Caroline Brooke has an interesting cultural history of Moscow. It would be interesting to compare descriptions of the city in the twenties and thirties. There are travelers’ descriptions — Walter Benjamin’s Moscow Diary seems more interesting than Vallejo’s Rusia en 1931 — and there must be many more.
For example, there appears to be another 1931 diary by one Gareth Jones, and there are Margaret Bourke-White’s photographs from 1931 and other years. There are Branson DeCou’s amazing 1931 slides of Moscow and St. Petersburg, and yet another 1931 diary of a young man traveling there to study Russian.
Robert Hass has a poem about Vallejo’s essay. What is it about 1931? Nancy Astor and George Bernard Shaw went to Russia in 1931, too. The New York Times said this. Implementation of the (first) Five Year Plan had started in 1929, and we had not figured out what to do about the Great Depression yet.
On 4 February 1931, Stalin famously announced that the plan for economic and industrial advancement had to go forward because if not, the USSR could be “crushed” by the advanced countries.