Alexandra Kollontai: The Loves of Three Generations

COMING to my office one morning I found, among the pile of private and business letters on my desk, a thick envelope that immediately arrested my attention. Thinking it might contain a newspaper article, I opened it. It was a letter, an extraordinarily long letter. The signature....Olga Wasselowskaya. I looked at it thoughtfully.

I knew Comrade Olga Sergejewna Wasselowskaya as an organizer holding a responsible position in the Soviet Republic. I also knew that she was not even remotely interested in the work among women in which I happened to be engaged at the time. What had prompted her to write this endless letter? Glancing at the envelope once more I noticed the words "Strictly Personal" written in large letters across the corner.

"Personal?" Personal letters from women usually mean family tragedies, with a plea for advice and understanding. Was it possible that Olga Sergejewna, this quiet, self-contained woman...? It was unthinkable!

I could not read the latter at the moment; urgent matters clamored for immediate attention, and the letter was obviously too long and too serious for hasty perusal. But as I worked, my thoughts returned involuntarily to the letter and its writer.

I recalled the few occasions on which I had met her – always in some official capacity. I remembered her dry, impersonal, rather reticent attitude toward others, and her remarkable efficiency – for a Russian woman – in business matters. On one of these occasions I had also made the acquaintance of her husband, a former workingman, whose frank, pleasing appearance made him beloved and popular wherever he went, although she was probably more widely known and respected than he. She was his superior in the organization in which they were both employed. He was somewhat younger than she. Perhaps this marriage ... but they had always seemed to be in such perfect accord with one another that one was impressed with a sense of harmony and perfect comradeship whenever one saw the two together. He admired her unreservedly.

I recalled one occasion when he had said, in my hearing: "But you heard what Olga Sergejewna thinks about it. Why do you continue to argue the matter?" To him she was the supreme authority. ...


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