What Was Frida Vigdorova Like?
I liked the articles of hers published in Pravda the year before the war. I was then in the tenth and final grade at school.
There was already something special about these early articles. They were bereft of the usual Soviet phraseological coating. They showed an understanding of the psychology of teenagers and a respect for their individuality, and there was not a whit of edification and treacle in them.
We met on May 1, 1941, at the birthday party of my schoolmate Lena Konyus, a relative of Frida’s.
How sweet she was! Still girlish in appearance, she was short, had a lovely upturned nose, shining brown eyes, and dark hair cut short, a stray lock of it jutting across her forehead. The strand remained in place for the rest of her life, going grayish only towards the end.
It is quite easy to understand Kornei Chukovsky, who when he first met Frida in the hallway at the Pravda offices, took her by the chin and asked, “And what grade are we in?”
“I teach tenth grade,” she replied.
Chukovsky was taken aback and apologized profusely.
According to Frida, this was how they met. The encounter would grow into a passionate friendship. Chukovsky survived Frida by several years.