Galina Nizhnikov

b. 1940

Galina Nizhnikov Veremkroit risked her own safety to become one of the first female refuseniks to protest for the right to leave Soviet Russia. Facing discrimination for her faith and concerned for her sons’ futures, Nizhnikov Veremkroit applied to emigrate and was refused. Soon after, she became active in the refusenik community and her in-laws introduced her to Ida Nudel, a noted female refusenik. Nudel invited her to be one of six women demonstrating at the Kremlin Wall, where no protesters had dared to demonstrate before. Up to this point, refusenik protests were largely made up of men, and were often met with violence by the KGB. Nizhnikov Veremkroit and her family were repeatedly threatened for their activism, but were finally allowed to leave thanks in part to pressure from the US. After resettling in the Boston area, Nizhnikov Veremkroit worked with a number of organizations dedicated to helping refuseniks immigrate to the US and wrote a memoir about her experiences, The Courage of Despair.

Scope and Content Note

Galina shares stories from her childhood in Russia and the values her parents instilled in her to be a proud Jew, which she passed down to her children. She discusses some of the antisemitism she faced in the workplace and her introduction into the group of refuseniks. Galina describes the journey her family took to decide to leave Russia and the fight to leave that followed.


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How to cite this page

Oral History of Galina Nizhnikov . Interviewed by Judith Rosenbaum. 12 January 2003. Jewish Women's Archive. (Viewed on February 26, 2024) <>.

Oral History of Galina Nizhnikov by the Jewish Women's Archive is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 United States License. Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at