The back of this photograph is signed in ink. Part of the name looks like Arivash, but I can’t read the rest. There’s also an inscription in pencil which is legible.
Москва 1925 год. Горькое время студенческое в материальном отношении и счастливое в моральном положении. Это не для всех, а только для неимущих.
Moscow 1925. A hard time for students materially and a happy time morally. This is not for everyone, but only for the poor.
When the writer says, “This is not for everyone, but only for the poor,” I assume he or she means that the hospital served only the poorest residents of the city. Another possibility is that “the poor” refers to the medical workers themselves, who probably received little pay for long hours of work. Some of them may even have come from humble backgrounds. The reference to students may indicate that this was a teaching hospital or one where medical students were required to work.
The photograph was taken only eight years after the Soviet government withdrew from the First World War in 1917, and just two years after the Russian Civil War ended in 1923. Much of the country lay in ruins. According to Wikipedia, “Disease had reached pandemic proportions, with 3,000,000 dying of typhus in 1920 alone.” Further, “By 1922 there were at least 7,000,000 street children in Russia as a result of nearly ten years of devastation from World War I and the Civil War.”
I’ve divided the photo into two parts, below. Some of the faces look tired or careworn. How much suffering had they witnessed? Were they optimistic about the future? The inscription suggests that the writer found meaning in the work, despite the ongoing hardships.
If you’re curious about economic conditions in the USSR in the 1920s, this article about the New Economic Policy (NEP) provides a good introduction.