Nina Lugovskaya

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Nina Sergeyevna Lugovskaya (Russian: Нина Серге́евна Луговская; 25 December 1918, in Moscow – 27 December 1993, in 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.[1] 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."


Nina had two older twin sisters, Olga and Yevgenia (also called Lyalya and Zhenya). Her father, Sergei Rybin-Lugovskaya, 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 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.[2] These beliefs came from witnessing the NKVD's repeated harassment and internal exile of her father,[3] who had been a NEPman during the 1920s.


On January 4, 1937, Nina's diary was confiscated during an NKVD raid on the Lugovskoy's apartment.[4] 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.[5]

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 death camps of the Soviet Arctic.[6] 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.[7] 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 considering 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.[8] She became a member[citation needed] of the Soviet Union of Artists in 1977 and, held several solo exhibitions during the 1970s and 1980s.[9] Those who knew Nina and Viktor in their later years were unaware of their experiences in the GULAG. However, both of them lived to witness the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991.[10]


Viktor and Nina Templin are buried in the Ulybyshevo cemetery near Vladimir[citation needed].

Publication of the diary[edit]

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[11] 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.[12]


  • "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."[13]
  • "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."[14]
  • "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."[15]
  • "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 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."[16]


  1. ^ I Want to Live! pages 253.
  2. ^ I Want to Live! pages 35-36.
  3. ^ I Want to Live! pages 35-36.
  4. ^ I Want to Live! page 253.
  5. ^ I Want to Live! page 36.
  6. ^ I Want to Live! page 254.
  7. ^ I Want to Live! page 254.
  8. ^ I Want to Live! page 254.
  9. ^ I Want to Live! page 254.
  10. ^ I Want to Live! page 254.
  11. ^ [1]
  12. ^ [2]
  13. ^ Nina Lugovskaya, I Want to Live! The Diary of a Young Girl in Stalin's Russia, ISBN 0618605754. page 21.
  14. ^ I Want to Live!, page 30.
  15. ^ I Want to Live!, page 42.
  16. ^ I Want to Live!, pages 59-60.

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