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Evgeniia Ginzburg and Antonina Axenova Collection

Identifier: MSE/REE 0021

Scope and Contents

The collection consist of three parts. The first part revolves around Evgeniia Ginzburg. It includes documents, letters, writings, photographs, articles, and miscellaneous items. Many of the documents are originals or official archival copies obtained by Antonina Axenova. The letters consist of originals and photocopied items; they include letters her mother wrote to her while she was in the labor camps, letters from Ginzburg to Antonina Axenova, when the latter was pursuing her career in Krasnoiarsk, and letters between Axenova and such friends of Ginzburg from the camps as Paulina Miasnikova and Tatiana Tretiakova. The writings include Evgeniia Ginzburg's own typescript of the complete Krutoi Marshrut as well as her unpublished poems written from 1937 to 1943. The photographs consist of many original photos of Ginzburg, Axenova, Anton Valter, Vasilii Pavlovich Aksenov, Iulia Karepova, and many others. There are newspaper articles on, for example, the play that was made from Krutoi Marshrut, and the miscellaneous series contains such diverse items as a lock of Evgeniia Ginzburg's hair and the homeopathic text that belonged to Anton Valter.

The second part of the collection revolves around Antonina Axenova. Documents include such items as a copy of her diploma from the theatre institute (imeni A. V. Lunacharskogo) and a performance evaluation for her work in Krasnoiarsk. There are seven scripts with handwritten notes and marginal comments, and various programs and playbills, a number of which are signed and personalized. There is a wide variety of broadsides and posters, advertising plays and repertoires of theatres in Krasnoiarsk, Leningrad, Minsk, and other places. The photographs are primarily those of Axenova in her professional life. There is a small collection of letters, a number of which are restricted. The articles series contains newspaper clippings with reviews of plays in which Axenova performed, film reviews, articles on the director Kama Ginkas, and other items.

The third, much smaller part of the collection, revolves around Vasilii Pavlovich Aksenov. It includes several original, unpublished letters to Antonina Axenova, photographs, newspaper interviews, and articles.

The collection also includes almost 100 books from the libraries of Ginzburg and Axenova. Many of these books have been inscribed by such authors as Ehrenburg, Evtushenko, Okudzhava, Kopelev, Akhmadulina, Voinovich, and others. These books have been cataloged and can be located through the online catalog.


  • Creation: 1914-2014
  • Creation: Majority of material found in 1930s-1970s


Conditions Governing Access

Folders 202-208 are restricted until the year 2024.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright status for collection materials is unknown. Transmission or reproduction of materials protected by U.S. Copyright Law (Title 17, U.S.C.) beyond that allowed by fair use requires the written permission of the copyright owners. Works not in the public domain cannot be commercially exploited without permission of the copyright owners. Responsibility for any use rests exclusively with the user.

Biographical / Historical

Evgeniia Ginzburg was born in Moscow in 1904. Her parents were Solomon Natanovich Ginzburg (1876-1938), a pharmacist, and Revekka Markovna Ginzburg (1881-1949). In 1909 the family moved to Kazan where she spent her childhood and youth. She attended Kazan University and married Dmitri Fedorov, with whom she had a son, Alexei, born in 1926. She taught history and worked as a Communist Party activist. She also headed the culture department at the Kazan newspaper Krasnaia Tatariia. In 1930 she married Pavel Aksenov (1899-1991), a high-ranking party official, and in 1932 gave birth to her second son, Vasilii. After the assassination of Sergei Kirov and the beginning of the great purges, Evgeniia Ginzburg, like many of her communist colleagues, was accused of participating in counterrevolutionary and Trotskyist activity. Because of her association with N. N. Elvov and her role in editing Red Tartary, she was arrested on February 15,1937.

Ginzburg's case came to trial on August 1, 1937, and she was sentenced to ten years imprisonment in solitary confinement with loss of civil rights for five years afterward. She began her sentence in the women's prison in Iaroslavl, but after two years, she was sent to the labor camps of Kolyma in the Far East, where she worked in Elgen, Izvestkovaia, and other notorious sites. Anton Valter (1899-1959), a doctor of German heritage, who had been deported to Kolyma in 1935 for counterrevolutionary activity and who had been re-sentenced several times, helped Ginzburg obtain a nursing assignment in the labor camps. Ginzburg and Valter, a devout Catholic, eventually married. In February of 1949 Ginzburg was released from the Gulag system, but she was re-arrested in October and sentenced to permanent exile. It was only after Stalin's death that she and Valter were allowed to leave Magadan. In 1958 they settled in Lvov. After Valter's death in 1959 and after rehabilitation, Ginzburg was permitted to move to Moscow. She published various pieces in the monthly magazine IUnost, but her masterpiece, her memoir about life in the camps, Krutoi Marshrut, was rejected for publication. In the USSR it circulated in samizdat and then in 1967 was first published abroad by Mondadori in Italy and by Possev in Germany, and since that time has been translated into many other languages. Ginzburg died in Moscow in 1977.

Antonina Pavlovna Axenova was born with the surname of Khenchinskaia in Kolyma in 1946. At the age of three she was adopted by Evgeniia Ginzburg in Magadan. With the rehabilitation of her parents, she moved to Lvov and then to Moscow, where in 1971 she graduated from the Gosudarstvennyi Institut Teatralnovo Iskusstva imeni A. V. Lunacharskogo. She began her theatrical work in Krasnoiarsk in the Krasnoiarskii teatr iunogo zritelia imeni Leninskogo Komsomola, working with such directors as Kama Ginkas and performing in a variety of plays from an adaptation of Ray Bradbury to Moliere and Shakespeare. In 1972 she was admitted to the Leningradskii Gosudarstvennyi Akademicheskii Teatr Komedii, where she performed in such plays as Monologue about Marriage and The Misanthrope and worked with such directors as Petr Fomenko. Axenova also pursued a film career, starring in such movies as Ia sluzhu na granitse produced by Lenfilm in 1974. In 1978 she married Valerii Raevskii (1939-2011), who at the time was the principal director of the Belorussian National Theatre. She joined Raevskii in Minsk where she performed in the Russian theatre (imeni M. Gorkogo) as well as the Alternativnyi Teatr. In 1983 Axenova was expelled from the theatre when her brother, the novelist Vasilii Pavlovich Aksenov (1932-2008), left the Soviet Union and then was stripped of his citizenship. By 1986, however, the political situation had changed, and she was able to resume her career. After the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991, she traveled to the US, and after living there for five years, she moved to Frankfurt, Germany, where she now resides and directs the Russian children's theatre.


6 Cubic Feet

Language of Materials



The collection consists of documents, letters, photographs, and some manuscripts relating to Evgeniia Ginzburg, the author of Krutoi Marshrut, an autobiographical account of the author's experience in the Soviet labor camps. Krutoi Marshrut has been translated into English in two volumes: Journey into the Whirlwind and Within the Whirlwind. The collection also includes materials relating to the life and career of Antonina Axenova (b. 1946), Ginzburg's adopted daughter, who is a stage and film actress. Ginzburg's son, Vasilii Pavlovich Aksenov (1932-2009), a prominent Russian novelist, is also represented, but to a lesser extent.


The collection is arranged into three series: 1. Evgeniia Ginzburg, 2. Antonina Axenova, and 3. Vasilii Pavlovich Aksenov. Within the various subseries material is arranged, for the most part, chronologically.

Evgeniia Ginzburg and Antonina Axenova Collection
Kenneth Kinslow
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Describing Archives: A Content Standard
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Repository Details

Part of the University of Notre Dame Rare Books & Special Collections Repository

102 Hesburgh Library
Notre Dame IN 46556