Marie Vassiltchikov [or Wassiltschikow], was born in St. Petersburg to a family of Russian aristocrats who served in the Russian Imperial Parliament and at court. They fled Russia in 1919 following the Bolshevik Revolution. Marie spent her childhood as a refugee in France, Germany and Lithuania. She and her older sister Tatiana intermittently attended school at the Lycée of Saint Germain-en-Laye, when their parents were in funds. They spent the early years of World War II together in Germany, where they got jobs in the Foreign Ministry in Berlin. Many of Marie's close friends, including her boss, Adam von Trott zu Solz, were involved in the July 1944 plot to kill Hitler, and were executed. Marie kept secret diaries of her life in Berlin, including details of the conspiracy and the Allied bombing raids, written in shorthand. After the plot failed, she moved to Vienna, where she worked as a nurse. At the end of the war, she met and married Peter G. Harnden, an officer in U.S. military intelligence. They went to live in Paris, where Harden ran his own architectural firm. Marie's book Berlin Diaries: 1940-1945, was published after her death in 1985. It is considered one of the best and most informative first-hand accounts of the period.