kremlin towers. you get a sense of the numbers there. steve: as you look at this film six decades or seven decades later, is it similar today? donald: do you mean the city itself? steve: this area of moscow. donald no, very different. see has been you completely rebuilt. it is not open for so much
marching and things like that. the street has been narrowed. the buildings are generally the same, that is still the state historical museum and the kremlin still looks pretty much the same. but the city itself is completely unrecognizable from what it was in the 1950's. steve: and the flags they are carrying, interspersed among those marching -- by the way what is that sign? ,donald: communism. steve: and who are the students? where do they come from? donald: there gathered from all over moscow. school groups had to go. whatever workplace you are connected with or a sports group. this looks like is may some sort of a factory. and those sign say the first of may. factory groups, groups of workers, things like that. there music, other marching bands, other types of entertainment? donald: yes.
there is music. there are bands, and a good deal of sort of a festive atmosphere. in some images, you see them dancing, the girls laughing, and people having generally a good time. i'm sure there was a fair amount of drinking once it was over or maybe before it started. i don't know. steve: and the trench coats, very 1950's. donald: yes. steve: again, what are we looking at here? donald: some of the girls are dancing and holding flowers with the first of may signs. steve: would this be comparable to july 4 here? donald: in a way, although it july 4 for them would have been november 7, the day of the revolution. i am not sure what that is or who that is. , marching our after hour. this, i do know, is 1953,
because this was mayday, 1953, death, where some of the americans in the embassy decided they were going to go out into the street. they're going to leave the embassy building and go out into the street. here are americans and other western diplomats in front of the u.s. embassy, which they never had dared to do while stalin was alive. is also a lot of dissension in the communist party towards the end of stalin's life. explain that. donald: well, right before he died, stalin is winding up for another purge. it is known as the doctor's plot, where the story goes out that a group of doctors, many of them, most of them with jewish names, are plotting to kill those of the soviet union. and he is plotting another purge, and it is right when this gets rolling that he dies, and then this is stopped. this is january of 1953, where
martin is seated in the passenger side of an embassy car. now he is driving across red square. that is the history building straight ahead, the kremlin off to the left and he is driving , across red square. steve: why is it red square? donald: because the word for red is also beautiful. the stones literally are red but the word can be beautiful or red. these are scenes that he shot from his apartment, not all that far from the very center of the city, looking out into the courtyard. fromis now back to a view the embassy, looking out on the square. steve: did he enjoy his time in moscow? donald: he -- i think he did. he did not want to leave the country. they were forced to leave. he loved serving in the military. he is buried at arlington
cemetery, and his military service meant a lot to him. steve: some speculate on whether he was a spy. was he? donald i do not believe he was a : spy. he and three others from the mc were thrown out of the company in june of 1954 on charges of espionage. it was written up in the soviet newspapers insisting they were spies, but i think it was more a tit-for-tat thing, we had just thrown out the group of soviets from the u.s., and i think they were going to throughout some americans. steve: what is this? donald: this is an enormous apartment building. i had a friend who lived there in the 1990's, right on the moscow river. this is a nearby construction scene. steve: that building is reminiscent of the wrigley building from chicago? donald: it is, and i'm not an expert in the billing of the seven sisters, but you know the architect must have been looking at some of that american
architecture. steve: what is the objective in filming all of this? what did he want to do with all of this? donald: i have often thought of that. people ask, was all this for his work in military intelligence or just because he loved to film? you know the fact that it was in home private residence at suggests a lot of this was for his own personal interest as a hobbyist. but maybe it was duplicated and also turned over to the military as that was his job, being part of military intelligence. steve: but you really do get a sense of what life is like, and, this case, the construction of buildings outside moscow. donald yes, piles of bricks. : this is, again, looking from his apartment out into the little courtyard. steve: did they spend most of their time in moscow or travel outside the capital city? donald: they were mostly in moscow. they were allowed to travel.
this is right now near the new u.s. embassy near tchaikovsky , street. steve: this is what? donald: this is the moscow river. that was taken from the top of the residence of the british ambassador. so when they got there, there were only a handful of cities that they could visit, and after stalin died they released travel restrictions and they started to travel. steve: a lot of trucks. donald: he loved to photograph cars and trucks. they were not big on motorized safety, people riding on the tops of things. [laughter] steve: and still come a lot of horses as well. donald: yes, you can still see horse-drawn carriages once you got out of the center of the city. steve: do you have a sense of the films he shot? did he come back and watch them later?
donald i know he went through : his slides because among them i found annotations he made from 1966, that he was trying to put them back in some sort of order. that is 15 years later he was looking at them. i do not know to what extent he enjoyed the viewing. steve: when did this take place? donald: this is in may of 1953 from the new embassy on street, some sort of a relay race that was going on, like officials with bullhorns and things, and i have asked lots of friends in russia what those flags are. they have sort of an airplane emblem on them, and no one has been able to tell me. that flag, i am not sure what that is for. you see the may 1 sign so this is just two days after may day. steve: and again just a couple of months after the death of joseph stalin.
donald: right. steve: what was life like for americans living in moscow representing the u.s. at the state department and as foreign diplomats during this time? donald it was a very difficult : assignment. they were very isolated. they had almost no contact to outsiders. steve: that sign, right there. donald: that is an ad for mayonnaise. why there's a bill for mayonnaise. i do not know. steve: as you look at this outside moscow, where was he taking this film and what kind of vehicle was he in? donald: i did research on the hood ornament and from what i can tell is from an oldsmobile 88, 1952 oldsmobile 88 and they had several of those in the embassy motor pool. he is on his way, three kilometers away, which is a town south of moscow, where there is a palace built for catherine the great in the second half of the 18th century. steve: here? donald: this is it.
and catherine saw it at one point in its construction, did not like it, and it was never completed. so it sat as sort of this hulking ruin for decades. it is still there but it has finally been finished off. people loved to go out there for walks, to enjoy nature and to walk among this half completed palace. steve: and for those living in the soviet union during this time period, what was it like for them? their education, the information, the food they ate? what was the daily routine? donald it was a struggle. : life is a struggle. the basic necessities of life were often in short supply. you know freedoms, freedoms of speech and things like that, were drastically limited, of course. after stalin dies in march of 1953, there does develop a sense of a lessening of that atmosphere of fear. this is, again, the town.
i am not sure what that is. here he is again, on his way out of the city. this is sort of on the outskirts now of moscow. steve: and, again based on what , we are looking at, life seemed somewhat normal inside the soviet union. donald: that is the thing. people think stalin's russia everyone must have walked around in fear, bent over not laughing. but, of course, life goes on anywhere and people do laugh and have fun and get married, follow -- fall in love, get married, and what have you. was atill goes on, but it struggle. steve: are there any diaries or letters that settlement the film in the photographs you have been looking at? donald: yes. they did write a number of letters home and sent postcards. i relied on those to reconstruct some of the things here. here they are on odessa railway station.
theyhat is interesting is were not allowed to keep diaries while they were there, because of previous american attaché there kept a diary that an agent of the soviet union got a hold of, and it was full of all sorts of military threats and a desire for primitive war against the soviet union, and it was made public, and after that, the attaches were no longer allowed to keep diaries. steve: this film in black and right, any reason why? donald: i do not know why. some of his stuff is in black-and-white, very little of it. this clearly could be for more work purposes, you know, what does the railway system look ?ike this was on the trans-siberian railway that took many, many days to cross all the way from moscow to there. he took a lot of movie footage of this and still photographs to
give a sense of what life is like. this is pretty much what people are living like out here in these fairly simple wooden , houses. steve: kodak film? donald: yes, most of it is kodak. some is agfa. i think they bought film in germany as well. because when they had a chance for r&r, they would leave the soviet union and go spend time in the bavarian alps. steve: as a historian, looking at the film what stands out? ,what do you learn? ? donald: boy. on some level, looking at some of this footage, i have taken the trans-siberian and did it when i worked for the u.s. state department, and some of it looks really similar 30 years after the fact but looking at moscow, , it is amazing the degree to which the city has changed and modernized.
and i don't know. it is interesting to be taken to place and to see soviet russia in the stalin period through an americans eyes in color without an official soviet propaganda filter laid on top of it. you know? just sort of a sense of daily life and what the country looked like which is not was easy to , find. steve: as you indicated, you never met major martin manhoff, but if you could ask you a question, what would you ask? to have himuld love tell me exactly the details and timing of his photography and what was it that prompted him to go out and take those photographs, what sort of experiences did he have out on the street while he was doing it. steve: this is a newspaper clipping that indicates he's one of the four asked to leave the soviet union. tell us the story. donald: right.
this is from "the new york times." he and three others from the american embassy took this trip on the trans-siberian to khavarovsk, and an article appeared in a newspaper named labor, claiming that the four of them had been spies, that this had been an espionage mission, and claiming to have spies notes they had forgotten in their train. the notes themselves only say we crossed through such and such a town and saw session such in terms of factories and roadways, the kinds of things you would gather, the kinds of information you would gather, as a military attaché. i do not believe he was a spy, obviously he was there to , collect intelligence for the u.s. military. but all countries know that that is what military attachés do. that is part of the assignment. so, in that sense, i do not think he was a spy.
steve: you sent us along this top-secret. what is this? a canister of 60 film that i found. he taped over the days have been filming, the first of may and seventh of november, 1952. filmi do not know if the in the canister is the same that refers to being top-secret. i doubt it. these were filmed of the parade, which would not have been top-secret, so maybe something else had originally been in there and then had been swapped out. steve: army rotc. you have his army why is that id card. why is that significant? donald: it speaks to what had been trolled by the trustee of their estate, dear friend of
theirs, that serving in the military was one of the high points of his life and he maintained the relationship as a reserve officer for a long, long time. he is buried here. steve: and the expiration date, "indefinite." i have not seen that before. donald: i thought that was an interesting bit of ephemera from his biography. steve where are these phones : archived? donald: so i spent a year going through everything, digitizing it and trying to figure out what everything was because a lot of it was not labeled. steve: what was that process like? donald: that was interesting, exhausting, time-consuming. some of the slides, he had written when and where he took the pictures. a lot of them, he did not. so i worked with an expert in architecture of moscow who would look at a lot of these for me and be able to tell where exactly they had been taken. i did all that, produced a book
of his photographs that will be published by a major publisher in moscow in russian. then i have donated everything i collected to the university of washington library in seattle, where it will be open for any scholar who would like to go over it. steve: and your overall take away as somebody who has looked at his film studied major , manhoff and his work, what is your take away? donald: this is a remarkable moment in soviet history in relations between the u.s. and the soviet union, and to be able to see the country through the eyes of someone who is not just a military attaché, but was also quite an accomplished photographer, and to see it in color, is a view of life in stalin's russia we have never had before. steve: and we are in another remarkable time today with putin, russia, and allegations of the 2016 elections, 2020, and often tense relations. donald: yes. it is going to be interesting.
i would like to think that, you know, there is a way that maybe we can limit some of the meddling that happened in 2016. i guess we will just have to wait and see. steve: your book, the russia job, the forgotten story of how the united states saved the soviet union from ruin, is about what? donald that is an amazing story : that sadly no one in this country or in russia knows anything about. one of the worst famines in world history erected -- erupted in russia in the 1920's and 30 million people were facing starvation and death. one country stepped up to feed russia, and that was the united states. for two years from 1921 to 1923, the united states through organization called the american relief association led by herbert hoover, then secretary 1 -- atress, spent $1. one point 11 million people a day save the country from collapse.
it is one of the greatest relief operations in world history that nobody seems to know anything about and i decided americans and russians needed to know the story. steve: and were the russians receptive to your research? friends,mong historian yes. others refused to believe it had happened, because the soviet union tried to wipe out any trace of this history. steve you have one last : photograph? donald: these are three little boys sitting on a bench at a famous monastery, right in the center of the city clowning here for manhoff. what is touching about it, again, stalin still alive and there's still an intense distrust and fear of foreigners. but these little boys clearly have not gotten the message and are having a great time with this american photographer. steve thank you very much for : stopping by on c-span threes american history tv. donald: thanks for having me. announcer: you can watch entiretyfilms in their
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