At that time you were considered a child and were given the children’s food-card up to the age of twelve. There was neither water, nor electricity. There was no way to pipe water in, but there was water downstairs, in the cellar, and there were taps there, so at first we went to the cellar to get water. Later we went to another street for it, as the water in the cellar had frozen because of the hard winter. There were queues for water. But how much water could we bring in a jug? We, city-dwellers, didn’t even have buckets.
There was no transport in the city, so we put on everything we could and struggled out to Mayakovskaya Street where our “miracle” was waiting for us. A smiling woman of small stature, clean, in a white apron, opened the door. We couldn’t believe it was not a dream. In the centre of a big room there was a stove with something boiling in a pan. It was soup of oilcake and millet porridge next to it. After feeding us our new acquaintance started to ask us and Misha about everything she wanted to know and told us to come again the next day.
Studies continued in the faculty though they were taught not in the usual lecture-rooms but on the ground floor or in the cellar, in classrooms fitted out in a hurry. Outstanding Soviet historians lectured, administered exams and tests in a cold room at temperatures below zero. But the strength of both students and professors was dwindling with every passing day.