STANFORD—In the aftermath of the 1917 Russian Revolution, the fates of three people were intertwined in a love triangle that includes greed, ambition, and betrayal. At the center is Vidkun Quisling, the Norwegian politician whose name has become a synonym for traitor. A Nazi collaborator, Quisling was installed as prime minister of Norway by the Germans in 1942. At the end of the war he was convicted of high treason and executed. The other two characters in this drama are his wife, Alexandra, and his future wife, Maria.
In Quisling’s Shadow: The Memoirs of Vidkun Quisling’s First Wife, Alexandra (Hoover Institution Press, 2007) is the remarkable and dramatic memoir of Alexandra Vorinine Yourieff. Alexandra said she began her memoirs with the hope of understanding her marriage to Quisling so as to avoid making the same mistake again. She came to realize that she had been a pawn in “a complicated game of politics and personal ambition.” Following the death of Quisling’s second wife, Maria, in 1980 Alexandra felt compelled to complete her memoir and set the record straight.
Alexandra and her husband, W. George Yourieff, along with historian Kirsten Seaver, a professor of Norwegian language at Stanford University at the time, all became involved in writing the memoir. Material for the book was drawn from Alexandra’s notes and tapes. Following Alexandra’s death in 1993, Seaver completed the book, drawing from a number of other sources, including the Hoover Institution Library and Archives. The Hoover Archives contains information about both the Russian activities of the American Relief Administration (ARA) and the work of officials in Russia, including Quisling.
The account, first published in Norwegian, has been translated into English by Seaver.