Soviet East met West in Arkhangelsk Interclub

Photo: the Moscow Times

Consequences were dramatic for Valentina Pavlenko, who during the 2WW fell in love with a U.S. sailor in the Arkhangelsk Interclub. Sixty-five years later, the now 80 year old woman shares her experiences from the unique Soviet social clubs for western sailors


Thousands of girls from Arkhangelsk, Murmansk and Molotovsk (today Severodvinsk) frequented Interclubs, clubs established by the Soviet government for foreign seamen during World War II. The clubs 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, the Moscow Times reports. A total of 1,400 merchant ships — accompanied variously by destroyers, anti-submarine trawlers, minesweepers and cruisers — delivered the supplies from Britain and the United States to the Soviet Union. By 1943, the number of staff at the British military mission in Arkhangelsk alone totalled 80 people, the newspaper writes. Olga Golubtsova, journalist and author from Severodvinsk (Arkhangelsk Oblast) has written extensively about the Interclub romances. After the foreign sailors left, many of the Russian girls were arrested, some of them sent in exile. Ms. Valentina Pavlenko was imprisoned in a labor camp in the far northern town of Salekhard The Arctic convoys of World War II travelled from the United Kingdom and the United States to the northern ports of the Soviet Union - Archangel and Murmansk. According to Wikipedia, there were 78 convoys between August 1941 and May 1945. About 1400 merchant ships delivered vital supplies to the Soviet Union under the Lend-Lease program. 85 merchant vessels and 16 Royal Navy warships.