287. Editorial Note

In his diary entry for May 27, 1972, White House Chief of Staff H.R. Haldeman described President Nixon’s trip to Leningrad on Saturday, May 27. He wrote: “The crowds in Leningrad were huge, but they were totally restrained by the police, one or two blocks back from the motorcade. It was absolutely an eerie feeling to drive through the main part of the city with absolutely no one on the street except police and soldiers. A guard at the doorway to every apartment, the gate to every courtyard, with people all kept inside, they were behind the gates. On the cross-streets, they were kept at least one, sometimes two, blocks away, often with the streets blocked with a couple of dump trucks or buses, so that there was no chance of people getting across, but always with huge numbers of troops. Still, great crowds of people at all these places, and actually along the main boulevard, but kept way, way back behind ropes and troops. They responded very warmly when we waved to them, although they didn’t seem to wave of their own accord. It was obvious that they wanted to see us and were not going to be given that opportunity by the Russians.

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“At the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, we had a very impressive and solemn ceremony. The P was quite impressed by the mass graves, 20,000 people in each of them, and the fact that there are half a million Leningraders buried in that cemetery. He was very touched by the story of a twelve year-old girl Tanya who kept a diary that’s in the little pavilion there, and he told Ron and me about it afterwards at the guest house, then later used it in his toast at the luncheon, and later on in the day said that he wanted Ray [Price] to use it in the speech tomorrow night on Soviet TV.” (The Haldeman Diaries: Multimedia Edition) In his memoirs Nixon wrote: “I was deeply moved when she [the young girl acting as their guide] showed me the diary of Tanya, a twelve-year old girl buried in the cemetery. She translated from the entries describing how one after another the members of Tanya’s family died; the final sad entry read: ‘All are dead. Only Tanya is left.’ The girl’s voice choked with emotion as she read these words. ‘Tanya died too,’ she said as she brushed tears from her eyes. I was asked to sign the visitor’s book before we left. I wrote: ‘To Tanya and all the heroes of Leningrad.’ As I walked away, I said, ‘I hope it will never be repeated in all the world.’” (RN: Memoirs, page 616)