The cost of falling in love with an American
Valentina Pavlenko first met U.S. seaman Bill Rowgraft at a large dance party in Arkhangelsk.
Pavlenko, then 15, knew she would pay a heavy price for falling in love with the bright-eyed sailor depicted in a photo that she has kept for the past 65 years. Little did she know how much.
“I hid his picture behind the wallpaper when the NKVD came for me”, said Pavlenko, now 80.
Pavlenko is among thousands of girls from three northern ports who frequented Interclubs, clubs established by the Soviet government for foreign seamen during World War II. The clubs — located in Arkhangelsk, Murmansk and Molotovsk (now Severodvinsk) — offered movies, music and dancing to sailors working in Arctic convoys, which delivered vital supplies under the Lend Lease program from August 1941 to May 1945.