Nina Lugovskaya

Nina Sergeyevna Lugovskaya (Russian: Нина Серге́евна Луговская; 25 December 1918, Moscow – 27 December 1993, Vladimir) was a Soviet painter and theatre designer, in addition to being a survivor of the GULAG. During Joseph Stalin's Great Purge, a Lugovskaya was the author of a diary, which was discovered by the Soviet political police and used to convict her entire family of Anti-Soviet agitation.[1] After surviving Kolyma, Lugovskaya studied at Serpukhov Art School and in 1977 joined the Union of Artists of the USSR. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, Serpukhov Art School's diary was discovered intact inside the NKVD's file on her family. It was published in 2003, and resulted in Nina being called "the Anne Frank of Russia."[2]

Nina Lugovskaya
Нина Серге́евна Луговская
Nina Sergeyevna Lugovskaya

(1918-12-25)December 25, 1918
DiedDecember 27, 1993(1993-12-27) (aged 75)
Alma materSerpukhov Art School
Spouse(s)Victor L. Templin

Family and early lifeEdit

Nina's parents were educated professionals. Her father, Sergei Rybin-Lugovskoi, was an economist[3] and passionate supporter of the Socialist Revolutionary Party, while her mother, Lyubov Lugovskaya, was an educator. Nina had two older twin sisters, Olga and Yevgenia (also called Lyalya and Zhenya), born in 1915.[4]

Sergei was first arrested in 1917, prior to the revolution, and after it held a government possession, only to be arrested and exiled again in 1919. After three years, he returned and the family located to Moscow where he ran a bakery cooperative, employing 400 people. After economic nationalization in 1928, the business was closed, and Sergei was arrested and exiled again to a town north of Moscow. This is where Nina began writing her diaries.[4] In 1935 Sergei was arrested and imprisoned in Moscow, where Nina visited him shortly before his exile to Kazakhstan.[3]

Although she had many friends, Nina suffered from depression, and repeatedly confided her suicidal fantasies to her diary. Nina further suffered from lazy eye, which made her very self-conscious[citation needed]. 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 and internal exile of her father, who had been a NEPman during the 1920s.[1]


On January 4, 1937, Nina's diary was confiscated during an NKVD raid on the Lugovskoy's apartment. 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 often-expressed hopes that someone would assassinate Joseph Stalin.[1]

Based on the "evidence" in her diary, Nina, her mother and her two sisters were arrested and sentenced to five years' hard labor in the Kolyma prison camps of the Soviet Arctic.[1] After serving her sentence, she was released in 1942 and served the next seven years in exile in a remote area of Kolyma.[4] Nina's mother and sisters survived Kolyma. Lyubov died in 1949, and her father in the 1950s.[4]


In Magadan, Nina married Victor L. Templin, an artist and fellow survivor of the GULAG.[1][4]


Nina worked as an artist in theaters at Magadan, Sterlitamak, in the Perm region. While decorating the Magadan theater, Nina met with painter Vasili Shukhayev, and began to consider herself his pupil.

After 1957, Viktor and Nina lived in Vladimir, Russia. She was formally rehabilitated in 1963 after sending a personal appeal to Nikita Khrushchev, who overturned her conviction, citing "unproven accusations".[1][4] She became a member[citation needed] of the Soviet Union of Artists in 1977 and held several solo exhibitions during the 1970s and 1980s, where her paintings were featured prominently in several buildings and the public library.[1][4] Those who knew Nina and Viktor in their later years were unaware of their experiences in the GULAG. Both of them lived to witness the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991.[1]


Nina Templin died on 27 December 1993 and was buried in the Ulybyshevo cemetery near Vladimir.[citation needed]

Publication of the diaryEdit

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.[5] 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.[6]


  • 2 November 1932, she describes government interrogators who had come to her family's apartment to question them. "Their faces are so repulsive, it was astonishing. The first one, in a greatcoat, was blond with gray, piercing eyes and thin lips that turned down slightly when he smiled, which made his face very unpleasant; the second, short one in the jacket turned out to be a Jew, with short-cropped, black hair, a typical Jewish nose, and small brown eyes. His face was bright pink, and you could see the outline of his shaved beard clearly, his skin was so smooth. Yuck."[1]
  • 12 November 1932, she describes the funeral of Stalin's wife. "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, Nina describes a friend who is a supporter of the Bolsheviks. "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."[1]
  • 2 May 1933, she writes about educational indoctrination. "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."[1]
  • 21 August 1933, she wrote about the economy. "Sixty kopeks for a kilo of white bread! Fifty kopeks for a liter of kerosene! Moscow's grumbling. The angry, hungry, tired people in the lines abuse the authorities and curse life. Nowhere can you hear a single word in the defense of the detested Bolsheviks. Prices at the market are shooting up because of the increased prices for bread and everyday stuff. And you can't help asking yourself what's coming after this, when the price of bread has already doubled, and potatoes cost five rubles for an eighth of a pound at the market and there aren't any at all in the state shop. What are workers going to eat in winter, when there aren't any vegetables or anything else now?[1]
  • 31 August 1933, she write about the Holodomor. "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 appalling. 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."[1]
  • 22 September 1933, Nina writes about the Young Pioneers. "Yesterday I was at the Young Pioneers meeting, Liza spread vile, slanderous lies about our girls who have left the Pioneers, and about me. No one liked her before anyway, and now she's made herself even more unpopular. We talked about it a lot during break and decided to boycott her. Today almost everyone agreed and supported us. Oh, we'll get her back! We won't let her laugh at us, we'll make her sorry for that sharp little tongue of hers. A general boycott is no joking matter![1]
  • 29 November 1933, she wrote about school. "What do I need books and learning for? I wasn't made to stuck in a stuffy room, to be with people. Freedom! My heart craves it...To become one with nature is what I long for, to go soaring high above the earth with the free wind and to unknown countries far away. But they keep me locked up, torment me and torture me and poison my life".[1]

Throughout her diaries Nina showed contempt for the Bolsheviks, writing "These bloody Bolsheviks! How I hate them! All hypocrites, liars, and scoundrels", "I could feel my fury with the Bolsheviks rising in my throat, my despair at my own powerlessness", "These lousy Bolsheviks! They don't think about us young people at all, they don't think about the fact we are human beings too"! In one passage she recounted "sixty-nine White Guards were arrested and shot in Leningrad without any investigation or trial".[1]

Her diaries reflect a nationalist patriotism, in which she wrote about the SS Chelyuskin incident: "wanted to cry for happiness and sympathy with these great participate in the general celebration". On her country she wrote: "How can it be? Great Russia and the great Russian people have fallen into the hands of a scoundrel. Is it possible? That Russia, which for so many years fought for freedom and which finally attained it, that Russia has suddenly enslaved itself."[7]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q "I Want to Live: The Diary of a Young Girl in Stalin's Russia", Nina Lugovskai︠a︡. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2006. p. 16, 21, 30, 42, 35-36, 56, 59-60, 61, 62, 71, 80, 119, 130, 253-254. Retrieved 6 feb 2017
  2. ^ "Anne Frank Unbound: Media, Imagination, Memory", Barbara Kirshenblatt-Gimblett, Jeffrey Shandler. Indiana University Press, 2012. p. 12. Retrieved 6 feb 2017
  3. ^ a b "The Rise and Fall of the Soviet Union", Martin McCauley. Routledge, Jan 14, 2014. p. 146. Retrieved 6 feb 2017
  4. ^ a b c d e f g "Girlhood: A Global History", Jennifer Helgren, Colleen A. Vasconcellos. Rutgers University Press, 2010. pgs. 142-161. Retrieved 6 feb 2017
  5. ^ "The Diary of a Soviet Schoolgirl: 1932-1937 (Glas, No. 32)", Nina Lugovskaya. Glas; 1 edition (September 1, 2003). Retrieved 6 feb 2017
  6. ^ "I Want To Live: The Diary of a Young Girl in Stalin's Russia", Nina Lugovskaya. Houghton Mifflin Books for Children (June 18, 2007). Retrieved 6 feb 2017
  7. ^ "Pessimism and Boys", Sheila Fitzpatrick. London Review of Books. May 6, 2004. Retrieved 6 feb 2017

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