02-006 First Ladies: Anna Larina Bukharin
Wednesday Feb 10, 2016
Lead: As a teenager Anna Larina fell deeply in love with Nicholai Ivanovich Bukharin, a hero of the Russian Revolution, a man twenty-six years her elder. She shared his fate at the hands of Joseph Stalin.
Intro: A Moment In Time with Dan Roberts.
Content: As a girl, Larina had met most of the old Bolsheviks. Her father Yuri was one of the inner circle, and often in the 1920s Lenin or Stalin would dine in their apartment in the Metropole Hotel in Moscow. Bukharin lived just upstairs and soon her crush on him became evident to all around them. Once she wrote a love letter and slipped up the stairs to put it under his door. On the way she nearly ran into Stalin who was headed in the same direction, and she gave him the note to deliver. The irony of one of the 20th century's great butchers passing romantic notes for a lovesick teenager is inescapable.
Bukharin also fell in love with Larina but was reluctant to marry her due to the age difference. This hesitation was overcome by her father who told her that ten years with Bukharin was far better than a lifetime with anyone else, but she never even got that. In the 1930s when Stalin began to round up the Party leadership, run them through show trials and then have them shot, Bukharin--despite or perhaps because of his popularity, his long service to the Revolution, and clear innocence of any indictable offense--was netted in the spider's deadly web. Before he was arrested he wrote and insisted that Anna memorize his political will and testament. In it he denied his guilt and begged for future generations to exonerate him.
At the trial, Stalin's henchman Vishinsky compared Bukharin to Judas Iscariot. Though the prisoner confessed to general guilt he denied having done anything specific, a strategy probably designed to protect his family. He was shot in the depths of the Lubyanka Prison and cremated. Larina was not present; she had begun a 20-year voyage in the islands of the Gulag, the Russian prison system. Their son was given to relatives and she did not see him for eighteen years.
Anna Larina Bukharin returned home sick and tubercular in the 1950s, but it was not until 1988 under Gorbachev's perestroika that her husband and the other old Bolsheviks were rehabilitated. Her life spanned that of the Soviet Union and she knew both the triumph and horror of its works.
The producer of A Moment In Time is Steve Clark. At the University of Richmondís School of Continuing Studies, Iím Dan Roberts.
Cohen, Stephen F. Bukharin and the Bolshevik Revolution. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1974.
Conquest, Robert. The Great Terror. New York: Macmillan Publishing Company, 1968.
Remnick, David. Lenin's Tomb: The Last Days of the Soviet Empire. New York: Random House, 1993.
Copyright 2016 by Dan Roberts Enterprises, Inc.
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