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Zinaida Nikolaevna Raikh


Zinaida Raikh, USSR Actress.


Raikh, Zinaida was born in 1902. Daughter of Nikolai Andreevich Raikh, a railway worker from Silesia, and Anna Ivanovna Viktorova, an impoverished gentlewoman.


Worked as secretary of the SR newspaper Delo Naroda, where she met her first husband, Sergei Esenin. They had 2 children, but soon afterwards separated. (According to Kostia, their son, she was disliked by Esenin’s circle for her infidelities.

Esenin even doubted whether Kostia was his son). Soon married V. Meyerhold, who spent a considerable amount of time turning her into his leading actress. Their 4-room apartment on Briusovskii Pereulok became an international salon.

Among her guests were Erwin Piscator, Guillaume Apollinaire, John Mason Brown and the head of the Moscow bureau of Associated Press, William Reswick. Russian celebrities included Chekhov’s widow, Olga Leonardovna KnipperChekhova, V. Mayakovsky, Ivan Moskvin, Il’ia Sel’vinskii, K. Stanislavskii and A. Lunacharskii. But there were always other guests: senior GPU officers such as Iagoda, Agranov and Prokofev.

W. Reswick, in his book I Dreamed Revolution, mentioned that on one occasion a guest, apparently a member of the secret police, tried to involve him in a spy-ring. Among party figures were Enukidze, Trotsky, Bukharin,Kamenev and Zinov’ev. (All these connections were later used against Meyerhold.) She was an extremely attractive woman and cleverly used her husband’s passion for her to obtain what she wanted, such as trips to Baden-Baden, Karlsbad, Venice, and Paris.

Served as a decoy for the GPU to attract important foreign visitors. Always surrounded by male admirers, which drove Meyerhold to utter despair. A few weeks after his arrest and disappearance, she was found dead in their flat.

Her eyes were gouged out, and there were 42 stab wounds in her body. By all accounts she was silenced because she knew and talked too much.