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How did I look for Angelica’s Date of Birth

13.06.2014 Posted in Writing No Comments

Sometime into my research about the life of Angelica Balabanoff, determined more than ever to write an interesting book about this amazing woman (see my previous articles about Angelica), I visited the Swiss Federal Archives in Berne. Going to the most expensive country in Europe was a luxury I could barely afford and I took extra care in organising my trip. After exchanging numerous e-mails with the archivists, filling out the order forms, making sure that the archives were actually open during the three days I was taking off work, and that there would be no surprise Swiss bank holiday, I took the train to Berne. I knew in advance that it would be a full-time research trip. The documents that included references to Angelica’s name totalled four hundred pages. The Swiss police followed the Russian revolutionary most of her life, noting down her every move, and I was yet to discover that they continued to collect documents even after her death. The archives are situated in the olive-coloured neo-classical building, slightly away from the centre of Berne on the other side of the river Aare. Large open-space rooms with high ceilings and glass floor-to-ceiling windows were equipped with long white contemporary tables offering plenty of place for each reader to pile up documents. My emotions registered way beyond excitement when I opened the first craft storage box and pulled out the file. It had been created by the Department of Police and Justice in Berne in 1903. The thick greenish-from-time […]