expand/collapse this text box Summary
How one tenant amused herself with casual antisemitism.
expand/collapse this text box Translation of the Russian Transcript
Lena: Once Auntie Ksana went and threw out—everybody used to keep all their food in the kitchen, there was a box, remember, outside the window. Auntie Ksana was bored because life was too easy. If everybody gets along, that's not interesting.

Vadim: She deliberately provoked people.

Lena: She deliberately provoked people. She took Isaak Moiseevich's meat and threw it into the courtyard. Isaak Moiseevich went to get it and it wasn't there. They blamed our maid Galya, because it looked like she was the only outsider. Galya fainted. Nik, that is, the son, the son of that same Auntie Ksana, took care of her. A full circle.

Vadim: Or, or, for example, she told Lena's brother, well, he was still little, how old was he, three, right?

Lena: Yes, Vovka [Volodya] was three, or maybe four.

Vadim: In the kitchen, every family's table had...

Lena: ...every family's table had, right...

Lena: ...had these little rugs, little pieces of carpet.

Lena: Another pure provocation.

Vadim: And there was, yes, a moment when, well, when the apartment was peaceful. Nobody was being rude to anybody... well, in general, something like that. And Auntie Ksana...

Lena: ...got bored.

Vadim: ...got bored, so she taught Volodya a trick. She took three three-year old Volodya, Lena's brother...

Lena: Four-year old.

Vadim: Four, four, four. He was four. She taught him what to say. So when everybody came into the kitchen to make dinner or something, I don't know, the four-year old Volodya came in and started walking past the tables and pointing to the little rugs: "This is our rug, this is Auntie Ksana's rug, this is Auntie Manya's rug, but all the other rugs are Jew rugs."

Lena: There was an explosion!

Vadim: Well, there was an explosion...

Lena: So they accused our father of antisemitism, they did. And our mother, a total breakdown in relations. And we'd been friends with the Zislises because Raya and Marina, they... well, a total breakdown in relations. We were forbidden to see them...

Vadim: Yes.

Lena: ...and they were forbidden to see us, which was a total tragedy for us.

expand/collapse this text box Details in Photographs
Vadim and Lena
Lena and her husband Vadim (shown in the clips "We Laughed and Cried," and "Jew Rugs," Tour 5) are seated at a table in the room which serves as the living room. 2006.

Slawomir, cabinet with antique dishes
Slawomir is listening to Vadim and Lena, who are seated across the table, telling stories. The cabinet with glass doors behind Slawomir contains knickknacks and antique dishes. Room from Clips 8 and 9 in Tour 5. 2006.

expand/collapse this text box Basic Facts and Background
When: 2006

Where: A midsized apartment in a prestigious neighborhood in the center of St. Petersburg..

Who: Lena, who has lived in this apartment her whole life; Vadim, Lena's husband, who has lived in the apartment over 20 years;

What: Boxes strapped to the outside of kitchen windows can sometimes be found even now (especially on windows that look out on a courtyard). When refrigerators were either rare or a luxury and the weather was cold, these boxes served quite well.

The targets of Ksana's provocations were two Jewish families then living in the apartment. Incidents of antisemitism at certain periods of Soviet history were in harmony with official policy.

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