Unknown photographer, Kirill Chenkin (b. 1916 Petrograd, Russia – d. 2008 Munich, Germany). Digital print from scan. Western Regional Archives, State Archives of NC.
Kirill Chenkin (b. 1916 Petrograd, Russia – d. 2008 Munich, Germany)
Kirill Chenkin (Khenkin) would become a citizen of the USSR, Israel, and Germany over the course of his life. As a young man and student in France, Chenkin fought in the Spanish civil war, on the side of the Second Spanish Republic, before attending university in Paris where he received a degree in comparative literature. When he and his mother emigrated to the United States in 1939, he came to Black Mountain College to teach on that subject, as well as in French. His time in the United States was brief, returning to the USSR in 1941 where he served in the military during WWII. Following the war, he would work as a translator and journalist within Soviet media and broadcasting alongside his fourth wife and longtime assistant, Irina Kanevskaya. Labelled as political dissidents following a demonstration against Soviet troops’ invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968, the two would emigrate to Israel in the 1970s. The couple shared their last years in Munich where Chenkin wrote the books “The Hunter Upside Down” (1980), “Andropov: Touches for the Tsar’s Portrait” (1983), and “The Russians Came” (1984).
Read more about Kirill Chenkin in the Journal of Black Mountain College Studies: “Kirill Chenkin: The BMC French Instructor Was a Soviet Operative,” by Isabella Ginor and Gideon Remez.