They say that behind every great man is a great woman. For Zora, this was Elfi Wolff, who helped personify the Corvette in her own inimitable way and was known as The First Lady of the Corvette.
Elfi came from an artistic family in Berlin. Elfi, her sister Ruth and brother Walter were all schooled in the fine arts. Elfi, with her blonde hair and sparkling blue eyes, specialized in ballet, but also modeled extensively for a Berlin department store.
She met Zora as a teenager in the warm glow of a Berlin café after ducking out of the rain on her way to a date. Captivated by the blue-eyed Russian, she instantly fell in love and began running around Berlin together in Zora’s Bugatti Type 30. She would spell out “Zora” in Russian with bandages on her body and then tan in the sun to brand herself as his girl.
Elfi and Zora married outside of Paris in February 1939 under the gathering storm clouds of World War II and settled in an apartment on the west side of Paris. While Zora was deployed in the French Air Force in the town of Toulouse, Elfi stayed behind and worked as a dancer with the world famous Follies Bergere, becoming a member of the Bluebell girls that performed cabaret-style reviews all over France. She was still there when German tanks began rolling through the streets. Thinking fast, Elfi grabbed everything she could fit into her open-topped MG and sped out of town, even though she had no traveling papers and no money to purchase gasoline. Relying on the kindness of strangers and luck, she managed to rendezvous with Zora in Toulouse four days later.
Reunited, they engineered a harrowing escape from the Nazi-occupied France, hiding out in a Marseille brothel before finding their way to Lisbon where they boarded a New York-bound refugee ship, the Nyassa, in December 1940.
Part 3 in future emails.
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