Katia Raina

The Magic Mirror


The manuscript I am working on (waiting for friends’ feedback at the moment) is set in the 1930s in the then-young Soviet Union.

The 1930s was the time when the USSR was but in its twenties — the youngest nation in the world. It was the time of frantic building, an epoch of wild pride and big dreams. The Soviets were in the middle of the greatest human experiment. They were building the best place on earth, the most humane, the fairest society in the entire world.

For millions of Soviet people, the 1930s was also the time of nightmares. 

Here is a 2-minute video clip from a popular movie of the time.


Do you know whose portrait these people are holding up while marching in a parade? That man with the mustache was Comrade Josef Stalin, the harshest, most ruthless dictator known to human history. Josef Stalin built a system of oppression, under which millions of people were sent to their deaths, or to the remote areas of their country, thousands of kilometers away from their lives and their loved ones. Millions were sent away or shot for making a wrong joke. For not being “political” enough. For having connections to old wealth or old Russian aristocracy. For being too wealthy. Too unorthodox. Too different. For refusing to follow an order. For refusing to seal someone else’s fate with a careless word. Sometimes, they were sent away for no reason at all.

In the video clip, do you know what these people are singing? They are singing, “there is no other land where a man can live this free.”

The 1930s was the time of massive arrests and even more massive paranoia. The 1930s was the epoch of fear that enveloped the Soviet society.

If you have another moment, I invite you over once again to the blog of my good friend and historical fiction author Joyce Moyer Hostetter, where I share a very personal memory of my own fear, half a century later.


Thanks everyone, once again, for stopping by!


February 27, 2011 - Posted by | The U.S.S.R. | , ,


  1. Hi Katia and readers!

    The post is on its way. Guests still here so I haven’t actually read your post yet.


    Comment by Joyce Moyer Hostetter | February 27, 2011 | Reply

    • You mean you haven’t read THIS post, Joyce, not the guest post which I KNOW you’ve read a few times by now 🙂 Just clarifying this for the others.
      Thanks again for making this so fun 🙂

      Comment by Katia Raina | February 27, 2011 | Reply

  2. Your story makes for fascinating reading – have you ever thought about writing an autobiography? Good stuff 🙂


    Comment by Tara R. | February 28, 2011 | Reply

    • Thank you, Tara! No, not autobiography, but my first novel manuscript, “Castle of Concrete” is filled with some of my actual memories and many similar feelings.

      Comment by Katia Raina | February 28, 2011 | Reply

  3. Yes,Katia – I’m sorry I was unclear about which blog post I hadn’t had a chance to read.

    Wow! That video clip is amazing. It is so evident how easy it must have been to get caught up in the hope and the glory of the regime. And yet, the terror that people must have felt at the same time – how confusing was all that for a kid?!

    I am learning so much from you about the emotional life of a child in a Soviet country. And I am really pulling for Castle of Concrete! Soon baby soon!

    Comment by Joyce Moyer Hostetter | February 28, 2011 | Reply

    • Joyce, I thought you’d like that video 🙂 And yet for me it is very creepy to watch at the same time. The craziest thing is how the fear of the 30s became a part of life and echoed in my OWN, fifty years later. As for Castle, it seems so far away right now. Right now, I just can’t wait to get my second manuscript back, so I can finish THAT! 🙂

      Comment by Katia Raina | February 28, 2011 | Reply

  4. I devoured the guest post. Your life is an interesting one. I can imagine your fiction is amazing!

    Comment by Medeia Sharif | February 28, 2011 | Reply

    • Wow, thanks Medeia. That’s incredibly nice of you to say.

      Comment by Katia Raina | February 28, 2011 | Reply

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