Book: Nina Lugovskaya «The Diary of a Soviet Schoolgirl»

The Diary of a Soviet Schoolgirl

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Recently unearthed in the archives of the NKVD, Nina Lugovskaya's diary provides a rare window into the daily routines of an educated Moscow family during the 1930s when fear of arrest was a fact of life. Nina's father, a leader of the Left-wing Socialist Revolutionaries, had embraced Lenin's New Economic Policy and prospered under it as the joint owner of several bakeries. But NEP and its "Nepmen" were short-lived. Nina's diary begins in 1932, after her father's return from three years exile in Siberia. Her family is still living in their large apartment, her older sisters are still singing and drawing, but money is scarce while knocks at the door are cause for alarm. Like Anne Frank, 13-year-old Nina Lugovskaya is conscious of the extraordinary dangers all around her yet preoccupied by ordinary adolescent concerns: boys and parties and who she wants to be when she grows up (she wants to be a writer). Traumatized by her father's first arrest, she hates Stalin and abhors his dictatorship but cannot discuss her feelings with her exhausted mother or her friends in school. Her diary is her confidant, personal and political. Unlike Anne Frank, Nina is neither pretty nor outgoing and she is tortured by feelings of self-doubt. Her diary is as much a portrait of her lonely inner world as it is of the Soviet outer one - the lies, the hypocrisy, the arrests and injustice. The diary ends in January 1937, two days before the NKVD conducted a thorough search of her family's apartment. Her diary was seized and carefully studied, the" incriminating" passages underlined (these markings have been preserved in the book). After her arrest in March, these passages were used to convict her as a" counterrevolutionary" who was" preparing to kill Stalin." She spent five years in a Kolyma prison camp and seven more in exile. This silenced her forever and instead of a writer she became a painter. She died in 1993. Her plainspoken diary is an unprecedented document of Soviet totalitarian rule.

Издательство: "Glas New Russian Writing" (2003)

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Nina Lugovskaya

Nina Sergeyevna Lugovskaya, in Russian Нина Сергеевна Луговская (25.12.1918, Moscow—27.12.1993, Vladimir), was a Russian painter and theatre designer in addition to being a survivor of the GULAG. During Joseph Stalin's Great Purge, a teenaged Nina was also the author of a diary, which was discovered by the Soviet political police and used to convict her entire family of Anti-Soviet agitation. After surviving Kolyma, Nina studied at Serpukhov Art School and in 1977 joined the Union of Artists of the USSR. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, Nina's diary was discovered intact inside the NKVD's file on her family. It was published in 2003, caused Nina to be labelled, "the Anne Frank of Stalin's Russia."

Contents

Biography

Nina had two older twin sisters, Olga and Yevgenia (also called Lyalya and Zhenya). Her father, Sergei Rybin-Lugovskoy, was a passionate supporter of the Socialist Revolutionary Party. Although she had many friends, Nina suffered from depression, and repeatedly confided her suicidal fantasies to her diary. Nina furthered suffered from lazy eye, which made her very self-conscious. In her diary, she often confided her hatred for Stalin and the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. These beliefs came from witnessing the NKVD's repeated harassment of her father, who had been a NEPman during the 1920s.

When the NKVD found the diary in 1937, it was confiscated as evidence of Nina's thought crimes. Passages underlined for prosecutorial use included Nina's suicidal thoughts, her complaints about Communist indoctrination by her teachers, her loyalty to her persecuted father, and her oft expressed hopes that someone would assassinate Joseph Stalin.

Based on the "evidence" in her diary, Nina, her father, her mother and her two sisters were arrested and sentenced to five years' hard labor in the Kolyma death camps of the Soviet Arctic. After serving her sentence, she was released in 1942.

Nina's mother and sisters also survived Kolyma. In Magadan, Nina married Victor L. Templin, an artist and fellow survivor of the GULAG. Nina subsequently worked as an artist in the Theaters at Magadan, Sterlitamak, in the Perm region. While decorating the Magadan theater, Nina met with the painter Vasili Shukhayev, further considered herself his pupil. She also participated in several artistic exhibitions. After 1957, Viktor and Nina lived in Vladimir, Russia. She was formally rehabilitated in 1963 after sending a personal appeal to Nikita Khrushchev. She became a member of the Soviet Union of Artists in 1977 and, in the same year, held her first solo exhibition. Those who knew Nina and Viktor in in their later years remained unaware of their experiences in the GULAG. However, both of them lived to witness the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991.

Viktor and Nina Templin are buried in the cemetery near Ulybyshevskom, Vladimir Province.

Publication of the diary

After Nina's death, her diary was found in Soviet archives by Irina Osipova, an activist with the human rights organisation Memorial. At the time, Osipova was conducting research into opposition to Stalinism and uprisings in the GULAG. Deeply impressed by the diary, Osipova decided to publish it.

In 2003, the Moscow-based publisher Glas first printed an abridged version of Nina's diary in English as The Diary of a Soviet Schoolgirl. In 2007, Houghton Mifflin published a new translation by Andrew Bromfield. It was titled, I Want to Live: The Diary of a Young Girl in Stalin's Russia. All passages underlined by the NKVD were printed in bold type.

Quotes

  • "12 November, 1932... The only noteworthy event yesterday was the funeral of Stalin's wife, Alliluyeva. There were masses of people there, and I had a rather unpleasant feeling looking at the joyful, excited crowd of curious people shoving forward with happy faces to get a look at the coffin. Boys shouted 'Hurrah!' as they dashed along the roadway, stamping their feet. I walked backward and forward, trying to listen to the passersby talking. I managed to catch a few words filled with surprise and rather spiteful irony. Somehow I didn't feel sorry for this woman -- after all, Stalin's wife couldn't be even the slightest bit good, especially since she was a Bolshevik."[1]
  • "21 January, 1933... Oh you Bolsheviks, you Bolsheviks! What have you done, what are you doing? Yesterday, Yulia Ivanovna gave our group a talk on Lenin and of course she talked about our socialist regime. It hurts me so much to hear these shameless lies from the lips of a woman I idolize. Let Evstikhevich tell lies, but not her, with that way of getting genuinely carried away, lying like that. ANd who to? To children who don't believe her, who smile silently and say to themselves: Liar, liar."[2]
  • "2 May, 1933... My God! I want to drop everything, abandon everything and live. I do want to live, afterall. Live! I'm not a machine that can work without a break or a rest, I'm a human being. I want to live! Forget my problems! I'm glad there's school tomorrow. It'll give me a little break from myself, but then again, I won't know my social studies. But to hell with this new society, anyway! Genka's the only one who can get enthusiastic about it and spend hours reading what Lenin and Stalin have said and what advances our Soviet Union has made. Ah, life, life! I wish the dogs would tear you to pieces."[3]
  • "31 August, 1933... There are strange things going on in Russia. Famine, cannibalism... People arriving from the provinces tell all sorts of stories. They say they can't clear all the dead bodies off the streets fast enough, that the provincial towns are full of starving peasants dressed in tattered rags. That the thieving and banditry everywhere are apalling. And what about Ukraine, with its vast, rich fields of grain? Ukraine.. What has happened to it? It's unrecognizable now. Nothing but the lifeless, silent steppe. No sign of the tall, golden rye or the bearded wheat; their swelling heads of grain no longer sway in the wind. The steppes are overgrown with high weeds. Not a trace left of the cheerful, bustling villages with their little white Ukrainian houses, not a single note left of those rousing Ukrainian songs. Here and there you can see lifeless, empty villages. The people of Ukraine have fled and scattered. Stubbornly, without end, the refugees flow into the large towns. They have been driven back time and again, whole trainloads of them dispatched to certain death. But the struggle for life has proved stronger, and people dying in the railway stations and on the trains have kept on trying to reach Moscow. But what about Ukraine! Oh, the Bolsheviks were prepared for this disaster, too. The insignificant little plots of land sowed in spring are harvested by the Red Army, sent there especially for the purpose."[4]

Sources

  1. ^ Nina Lugovskaya, I Want to Live! The Diary of a Young Girl in Stalin's Russia, page 21.
  2. ^ I Want to Live!, page 30.
  3. ^ I Want to Live!, page 42.
  4. ^ I Want to Live!, pages 59-60.

External links

Источник: Nina Lugovskaya

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