Washington-based reporter with Radio Free Europe, former Moscow correspondent

Privyet! Not entirely sure how this will work, but as Yuri Gagarin said, “poyekhali!” I’m a Washington-based correspondent with Radio Free Europe, and helped bring the stunning imagery of Martin Manhoff’s archive into the world. If you haven’t already, check out the Introduction to the Manhoff Archives, and Part One-Stalin’s Funeral: http://www.rferl.org/a/the-manhoff-archive/28359558.html. You’ll get a sense for how stunning the images are: the color, their artistry, their slice-of-life, anthropological, “here’s people going about their lives” quality. And the video of Stalin’s funeral speaks for itself. Ask away….

Proof Here: https://twitter.com/Mike_Eckel/status/839908340872450048

Comments: 54 • Responses: 25  • Date: 

mossikan11 karma

So this guy was kicked out for "spying". Do you think he was a spy?

Gmeckel46 karma

we looked into that question, and we'll do some more explaining about the circumstances under which he was kicked out in Part IV, coming out in a few weeks. Short answer: he was probably observing and documenting things that the NKVD didn't want him to be doing. And so they accused him of being spy.

kaasman_h7 karma

Do you know how the images ended up in that auto body shop?

Gmeckel47 karma

The (former) auto body shop was next door to the house that Martin and Jan Manhoff lived in, in Kirkland, northeast of Seattle. The shop was owned by Jan's father, and when he died, the Manhoffs took over the property, using the shop as an art studio for Jan's work, and for storing all of their belongings. They were pack rats.

Gmeckel43 karma

Part III and Part IV will explain alot more of the Manhoff's history

peter_the_mate1 karma

And why he didn't release these anywhere? He must have known there would be huge interest..

Gmeckel41 karma

it appears that some of the materials, particularly the films, may have been classified. (one of the canister was labeled Top Secret, which of course adds to the intrigue about what Manhoff's purpose was in shooting all that material...) But the slice-of-life imagery? It wouldn't be out of place in an art gallery, IMHO

kaasman_h2 karma

Do you have a personal favorite photo? Is it already published?

Gmeckel42 karma

boy, I don't know. so many of them are so beautiful. In Part II, coming out in a week or so, we explore more of the slice of life in Moscow imagery, and then Part III will be about their travels in Siberia. Both are fascinating, and both contain amazing photos

Gmeckel43 karma

Thanks for all the questions. The next installment of the Manhoff Archive project is scheduled for March 20, so stay tuned. The imagery is just as stunning! http://www.rferl.org/a/the-manhoff-archive/28359558.html

samwise09121 karma

On a personal level, what are a few of your favorite films?

Gmeckel41 karma

The Stalin funeral is jaw-dropping, so there's that. But there are other films of Manhoff driving around Moscow, shooting through the windshield of his car, and you can see just how Moscow looked in 1952. Another film shows an excursion he took to Tsaritsyno, a country estate southish of the center. There are shots of young girls and families out for a Sunday stroll kind of thing. You can see them mugging for the camera (and looking suspiciously at him!)

srikrishna19971 karma

first submit to Wikipedia and what was peoples reaction to his death?

Gmeckel41 karma

Hello. Do you mean RFE should submit the photos and video to Wikipedia? If so, the short answer is no. RFE does not hold the copyright; we have merely been licensed/authorized to publish the materials.

Gmeckel41 karma

Any decision to post the material to Wikipedia is solely that of the original copyright holder, Douglas Smith. As for reaction, people are amazed; Russians in particular. They're beautiful photos, and truly unique!

srikrishna19971 karma

you can ask permission to post it wikipedia i once did one image

Gmeckel41 karma

you must ask permission of the copyright holder: Douglas Smith

Donuil231 karma

Maybe change your proof link to this one so please will see the right tweet right away.

https://twitter.com/Mike_Eckel/status/839908340872450048

Gmeckel42 karma

thanks

ducksters1 karma

Many people of poor third world African & Asian nations revere Stalin as an anti-imperialist figure. Do you think that your archive will shed new light on Stalin's legacy around the world, which is often painted negatively by western media?

Gmeckel42 karma

Unlikely. The archive doesn't do much in the way of exploring Stalin's legacy, but rather just shows people living in Stalin's USSR. But you're right that particularly in the West, people forget how revered Stalin was. That's reflected in the ambivalence many Russians even today have about him, and what he did for the country.

TypeNeight1 karma

Very surreal footage. Thank you for sharing. Were you ever scared of the repercussions of possessing film like this? Not from anyone in particular.

Gmeckel41 karma

no. it's imagery from a distant past. there's nothing inherently dangerous about possessing this, I think.

nickkyIT1 karma

What happened to Manhoff after he left USSR? Where did he work? Was he ever allowed back in USSR? Or Soviet-bloc countries?

Gmeckel43 karma

they moved back to the Seattle area. opened a store with home accessories. Martin worked in a frame shop owned by his father and later as a tax assessor. Jan was an avid artist: painting and textiles. They don't appear to have done any more travels, officially or unofficially

Gmeckel41 karma

It's unclear whether he was actually made "persona non grata"-- that is, forbidden from ever entering the country again. There's no public record of that. My guess is that if he had tried to get a visa, say as a tourist, to go back to the USSR some years later, his military background and the circumstnces under which he left would have been exceedingly difficult, if not impossible. Recall: it was difficult for regular citizens to visit the USSR

mufb1 karma

What is it, in your opinion, that makes these sorts of discoveries so fascinating from an anthropological perspective?

Gmeckel42 karma

I think it's how the images capture everyday people going about their lives: they're shopping, they're dancing, they're strolling, they're doing things that every people does in one form or another. Recall at the time- 1952-1954- the Soviet Union was virtually closed off to the world, too.

peter_the_mate3 karma

For me it's just the color. A reminder that all periods of history were bright and colorful!

Gmeckel41 karma

it's true. Recall that color film was virtually non existent among the general populace, and cameras even were fairly rare. All the more in the Soviet Union, a country that had just come through the devastation of WWII. Consumer goods were hard to come by often

Z58h451 karma

Did they had electronic bus ?

peter_the_mate2 karma

Z58h451 karma

How do they work? It's​ like traveling on trails or with rubber tire so can move around?

Gmeckel42 karma

the electric buses? They're known as "trolleibusy" (троллейбус). they're ubiqitous even today. They're just powered by electricity, from wires overhead, on specific routes.

Gmeckel42 karma

(they're not unique to the USSR, of course; Boston, Massachusetts, for example, has lots of them...)

striker691 karma

Why does an American flag appear in a few of the photos? Seems unlikely that an American flag would even exist in public in that era. Perhaps it was an embassy.

Gmeckel43 karma

Manhoff was posted to the U.S. Embassy. At the time, the embassy was located at 13 Mokhovaya Street, overlooking the Manezh Square, and the northwest walls of the Kremlin. That was where he shot many of his photos, and the films. He appears to have shot from various vantage points on the building: from windows, from a balcony, and the American flag flapping in the breeze happened to flutter into view in a couple shots (I don't think he planned to have the US flag in view., in other words...)

Z58h451 karma

Man I like those cars wow, such a beautiful place and pictures, rich Russia!, Does weather and density of population stays the same, I mean still it looks in such beauty ?

Gmeckel42 karma

Moscow today is very different than how it's seen in Manhoff's photos. Yes, the Kremlin is still there, and the State Historical Museum, and the Duma building (which was the home of the Supreme Soviet). And there are dwindling number of historical neighbors (Kitai-Gorod is one of best known). But the rest of the city has been transformed, with glass and steel skyscrapers, and choking traffic. Suffice to say, the low-slung wooden homes and dirt courtyards are all but nonexistent in today's Moscow.

Z58h451 karma

Is there any city or county in your knowledge retaining to the old?

Gmeckel42 karma

if you mean are there places in Russia that still retain their historical character? Yes, without question. There are active historical preservation groups in most big cities (Moscow, St. Petersburg), who try to retain historically significant neighborhoods or locations. Unfortunatley, they often don't have the financial resources to fight wealthy developers (who can easily bribe authorities to get permits).

Z58h451 karma

If we take it in percent wise considering whole Russia excluding dense city's like Moscow and St. Petersburg ? I mean retaining to the old

Gmeckel42 karma

i'm not sure I understand the question. do you mean how much of Russia's population is concentrated in big cities like Moscow and Petersburg?

Z58h451 karma

No, I mean if we don't consider historical big cities, like Moscow and St. Petersburg, how other cities are sticking towards old cultural richness in percent wise ?

Gmeckel41 karma

I would say, on the whole, not very well. Again, there are some efforts to preserve historic properties on a local level. For example, when I lived in Vladivostok, there were several old buildings that dated back to the early decades of the 20th century (I recall one had a plaque that said Yul Brynner, the American film actor, had been born there etc.). Irkutsk, near Baikal, had some historic streets that had been preserved. But it's usually a question of money, and developers wanting prime real estate

Gmeckel41 karma

it's also worth noting that Moscow and St. Petersburg are very different than the rest of the vast country. You can go a couple hours outside of Moscow and see traditional wood houses and old church architecture. And as often as not, those historic buildings are decrepit and falling apart, since rural areas are often extremely depressed