Before I created this legacy photomontage, Vitaly’s son Anatole shared the backstory behind his wonderful historical photographs:
“In 1935 Vitaly was accepted to study chemistry at Moscow University. Everyone thought he would go far and be a genius, but after the first year, he switched from theoretical studies to a more practical course at the Mendeleev Institute of Chemical Technology where he specialized in explosives.
As opposed to his father who liked staying in Velikie Luki, Vitaly dreamed of traveling which was not easy in the 1930’s Russia. Once, all three of them went to Crimea on the Black Sea coast. It was out of the question for Eva to let Vitaly go to Moscow by himself. She gave Joseph an ultimatum and they moved. This was an opportunity to realize Vitaly’s dream – to travel by plane! Lucky for them, there was a joint Soviet-German airline called Deruluft which operated a passenger service between Berlin, Warsaw, Riga and Moscow from the late 20s till 1937. On the way from Riga to Moscow, the planes stopped to refuel at Velikie Luki and were allowed to take Russian passengers. In those days this was a real adventure – Vitaly’s next flight was 24 years later in 1959. The plane on the photo is the type Deruflut actually flew on that route in 1935.
Looking on from the wing is Lyuba (second from the left) and her little band of friends and relatives. Lyuba was 6 years younger than Vitaly and does not remember him well as a child or teenager. She had many relatives and friends in Velikie Luki – Vitaly had none. Eva had two sisters and a brother in Moscow. Although most of Joseph’s family emigrated, he still had one brother in Moscow who was a fairly prominent economist.”