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Alja Rachmanowa was the pen name of Galina Djuragin (or Dyuragina), born to an aristocratic Russian family in the town of Kasli in the Ural Mountains. Her 1932 autobiography Geheimnisse um Tataren und Götzen (Secrets of Tatars and Idols) described her carefree, privileged childhood. She kept detailed diaries that later provided material for her memoirs and fictionalized works. The family fled the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution and subsequent civil wars to Irkutsk in Siberia, where she studied child psychology. She married Arnulf von Hoyer, an Austrian ex-prisoner of war, with whom she had a son. In 1925, they were exiled from the USSR and settled first in Vienna and then in Salzburg. At first, she did not speak German, and suffered from homesickness and the separation from her parents. Then her diaries, translated by her husband, were published in book form under her pseudonym to protect her relatives back in Russia. Following the success of Studenten, Liebe, Tscheka und Tod (Students, Love, Cheka and Death, 1931), Ehen im roten Sturm (Marriages in the Red Storm, 1932), and Milchfrau in Ottakring (Milkwoman in Ottakring, 1933), she became one of the most popular writers of the interwar period. With the Anschluss (annexation) of Austria by Nazi Germany, her books were banned. The couple's 23-year-old son Jurka was killed at the end of World War II, and they fled the advance of the Red Army to Switzerland. There she continued to write, including biographies of Russian authors.
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