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. 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 and knocks at the door are cause for alarm.
Much 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-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. Her diary is her confidant, personal and political, 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, the day before the NKVD conducted a thorough search of her family’s apartment. Her diary was seized, carefully studied and 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.”
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