Nikiforova, Marksena Mikhailovna
Marksena Mikhailovna was interviewed by Irina Flige on three separate occasions, in September
2004, January 2005, and April 2005. She speaks extremely well, cogently and analytically, with
a clear recall of detail and capacity to distinguish between received opinion, hindsight judgements,
and direct memory. She talks in depth about her childhood and about the responsibilities (for
her younger half-brothers and for the domestic staff) with which she was burdened from an early
age because of the absence of her parents from the home. She reflects on the independence which
this upbringing bred in her, and on how it helped her to survive after the arrest of her parents.
She also reflects on the values she inherited from her grandmother which were very different
from those she received from her parents. She also talks about the nannies and domestic workers
in her home, and sheds light on the role of nannies as informers in the households of Party
officials. Some of the most interesting sections of the interviews relate to her scepticism
from an early age about the existence of 'enemies of the people' - a scepticism that was formed
by discussions she had heard between her parents following the murder of Kirov. Much of the
interviews is taken up by the extraordinary story of her living on her own, coping and surviving
as a young teenager, after the arrest of her parents. She recalls how she sold her parents'
possessions from their sealed-up apartment, how she moved into a communal apartment on her own,
how she made her way through school, and how she joined the Komsomol. She talks in depth about
the Siege of Leningrad, recalling incidents that reinforced her sense of the Soviet system's
injustice. Marksena also talks about her marriage, to a Party official, and what her family
has meant to her. Finally, she reflects movingly on the process of discovering about her parents
and on coping with the painful memories of repression.
Interview 2 [January-05]
Interview 3 [April-05]
In July 1937, her mother and stepfather were arrested, and she was left on her own to look after
her two brothers.
The Family Archive
The archive contains only family photographs.