Raissa Davydovna Orlova-Kopeleva

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Raissa Dawydowna Orlova-Kopeleva ( Russian Раи́са Давы́довна Орло́ва-Ко́пелева , scientific transliteration Raisa Davydovna Orlova-Kopeleva ; born July 23, 1918 in Moscow ; †  May 31,  1989 in Cologne ) was a Russian writer and American writer . She was Lev Kopelev's second wife from 1956 .

Raissa Orlowa studied English and American studies in the USSR from 1935 to 1940 and worked from 1950 as a lecturer in literature in Tallinn and Moscow. At the Russian monthly foreign literature ( иностранная литература ) she was head of department from 1955 to 1961. Since then she has worked as a freelance writer and literary critic on 19th and 20th century American literature ( Mark Twain , Jack London , Harriet Beecher Stowe , Ernest Hemingway ). After the Warsaw Pact invasion of the ČSSR in 1968, she became involved in the Soviet civil rights movement. The Kopelew-Orlowa couple's apartment in Moscow quickly became a meeting point for dissidents and foreign correspondents , including Fritz Pleitgen and Klaus Bednarz . In 1980 she was expelled from the Writers' Union of the USSR and in 1981, after her trip to the West, she was expatriated from the Soviet Union together with her husband, the writer and civil rights activist Lev Zinovievich Kopelev . From then on she lived mostly in Cologne, where her long-time friends Heinrich Böll and Annemarie Böll stood by the couple.

Raissa Orlowa died on May 31, 1989 in Cologne after she had previously visited her relatives and friends in Moscow. Her urn was buried in the Donskoy Cemetery in Moscow.

Her first book describes very clearly how she finds her way around Germany slowly and how she learned to deal with the peculiarities of Germans.


  • The doors open slowly (1984), Двери открываются медленно (1994)
  • A past that does not go away. Looking back over five decades (1985), Воспоминания о непрошедшем времени (USA 1983, Moscow 1993)
  • Letters from Cologne on books from Moscow (1987)
  • When the bell stopped; Alexander Herzen's last year of life (1988)
  • Why I Live (1990 posthumous)

Together with her husband she wrote:

  • Boris Pasternak. "Image of the world in words" (1986)
  • We lived in Moscow (1987), Мы жили в Москве (1) (USA 1988, Moscow 1990)
  • Contemporaries, Masters, Friends (1989), Мы жили в Москве (2)
  • We lived in Cologne. Notes and Memories (1996), Мы жили в Кёльне (2003)

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