Natasha married Adolf Tolkachev in 1957, the year after her father died. She managed to stay out of trouble, but those who worked with her knew of her feelings. She read the banned writer Boris Pasternak and the poet Osip Mandelstam. When Alexander Solzhenitsyn’s novel One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich was published in 1962, she was the first in the family to devour it. Later, when possession of Solzhenitsyn’s unpublished works was more dangerous, she was unafraid to pass around copies in samizdat, the underground distribution network for banned literature. In 1968, after the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia, there was a rush in Soviet workplaces to pass resolutions supporting the action. She was the only person in her group to vote no. She was, in the words of a supervisor, “unable to be insincere.” Her long ordeal and her deep antipathy to the Soviet party-state became Tolkachev’s, too.
She was, in the words of a supervisor, “unable to be insincere.” If only the same could be said about all of us.