COLD SPRING IN RUSSIA by Olga Chernov Andreyev


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For stepdaughter Olga, Socialist Revolutionary (SR) leader Victor Chernov's opposition to the Czar and Lenin meant youth in hiding and exile. Her recollections of 1917-1921 contain little of import about Victor's career or the stillborn 1918 Constitutional Assembly he chaired--last hurrah of Russian democracy and the already divided SR Party--but she provides an unusual glimpse of a revolutionary's family life through the eyes of a younger member. The Chernov mÉnage's circumstances varied depending upon his fortunes--first in French and Italian exile, then in Petrograd where Victor was a minister in Kerensky's Provisional Government, later in hiding from the Bolsheviks. The Chernov's houseguests, a Revolutionary who's who, included legendary assassin Vera Figner and the notorious double agent Eno Azeff. Still, dishes had to be washed and fuel and food found during the hard times that followed the October Revolution. Hardships, especially hunger, placed a terrible strain on family relations; Victor once spoke of ""mushroom folly."" For Olga life was truly (in Schopenhauer's words) ""a chain of suffering interrupted only by ephemeral periods of happiness."" Bolshevik persecution of the SRs meant seeking refuge among a dwindling circle of trusted associates. Finally, with Victor once more abroad, Olga, her twin Natasha, and their mother were apprehended by the CHEKA and imprisoned in the infamous Lubyanka. Only the intercession of Maxim Gorky's first wife Peshkova (whom Olga defends against Solzhenitsyn), was to save them. With rare detail and a measure of charm, Olga's youthful pen sketches how the losers lived in revolutionary Russia.

Pub Date: May 1st, 1978
Publisher: Ardis