Diary of a Soviet Schoolgirl, 1932-1937 by Nina Lugovskaya
p. 130 Dec. 2, 1934 - Around eleven they announced that comrade Kirov, a member of the Politburo, had been killed in Leningrad . “O-oh, my God!” Evgeny exclaimed. His voice was full of tears. I felt a little ashamed that nothing inside me shuddered at this report. On the contrary, I felt glad; that means there’s still a struggle going on, there are still organizations and real people. Not everything is gobbling the slops of socialism.
p. 132 Dec. 11, 1934 - How could I refute their mindless, mechanical arguments: “If you’re not for the Bolsheviks, you’re against Soviet rule”; “this is all temporary, things will get better”? Were those five million deaths [of the famine as a result of collectivization] in the Ukraine temporary? What about the 69 people who were shot? [referring to those arrested and executed without a trial right after Kirov’s murder] Sixty-nine!! What government under what rule could pass such a sentence with such cold cruelty? What nation would agree to all these outrages with such slavish meekness and obedience? How I cursed my stupidity and inability to express myself. How could I, with such strong weapons as the facts and the truth, not prove to my sisters the lie of the Bolshevik system? I must be extraordinarily inept.
p. 141 Dec. 30, 1934 - Many days have gone by since Nikolaev, a member of an underground terrorist group, murdered Kirov at the Smolny [Kirov’s murder was in fact organized by Stalin who saw in Kirov his main rival. The murder also gave Stalin a pretext for unleashing his campaign against “enemies of the people.”]
Many lead articles in the papers have screamed about it, and many parrots and Soviet self-seekers, shaking their fists, have screamed over the heads of the workers: “Get the viper!” “Execute the traitor whose cowardly shot snatched from our ranks” and so on. And many so-called Soviet citizens, who have lost all sense of human dignity, have behaved like beasts and raised their hands in favor of execution.
Today they shot another fourteen “conspirators” and all for one Bolshevik life. It made me think of the nineteenth century reign of Alexander II and his assassination of the People’s Will. What a furor people raised over the execution of the six assassins. Why is noone incensed now? Why is this now considered perfectly natural and normal? Why is it that now no one will tell you straight out that the Bolsheviks are scoundrels? And what right do these Bolsheviks have to deal with the country and its people so cruelly and arbitrarily, to so brazenly proclaim outrageous laws in the name of the people, to lie and hide behind big words that have lost their meaning: “Socialism” and “communism.”
…what do they think abroad? Can they really be saying there, too, “That how it should be?” Oh, no! My God, when will this all change? When will we be able to truly say that all power belongs to the people, that we have complete equality and freedom? What we have not is not socialism, it’s the Inquisition!
P. 173 May 19, 1935 - Yesterday the huge eight-motor aeroplane Maksim Gorky – not only the pride and glory of the USSR , but the biggest plane in the world – crashed. (As for its being the biggest, I don’t know anything for certain, and you can’t trust our newspapers.) The Maksim Gorky took off accompanied by two biplanes, one of which was flying too close when it began looping loops. The biplane hit the wing of the Maksim Gorky and damage it: the 65 meter behemoth came tumbling down, somersaulting, slashing the bright expanse and losing parts. Of the beautifully built giant, there remained a gray and red metal heap and 47 mutilated bodies, which a minute before had been living, thinking, feeling people flying high over Moscow …
It [Maksim Gorky] wasn’t built for a purpose, for transportation or for the military, but so that the Soviet Union could occupy one of the top places in the world, so that we could say, “Look what engineers we have! Look what giants we create!” We do so many senseless things for show: we do so much boasting. And because of that boasting, we suffer.”
p. 194 Nov. 28, 1935 - Mama and I went to Butyrka [prison to which Nina’s father had been transferred from internal exile after his latest arrest]
p. 199 Jan. 11, 1936 - I’ve been reading about Tolstoy and have again fallen under his influence. I’ve always had a passion for self-improvement, and now I have the clarity of self-criticism, merciless self-revelation and frankness. I find more and more in common with Tolstoy: his unfortunate looks, his early tendency to self-analysis; his pride and even his vanity; his endless searching for something and his restiveness.
p. 202 March 16, 1936 - I went to see Papa not long ago. He has grown a beard and looks like a priest. He’ll be leaving soon for Alma Ata [Nina’s father had been sentenced to three years of exile in Kazakhstan ]. I love him now.
p. 209 Nov. 6, 1936 - It’s my opinion that a diary is an unnecessary and superfluous thing; it is of no use whatsoever and therefore a detriment. A diary can’t develop one’s style and it’s no good to posterity. So then what is it for? Still, I do like to write about what’s inside me, to tell someone about it.
p. 211 Nov. 20, 1936 - Papa once said: “Don’t get into that ‘top-marks mire’” [to excel in a Soviet school one had to be not only bright but politically orthodox and active as well. As a result, the students who got the best marks tended to be opportunists or people without convictions]
p. 211 Nov. 26, 1936 - We have a bad attitude towards the teachers; it’s something repressed and malicious. We don’t have the new, good attitude—what they now call the “Soviet” attitude. We all want to annoy them, to play dirty tricks and then refuse to say who did it rather than betray a friend (that is what earns our respect)