“The Mirny Diary” 12 February 1958–7 February 1959

This detailed diary was contributed by Morton Rubin’s brother Harry. He gives credit to Mr. and Mrs. Martin Sponholz for painstakingly deciphering and transcribing Morton’s original hand-written manuscript. It is a fascinating glimpse of winterover life at an IGY Russian station.

p. 12: Vasikov asked what encyclopedia I had used, and I said that it was a 2 vol edition. He depreciated it, and I heatedly asked whether he had any at all, and whether he expected me to bring along 18 trunks filled with books and encyclopedias. It was really silly of me to have reacted that way.

p. 13: I visited Binnik’s room before dinner to see his auroral film. He has a sparsely furnished room, one side of which is filled with the control panel for his two auroral cameras, radios, test apparatus etc. His ventilation outlet is almost completely filled with cables going to the cameras. I saw his test film of auroras and line spectra from auroras. He said that he had finished the Huxley book, and had liked it. Now he wants to read the Bible — he says they have no access to bibles in Russia.

p. 15: Visited the library which has 4000 volumes — mostly fiction. About only 20 English language books, principally “selected” items. Many translations; Jules Vern is popular. Today is Paul Robeson’s birthday — he’s 60 years old.

p. 15: Before bed had visit from Belov, who looked in as Konstantin was asking about Ross Ice Self. Belov and I always end up in a heated discussion. This time it started amicably, as he was glad to see me reading ОГОНЁК , but it ended in a rather bitter argument about socialism — Soviet Union brand — and capitalism. He uses all the old worn-out clichés about imperialistic capitalism, and really cannot see the whole of this world situation as he does not have access to all the news — he listens only to one side. But he is as positive as can be that his side is right.

p. 28 on Rubin’s birthday: Received gift of Tschaikowsky’s 1st piano concert on record, and guide book on Moscow from Tolstikov, Kibalin, Parfunyin, Nikolaev, and Ostrekin; photo of his 10th comet from Mikos. Pushkin’s Selected Works from Asgold; abacus from George and Tijan; Heat Balance from Met group; and the photo yesterday from aerologists.

p. 60: Heard some Tschaikousky music, and said what a great composer he was. K. said, “Yes, Tschaikousky was the world’s best composer, and Pushkin the best poet. This nationalism is all over the place, and everyone is infected. One can’t compliment them in anyway without a round of bragging coming forth. And Bellingshausen discovered Antarctica — he read it in a book; a Russian book, of course.

p. 63: Lebedev came over to give me titles of books he wants; he has asked Moscow to send 2 copies of all new books on Antarctica; one for him and one for “cultural contacts” — that’s me. We had tea, listened to jazz, looked at U.S. magazines. He says that our magazines are well printed, and with lots of color. He likes the U.S. interior decorating. He didn’t like Reporter magazine, and can’t understand for whom it is written. Went to see Galkin to fill in on his lecture of yesterday, and the radio Gazette. Gave Asxold a Sunday edition of NY Times.