The Mystery of Olga Chekhova : The True Story of a Family Torn Apart by Revolution and War Paperback
Olga Chekhova was the niece of playwright Anton Chekhov and a stunning Russian beauty.
She was also a famous Nazi-era film actress, closely associated with Adolf Hitler.
After fleeing Bolshevik Moscow for Berlin in 1920, she was recruited by her composer brother Lev to work for Soviet intelligence.
In return, her family were allowed to join her. Several of them were trapped in Berlin as the Red Army approached in 1945.
As Olga had appeared in photographs with Hitler his entourage, the rest of her family in Moscow were waiting to be arrested by the NKVD secret police. Based largely on new material, Antony Beevor has pieced together a breathtaking story of a family surviving through the Russian Revolution, the Civil War, the rise of Hitler and Stalin, and the Nazi invasion of the Soviet Union.
It's an extraordinary story from extraordinary times.
- Format: Paperback
- Pages: 336 pages, Illustrations, 1 map, ports.
- Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd
- Publication Date: 05/05/2005
- Category: True stories
- ISBN: 9780141017648
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Review by john257hopper
This is an account of the colourful life of the niece of the famous author and playwright and his theatre actress wife Olga Knipper-Chekhova . A minor theatre and early film actress before the Russian revolution, she fled to Germany in 1920 at the age of 23. Her career took off there and she became a star of early German cinema in the 1920s and 1930s and was to a degree (though to what degree is open to debate) feted by Hitler and Goebbels. At the same time, though, she was a sleeper agent for the Soviet OGPU/NKVD, recruited through her brother Lev, an ex-White Guardist turned loyal Communist, though she herself was neither a Communist nor a Nazi. During the war she made patriotic films for her adopted homeland, but after the Soviet capture of Berlin she was treated with kid gloves by the occupying forces. Her postwar career in West Germany was rather quieter though she continued to play in films and started a cosmetics company, believed to have been financed by the Soviets. A controversial character, she was often subject to salacious rumours and gossip, but did not help herself by embroidering her past in her own memoirs, in particular claiming to have been a member of the pre-Revolution Moscow Art Theatre and to have personally trained by Stanislavsky. A fascinating life.