h Wrangell-Rofcassowatg^T 3^,
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fMO.t PI Wrangell-Rokassovsky,
Before the storm: a true
picture of life in
BEFORE THE STORM
A true picture of life in Russia
prior to the Communist
Revolution of 1917.
Baron C. Wrangell-Rokassowsky
Published by Tipo-Litografia Ligure
Via Sottoconvento, 28-b - Tei. 32484
dedicate this story to my beloved mother
BARONESS VERA ROKASSOWSKY
whose memory I ever treasure,
Baron Cart Wrangell-Rokassowsky, a Knight of Honour and
Devotion of the Sovereign Military Hospitaller Order of MoZftz.
BJMPMI in Yalta, Crimea, Russia, and educated in the Corps
des Pages of His Majesty the Czar in St. Petersburg, Baron
Carl Wrangell-Rokassowsky was commissioned a Lieutenant of
the Baltic Cavalry Regiment with which he served for a short
time at the front in World War I.
After the Russian Revolution he escaped from Russia and was
for a time a member of the Inter-Allied Mission in Germany.
Baron Wrangell-Rokassowsky came to the United States in 1924.
His father, Stanislaw von Wrangell, was a landowner in the
Province of Vitebsk and in the Crimea and was President of
the Justices of the Peace in the District of Lutzin; his mother,
the Baroness Vera Rokassowsky, was a daughter of a Russian
General who was also Governor-General of Finland and under
his supervision was accomplished all the preparatory work for
the opening in 1863 of the first Finnish Parliament.
In his story Before the Storm Baron Wrangell-Rokassowsky
gives a true picture of life in Russia prior to the Communist
Revolution of 1917. He expresses the point of view of Russian
landowners and gives a logical explanation of the causes which
led to the Revolution and the consequent establishment of a
Communist government in Russia, primarily an agricultural
BEFORE THE STORM
Baron Carl Rokassowsky
Before the Storm is essentially the story of my
father's life. My father was a landowner and a judge. I
describe his dealings with paesants, who at that time repre
sented nearly eighty per cent of the population of the Rus
sian Empire. I describe their character and their peculia
So far, the point of view of Russian landowners has
remained practically unknown to American readers. Only a
few writers have attempted to explain conclusively and lo
gically the phenomenon of the establishment of a Communist
Government in Russia, primarily an agricultural country.
In order to understand this phenomenon, it is neces
sary to know the basic faots of Russian history during the
The Russian intelligentsia was very familiar with Com
munist doctrines. To the great delight of Karl Marx, the
first translation made of Das Kapital was into the Rus
sian language- In 1938, Knizhaya Letopis , the official pub
lication of the Soviet government, stated that 500,000 copies
of Karl Marx's works had been sold in Czarist Russia between
1864 and 1914- In 1896, and in subsequent years, a course
and seminar on socialism were offered at the University
of Moscow, taught by the famous liberal economist A.
Chuprov; the course and seminar were widely attended.
Karl Max was predicting the establishment of Com
munism in some highly industrialized country (he aimed at
Germany), where the great majority of the population were
wage-earning workers of industry the so-called prole
tariat . If Marx were alive today, he would be amazed that
his ideas had found practical application in a country as
agricultural as Russia had been,
The experience of this century in all European coun
tries, and most recently in the Eastern European countries
of Hungary, Poland and Romania (countries occupied by
the Red Army, where Communism had been forced on the
unfortunate population at the point of a bayonet) proves
without doubt that the farmers of these countries stubbornly
resisted Communist propaganda. They owned their land, and,
therefore, had no use for Communist principles and ideas.
In the former Russian Empire about eighty per cent
of the population were mujiks , or peasant-farmers working
the land. According to these figures, the Russian Empire
should have been absolutely immune to any Communist pro
paganda. However, in 1917, contrary to all logic, millions
of Russian farmers accepted Communism and have now been
led for the past fifty years by the Communist government.
To an outsider, the reasons why the Russian masses accepted
Communism understandably remain obscure.
Studying the social conditions in the Russian Empire
prior to the Communist Revolution of 1917, we come to the
astounding revelation that Communism was established in
Russia as early as 1861- To be exact, the Communist forms
of ownership of the land for the masses of the Russian pea
sants were established in Russia subsequent to the Ukase
of the Emperor Alexander II, the grandfather of the last Czar-
This Ukase, or official act, dated February 19 / Macrh 3,
1861, has been known in Russian history as the Act of Li
beration of the Russian peasants.
Prior to the year 1861, Russian peasants were serfs,
or slaves. The ownership of the serfs was a privilege of the
nobility, and about fifty percent of the peasants were serfs
privately owned by the noble?, and another fifthy percent
represented the property of the Crown.
According to the Ukase of Emperor Alexander II, all
serfs, privately owned as well as owned by the Crown, beca
me free at once, without any compensation being paid to
their fanner masters, It is interesting to note that the Act
of Liberation, although bringing tremendous social and eco
nomic changes, was not accompanied by a civil war. All
classes accepted peacefully the Manifesto of the Czar and
obeyed his order.
The Act of Liberation also provided that these newly
created free farmers would be given land. For this purpose,
the government took land from the nobility and gave it to
the serfs who had been privately owned. To the serfs be
longing to the Crown, the fertile lands of the Crown were
In 1861, the peasants received enough land to satisfy
their needs. According to the statistics of 1905, peasants in
European Russia owned twice as much land as the nobles.
In 1916, when the Czar was still at the head of the govern
ment, small-size rural holdings (peasant farms under 135
acres each, where the work of a family prevailed) occupied
a total area of 448 million acres (71 percent), whereas the
large estates, those over 135 acres, covered an area of only
184 million acres (29 percent). Excluding the forest areas,
the small peasant ownership of land in the Russian Empire
was 804 percent. Eighty-two percent of the cattle and eighty-
six percent of the horses were owned by peasants.
Consequently, considering the size of Russia and the
comparatively small population per square mile, there could
not possibly have been a shortage of fertile land as was
claimed by the Russian peasants. There should not have been
any peasant problem in Czarist Russia, but this problem
did exist, was very real, and was of paramount importance
to the Empire, because it affected about eighty percent of
the population. This peasant problem was caused by the
fact that subsequent to the Act of Liberation of 1861, by
the actual distribution of land to the freed peasants, the
Czarist government established for them a Communist form
of ownership of their land.
Every peasant village was made a commune, a self-
governing unit by the Czarist government. The land was not
given to an individual peasant, but to his commune. There
fore, a peasant had only a share in the landholdings of his
commune. This fact explains why Communist propaganda found
a ready and willing response among the masses of the Rus
The system of communes had not been introduced in
1861 to the whole of the Russian Empire. It did not exist in
Poland, Esthonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Finland- Therefore,
in spite of the terrific impact of a Revolution and the highly
publicized genius of Lenin, these parts of the Empire stub
bornly resisted Communism. All these parts became inde
pendent republics with a real democratic government esta
blished in each one-
The system of communes was never introduced to the
natives of the Russian Caucasus where Joseph Stalin was
born, and the Georgians put up a stubborn fight against the
Communists and the detachments of the Red Army. However,
the Soviet Government troops outnumbered them, and in
spite of their heroic resistance, the Caucasus was soon inclu
ded in the Soviet Union. Stalin could not tolerate his native
Georgia repudiating his leadership!
The system of communes never existed in Siberia,
Turkestan, and other Asiatic possessions of the former Rus
sian empire. However, the population in those remote areas
was very sparse. In fact, the entire population of all Rus
sian possessions in Asia amounted to only about ten percent
of the population of European Russia. Consequently, these
possessions could not offer any resistance to the Red Army
of the Soviet Government.
In the act of establishing a system of communes in
Russia, the Czarist Russian government was influenced by
the followers of the Slavophil movement. The founders of
this movement, mostly professors of Russian universities
and particularly of Moscow University, were idealists who
dug deep into the very foundations of Russian history and
Russian national mind. They sought to discover the peculiar
genius of Russian civilization in the prehistoric peasant com
munes, which, they said, revealed the socialistic soul of
Russia as contrasted to the individualistic soul of Western
Europe, and of the whole world as well* Their assumption
that the system of communes which they had discovered in
prehistoric Russia represented a characteristically Russian
form was wrong. Quite to the contrary, all primitive people,
at some early period of their history, lived in communes,
and the Russian people were no exception to this rule. To pri
mitive tribes, the communistic form of society is dictated by
the instinct of self-preservation. Thus, it can be seen that
the discovery by Russian Slavophils of a socialistic
soul of the Russian people was pure nonsense. They could
just as well have discovered a socialistic soul in Ame
rican Indians or African Negroes.
Communism was not created by Karl Marx in the XIX
century. This social form had been known to the human race
from the very beginning of its early existence. All primitive
people lived, and continue to live, in tribes or communes.
The first Communists were possibly some savages
who lived on the bank of a river, or on the shore of a lake,
and whose occupation was fishing. They all went out fishing
together, and shared equally whatever they were able to
catch. The nomad tribes whose occupation had been raising
cattle had also been good Communists . Their cattle had
always been the property of the whole tribe- Mongolian no
mads in Central Asia, Negroes in Africa, American Indians
who continue to live on reservations, and primitive Russian
peasants as well were all familiar with Communist forms
Communism is not a form of the future, but of the
If I succeed in delivering this important message to
my American readers, my duty towards my countrymen of
the New World will be fulfilled.
THE REVOLT OF DECEMBRISTS
I have no recollection of my father until he was al
most sixty. My grandfather was born in 1787, my father in
1844, when my grandfather was fifty-seven years old. I was
born in 1896, when my father was fifty-two. Due to these
unusual circumstances, three generations were spread over a
period of some one hundred eighty years.
My father, Stanislaw-Alexis von Wrangell-Huebenthal (1),
was born at the time when Russian peasants were serfs of
their noble masters or serfs of the Crown. The serfdom in
Russia was abolished sixteen years later, in 1861. At the
time of my father's childhood my grandfather, Carl-Philipp
von Wrangell, lived in his own house in Vitebsk. My father's
mother, Anna Juriewcz, was his second wife. His first wife,
Constance Nassekin, had died in 1832, leaving him two sons-
These two half-brothers of my father were some fifteen
years older, and my father had to rise when either of them
entered the room.
My father's upbringing was very strict. He had a Ger
main tutor who lived in the house and who supervised all
his activities. Each day my father arose early, washed in
(1) The family of author's mother, Rokassowsky, became extinct
in male line, and the author was authorized to add to his father's
family name, von Wrangell, the title and the family name of his
maternal grandfather, Baron Rokassowsky, the late Governor-
General of Finland.
Footnote of the author.
cold water (at that time no one even heard of central hea
ting), dressed with great care, and arrived at the breakfast
table on time. Meals were served by the old butler Stephan,
who was my grandfather's serf, as were all the rest of his
servants. At the table, my father was forbidden to talk, he
was permitted only to answer questions addressed to him.
He was supposed to sit straight in his chair, keeping the
index fingers of both his hands on the table, and wait for
food to be served to him. This same procedure was followed
at all meals.
My father was required to eat whatever was served to
him, without any show of preference- For some reason, he
disliked boiled carrots. He often left them on his plate- From
the other end of the long table, my grandfather would no
tice, and inquire of his youngest son, Did you have enough
to eat? Without waiting for an answer, he ordered Stephan
to remove the plate and put it away. When the next course
was served, my father did not get anything. He would try
to keep quiet, but eventually would timidly ask for dessert.
You are not hungry, Stas, you did not eat your car
rots. Why do you ask for a dessert? , my grandfather would
answer, and little Stas would get no dessert.
If this incident occurred at a dinner, the following
morning when everybody would be served breakfast, Stephan
would place in front of my father the same plate of cold
carrots that he had not eaten the day before. My father
would then ask only for a cup of hot tea.
Since you did not eat carrots, you are not hungry ,
my grandfather would answer, and, therefore, you do not
need any breakfast . And, that was that.
My father was quite stubborn and would go without
breakfast, but he would get the same plate of carrots for
lunch, and no other food would be served him until he
would finally swallow the unfortunate carrots-.
Perhaps some parents of today would find this system
of raising a child too cruel, but the fact was that my father
learned to obey and never again refused any food served to
My grandfather owned an estate, Korolewo , not far
from the city of Vitebsk. There his serfs lived in the kur-
Carl Philipp van Wrangelt oj
the House Huebenthal,
grandfather of the author.
naia izba , a single-room hut with a large central fireplace.
The hut had no chimney, only a big square hole in the roof
for the smoke to escape. In winter, when the temperature
was far below the freezing point, the fire was kept burning
continuously, filling the room with blinding smoke and coa
ting the walls and ceiling with a thick layer of soot. The
smoke hurt the eyes of all the inhabitants, especially the chil
dren, so that they would always have tears streaming down
The Russian mujiks had been accustomed to living
this way for centuries, and in spite of the horrible condi
tions, they seemed perfectly contented.
In some popular magazine published during the reign
of Czar Nicholas I (1825-1855), there appeared articles in
which writers tried to prove the healing capacity of soot.
According to those writers, soot was the best medicine for
many diseases. If this sounds incredible, I would refer my
readers to the writings of Nicholas Leskoff. This Russian
writer is not very well known abroad, but his descriptions
of life in Russia in the XIX century are exceedingly inte
resting and most accurate-
Since my grandfather Wrangell was a cultured Ger
man, he could not understand how any human beings, even
serfs, could live in such huts- With Germanic thoroughness,
he decided to make a drawing of a model izba he inten
ded to build for every family of his serfs, and he entrusted
this task to my father, at that time a boy of only eight or nine
years. Under the supervision of his German tutor, my father
made a drawing of a house with a couple of rooms, a fi
replace and a chimney in the middle. He made additional
drawings showing stables for horses and cows, a chicken
house, a hog house, etc. All of the houses, with small flower
gardens in front of them, were supposed to face the main
street of the new village, and each was to have a back yard
for the stables, etc.
My father worked diligently on the drawings for se
veral winter months. Finally, all the drawings were ready,
and my grandfather passed them on to the superintendent
of his estate with orders to build a new village at once.
There was plenty of lumber on the estate, and the Rus
sian peasants knew how to make bricks and bake them in
an oven. There was no problem in getting the necessary ma
terials, and my grandfather's serfs were soon hard at work.
As soon as construction was completed, my grandfather gave
orders to his serfs to move with their families into the new
dwellings. Knowing the character of the Russian peasants,
he did not forget to give orders to burn their old homes.
A couple of weeks later, he went to see for himself
how everyone liked his new quarters- Riding in an open car
riage with my father sitting proudly at his side, they rode
through the village street- Suddenly my grandfather was ap
palled by a strong odor. It did not take him long to disco
ver that his serfs were living in the stables, and not in the
houses. In those stables they had built fireplaces and made
holes in the roofs, similar to their old huts. Having no use
for the new houses, they had turned them into privies. The
odor was so strong that it was sickening to drive through
the village street.
My grandfather was outraged and immediately called all
the serfs to a meeting. He asked them to explain their ac
tions. The peasant bowed respectfully, and replied, Our
fathers and our grandfathers lived that way, and we shall
continue to live the same way .
My grandfather was furious and was ready to give or
ders to have everyone whipped, but their resistance to chan
ged living conditions was so strong that he gave up in disgust
and ordered his coachman to drive back to the city,
My grandfather, Carl-Philipp von Wrangell-Huebenthal,
was born in Germany, and studied medicine in the Universi
ties of Marburg and Goettingen. This was at the time of
the French Revolution and the rise of Napoleon, when Ger
many was divided into some forty kingdoms and principali
ties- The southwestern German states, along with Bavaria
which had received from Napoleon the status of a kingdom,
formed the so-called Union of the Rhine , an organization
which was willing to support this new master of Europe,
while the northeastern states, notably Prussia, were decidedly
against Napoleon and sided with the Holy Empire and Rus
sia in their struggle to free Europe from this upstart-
In 1806, under pressure from Napoleon, Emperor Fran
cis II was forced to give up his title of Emperor of the
Holy Empire and assume the title of Emperor of Austria.
Two years previously, Napoleon was crowned by Pope Pius
VII Emperor of France in an attempt to establish himself
as a direct heir to Charlemagne who had been crowned by
Pope Leo III in 800 A.D. At that time, the title of Emperor
was practically forced on Charlemagne by the Pope, who
was trying to reinstate the Roman Empire in order to
maintain peace - PAX ROMANUM.
Exactly one thousand and six years later, in his efforts
to subdue all of Western Europe, the new Emperor won a
series of brilliant victories at Austerlitz, Yena, Eylau, Fried-
land, and Wagram....
In this eventful era, my grandfather Wrangell entered
the services of the Russian Czar, joining the Russian Army
in East Prussia. The defeat of the Russian and Prussian
troops at Eylau and Friedland was followed by the peace
treaty of Tilsit. For a few years, peace was restored between
these two Empires, French in the West and Russian in the
East, but my grandfather remained with the Russian Army,
and in a few years was appointed the Head Doctor of an
After the battle of Borodino and the subsequent re
treat of Napoleon from Moscow, my grandfather retired
from the Army and became the head of the Medical Admi
nistration of the Province of Vitebsk- He served under Prin
ce Alexander of Wurttemberg, an uncle of Czar Alexander I,
and one-time Governor-General of Belorussia (White Rus
sia). The prince knew my grandfather very well, liked him,
and gave him many valuable presents.
The revolt of Decembrists broke out in 1825, at
the time of ascension to the throne of Czar Nicholas I.
After the defeat of Napoleon and the occupation of
Paris in 1814 by Russian troops, many Russian aristocrats
visited. France. The liberal ideas of the French Revolution
appealed to many of them and resulted in the formation of
two secret Masonic lodges, The Northern Star , and The
Southern Star*. Both lodges enlisted as members many
influential and wealthy Russian nobles.
In 1825, Czar Alexander I died childless, leaving his
two brothers ,Constantin and Nicholas, in line for the throne.
The elder, Grand Duke Constantin, had in 1820 made a
morganatic marriage to Mademoiselle Joanna Grudzinska of
an old Polish noble family. She later received the title of
Princess Lowicz. In 1823, Constantin signed secretly an abdi
cation from the throne- His abdication was kept in a sealed
envelope in Uspensky Cathedral in Moscow, and a copy of
it in the Russian Senate in St- Petersburg, with instructions
to be opened and read at the moment of the death of the
Czar. Alexander accepted the renunciation of his brother and
transferred the right of succession to his brother Nicholas,
but the renunciation of Constantin was kept so secret that
even the new Heir-Apparent, Grand Duke Nicholas, was
completely unaware of it.
No telegraph, no railroads existed at that time. The
government orders were dispatched by special couriers tra
velling by horses at full speed, day and night.
The Czar Alexander died in Taganrog, on the shores
of Asof Sea, in South Russia. When the news of the death
of the Czar reached St. Petersburg, the Grand Duke Nicholas,
together with all the troops of St. Petersburg garrison, took
an oath of allegiance to Constantin, while Constantin, who
was at that time the Viceroy of Poland, swore allegiance in
Warsaw to Nicholas. It appeared that, at that moment, there
were two Emperors of Russia, each one of them expecting
the other to ascend the throne.
The secret Masonic society of The Northern Star
took advantage of the confusion caused by the secret abdica
tion of Constantin to further its own ideals. Officers of the
regiment of the guards stationed in St. Petersburg, members
of this society, persuaded some soldiers that Nicholas was
an usurper of the throne, and that it was their duty to
defend the rights of the legitimate heir, Czar Constantin,
and when the Grand Duke Nicholas finally agreed to be
come the Czar, the soldiers of the two regiments of the
guards were led by their officers to the Senate Square. This
revolt took place on the 14th of December, 1825, and be
came known as the Revolt of Decembrists .
At first the new Emperor Nicholas I tried to win over
the regiments which revolted, by using persuasion. When
the words of the higher clergy failed to move them, he
sent Count Miloradovitch, Governor-General of St. Petersburg
and a hero of the Campaign of 1812, to make an appeal to
the soldiers to return peacefully to their barracks. While
Count Miloradovitch was talking to the crowd, someone
fired a shot and killed him. Only then did the Czar decided
to resort to harsher methods. Units of cavalry and artillery
were ordered to disperse the mob, and the revolt was sup
Shortly thereafter, however, the Czar was informed
that a big mob had gathered on the Senaia Square, protesting
violently his ascension to the throne. The Czar ordered im
mediately his sled with two prancing horses, covered with
a net, to be brought to the entrance of the palace. He orde
red his coachman to drive him to Senaia Square.
The sled of the Czar, who was sitting behind his
coachman, was driven into the middle of the crowd. The
people were stunned. They never expected to see the Czar,
without any guards, in their midst.
The coachman stopped the horses. The Czar stood up.
He was six feet, nine inches tall, and very handsome. He
looked at the mob around him, and ardered, On your knees
you, sons of bitches! The crowd knelt. Further bloodshed
was avoided, and it was the end of the revolt.
Meanwhile, The Southern Star tried to organize an
uprising in Kiev, but this revolt failed, and order was restored.
As strange as it may seem, the members of these se
cret Masonic societies were planning the abolition of mo
narchy and the establishment of a republic in Russia, and
yet, none of them had set his own serfs free. They all re
mained slave owners!
By the time of the ascension to the throne of Czar
Nicholas I, the reputation of my grandfather as a medical
doctor and diagnostician was already well established. In
1831, an epidemic of Asiatic cholera broke out with unpre
cedented violence in St. Petersburg, Moscow and other pro
vinces. The scourge, having swept through Russia, spread
into Germany and France. In England, epidemics of cholera
made their periodical appearances; the germs were brought
by ships into the ports of the British Isles, In 1831, three
thousand deaths were reported in London alone.
The epidemic was especially violent in Moscow where
people became desperate. At the most critical moment, when
deaths were recorded daily by many hundreds, the Czar sud
denly appeared in Moscow! He appeared openly on the
streets and in the public places of this ancient Russian ca
pital, and his presence gave new courage to the unfortunate
population. At the same time, doctors and all available me
dical personnel were ordered to the stricken areas.
My grandfather took an active part in fighting this
epidemic. He worked in the hospitals himself and directed
other doctors who were under him, to apply his own methods
of fighting this disease.
On the sixth of December that year, the name's day
of the Czar, when the epidemic subsided, church services
were held throughout Russia, and the courage of the Rus
sian Sovereign was highly praised. On that day, my grand
father received a citation from the Czar for saving forty
thousand people from this horrible disease. He also received
from the Czar a gold snuff-tobacco box with the initials of
the Emperor inlaid in small diamonds. The citation and the
present from the Czar were duly registered in his service
During the entire XIX century, epidemics of cholera
broke out periodically in all parts of European Russia, and
the mortality rate was appalling. My grandfather wrote an
essay in German on the treatment of cholera and it was
published in Russia in 1836. Many years later his methods
were adopted by the Medical Administration of St. Petersburg
and other districts.
At the time of my father's childhood, whenever an epi
demic of cholera broke out in the Province of Vitebsk, the
children of my grandfather and all the members of the
household, contrary to the generally accepted rules and re
gulations, were permitted to eat raw fruits and vegetables.
One day a Jewish woman in the spasms of cholera fell
down on a street near my grandfather's house. She was car
ried into the house and my grandfather treated her perso
The faith of the Jewish population of the city of Vi
tebsk in my grandfather as a medical doctor was unshakable.
They admired him greatly because he never refused to help
anyone, even the poorest of them. He was sincerely dedi
cated to his profession as a physician.
Years after my grandfather's death, my father, on
one of his frequent visits to Vitebsk, met a Jew by the name
of Yossel who told him a remarkable story.
It happened about 1854 or 1855. Yossel, at that time
just a boy, became ill he had terrible headaches which
steadily increased in their intensity. Yossel's parents were
very poor, and became desperate, not knowing how to help
their only child. Finally, Yossel's father went to see my
grandfather who, as it was generally known in Vitebsk, was
resting after having had a stroke. He had lost his speech,
and his right side was completely paralyzed.
Yossel's father was refused admittance, and was told
again and again that the doctor could not see anyone, but
the poor Jew was very persistent, and after many hours was
permitted to enter the room where my grandfather was sit
ting in a wheelchair. He was ordered to tell his story to
With the characteristic gestures of his race, and with
many facial contortions, the Jew finally succeeded in re
vealing the purpose of his visit. My grandfather listened at
tentively. Then an attendant gave him a piece of paper and
a pencil, and he scribbled with great difficulty, using his left
hand: Hot steambath and twenty-five cups of hot tea .
This message was given to the Jew who, bowing and
thanking profusely, finally left,
It never occurred to the poor Jew to doubt the wisdom
of the doctor's advice. He immediately rented a small Rus
sian bathhouse. On account of a fire hazard, all bathhouses
in Russia were usually located in separate small buildings,
either on the outskirts of a city or in some far corner of a
courtyard, far apart from other buildings.
Yossel's parents proceeded to heat the steambath to
the capacity, bringing their sick son to it. At the same time,
they boiled a big samovar of water and forced Yossel to
drink very hot tea, cup after cup.
After the fifteenth cup, blood, heavily mixed with pus,
suddenly began to run out of the child's nostrils and ears.
The poor boy had an abscess on his brain, and the heat
forced the abscess to burst open. In those days, an opera
tion of opening the skull was considered impossible, and all
attempts resulted in the instant death of the unfortunate
patients. These operations had been performed successfully
in ancient Egypt long before our era, and in Europe only
at the beginning of the XX century.
My grandfather's second wife was Anna Juriewicz.
The Juriewicz family was one of the princely families
of Poland. Centuries ago, the Juriewiczes were Sovereign
Princes of Lithuanian extraction and had common ancestors
with the Radziwills.
After the marriage of Jagello, Grand Duke of Lithuania,
to the Polish Queen Jadwiga in 1386, Lithuania and Poland
became united, and a new dynasty of Jagellons replaced the
old dynasty of Piasts on the throne of Poland.
Lithuania had at that time a strong aristocracy. After
the marriage of their prince to the Polish queen, quite a
number of them intermarried with the most prominent
Polish noble families. Due to the fact that Poland was already
Roman Catholic and much more civilized than pagan Li
thuania, Lithuanian nobles became thoroughly Polonized ,
accepted Christianity as well as the Polish language and cul
ture. The Lithuanian language, a pure Sanskrit, was practi
cally forgotten and exists to the present day only among
With the death of the King Sygmunt-August I in 1572,
the Jagellons became extinct, and the office of the king
became elective. As a matter of fact, from that time on, Po
land was called officially Rzeczpospolita , which means in
Polish a republic, with a King elected for life.
Poland was an aristocratic republic because only the
nobles had a right to vote. The nobles elected the king and
all the members of the Polish Parliament (Seim). Actually,
Poland was ruled by a couple of dozen magnates, the most
powerful Polish princes who were indipendent sovereigns in
their own domains. Sometimes these magnates maintained
their own private armies, and the lesser nobility (Szlachta)
used to serve as officers in their armies. A well-known Polish
writer, Henry Sienkiewicz, in his novel Potop (Deluge)
described a war between Prince Radziwill and the King of
Poland, in which the magnate was finally defeated.
It was difficult for the powerful magnates to come to an
understanding and agree on the election of a certain candi
date. Everyone of them had his own candidate for King when
the throne was vacant. Therefore, they usually ended up
electing some foreign prince.
The first elected King of Poland was a French Prince,
Henri de Valois, who later became King Henri III of France.
King Jan Sobieski followed. Sobieski won a brilliant victory
over the Turks, and gave Poland a respected place among
other European nations. Later on, it became customary for
the Polish nobles to elect the Kings of Saxony to the throne
of Poland, but in spite of election of a foreign King, who
was a sovereign of both countries, the King never exercised
sufficient authority in Poland, and the situation deteriorated
The Polish nobles, striving for more and more privi
leges and independence, promulgated a law which authorized
any single member of the Parliament to exercice the right
of an absolute veto. Any member of the Seim could rise and
proclaim, Nie pozwalam! which meant, in Polish, I do
not permit! and the proposed legislative measure was kil
led right then and there. As a result of this procedure, the
government was unable to pass any new constructive legisla
tion; there was always someone who was opposed to a mea
sure, and the country became demoralized.
Poland's strong neighbors eyed with suspicion the go
vernment of the republic. Catherine the Great of Russia ma
de an attempt to preserve the integrity of Poland by keeping
the entire country under Russian influence. She succeeded
in effecting the election to the throne of Poland Stanislaw
Poniatowski, at one time her favorite. However, Poland's
neighbors in the West, Maria-Theresa of Austria and parti
cularly Frederic the Great of Prussia, forced a partition of
Poland between these countries. There were three partitions
of Poland; the last one took place in 1793, and the Rzeczpos-
polita ceased to exist as an independent country.
Kniaz (Prince) Jacob Juriewicz supported the elec
tion of Stanislaw Poniatowski in other words, the
Juriewiczes were of pro-Russian orientation but by the
end of the XVIII century, the> had already lost the greater
part of their estates. Practically nothing was left of the old
glory and for several generations they did not use their
Stanislaw Juriewicz, a brother of my grandmother, ser
ved in the Hussar Regiment of Mariompol, and as a young
officer took part in the Russo- Turkish War of 1828-1829. He
won serveral decorations for bravery, and after the war, as
a commander of a cavalry squadron, was stationed on the
southern border of the Province of Wolyn.
In 1830, a series of revolutions broke out in different
countries of Europe. King Charles X of France was forced to
abdicate, and the throne passed to the Orleans branch of
the Bourbon family. This was followed by revolutions in
Belgium and Poland, each country striving to win its inde
Stanislaw Juriewicz was sent with his squadron to
Berszada, the estate of Pani (Lady) Joanna Moszynska, in
the Province of Podolia, there to maintain law and order.
The proud lady refused to receive a Russian Rittmeister, so
Stanislaw Juriewicz was quartered in the house of the su
perintendent of the estate.
After staying there for a couple of weeks, Juriewicz re
ceived an order to return to Wolyn. At the head of his
squadron, in his Hussar uniform, he rode on a prancing
horse out of Berszada, when unexpectedly he met the open
carriage of Lady Joanna. He saluted Lady Joanna, who was
gracious enough to acknowledge his greeting.
It might have been the end, but fate had its own plans.
Juriewicz received from his superior officer an order to re
turn to Berszada. This time he was conducted to an apart
ment in the main house of the estate, and a liveried steward
informed the handsome Hussar that Lady Joanna expected
him for dinner.
Lady Joanna Moszynska was a widow. Her husband,
Piotr Moszynski, died leaving his young and attractive wife
and a small daughter by the name of Maria with a big for
tune. His two family estates, Berszada and Nestoyda, after
the abolition of slavery in Russia in 1861, and after a greater
part of the land was given to the peasants, each comprised
about thirty thousand hectars, or seventy-five thousand acres.
This fortune of some one hundred fifty thousand acres of
fertile black soil in South Russia actually represented a
small principality, and amounted to many millions of gold
It did not take long for the handsome Hussar and the
wealthy lady to fall in love with each other. They were
married in a quiet ceremony, and soon afterward Stanislaw
Juriewicz retired from the Army.
The big white stone house of Berszada, with its two-
story high white columns at the main entrance, resembled
the White House of Washington, D.C (Many houses on the
estates of the Russian and Polish nobles were built in a
style very similar to the Colonial style of this country).
The Berszada house was actually a palace. From the
big entrance hall there were doors Beading into several living
rooms, large and small. Each room had its own name, Blue
Room , Yellow Room , Louis XV Room , and others,
and finlaly, a large dininsroom with a marble floor, and a
balcony for musicians. This diningroom could seat some
two hundred guests. There was also a library, a billiard
room, a card room, a den, a gymnasium and an armory with
carbines and rifles used for shooting wolves and bears; also
English double-barrel guns for partridges and other birds,
and a collection of pistols, sabers and rapiers for dueling
and fencing. At one wing of the house there was a large
ballroom with mirrors and candelabras on the walls.
On the second floor there were several master bedrooms,
baths, and dressing rooms, and more intimate livingrooms
The furniture in all the rooms was solid and in good
taste; some of the furniture consisted of museum pieces.
There were expensive draperies on the windows, oil paintings,
Gobelins and tapestries on the walls. Heavy Persian rugs
covered the parquet floors. Bronze and porcelain of old
Sevres and Saxon stood on the table and mantelpieces, and
bric-a-brac and objets d'art filled the glass cases and cupboards.
It was evident that all this had been collected by many ge
nerations and brought here from the four corners of the globe.
Not far from the main house stood a large guesthouse
built in the same style to accommodate the overflow of
Innumerable well-trained, liveried servants were at all
times ready to serve their masters and the guests.
In the stables of Berszada there were several hundred
thoroughbred and Arabian horses with a corresponding
number of saddles and carriages of all descriptions for all
possible occasions, and an army of coachmen, equerries,
grooms, and stable boys.
Another army of dog trainers, perforce hunters, pi-
queurs and keepers of the hounds took care of the kennels
which housed pointers, Irish and English setters, and beagles
for perforce hunting. There were separate kennels for the
When Lady Joanna entertained a couple of hundred
guests, each guest, according to his own fancy, was provided
with either a saddle horse or a carriage for an afternoon drive
through the old park of Berszada with its many rare trees,
small artificial lakes, bridges, marble statues and pavilions.
This park occupied several hundred acres on the other side
of the main house.
If the guests of Lady Joanna were attending a hunt with
Russian wolfhounds, each guest was provided with a very
fast horse and a couple of savage hounds (two hounds in
Russian were called Svora ) on a string, one end of which
was attached to the saddle and the other held in the hunter's
hand. When a wolf suddenly appeared in front of the hunters,
they had only to drop the end of the strings they were holding,
and the rings on the collars of the hounds slid off the string.
A wild race at the full speed of the horses followed. Horses
were racing after the dogs, the dogs pursued the wolf... until
the hounds finally caught up with their prey. This sport was,
of course, reserved only for the men.
The hunt was followed by a lavish banquet with all
kinds of vodkas, Polish starka , rare wines and French
champagne brought up from the cellars of Berszada's house.
After dinner, parties of piquet and besigue were orga
nized in the cardroom for the elderly guests. Some men played
carambole in the billiard room, while the younger generation
danced Viennese waltzes, Krakowiak and Mazurkas, accom
panied by the soft music of a band of musicians. There were
no mechanical devices to provide music at that time.
Late at night a supper was served. In large Polish and
Russian households, there were usually several shifts of serv
ants, and the guests could have their supper at a very late
hour. This kind of entertainment often went on for days, so
metimes even for weeks! Only an Oriental potentate, or a very
prominent European prince could afford to entertain so
lavishly. In Berszada, the Oriental luxury was combined with
the most modern European comfort.
Stanislaw Juriewicz was mostly occupied with managing
the estates of his wife Berszada as well as Nestoyda,
which was also in Podolia. They were about a hundred mi
les apart, and were divided into many ranches of several
thousand acres each. There was a superintendent on each
ranch, but the office of the general superintendent was in
Berszada, not very far from the house which Lady Joanna
occupied. There were all sorts of buildings houses for
workmen, stables for working horses and cattle, hog houses,
poultry houses, granaries, barns for wagons and implements.
As a matter of fact, it was a very busy place. These two
estates produced hundreds of thousands of bushels of wheat,
so-called Belotourka , the wheat of the highest quality.
Podolia and the entire Ukraine was at that time the food-
basket of the whole of Europe. Nobody had heard of Cana
dian or Argentine wheat. It was Russia that fed all of Western
Europe and these estates required the constant attention
and supervision of their owners.
Lady Joanna had no business sense, and the general
superintendent of Berszada was entrusted with the overseeing
of the estates and the sale of their produce.
Stanislaw Juriewicz had been born on the estate of
his father in Belorussia and already in childhood had be
come familiar with the management of land. Lady Joanna
willingly entrusted to him her entire fortune, and he succeeded
in considerably increasing production and income within a
few years. He improved the system of rotation of the crops,
and imported some thrashing machines from Austria (nowdays
it is called Czechoslovakia). These machines represented pos
sibly the first attempt to replace the ancient flails, and the
peasants regarded them with suspicion.
He imported Arabian horses directly from Arabia, at
that time a part of the Ottoman Empire. They were brought
by boat to Odessa, a Russian port on the Black Sea. The
horses arrived sewn up in chamois leather, with openings
only for their mouths and eyes. This was a precaution
the sea air could affect these beautiful animals, accustomed
to dry air of the desert. Herds of Arabian horses grazed in
the immense pastures of Berszada.
In the winter, the Juriewiczes moved to their city
house in Odessa. This house, built in early Renaissance style,
with handwrought ceilings, mahogany doors with fancy bron
ze handles, inlaid parquet floors, exquisite furniture, oriental
rugs, oil paintings by old masters, zapestries, and bronze and
porcelain works, was one of the most luxurious mansions in
this southern city.
Occasionally they took a trip to the French Riviera,
travelling with a large retinue of servants, their own chef,
valets and personal maids, secretaries, and nurses and tutors
for the children. Travelling by railroad, they had their own
private car. At a hotel, they usually occupied an entire floor.
The French authorities had the greatest respect for this
wealthy Russian prince and his princess. The French could
not imagine that Stanislaw Juriewicz had no title. In their
opinion, he was a prince travelling incognito.
The Juriewiczes did not particularly enjoy the Paris
of Louis-Philippe, a citizen-King who, in his drive for popu
larity, often walked with a large umbrella on the streets of
Paris among his subjects.
Paris in those days was not the city we know today.
Monsieur Haussmanu, a French-born German who became
Prefect of the Seine, had noi yet begun his enormous task
of beautifying the French capital, enlarging streets, making
immense squares, etc. This work was done some years later,
at the time of the Second Empire.
The Juriewiczes liked Vienna and the Viennese Court
of Emperor Ferdinand I. They had many intimate friends
there, and their visits to this true capital of an Empire
were always prolonged ones.
A couple of years after their marriage, a son was born
to the young couple. He was named Mieczyslaw. Endless
festivities followed the birth of an heir to the old name and
vast fortune; but Maria, the step-daughter of Stanislaw Jurie
wicz, always remained his favorite.
In 1844, Stanislaw Juriewicz was elected Marshal of
Nobility and was appointed Governor of the Province of
Podolia. In the eyes of the Polish nobles of this Province,
Stanislaw Juriewicz personified all the best traditions of
their class he was handsome, aristocratic-looking, noble,
generous, and an excellent host and they were proud of
him! Czar Nicholas I knew him personally, and Juriewicz
was careful to present his wife, Lady Joanna, to the Czar.
The Russian Sovereign fully approved of his choice.
By the time Juriewicz was appointed Governor of Po
dolia, his son Mieczyslaw was twelve years old, and his step
daughter Maria had turned into a very attractive young de
butante. She became engaged to Count Sygmunt Szembek,
the owner of the estate Ustye in Podolia.
Count Szembek was a member of a well-known noble
family in Poland, but, unfortunately, he was a gambler, and
lost heavily at the card tables. Finally, his debts reached an
alarming proportion; there was a danger that his family
estate Ustye would be sold at auction. He was forced to
turn to his future father-in-law for help.
It had always been difficult for the Russian and Polish
landowners to raise ready cash, and in this case it was
necessary to raise a half million gold Roubles, a tremendous
sum at that time. Stanislaw Juriewicz and his wife were
forced to sell their collection of uncut diamonds. These dia
monds were sold in Amsterdam and London by my grand
mother, Anna von Wrangell, a younger sister of Stanislaw
Juriewicz. At the request of her brother, she made a special
trip abroad, and for the time, Sygmunt Szembek was re
lieved from all of his debts. However, he continued to gamble,
causing his young bride many sleepless nights. He was, careful,
though, to see to it that his losses did not exceed a certain
A few years later, Stanislaw Juriewicz was destined to
live through a great sorrow. Lady Joanna contracted an
unknown sickness at the age of forty-five, and no doctors
could save her. The sorrow of her husband was overwhelming.
Lady Joanna left her fortune in trust to her husband,
after his death to be divided equally between her two
children, her son Mieczyslaw Juriewicz and her daughter
Countess Maria Szembek,
Stanislaw Juriewicz served with distinction as Governor
of Podolia, and in 1853 was elected Marshal of Nobility of
the Province of Vitebsk. He moved to the city of Vitebsk,
the home of his sister, Anna von Wrangell.
THE CRIMEAN WAR
At the middle of the past century, dark, menacing
clouds ^appeared on the horizon of the Russian Empire.
After the defeat of Napoleon and the subsequent Rus
sian occupation of Paris, Russia played a predominant role
on the European continent. At the Congress of Vienna, in
1815, at the wish of the Russian Czar, an international orga
nization was established, for the first time in European history,
uniting all European nations. This organization became known
as The Holy Alliance . The sole purpose of this organiza
tion was to maintain peace.
Napoleon had caused an upheaval marching with his
victorious army from one end of Europe to another, from
Spain and Portugal to Moscow some fifteen years of
continuous fighting. All European countries were tired of
war, and the Czar, appearing as a great liberator of Western
Europe, conceived the idea of an international alliance of all
European powers based on the principles of Christianity;
hence, this new organization received the name of The
Holy Alliance .
All European countries, with few exceptions, became
members of this organization. The Pope of Rome, however,
regarded himself as the representative of the Lord Himself,
holding keys to the earthly kingdom as well as to the Kingdom
of Heaven. He felt he was placed above all earthly rulers, and,
therefore, refused to join the new alliance. The Ottoman
Empire, being a Mohammedan country, was not invited to
join, although the Padischahs regarded favorably this new
organization. Also, the British Parliament, being decidedly
against any British definite commitments in affairs on the
Continent, refused to approve the membership of the British
Empire in the new plan. All the rest of the European nations
joined the international alliance.
Napoleon, who had caused all the upheaval, was consi
dered an upstart, the result of a revolution. Consequently,
the newly created Alliance accepted a policy suppressing any
revolt or revolution, and supporting the legitimate rulers
who, it was presumed, being Christian kings, could always
find a peaceful solution to their differences.
The actual power behind this structure was the Rus
sian Czar, in the same way as nowadays the actual power
behind the United Nations is the United States of America.
The Czars followed the policy of helping to suppress any
When, in 1821, the Greeks started an uprising in an
effort to win their independence from the Ottoman Empire,
they could not succeed on account of the intervention of
France, Great Britain, and Russia; these three European
powers upheld the authority of the Sultans as their legiti
In 1848, a series of revolutions took place in practi
cally all European countries. It all started in Italy with a
nationalist uprising against Austria. The movement extended
to France, throughout all Austria, and to all German states.
The only areas it did not touch were Russia, Spain, and
Scandinavian countries. The general demand was for social
reforms, such as universal suffrage, trade unions, etc. Karl
Marx took advantage of this situation, and issued his well-
known <t Manifesto of the Communist Party . (1848). He
was expecting a realization of the Communist doctrines in
his lifetime. All these violent uprisings in different European
countries were suppressed by force, and order was restored.
In France, on February 24th, the seventy-four year old
King Louis-Philippe was forced to abdicate in favor of his
ten-year old grandson, Philippe, Comte de Paris. His abdi
cation did not, however, save the monarchy. The revoke
tionaries ignored the claims of the young Philippe and
established a republic (The Second Republic) instead,
In Austria-Hungary, Emperor Ferdinand granted freedom
of the press and promised a constitution to Austria, but a
violent uprising in Vienna forced the Imperial family to take
refuge in the fortress-town of Olmutz, in Moravia.
Emperor Ferdinand had no children of his o\vn, and
the ambitious Archduchess Sophia, wife of the Emperor's
younger brother, Franz-Karl, who had signed an abdication,
persuaded the good-natured Emperor Ferdinand to abdicate
in favor of her son, the Archduke Franz- Josef. However, Fer
dinand, before his abdication, granted the Hungarians a very
liberal constitution which the young Emperor Franz-Josef,
after his coronation, refused to recognize. As a result, the
Hungarian Diet refused to recognize Franz-Josef as King of
Hungary. The eighteen-year old Franz-Josef invoked the Holy
Alliance, and the Hungarian uprising was suppressed by the
Russian troops. Czar Nicholas I did not hesitate to send Rus
sian troops across the Carpathian Mountains into Hungary,
and was acclaimed throughout Europe as a Policeman of
Europe (Gendarme d'Europe). A wave of revolutions in all
the German states was suppressed by force, and the Russian
Czar emerged as a guardian of absolutism!
Soon, practically all European countries became tired
of this guardianship, and the Holy Alliance, which had given
Russia a predominant role in Europe, was denounced by the
same members who only a decade before were anxious to
uphold its principles. A new military alliance, directed
against Russia, was formed by France, Great Britain, and
Turkey. Austria-Hungary and the German states remained
officially neutral, but hostile to Russia.
Russia was now facing an antagonistic Europe, not
knowing for a long time where her enemies were going to
strike. Late in the summer of 1853, the British fleet entered
the White Sea in the north and started to bombard the So-
lovetzky Monastery, which, centuries before, had been built
in the style of a medieval fortress on the Solovki Island in
the middle of the White Sea. At the first shots from the
British warships, huge swarms of seagulls, pelicans, and
other northern birds rose like a big cloud. The swarms
of birds were so great that they darkened the skies, and the
droppings of these birds on the British frigates forced them
to retreat. Besides, the White Sea froze during some five
winter months and was not suitable for military operations.
About ten months later, in 1854, the Allied Fleet ente
red the Black Sea in the south and bombarded Odessa,
causing little damage to the city. Three bombs landed in a
wall of Juriewicz's beautiful mansion without even exploding
and ruining the wall. Juriewicz ordered his workmen to
repair the cracks in the wall and to leave the bombs where
Finally the allies disembarked near Balaklava in Crimea
and the siege of Sebastopol began...
Sebastopol, situated on the southern shore of the Cri
mean peninsula, was the most important Russian military
port on the Black Sea. The entire Russian Black Sea fleet
could very comfortably take refuge in the extensive natural
harbor of this port. However, the Russian fleet was at that
time much too small to accept a battle with the allied warships,
and the Russian admirals ordered the sinking of their own
frigates at the entrance of Sebastopol harbor in order to
prevent the allied ships from entering it. The crews of the
sunken ships were added to the small garrison of the fortress.
An eleven month seige followed. The cannons and rifles
did not shoot at a great distance at that time, and the allies
dug their trenches less than a hundred yards from the
Russian fortifications. From time to time, both sides
were attacking and counter-attacking, leaving dead and
wounded in the narrow space between the lines of fortifi
cations and the trenches. After the hand-fighting was over,
both sides usually agreed on a short armistice, and while
doctors, attendants and nurses were removing the dead and
wounded, the officers were visiting each other. The allied
officers invited the Russians, offering them English tea, French
hors-d'oeuvres, and Scotch whiskey; during the next armistice,
the Russians reciprocated by serving their enemies the best
they had left in the besieged city, trying to impress them
that no shortage of food and vodka was yet felt. When a
short armistice was over, everybody was at his post, and
the fighting was resumed.
Both sides displayed the attitude of professional sol
diers, trained in the old traditions of Empires, with a strong
sense of honor and respect for their enemies. The democratic
idea of arousing savage hatred in the whole nation towards
the enemy was not as yet practiced.
Russia always maintained a very large army, but Rus
sian army units were stationed mostly in St. Petersburg and
along the western Russian border. In the south, Russia did
not keep a large contingent of troops. Without railroads
and good, wide highways, it was impossible to move the
necessary army units, cannons and supplies approximately a
thousand miles across European Russia to Crimea. Possibly,
it would have taken a year for reinforcements to arrive.
Consequently, the Sebastopol garrison was left to its fate.
On the other hand, the capture of Sebastopol could not
give a decisive victory to the allies, Russia, as a whole, did
not even begin to feel the impact of war. And, at the same
time, the intelligence service gave information to the allies
that the Russian troops began to move towards Crimea.
Slowly, but they were moving...
At this moment, Czar Nicholas I died, and his son,
Czar Alexander II ascended the throne of Russia. The young
Czar was exceedingly well-educated. His late father provided
for him the best tutors, and young Alexander was full of new
ideas. At the wish of Czar Nicholas I, several commissions
had been working for many years on the question of libe
ration of the serfs, and the young Czar was anxious to
introduce new reforms, abolishing slavery and corporal pu
nishment, establishing courts by jury, and also many others.
He was extremely good-hearted and liberal, and did not care
to save the Holy Alliance or Russian prestige. The war was
interfering with the realization of his dreams, and he agreed
to a peace treaty which was enthustically accepted by the
allies. Russia lost the Province of Bessarabia on the Romanian
border and the right to maintain a fleet in the Black Sea.
Peace was restored in Europe, but it was no longer guarded
by any international organization. It was based on the balance
* * *
Historically, and to some extent ethnologically, European
Ciar II Emancipator
Russia was divided into several large sections, similar to
the American division of New England, the South, Middle
West, etc. In the center of European Russia was the * Great
Russia (Velikorossia), which included a dozen provinces
around Moscow. To the southwest of Velikorossia was the
Little Russia* (Malorossia), or Ukraine, with the old city
of Kiev. Directly south of Velikorossia was the territory
along the northern shores of the Black Sea. This territory
had been acquired only recently by Empress Catherine the
Great (in the late 1700's) and was, therefore, called New
Russia* (Novorossia). Novorossia was flat, like a table, and
extending to the horizon one could see the well-known Rus
sian steppes, hot and dusty in the summer, and quite cold
and covered by snow in the winter.
In the west, north of Ukraine, was White Russia
(Belorussia) which consisted only of two provinces, Vitebsk
and Mogilev. Belorussia was covered by vast forests which
were intersected by swamps and large lakes. The northern
part of Vitebsk was especially beautiful, and called Livonian
Swiss , with its lovely mirror-like lakes, and with hills, even
though under frequently gloomy skies, covered with birch
and pine forests.
In the second half of the XVI century, as a result of
a war between Stephen Batory, King of Poland, and the
Russian Czar Ivan the Terrible, Belorussia had become a
Polish province and was returned to Russia only after the
first partition of Poland in 1772.
The soil of Belorussia required hard labor to till it;
the climate was damp and cold, with short, rainy summers;
the local peasants, called Belorassy , were rather sad-
looking, and morose in character. Their language was a bad
mixture of Polish and Russian.
In Russia, only about half of the peasants were priva
tely owned berfs. The rest of the peasants were serfs of the
Crown (Gosoudarstvenyie krestiane). At the time of the an
nexation of Itelorussia, Empress Catherine the Great made
a large number of the peasants that belonged to the Crown
move from ceatral Russia to the western border to the newly
acquired provinces of Vitebsk and Mogilev, where they were
settled on government land. These peasants, for some unknown
reason, were called Panzyrnyie Boyare (in English, Ar
mored Nobles ), and belonged to the religious sect of
Starovery (Old. Faith). They were hard-working people
and their religious belief made them abstain from alcoholic
beverages and tobacco. The government gave them plenty
of land, and they lived much better than the privately owned
serfs, Living in Belorussia for several generations, they acqui
red gradually the same White Russian dialect, but were
stronger in stature and looked healthier than the original
serfs of that area.
Belorussia was also noted for its variety of religious
factions. Ever since the time of the Polish King Kasimir the
Great (1444-1492), there had been a great many Jews in Po
land. Kasimir, who had a Jewish sweetheart by the name
of Estherka, had invited the Jews to come to Poland after
they had been expelled from Spain (1492). The Jews crowded
into the cities and towns of Poland proper and into all
Polish provinces, including Belorussia. Centuries before,
however, the Order of Jesuits had been active among the
Polish nobles who were the principal land owners in Belo
russia. The Jesuit's influence was great, and there remained
in Belorussia a number of Roman Catholic cathedrals and
churches built by the Order.
Possibily because the Jesuit Order was so strong in
Belorussia, Gabriel Gruber, General of this Order, took re
fuge there when, in 1773, Pope Clement XIV suppressed the
Order. Gabriel Gruber, a well-educated man, settled in Po
lotsk, in the Province of Vitebsk, and lived there until 1796,
when Emperor Paul I ascended the Russian throne.
Czar Paul I was a man easily influenced. He became
interested in the Catholic Order of the Knights of Malta and
was inspired by the idea of arranging a union between the
Roman Catholic and Greek Catholic (Russian Orthodox)
churches. In the opinion of the Czar, this union would ha
ve been the best strong-hold against atheist ideas of the French
Revolution, which were spreading at that time in Europe.
Gabriel Gruber moved to St. Petersburg, gained the
confidence of the Czar and persuaded him to write a personal
letter to the Pope asking him to restore the Jesuit Order.
The Czar's request was granted, and Pope Pius VII restored
the Order of the Jesuits in March 1801, only a few days be
fore the assassination of the Czar in Mikhailovsky Castle in
* * *
On the banks of the Dvina River, the city of Vitebsk
in Belorussia, like ancient Rome, was built on seven hills. In
1812, Vitebsk witnessed Napoleon's invasion of Russia, and
was one of the first cities occupied by the Great Army.
However, it was not burned and destroyed like some other
Russian cities and towns.
The deep mud of the Russian roads, into which sank
the French soldiers, their horses and cannons, the complete,
wilful devastation, or scorch the earth policy adopted by
the retreating Russians, the resulting starvation of men and
animals, the frost and the terrible Russian cold which pe
netrated to the very marrow of the bones a weapon which
had long protected the Holy Russia against any invasion
all this did not harden the hearts of the invaders and
Napoleon in Vitebsk was still in a generous mood and was
still a benevolent Master of Europe , who was ready to
accept peace on his own terms. But nobody appealed to him
for peace, and Vitebsk was soon witness to the retreat of the
once Great Army that disintegrated into hordes of starving,
dying men. For some years to come, here and there in the
fields, one could find horses' carcasses, men's skeletons, rifles,
pieces of uniforms, ammunition and even cannons.
Also, in that fateful year of 1812, these traces of
destruction were duplicated across the ocean, in a fai; away
country - the United States of America, when the Britishers
burned down the White House in Washington, D.C. Getting
ready to invade Russia and moving his armies across Western
Europe to the Russian border, Napoleon wanted to protect
his back from his arch enemy, Great Britain, and succeeded
in involving His Majesty's government in a war across the
Forty years later, the city of Vitebsk was rebuilt and
repaired, and there remained no traces of the past tragic
events. Vitebsk, with the Gothic architecture of its Roman
Catholic cathedrals, situated on the hills overlooking Dvina
River, was an imposing and beautiful city. The main street
of Vitebsk was called Zamkovaia oulitza (The Castle
street). There were stores, hotels, and restaurants there, and
the noisy crowds on the streets, with their guttural sound
of Yiddish and a stream of constant gesticulation, conveyed
to one's memory the oriental cities of Jaffa and Haifa on
the sunny Mediterranean.
At the most prominent place, on top of a hill, stood
the mansion of the Governor, with an adjacent public garden
where in the summer a military orchestra played, and the
young Jewish girls flirted with their escorts.
Not far from the Governor's mansion stood the im
posing building of the Assembly of Nobility, where a number
of brillant balls were arranged every year. In the same
building was a club where gambling for very high stakes
was going on at that time.
By the middle of the XIX century, slavery had become
rather burdensome to the Russian and Polish nobles. After
their extensive journeys through sophisticated Western Euro
pe, they found thev could no longer be satisfied with home
made linens, or a pair of heavy boots made by a serf
shoemaker. However, soft French lingerie, suits of English
materials, French perfumes and other luxuries required from
the man outlay of cash which was rather difficult to get.
The soil in Belorussia was unproductive, and the forest was
the only real source of income, but the prices for lumber
were low. Their serfs were lazy, slow-thinking and slow-moving
They represented rather a liability, because by law a noble
landowner was obliged to take care of their welfare and pay
taxes for them as well.
At that time there was a strong feeling that radical
changes were impending. During the last decade before the
liberation of the peasants, the government tried to protect
the peasants. A number of government regulations and Im
perial orders were issued to this effect. One of them forbade
the exile of serfs to Siberia without a due process of law;
another forbade separation of a serf's family, and the go
vernment began to look with disapproval upon the attempts
of some noble slaveowners to set their serfs free without
giving each man enough land to sustain his entire family.
The peasants were becoming restless; there were all
sorts of wild rumors among them about the intentions of the
Czar, The position of the landowners did not appear as secure
and impregnable as it had been for centuries in the past, and
during this last decade before the abolition of slavery, gamb
ling flourished among Russian and Polish aristocrats. Fortunes
were made and lost overnight, and the borrowings from the
Jewish lenders, who were always ready to accommodate,
increased to proportions never reached before.
The election of Stanislaw Juriewicz to the office of
Nobility Marshal, a position second only to the Governor's,
was a subject of endless discussions long before his arrival
in Vitebsk. The Juriewicz family still owned a number of
estates in Belorussia and was registered in the books of
Nobility of the province - two conditions necessary to making
the election of Stanislaw Juriewicz possible.
Both of his parents, Joseph Juriewicz and his wife,
Anna, born Deszpot-Zienowicz, lived all their lives in the
Province of Vitebsk, and were well liked by the landed
gentry. Stanislaw Juriewicz, being educated in the Jesuit
College in Polotsk, was remembered as a good-looking, bright
young man. Now, the Jews, through their own means of
communication which was known as Pantoufelnaia Pochta
(in English, Slippers' mail - the orthodox Jews wore at
that time a certain kind of slippers), supplied information
about the great wealth, generosity, fine appearance, and other
qualities of the newly elected Marshal, but their enthusiasm
reached its height when immense fourgons laden with furni
ture and innumerable coffers, boxes, suitcases, and trunks,
accompanied by an army of servants, began to arrive from
the south. They foresaw much profit from this Heaven-sent
Finally, the new Marshal of Nobility arrived in an
enormous dormeuse (carriage on eight wheels), driven
by twelve anglo-Arabian horses harnessed a la daumont, and
proceeded to a house already prepared for him. Stanislaw
Juriewicz, in the prime of his life, with his hair touched by
silver, tall and handsome, talking in a clear, pleasant voice,
made an impression which exceeded all expectations. Every
body, especially the women, found him charming, and some
of the local beauties fell in love with him then and there.
MARSHAL OF NOBILITY
Soon Stanislaw Juriewicz was busy in his new office.
His duties as Nobility Marshal included presiding at the ses
sions of the Board which inducted new recruits into the army.
In America it is called the Selective Service Board.
It was a responsible, and, in a certain way, grim duty,
because at that time the new recruits were inducted into the
army for as long as twenty-five years of service. It was like
condemning a man to a lifelong punishment, because with
his induction into the army, his life with his family, in most
cases, was ended forever.
After twenty-five years of service, the parents of an in
ducted man were either dead, or were supported by their
other sons. Brothers and sisters of a recruit were married,
had their own families, and had divided among themselves
whatever little property they had received from their parents.
Therefore, a soldier released from the army after twenty-
five years of service was usually unwelcome in his native
village. Understandably, old soldiers preferred to stay in the
army where their regiments and comrades-in-arms substi
tuted as their families for them. A few of them served as state
troopers (gendarmes), and city policeman, or uniformed
doormen, their chests adorned with military decorations.
Traditionally, only sons were exempt from service, and
the Board tried to induct only the boys of large families.
However, the number of recruits to be called that year was
increased on account of an approaching war.
Stanislaw Juriewicz tried to be impartial, inducting
only young men from large families. He refused flatly to
make any exception to this rule.
All recruits were to go through a medical examination
and were supposed to meet certain rigid mental and physical
requirements, but the final decision to induct the man was
left entirely to the Nobility Marshal. If the Marshal inducted
a young man contrary to a doctor's advice, and this young
man was later found not to actually meet the necessary
qualifications, the Nobility Marshal had to pay the Crown six
hundred Roubles for each recruit so disqualified.
On the eve of the first session of the Board, Juriewicz
was informed by some Jews that a few doctors were ac
cepting graft from well-to-do peasants, promising them to
find their sons unfit for service. A number of peasants who
belonged to the Crown, the so-called Panzyrnyie Boyare
could well afford to pay considerable sums in order to save
their sons from a quarter of a century of service.
On the first day of the Board's session, the Governor
of the Province arrived, and was greeted by Juriewicz, who
did not offer the Governor his seat.
Get a chair for his Excellency! , he ordered, and
continued with his work.
After a medical examination, a young man, naked, ap
proached a long table covered with green cloth, where sat
the Marshal of Nobility. A doctor reported briefly to Juriewicz:
Unfit for service! .
Stanislaw Juriewicz saw a healthy, strong young fellow
standing in front of him. According to the list of names, this
boy was of the Old Faith and had three brothers.
How do you feel? , Juriewicz asked him sternly.
The peasant boy was too honest to lie. Fine , he
Turn about! ordered Juriewicz. The young fellow
turned awkwardly around.
Induct him! ordered Juriewicz.
The doctor who had examined the man looked astounded.
I reported already to Your Excellency that this man
is unfit for service , he said.
And I have ordered him inducted . Juriewicz said,
and turned to the next man.
After Juriewicz inducted five or six young recruits
despite the doctor's reports, the Governor signalled him that
he wished to speak with him in private.
How can you induct those fellows contrary to the
doctor's reports? the Governor asked Juriewicz when they
were alone. You will pay an enormous penatly!
I do not think that I will pay much , answered
Juriewicz, but, if I do, it will be worth it , and without
giving any further explanation to the Governor, Juriewicz
returned to his seat.
The Governor left and the work of the Board continued.
Later that night, the Jews reported to Juriewicz that
the peasants had besieged the doctors, denouncing them and
demanding their money back.
The next day the same story was repeated again, but
there were fewer negative doctors' reports. The work of the
Board continued for several weeks, and at the end, Stanislaw
Juriewicz paid twenty-four hundred Roubles for four recruits.
Juriewicz was very satisfied with his accomplishments and
the whole city of Vitebsk was talking about nothing but the
new Nobility Marshal!
After this stern business of inducting young men into
the army was over, Stanislaw Juriewicz found time for the
members of his own family.
At the time of his marriage to Lady Joanna, he had
informed his brothers and his sister, Anna von Wrangell, who
was seventeen years younger than he, that he had decided
to give up in their favor his share in the landed estates of
his father's family. The estates were in Belorussia, and after
the death of his parents, Stanislaw Juriewicz, as the oldest
brother, divided these properties among his brothers. His
brother, Michal Juriewicz, received Kraszuty, a large estate
covered by a dense forest, known to contain bears, moose,
and other big game. His brother Jan received two estates,
Franopol and Porzecze. Franciszek, another brother, lived in
St. Petersburg, where he occupied an important position in
a government department. It was decided to give Kim money
and family jewelry. My grandmother, Anna von Wrangell 7
received three estates: Kolpino, Reblio, and Zabelja. The esta
te Kolpino had belonged to her mother, born Deszpot-
Zienowicz. Originally, this estate had belonged to the Princes
Oginski; Polonia Oginska was the maternal grandmother of
Anna von Wrangell.
The title to the estate Porzecze was left in the name
of Stanislaw Juriewicz in order to give him the necessary
electoral qualification. As a Marshal of Nobility, he was sup
posed to own in his own name in this province not less than
three thousand acres.
The only son of Stanislaw Juriewicz, Mieczyslaw, was
a student at St. Petersburg University. Stanislaw Juriewicz
selected one of his nephews, Conrad, son of his brother Jan
as a companion for his son. They were of the same age and
had been friends since childhood. As a boy, Conrad had a
decided talent for music. At one time he was a pupil of
Frederic Chopin, and in addition to his studies at the Uni
versity, he took music lessons at the St. Petersburg Conserva
Mieczyslaw and Conrad lived together in a lavish
apartment in St. Petersburg. Stanislaw Juriewicz gave them
an allowance of two and a half thousand Roubles a month,
an unheard-of sum of money for young students. They lived
in grand style, with liveried lackeys, maintaining their own
victoria carriage and slick sled for the winter, with a few anglo-
Arabian horses and a liveried footman.
They did not devote much time to their studies. In
their uniformed frock-coats made to order by the best tailor,
and their bicorne hats, they attended practically every per
formance of the Imperial Ballet at the Maryinsky Theatre,
and were steady guests of every fashionable cabaret. They
appeared at the races and were noted for their fabulous
Once in a while, by order of the Governor of St. Peters
burg, they were deported from this Russian capital - the
reason being some more-or-less innocent prank they played
on the spur of the moment, consequently getting in trouble
with the St. Petersburg police.
While in St. Petersburg, Czar Nicholas I liked to take
drives along Nevsky Prospect, the main street of the city.
The Imperial sled, without any guards, driven by a single
coachman, usually left the Winter Palace, crossed the Palace
Square, went under the Arc of General Staff along Morskaia
Street, and turned into Nevsky Prospect. The narrow sled
of the Czar proceeded at the steady trot of two excellent
horses. The tall figure of the Czar, in a gray military coat
with a beaver collar and a casque of the Imperial Horse
Guards Regiment, was familiar to everyone, and all carriages
and sleds turned carefully to the side of the wide thoroughfare,
giving way to the Imperial conveyance. It was contrary to
the established regulations to pass the Imperial carriage at
any time. The Czar's sled proceeded along Nevsky Prospect
to a distance of little more than a mile, and usually turned
back at the Anichkoff Palace and Fontanka.
One day, when the sled of the Czar turned into Nevsky
Prospect and traveled at the usual speed towards Anichkoff
Palace, the sled of the two Juriewicz boys also turned into
Nevsky Prospect from the side of St. Isaac's Cathedral. The
Czar's sled was a few blocks ahead when two gray anglo-
Arabian horses, covered with a blue net, started overtaking
the Imperial carriage at a steady trot. As they passed it at
a full trot, the two foolish youngsters took off their bicorne
hats in a polite greeting to the Sovereign.
The Czar inquired only about their identity. However,
this incident constituted sufficient reason for the Governor
of St, Petersburg to order their deportation.
The two youngsters did not worry much. They went
straight to their father, and uncle, and laughingly told him
the whole story. They were convinced that their prank was
very amusing and did not expect to be reprimanded for it.
Stanislaw Juriewicz did not approve of their conduct
but attributed it to their youthful foolishness. He forgave
them, though he had to use all of his connections to get
permission for the two boys to return to the capital and to
resume their studies.
Not long afterwards, in the company of their friend,
Paul Prince San Donato Demidoff (1), they conceived of
another prank. Conrad and Mieczyslaw had met with Paul De
midoff at this house on Italianskaia Street for a festive lunch.
After a few bottles of champagne, they were feeling elated,
and one of them had a brilliant idea. They called a servant
boy and ordered him to undress. They made him bend over,
and drew, with a piece of charcoal, two big eyes and black
eyebrows on his behind, wrapped this improvised face with
a woolen shawl, and put it in front of one of the windows
facing the street.
It did not take long for a crowd to gather, wondering
about the strange face which was looking out of the window.
The clever youngsters turned the boy, making the face turn
to the right and to the left. Finally a police officier became
interested in this performance, and the Jurieicwz boys were
Stanislaw Juriewicz refused to consider seriously these
younthful pranks. To the credit of at least one of these
three young men, it is necessary to state that, later on, Paul
(1) A direct ancestor of Paul Demidoff was a very smart and shrewd
Russian peasant by the name of Nikita Demidovitch Antoufiev.
Czar Peter the Great entrusted him with several important mis
sions which Nikita accomplished successfully. As a result, the
Czar granted him the well-known Taguil Silver Mines in Siberia,
and Nikita Demidovitch had become one of the wealthiest men
in Russia. His great-grandson, Nicholas Demidoff, lived in Flo
rence, Italy, for many years. He purchased an old monastery
by the name of San Donato near Florence, and built a palace
there. In this palace, Nicholas Demidoff lavishly entertained
hundreds of guests. After his death, his younger son, Anatol
Demidoff, inherited the palace of San Donato. Anatol married
Princess Mathilde de Montfort, a daughter of Jerome Bonaparte,
brother of Napoleon I, and as a wedding gift, Ferdinand III,
Grand Duke of Toscana (junior branch of the Habsburg family)
conferred on Anatol Demidoft the title of Prince San Donato.
After Anatol's death, his nephew, the young Paul Demidoff,
friend of the Juriewicz boys, inherited the palace of San Donato,
and Czar Alexander II granted him permission to add to his
family name Demidoff the title of Prince San Donato.
Footnote of the author.
Demidoff followed in the footsteps of his grandfather, Nicholas
Demidoff, and donated enormous sums of money to charity.
The grateful city of Florence eracted on one of the city
squares a marble monument to Demidoff. The statue of the
generous Russian noble depicted him sitting in a chair and
giving alms to a poor woman with an infant in her arms.
However, Stanislaw Juriewicz was worried by the fact that
every year he had to pay a long list of debts contracted by
his son and his nephew in addition to the more than liberal
allowance they received from him. Usually Juriewicz was
furious, and in order to soften his angry mood, Conrad would
sit at the piano playing the valses, etudes, and nocturnes of
Chopin. He played with so much feeling that it brought tears
to his uncle's eyes, and Stanislaw Juriewicz would embrace him
and his own son, making them promise not to incur debts
in the future. They promised willingly, but the following
year the same performance would be repeated all over again.
Stanislaw Juriewicz was desperate but had not the
heart to apply stronger measures of discipline.
A series of parties and formal dinners were arranged
in Vitebsk in honor of the new Marshal of Nobility. Stanislaw
Juriewicz made an effort not to offend anyone and tried to
attend all of them. He was very polite and friendly to everyone,
but in his manner there was a certain aloofness which
discouraged any familiarity.
One of the first formal dinners in his honor was ar
ranged by his sister, Anna von Wrangell, who placed next to
him her close friend, beautiful Panna Wienczeslawa
Barszczewska. Panna Wienczeslawa was beautiful and vivac
ious as only a Polish girl of a good family can be.
II was noticed that for the first time since he had
become a windower, Stanislaw Juriewicz paid a great deal
of attention to one woman. Panna Wienczeslawa was young,
much younger than my grandmother, with big blue eyes and
thick black hair. She was tall, with a very good figure.
Her reparties were clever and spontaneous. It was also noticed
that she was very pleased by the attention paid to her by
the handsome guest of honor.
Later, when Juriewicz arranged a large reception at
his house, Panna Wienczeslawa was invited. Together they
danced mazurka, a proud Polish dance, and everybody
had to admit that in spite of the difference in their age,
they were a stunning-looking couple.
From that day on, there was a whirl of courtship and
within a few months they were married in a ceremony at
tended only by relatives and close friends. On their honey
moon, they went south to Berszada and Odessa, on the shore
of the Black Sea. The war prevented them from going abroad
to the sunny Mediterranean.
In the meantime, my grandfather Wrangell had had a
stroke. His relationship wtih Stanislaw Juriewicz was not
too friendly because Juriewicz could not understand what
prompted his sister, whom he loved so much, to marry a
man who could easily have been her father. As a matter
of fact, my grandmother was thirty years younger than her
husband. And yet, they were happ'ly married.
Perhaps some explanation could be found in the fact
that my grandfather always exercised a very strong influence
over his young wife. My grandmother was a beautiful,
animated girl who adored pretty go-vns, loved to attend balls,
to dance, and to hear music and laughter around her. However,
she suffered from sudden attacks of migraine, and sometimes
she would get a terrific headache when she was dressed for
a ball, and ready to get into the carriage. She would cry in
her instant disappointment.
It is nothing, Anna , my grandfather used to tell her.
You will be all right . And, he would then make her sit
on a chair, taking her head in his two hands. His fingers pressing
gently on the back of her head, he would look straight into
her eyes, and say, I am telling you that you will be all
right! See, your headache is already gone. It is gone! , he
would repeat to her, and in a few minutes she would feel
perfectly all right again, and would be ready to go to the ball.
When my grandfather, after a stroke, was partially pa
ralyzed, she took very good care of him. She was holding his
hand when he died.
An enormous crowd attended his funeral. Practically the
entire Jewish population of the city followed his coffin to
its last resting place, paying a final tribute to the man who
was sincerely devoted to science and to his profession. He
was buried in a small cemetery at St. Barbara Roman
Catholic Church, next to his first wife, Constance Nassekin.
This place was reserved for him at the time of her death,
some twenty-five years previously, and my grandmother did
not wish to change these arrangements.
After the death of my grandfather, it was only natural
that Stanislaw Juriewicz, the oldest brother of my grand
mother, had become guardian of her only son, who was
named after his uncle. My father was at that time eleven
Stanislaw Juriewicz sent my father to a private school
for boys in St. Petersburg, the high school of Mr. Philippoff.
The pupils of this school wore uniforms similar to the
uniforms adopted at that time for boys in government schools.
The discipline in Mr. Philippoff 's school was very strict; the
boys were made to study hard, with special emphasis on
All pupils of this school were supposed on one day to
speak only French, even among themselves, and on the follow
ing day, only German. Inspectors, who were Frenchmen and
Germans themselves, were present at all times to enforce
this rule. Besides, there was a clown's hat with the word
fool written on it in big letters. A boy who spoke just
one word not in the language of the day wore the hat. He
could get rid of it only by passing it to another boy who
was guilty of the same mistake in his presence. Every boy
tried to get rid of the fool's cap as quickly as he could. The
boys watched each other, and, as a result, within about a
year's time, they could speak these two languages fluently.
Russian was spoken on Saturdays and Sundays when many
boys whose parents lived in St. Petersburg went home.
During the first couple of years, my father had to
remain in school during the weekends. He had no close
relatives living in St. Petersburg, and, evidently, his uncle
Franciszek Juriewicz did not want to be bothered with a
little boy. My father was very lonely and unhappy because
of the rigid discipline which was the result of the influence
of the harsh times of Czar Nicholas I. During his reign, the
strictest discipline was enforced in the army as well as in all
government offices. The same unyielding discipline was
enforced in all schools. But if the Czar, austere and inflexible,
was strict with all people around him, he was just as stern
and strict with himself.
It never occurred to Nicholas I to break any army
regulations. He withstood the terrific sub-zero weather of
St. Petersburg, attending traditional parades on the 6th of
January on the bank of the Neva River, dressed, like any
other officer, in a light parade uniform without a topcoat.
Very tall and handsome, the Czar was an excellent rider.
Once in a while, he performed a stunt by getting on his
horse and ordering two small coins to be placed between
each of his knees and the sides of the saddle. As he rode,
the coins were kept in place only by the pressure of his
knees. If the Czar relaxed his grip just for a moment, or
moved his knees, the coins would have been lost. After an
hour's ride, he would return with both coins still in place.
The revolt of Decembrists in 1825 revealed the real
character of Czar Nicholas I. At that time, more than one
hundred persons were arrested and tried by the Supreme
Criminal Tribunal, composed of the members of the Council
of the Empire, Senators and members of the Holy Synod
(the highest clergical council of the Russian Church). The
Court sentenced about forty of the accused to death, and the
others to exile and hard labor. The Czar mitigated the
harshness of this verdict by limiting capital punishment to
only five leaders of the revolt and banishing the others to
One of the first railroads in Russia was called Nichola-
yevskaia , connecting two Russian capitals, St. Petersburg
and Moscow, a distance of about four hundred and fifty
miles. The construction of this railroad was complicated by
the presence of wide swamps and marshes between these two
cities. Many engineering plans were presented to the Czar,
but he was informed that the engineers were not influenced
only by the desire of building the railroad the best possible
way but by the graft paid to them by different towns and
communities that saw big benefits for themselves in a
railroad that would connect them with the two largest cities
in Russia. The Czar perused the blueprints, but finally took
a big map of European Russia and drew with a ruler a
straight line connecting St. Petersburg and Moscow, and
initialled the map. The Nicholayevskaia Railroad, according
to the Czar's order, was built in a straight line. The cost
of construction was exceedingly high, but the maintenance
and operating expenses were unusually low.
Prior to 1914, the beginning of the First World War,
there was a train called Lightning running daily between
St. Petersburg and Moscow. The difference in time between
these two cities was one hour. The train Lightning left
St. Petersburg at one o'clock in the morning, permitting the
passengers to attend performances at the Imperial Theatres.
Making only one stop at Bologoye, the train arrived in
Moscow at eight o'clock in the morning, Moscow time, or
seven o'clock St. Petersburg time. The train, with a steam
locomotive, covered a distance of some four hundred and
fifty miles in a little more than six hours! An unheard of
speed at that time! The same Lightning train ran daily,
about the same time, from Moscow to St. Petersburg.
When the construction of the Nicholayevskaia Railroad
actually was completed, and the passenger trains began to
run, Czar Nicholas I was informed that a delegation of the
fabulous Moscow merchants (Imenitoye Moscovskoye
Kupechestvo) had arrived in St. Petersburg to thank him for
the railroad. The Czar received this delegation, and inquired
about their comfort during the trip. The merchants hesitated
to answer, but finally they had to admit that they had ar
rived in St. Petersburg to offer their thanks for the railroad,
travelling by sled. The Czar only smiled and the audience
From the beginning of the Nicholas I reign, there had
been vigorous activity to reform administration, justice, and
finance, as well as to improve the living conditions of privately
owned serfs. A financial reform was introduced by Kankrin,
Secretary of the Treasury, and the old paper money was
withdrawn from circulation, a Code of Laws of the Russian
Empire was published, and a commission with Count
Kisselev presiding, established a certain kind of self-
government for the peasants of the Crown, introducing at
the same time many improvements in their farming methods.
However, this commission did little to improve the conditions
of life of privately owned serfs, but the work of this com
mission, which lasted for many years, made it possible for
the son of Czar Nicholas I, Czar Alexander II, to abolish
serfdom in Russia.
Czar Nicholas I was greatly attached to his oldest son r
and before his death, told him, By taking upon myself all
that was hard and difficult, I intended to leave you a peaceful,
well-organized, prosperous country... but Providence has
decreed otherwise . He died on the 18th of February, 1855.
After the death of Czar Nicholas I, his son, Czar
Alexander II, faced the difficult problem of bringing the
Crimean War to an end and maintaining at the same time
the dignity of the Empire. The course of the war was not
affected by the change of rulers; Sebastopol still defied the
enemy, and the allies were paying a high price for every
gain they made. At this time, the Russian troops won a
brilliant victory at Kars in Asia. Napoleon III was anxious
to make peace, and with the help of Austria and Prussia,
the peace negotiations began in 1856 f and, finally, the Treaty
of Paris was signed.
With the accession of the young Emperor Alexander II,
censorship in Russia was relaxed, universities were freed
from police control, many petty restrictions were removed,
and even the survivors of the 1825 mutiny, the so-called
Decembrists , were allowed to return after thirty years of
exile in Siberia.
At about that time, Uncle Tom's Cabin was published
in Russia and Mrs. Stowe was acclaimed by the Russians
as a great writer. It was in great contrast to the opinion
then held in Great Britain. The London Times wrote as
... ( The book's )... object is to abolish slavery.
Its effect will be to render slavery more difficult
than ever of abolishment. Its very popularity cons
titutes its greatest difficulty. It will keep ill-blood
at boiling point, and irritate instead of pacifying
those whose proceedings Mrs. Stowe is anxious to
influence on the behalf of humanity. * Uncle Tom's
Cabin * was not required to convince the haters of
slavery of the abominations of the institution ;
of all books it is the least calculated to weigh with
those whose prejudices in favor of said slavery have
yet to be overcome .
A few years previously, a Russian version of Uncle
Tom's Cabin , A Sportsman's Sketches , a Russian classic
by Turgenev had been published. Slavery was generally
condemned and yet serfdom remained, a running sore across
the nation's breast.
The young Czar proclaimed immediately his desire and
hope for internal reforms.
In 1857, the nobility of Lithuanian provinces of Wilno,
Kovno and Grodno declared their intention to set their serfs
free at once, without giving them any land. Immediately, at
the wish of the Czar, Provincial Committees of nobility
were formed in many provinces for the discussion of the
terms on which the serfs were to be set free, with the Main
Committee in St. Petersburg coordinating their work.
At the beginning of 1861, the Czar personally opened
a session of the Council of the Empire, declaring that the
abolition of slavery was his direct will . The Council of
the Empire acted accordingly, and on the 19th day of February
(Russian calendar), 1861, the Czar signed the well-known
Manifesto which was proclaimed to the nation on the 5th
day of March of the same year.
This Manifesto was read throughout Russia, in all Rus
sian cities and towns, as well as on all landed estates, to
crowds of serfs.
Bless yourself with the Sign of the Cross, Russian
people , were the opening words of the Czar's Manifesto,
and the nobles and peasants alike knelt solemnly, making
the sign of the Cross, and listening to the words of their
Lord Anointed Sovereign.
The power of landowners to hold peasants in servitude
was abolished at once without compensation to the nobles.
Peasants were permitted to use the homesteads, vegetable
gardens and fertile fields given to them by their landowners.
For the use of them, they were supposed to repay their
former masters either in money or in labor. The peasants
were also to receive later some fertile land as their own
personal property. This land to be purchased by them from
Czar Alexander II
from the oil painting of Paul Bulow,
from the collection of Mr. Henri Antovilte.
This Act of Liberation, although bringing tremendous
social and economic changes, was not accompanied by a
civil war. All classes accepted peacefully the manifesto of the
Czar and obeyed his order.
Stanislaw Juriewicz had been working in the Provincial
Committee of Vitebsk since this committee had been
organized. He greeted the manifesto of the Czar with great
relief and satisfaction. The idea of serfdom was repulsive
to him. He had always treated his serfs not as slaves, but
as human beings, and he succeeded in making his nephew,
my father, feel the same way, although my father saw very
little of his uncle. My father admired his uncle and tried
always to imitate him in every way. Besides, he was greatly
attached to his old niania (nurse), an old peasant woman
who took care of my grandmother when she was a child,
and who afterwards took care of her son. When on vacations,
my father visited my grandmother's estate Kolpino, he would
run to greet and kiss tenderly his niania who had a
room of her own in the Kolpino house and lived there as
a member of the family.
All his life my father treated all servants, all workmen,
all peasants with great consideration. He never tried to be
little any one of them.
RUSSIAN FLEET IN NEW YORK HARBOR
At the time of the abolition of serfdom in Russia, my
father, Stanislaw Wrangell, was sixteen years old. He was
already in the last class of the High School of Mr. Philippoff.
A couple of years previously, it had been arranged for
my father to live in the apartment of General Clemens, a
friend of Stanislaw Juriewicz. Living outside of his school
in a private apartment gave him more freedom but he had
to study just as hard as before. In addition to his studies,
he took private lessons in fencing and dancing. His dancing
teacher was Felix Krzesinski, (pronounced Kschessinsky), a
dancer of the Imperial Ballet. Felix Krzesinski was the father
of the well-known ballerina Mathilde Krzesinska, who, after
the revolution became the morganatic wife of the Grand
Duke Andrew, first cousin of the last Czar, under the name
of Princess Krassinskaia,
While dancing the mazurka in the opera, The Life
for the Czar, Krzesinski always received ovations from St.
Petersburg society. He taught my father how to bow, enter
a room, and kiss the hand of a lady, which was really an
art gracefully done. My father learned all these manners in
a most perfect and charming way. Even in his later years,
it was a pleasure to watch him as he entered a drawing
room, holding himself straight, and carrying high his
handsome head covered with thick gray hair. He would
approach his hostess, bow, and kiss her hand. There was
so much dignity in his manner that a lady could not help
but feel herself at this moment a queen!
At the age of sixteen, my father was quite tall, with
an athletic figure, very slim, and with thick red hair, the
colour of dark bronze. He spoke French and German fluently,
Polish like a true Pole with a Warsaw accent, and Russian
was his native tongue.
As soon as he had been graduated from the high school,
he was sent to the University of Heidelberg by his guardian,
Stanislaw Juriewicz. In a few years, my father returned to
Russia and entered St. Petersburg University to study law.
In 1863, another Polish uprising took place. It was a
revolt of Polish intelligentsia and szlachta (lesser nobility),
but the masses of Polish peasants did not take part in it.
Polish szlachta and intelligentsia longed for Polish inde
pendence, and the European powers, especially Great Britain
and France, took immediate advantage of this situation,
offering their services as mediators between the Czarist
Russian government and the Poles. These offers were
embarrassing to the Russian government. By accepting their
services, the government of the Czar would have automatically
recognized the independence of Poland. Consequently, the
Czarist government declined the offer of the European powers
and proceeded to suppress the revolt
There was never a formal alliance between the Russian
Empire and the United States, but the Great Emancipator
abolished serfdom in his own country, had deep sympathies
for Abraham Lincoln, who was trying to abolish slavery in
the United States.
The Czar was possibly the only real friend Abraham
Lincoln had outside the United States. Russia refused to
recognize the Southern Confederacy, and the United States,
in turn, refrained from offering to the Czar its help in
mediation between the Czarist government and the Poles.
On September 11, 1863, a Russian steam frigate The
Oslyabia entered New York harbor. It was announced that
Mrs. Lincoln intended to visit the Oslyabia, and all newspapers
described in great detail the friendly reception which the
First Lady received on this foreign warship.
The Oslyabia was the first Russian warship to arrive.
It was followed by many others until virtually the entire
Russian Baltic Fleet was anchored in New York Harbor and
in Flushing Bay. Admiral Lessovsky was in command of the
fleet. His flagship was a brand new steam frigate, the
Alexander Nevsky . Among the officers of one of the Rus
sian warships was Grand Duke Alexis, son of the Czar, at
that time a young Lieutenant in the Russian Navy.
In order to keep secret the movement of the Russian
fleet and to avoid possible interference on the part of the
British warships that could easily lead to war, all Russian
warships stationed in the Baltic received orders to proceed
to different European, African and Asiatic ports, with sealed
envelopes to be opened at sea. The sealed envelopes contained
orders to sail straight to New York.
The Russian ships, emerging from the Baltic into the
Atlantic, took a course well north of the Orkney Islands.
The ships were heavily laden with ammunition and supplies,
and could not carry much coal. Therefore, a crossing of the
Atlantic was made under sail. The result was a complete
secrecy of the movements of the Russian fleet. The British
admiralty received the first report only when the Russians
had already anchored their warships in New York Harbor,
About the same time, the Russian Asiatic Fleet, under
the command of Admiral Popov, arrived in San Francisco.
The relationship between Russia and Great Britain
and France was far from friendly. Lord Palmerston, a well-
known British statesman, was dreaming and hoping for
dismemberment of the Russian Empire Finland was
supposed to be returned to Sweden, the Baltic Provinces
(Esthonia and Latvia) to be given to Prussia, Poland was
supposed to become an independent Kingdom, the provinces
in the estuary of the Danube were to be given to Austria,
and Crimea and Georgia in the Russian Caucasus were to be
given to the Ottoman Empire. Such were the intentions of
the allies prior to the Crimean War, and now a Polish uprising
gave them new hope for a realization of their dreams. The
French armed forces already occupied Mexico, and Napoleon
III proposed to Great Britain and Austria to declare war
on Russia immediately.
No treaty was signed between Russia and the United
States, but their mutual interest, and the threat of war to
both, united these two nations at this critical moment. By
dispatching his Baltic Fleet to the North American harbors,
the Czar changed his position from a defensive to an of
fensive one. Paragraph 3 of the instructions given to Admiral
Lessovsky by Admiral Krabbe, at that time Russian Secretary
of the Navy, dated July 14th, 1863, ordered the Russian
Fleet, in case of war, to attack the enemies' commercial
shipping and their colonies, so as to cause them the greatest
The same instructions were given to Admiral Popov,
Commander of the Russian Asiatic Fleet.
The news of the arrival of the Russian fleet caused
jubilation in the United States. The Russian national anthem,
God Save the Czar was played; the Brooklyn Navy Yard
was placed at the disposal of the Russians, and many
delegations came to welcome them. Admiral David Farragut
met Admiral Lessovsky; they had known each other before
as young officers in the Mediterranean. Answering a question
put by Farragut, Admiral Lessovsky stated that he was in
New York under sealed orders. They can be opened only
in a contingency which has not yet occurred , he added.
There were parades and all kinds of festivities arranged
in honor of the Russian officers and their Sovrereign. On
November 5, 1863, a grand ball was arranged at the Academy
of Music in honor of the Russians. I quote Alexandre
Tarsaidze, who wrote in his book, Czars and Presidents ,
The costumes of the American ladies were vo
luminous and the ladies themselves buxom and
determined. One Russian officer wrote home that
if Russian girls ever manifested a small portion
of the interest shown by the American beauties,
there would not be a bachelor in the whole Empire.
The women wore buttons from the coats of Rus
sian officers, and blue and white ribbons in the
form of a St. Andrew's Cross. There were cockades
from Naval caps and anchors taken from Mid
A supper from Delmonico's was served in Irving
Hall, which had been temporarily joined by a gay
canopy to the Academy of Music. Food was plentiful,
frequently disguised and decorated with figures of
Peter the Great, George Washington, Lincoln, and
Alexander II made out of sugar and cake, as well
as frosted statues. Greek temples, eagles, lions and
Dianas. The 'New York World' with a statistical
turn of mind, perhaps best indicates the lavishness
of the occasion 12,000 oysters, 1,200 game birds,
250 turkeys, 400 chickens, 12 monster salmons of
thirty pounds each, and a thousand pounds of steak.
Not to mention desserts, pieces montees, a hundred
pyramids of pastry, a thousand large loaves of bread,
and 3,500 bottles of wine .
President Lincoln, in his Thanksgiving Proclamation,
stated: God's bounties of so extraordinary a nature that
they cannot fail to penetrate and soften the heart .
The surprise move of the Russian Czar caused constern
ation in British government circles. Moreover, Great Britain
had no desire to antagonize Russia for another reason. These
two Empires, a maritime one and a territorial one, had in
Asia a common border many thousands of miles long. The
northern part of Asia, Siberia, was a Russian territory, and
the southern part of this continent was British. Some buffer
states were in between Persia, Afghanistan and China.
In 1840, in a camnaien in Central Asia, Russian troons oc
cupied northern Turkestan and the valley of Syr-Daria,
approaching Pamir and Afghanistan.
On the other hand, a short but terrible Sepoy's rebel
lion in India had been suppressed by the Britishers only
six years previously, in 1857, and Great Britain was simply
horrified at the prospect of war with Russia because of pos
sible complications this war could cause in Asia. There were
never more than about 60,000 British troops in India, the
Suez Canal was not built yet, and the Afghan population of
the northwestern frontier province of British India was ready
for an uprising at any moment. And, finally, the most
important point was that the Russians were right there, on
the border of Afghanistan. Under these conditions, His
Britannic Majesty's government was compelled to refrain
from any interference in the Polish uprising as well as in
the Civil War in the United States.
I ^X \| >|s t
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Czar Alexander II had no malice in his heart against
Great Britain. In 1873, the British government succeeded in
obtaining from St. Petersburg a declaration that Afghanistan
was beyond the sphere of Russian influence, and the following
years a daughter of the Czar, Grand Duchess Maria
Alexandrovna, was married in St. Petersburg to the second
son of Queen Victoria, Prince Alfred, Duke of Edinburgh.
In 1871, Grand Duke Alexis, at this time already an
admiral, arrived in New York on a good will mission to the
United States. The Astor House displayed a huge sign:
GRAND DUKE ALEXIS
SON OF A NOBLE FATHER
REPRESENTATIVE OF THIS NATION'S
DEARLY CHERISHED ALLY
However, President Grant, who was not well-versed in
the diplomatic protocol, and courtesy, did not extend a very
friendly reception to the Russian Grand Duke, and Alexis
did not stay long in Washington. He returned to New York
where all sorts of festivities were arranged in his honor,
and made a tour of the United States, visiting Niagara Falls,
St. Louis, Chicago, and the western plains. At Fort McPherson,
Buffalo Bill was awaiting him. Alexis was a good rider and
took an active part in a buffalo hunt.
In the years 1863 and 1864, while my father, Stanislaw
Wrangell, was studying at the University of St. Petersburg,
Czar Alexander II used to visit the university quite frequent
ly and informally address the students. His dog, a gray
pointer, was well known to the students, who made the dog
sit next to them in the auditorium, while the Czar ascended
Czar Alexander II was tall and very good-looking. He
spoke several foreign languages as fluently as Russian, and
it made him use a number of foreign words. He had a very
pleasant voice, and 'il grasseyait' (not pronuncing distinctly
the letter r). The students adored the Czar. Often they
managed in some mysterious way to steal cigarettes from
his cigarette case for souvenirs. It happened quite often that
the Czar, desiring to smoke, was forced to ask the students
to return to him a cigarette, which they did reluctantly.
One day the Czar told the students about an attempt
on his life which had been made the previous day. This
attempt had taken place at the gates of the Summer Garden,
g. public park adorned with marble statues of Greek gods,
on the Quai of Neva, not far from the Winter Palace. The
Czar usually took his daily walk in this garden. On this
particular day, as he emerged from the gates and was ready
to enter a carriage awaiting him at the Quai, he noticed a
man standing on the sidewalk about twenty feet away. The
Czar told the students that an unpleasant thought crossed
his mind at that moment... that this man was ready to
shoot at him. At that moment, the man pulled a pistol from
his pocket, and, taking careful aim, fired, but, at the same
time, someone pushed the elbow of the would-be assasin,
causing the bullet to go astray. The man was seized by
passersby and by the police. His name was Dmitri Karagozov,
or Karakzov. This time, the Czar was miraculously saved.
However, there were other attempts on his life. More than
one attempt was made to blow up the Imperial train.
As surprising as it may seem, no attempts were made
on the life of the Czar that had been arranged by former
slave-owners. On the contrary, Czar Alexander II was
exceedingly popular among Russian nobles and was held in
great esteem by the peasants and masses of the Russian
people. All attempts on the life of this sovereign were arranged
by a revolutionary group of intellectuals who called themselves
Nihilists , from a Latin word, nihil , nothing. Nihilism
was a philosophy of skepticism, a revolt against the established
social order. It negated all authority exercised by the State,
by the Church, or by the family. The Nihilists claimed that
they believed in science, but it was an abstract idea. They
did not offer anything constructive, and actually their
philosophy served only as an excuse for outrageous killings
After Karagozov's attempt, all of Russia offered prayers
of thanks to the Lord for the miraculous escape of the Czar.
In the United States, the House and the Senate passed, and
President Andrew Johnson signed, a joint resolution congratu
lating the Russian people on the escape of their Emperor.
It was the only time that the United States had sent a
message to a foreign nation expressing its personal feeling
for the sovereign. Gustavus Fox, Assistant Secretary of the
Navy, delivered the message to St. Petersburg.
The savage attempts on his life did not stop the Czar.
He continued to appear on the streets and in public places,
without guards, and continued to introduce new reforms
in Russia. In 1864, he introduced judicial reforms. He
abolished class tribunals and established a justice equal
for all subjects . For minor cases, he established Justices
of the Peace courts, the judges to be elected, and in some
provinces, appointed for life. For criminal cases, he established
a court by jury. The administration of justice was separated
from other branches of government. Corporal punishment,
rods, floggings, running the gauntlet, bastinado, branding
and other cruelties were abolished. The Czar had given Rus
sia prompt, fair, merciful justice, equal for all subjects .
It was at this time that my father went through final
examinations and received his degree of Doctor Juris. In
Poland and Belorussia, the newly created Justices of the
Peace were to be appointed by the government. Through
Count Pahlen, Secretary of Justice, my father received an
appointment as Justice of the Peace in the locality of his
estace. He was only twenty-two years old, and became the
youngest judge of the entire Province of Vitebsk.
In 1862, Stanislaw Juriewicz resigned after serving his
third term as a Nobility Marshal of the Province of Vitebsk.
He could have easily won election for a fourth term, but
he decided to retire, and announced his resignation. For his
outstanding work on the Committee for the Liberation of
the peasants, he received the Order of St. Anna, decorated
with an Imperial Crown.
Stanislaw Juriewicz was very much in love with his
second wife, beautiful Lady Wienczeslawa, who bore him a
son, Paul. At the time of the resignation of his father, Paul
was seven years old. With their enormous household, the
Juriewiczes moved back to Berszada and to their house in
Odessa, on the shores of the Black Sea. The entire population
of Vitebsk was sorry to see them leave. Especially sorry were
the Jewish merchants, for they were losing a rich customer.
The only sister of Stanislaw Juriwicz, my grandmother,
Anna von Wrangell, lived, after the death of my grandfather,
in Kolpino, an estate in the northern part of the Province
The old house of Kolpino was a one-story building
built of heavy logs, with a gabled roof and four tall columns
at the main entrance. Different parts of the house had been
built at different times; therefore, its shape was somewhat
rambling and irregular. Inside, the house was cozy and
confortable. The walls and ceilings were covered with white
plaster tinted blue. Wooden floors were never painted. In
some places, especially at the thresholds of the doorways,
the wood was worn through by many decades of heavy
hunting boots, ladies' light slippers, or bare feet of the
servants. The furniture was also of different periods, collected
by the different generations.
In all the bedrooms of the house were crucifixes, Roman
Catholic icons and prie-Dieus. In the large gallery hung the
portraits of the members of the three different families
which had previously owned the house, all painted in oil,
and in old heavy bronze frames.
The Princes Oginski, desdendants of Rurik, were the
original owners of the house. At that time, the estate was
extensive; three thousand male serfs lived on it. (In Russia
at that time, while counting serfs only the men were counted;
women and children were omitted). Princess Polonia Oginski,
my great-great grandmother, married Joseph Deszpot-Zienowicz,
and their daughter Anna married Joseph Juriewicz, father
of my grandmother.
The house was surrounded by an old park planted by
the Princes Oginski. The large avenues of the park were
very impressive. The trees were of enormous heights, and
their intertwining branches made a thick, leafy roof high
above the ground so that even on a sunny day, the park was
dark and cool. There was a small artificial lake, and the
park was surrounded by a large canal. The Princes Oginski
used to illuninate the park with lights and fireworks, and
their guests used to ride in gondolas on this canal around
On a hill next to the park was the family cemetery of
the owners of the estate. Here representatives of three dif
ferent families were lying peacefully side by side. Trees
grew on the hill, and their long branches touched the stone
crosses and marble monuments of the graves. Not far from
this hill stood a Roman Catholic chapel of the estate, built
of stone in a Gothic style.
On the right side of the house was a yard with stables
for horses, and an adjacent enclosure for carriages and
sleds. Beyond, there were administrative buildings with the
superintendent's house, barns, stables for cattle and working
houses, and houses of workmen and their families.
Directly in front of the house, on the other side of
the wide highway leading to it, was a lake.
The greater part of the ten thousand acre estate was
covered by forests, although there were about seven hundred
acres of water. Besides the small Kolpino Lake, there were
two larger ones, Ostrovito and Krupovo Lakes, which belonged
to the estate. The country was hilly and was renowned for
its beauty. From a high hill opened a beautiful panorama of
surrounding country with its fields, deep green meadows
and forests. The skies were brilliant blue, and the many
lakes sparkled under the bright sun.
During the high school years of my father, and also
later, while he was attending the University of St. Petersburg,
he used to come to Kolpino to visit his mother, and to spend
his summer vacations there. He would swim in the lake
and ride horseback through the forests. He would, after
the first of July, go with his pointers to shoot woodcocks,
and later in the season, partridges and other game. There
were young people of his age, sons -and daughters of the
neighboring landowners, who used to visit one another,
taking long walks or rides through the country, and in the
evening they danced to the accompaniment of a piano. One
of the elderly ladies, Pani Skorulska, was an accomplished
musician, and usually played dance music for the younger
Two summers prior to his graduation, my father found
in Kolpino his two cousins, daughters of his uncle Jan
Juriewicz, who were invited by my grandmother for the
My father probably had met his cousins before, but
did not remember them. The older of the two, Adelaide,
was very attractive, and it soon became obvious that they
were considerably drawn to each other. The fact that they
were first cousins made it possible for a closer, more
intimate relationship between them, and Adelaide, or Adela,
became a constant dancing partner of my father.
At the beginning, my grandmother did not attach any
importance to the behavior of her son. She was convinced
that it was only passing infatuation, and she invited her
nieces to come to Kolpino for the following summer, too,
but at the end of the second summer, she was disagreeably
surprised when her son, at that time only nineteen, declared
that he was desperately in love with Adela, that the young
girl also shared his feelings, and that he was determined
to marry her.
Adela's mother was dead, and there were no objections
to the marriage on the part of her father, Jan Juriewicz,
but a marriage between first cousins was not regarded
favorably at that time. Besides, Adela was three years older
than my father, and most important, she was not a strong,
healthy girl. She had weak lungs, was inclined to become
consumptive, and the doctors doubted that she could ever
have physically sound children.
But all objections and protests of my grandmother
and of Stanislaw Juriewicz, my father's guardian, were in
vain. The young people remained determined, and as soon
as my father passed his final examinations, they were mar
ried in a small Kolpino chapel. My grandmother gave to my
father as a wedding present the estate Reblio, situated on a
lake which was ten miles long, and at the other end touched
the highway St. Petersburg-Vitebsk. The newly-weds settled
there. A few years later, my father received his appointment
as Justice of the Peace of his district.
In spite of his youth, my father proved to be a very
good judge. He had a keen and alert mind, and sound
judgment. No prejudices of any kind. Being an aristocrat, he
was convinced that one of the most important duties of the
nobility as a privileged class was to serve as an example
to the rest of the population, proving personal integrity and
fairness in all dealings. Therefore, he was strict and de
manding towards the members of his own class. Somehow,
the peasants and the Jews sensed his attitude, and in a short
time he became very popular among them.
At this time, commissions were formed throughout
Russia to condemn the land of the landowners, and to
distribute these lands among the peasants. It was an enormous
task, and the work of these commissions lasted for several
The commissions for distribution of the land were
composed of a surveyor who measured the land, of at least
one agricultural expert, and a handful of government officials.
Representatives of the local landowners and peasants played
only a consultant's role. The local Justice of the Peace had
to insure that no one's interests were unduly jeopardized,
and that all parties concerned would agree to the decisions
made by these commissions.
The Act of Liberation of February 19, 1861, provided
that the newly created free farmers would receive land. The
former serfs of the Crown were to receive government land,
but for privately owned serfs the land was to be taken by
the government from their former masters. For this purpose,
the commissions received special instructions from the
The noble landowners were supposed to be reimbursed
for the land taken away from them in five percent govern
ment bonds, and the peasants were to redeem these
obligations by payments to the Exchecquer over a period of
forty-nine years, i,e., until 1910.
In different parts of the Empire, the size of the land
to be taken by the government from the nobles differed
according to the climate and quality of the soil. Where the
soil was productive, less was to be taken, but where the
soil was of poor quality, more was to be taken, etc.
The government directed these commissions to confiscate
mostly fertile land, fields, meadows and pastures. The forests
were to be left in the hands of the nobles in order to
preserve them. In Russia, even at that time, forests were
under government protection, and no one had the right to
cut down his own forest without permission from the
Department of Agriculture.
Commissions for distributing the land among the
peasants began their work with the counting of all the villages
which belonged to a certain estate, and by counting the male
population of every village. Then this commission studied
the soil in different parts of the estate, determining how
much land of the estate was to be condemned. The govern
ment officials insisted on taking more land than usual from
the Polish nobles. This action by the Czarist government
was prompted by a recent Polish uprising in which these
Polish nobles took an active part.
The Polish landowners did not protest and accepted
confiscation of their land in good spirit.
In Kolpino, due to the fact that my grandmother was
Polish, although she did not take part in any uprising, the
government condemned about one half of the estate. Part
of the forest was also condemned. The peasants were sup
posed to cut this forest down, turning the land into fields.
After work of the commission was finished, Kolpino emerged
as an estate of only about five thousand acres. In addition,
it was divided in two parts a larger one, with the Kolpino
house, park and administrative buildings in the center, and
a smaller one, called Alushkovo, comprising only forest and
marshes. Between these two parts were situated villages of
our former serfs, with a wide strip of land which now
became their property.
Both the lakes Ostrovito and Krupovo were cut off
from the estate by the land given the peasants.
The management of the estate was considerably
disrupted by this division. Alushkovo became for all practical
purposes a hunting lodge. In order to guard the forest and
to preserve good hunting, my grandmother ordered the
construction of a small farm there with a couple of hundred
acres of fertile land and meadows. This farm was rented to
a farmer for a negligible sum. Actually, he, his brother, and
all the members of their families became forest guards,
and one of their duties was to prevent shooting by strangers
on the marshes and in the forest of Alushkovo.
Both lakes Ostrovito and Krupovo were known for
excellent fishing, but since the shores belonged now to the
peasants, it became impossible to prevent them from fishing
at any time they pleased, mercilessly depleting the supply.
Therefore, on the advice of her superintendent, my grand
mother decided to rent both lakes to the same peasants. In
return, they obligated themselves to work with their wagons
and horses for four days a year, at the time when all stables
of the estate were cleaned, and dung was carried to the
The commission marked the new border of the estate
by cutting swaths in a straight line through the forests
and by establishing landmarks at the points where a straight
line of the border changed direction. At these points, holes
were dug in the ground and filled with rocks forming bulky
piles on top. In order to imprint, for years to come, in the
minds of the newly created free farmers the new border
of the estate of their former masters, the commission ordered
the spanking of half a dozen peasant boys of a neighboring
village on every pile of rocks that represented a landmark.
The result was that some fifty years later, an old peasant
could find without any difficulty the landmark where he got
his spanking. The new border of the estate ran in somewhat
zig-zag lines with many rock piles. Consequently, many
peasant boys received their spankings in those days.
The fact that at that time more land was taken away
from the Polish landowners did not seriously antagonize
them against the government because they were paid for the
confiscated land. However, it is necessary to admit that the
government appraisal of land was in this case considerably
below its market value, and the landowners were not paid
in cash. Instead, they received the five percent government
bonds (vykupnyie svidetelstva), which could have been sold
at only about eighty percent of their face value. Consequently,
the landowners received only about sixty percent of the
market value of their land.
But the Russian government invented another more
vicious method to punish the Poles, who for some reason
were never liked by the Russians. Against many Polish
landowners the government proceeded to impose the so-
called servituty on their forests (nalojit servituty na lesa)
by granting the peasants the right to use the landowners'
forests as pasture for their cattle. The presence of cattle
made forestry an impossible task... all the young trees were
trampled and crushed.
Also, in many cases, the forest of a landowner was quite
a distance from the border of his estate, and an unfortunate
Polish landowner was forced to build fences on both sides
of the road leading to his forest in order to protect his
fields from being trampled. Furthermore, when cattle
belonging to peasants were in his forest, it happened quite
often that intentionally, or unintentionally, some cows were
permitted by peasant boys to walk out of the forest into
a field of ripe oats.
This unprecedented privilege granted to the peasants by
the Czarist government led only to aggravations, continuous
disputes, and lawsuits between the Polish landowners and
their former serfs. However, this privilege did not really
benefit the peasants, because pasture in a forest was always
very poor. It served only to annoy the landowners, causing
them considerable damages.
In Berszada and Nestoyda, estates of Stanislaw Juriewicz
in Podolia, the government imposed servituty on his
very valuable forests of beechtrees. The former Nobility
Marshal, who worked for many years to liberate the peasants,
was forced to give his former serfs large pieces of his valuable
land. In return, the peasants agreed to give up their right
of letting their cattle graze in his forests.
My father could never find any excuse for these actions
of the Czarist government. He doubted that all the facts
were known to the Czar, who sincerely wished and
worked hard for the welfare of all his subjects. For these
acts, unworthy of a great Empire, my father blamed high
government officials who felt revengeful towards Polish
nobles, or possibly envied them.
The government commissions, while distributing land
to the peasants, did not give each head of the family a piece
of land for his own individual farming. Instead, a large piece
of land was given to the entire village, thus making it a
By order of the government, every peasant village in
Russia became a self-governing community, where the bailiff
(starosta) of the village was elected by free ballots, and all
important questions were decided at general meetings of all
members of the community.
The community exercised considerable power over every
In Czarist Russia, every individual was supposed to
have a passport duly issued by proper authorities and
registered at the police station in the precinct where the
owner of this passport resided. An exception to this rule
were all Russian peasants who lived in their villages. However,
to leave his village and establish a residence somewhere
elese, a peasant needed a passport which was issued to him,
usually without any difficulties, by the township of his vil
lage (by Volostnoy starshina) for a period of six months,
and then re-extended. However, at the village's request, the
Volostnoy Starshina could refuse to issue or to renew the
passport of an individual peasant, and this unfortunate soul
would then be obliged to stay in his community, or to return
home against his wish.
In other words, according to the Act of Liberation of
February 19, 1861, Russian peasants became free, but within
a few years it became apparent that their freedom was
limited to a great extent by their own communities or villages.
Every village was recognized as a commune (in Rus
sian, obschina). This commune received the title to the lend.
An individual peasant had only a portion of the land in his
commune. This portion, or share, was called nadel , and
as we are going to see, the nadel did not represent any
particular piece or section of land.
Since every village became a self-governing community,
peasants proceeded to divide the entire land of their commune
among all male members of this commune who reached
maturity (eighteen years of age). To give every member an
equally good piece of land, every fertile field was divided
in as many strips as there were male members of the
commune. Meadows, forests and pastures remained in the
hands of a commune as a whole. Thus, the landholding of
each peasant consisted actually of many strips of land in
different fields, and a share of benefits derived from meadows,
pastures and forests belonging to his commune.
Moreover, the size of the nadel did not remain constant.
Every year, some old peasant died, and some young boys
became of age, and were entitled to a nadel of their own.
Thus, every four or five years, and in many villages even
more often, at a general meeting, peasants counted again all
male members of their communes and re-divided all their
fields accordingly. Thus, Russian peasants were deprived
completely of the individual ownership of land.
Possibly the logic of this system of communes is not
very clear. It took a true Russian mind to create it, and
for a European or an American, it is rather difficult to
appreciate it at all.
What were the reasons which prompted the Czarist
government at the time of distribution of land to the peasants
to establish a system of communes which was destined half
a century later to lead Russia to a revolution and to a
Communist form of government?
It is most likely that Czar Alexander II (1855-1881) did
not know anything about the Communist Manifesto of Karl
Marx which was published in 1848. In the Act of Liberation
of 1861, there was nothing to indicate that the Czar intended
to organize peasants' communes, but, unfortunately, the high
officials of the government and the close associates of the
Czar were Slavophils. These Slavophils, at the time of
distribution of the land, succeeded in influencing the govern
ment to act according to their ideas.
During the reign of the Emperor Nicholas I (1825-1855),
in the decade of 1830-1840, in Russian universities, and
especially in Moscow University, a new movement appeared.
It was a movement of idealistic professors who dug deep into
the very foundations of Russian history and the Russian
national mind. The followers of this movement became known
They declared that the Russian type of civilization was
fcar superior to the European one. They sought to discover
the peculiar genius of Russian civilization in the old peasants'
communes which, they said, revealed the socialistic soul
of Russia, as contrasted to the individualistic soul of
Western Europe, and of the whole world as well. They
condemned Czar Peter the Great's Europeanization of Rus
sia as a fatal deviation from the genuine course of Russian
history, and wanted Russia to return to the forsaken
principles of the Eastern (Greek Catholic) Church and the
Byzantine Empire Orthodoxy and Autocracy.
One of their ideas was to unite all Slavonic nations
under the scepter of the Russian Czars. This Russian Monroe
Doctrine was destined to direct the foreign policy of the
Czarist government for about the last fifty years of its
existence, and to involve Russia in World War I.
The Slavophil movement was nationalistic, and the
followers were upholding the autocratic principles of the Rus
sian Empire. Therefore, Czar Nicholas I was not frightened
by the socialist and communist tendencies of the Slavophils.
On the contrary, the movement found sympathy and support
from the Czar. It was growing rapidly, and at the time of
the liberation of the peasants, many high government officials
and even devoted friends of Czar Alexander II were Slavophils,
like Nicholas Milutin, Soloviev, Samarin, Aksakov, Prince
Cherkassky, and many others. At the time of the distribution
of land, the Slavophils influenced the Czarist government to
reinstate the archaic communes.
As it often happens with abstract idealists, the Russian
professors who started the Slavophil movement in about
1840 were radically wrong. Their assumption that the system
of communes which they discovered in old, pre-historic Rus
sia represented a characteristically Russian form was wrong,
and yet, they succeeded in reinstating primitive communes
in Russia! Furthermore, they, defended stubbornly this
archaic form as the only form suitable for Russian peasants!
The Czarist government conceded to the incorrect ideas
of the Slavophils for more practical reasons. First of all,
it was easier for the government to collect taxes from the
villages than from each individual peasant. Also, it was easier
to rule over the people who were herded into communes and
were deprived of individual initiative.
Besides, the Slavophils argued that the system of
communes solved a problem of unemployment. As poor as
a peasant could have been, he was still a member of his
commune. And the Czarist government was afraid of the
proletariat, i.e., wage-earning working class. They could not
foresee at that time astonishing industrial developments and
the coming demands of industry.
As a result, Russian peasants, having been freed from
their noble masters, found themselves very soon in a bondage
of their own communes! They were not free!
However, the archaic system of communes was not
introduced to the entire Russian Empire. It did not exist in
Finland, in the Baltic Provinces (after the revolution called
Esthonia and Latvia), in Lithuania or in Poland.
As a matter of fact, Baltic nobles set their serfs free
according to a special petition they presented to the Czar,
prior to the Act of Liberation in 1861. The landowners of
these provinces (Estland, Li viand and Kurland) gave land to
their former serfs, dividing this land into small farms of
about twenty to twenty-five acres each. Such a farm was
granted to each head of a family on the condition that he
could leave his farm to one of his sons, but had no right
to divide it among his children. In this way the farm
remained intact and the farmer had only the right to select
his heir. This system was established on the assumption that
all the other children who did not inherit any land would
learn a trade. Baltic nobles did not attribute to their former
serfs any supernatural, mystic qualities, and solved the
problem of distribution of land from a practical, European
point of view. As a result, some fifty years later, in spite of
the terrific impact of a revolution and the highly publicized
genius of Lenin, these parts of the Empire stubbornly
Needless to say, the system of communes was never
introduced to the natives of the Russian Caucasus, where
Joseph Stalin was born. The Georgians put up a stubborn
fight against the Communists in 1920, but the Soviet troops
outnumbered them and in spite of their heroic resistance,
the Caucasians were conquered and included in the Soviet
Union. Stalin could not tolerate his own native Georgia
repudiating his leadership.
In the years when the distribution of land to the
peasants took place, not all Russian nobles were Slavophils.
The majority of them looked with apprehension at the newly
established peasants 1 communes, but after the Act of
Liberation of 1861, peasants were not their problem any
longer. They were now a problem of the government.
Since time immemorial, Russian nobles had managed
their estates without sufficient working capital, and now,
in spite of the fact that the government bonds they received
in payment for their lands were selling at seventy-seven
percent of their face value, landowners were anxious to get
cash that they needed badly, and were more interested in
how much money they could realize from the sale of
government bonds than in the future destinies of their form
Acting as a Justice of the Peace attached to a govern
ment commission in his precinct, my father could not pos
sibly foresee all the evils that the system of communes was
to bring to Russia. According to the Russian standards,
being half German and half Polish, my father was considered
foreign born (inorodetz) and, therefore, from the point
of view of Slavophils, was unable to appreciate all the depths
of a true Russian mind.
On the other hand, by his upbringing and education,
my father was a European, and always regarded Russian
intellectuals with a certain contempt. From my father's point
of view, Slavophils were narrow-minded, gullible people who
were envious of Western Europe and its cultural achievements.
Their psychology was fitted better to the ancient Dukedom
of Moscow, with all their stupid prejudices, than to the great
Empire that Russia had become, with some two hundred
different nationalities, different races, religions, and traditions.
The true Russians (Velikorossy), not counting the Ukrain
ians, represented only about fifty percent of the population
of this Empire. This conglomeration of different nations,
European as well as Asiatic, from the Baltic Sea and
Carpathian Mountains to the far away border;, of China and
the Pacific Coast, from the Black Sea, Caucasian Mountains
and borders of Afghanistan to the tundras of the Arctic
Circle, was held together by the Crown, by the White Czar
of the endless Kirghis and Kalmyk steppes, who was sup
posed to be a ruler equally benevolent to all his subjects,
disregarding their race, creed or religion.
My father did not hesitate to show his aversion to the
Slavophil ideas, and soon acquired a reputation of a Polish
rebel . He was convinced that Russian peasants were
proprietors craving to possess things which tfiey did not
even need, but which, for some unknown reason, had a certain
value in their eyes. For instance, peasants often could not
resist stealing any metal bolts, nuts, screws and other parts
of any machine or carriage, although these metal parts had
no practical use for them.
In the summer, all agricultural machines stood in an
open shed, in constant use, and it was strictly forbidden for
any peasant to come anywhere near the shed. The peasants
had an uncanny ability to unscrew some nuts from a
machine, unnoticed by anyone, and steal them, together with
some small part, if their good luck prevailed; later on, a
blacksmith had a difficult time replacing the stolen parts
when this particular machine was badly needed in the fields.
It certainly was much more important for each peasant
to possess his own individual piece of land than all sorts
of metal parts of different machines!
Knowing this trait in the character of the Russian
peasants, my father doubted very much that they would be
happy living in communes. But, my father was very young
at that time, and was very much in love. On the 1st of
December, 1864, his first son was born and named Albert-
Carl- Johann. A couple of years later my half-sister Anna-
Leonida (Nussia) was born, and my father and his wife
Adela were extremely happy. However, their happiness was
to be short-lived.
My grandmother had been suffering from severe pains
in the abdomen for some time, and, finally, doctors diagnosed
that she had cancer. There was no cure for cancer at that
time. All the doctors could do was to relieve her of pain
with injections of morphine. Her brother, Stanislaw Juriewicz,
invited her immediately to come, to his home in Odessa,
where the climate was better and where she could get much
Leaving for Odessa, my grandmother realized that it
was her last journey, and she made arrangements to transfer
the administration of both estates, Kolpino and Zabelja, to
my father, who adored his mother. He remained at his post as
a judge, but to his official duties were now added new worries
of managing the estates of his mother.
In the summer of 1867, my father's first-born son
died of meningitis. He was just three years old, and a
smart little fellow. At the same time, Adela began to ^ run a
slight fever in the morning, coughing, and complaining of
a pain in her chest. My father was alarmed, and doctors
were called. They diagnosed that Adela had tuberculosis and
advised her to go south.
My father took a leave of absence, and., leaving his little
daughter Nussia with the sister of his wife, Emilia-Paulina
Juriewicz, in Kolpino, he took his wife to Odessa, to the
house of Stanislaw Juriewicz. The journey was made by
carriage and lasted a couple of weeks. Adela was exhausted
from this trip, and by the time they arrived in Odessa it
became apparent that she could not last long...
Within two months, Adela died in the arms of her
husband. Her last wish was to be buried in the family
crypt in Kolpino, next to her infant son, Albert-Carl-Johann.
Her body was placed in a metal coffin, hermetically sealed,
and my father, with this gruesome reminder of his sorrow,
started on the long journey north.
Less than a year later, my grandmother, Anna von
Wrangell, died in Odessa, and her coffin was also brought
to Kolpino to be buried in the family vaulc. A few months
later, my father received the sad news that his uncle and
former guardian, Stanislaw Juriewicz, had died in Berszada.
In spite of his youth, my father was desperate with
grief. The three persons whom he loved the most, his wife,
his mother, and his uncle, had passed away in rapid succes
sion, leaving him alone with his daughter Nussia, only three
THE SALE OF ALASKA
On the 30th of March, 1867, the sale of Alaska by
Russia was signed by Baron Stoekl, Russian Ambassador,
and William Seward, American Secretary of State, in
Washington, B.C. This treaty was ready for delivery to the
U.S. Senate for ratification.
In October of the same year, transfer of Alaska to the
United States took place in New Archangel (Sitka). The
white flag with St. Andrew's Cross was lowered slowly over
the farthest outpost of the Russian Empire, and the Stars
and Stripes were raised, the ceremoney having been ac
companied by a salute of the guns on Castle Hill.
For years some liberal groups in the United States
had been trying at all costs to create a hostile attitude of
the American people towards the Imperial Russian govern
ment. These groups explained the sale of Alaska by Russia
in their own way. Their usual explanation was that Russia
sold Alaska for badly needed cash, which explanation was
without foundation. The sum of $ 7,200,000.00 received by
Russia was much too small to have any effect on Russian
finances, and even the Soviet Marxist historians point out
that the Russian Imperial government could have gotten
twice that much from Great Britain.
Another explanation was based on the assumption that
the Russian government was unaware at that time of the
rich mineral deposits, including gold, that were found in
Alaska shortly after the sale took place. This explanation
was also without foundation, because the Russian govern-
ment and the directors of the Russian-American Company
were aware of the extreme richness of Alaska's mineral
deposits. Mr. Alexandre Tarsaidze wrote in his book, Czars
and Presidents , as follows:
As early as 1848 a mining engineer by the name
of Doroshin had discovered deposits there of
limestone, marble, graphite, coal and gold. In 1885,
a vein of gold was opened, and a small shipment
sent to San Francisco. But, the Russians had no
way of exploiting these resources. Having at their
disposal insufficient ships, money and trained
engineers, both the Russian government and the
Russian-American Company had no choice but to
remain silent about their Alaskan treasure; any
hint of which would bring not only an army of
foreigners with shovels, but an army of enemy
soldiers. Had Alaska still been a possession of Rus
sia at the time of the Klondike gold rush, the horde
of Americans who swept north would have either
driven the Russians out or caused such friction as
to make a war inevitable between the two countries .
There was a strong opposition in Russia to the sale of
Alaska, and only the absolute power of the Czar made the
in the United States. Americans called it Seward's Folly
and the United States Senate at first refused to appropriate
the necessary sum of money to pay for Seward's Icebox as
some senators called Alaska at that time.
The appraisal of the fair prince that Russia could expect to
get for Alaska was made by Baron Ferdinand von Wrangell (of
the family branch Lagena), a former Governor-General of Alaska.
To the figure of $ 7,000,000.00 were added a couple of hundred
thousand dollars of exchange fees, and the final price reluctantly
ratified and appropriated by the American Congress was
The sale of Alaska cemented still further the friendly
relations which existed between the Czarist Russian govern
ment and the United States.
In the same years of 1867, on June 19th, the unfortunate
Emperor Maximilian of Mexico was executed at Querctaro.
Under the influence of his wife, a Belgian princess,
the Austrian Archduke agreed, unwillingly, to take part in
the adventurous schemes of Napoleon III, and accepted in
1863 the Crown of Mexico, offered to him by the Mexican
National Assembly. Maximilian was sincere in his desire to
serve his new country faithfully and worked incessantly for
the welfare of his subjects. But with the victory of the
northern states in the Civil War, the scheme jf the French
Emperor to regain the parts of Alabama and Mississippi ceded
by France to Great Britain in the XVIII century, and Louisi
ana, sold by Napoleon I to the United States in 1803, failed.
The French troops were forced to evacuate Mexico, and
victorious Juarez, defeating the Imperial forces, captured
Maximilian and his generals at Queretaro. Four days later
the ill-fated monarch faced a firing squad. The news of her
husband's execution was such a shock to Empress Charlotte
that she became insane. She died in 1925.
The execution of a brother of the Austrian Emperor
made a profound impression in Europe. The death on a
guillotine of King Louis XVI and Queen Marie-Antoniette
at the time of the French Revolution aroused great indignation
throughout Europe. Napoleon Bonaparte then marched with
. his $njiy from one end of Europe to. tb,e other, bringing war,
devastation and deprivation to every European country.
Finally, he was defeated, and order restored.
And, now, an assassination of a brother of the
most benevolent and liberal European ruler, who was very
popular among his own subjects, and had behind him
centuries-old traditions of the. Holy Empire!
Europe was shocked!
In 1848, Emperor Franz- Josef, at that time only
eighteen years old, granted a constitution to Austria-Hungary,
and afterward his popularity increased steadily. His marriage
to a beautiful Bavarian princess who had always been tired
of the pomp of the imperial etiquette, but who had won the
hearts of her subjects by her kindness and beauty, only
increased his popularity. The Emperor Franz-Josef and
Empress Elisabeth succeeded in creating a brillant Empire
out of a conglomeration of all kinds of people and races,
so different in temperament, languages and cultural traditions.
There was a happy life in Austria-Hungary during their reign.
All subjects of Emperor Franz-Josef, disregarding their class
distinction, race or religion, enjoyed security, respect and a
happy existence, and it was reflected in the music of that
period the light and gay operettas and the immortal
waltzes of Johann Strauss.
My father knew Vienna and the happy frame of mind
and carefree gaiety of the Viennese. As a young student of
Heidelberg University, he used to visit Prince and Princess
Hohenlohe, close friends of his uncle and guardian, Stanislaw
Juriewicz, and had an opportunity to get a glimpse of the
brilliant Viennese court. He remembered Johann Strauss
when the famous composer visited Russia, and was directing
his orchestra in the beautiful gardens of Pavlovsk. Unfortun
ately for Strauss, a Russian Grand Duchess tell in love with
him, and Strauss was advised to leave Russia.
... And, now, it was not Juarez who had ordered the
execution of Maximilian but the scheming Napoleon III who
was universally condemned for the murder.
Nevertheless, the prestige of the French Emperor stood
very high. Too many people were made to believe that
Napoleon III was just as brilliant on the field of battle as
was his late uncle. A new machine-gun, the mitrailleuse, from
which much was expected, was introduced in the French army,
and this army appeared invincible! Only Moltke and Bismarck
knew the real fighting capacity and capability of the French
armed forces. The officers were badly trained, the storehouses
which were supposed to be full of ammunition were actually
empty, the soldiers were poorly equipped, inefficiency and
corruption reigned in all government departments. The Prus
sian high command had no illusions about the military tal
ents of the nephew of the Little Corporal .
After the collapse of many of his plans, the French
Emperor got the idea that to restore his prestige he needed
a victorious war, and in the spring of 1870, he declared war
After French troops suffered defeat at Reichshoffen,
Napoleon III, under the influence of Empress Eugenie,
decided on an offensive, which ended in Sedan. On September
2, 1870, Napoleon III surrendered with 80,000 men, and on
the 4th day of September, the Empire fell.
In the spring of 1871, in besieged Paris, a commune
was organized. The Prussians did not want to ruin the city
and were trying to capture Paris by a long siege. After the
Communists had no food left and were forced to eat rats,
the city capitulated. The first act of the Prussian king was
to bring food to the starving Parisians.
In 1871, Communism, the ugly doctrine inspired by
envy and blind hatred, made its first appearance in Europe.
But it did not last, and was wiped out by the Third Republic
with ultra-bourgeois ideas. The Prussians held negotiations
with Thiers and Gambetta representing the French Republic.
In Paris, a union of all German States was proclaimed
and the German Empire was formed. The victorious King
of Prussia assumed the title of Emperor of Germany.
This war turned over another page in the history of
At the very beginning of the Franco-Prussian War, my
father expressed doubts about French victory. His remarks
were not based on his knowledge or his conviction he
was not interested in politics but were prompted by his
desire to contradict some elderly people around him who
professed to know much about the international situation and
predicted a speedy victory for the French Emperor. These
people brushed my father aside, declaring that the young
man did not know what he was talking about.
The news of capitulation at Sedan and the subsequent
collapse of the French empire left these people speechless,
and my father's reputation as a keen student of international
affairs was established.
My father went through a very sad period of his life
when in rapid succession he lost his infant son, his wife,
his mother and his uncle. Fortunately for him, he was young
and physically healthy and strong. He could not remain
depressed for any length of time. He was full of joie de
vivre and his natural jovial disposition did not permit him
to brood over his sorrows for long.
He moved out of Reblio, where everything reminded
him of his happiness with Adela, and established his office
as well as his residence in Kolpino. Kolpino's house was
larger and more comfortable, and the same old Pani
Wessoczinska remained the housekeeper. Pani Wessoczinska
had already been the housekeeper of Kolpino at the time
when this estate belonged to my father's grandmother, Anna
Deszpot-Zienowicz. Nobody knew her exact age, but she
remembered well Napoleon's invasion of Russia, and
continued to carry on her belt all the keys of the cellars
and storerooms of Kolpino. For her, my father was still the
same Stas, who as a little boy used to get some extra mazurki
and other cookies from her.
In Kolpino, Emilia-Paulina Juriewicz, my father's
cousin and sister-in-law, was acting as mistress of the house.
Nussia, the little daughter of my father, did not remember
her mother, and called her aunt Mama . Emilia-Paulina
loved her niece as though she were her own child.
My father's time was much occupied by his official
duties as a judge. Also, he was much in demand socially.
When the neighboring landowners arranged a trap-
shooting and everybody shot clay pigeons, my father, as he
was known in the district as an expert marksman, was
given a handicap to shoot silver coins in the air, and he
usually won the pot.
He received invitations from the neighboring gentry to
attend every big hunt, when a battue of wolves was arranged,
or a bear was found in his lair. Every such hunt was
followed by a dinner that lasted for hours. After dinner,
dances were arranged for the young people.
My father never drank any hard liquor or wine. It was
really remarkable how he managed to abstain from liquor
when in every house in Russia and Poland at that time,
vodka, cognac, and wines were served with every meal.
On the other hand, my father was very susceptible to
feminine charms. Red-haired, tall, well-built, with a classical
profile of a well-proportioned head, he exercised an irresistible
charm over every woman around him. Disregarding their
social standing, married women as well as young debutantes,
ladies of society as well as pretty chambermaids, they all
Stanislaw von Wrangeli,
father of the author.
could not resist temptation and were willing to bestow their
attention and lavish their Love upon him. He attracted them
all, and they spoiled him.
He was a clever judge, and in a short time became
very popular in his district. In 1874, he was appointeed
President of the Council of Justices of the Peace of the
District of Lutzin. The jurisdiction of the council extended
over the entire province, and all important cases were decided
at its sessions. An appeal could have been made only to the
Court of Appeal (Cassation Department) of the Senate, the
highest judicial tribunal of the Empire.
Old judges erudite by many years of experience were
members of the Council of Justices of the Peace, and their
president was a man only thirty years old! It was a brilliant
My father liked to walk alone through the fields and
forests. He liked nature and the beautiful countryside of
northern Belorussia. One afternoon he was walkig along
the Goulbitsche , as it was always called by the local
peasants a wide path with pine and birch trees growing
on both sides that led from Kolpino's park over the hilly
countryside to the nearest forest. Roots of old trees crossed
the path here and there. On both sides of the path were
meadows and fields, now bare. It was early spring and the
air was sharp. The snow had already melted, leaving only
thawing patches in the hollows between the fields and under
My father was walking leisurely, inhaling the brisk
spring air deeply into his lungs. He stopped at a high point
of Goulbitsche . From this hill there was a beautiful view
of Kolpino's old park, with its enormous trees, on the family
cemetery on a hill nearby, and fields and meadows, surrounded
by forests. About three-quarters of a mile away, one could
see a wide public road which crossed the estate, going around
the park and all buildings in a great semicircle. Thi road
connected Post Station Linetz on the State Highway St.
Petersburg-Vitebsk, and Lakoushi, a large village with a Rus
sian Orthodox Church, on the other side of the estate, about
four miles from Kolpino.
A couple of workmen sent by the superintendent were
cleaning Goulbitsche from brushwood and fallen branches.
Suddenly one turned to my father and said:
Look, Pan, (in Polish, Lord), it looks like a bear got
out of his den .
My father looked in the direction the workman was
pointing, and on the public road where it turned sharply
at the bottom of a hill onto a bridge built across a brook,
he saw a brown bear. The animal was not large, and evidently
had just come from its den where it had slept through the
winter, because the poor beast was very thin, and its fur
hung down, practically touching the ground, while it walked
aimlessly in the mud of the road.
My father sent one workman immediately to the house
to get a gun, and with the other workman slowly walked
straight across the fields and meadows to the place where
they had seen the bear. My father realized that something
was wrong because the beast continued walking aimlessly on the
road. When they came nearer, they saw that it was not a bear,
but someone in a daha (a coat with fur on the outside),
walking on all fours. The thick fur collar of the coat was
raised and completely covered the face of the man who wore
a fur cap as well as the daha .
By this time the workman who had been sent for a gun
came running, followed by several curious people, mostly
women and children. They all helped the man stand up on
his feet, and were speechless when they recognized him to
be the Russian priest, Odintzov, from LakoushL The priest
was completely drunk.
Evidently, riding down the hill on a bumpy road, he
was thrown out of his small wagon and had been lying
on the road for some time. Then he sobered up a little,
and tried in vain to get up, but his feet and arms sank
in the mud.
In a little while Matoushka, the wife of the priest,
arrived. She had become alarmed when the horse brought
home an empty wagon, and immediately decided to ride back
and find her husband, who had left early that morning to
to give Communion to a dying man who lived near Linetz.
Matoushka was not mistaken. She found her husband
drunk, covered with mud, and surrounded by a crowd which
became silent at her approach. Mrs. Odintzov saw my father
standing on the side of the road, and went straight to him.
She fell on her knees.
Please, please, Your Honor, forgive him! Do not
denounce him to the authorities! Our very lives depend on
your generosity , pleaded the woman.
My father made a wry face. He disliked intensely to see
people kneeling before him, especially a woman. He moved
to help her to get up, and turned away from her. He did
not belong to the Russian Orthodox Church, and the conduct
of the Russian priest concerned him very little. On the
other hand, he was a judge of this precinct and was
expected to uphold the law and order.
The poor woman continued to beg for mercy. My father
was repelled by the entire affair, and in order to get rid
of her, promised not to notify the proper authorities about
the conduct of her husband. Mrs. Odintzov tried to kiss
his hand, but my father evaded her.
The workmen helped her load the priest on the wagon.
The boys found the chalice and other vessels in the mud;
evidently they had fallen out of the wagon at the same time
as the priest.
People kept silent, and only Matoushka tried to talk.
She was obviously very much embarrassed. Finally she got
into her wagon, with her drunken husband sleeping peacefully
in the back, and started home.
My father walked pensively along the road, trying to
forget the whole thing. At that time he did not know what
disagreeable consequences this incident would have for him
in the near future.
THE RUSSO-TURKISH WAR
Emilia-Paulina Juriewicz was one of many women who
were in love with my father. With other women, the
infatuation was not serious, but in Emilia's case, it was
Emilia had been secretly in love with my father from
the very moment she had met him years before, and had
suffered a great deal while her cousin courted and finally
married her older sister. Emilia had a deep loyalty to her
sister, and was careful not to show her real feelings, but
when Adela passed away, and Nussia was entrusted to her
care, she became determined to win her cousin's affections.
With the cunning ingenuity of a woman in love, she
started her attack. She poured all her love and affection on
Nussia, whom my father adored. She replaced her mother,
making herself indispensable. My father was very grateful
to her; like all men, he dreaded the responsibility of bringing
up a girl. Also, Emilia was placed in the position of mistress
of Kolpino, and she took full advantage of it. She presided
at the head of a long table, trying to look her best, always
cheerful, always in a good mood.
And yet my father was far from falling in love with
her. It was Nussia who tipped the scales in her favor. She
had developed a genuine affection for her aunt who took
such excellent care of her, and, in his desire to see his little
daughter happy, my father finally decided to marry his belle-
They were married in the Kolpino's family chapel in
1875, and in 1876 Emilia gave birth to a boy, whom they
named Woldemar-Constantin. The following year, Emilia gave
birth to a daughter, who was named Adela. In these first
two years of their married life they were comparatively
happy, although my father was aware of the differences In
Emilia Juriewicz had not gone to any school; she had
received her education at home. At that time, the most
important aspect of the education of a girl was her manners
and also ability to carry on conversation in a drawingroom.
She was supposed to dance well and to know something
about music. The French language was a 'must' but that was
pratically all that was required from a young debutante.
Emilia never read a book... her knowledge of geography, his
tory and other subjects was extremely limited. Her ideas of
life were well-balanced, and practical, but rather naive. After
his infatuation with Emilia subsided, my father found the
company of his wife quite boring.
At the same time, Emilia wanted to exercise fully her
rights and privileges of a wife, expecting from her husband
continuous attention and signs of affection. At the end of
two years my father became not only completely indifferent
to her, but grew to actually dislike her. Emilia was very
unhappy and cried a lot. Her demanding attitude and her
lack of understanding caused him to care less and less for
her. They drifted apart until finally they became complete
strangers, yet Emilia was tenaciously hanging on to her
prerogatives as a wife at that time, divorces were not
looked upon favorably.
They continued to live in the big Kolpnio house,
occupying separate quarters, and met only in the diningroom
when meals were served, or when it was necessary to
entertain their guests. It was a very trying and unhappy
period in my father's life. He was lonely, being estranged
even from his own children, because in her desire to win
their sympathy, Emilia inlfuenced them against their father.
It was one of the reasons that led my father to the decision
to place Nussia, at the age of twelve, in the Smolny Insti
tute in St. Petersburg. Smolny was a well-known govern
ment school for girls of nobility, with strict discipline and
firm traditions. For Nussia it was the greatest change in her
Being preoccupied with his personal affairs, my father
did not follow the international events which aroused a
great deal of interest among Russian intelligentsia at that
In 1876, the uprising of the Serbs against the Turks
in Herzegovina was followed by the uprising of the Bulgarians-
The sympathies of Russian intelligentsia were on the side of
Christian Slavs who were trying to overthrow the yoke of
the Moslem Turks.
The Slavophils were very active among all groups of
Russian society. Their idea of uniting all the Slavs under
the sceptre of the Russian Czar received tacit approval in
government circles, and many officers of the Imperial Guards
were resigning from their regiments to join the Serbian army
as volunteers. Collections for hospitals and medical supplies
were made at the fashionable charity balls and bazaars in
St. Petersburg and Moscow. Russian newspapers were
publishing communiques from the fighting front on their
front pages; these communiques were considered the most
important news of the day.
Czar Alexander II was not a Slavophil, and did not
approve of Slavophil aims and ideas. He realized that the
Russian Empire consisted of many different nationalities and
races, and that the Slavonic population of the Empire,
including Poles, hardly exceeded seventy percent of all his
In the year 989, Russia received Christianity from the
Byzantine Empire, and the Russian Prince Vladimir, who
invited Byzantine clergy to Kiev to baptize his subjects in
the Dnieper River, became a Saint of the Russian Orthodox
Church. The Russian alphabet with thirty-six letters created
at that time by two Bulgarian monks was based on the
In 1224, the borders of Genghis-Khan invaded Russia.
Russian troops and European medieval knighthood were no
match for the Mongolian divisions. Sitting on big chargers,
both man and horse covered by heavy armor, the knights
were much too clumsy to move quickly. Their strategy was
simple: always a frontal attack, the knights acting like tanks
trying to break the enemy's front line. Their men followed
on horse and on foot. The knights never retreated they
considered that it was a sign of defeat.
The Mongol divisions, sitting on light, fast ponies,
introduced a war of maneuver, a war of movements, unknown
at that time in Europe. At the battle of Budapest (1241) the
flower of European knighthood was practically annihilated
by the Mongols.
In 1240, the second invasion of Europe by the Mongols
under Batu-Khan took place, and Russia was completely
subdued. The Mongol rule of Russia lasted two hundred
and fifty years, and only in 1480, Ivan III. Grand Duke of
Moscow, threw off the Mongol yoke. During these two
hundred and fifty years, Mongol and Tatar words were
adopted in the Russian language and the Russian people ac
quired many traits and characteristics of the Asiatics. Mongol
ian and Tatar aristocracy, including some direct descendants
of Genghis-Khan, became closely intermarried with Russian
aristocracy and for centuries had been prominent members
of St. Petersburg and Moscow society. Practically every
Russian had some Tatar blood in his veins, and was proud
of it, too!
After the capture of Constantinople by the Turks in
1453, Grand Duke Ivan III of Moscow married Princess
Sophia, a niece of Constantine Palaeologus. the last of the
Greek Emperors, and proclaimed himself the sole heir to the
eastern part of the Roman Empire. At that time the black
Double Eagle of the Roman Legions became the Russian
Grand Duke Ivan IV, better known as Ivan the Terrible
(1533-1584), accepted the title of Caesar, which was ab
breviated in Russia to Czar , and ever since then, all
Russian Sovereigns considered themselves as the heirs and
successors to the Byzantine Emperors.
The Russian Empress Catherine II (1762-1796) named
her second grandson Constantine, anticipating a great event
of his being installed as the Byzantine Emperor in
Constantinople. Grand Duke Constantine, a brother of Czar
Alexander I, was taught to speak and write Greek fluently.
And now the Slavophils proclaimed their aim to replace
the Moslem Crescent with an Orthodox Cross on the Aya-
Sophia mosque in Constantinople!
On the other hand, all western Slavonic people,
including Poles, received Christianity from Rome. Their
alphabets were based on the Latin alphabet, and for centuries
western Slaves had been under the cultural influence of the
Roman Empire and the Roman Catholic Church.
Czar Alexander II realized only too well that the
European Slavs, like Croats, Slovens, Czechs, Carpatho-
Russians and Poles had an entirely different cultural
background, and were actually strangers to Russians, while
Uzbecks, Kalmucks, Kirghis, Tatars and other Turko-Mongolian
tribes were much nearer to the masses of the Russian people.
The Czar realized that any attempt to unite all Slavonic
peoples under his sceptre would inevitably be opposed with
force by all European powers, and by the same Slavs who
had been accustomed for centuries to a European way of
life, and appeared to be quite content under the Austrian
rule. The Polish uprisings of 1831 and 1863 took place only
in that part of Poland which belonged to Russia, and did
not spread to Polish provinces of the Austrian and Ger
man Empires. Russians, with their half-Byzantine and half-
Asiatic conceptions and ways of life were foreign to the
It is necessary to admit that, through many centuries,
Russia received a heritage of purely ideological nature from
the former Byzantine Empire. However, as to the territorial
aspect of Russia, she reached geographical limits of the
Empire of Genghis-Khan and his son Batu, the founder
of the Golden Horde. These geographical limits were reached
by sheer necessity, and so Russia acquired the shores of the
Baltic Sea and approached the Carpathian Mountains in the
west, and the shores of the Black Sea in the south, in order
to expand the Empire to its natural geographical borders
which were easier to defend, and which gave Russia an out
let to the sea.
In their new acquisitions, the Russian Czars did not
follow the ethnological principle of conquering territories
populated exclusively by Slavonic people. As a matter of fact,
the population of new territories acquired by the Czars was
not Slavonic in origin Finns and Esthonians were of
Mongolian extraction, Letts and Lithuanians of Ancient
Arian, but not of Slavonic origin, and in the south, Crimean
Tatars and some fifty different tribes and nations of Cuasasian
Mountains all of them having their own language, their
own religion, customs, and traditions, all different, and none
even distantly related to Slavs.
All territories acquired by Russia in Europe as well
as in Asia the Uzbek and Kirghis steppes northeast of
the Black Sea, Russian Turkestan and Moslem Khanates of
Kokand (later renamed Ferghana Territory ), Bokhara and
Khiva in Central Asia, the farflung Ussuri Territory and the
lands along the banks of Amur River, Sakhalin Island on the
shores of the Sea of Okhotsk, Kamchatka, and the shores
of the Pacific all of them became integral parts of the
Russian Empire, and all Turko-Mongolian tribes and races
of these distant lands and territories proved to be loyal
subjects of the White Czar , the name they called their
And, not ideologically but in reality. Russian Czars
were the heirs and successors of the Great Mongol.
The importance of the Czars in restoring peace, and
introducing European culture to the natives of Asia was
much greater than the role they could possibly have played
as purely Slavonic rulers. And Czar Alexander II was a
benevolent sovereign of a great Empire, striving incessantly
for the welfare of all his subjects, with no preference for
any one group.
It would have been very advantageous for Russia to
acquire the Straits of Bosphorus and Dardanelles. From a
strategic point of view, it was much easier to defend the
entrance to the Black Sea than to defend the great extent
of its shores. The closing of the straits to Russian shipping,
as happened during the Crimean War, caused losses to Rus
sian trade that ran into many millions of gold Roubles.
However, it was even more important for Russia to find an
outlet to an open sea from the regions of Turkestan and
the Altai Mountains. This region had the richest deposits of
copper and other metals, and could not have been developed
without access to the open sea. The cost of a pound of
copper transported from Central Asia to European Russia by
railroads was prohibitively high, much higher than the price
of a pound of the same metal brought from Canada by ship.
On account of the lack of water transportation, the fabulous
wealth of Central Asia was condemned to remain undeveloped.
In trying to find a solution to the question of the Straits
of Bosphorus and Dardanelles, it would have been a big step
forward for Russia if European powers had agreed to declare
Constantinople a free port, but even for that Russia could
not hope, and any Russian territorial claims in the Balkans
only complicated matters and were bound to lead Russia
into war with European powers. The great Russian Czar-
Emancipator was not looking for war. Under pressure of
public opinion, inspired by Slavophils, the Czar proceeded
very carefully, and proposed a cooperative action in the
Balkans to all European powers.
Since 1874, Disraeli had been in power in England.
Following an imperialist policy, he had bought the Suez
Canal, and had made Queen Victoria Empress of India. He
showed the traditional British jealousy of Russia's advance
in Asia. Disraeli stated clearly that England would not permit
Russia to threaten the integrity of the Ottoman Empire.
The Czar realized the apprehension of the British
government concerning Russia's getting into the Mediterranean
and menacing the lifeline of the British empire, the shortest
way to India, He was forced to turn to Austria-Hungary.
It was officially announced that he had gone to Austria
for a rest, and on the 8th day of July, 1876, he met
incidentally Emperor Franz- Josef at Reichstadt. Here, the
two monarchs worked out and signed an agreement in which
all possibilities of victory, defeat and a collapse of the
Ottoman Empire were foreseen. Austria was to remain neutral,
but friendly to Russia, and was to receive Bosnia and
Herzogovina. Russia was to receive the part of Bessarabia
lost after the Crimean War. In case Bulgaria's independence
was established, no Russian prince was to ascend the
Bulgarian throne. This agreement of Reichstadt was confirmed
in Budapest in January, 1877, and implemented in Vienna in
March of the same year.
Upon his return to St. Petersburg, Czar Alexander
found it necessary to make a definite statement to the British
Ambassador that Russia was not seeking anv gain for itself,
and intended only to protect the brother Slavs in the
Balkans. Lord Derby, British Minister for Foreign Affairs,
acknowledged approvingly the statements of the Czar and
invited the European powers to a conference at Constantinople.
As a result, they came to an agreement by which Serbia and
Montenegro were to receive their independence and some
additional territory from Turkey; Bulgaria, Bosnia and
Herzegovina were to receive autonomy under Christian
governors appointed by Turkey and approved by the European
However, the Turkish Great Council unanimously re
fused to appoint Christian g< vernors for these provinces.
By that time, the feeling in Russia had reached a boiling
point, and on April 24, 1877, Russia declared war on Turkey.
Crossing the Danube near Sistova, Russian troops
advanced on the Balkans. They pushed their way over the
Shipka Pass, where they were only two day's march from
Adrianopol, but Osman Pasha with his troops, unperceived
by the Russians, marched from Vidim, and entrenched
himself around Plevna, a Turkish fortress which was in path
of the Russian advance. In spite of vigorous Russian attacks,
Plevna withstood a long siege.
Russian soldiers wondered why they should be ordered
from the remote parts of the empire to fight for the sake
of the liberation of Bulgarians and Serbs. They did not
have any friendly feelings toward these little brothers
as Russian intelligentsia used to call the Slavonic people of
the Balkans, and, contrary to the public opinion in Russia,
they liked the Turks. They had great respect for the courage
of the Turkish soldiers, and a warm feeling towards this
enemy on account of a friendly attitude displayed by the
Turks regarding their prisoners. Captured Russian soldiers
were immediately invited by Turkish soldiers to share their
food with them, and to eat out of the same big pot their
pilave, a Turkish dish made of rice with fat and lamb in it.
In spite of the difference of religion and language, there
was a certain strong affinity between the soldiers of these
After a long siege, Plevna was finally captured and the
road to Constantinople was opened. In the Eastern theater,
advancing from Caucasus, Russian troops under the command
of Grand Duke Michail Nicholayevitch, a brother of the Czar,
captured Kars and the fortress of Erzerum. It was the most
brilliant action of the war. Russian troops were only about
sixty miles from Constantinople when the British Fleet
entered the Sea of Marmora. At this point, Sultan Abdul
Hamid made an appeal to Queen Victoria, and the Queen
telegraphed the Czar, asking him to stop. The Czar agreed,
and on January 31, 1878, an armistice was concluded at Ad-
The treaty of San Stefano, signed by Turkey on March
3, 1878, created a semi-independent principality of Bulgaria,
with the annexation of a large Turkish territory. The Ottoman
Empire even lost Adrianopol. Disregarding the agreement of
Reichstadt, the autonomy of Bosnia and Herzegovina was
proclaimed. In the East, the provinces of Kars, Ardahan and
Bayazid were given to Russia. Dobrudscha was to be given
to Romania in exchange for a part of Bessarabia, which she
would cede to Russia.
A peace treaty was signed, and the war was over.
THE ASSASSINATION OF CZAR ALEXANDER II
European powers refused to approve the conditions of
the Treaty of San Stefano, and insisted that this treaty signed
by Russia and Turkey would be revised at a congress of all
In order to protect the interests of Turkey, Great
Britain concluded a defensive alliance with Turkey on the
4th of June of the same year. The European powers agreed
to revise the Treaty of San Stefano at a congress in Berlin.
Prince Bismarck, Grand Chancellor of Germany, volunteered
to act as intermediary between the great powers. To use
his own words, he promised to act as an honest broker .
Because of Russia's friendly attitude towards Prussia
during the Franco-Prussian War of 1870, which led to the
creation of the German Empire, the Russian government and
Russian public opinion expected Bismarck to be grateful
to Russia and to defend the terms of the San Stefano's
Treaty, but Bismarck preferred to remain strictly neutral.
Austria-Hungary reminded Russia of the agreement of
Reichstadt. At the last moment, Prince Gorchakoff, Russian
plenipotentiary at the congress, succeeded in persuading
Austria-Hungary not to insist on the immediate annexation
of these two provinces. The point was that the Treaty of
Reichstadt was kept secret in Russia, although it was made
public in Western Europe. Consequently, public opinion in
Russia was not prepared for the annexation of Bosnia and
Herzogovina by Austria-Hungary. Due to the efforts of Prince
Gorchakoff, the Habsburg Empire agreed to get Bosnia and
Herzegovina for the time being only for occupation and
Great Britain also reminded Russia of her promises
made prior to the outbreak of war, and in consequence,
Russia's gains were reduced to almost nothing. Russia lost
direct control over the newly created Bulgaria, and Turkey
appointed a German prince, Alexander von Battenberg, to
become the Bulgarian ruler. The territory of Bulgaria was
considerably reduced, and Adrianopol was returned to Turkey
as well as the Province of Bayazid in Asia Minor, which had
been ceded to Russia.
Russian enthusiasm for figtihng cooled off considerably
after this war. However, not only the Slavophils, but Rus
sians of different political groups felt that the sacrifices of
the Russian Army during the war justified material gains
for Russia. Prince Gorchakoff, signing the final draft of the
treaty in Berlin for Russia, admitted that it was the most
humiliating moment of his life.
The Russian government had not made public the
previous promises given by the Czar to Austria and to Great
Britain, and public opinion in Russia promptly blamed the
German Chancellor, Prince Bismarck, for the disappointing
results of the Congress in Berlin. Ivan Aksakov, a well-known
Slavophil, not being well informed concerning all the facts,
made a public speech in Moscow denouncing Russian
diplomacy. The general discontent in Russia was so great
that the government found it necessary to banish Aksakov
Strange as it may seem, public opinion in Russia
eventually absolved Great Britain from any blame the
power that actually intervened and stopped the Russian
approach to the Straits of Bosphorus and Dardanelles. Rus
sian intelligentsia became decidedly hostile to Germany and
Austria. It was then that the seeds for the First World War
The Ottoman Empire was spread at that time on three
continents Europe, Asia, and Africa, with mostly Moham
medans in their Asiatic and African provinces. Only in
Syria, about fifty percent of the population was Christian.
Princess Catherine Jurievsky t J ourievsky ) ,
the second, morgatmtic wife of Czar Alexander IL
The Turks forbade ringing of the bells in Christian churches,
and in Syria the church bells remained silent, At the personal
request of the Czar, the Turks were made to remove this
ban, and for the first time in many centuries, the poor people
heard the ringing of their church bells. It was an act of
grace on the part of the White Czar to the Arabic po
pulation of a far-off province of the Ottoman Empire.
Czar Alexander II was an exceedingly well-educated
man. His father, Czar Nicholas I, did everything possible to
give his son an excellent education. The most advanced and
talented professors, among them a well-known Russian poet,
Zhukowsky, author of the Russian national hymn, were
teachers of the young Cesarevitch. By nature, Czar Alexander
II was generous and good-hearted. He ascended the throne
with the intention of giving Russia a series of reforms and
going so far as granting a costitutional form of government
to the Russian people. At the end of his life, he was inclined
more than ever to be forgiving and magnanimous. He was
going through a period of strong personal emotions he
was in love!
A few years prior to the Russo-Turkish War of 1877-1878,
the Czar happened to visit one of his friends, Prince Michael
Dolgoruky, a scion of one of the oldest Russian noble families,
a descendent of Rurik, and by chance met his young daughter,
In his early fifties, the Czar was a man of enormous
charm. An aura of an autocrat who was gracious enough to
grant freedom to millions of people surrounded his personality.
In his presence, all people felt themselves elated. No wonder
the young Catherine was impressed!
Her beauty, her outward frankness, and her quick
replies full of respectful humor, made an impression on the
Czar. At this first meeting, a certain affinity was established
Since 1841, the Czar had been happily married to
Empress Maria Alexandrovna, ne Princess of Hesse and
Rhine. After some thirty years of marriage, during which
she had given birth to seven children, the Empress became
iU and could not take part in official ceremonies, innumerable
receptions and the travels of her husband. Gradually, * the
Czar became accustomed to attending all official functions
and receptions alone.
The Czar and Princess Catherine met again and again,
and in spite of the considerable difference in age, they fell
in love with each other. They were so much in love that
after parting in the evening they wrote letters to each other
to be delivered by special messengers early the following
morning. And, they were writing to each other every single
night! In these letters they initiated each other into the
innermost recesses of their hearts and souls. Both of them
were enthusiastically inspired by a desire to bring welfare
and happiness to their people.
Empress Maria Alexandrovna knew about their romance,
although the Czar had become exceedingly gentle and kind
to her, and she resigned herself to the role of a deserted wife.
On May 28, 1880, the Empress died, and about a month
later, on July 6th, the Czar married Princess Catherine
Dolgoruky, and she became his morganatic wife under the
name of Princess Jurievsky. The children of the Czar and
Princess Catherine were authorized to carry the name and
title of their mother.
The Czar intended to crown his second wife as Empress
of Russia and was only waiting for the opposition of his
own family to subside. He remarked casually that the
Dolgoruky family had more right to the Russian throne than
the Romanoff family, referring to the direct ancestor of his
second wife, Prince Youri Dolgoruky, who in the XII century
was ruler of Russia.
Russian people at large were not aware of the second
marriage of their sovereign, but St. Petersburg society was
all excited, and speculated would Princess Jurievsky become
Empress of Russia, or not? A marriage of the Russian autocrat
to one of his own subjects would inevitably lead to an
undesirable situation of one Russian family, in this case
the Princes Dolgoruky, becoming of great importance, being
so close to the throne. In order to avoid this situation, all
European rulers, by well-established custom, usually married
foreign princesses, and now the Czar was ready to break this
tradition. The opposition to his marriage from his own
family was felt very strongly, and the Czar was forced to
bide his tiny*.
Princess Catherine Dolgoruky,
wife of Czar Alexander II
In his desire to give Russia a more liberal form of
government, the Czar created the Supreme Commission of
Administration which exercised a certain control over the
members of the Cabinet. At the head of the Supreme Com
mission, the Czar appointed General Count Loris-Melikoff,
who was entrusted with the formidable task of outlining a
new constitution. St. Petersburg society witnessed with
astonishment that all official functions were conducted with
Count Loris-Melikoff following the Czar, ahead of all members
of the Imperial family, including the Cesarevitch. It was
contrary to the court etiquette, and in social circles, Loris-
Melikoff was called the Walking Constitution .
But, in spite of the evident intention of the Czar to
grant a constitutional form of government to Russia, attempts
on his life became even more frequent. On February 17, 1880,
a time bomb exploded in a cellar of the Winter Palace.
Directly above, on the ground floor, was a large hall where
a company of an infantry regiment had its quarters, and
directly above that, on the second floor, was a diningroom
where on that day a lunch for the Imperial family and their
guest, Prince Alexander von Battenberg, was to be served.
Fortunately, there was a snow storm that morning, and
the train that was bringing the Prince to St. Petersburg
was late. The Imperial party had not yet entered the diningroom
when the explosion occurred. Many soldiers on the ground
floor were killed or wounded, but the diningroom was not
damaged; only the plates and silver rattled on the dining
Whoever had planned this assassination had not taken
into consideration the peculiar construction of the Winter
Palace. Not only did all the rooms have unusually high
ceilings, but between the ceiling and the floor above was a
space of about five feet. The force of the explosion was not
sufficient to reach the diningroom on the second floor.
A search was made of all rooms, halls and apartments
of the palace. It was not an easy task because the size of
the Winter Palace was eighty-four million cubic feet. The
palace was fourteen hundred feet long, and if it had stood
on end it would have been higher than the Empire State
Building in New York City.
All the rooms, cellars and apartments of the palace
were carefully searched, and to the consternation of the Rus
sian Secret Service, a cow was discovered in one of the
rooms of the attic. It was the servants' quarters, and the
cow belonged to one of the court lackeys who supplied other
servants of the palace with fresh milk.
The Secret Service found the perpetrator of the crime.
It was a workman by the name of Halturin, who had for
weeks brought dynamite in small quantities into the Winter
Palace where he was employed as a repair man. His affiliation
with the Nihilists was established.
The government was very much alarmed, but the Czar
continued to appear in public without guards, as usual. Loris-
Melikoff also withtsood an attack on his own life from a
revolutionary whom he arrested with his own hands. Like
the Czar, Loris-Melikoff was not easily frightened and
continued at his post with all the energy of a georgian.
On February 9, 1881, Loris-Melikoff submitted to the
Czar a plan of associating elective representatives of the
people with the government in legislative work. Russia was
to receive a constitutional form of government, and the
revolutionaries doubled their efforts to kill the Czar. They
wanted a complete abolition of the monarchy, and the
proposed reform could only strengthen the existing order,
increasing the popularity of the Czar.
On March 1, 1881, the Czar signed the Constitution and
went to receive a review of some units of the St. Petersburg
garrison at the Michailovsky Riding Hall. He had lunch at
the palace of his late aunt, the Grand Duchess Helena Pavlovna.
The Nihilists followed his every movement. They knew that
the Czar would return to the Winter Palace by one of two
routes which ran parallel to each other either via
Ekatherininsky Canal, or via Moika. They placed assassins
with bombs on both streets.
At about three o'clock in the afternoon, the closed
carriage of the Czar turned from Nevsky Prospect into
Ekatherininsky Canal, A few minutes later, the first assassin
stationed there threw a bomb at the carriage. The carriage
was demolished bui, miraculously, the Czar was not touched.
He dismounted to speak to some Cossacks of his Escort
who were wounded. He spoke not unkindly to the criminal,
who was arrested.
In the meantime, the assassins stationed on Moika heard
the explosion and ran to the Ekatherininsky Canal. It was only
one block away. With the words It is too early to thank
God! one of them threw a second bomb between the feet
of the Czar. The Czar's legs were crushed, his stomach torn
open, and his handsome face terribly mutilated. He said
only, To the palace, to die there.... , and lost consciousness.
He was placed in the carriage of the Governor of the City
who arrived at the place of the explosion Within a few
minutes, all members of the Imperial family assembled in
the room of the palace where the Czar was brought. Princess
Jurievsky, with a scream of despair, threw herself on the
mutilated body of the Czar, covering his disfigured face with
kisses. Her tears mixed with his blood. There was no time
for etiquette, there was only the grief of a young woman
whose beloved husband was dying. Within an hour and a
half, the Czar-Emancipator expired.
After the coffin of the Czar, with great ceremonies and
thundering salute of guns, was brought to St. Peter and
Paul Fortress to be buried in the mausoleum of the Russian
sovereigns, and all members of the Imperial family had left
the fortress church, Princess Jurievsky, heavily veiled, entered
the church through a side' door. She knelt and prayed at the
coffin of her husband and placed a shining curl of her own
hair under his hand.
On account of the opposition to the Imperial family,
Princess Jurievsky moved with her children to the south of
France where she died in 1922. She lived long enough to
see the downfall of the dynasty of Alexander II, and the as
sassination of his grandson, Czar Nicholas II and his family
in the cellar of Ipatiev's house in Ekatherinburg, in the far
away Ural Mountains.
THE CZAR SLAVOPHIL
March 1st, 1881, according to the Julian calendar, or
March 13th, according to the Gregorian calendar, was a
memorable day in the life of my father, who was in St.
Petersburg at the time.
He was walking leisurely along Nevsky Prospect near
Sadovaya, when he saw the carriage of the Czar, followed
by the Cossacks of His Majesty's Escort. The carriage turned
into Ekatherininsky Canal and a few minutes later my father
heard the first explosion. He saw people runinng, following
the route of the Imperial carriage. By the time he reached
the corner of Ekatherininsky Canal, there was another
explosion. There was a mob of excited people. Several per
sons had been wounded, and others killed. He could not get
any nearer because the place was already surrounded by the
The crowd stood silently, making the sign of the Cross;
many of them had tears in their eyes. One woman next to
him murmured, They killed him, our blessed Sovereign! ,
and she started to cry bitterly.
My father was badly shaken. He had seen the Czar
many times in his life, and remembered well his pleasant
voice and the look of his large, kind eyes, penetrating deeply
into the very soul of the man to whom he was talking.
My father was proud of the new reforms and of the
big changes that were taking place. He was witnessing a
new Russia rising out of the sombre State that Russia had
been at the time of the autocratic Czar Nicholas I. Being
an aristocrat loyal to the idea of monarchy, my father was
devoted, body and soul, to this benevolent sovereign who
accomplished so much for his own people and for the poor
people of other nations. And, at that moment he felt sinister
forebodings flooding his heart. What will happen now?
Will the new czar follow the same path of liberal reforms?
My father realized that it was impossible to expect it from
a son whose father was so brutally murdered! He felt that
this memorable day was to be a turning point in the history
of the Russian Empire. The future appeared dismal and
The assassination of Czar Alexander II was a most
A small group of Nihilists took it upon themselves to
decide the destiny and the needs of the great Empire. They
relentlessly pursued the most philanthropic ruler of this
Empire and succeeded in killing him on the very day he
signed the most liberal constitution in all Russian history!
Dedicating themselves to a senseless destruction, this
group had no program, no plans of their own. They did not
even seek to establish themselves in power. They simply
disapproved of the Czar as the symbol of the existing order,
a symbol of authority, and destroyed the man who rightfully
deserved the veneration of the Russian people.
Alexandre Tarsaidze, in his book Czars and Presidents ,
wrote as follows:
Historians have been guilty of propagating the
popular notion that tyrants suffer violent deaths
by assassination. In the true history of the world
more Lincolns and Alexanders have met this fate
than the Caesars. The tyrants never forget to shield
themselves behind armor. But those great and
affectionate rulers who truly love humanity forget
that a man's sense of injustice is not confined to
the actual years of his oppression .
By the end of the XIX century, Nihilism, under the
name of Anarchism, became a sinister doctrine of senseless
destruction in many countries. In the United States, two
presidents, James Garfield in 1881, and William McKinley
in 1901, were killed by anarchists. In Europe, their victims
were President Carnot of France in 1894, Premier Canovas
of Spain in 1897, the beautiful Empress Elisabeth of Austria
in 1898, King Humbert of Italy in 1900, and many others.
After killing five French policemen with a bomb, Emile
Henry, an anarchist, placed another bomb in the cafe
Terminus at the Gare St. Lazare in Paris. This second bomb
killed one person, and wounded twenty peaceful citizens who
were drinking their coffee and reading their newspapers in
this cafe. In 1893, Edouard Vaillant, another French
anarchist, threw a bomb from a public gallery of the Chambre
des Deputes, wounding several deputies, fortunately killing
In 1896, in Barcelona, a bomb was thrown into a
religious procession as it was entering a church, killing
eleven, and wounding about forty persons. There were other
similar brutal occurrences.
The deaths of all these innocent people were supposed
to advance the anarchist idea! In 1894, Emile Henry went
on trial, and testifying in the courtroom stated, There are
no innocent bourgeois! From the point of view of the
anarchists, all these deaths were justified.
The names of the anarchists Prince Peter Kropotkin,
Michael Bakunin, Enrico Malatesta, Ravachol, Santo Caserio,
Sebastian Faure, Emma Goldman, and many others the
names of those who expounded this doctrine of violence as
well as of those who actually perpetrated the crimes^
appeared on the front pages of European and American
The assassination of the Czar-Emancipator left the Rus
sian people bewildered, suffering severe anguish. Throughout
the whole Empire people were praying... their sorrow was
genuine. The United States Congress unanimously passed a
resolution condemning the murderers of the Czar. In this
atmosphere of general mourning, Cesarevitch (1) Alexander
(1) The correct tide of the Russian Heir-Apparen* was Cesarevitch,
derived from Caesar, pronounced Tsay-sa-ray-vitch . His wife's
title was Cesarevna. Russian terms of Czarevitch and Czarevna
had been applied to the Czar's sons and daughters of the Moscow
period of Russian history (XVI and XVII centuries) and were also
used in Russian fairy tales.
Footnote of the Author
ascended the throne under the name of Czar Alexander III.
The young Czar appointed Plehve, the head of the
police, to investigate the killing of his father.
Capital punishment was abolished in Russia by the
Empress Elisabeth in 1741. However, the ruling did not
affect court martial proceedings, or decisions of regular
criminal courts in war time. Five of the assassins, Zhelyabov,
Sophia Perovsky, Kibalchich, Ryssakov and Mikhailov, those
who actually took part in the plot, were executed, Grinevetsky
was killed by his own bomb, and the rest of the conspira
tors were imprisoned and exiled to Siberia,
There remained a question of the Constitution signed
by the late Czar on the day he was killed. This Constitution
was not read in the Senate yet and was not published. It
was entirely up to the young Czar to cancel it or to put
it into effect.
Czar Alexander II was cruelly assassinated, and it
appeared that his liberal policy was a failure. But the young
Czar was not lacking in courage, and his personal pride,
and loyalty to the memory of his father were so strong that
he could have ordered the proclamation of the Constitution
signed by the Czar-Emancipator. This was vigorously op
posed by Constantin Pobedonostseff, a reactionary and a
Slavophil, who was his tutor.
The Constitution of Czar Alexander II was never
published. Count Loris-Melikoff, Abaza and Dmitri Milutin,
three liberals, the Head of the Supreme Commission and two
members of the Cabinet, presented their resignations.
And yet Russia remained calm. There were some isolated
acts of terrorism, but the leaders of revolutionary organizations
admitted that they could not find any sympathy among the
people for their acts.
* * *
All six sons of Czar Alexander II Nicholas, Alexander,
Vladimir, Alexis, Serge and Paul were tall and very hand
some. When the Czar appeared in public followed by his
>ix sons, it was an exhibit of masculine fine race and beauty.
An exception was his second son, Alexander, who was heavy
and strong as a bull, but lacked the refined features of his
The oldest son, Cesarevitch Nicholas, was extremely
good-looking, and had the same generous and noble character
of his father. Unfortunately, he was consumptive. He was
engaged to Princess Dagmar of Denmark when his illness
took a turn for the worse. He was sent to France, to the
sunny sea coast, where he died, and Alexander, the second
son of the Czar, became Cesarevitch.
Alexander consented to marry the fiancee of his late
brother. Princess Dagmar agreed, and they were married on
November 28, 1866, in St. Petersburg. Princess Dagmar's
name and title were changed to Cesarevna and Grand Duchess
According to Hindu concepts, a marriage of a younger
brother to the fiancee of his late brother was bound to
bring bad luck. But the marriage of Alexander and Dagmar
happened to be a happy one. Cesarevitch Alexander was a
good family man. He was a man of enormous physical
strength. He could bend a horseshoe with his bare hands.
He was honest, laborious, with very clear and definite ideas,
but quite limited in his outlook. His ideal was an Empire of
one nationality, one language, one religion, and he adhered
faithfully to two principles of the Byzantine Empire
Autocracy and Orthodoxy. He was much opposed to the
liberal policy of his father, and now this man became the
Emperor and Autocrat of all the Russias.
The most influential man during the reign of Alexander
III became Constantin Pobedonostseff, Procurator of the Holy
Synod, or, as he was called, the Czar's eye in control of
the church. The sermons of preachers were subjected in
advance to an ecclesiastical censorship, and country priests
were required to report to the police authorities those
persons in their parishes who were not trust-worthy from
a political point of view.
Any form of dissent from the rigid Orthodoxy of the
Russian Church was forbidden. The Methodists, who in Rus
sia were called Stundists , Baptists, and especially Duk-
hobors, who objected to military service, and all other sects
were forbidden. Orthodoxy was enforced not only on dis
senters, like Uniats (the Russian Orthodox who recognized
the supremacy of the Pope of Rome), but on the Roman
A i r, x
Catholics in Poland and Lithuania, on the Lutherans in the
Baltic provinces, on the Jews, and even on the Mohammedans.
The government attempted a forcible conversion among the
Mussulmans, and the Buddhists' places of worship of Kalmucks
and Buryats were closed by government order.
Russian universities lost their autonomy and their statues
were changed. Student demonstrations and troubles broke
out at the University of Kazan and St. Petersburg in 1882,
and at the Universities of Moscow, Odessa and Harkov in
1887. These troubles were suppressed by troops, and usual
The elective Justices of the Peace were abolished and
in their place the Land Captains (Zemskiye Nachalniki) were
established. These Land Captains, chosen from the poorer
gentry, were placed under direct control of provincial
governors. They were not representative of justice a^y more,
but petty government officials who were ordered to supervise
every detail of peasant life for the Department of Interior.
The government succeeded in a very short time in
antagonizing practically all the non-Ortodox and all the non-
Slavonic population of the Empire. All these people felt that
they were not wanted, but only tolerated. The nobility of
different dominions of the Empire, like Poland, the Baltic
Provinces, Finland and Caucasus were regarded in general
as politically unreliable .
It appeared that the Russian Autocratic government
was relying exclusively on the support of uneducated Rus
sian peasants. The Slavophils were propagating a notion that
the Czar was a true father of the Russian people, and all
Orthodox Russians were his children.
In the meantime, the peasants were eager to get more
land. At the time of emancipation, they received about half
of the cultivated and fertile land, but this land became
subject to the restrictions of communal ownership. The
peasants, having been freed from their noble masters, found
themselves in a bondage of their own communes. They were
Some of the peasants went far in search of suitable
new lands, and a movement towards Siberia grew throughout
this period. The government organized The Emigration
Committee of Peasants and the Heir-Apparent, the future
Czar Nicholas II, became its president. This Committee
provided financial assistance to the emigrants to move to
Siberia and to settle down there, on fertile lands which
were given to them free. The Czar personally contributed
approximately ten million acres, which belonged to His
Majesty's Office, to the emigrants. .
But every farmer, regardless of his nationality, hates
to move. Besides, the law did not permit any peasant to
sell his famous nadel . A peasant did not want to lose
his share of land Holdings in his own commune, and
consequently was reluctant to leave European Russia.
In spite of these difficulties, the Emigration Committee
succeeded in a short period of time in moving over one
million peasants to Siberia, where the soil was fertile, and
they soon became prosperous farmers.
This measure helped considerably, but did not solve
the problem, and the cry for more land continued.
Very few of the Russian landowners operated with
sufficient working capital, and a continuous shortage of
necessary funds made them mortgage or sell their lands.
Enterprising peasants were quite anxious to purchase these
lands, and in order to help them, the State Bank of the
Peasants' (Gosudarstveny Khrestiansky Bank) was organ
ized. With very small down payments, the bank financed
purchases at a low interest rate (about two percent), but
the government was opposed to individual peasant property,
and would assist only the peasant communes (obschina), or
the associations of peasants formed for this purpose, in
purchasing the gentry's lands.
Depriving peasants of individual property, the govern
ment played naturally into the hands of socialists and com
munists who proposed to proclaim general socialization of
all the lands of the Empire. Instead of creating a class of
contented citizens, loyal to the existing form of government,
this policy was to breed discontent among the same peasants.
The situation was becoming tense, and there were strong
indications of an approaching uprising. These manifestations
of an impending catastrophe were an exceJlent background
for all kinds of strange and mysterious predictions of the
downfall of the Empire, and a tragic end to its ruler. Also,
it was an excellent field for revolutionary propaganda.
Of course, all these changes did not materialize
overnight, but within a few years Russia became an entirely
* * *
My father used to go to St. Petersburg regularly to
visit Nussia at Smolny. In March, 1881, Nussia was fifteen
years old. She was a tall girl and resembled her father very
much the same classical Greek profile, the same silky
reddish hair but she was quite frail. Like her mother,
Nussia was inclined to be consumptive.
All girl students of Smolny adored Czar Alexander II.
On the occasions of his visits to Smolny, the girls managed
to steal not only the cigarettes from his cigarette case, but
his handkerchiefs as well. They tore the latter into small
pieces in order for every girl to have her share. Nussia kept
her amulet, a small piece of the Czar's handkerchief; it was
her most precious possession. This piece of fine cambric
had a faint odor of expensive perfume.
After a visit by the Czar, all girls usually received
bonbons and other candies delivered to them by the
Department of the Imperial Court.
And, now, all the girls of Smolny were sorrowfully
mourning the Czar...
One of Nussia's classmates was Princess Anastasia of
Montenegro. She was one of five sisters who were students
of Smolny, in different grades. They were extremely poor,
but expected the other girls to share with them the expensive
presents they received from their homes.
A few years after the accession to the throne of Czar
Alexander III, Prince Nicholas of Montenegro, father of the
girls, was present at an official dinner in the Winter Palace.
The Czar raised his glass to his only friend Prince Nicholas
of Montenegro! As a matter of fact, the Czar did not care
much for this man. It happened before Russia signed a
secret agreement (Entente Cordiale) with France. Montenegro
was so insignificantly small that by calling Nicholas of
Montenegro his only friend , the Czar wanted to show
that he did not need any allies.
This toast made by the Czar was sufficient reason that
the position of the Montenegro girls at Smolny was changed
immediately to that of royalty. All teachers were instructed
to ask the girls politely, Will it please the Princess to
recite her lesson today? , and the haughty princess often
answered, Niet! , and remained seated at her place in the
classroom, as the attitude of the Montenegro sisters had
completely changed. They became insolent and domineering,
and in a short time the students of Smolny learned to dislike
them intensely, with the exception of the youngest girl f
Helena, the future queen of Italy. She was a straightforward,
At that time the four sons of Czar Nicholas I had
many children and grandchildren, and together with the
families of the Princes of Oldenburg, of the Dukes of
Mecklenburg-Strelitz and of the Dukes of Leuchtenberg who
were related to the Romanoffs and resided in Russia, the
number of young bachelor princes was high. It was no
wonder that two Montenegro girls found husbands among
them Anastasia married George, Duke of Leuchtenberg,
and her sister Militza married Grand Duke Peter Nicholayevich!
brother of the commander-in-chief of the Russian Army
in the First World War.
Nussia had a close friend outside of Smolny, Baroness
Vera Rokassowsky, who was twelve years her senior. Both
girls were tall, had the same slender figures, and could wear
each other's clothes.
The Rokassowsky family had several estates in the
province of Vitebsk. Vera was the youngest of several boys
and girls. Her brothers were serving now as officers of the
regiments of the Guards, and her two sisters were already
married. The father, the former Governor-General of Finland,
had died in 1869. Vera was born in Helsingfors and was
brought up by an English governess. In spite of her Russian
name, Vera spoke Russian with a slight accent, and was
more of a foreigner in her ways than a Russian.
She used to gallop wildly on a side-saddle, her hair
was cut short, and she smoked cigarettes when only very
few married women of society had the courage to smoke
in public. She studied music at the St. Petersburg Conservatory,
Pour daughters of the last Czar, Grand Duclwsses
Olga, Taiiana f Maria and Anastmia*
and lived with her mother, Baroness Alexandra Rokassowsky,
an imperious old dowager who played cards (vint, an
advanced form of contract bridge) every night until the early
hours of the morning. She had two Boulognese dogs which
her butler took for daily walks.
The Rokassowsky mother and daughter had an apart
ment on Fontanka, opposite the Annichkoff Palace. The old
Baroness invited Nussia to stay with her daughter each
week-end that the girls of Smolny were permitted to visit
their parents and relatives. In spite of the difference in age,
Nussia and Vera became close friends. Nussia was im
pulsive and very sensitive, while Vera, due to her English
upbringing, was reserved and did not show her feelings easily.
After staying in St. Petersburg a few days on one
particular trip, my father had to rush back home where he
had some urgent business. Paying a short visit to Baroness
Rokassowsky, he noticed for the first time that her daughter
Vera was rather good-looking. He did nor dwell on this
subject very long, but returned to his hotel, packed and
ordered an isvostschik to drive him to the Warsaw Rail
road Station. He went by train to Piskov, then to Ostrov,
where his carriage, with his coachman Kusma, was waiting
THE NEGRO BOY OF CZAR PETER THE GREAT
The passenger train arrived at Ostrov on time and
Kusma greeted my father as soon as he emerged from the
station, followed by a porter who carried his light luggage.
Kusma had been notified of my father's arrival by
wire that morning. He immediately harnessed the horses
which had become restive in the stables of the inn where
they were staying, and arrived at the railroad station about
an hour before the appointed time.
My father gave the horses a quick glance and finding
everything in order, got into his comfortable carriage.
Let us go, Kusma, we are going home , he ordered,
and the horses started at a trot. In a few minutes, the
carriage turned into a chaussee, the big St. Petersburg- Vitebsk
highway, going south towards Opochka. As usual, the four
horses were harnessed tandem. Sometimes it was difficult
to drive without a postilion (Vorreiter) but the horses were
well broken in, and Kusma was an expert driver. Now the
horses were running at a wide trot on the well-kept chaussee,
feeling that they were going home, and in about an hour
they easily covered some thirteen miles.
The distance from Ostrov to Kolpino was well over one
hundred miles, and they had the entire night of travelling
ahead of them. My father preferred to travel at night because
there was usually very little traffic, and it was easier for
the horses. At that time, highway robbery was practically
unknown in Russia, and, besides, my father was always
well armed. He carried a big thirty-two caliber Smith and
Wesson always fully loaded, and an English gun which he
used for bear hunting. The gun was intended for use in the
event his carriage (or his sled in the winter) was followed
by a pack of wolves.
A couple of miles before getting into the town of
Opochka, my fathei ordered Kusma to stop for dinner at a
roadhouse he knew well. This roadhouse belonged to a Jew
by the name of Leyba, and was known for clean beds and
good food prepared by Leyba's wife.
Leyba himself rushed out to greet my father and
attempted to kiss his hand, but remembered in time that
my father did not like these signs of submission. Leyba
seemed excited as if in his life something big was happening,
something, about which he, Leyba, was very happy and very
Well, what is new? my father inquired.
Such blessings, such favor of Heaven! (1), started
Leyba, pronouncing the words with a heavy Jewish accent.
It is a blessing for my whole family, for my house! In
his excitement, Leyba could not find words to continue.
What is it, Leyba? Just tell me, what happened? , my
father urged him.
Oh, Pan (in Polish, Lord) will not understand.
It is such a joy, such blessing!... and Leyba raised his eyes
and both hands to Heaven.
Well, what is it? My father was getting impatient.
You see, Pan, right now two rabbis are in my house.
Not one, but two! A rabbi from Polotsk and a rabbi from
Diinaburg (Dvinsk!) Oh, it is such a blessing! . Leyba again
raised his hands and disappeared in the portion of the house
occupied by him and his family.
My father entered a guestroom which also served as a
diningroom, and ordered a servant to bring some food and
to give a good dinner to his coachman, too. He did not
(I) The Orthodox Jews never pronounced the word God or Lord.
Instead, they used the word Heaven.
Footnote of the Author
intend to stay the night at the roadhouse and was anxious
to continue his trip.
While his dinner was being prepared, my father paced
back and forth in the guestroom. He had been sitting the
entire day, first in the compartment of a railroad car and
then in his carriage. He noticed that the door leading into
a private apartment occupied by Leyba and his family was
slightly ajar. He looked through the opening of the door
and saw a large room with a big square table in the middle.
At this table, opposite each other, were sitting two aged
rabbis, in lapserdaks (long frock-coats usually worn by
Jews), and ermolkas (round caps). Both men had peyssy
(whiskers) and long beards. They sat opposite each other
solemnly, in complete silence.
My father looked at them once, and continued his
pacing. After a few minutes he looked again. Neither one
had moved, and not a word had been uttered.
Finally Leyba reappeared. He was still obviously elated.
He carefully closed the door behind him so that my father
could no longer see the two solemn rabbis.
What a blessing of Heaven , Leyba started again, but
my father interrupted him.
Are these two the rabbis you are talking about? he
Yes, they are. It is such a blessing!... .
Leyba, why don't they talk? Why do they keep silent?
Why? repeated Leyba, with obvious resentment.
You, Pan, do not understand it? How can you ask such
a question? Dont's you understand? When one knows
everything, and another one knows everything, what have
they to talk about? , and with a look of reproach, Leyba
left the room.
Poor Leyba was unable to explain to my father a wise
and ancient Oriental philosophy. The two old rabbis were
meditating, respecting each other's silence. We, modern
Europeans and Americans, do not devote enough time to
meditation. We are too accustomed to 'rattling' continuously...
Soon dinner was served. After my father had eaten,
and was told that Kusman had also finished his meal, he
paid Leyba well for his hospitality. As he was leaving the
room, he was followed by Leyba's bows, and, with his
guttural voice, the innkeeper asked the blessings of heaven
for him. My father got into his carriage, and the horses
started again at a wide trot.
They arrived in Kolpino at dawn, when dairymaids
were going to the cattle-yards to milk the cows. The su
perintendent, Otto Brunner, a Lett graduated from an
agricultural school in Riga, was already up, and greeted my
father when he alighted from his carriage. He informed my
father that Gregory Pushkin, the second son of the well-
known Russian poet, Alexander Pushkin, had arrived the day
before, and was asleep in one of the guestrooms.
The Pushkin estate, Selo Mikhailovskoye, was only
about twenty miles from Kolpino, and Gregory Pushkin was
a close friend of my father.
Gregory Pushkin had very few traces of Negro blood,
although his father, the poet who was kiHed by d'Anthes
in a duel in 1837, had the curly hair and features of a
Negro. The Pushkin family was one of th-* Boyar families
and belonged to the oldest Russian aristocracy, but the great
grandfather of the poet on his mother's side was a Negro
by the name of Ibrahim who was presented in 1703 to Czar
Peter the Great by Peter Tolstoy, Russian Ambassador to
Little Ibrahim was at that time six years old. The Czar
liked the boy, and according to Russian custom had him
baptized in a Russian church in Wilno. At the ceremony of
baptism his godparents were the Czar himself and the Queen
of Poland. The boy received the Christian name of Abraham
(Jewish equivalent of Arabic Ibrahim) and according to the
Russian custom to call a person by his Christian name and
his father's first name, he was called Abraham Petrovitch
(Peter's son, meaning in this case the Czar himself). The
Czar gave him the status of a Russian hereditary nobleman
and the family name of Hannibal.
While still a boy, he fulfilled the duties of a page
of the Czar, but at the age of nineteen was sent by the Czar
to Paris to finish his education. It took Abraham Petrovitch
about ten years to finish an engineer's college for army
officers, but finally, in 1726, he was graduated, and returned
By that time, Czar Peter the Great was dead, and
on the throne of Russia was his widow, Empress Catherine
I. The young Hannibal joined an artillery company with the
rank of Lieutenant j.g. However, in 1727, this young
Lieutennat got into a dispute with the all-powerful Field-
Marshal Prince Alexander Danilovitch Menshikoff, a favorite
of the late Czar, who, during the short reign of his widow,
was the actual ruler of Russia. As a result of this dispute,
the Field-Marshal banished the poor Negro to Siberia. This
incident proved how close the black lieutenant stood to the
In the meantime, Abraham Petrovitch married a daughter
of a Greek merchant. His wife gave birth to a child a girl
who appeared to be completely white. Since then it has
been scientifically proven that a child of mixed parents may
be white, but our Negro instituted court proceedings against
his wife, suing her for divorce. He accused her of infidelity
and won his case!
Abraham Hannibal remained in Siberia for fourteen
years and evidently the severe climate of Siberia agreed
with this native of Africa. On the 25th of November, 1741,
Empress Elisabeth, the younger daughter of Czar Peter the
Great, ascended the throne of Russia and Hannibal was
permitted to return. He was reinstated in the army and
served during the reigns of three Sovereigns Empress
Elisabeth (1741-1761), Czar Peter III (1761-1762), and Empress
Catherine II (1762-1796).
Upon his return from Siberia, Abraham Hannibal mar
ried Christine-Regine Skjoberg. His son from the second
marriage, Joseph (in Russian, Osip), was evidently dark
enough because his father did not dispute his legitimacy.
Abraham Hannibal died in 1781. At the end of his life he
was Major-General and Commandant of the fortress of
Reval in Estland (now Esthonia), a province acquired by
the Czar Peter the Great from Sweden.
Osip Abramovitch Hannibal had two daughters
Sophie and Nadejda. The older one, Sophie, married Adam
von Rotkirch, and their daughter, Vera von Rotkirch, married
Alexander von Traubenberg. Their daughter, Dorothea von
Traubenberg, married Baron George von Wrangell of the
House Ludenhof, and their descendants, including General Peter
Wrangell, Commander-in-Chief of the White Russian Army in
South Russia, have all carried some Negro blood.
The younger daughter of Osip Abramovitch, Nadejda
Osipovna, married Serge Pushkin, father of the Russian
poet, Alexander Pushkin.
Alexander Pushkin (1799-1837) married Natalie Goncharoff,
of an old Russian noble family and a rare beauty. They had
two sons, Alexander (1833-1907) and Gregory (1835-1905), a
friend of my father, and two daughters, Maria and Natalie.
Natalie Pushkin was exceptionally beautiful. Evidently
she inherited the beauty of her mother accentuated by a few
drops of Negro blood. She married General von Dubelt, but
divorced him, with great difficulty, and in 1868, married
Prince Nicholas of Nassau, whose very close relative was the
Grand Duke of Luxemburg. This second marriage was
morganatic, and a cousin of her second husband, the reigning
Prince zu Waldeck, granted the young wife a title of Count
ess von Merenberg
Prince Nicholas of Nassau and his wife had two
daughters and a son. Their elder daughter, Sophie von
Merenberg, married, in 1891 in San Remo, Italy, Grand Duke
Michael Michailovitch, who was called Mish-Mish by his
intimate friends. Mish-Mish was a first cousin of Czar
Alexander III, and his marriage to Sophie von Merenberg
also was morganatic. As a wife of a Russian Grand Duke,
Sophie von Merenberg received a title of Countess Torby.
This title of the Grand Duchy of Luxemburg was recognized
in Great Britain where they lived. Their daughter, Nadejda
Torby, born in Cannes in 18%, married, in 1916, Prince
George von Battenberg, who in Great Britain received a
title of Marquis of Milford-Haven. In 1917, the family name
of Battenberg was changed in Great Britain to Mountbatten,
and a son of George Milford-Haven, a close relative of the
British Royal family, still carries some Negro blood of his
ancestor Abraham Petrovitch Hannibal...
Gregory Pushkin, my father, and Leo Waxel, another
neighboring landowner, were passionate bear hunters. They
used to hunt in several provinces where they were invited
by their relatives and friends. They had killed a number of
bears in the forests of Kraszuty, an estate of Michal Juriewicz,
my father's uncle, and in Wyshki, an estate of Count Stanislaw
After the Polish uprising, many Polish landowners
were ordered by the Russian government to sell their family
estates, and Count Stanislaw Mohl was one of them. He sold
Wyshki to Leo Waxel, a Russian nobleman of Swedish
extraction, but the sale was fictitious. All legal papers were
duly signed and registered in the books of the province, but
Leo Waxel did not pay any money to Mohl, and between
the two of them it was agreed that the estate would remain
the property of Stanislaw Mohl and his heirs. No written
agreement was made to that effect because under the
circumstances no written agreement would have been valid
in court. Stanislaw Mohl trusted Leo Waxel implicitly.
About fifteen years later, Stanislaw Mohl addressed a
petition to the Czar asking for permission to purchase back
his family estate. His petition was granted, and Leo Waxel
immediately signed a deed of sale in favor of the rightful
owner of Wyshki. The two remained close friends for the
rest of their lives.
My father realized that Gregory Pushkin did not expect
to take part in a bear hunt at this time of year. In March,
these animals usually crawled out of their lairs, emaciated
after their long winter sleep when they did not get any food,
and only sucked their own front paws. Their fur then hung
loosely and it was not the right time to shoot them.
Did you hear the woodgrouse this spring? my father
asked the superintendent.
No, I did not , Brunner answered, but Kostuk (a
nickname for Constantin in Belorussian dialect) of Zaboritza
told me that there are a number of them in the Black Hill
Fine! and my father ordered a boy servant who
carried his suitcase to prepare a bath and went to his room.
At nine o'clock he appeared in the diningroom. He was
smoothly shaven, fresh and in his usual good humor. Gregory
Pushkin was already eating his breakfast. Emilia was at
her usual place at the end of the table. In the presence of
a guest she and my father greeted each other politely, and
she inquired about Nussia.
At the table there was also Alexandra Bogomolec, a
distant cousin of my father as well as of his wife. She \vas
a close friend and a constant companion to Emilia. Volodia
(a nickname for Woldemar), now five years old, was sitting
with his tutor, and little Adela, on a high chair, was attended
by her niania. My father's secretary, a young man, stood
up politely and waited for my father to tell him to sit down.
After greetings were exchanged, my father sat at his
usual place. I did not expect to find you here, Gregory ,
he told his friend.
I did not intend to come to Kolpino, but it was
rather dull in Michailovskoye. So, here I am! , and Pushkin
turned with a polite smile to Emilia. Conversation turned
to the recent tragic events that disturbed everyone in Russia
at that time. Pushkin wanted to know all possible details
of the assassination of the Czar that were not reported in
the newspapers, and kept my father talking, asking him
many questions, but finally their conversation turned to the
subject which interested them both to hunting.
It was agreed that at two o'clock the following morning
they would start for the Black Hill forest, which was only
about forty minutes' drive, to shoot woodgrouse.
After breakfast, which lasted unusually long that
morning, my father left his guest, and went to his office to
attent to some important matters. His office as judge occupied
two large rooms at the end of the house, and his secretary
was already waiting for him.
The following morning at two o'clock sharp, Kusma
brought a light carriage with two horses to the main entrance
of Kolpino's house. Pushkin and my father, dressed in their
hunting outfits with high boots, and with their shotguns,
were ready. Two hunting dogs, an English spaniel named
Baff and a pointer named Comte, which were permitted to
stay in the house instead of in the kennels, were very ex
cited. They saw the preparations and the shotguns carried
by both men and were anxious to take part in a hunt,
but to their great disappointment they were not taken along.
My father and his friend got into the carriage and Kusma
drove them along the wide road passing the park and family
cemetery around Kolpino's lake. On the other side of the
lake the road went through meadows and fields directly
into a forest. Some clouds were covering the sky, and the
night was very dark, but the horses knew the road well
After entering the forest they drove for another mile, when
Kusma stopped the carriage.
I believe that we better stop now and I will wait
for you here , he said.
My father and Pushkin alighted from the carriage
and walked into the forest on the left side of the road. It
was the Black Hill forest that covered this part of the estate,
spreading out to the shores of Lake Ostrovito, about three
miles distant. Nearer the lake there were steep hills which
gave the forest its name, and at this time of the year it
was a favorite mating place of woodgrouse
This bird was of the size of a big turkey cock, and
usually sat high in a tree. Every so often a woodgrouse
would start to sing. His singing was rather a loud gobble
intended to scare some possible invisible enemies; then he
would stop and listen. While the bird was singing, his ears
closed tightly, and he could not hear anything. It was the
reason why in Russia woodgrouse were called gloohar ,
i.e., a deaf one . But as soon as the bird stopped singing
his hearing was excellent. He would hear the faintest sound
and would fly away, alarmed by any noise made by hunters.
My father and his friend walked quietly for half a
mile. Then they stopped and listened. In the distance they
could hear the gobbling of a woodgrouse. They moved silently
in the direction of the sound, trying not to make any
noise. The gobbling was now heard clearly and they had
to be careful not to alarm the bird.
They both stopped and wainted for him to start up
again. Then they ran as fast as they could toward the sound.
Bushes and lower branches of trees lashed their faces. They
both made plenty of noise but they did not pay any attention
to it. They listened only to the bird and as soon as the
bird stopped singing they stopped abruptly, too. Their
positions were not comfortable but they were afraid to move,
They were even afraid to breathe loudly because the bird
could easily hear the faintest sound. They waited for him
to start singing again, and again they ran as fast as they
After running at intervals and standing still like
statues, and then running again, they finally arrived at the
tree on which the bird was sitting. It was pitch dark and
they could not see him, but he was gobbling directly above
their heads. Peering into the darkness they finally distinguished
the outline of a big cock sitting on a branch, and when he
started gobbling again, Pushkin took careful aim and fired.
His shot reverberated throughout the forest. The bird stopped
singing, but he did not fall Obviously it was a miss. But it
was impossible for Pushkin, who was an expert shot, to
miss a big bird, shooting a shotgun at such a short distance.
Both men wondered what happened. They stood there in
silence for a long time. They heard the bird moving. Finally
he started gobbling again, and my father stepped from under
the big tree, took careful aim and fired. This time the cock
fell to the ground.
They picked him up, and stood there motionless for
some time, hoping to hear another woodgrouse singing. Then
they heard some footsteps, and a man with a gun approached
a forest guard. He recognized my father and took off
You, Vasili, were fast catching us today , my father
told him, smiling.
I was warned yesterday of your coming, Pan , the
guard answered, and was on the lookout for you .
My father told the guard about the first shot that
evidently was a miss, and pointed out the big branch on
which the cock had been sitting. In the dim light of early
dawn, Vasili examined the tree and shook his head.
If you fired the first shot directly from under the
tree , he said, turning to Pushkin, your shot evidently
landed in the branch near the bird it is wide enough .
But was it possible for the bird not to get frightened
by my shot? Pushkin wondered.
He stopped singing, but apparently did not understand
what had happened. While singing, he could not hear a
thing*, Vasili answered. Then addressing my father, Let
us walk about a mile from here. There is a place where we
will find some more , he said.
That morning they shot one more woodgrouse. They
were tired when they came back to their carriage. Vasili put
both birds in the carriage, and the horses started at a brisk
trot for home. When they arrived at Kolpino, it was already
The two men were hungry, and a breakfast was served
immediately. While they were still drinking their coffee the
young secretary of my father informed him that two
policemen had brought a man who was accused of stealing
My father ordered the policemen and their prisoner
to be given something to eat, and told his secretary that
in about an hour he would open a court session.
In the vicinity of Kolpino, there were several large
villages which belonged to the peasants of the Old Faith
(Starovery). These peasants belonged formerly to the Crown
and lived there since the first partition of Poland, when
Belorussia was annexed by Russia. In the old days, for
some unknown reason these peasants were called Pan-
zyrnyie Boyare , or in English, Armored Nobles . They
did not touch liquor and tobacco, were good farmers, and
lived better than the rest of the peasants in Belorussia. They
were fond of horses and many of them owned excellent
trotters. These horses were not thorough-breds, but many of
them were of good Orlov stock (Orlov trotters were well
known throughout Russia).
In the winter time, when all the numerous lakes of
Belorussia were covered with solid ice, these peasants used
to make a racetrack on one of the lakes, a circle about two
or three miles long. It was interesting to watch their horses
harnessed to regular sleds, running on this improvised
racetrack. Their owners made bets, trying to outrun each
other. For these peasants, their horses were their most
precious possession. Besides, at that time in Russia, horse
stealing was considered a very serious crime.
An hour later, my father, wearing a heavy gold chain
around his neck (insignia of a judge in Imperial Russia)
walked into his office which served as a courtroom. The large
room was crowded with peasants, men and women, who were
waiting for the beginning of the trial. My father ordered
the prisoner to be brought in. The two policemen entered
the room, escorting a small, uncomely, middle-aged peasant
who looked sullenly at my father. One of his legs was shorter
than the other, and he was limping badly.
There was no jury at this trial. There was no prosecutor.
The man was accused by the owners of the horses that were
stolen. The accused man had no lawyers to defend him,
either. It was the simplest form of a trial before a judge,
who in Russian was called Arbiter of the Peace (Mirovoy
My father questioned both policemen and all witnesses.
From the testimony of all these people, it appeared that four
horses had been stolen a week previously from the peasants
of Old Faith in the vicinity of Kolpino Then the thief,
or thieves, rode, through the night, over sixty miles to
Polotsk, to a local fair, evidently with the intention of selling
them there. Nobody saw the accused man stealing the horses,
but he was in possession of these horses when he was arrested
in Polotsk. He was immediately accused of stealing, but
denied his guilt. His explanation was that a couple of hours
before his arrest he had bought the horses from some gyp
My father questioned the prisoner and the latter repeated
his story. There was considerable doubt in the mind of my
father about the man's guilt. How could this crippled little
man steal four horses and then ride over sixty miles at
night? It appeared practically impossible, and yet something
in the sullen face of this peasant made my father doubt his
innocence. After considerable consideration, my father
pronounced him guilty, although not absolutely certain that
he was right.
After the verdict was read in court, there was silence
for a few minutes, and then suddenly the prisoner fell on
his knees, made the sign of the Cross, looking at the icon
which was in the comer of the room, and said.
I admit... I am guilty .
There was a sigh of relief in the room. Tension was
broken. My father silently thanked the Lord that he had
not condemned an innocent man.
Tell me , he asked the prisoner, how could you
ride on a horse without a saddle for over sixty miles at
night and manage four horses?
Horses know me and I am handy with them. You
give me any horse, Your Honor, and you will see for
On the spur of the moment my father challenged the
man to ride on one of his anglo-arabs which only he himself
and his coachman Kusma could manage. Everybody left the
room and went into the courtyard. My father ordered Frou-
Frou to be brought out, a young, spirited mare. A crowd
of peasants stood watching; they were thrilled by unexpected
Two stable boys brought Frou-Frou out of the stables.
On both sides of the horse a man was holding a strong rope
attached to a ring on the bridle. The temperamental mare
was kicking, prancing, and trying to stand up on her hind
legs. The horse thief looked at her and there was the
admiration of a connoisseur in his eyes.
A beautiful horse! he said.
He went, limping, straight to the horse. For a brief
moment he gently stroked her left shoulder, He was too
short to reach the withers of the horse. Surprisingly, Frou-
Frou stopped prancing, and looked at the little man from
the corner of her left eye.
Let the horse go! the man ordered abruptly. At the
same time, he jumped slightly, getting hold of the bridle
with his left hand, and the mane. Without making any
perceptible effort, he was suddenly sitting on the smooth
back of the mare, his bare feet touching her sides gently.
Frou-Frou snorted, leaped into the air, and in no time
was out of the yard, running at full gallop along the road
leading toward the Post Station Linetz. She covered the
distance of half a mile to the bridge in less than a minute.
Her hoofs made a clattering sound on the wooden boards of
the bridge. She continued at full gallop up the hill, and in
a few seconds, Frou-Frou, with the confessed thief on her
back, disappeared out of sight.
It all happened so fast that everybody was taken by
surprise. But when the man and the horse disappeared, my
father realized in what position he had put himself... he,
the judge, had given his fastest horse to the condemned man,
who was under arrest, and had helped him to escape!
Quick! Get Krassotka out and follow him! he ordered
the stable boys. Krassotka, A Beautiful One in Russian,
was another anglo-arabian mare which was almost as fast
But, while the boys ran to the stables and were trying
frantically to get the second horse out, Frou-Frou with the
man on her back reappeared, galloping home at the same
speed. A minute later, Frou-Frou was already in the yard,
stopping in front of my father. Her rider slid gently to the
ground, giving the bridle to one of the stable boys.
A beautiful horse! he said.
My father traveled a great deal, and mostly by horses,
either in a carriage or sleigh, depending on the time of year.
He often went to Lutzin, where the sessions of the Council
of Justices of the Peace periodically took place, and to
Sebezh, the county seat, a small town of some three thousand
inhabitants, built on a long and narrow peninsula and
surrounded on three sides by the waters of a huge lake. He
went to Qstrov, Opochka, Diinaburg (in Russian, Dvinsk),
and once in a while he visited Vitebsk, capital of the
He was in Nevel, a small town situated on the Highway
St. Petersburg-Vitebsk, about twenty-five miles south of
Kolpino, when he received some news that changed his entire
He was playing besigue with some neighboring landowners
in a local club whtn he was informed that a messenger from
Kolpino had just arrived and wanted to see him. He went
out to the lobby and recognized one of his stable boys. Otto
Brunner, the superintendent, had sent the man on horseback
with a letter to my father. Evidently it was urgent.
The man produced a letter out of the bottom of his
cap. My father opened it. At first he could not understand
what it was all about. Brunner wrote that that morning a
police officer with a few policemen had arrived at Kolpino
with a search warrant. They were supposed to look for a
storage of ammunition. The police officer knew my father and
knew Brunner very well, and made only a cursory search
of the house and other buildings of the estate. Of course,
they did not find any ammunition except a collection of
shotguns and rifles which my father used for hunting, and
which the superintendent showed to the police at once.
The police officer told Brunner confidentially that the
search was ordered on the basis of secret information the
authorities had received from a Russian nriest, Odintzov,
who accused my father of some underground Polish conspiracy.
Brunner made a promise to the friendly police officer not
to divulge this information to anyone except my father.
While reading this letter, my father remembered how,
a few years previously, he had found t}?e same priest,
Odintzov, on a road, and had mistaken him for a bear, as
he was drunk and was walking in the mud of the road on
all fours. Evidently the priest was still afraid of my father
and wanted to discredit him. AH this my father could easily
understand. But he could not understand how the high
authorities of the province could have given credence to the
fantastic information they received from the priest and
order a search of his house! It was incredible and it was
insulting! My father was furious!
He gave some money to the stable boy who had brought
him the message, and told him to eat a good supper, and to
feed his horse, and then to return to Kolpino,
Then he called Kusma and ordered him to harness his
horses. He returned to his hotel which was only a block
away, packed his suitcase and his necessaire, and in about
an hour was riding at full speed to the city of Vitebsk.
He arrived in Vitebsk early in the morning of the
following day and stopped at the Kushliss Hotel on Zamkovaya
Street, He washed, shaved, changed his clothes and had his
breakfast, then called a droshky to drive him to the Governor's
The Governor had several secretaries. One of them
received my father and asked him to wait in the reception
room. At this early hour he was in the room alone. He
waited for more than an hour, until the same secretary
walked in and conducted him to the Governor's office.
The Governor had been recently appointed, *nd my
father had had no opportunity to meet him before this. He
was a man in his fifties, and there was nothing in his
appearance to distinguish him from the average Russian
civil employee of that period. However, he was a member
of an old Russian princely family, and the insignias on his
uniform frock-coat showed that he had a civil rank which
corresponded to the rank of a general in the army.
The Governor rose from his seat behind his desk and
shook hands with my father. My father introduced himself,
and the Governor asked him to sit down. He then told the
Governor about the search of Kolpino's house and expressed
strong resentment and indignation at this act. The Governor
listened at tentatively, and when my father was finished, said r
not looking at my father, but turning his head to the window:
Well, my dear Baron, do not get excited. After all,
you are Polish. Through your late mother you are related
to some prominent Polish families, I was told that you speak
Polish better than Russian and you certainly have sympathies
for the Polish people... .
Yes, Your Excellency , my father interrupted, I have
sympathies for the Polish people, but it is quite far from
not being loyal to the Czar ,
* The information we received , continued the Governor,
was from the most reliable source. Besides, you know that
the government nowadays looks with a frown on anyone
who is not one hundred percent Russian, who does not belong
to our Orthodox Russian Church, and who has sympathies
for the people who were recently in revolt against the Czar!
c And my position of a judge does not jniarantee against
being suspected of some fantastic conspiracy? my father
asked with an ironical smile.
Well, IKK Not necessarily. In spite of being a judge
you can be, and you are, more Polish than Russian. All
your friends and relatives are Polish, too .
My father did not argue.
Jn that case, Prince, I had better resign. If I cannot
be trusted, I do not see how I will be able to fulfill my
duties as a judge . My father stood up.
* It is entirely up to you , the Governon answered,
and the tone of his voice was not friendly. He got up from
My father bowed and left the room. He felt that if
their discussion continued, he could have told the Governor
many very unpleasant facts.
My father returned to his hotel and after lunch, Kusma
drove him home. This time there was no hurry, and the
horses were running at an easy trot.
Riding along the familiar highway, my father had time
to think over the events of the last twenty-four hours. He
was not excited any more, and could calmly appraise the
He realized that the Governor followed the recent trend
established by the new Czar Russian nationality, Russian
language, Russian Orthodox Church, and the Czar himself
always dressed in a military uniform decidedly Russian in
style. His uniform frock-coat resembled a peasant's caftan,
wide trousers of a Russian post-coachman shoved into high
boots of very soft leather which folded in like an accordian.
Consequently, the high boots were actually low boots. These
kinds of boots were worn by Russian peasants on Sundav
and by merchants of the second and third guild.
But, besides his obvious desire to follow this new trend,
the Governor was well-informed and quite antagonistic to my
father. It appeared certain that my father had more enemies
than one local priest. Evidentlv the secret denunciation of the
priest served only as a signal for an all-out attack on him.
My father asked himself who these enemies were, and
he realized that actually he had only a very few friends. The
great majority of men of his own class were very critical
of him and very antagonistic for an obvious reason his
popularity among women.
Tall, well-built, this red-haired giant was an excellent
dancer. He was gay and witty. He was clever and indep?ndent
in his opinions, and did not permit anyone to step on his
toes. He was an expert shot and a master of fencing. He
was not afraid of any adversary.
There was some gossip about his challenging men to
a duel. In two cases, men preferred to apologize, and in
one case a man missed and when it was my father's turn to
shoot, the man fainted. It was said that my father shot in
the air instead of at the man and turned his back on him.
Very few women could resist his charm, and husbands,
lovers and relatives hated to watch how, in eager rivarly,
their women were surrounding my father for attention,
Any one of these men could have spoken to the Governor
against him. There were too many of them.
My father was spoiled, but he was not conceited. He
under-estimated the impression he made on strangers. He
was not arrogant and was not trying to impose his will and
his opinion on others. Only stupidity could arouse his ire.
Being strong and healthy, he was usually in a good humor,
ready to have a good laugh. He underestimated the hatred
which some men felt towards him. He did not anticipate the
events of the last couple of days and was taken completely
He arrived at Kolpino late at night snd immediately
went to his rooms. His healthy organism required a good
rest and sleep The horses were tired, too, and Kusma was
muttering something unpleasant to himself when he led the
horsese into the stables.
The following morning, fresh and in his usual good
humor, my father made Brunner repeat to him the events
and conversations of the preceding day. He laughed when the
superintendent described to him how the policemen were
trying to find arms in the haylofts, going from one barn
to another. At Kolpino, there were eight big barns filled
Discussing Odintzov's secret denunciation, my father
shrugged his shoulders.
No good deed remains unpunished , he said, if my
deed could be called a good one, which I doubt* I was sorry
for the fellow and his wife, and promised not to denounce
him to the authorities, which I should have done. And you
see the results .
The country road which crossed Kolpino from one end
to another went around the park, but the road that led
between the buildings of the estate was shorter by about
a mile, and Odintzov usually took this short-cut. My father
gave the strictest orders not to permit the priest to take
this road any more.
I simply do not want to see his face again *, my
father said, and the subject was closed.
In a few days my father submitted his resignation. It
did not take long for the fact of his resignation to become
known in his district. Many people came to him every day,
mostly peasants and Jews, trying to persuade him to retract
his resignation. But my father was a very proud man, and
he flatly refused to reconsider his decision.
A few months later, the population of his judicial
district presented a petition to the Czar to bestow on him
an insigna established by the Czar Alexander II for the Justices
of the Peace. This insignia was given only at the request of
a grateful population. This petition was granted, and il was
the only decoration which my father wore in the button-hole
of his full dress for the rest of his life.
THE LEAGUE OF THREE EMPERORS
After his resignation, my father had plenty of free time.
Travelling from one estate to another and amending different
social gatherings, as well as hunting, could not occupy all
of his time and fill his life with serious interest.
If my father were happily married, he would possibly
have settled down in Kolpino, devoting all of his time to his
family and to the management of the estate But, since his
married life was far from being a happy one he began to
look for something that would be of real interest to him.
He was a connoisseur of horses and an admirer of the
Arabian and English thoroughbreds. He could make a perfect
drawing of a horse, trotting, galloping or standing still, not
starting his drawing with the head, but with a hoof on any
of her legs. He knew every bone, every muscle in a horse's
body, and looking at a horse, he could tell its capacity for
running, jumping, or pulling a heavy load. And, he decided
to start a stud farm at Kolpino, breeding especially Anglo-
Arabs for chase hunting and some trotters for carriages.
A couple of Anglo-Arabian mares which he kept at that
time were not sufficient for a stud farm. He needed a dozen
or more good mares and a couple of stallions It was necessary
to enlarge Kolpino's stables; he needed professional trainers
and many other things. For this kind of enterprise, he needed
working capital, and he decided to sell Zabelja.
This estate, as well as Reblio, was rented. My father
knew only too well that without personal supervision of the
owner, any superintendent, even the most honest one, could
become a thief. The sale of Zabelja did not represent a
problem. My father found ready buyers and the estate was
If my father had only known that about twenty-five
years later two railroads would be built, one from St.
Petersburg to Vitebsk, and another from Moscow to Windava,
a port on the Baltic Sea and the crossing point of these
two railroads happened to be only about twenty miles from
Zabelja! At this crossing point a station, Novosokolniki, was
built, and this station became an important railroad junction.
If he had only waited twenty years, he could have sold Zabelja
at a price some twenty times higher! But he could not possibly
foresee that fast development and progress of European
Russia in the next few decades... and Zabelja was sold.
My father went to Berszada. His cousin, Mieczyslaw,
the oldest son of Stanislaw Juriewicz, was dead. The owner
of Berszada was Mieczyslaw's son, Fryderyk. He sold my
father some excellent mares and two stallions, every horse
with a pedigree certificate. The stables in Kolpino were
enlarged, a race track was made, an expert trainer was
engaged, and my father received official authorization to
maintain a regular stud farm in Kolpino.
Within a few years, all available fields in Kolpino were
seeded either with oats or clover. At that time, the price
of lumber was very low because Kolpino was too far from
any river or railroad, and the transportation of lumber was
much too costly; consequently, the estate was not bringing
in any income.
To this it is necessary to add my father's losses in
card games. He was a very good player, and an excellent
companion at card tables. One never knew whether he was
winning or losing. He always remained the same pleasant
and jovial. Some years later he used to tel 1 me that in the
long run only the clubs and the cheats win. He wanted
me to remember this truth which he learned the hard way
The sale of horses could not possiblv cover all the
expenses. Evidently this enterprise required a much bigger
working capital and many years to promote and to establish
the name. My father sold excellent horses, but he could not
get as high prices as the old, well-established stud farms
were getting for their steeds. The losses were increasing,
and in a few years, Reblio was sold, too A few years
later the stud farm at Kolpino was liquidated.
However, while it lasted, Kolpino was a very lively and
interesting place. One could watch how beautiful, young,
prancing horses were broken to carry saddles. A few weeks
later, the same horses were trotting at the measured tempo
of a cavalry horse, making voltes , i.e., turning around
on a very small space, so that the whole body of the horse
could get accustomed to bending at only the touch of a
rein to its neck. A couple of months later, they were racing
and jumping over the barriers.
Other horses were trained to be harnessed first in a
cabriolet, then in a two-horse carriage. These horses trotted
around the track. There were all sorts of carriages, harnesses
and saddles used, the equipment chiefly English.
At one of the bear hunts, my father shot a mother
bear and picked up her cub which he brought to Kolpino.
It happened to be a female cub which was nursed from a
milk bottle. The cub was named Mashka. Little Mashka was
very cute, She usually followed the coachman, Kusma, and
knew every horse in the stables. When Mashka grew up, she
was put on a chain attached to a strong pole in front
of the entrance to the stables. The chain was long enough
to permit Mashka to greet every horse as it emerged from
the entrance. Usually, Mashka walked on her hind legs,
affectionately embracing the neck of a horse with her
paw, and following the horse as far as the chain permitted.
One day my father got the idea to take Mashka for
a ride. He put her on the left side in a cabriolet and sat
himself in the driver's seat on the right. Mashka sat quietly.
Her whole attention was concerntrated on the left wheel of
the cabriolet, which she was trying to catch with her paw.
Everything was fine for a couple of miles until they met a
peasant in his wagon on the road. As soon as the peasant's
horse smelled the bear, she turned over the wagon, dragged
it f o^ a distance until it broke, tore the harness, and galloped
home. In this upheaval, the peasant was hurt, and my father
had to pay him for all the damages, and for his medical
treatment, as well as reimbursing him for time lost while
recuperating. It happened to be a good round sum, and since
that time Mashka stayed home, securely attached to her
chain in front of the stables.
My father was away on a trip when a very unfortunate
accident completely changed the entire life of his son, my
half-brother, Volodia. At that time, Volodia was thirteen
years old. He had a tutor who was preparing him for
examinations at a military academy which Volodia was
supposed to enter in the fall of the same year.
In his spare time, Volodia liked to follow Otto Brunner,
the superintendent. It was interesting for him to watch how
the superintendent handled the management of the estate,
his dealings with the peasants, and how he dispersed orders
to workmen. Otto Brunner was recently discharged from
the army after three years of service. Compulsory military
service for all classes of the population was introduced in
Russia in 1874.
It happened in the office of the estate. The office was
a large room, and a couple of peasants were present at the
time. My brother took a shotgun which was hanging on the
wall, and which belonged to Brunner, and asked him if the
gun was loaded, Brunner assured him that the gun was
not loaded, and Volodia started the regular army manual
of arms with the gun, while Brunner gave him the necessary
instructions. Finally, Volodia aimed the gun at the closed
entrance door. Brunner stood about six feet away on his
right- Brunner commanded Fire! and Volodia pressed the
At that very moment the entrance door half opened and
in the opening the head of a Jew appeared. The gun fired
and the unfortunate Jew fell, fatally wounded. Otto Brunner
also fell he had been killed, too.
The gun happened to be loaded with large size buckshot
for wolves and some of the buckshot ricocheted from the
half-opened door and struck the superintendent.
It is difficult to describe the effect this double killing
had on Volodia. I was told that he was simply stunned.
Later on he cried hysterically
The authorities were immediately notified. A carriage
was sent for a doctor. My father was notified. It was a
terrific blow for Emilia, who adored her son. An official
investigation proved conclusively that my brother was
innocent. The gun belonged to the superintendent and he
had assured Volodia that it was not loaded, and he himself
had ordered the gun fired. Therefore, there was no trial.
However, this accident had a profound effect on my
brother. For a long time he could not sleep without strong
sedatives. He woke at night screaming wildly, and in an
excitable state. On the advice of a doctor, his studies were
interrupted and he, with his tutor, was sent on a trip.
In the fall he entered high school in Smolensk. My
father arranged for him to live in the apartment of the
assistant superintendent of the school. My father donated a
large sum of money to the family of the Jew killed in
the accident. Otto Brunner was not married and both his
parents were dead. However, my father wrote to his broth
er, Peter Brunner, who was graduated from the same agri
cultural school in Riga, and offered him his late brother's
post as Kolpino's superintendent. Peter Brunner agreed, and
a couple of months later arrived in Kolpino and moved into
the same quarters where his brother had lived.
After Volodia moved to Smolensk, he became very
unfriendly to our father. Within a couple of years, without
our father's knowledge, but with the approval of his mother
who supplied him with extra money as he needed it, Volodia
moved out of the assistant superintendent's apartment and
rented a room of his own. He frequented the company of a
group of Russian intellectuals older than himself, who were
known for their radical, even socialistic, tendencies.
At that time, the Russian government paid very little
attention to the physical education of scholars. Young boys,
not to mention giris, were not interested in any sport, and
were supposed to devote all their time to studies. Volodia
read Hegel, Nietzsche, Schopenhauer, but above all, he
studied Karl Marx, and became an ardent socialist. A family
of Sheverdin-Maximov, well known among Russian socialists,
had a special influence on his way of thinking. This family
consisted of two brothers, university students at that time,
and their sister Luba, who suffered from tuberculosis.
Unfortunately, Volodia fell in love with this sickly girl.
After Volodia's graduation from high school in Smolensk,
my father intended to send him to a poly technical college in
Riga, but Volodia refused flatly to follow his father's advice.
Instead, he went to Berlin University to study chemistry.
My father was paying for his tuition, giving him a monthly
allowance, and it was quite a blow for my father when a
man who was a member of the Russian Secret Service
informed him that his son was a member of a revolutionary
My father lived through another great sorrow when his
daughter Adela died of galloping consumption at the age
of sixteen. Adela loved skating, and one very cold day while
skating, contracted a severe cold. In a week her cold turned
into galloping consumption, and in about three weeks Adela
Adela had an old cat, her favorite, which usually slept
at the foot of her bed. It was found later that the cat had
tuberculosis and poor Emilia was convinced that it was this
cat that passed the disease to her daughter- Adela was buried
in the family vault at Kolpino.
In the meantime, Nussia, graduated from Smolny,
returned home to Kolpino. Approximately at the time of the
death of her half-sister, Nussia confessed to my father that
she was in love with a man and intended to marry him.
Nussia was always very close to my father, and he
asked her anxiously who the man was. He happened to be
Vasili von Hocken, former officer of the 19th Dragoon Re
giment of Archangelogorodsk, who was stationed in the
Government Excise Office in Velikie Luki. Vasili von Hacken
had a reputation as a bretteur * and a gambler, who spent
his nights either in gambling establishments or houses of ill
repute. A story was told that while he was still an officer,
he fought a duel with another officer of the same regiment,
They drew lots to see who was to commit suicide; Vasili
von Hacken drew the fatal lot. He shot himself through the
heart. He was between life and death for six months, but
lived. He was forced to resign from his regiment and got
a position in the Government Excise Office. His old mother
was still living on their small estate in the Province ot
Voronesh, And now my sister wanted to marry this man,
about twelve years her senior.
My father was shocked. His lovely daughter, so young
and so unsophisticated, was to marry this gambler! Oh, no!
He was ready to protest and to forbid Nussia this marriage.
He took Nussia in his arms, kissed her, carassed her
silky hair, and tried to dissuade her, but all his arguments
were in vain. Nussia was in love, and was determined to
marry the man of her choice.
My father talked to her for hours with no results.
Finally, he asked her to wait at least one month before
announcing her engagement. During this month, Nussia
promised earnestly to try to reconsider her decision.
A month later, she told my father that she was no
longer in doubt about her feelings and that her decision to
marry Vasili von Hacken was irrevocable. My father was
forced to agree, and her engagement, was announced
Immediately, Nussia with her step-mother Emilia, busied
themselves preparing her trousseau, and my father selected
horses, harnesses, and carriages to give to his daughter as
a dowry. Besides, he deposited in Nussia's name a certain
sum of money, warning her not to pass all this money at
once to her husband. Nussia promised, and was married.
The newlyweds rented an apartment in Velikie Luki, a town
of the Province of Pskov.
In these last ten years, my father had become quite
tolerant and understanding. He was approaching his fifties,
the best years of his life were gone, and he realized that
he had accomplished very little, practically nothing. It was
a very alarming thought..,
His career as a judge, after a brilliant start, had ended
abruptly with his resignation. He could not blame himself
for such a sad ending, but the fact remained this phase
of his activities had come to an end. In 1890, Czar Alexander
III abolished Justices of the Peace (Arbiters), freely elected
by the population, and replaced them with Land Captains
(Zemskiye Nachalniki), petty officials appointed by Gov-
eoors. This act gave my father a certain satisfaction and
consolation his career as a judge would have ended in
any event, even if he had not presented his resignation a few
days after his house had been searched by the police.
His married life was becoming unbearable. He and
Emilia were two strangers living in the same house, and
constantly on each other's nerves.
His son? He hated to think of this boy who was so
unfriendly to him. And now this boy was a socialist! He
belonged to a group of people whom my father despised.
His daughters? One of them was dead, and the other
was married to a man of whom he did not approve. He
was very much afraid that Nussia would be unhappy in
Financially, as a businessman, my father was a failure,
and he realized it. He had inherited three estates, and now
only one was left. His venture with the stud farm had
Besides, times had changed, and my father had a strong
resentment toward the Slavophil policies of the government.
The Slavophils were trying to strengthen the peasant com
munes. Under their influence, the government passed a law
authorizing any peasant commune, at a general meeting of
its members, to pass a resolution that undesirable members
of the commune were to be deported to Siberia, and this
resolution was carried out by the police!
Of course, the poor mujiks were not free! Their former
masters were at least educated men, but now they depended
upon the whim of a mob that could be, and actually was,
very cruel to its own members. Commune decisions were
prompted by envy and personal dislike, And who suffered,
mostly? The best workmen, the thrifty ones, those who
succeeded in becoming more prosperous than their neighbors.
They were called kulacks t or, in Russian, fists >.
My father knew the psychology and the nature of the
Russian peasants. They were ignorant and cruel. They were
lax and lazy and envious of each other, and of the neighboring
landowner, but at heart, all were capitalists!
Russian peasants were often cruel to animals. Squirrels
were shot mercilessly with slings for the sheer pleasure of
killing. Rocks were thrown at dogs and cats; consequently
village dogs were vicious. Peasants beat their children while
making them work hard. A little girl of eleven or twelve
was often compelled to draw and carry heavy buckets of
water, and to stand barefoot, in the winter, on the ice which
usually covered the ground around a well. They did not care
if the girl died. One mouth less to feed , they said. Husbands
beat their wives. There was a saying in Russian, If a man
did not beat his wife, he did not love her .
It was no pleasure to travel on country roads on
Sunday because every Sunday, as a rule, most peasants were
drunk. They shouted wildly, using vile language, and quite
often their brawls led to fights.
Their religion was based on superstition and fear, but,
in general, peasants hated their priests. To meet a priest on
a road was considered a bad omen. In the fall, when a Rus
sian priest would go in his wagon through his parish from
village to village, trying to collect donations for himself and
for his church, the peasants would hide their grain, hogs,
poultry, and anything of value from the greedy eyes of
their spiritual father- A priest usually retaliated by refusing
to baptize and to perform funeral services in a family of a
peasant whose donations, in the opinion of the priest, were
During the reign of Czar Alexander III (1881-1894) the
discontent of the peasants was growing, but the foreign policy
of the government was still worse. This policy was disastrous
for the Russian Empire.
In 1871, at the end of the Franco-Prussian War, there
was an outbreak of Communism in Paris which was sup
posed by the Prussian troops. The first translation into Rus
sian of Das Kapital by Karl Marx appeared a few years
prior to that, and between 1864 and 1914, some 500,000
copies of Marx's works were sold in Russia (1).
Already in the second half of the XIX century the
Sovereigns of Europe were aware of the danger of the
Communist doctrine. In 1872, three emperors Czar
(1) As stated in 1839 in the official publication of the Soviet
Government Kanizhnaya Letopis*.
Mote of the Author.
Alexander II of Russia, Kaiser Wilhelm I of Germany and
Emperor Franz-Josef of Austria-Hungary, met in Berlin and
concluded the so-called Three Emperors' League , Their
agreement provided a mutual guaranty of the territories of
their empires, a common action against possible revolutions
and mutual consultation on the Balkan Question .
As long as this League existed, European peace was
assured. No power could dare to challenge these three empires!
The alliance had become inoperative at the time of the
Russo-Turkish War of 1877-1878, but in 1881 it was revived.
This tripartite alliance was not an aggressive one- It provided
that if one of the signatories were to become engaged in war
with a fourth power, the other two would maintain a
friendly neutrality. It was an ideal political set-up to maintain
peace, and to guarantee all three empires against any possible
revolution or Communist outbreaks. But, unfortunately, Rus
sian Slavophils advanced a theory of Pan-Slavism.
They argued that the greatest Slavonic country of all,
Russia, had a sacred mission to fight the infidel Turks,
and to free her oppressed little brothers ( Bratoushki
in Russian), uniting them all under the sceptre of the Rus
Actually, this ultra-nationalistic Slavonic movement was
supported by only a small group of Russian intellectuals, but
the masses of Russian people remained completely indifferent.
As a matter of fact, they had not the slightest idea what it
was all about, and cared even less.
In the Russo-Turkish War of 1877 - 1878, the siege of
Plevna alone cost the Russian army more than 250,000 men
killed! The people mourned their dead, and the Russian
soldiers, having a decided sympathy for the Turks, could
not understand why they had to fight for the liberation of
little brothers who remained completely foreign to them!
If the dreams of Slavophils and Pan-Slavists were
realized, and Russia had succeeded in acquiring new terri
tories populated by Slavonic nations, it would have brought
Russia nothing but trouble. The shining example was Poland.
The first Polish uprising took place in 1831, and the second
in 1863. These uprisings took place only in the Russian part
of Poland; the Poles in Austria and Germany remained calm.
Furthermore, the second Polish uprising attracted the
attention of all European power and provided them with a
pretext to interfere in Russian internal affairs- Only by a
brilliant move of dispatching the Russian fleet to the North
American harbors, Czar Alexander IT changed his position
from a defensive one to an offensive one, and averted a pos
Russian Slavophils did not know the real nature of the
Slavonic nations in the Balkans, or those who were subjects
of the Austro-Hungarian empire. These nations were accusto
med to the European way of life, and Russia remained
actually, foreign to them all. When, after the First World
War, Croatia and Slavonia were finally liberated from the
Austria yoke , and were united with independent Serbia
in one Slavonic kingdom, Croats were so dissatisfied with
this arrangement that they assassinated Serbian King Alexander
Karageorgevich in 1934, when he was riding with Barthou, a
French Minister, through the streets of Marseilles in France.
Fortunately, Czar Alexander II and Prince Gorchakoff,
his Minister of Foreign Affairs, were not Slavophils, but Czar
Alexander III was an ardent follower of this movement and
considered Bulgaria as a vassal-province of Russia. He expected
Prince Alexander von Battenberg to follow his directives.
In 1885, without Russia's approval, Prince Alexander
von Battenberg carried out a coup d'etat and effected the
union of the Province of Rumelia with Bulgaria. Czar
Alexander III was furious. Against the advice of Nicholas
Giers, his Minister of Foreign Affairs who succeeded Prince
Gorchakoff in 1882, the Czar supported a revolution in
Bulgaria. The Prince (2) was forced to leave the country,
but, surprisingly, ungrateful Bulgarians were reluctant to
subordinate their policy to Russian whims, and elected as
their new ruler Prince Ferdinand von Saxe-Coburg-Gotha.
Prince Ferdinand certainly was not pro-Russian-
The results of these elections were attributed by the
Russian government to some undesirable Austrian influence,
(2) Prince Alexander of Battenberg was a first cousin of Czar
Note of the Author.
and in I887 f when the Three Emperors' League was to be
renewed for another three years, Russia backed out, and the
League ceased to exist.
Bismarck, Grand Chancellor of Germany, concluded an
alliance with Austria, which Italy joined in 1891 (the Triple
Alliance). However, Bismarck tried to salvage the Three
Emperors' League and concluded a re-insurance treaty
with Russia for three years, both countries pledging to
remain friendly-neutral in case of an attack on one of them
by a third power.
In 1890, Bismarck retired and in his place Kaiser
Wilhelm II appointed Count Caprivi, who was trying at that
time to get on the good side of Great Britain, and the re
insurance treaty with Russia was not renewed.
Nicholas Giers continued to advocate friendship with
Germany, but Czar Alexander III regarded his Minister of
Foreign Affairs merely as his chief clerk in the Foreign
Office, and hastened to accept French overtures (3).
After the Franco-Prussian War of 1870, France was
actually at the mercy of Germany, and consequently was
seeking a friendly argreement with Russia. In July, 1891,
a French naval squadron was received at Kronstadt, a
fortress which protected the Russian capital from the sea,
and the Russian empire concluded an alliance with the
French Republic ( The Entente Cordiale )
In the elation over this achievement, the government
of the Republic named a bridge in Paris in honor of the
Russian Autocrat * Pont Alexandra III , and in Russia,
where the Marseillaise, a song of revolution, was strictly
forbidden, at the wish of the Czar it was permitted to play
the Marseillaise, but not to sing it.
The setting for World War I was taking definite shape
and Europe was rapidly approaching a catastrophe.
(3) The wife of Czar Alexander III, Empress Maria Fedorovna,
formerly Princess Dagmar of Denmark, hated Germans. In 1864,
Prussia forced Denmark to give up Schleswig-Holstein, and this
principality was annexed by Prussia. There was no question that
the former Danish princess exercised a considerable influence
over her husband and to a great degree was responsible for the
creation of the Franco-Russian alliance-
Note of the Author.
GOVERNOR - GENERAL OF FINLAND
Nussia's friend, Vera Rokassowsky, was graduated
from Si. Petersburg Conservatory at approximately the same
time that Nussia was graduated from Smolny. Vera was in
the class of Composition, where mostly future conductors
and band leaders were studying.
Many regiments had their own orchestras, and the
orchestra of Preobrajensky Regiment was one of the best.
All famous musicians were sent there when they were
inducted into the Army. Every regiment sent to St. Petersburg
Conservatory a notice of a vacancy for a conductor, and the
Conservatory's staff sorted out these vacancies among the
students of the graduating class.
At that time the President of the Conservatory was
Anton Rubinstein, a well-known composer who organized in
St. Petersburg another opera theater which was called
Musical Drama . The acoustics in a new theater were
better than in Mariynsky. Twice a week, Anton Rubinstein
lectured on the theory of composition, and Vera attended
his lectures with special interest.
The presence of a girl whose family was prominent
in St- Petersburg society in the class of composition was
quite unusual, The other students, mostly men, did not
bother Vera with questions, but her social friends joked
about it, and since Vera could not make a career of a
regiment's conductor, they insisted that Vera expected to
become a famous composer.
Vera withstood the teasing stoically and quietly
explained to her friends that her health did not permit her
to exercise on a piano for more than three hours a day. It
was sufficient for a student of the composition class, while
the future pianists had to exercise on a piano eight hours
a day, and even longer.
Vera was very happy when she received her graduation
certificate. All jokes about her career as a composer were
to stop now, but shortly after her graduation her life was
marred by a deep sorrow. Her governess, Miss Davenhill,
who was closer to her than her own mother, died at the
age of eighty-two, leaving all her savings to Vera's brother,
Alexander, her favorite.
As a young girl, Miss Davenhill became a governess
in the family of Furst zu Waldeck and Pyrmont, and stayed
with this family for many years. She came to Russia in
1836, at the time the first child was born to Vera's parents.
Vera's father was the Chief of Staff of Count Alexander
Perovsky, Governor-General of Orenburg.
Miss Davenhill stayed with the Rokassowsky family
during the years in which Vera's brothers and sisters grew
up, and married. By the time Vera, the youngest, grew up,
Miss Davenhill had become a member of the family and
had no desire to return to England. And now she had died,
and Vera felt a terrible loneliness. Her mother, the dowager
Baroness Rokassowsky, continued to live in St Petersburg
in the same apartment on Fontanks. The principal interest
in the life of the old Baroness was still her daily card game
with some of her friends who were of the same age, such
as the Prince of Mingrelia, Baron Tiesenhausen, and her
distant relative, Baroness von Alfthan.
Life in St. Petersburg usually started late. Banks
opened at ten o'clock, the government offices opened at
eleven, but the high officials did not appear in their offices
before one or two o'clock in the afternoon. Women of
society would arise even later, and were not ready to go
out before five o'clock in the afternoon. Evening parties
lasted practically all night through. An invitation for sup
per meant that the guests were not to arrive before two
o'clock in the morning, If the guests arrived earlier, they
would find that their host and hostess were still at the
There was a logical explanation for this. St. Petersburg
was so far north that in the winter it was still dark at
eight o'clock in the morning. All streets were lighted until
almost eleven o'clock. The day was very short, and streets
were usually lighted again at half-past two or three o'clock
in the afternoon. Nobody liked to get up in the dark.
Consequently, in St. Petersburg everything was later than
usual; dinner was served at eight, or later, and supper at
two or three in the morning, or even later. Therefore, it
was not surprising that the old Baroness Rokassowsky and
her friends played cards until six or seven o'clock in the
morning practically every day. A supper was served them
between three and four o'clock in the morning, and the
Baroness insisted that her daughter Vera play the hostess's
While Miss Davenhill was alive, she replaced Vera quite
often, and Vera could go to bed at a reasonable hour, but
when Miss Davenhill died there was no one to replace Vera,
and she felt extremely tired when she arose in the morning.
She was getting up early because she did not want to
spend her days in bed. She tried to speak to her mother
but the old Baroness was very dictatorial and did not want
to listen to her arguments. Finally, Vera revolted against
this life with her domineering mother (and two Boulognese
dogs) and announced that she was going to the country.
By that time the Rokassowsky family estates were
divided among Vera's brothers, and she had no intention of
imposing on them and their families for any length of time.
There was one estate which, after the death of her busband,
the Baroness had kept for herself as her share as a widow.
It was Komchanskaia Rudnia , in the province of Mogilev.
It consisted of twelve and a half thousand acres of centuries-
old forest. Unfortunately, there was no suitable house to
Vera rented a house on the estate Puchkovo which
was situated only about five miles north of the town of
Nevel, and which belonged to Nicholas Shishko. Mr. Shishko
had an administrative position in the Department of Imperial
Theaters in St. Petersburg, and was glad to rent the house
of Puchkovo to Vera whose family he knew well This
house stood only about a quarter of a mile from the St.
Petersburg-Vitebsk highway and was surrounded by other
buildings of the estate. Vera could keep her own horses
and a carriage there, and besides her own servants, other
people lived nearby. It actually was not some remote place
and she did not need to be afraid living alone there.
In the spring of 1891, Vera moved to Puchkovo. At that
time she was already thirty-seven years old by Russian
standards, an old spinster.
As an unmarried woman, she could not very well
entertain the neighboring landowners, and was forced to
live a most secluded life. Physically she was frail, and
was continuously under a doctor's care.
My father called on her one day at the request of
Nussia, who wanted to have news from her old friend, and
was surprised to find her so thin and pale. She was
certainly not well at all, and my father was sorry for her.
A few months later, my father happened to be in Nevel
again, and on his way back to Kolpino he stopped to see
Vera. He was informed by a maid that Vera was sick in bed,
and could not receive him.
Many months passed before my father visited Puchkovo
again; this time he found Vera sitting in a big chair in front
of a fireplace in the livingroom. A heavy woolen shawl
covered her shoulders, and she appeared weak. She was
slowly recovering from pneumonia Doctor Talavrinoff,
whom my father knew well, was there, too. My father did
not stay long, and left the house together with the doctor who
told him confidentially that Vera had been seriously ill and
that for some time he had not expected her to live.
My father wondered why Vera was always so lonely;
he wondered about her brothers and sisters and found out
that her oldest sister Elisabeth was a widow and was living
with her daughter in Switzerland. Another sister, Olga, was
married, and lived with her husband in Peterhof, near St.
Petersburg. Her broth e r Alexander was somewhere in Europe,
and her brother Vladimir was Vice-Governor of the Pro-
vince of Pensa, quite a distance from Nevel. Only her
youngest brother Alexis liv*d on the estate Duhokrai near
Vitebsk. My father knew him slightly. He was a thoughtless
fellow, a former officer of a Hussar regiment, married now
but well known for his drinking bouts. The income he
received from the estate of some fifteen thousand acres
was nut sufficient to cover his reckless spending. He
mortgaged Dubokrai and continued to borrow money from
Jewish lenders. He was in serious financial difficulties.
And here was Vera f so reserved, so decent and so lonely!
Vera's father, Platon Rokassowsky, born in 1800 in
Riga, made a brilliant military career. Although only twelve
years old, at the time of Napoleon's invasion of Russia in
1 812, he was already commissioned an officer (ensign). He
took part in the Russo-Turkish War of 1829, in the capture
of Adrianopol and later in the wars in Caucasus where he
received the dagger of St. George with the inscription For
At the age of thirty-six, he was already a Major-
General and the Chief of Staff of the Governor-General oi
Orenburg. In 1840, he took part in the campaign of Count
Perovsky in Central Asia- For this campaign he received the
Cross of St. George, the highest Russian decoration for
bravery on the field of battle. And it was in Orenburg that
he met Miss Alexandra Kuzminsky, his future wife.
Miss Kuzminsky was a daughter of an unknown Colonel
Vasili Kuzminsky of lesser gentry who was stationed in
Orenburg. Her mother was Elisabeth Kamayev of a Tatar
family, born in Siberia. Numerous oil paintings and portraits
depicted Miss Kuzminsky as a very beautiful girl.
They were married in 1835, and the following year
their first son was born. Platon Rokassowsky immediately
engaged an English and a French governess for his son. The
young mother, who was fourteen years younger than her
husband, started to study French with the French governess.
In Russia at that time it was considered a disgrace not to
speak French fluently. The marriage of Platon Rokassowsky
was certainly a mesalliance.
In 1848, he was appointed Assistant-Governor General
of Finland and moved with his family to Helsingfors. He
Baron Platan Rokasso\v$ky,
Governor-General of Finland.
From a portrait b\ A, Makovsky, photo from
the book * History of Finland by M. M. Bo
rodktn, New York Public Library
bought two estates in Finland - Degere near Helsingfors,
and Kirjola near Wyborg. The Governor-General of Finland,
Prince Alexander Sergejevich Menshikoff, a direct descendant
of the favorite of Czar Peter Great, Prince Alexander
Danilovich Menshikoff, lived in St. Petersburg, and the
administration of the Grand Duchy was left to Rokassowsky.
Platon Rokassowsky was an exceedingly well-educated man,
and although a soldier, was liberal and very tactful. In a
short time he became very popular in Finland.
On the 6th of December, 1854, Count Friedrich von
Berg was appointed the Governor-General of Finland and
replaced Prince Menshikoff at this post. Rokassowsky was
appointed a member of the Council of the Empire and
moved to St. Petersburg. As a matter of fact, an appointment
to the Council of the Empire was not a promotion; it was
equivalent to being put out to pasture . Rokassowsky was
too liberal to suit the Imperial government of Czar Nicholas I
Rokassowsky left Finland with a heavy heart. He had
learned to love this little contry in the north, and its people,
so honest and industrious, and the population of the Grand
Duchy deeply regretted seeing him leave.
As a token of gratitude for his liberal rule, the Senate
of Finland addressed a petition to the Czar asking to grant
Rokassowsky a baronial title of the Grand Duchy of Finland.
This petition \vas granted.
It was at the time of the Great Reforms of the Czar-
Emancipator (in 1861) that Rokassowsky was appointed to
replace Count von Berg as Governor-General of Finland. The
Finns were jubilant and at their request Rokassowsky entered
rfelsingfors after dark. All streets of the city were filled
with gay crowds, and the population arranged a torchlight
procession in his honor. Rokassowsky carried orders from
the Czar to prepare a new constitution for Finland.
It took two years of work and finally, in 1863, Czar
Alexander II, with all members of his family, and the
Imperial Court, arrived in Helsingfors for the opening of
the first Finnish Parliament (Seim). At the opening ceremony,
the Czar delivered his speech in French, the language used
in international relations, and this gesture of the liberal
Russian Sovereign gave to every Finn an additional assurance
that his country was actually a separate dominion of the
Russian Empire, with its own constitution, administration,
code of laws, monetary unit (Finnish Mark instead of Rus
sian Rouble), Post and Telegraph and Custom Houses along
the entire Finnish border.
The population of the Grand Duchy was jubilant- The
streets in Helsingfors were decorated with flags and the
initials of the Czar. In the evening there were tremendous
fireworks, and at the Governor-General Palace, Baron
Rokassowsky gave a ball in honor of the Russian Sovereign.
According to the court etiquette, the ball was opened by a
polonaise, and the leading couple were the Czar and Baroness
Rokassowsky. Behind them, Baron Rokassowsky was the
Empress's partner, and they were followed by the Grand
Dukes and Grand Duchesses and members of the Imperial
At the age of sixty-eight, on doctor's orders, Rokassowsky
presented his resignation. By that time he already had all
the highest decorations of the Empire. On the occasion of
his resignation, he received an edict from the Czar giving
him seven thousand acres of fertile land in the Province of
The point was that the salaries of high government
officials in Russia were inadequate for their actual needs. For
instance, in order to live in the Governor-General's Palace
and provide the necessary entertainment, Rokassowsky was
forced to sell one of his estates because the salary he received
did not cover all his expenses. Therefore, it was customary
at the time of resignation to present a high government
official with an estate in order to compensate him for the
expenses which he had paid out of his personal resources
The Senate of Finland presented Rokassowsky with an
address in the form of a parchment scroll, from all provinces
of the Grand Duchy. At the head of his scroll were imprinted
in colors the arms of Finland the golden Finnish lion
holding a sword in the raised right paw. The address, written
in Swedish, honored Rokassowsky *s services rendered to the
Grand Duchy and assured him of the undying devotion to
him of the grateful population of Finland.
A ball at r/w GovernorGeneral Palace in Hdsmgfor*. on of the
of the First Finnish Parliament in 1863.
Cmr II the ball with Batvness Alemndm
mvsky, wife of the of Finland, grandmother of the author.
from an sketch in History of by Af. M. ^o-
rodkin t JV T York Public
After his resignation, Rokassowsky, with his entire family,
took a trip abroad. They were staying in a hotel in the
city of Nice when he died of a heart attack, in March, 1869.
He was buried in the Russian cemetery in Nice.
A FAMILY SQUABBLE
Vera Rokassowsky was fourteen years old when her
father died. She remembered him well, although as a child
she did not see much of him.
Every morning after arranging her hair in two long
tresses, and after being properly dressed, Vera was scrutinized
by her French governess who conducted her into a big di-
ningroom where her parents had their breakfast. She made
a knicksen (curtsy) first to her father Bon jour, papk
and she kissed his hand. He would stroke her hair and
smile. Vera was the youngest of all his children, and as
busy and preoccupied as he was, he always tried to be
attentive and loving towards her.
Then, Vera made a knicksen to her mother
Bonjour, mam& and she kissed her hand, too, but her
mother did not caress her, and Vera did not expect it from
her. They both appeared quite indifferent to each other.
After this brief ceremony, Vera sat at her place at the
end of the table and kept quiet. She was not supposed to
take any food other than that offered to her, and she was
not supposed to talk at the table, even to ask for anything
not even another piece of toast, although often she was
After breakfast, Vera attended her lessons with the
French governess and with Miss Davenhill, for whom she
had a deep affection, and in whom she confided all her
secrets. Every day, Vera had a music lesson. In the big
Governor-General Palace in Helsingfors where Vera was born
was a room with a concert piano. This room was in the
farthest corner of the building and was intended for the
children of the Governor-General, where they could exercise
without disturbing anyone- However, each child was permitted
to stay in this room only one hour and to play only exercises,
nothing else. The music lesson was followed usually by a
dancing lesson, and finally, at some time in the afternoon,
Vera was permitted to play with other children of her own
age. In Finland, the nobility was Swedish, and all these
children spoke Swedish. Vera learned to speak Swedish
without any foreign accent, although she could not speak
Russian at all.
After breakfast, Vera never saw her parents for the
rest of the day. All children had their lunch and dinner under
the supervision of their governesses and tutors in another
diningroom and were not supposed to disturb their parents.
Over the week-ends, the whole family often went to
their estate Degero, situated on one of the islands in the
vicinity of Helsingfors. Vera remembered a big Navy cutter
with fourteen oars and an officer in command waiting for
them at the pier, and when her father appeared, the officer
gave crisp orders, the flag of Governor-General was raised,
and all fourteen sailors started to row in unison. It was a
short ride to the island, where the children ran and played
to their hearts' content.
In winter the children enjoyed skating. In bad weather,
Miss Davenhill forced them to take walks through the streets
of the city for at least one hour every day.
Although the education and background of Baroness
Alexandra Rokassowsky, a daughter of some unknown colonel
stationed in Orenburg on the border of Asia, were entirely
different from the back-ground and education of her husband,
they appeared to be a happily married couple. Baroness
Rokassowsky followed her husband's instructions to the letter,
and became well versed in court etiquette, and in her duties
as a wife of a Russian aristocrat and an important personage
as her husband was. After thirty years of married life, she
mastered French, and became one of the well-known hostesses
in St. Petersburg and Helsingfors.
As the wife of the Governor-General of Finland, she
refused to take any part in or even to lend her name to any
charitable society in which prominent women were interested.
From time immemorial, in all countries, it happened quite
often that these societies had been managed badly, and money
collected for charity was often misused. Baron Rokassowsky
was proud of his name and reputation and did not want the
name of his wife to be connected in any way with any rumour
of improperly used public funds. Baroness Rokassowsky
never questioned the authority of her husband. At his
request, she left the education of her children entirely to
the French and English governesses and tutors engaged by her
husband Perhaps this was the reason why she was not
loved by the children.
At one of the receptions at the Winter Palace, Baron
Rokassowsky presented his wife to Czar Nicholas I and the
Empress, the former Princess Charlotte of Prussia. At the
same reception, Baroness Rokassowsky was presented to the
Cesarevitch, the future Czar Alexander II and his wife, Grand
Duchess Maria Alexandrovna, the former Princess of Hesse.
The Cesarevna liked Baroness Rokassowsky and they began
to correspond, always in French, and their correspondence
lasted some thirty years, until Empress Maria Alexandrovna
died in 1880.
Baron Rokassowsky and his wife had nine children, but
only seven reached maturity. Vera, born in 1854, was the
youngest of the children.
After his resignation in 1868, Baron Rokassowsky with
his entire family, accompanied by governesses, tutors, valets,
and chambermaids, took a trip abroad. Only the oldest
daughter, Elisabeth, remained with her husband in St.
Vera remembered well how she was called to her
father's bedroom in the hotel where they were staying in
Nice- She entered his room and was told to kneel by his
bed. With great difficulty her father raised his hand blessed
her and Vera kissed his hand for the last time. A few hours
later he died.
At the request of the city authorities, his funeral took
place at night time. Nice was a well-known resort where
many sick people lived. They were told by their doctors
and relatives that the warm sunshine and soft breezes of the
Mediterranean would give them back their strength and
health, and they wanted to believe it. In order not to upset
those who were still alive with gloomy spectacles, all funerals
took place at night.
Late at night the coffin of Baron Rokassowsky was
carried out of the hotel. All members of the family followed
to the Russian cemetery, situated a few miles west of the
center of the city. The Requiem service and the lowering
of the coffin into the grave were conducted by the light of
torches. This sombre spectacle made a great impression on
Vera. She did not like the speed with which the Requiem
service was conducted. It appeared to her that everybody,
including the Russian priest, was trying to get through with
this ceremony as fast as possible.
After ordering a large square tombstone of the size of
the grave, with a marble plate on which were engraved the
name, rank and dates of birth and death of the deceased,
the family returned to Kirjola, an estate near Wyborg, in
Finland, where they stayed tor the summer The young boys,
Vladimir and Alexis, were sent immediately to the Corps
des Pages, an exclusive military academy in St. Petersburg,
where their older brothers, Platon and Alexander, received
their education. Vera was enlisted in a private high school
of Princess Obolensky. In the fall. Baroness Rokassowsky
rented an apartment on Fontanka in St. Petersburg. For the
first time, Vera was sent to a Russian school. She did not
speak Russian at all, but no one anticipated any difficulties
Vera was in Russia now and it was taken for granted that
she would speak her native tongue.
Baron Rokassowsky died without a will. He had been
preoccupied with the affairs of the state and did not make
any will while in Russia. The fatal heart attack found him
unprepared. The absence of a will made the question of the
estate he left very complicated.
According to Russian law, his widow was entitled to
one-seventh of the entire estate. Each daughter was supposed
to receive one-fourteenth part, and the rest of the estate was
to be equally divided among all the sons. The law was quite
clear on the point of the division, but there was a question
Inheritance taxes were exceedingly small in Russia, and
the government was not interested in a fair appraisal of the
estate. Landed estates situated in different provinces were
appraised by petty local officials who could be easily
influenced. They were always eager to please and for a small
consideration could appraise a certain property far below
its market value.
The dowager Baroness Rokassowsky displayed an
unusual interest in the settlement of the estate of her deceased
husband Many years passed before the final settlement was
made, and as a reward for her undying interest, the two
largest estates Komchanskaia Rudnia and Dubokrai
were awarded to her and to her youngest son Alexis, her
favorite. For good measure, the estate Degere, near Helsingfors
in Finland, was added to the share of the widow.
Dubokrai f a property even a little larger than
Komchanskaia Rudnia*, in the province of Vitebsk, was
awarded to Alexis, the youngest son of the deceased. There
was a large and very comfortable house in Dubokrai. The
house was two stories high, built of bricks and stone in a
colonial style, on the shore of a big lake. The lake was so
big that only on clear days was the opposite shore visible.
Vera's father maintained on this lake a couple of racing
yachts. There was a park around the house and other
buildings. The estate brought a very comfortable income.
Komchanskaia Rudnia and Dubokrai were two
estates which Prince Alexander Wiazemsky, with the approval
of Empress Catherine the Great, presented to Vera's grand
father, Ivan Rokassowsky, who was his natural son. The
third estate, Dornbrovo , also presented by Prince Wiazemsky,
and the largest of them all, was sold by Vera's grandfather.
The portion received by the mother and her favorite
son represented the lion's share of the entire estate, but the
authority of the dowager Baroness Rokassowsky among her
children remained indisputable and nobody protested.
Vera and her sister Olga received as their share seven
thousand acres in the province of Samara, an estate by
the Brook Karambulatka as it was described officially in
the grant of Czar Alexander II made to Vera's father at the
time of his resignation. Both sisters were supposed to be
content to receive three and a half thousand acres each,
somewhere on the border of Asia, where the value of land
at that time was very low.
Surprisingly for Vera, her studies in Princess Obolensky's
school for girls proceeded without any difficulties. All the
teachers in this school as well as all her classmates spoke
French fluently. Within a few months, Vera began to speak
Russian, and with the years to come, she learned Russian
thoroughly, but she never got rid of a slight foreign accent.
Vera finished the school of Princess Obolensky at the
age of nineteen. In the fall of the same year, her mother
arranged to present her to the Imperial Court at a ball
given at the Winter Palace.
While Vera, according to court etiquette, was making
a deep reverence to the Czar and the Empress Maria
Alexandrovna, her mother found time to point out to the
Czar that she still had an unmarried daughter who had to
be launched into society and she, the poor widow, needed for
this reason an additional income. The Czar smiled at Vera
and said a few words to her mother. Vera did not hear
what he said, but by the expression on Baroness Rokassowsky's
face, she understood that her petition was successful.
A few weeks later, Vera's mother was notified that His
Imperial Majesty the Czar decreed to give her an additional
pension of six thousand roubles a year. For some reason, this
additional pension was called a rent (in Russian * Arenda ).
As soon as Baroness Rokassowsky received this news,
she forgot completely about the existence of her unmarried
daughter. She did not pay any more attention to Vera than
she did to her maid or her butler. In her apartment on
Fontanka, she received only people of her own age and
devoted most of her time to her two Boulognese dogs and
to her daily card game.
Vera had a few friends of her own whom she met
while she was in the fashionable school of Princess Obolensky,
and these friends invited her to different parties, but due to
the fact that Vera's mother never arranged any party for
the young people, Vera was unable to reciprocate, and the
invitations to her became fewer every season until they
In the meantime, the Rokassowsky family was ^again in
mourning on account of the tragic death of Vera's oldest
brother, Platon. Platon was at that time a major of the
Preobrajensky Regiment, and an aid-de-camp of the Czar. He
was married to Sophia Saburoff, a girl of a very old Russian
Boyar family. He and his wife had an apartment in the
Winter Palace facing Millionaia Street and Zimnaia Kanavka,
where the First Company of his regiment was stationed.
Platon, like his late father, was making a brillant
military career. Unfortunately, he was very much in love
with his wife, who was a very shallow woman. His wife had
been flirting with all his friends. All her dresses had decollete
lower than usual. She was mean to her husband, and Platon
realized that they did not suit each other. But he was
much too proud to divorce her. Besides, according to a
strongly established tradition, in case of divorce he had to
resign from his regiment. All this made him very unhappy.
One morning his feeling of despair was so intense that
he climbed on a window sill of his apartment and cut his
throat with a razor The window was open, and he fell
down from the second floor on the sidewalk of Zimnaia
Kanavka. When soldiers rushed to him, he was already dead.
Vera adored her oldest brother and his death caused
a great sorrow. At the time of death of her brother Platon,
Vera was twenty-two years old.
A couple of eligible young men made proposals of
marriage to Vera but she refused. She was convinced that
she could only marry a man with whom she was in love.
She read all the novels of Thanckeray, Balzac, George Sand,
and all the English and French novelists. She adored Rus
sian Imperial Ballet and went quite often to Maryinsky
Theater. She witnessed the triumph of Adelina Patti, a famous
Italian coloratura-soprano who sang at that time in St.
In a few years, Vera became quite independent. She
was never afraid to travel alone, and learned to smoke,
which was unheard of then, and was greatly criticized. She
read newspapers, and became interested in politics.
At the time of the Russo-Turkish War of 1877-78, her
brother Vladimir Rokassowsky, also an officer of Preobrajensky
Regiment, enlisted as an Esaul (pronounced Essa-oul, a
major in the Cossack regiment) of His Majesty's Escort and
took part in this campaign. He received several decorations
for bravery and was made aid-de-camp of the Czar. Vera's
sister Olga became a nurse and was sent with a detachment
of the Red Cross to the fighting front.
Vera read the official communiques and followed closely
the events of this campaign. Like thousands of other girls
in Russia, she adored the Czar-Emancipator and was proud
to be a Russian. The slight foreign accent she had was a
cause of great annoyance and embarrassment to her, especially
in this period of her life.
It was unbearable for Vera to continue to lead an idle
life, and she decided to enter the St. Petersburg Conservatory.
Four years later the studies were over, and she was again
facing the same problem what to dedicate her life to?
This problem Vera was unable to solve, but the death of
Miss Davenhill made her life in St. Petersburg still more
depressing, and she decided to move to the country.
She would have moved to her own estate in the province
of Samara, but it was much too far. The estate by the
Brook Karambulatka was situated in the Kirghiz steppes,
some one hundred miles from the city of Samara, and about
seventy-five miles from the city of Uralsk. The nearest
railroad station was at Samara. Besides, the entire estate
had only one small building a four-room house occupied
by the superintendent who lived there only a few months
each year while the fields were seeded and until the crop
was collected. It was a most primitive system. The entire
estate was divided in five equal portions; these portions
rotated... only one portion was seeded with wheat each year.
Four other portions of the estate were left fallow- The estate
v/as situated in the so-called black soil belt and the fields
were never fertilized. The crop depended entirely upon
sufficient rain. A dry summer could easily produce a drought,
and the entire crop would perish. Therefore, the annual
income from this estate was very uncertain. There could be
a j oss expenses on seeding the fields, but, on the other
hand, in good years when the rainfalls were sufficient, the
estate brought a considerable income. The wheat seeded on
this estate was of the highest quality, so-called beloturka .
Actually, it was the first attempt to plough the virgin
soil , the steppes that had never been cultivated before.
Russian steppes were covered with feather grass, called
kovyl . This feather grass had very deep roots and prevented
the soil from being blown by the wind into huge black
clouds at the time of a drought. At that time, Russians were
careful not to plow more than one-fifth of the available land,
in order not to deprive the soil of the protection provided
Vera moved to the house of Puchkovo in the province
of Vitebsk. Unfortunately for her, a few months later she
contracted pneumonia and for a couple of weeks was lying
in bed with a high fever, unconscious. Doctor Talavrinoff
who visited her daily did not expect her to live, but finally
her healthy constitution helped her to pull through.
Her recovery took a long time. First she was permitted
to sit in the livingroom, but with the coming warm weather
the doctor permitted her to sit on a couch outside, warmly
dressed and covered by woolen blankets. Finally, she was
allowed to take daily walks.
The house of Puchkovo stood only about a mile from
the highway and there was a wide road leading from the
highway to the house. This road was always kept in perfect
order and Vera usually walked along this road. She had to
pass by the farriery where Jankel, a blacksmith, was always
working. Jankel was a tall, heavy-set Jew who greeted Vera
always with a friendly smile.
Jews were usually traders, insurance agents, or hotel
and tavern keepers, and Jankel represented an exception to
his race. One day Vera noticed that every now and then
Jankel walked out of his farriery to the highway, raised his
right hand to his forehead, protecting his eyes from the
sunlight, and took a good look in the direction of Nevel,
only about five or six miles distant. Vera became curious
and asked Jankel what he was looking for.
I look Jankel answered with a question. I look
is Nevel burning already?
Vera did not understand, What do you mean, Jankel?
Should Nevel burn today? ,
Yes , answered Jankel, it is time for Nevel to burn .
The fact was that practically all Jewish towns and
communities in Russia burned down periodically, and after each
fire better houses were built in place of the old ones. Needless
to say, all houses owned by the Jews were heavily insured
against fire. Periodic fires which destroyed Jewish towns
were a well-known fact and yet it was exceedingly difficult
to prove that these fires were started intentionally. A most
rigid investigation conducted by the insurance companies in
a labyrinth of narrow passages between old wooden build
ings, with old rags hanging out of the windows, could not
determine the cause of fire, and the insurance money was
paid out. However, the fact remained that there were never
any human victims in these fires, and the Jewish owners of
the houses which were burned down completely usually
managed to save all their personal belongings.
Vera Rokassowsky was very lonesome. She did not visit
anyone and entertained very little herself. She spent most
of her time playing the piano and reading. But Doctor
Talavrinoff warned her not to tire her eyes too much and
to limit her reading to only about one hour daily. Under
these conditions, Vera was glad when a few neighboring
landowners and their wives came to visit her.
Vera became very fond of the old Princess Maria
Romadanovsky-Lodyjensky. At the time when Czar Peter the
Great went to Holland where he was working as a common
shipwright on the wharves at Zaandam, a direct ancestor of
the Princess was made a Regent of Russia with the title of
Prince-Caesar . While the Czar was working on the
wharves, and visiting factories, picture galleries, anatomical
theatres, commercial and other institutions in Western
Europe, trying to learn everything he could, Prince
Romadanovsky occupied the Russian throne in his place.
Princess Maria, an old spinster, was the last in line of
Princes Romadanovsky-Lodyjensky. Her estate * Zivilevo
was heavily mortgaged and the poor woman was in financial
Vera wanted to help her, and on one of the rare
occasions when my father visited Puchkovo, Vera asked him
for his advice. My father wrote a petition to the Czar for
the Princess. As a result of this petition, the Czar was
gracious enough to order all debts of the Princess to be
paid out of his own purse, and she was granted a pension
sufficient to take care of her modest needs.
Unfortunately, this relief in her financial troubles came
much too late. The Princess received the good news while
she was visiting Vera in Puchkovo. Shortly afterwards, she
became ill. Vera immediately called Doctor Talavrinoff whose
office was in Nevel. He found that Princess Maria had a
serious heart ailment and ordered her to bed. The Princess
wanted to go back to her estate Zivilevo, but in the opinion
of the doctor this trip, because of her weak heart, could be
The Princess remained in Puchkovo, either lying in
bed or sitting in a big, comfortable chair. Her dog, an Irish
terrier, slept at the foot of her bed every night, and during
the day never left her side.
Two months passed, but the condition of the Princess
did not improve. Every day Vera spent several hours in the
room of the Princess, sitting by her bed and reading to her,
trying to comfort the old, lonely woman. One evening, the
Irish terrier of the Princess disappeared. The servants looked
for him everywhere but could not find him- Finally, he was
discovered in one of the livingrooms, far from his mistress's
bedroom. The dog refused to come out from under a sofa
where he was hiding. That same night the old Princess
The misfortune of Princess Romadanovsky, her illness
and her death brought my father closer to Puchkovo and to
Vera Rokassowsky. Gradually his visits to Puchkova became
more frequent. He enjoyed Vera's company. She was well
read and an interesting companion- She could ride well, and
quite often they rode together, galloping through the fields,
meadows and forests. It required all the skill of an expert
Vera VOH Wrangell, burn Barunta**
\ mother of the authui
rider to follow Vera who loved to let her horse run at full
The Puchkovo house was very comfortable, and there
was a billiard room. Vera and my father played pool together,
or a more serious game of chess. It was quite natural that
they both fell in love with each other, and decided to get
married, but my father's wife Emilia stubbornly refused to
give him a divorce. Besides, Vera's mother and all her
brothers and sisters were decidedly against her marriage to
a man who was already married twice, and not even divorced
from the second wife yet! They declared that it was a dis
grace that their sister was the cause for a divorce.
Finally my father was prompted to take a drastic step.
One day, or rather one night, he returned to Kolpino, as
was his habit, and the following morning he had a stormy
discussion with Emilia. He offered her a generous settlement
for her agreement to a divorce. Otherwise, he threatened to
make her life miserable. He was so determined that eventually
Emilia gave in.
According to a written agreement, Emilia was to remain
the sole mistress of the Kolpino house for the rest of her
life, and the office of the estate was to pay out to her a
large sum of money annually for her personal needs.
A divorce was granted within a few months, and my
father and Vera Rokassowsky were married. Immediately
after the wedding, they went by train to Moscow, and from
there to Crimea, to the shores of the Black Sea.
THE BOXER UPRISING
In 1895, my father and his third wife went to Yalta,
and settled there. At that time, Yalta, the so-called Russian
Nice was a small town on the shore of the Black Sea.
The combination of the sea and the high mountains covered
with pine forests presented a gorgeous background for the
small town that was built on terraces up the mountainside.
The mountains, approximately three thousand feet high,
protected Yalta from the cold northern winds. On the south
side of the mountains the temperature rarely reached the
freezing point, and while the tops of the mountains were still
covered with snow in May and the beginning oi June, at
the base of the mountains by the shore grew cypresses,
mahogany trees, rhododendrons and even some varieties of
palms. The palms were not native to Crimea; they were
planted. The blooming acacia trees, magnolia, wisteria and
roses filled the air with a subtropical aroma.
The original population of Crimea was of Tatar origin.
The o!a Khans of Crimea had been vassals of the Sultans
of Turkey, and Crimea was acquired by Russia comparatively
recently, at the time of the reign of Empress Catherine the
Gieat, in 1783.
Back in the classic age, Herodotus described many
Greek colonies on the shores of the Black Sea, situated near
the present towns of Kerch, Feodosia, Eupatoria, Sebastopol,
Kherson and others. There were many Greeks living there
before the First World War.
In the early part of the Middle Ages, the powerful city
of Genoa, competing with her rival, the Republic of Venice,
established colonies on the peninsula of Crimea, and one
could still see the fortresses which had been built to protect
the trade of this maritime republic.
The combination of Greeks, Italians, and Tatars produced
a special race of the Crimean Tatars. They were Mohammedans,
faithful to the Prophet, with their mosques and mullahs, and
at the same time, had the features (straight eyelids) of the
Aryan race. They abstained from liquor, respected the old
traditions of the East, and were extremely honest. Many of
them were very handsome.
To the east of Yalta, along the sea shores, were situated
the estates Massandra and Nikitsky<jardens, which belonged
to the Department of Appanages, and the estate Selam of
Count Orloff-Dovidoff. Further away was the village of Gursuf,
with a Genoese fortress built on a big rock extending into the
sea. From the ruins of this old fortress, one had a beautiful
view of the mountain Ayu-Dag. The mountain had the form of
a bear and jutted far out into the sea. The estates of Prince
Murat and of Prince Bagration were situated close together
here. Their ancestors had been enemies during the Napoleon
campaign of 1812. In the moonlight of warm Crimean summer
nights, the ruins of the old fortress, the graceful cypresses,
and the outline of the Ayu-Dag, resembling a huge animal
bending over into the sea, could easily be compared to a
scene from Scheherazade. It was so beautiful that it seemed
To the west from Yalta, about one or two miles, were
situated two large estates of the Czar - Livadia and Oreanda.
The latter estate had been acquired by the Czar from the
Grand Duke Constantin Nicholayevitch, after the palace on
this estate was burned down. The fire occurred in 1881,
shortly after the assassination of the Czar-Emancipator.
Further on was situated Haracks, an estate of Grand
Duke George Michailovitch, the estate Dulber of the Grand
Duke Peter Nichailovitch, the estate Ay-Todor of the Grand
Duke Alexander Michailovitch and the beautiful estate Alupka
of Count Worontzoff-Dashkoff, the late Viceroy of the Caucasus-
Different parts of Alupka 's palace were built in dif-
fcrcnt styles. The wide marble staircases descending to the
sea, with six marble statues of lions on guard, together
with the Arabic architecture of the side of the palace facing
the sea, reminded one of the Alhambra. Beyond the palace
rose the high rocks of Ay-PetrL This tremendous rock ended
the semi-circle that enclosed Yalta from the north.
Yalta was an ideal place for two people in love who
were trying to forget their unfortunate past and, at their
advanced age, to start a new life. When about a year later
a son was born to Vera, their happiness reached a culminating
I was born on the twentieth of May, according to the
old Russian (Julian) calendar, or on the first of June,
according to the European (Gregorian) calendar, 1896. My
first memories were connected with Crimea, the sweet aroma
of wisteria and magnolia blossoms and the rhythmic sound
of the waves,,.
My mother adored me- I was her first-born, and I
carne when she was already forty-two years old! She worried
constantly about my health. The morning would start with
calling a doctor and asking him if the weather was warm
enough for her little Carl to go out, and on what side of the
house her offspring should play? Then, the next hour was
devoted to dressing him in a sufficiently warm suit. Little
Carl did not like it and resisted as much as he could. Then,
very strict instructions were given to the nurse to watch
the boy carefully and not to permit him to do any mischief.
As a result of this careful attention, I had pneumonia
twice. One case was so severe that I nearly died.
Every evening my mother would read to me before I
fell asleep. She usually read books on history. Being the
only child and always among grown-ups, I was well-informed
for my age. When I was only eight years old, I surprised my
elders with my knowledge of historical events, names and
dates. Having an excellent memory, I knew by heart chapters
of poetry, especially of Pushkin and Lermontoff, Russia's
two greatest poets.
Sometimes in the evenings, when I was comfortably
tucked into my little bed, my mother played the piano,
playing the sonatas of Beethoven and nocturnes and valses of
I remember my father, holding himself very erect,
with silver streaks in his thick hair. He was always tender
and kind to me.
Many years later, I learned that my parents came to
Yalta intending to stay only a few months, but the beauty
of the place made them want to stay there indefinitely and
finally they built an entirely new life there. My father bought
a piece of land in Kekeneiz, on the seashore, with the intention
of building a villa there some day. He became a member of
the local club and played * besigue and wint there at
least four or five evenings every week.
My mother took prolonged walks along the quai and
in the Yalta pubblic gardens every day. During the summer
season in this public garden an orchestra played every
evening, mostly light music, Viennese valses, but occasionally
arias from different operas and classical music which my
mother liked so much. My mother was very fond of reading
French and English novels, and I always remember her sit
ting in a chair with a book in her hands.
I remember the Boer War. The sympathies of the Rus
sians were decidedly on the side of the Boers and Mr,
Kruger. I remember a little song which Russian boys of my
age used to sing at that time:
Mama, buy for me a sabre and a drum,
I shall go to Africa to beat up the English... .
I remember the Boxer Uprising of 1900, which was
very frightening, and which was caused by the greed of
European powers, including Mother-Russia.
On the 20th of October, 1894, Emperor Alexander III
died in the old Livadia Palace in Crimea, and on the throne
ascended his son, Czar Nicholas II, who was at that time
only twenty-six years old. The young Czar married Princess
Alix of Hesse and Rhine, who became Empress Alexandra
Right from the beginning, the young Czar displayed the
characteristics of his ancestor, Emperor Alexander I
mysticism, cunning, and even perfidy. However, Emperor
Alexander I was one of the best educated men of his time.
Pratically all diplomatic acts of his reign were written in a
rough draft by the Czar himself. On the other hand, the
education of Czar Nicholas II was not above average. Czar
Nicholas II had beautiful manners, gracious, polite and
attentive at all times; his innate charm produced an effect,
without fail, on everybody who met him for the first time.
His memory for faces and names was remarkable, and he
used it to his advantage. He had great poise. He was rather
good-hearted, but actually, outside of his immediate family,
he did not love anyone and did not cherish anything. As a
result, he had no real friends.
He signed the abdication without any struggle or regret.
The thought that he, the captain, was abandoning his ship
at the time of danger, did not occur to him. He declared that
he would like to go to Livadia to devote his time to his
favorite hobby planting flowers...
In his every-day demands, he was very modest, but
he had no knowledge of human nature and could not evaluate
correctly the people around him. Possibly, as a constitutional
monarch, Czar Nicholas II would have been popular among
his subjects, but, unfortunately, for Russia, he had no
makings of an Autocrat of a huge Empire.
From the beginning of his reign, he was considerably
influenced by the members of the Imperial family, his mother,
his uncles, and cousins. The Grands Dukes interfered in the
affairs of state which did not concern them at all and
exercised a disastrous influence on the Czar.
At the time of his accession to the throne, the war
between China and Japan was in progress. Japan successfully
invaded Manchuria and had captured Wei-hai-wei and Port
Arthur. According to the Peace Treaty of Shimonoseki, China
ceded to Japan Formosa, Pescadores Islands, and the
At that time, the Trans-Siberian Railway extended
already to Irkutsk, and the question was how to build it
further to Vladivostok in a roundabout \vay along the
northern bank of the Amour River, or in a much shorter
way, through the Chinese territory of northern Manchuria?
The Russian government had no hopes of obtaining the
consent of the Chinese government to build the railway
through Manchuria, but the young Czar, who as the Heir-
Apparent had visited Japan, envisaged an extension of Rus
sian influence in the Far East. On the advice of Serge Witte,
a top statesman of his time, Russia adopted a policy of
preserving the integrity of China, and received necessary
support from Germany and France. These three powers
presented an ultimatum forcing Japan to evacuate the
Liaotung Peninsula, preventing her from acquiring any
territory on the continent of Asia.
In June, 1896, the Russian government signed an
agreement with Li Hung-Chang, an outstanding Chinese
statesman, who at that time arrived in Moscow for the
coronation of Czar Nicholas II. This agreement was actually
a defensive alliance between Russia and China against Japan.
At the same time, Russia received a concession for the
building of a continuation of the Trans-Siberian Railways
across northern Manchuria. This concession was granted to
the Russo-Chinese Bank, which, in turn, passed it to the
Eastern Chinese Railway, a corporation formed for this
The old Dowaver-Empress of China valued this defensive
agreement with Russia, which, from her point of view, was
to preserve the integrity of China, to such an extent that
she did not trust a copy of this agreement to anyone, and
kept it in her bedroom.
However, the other European powers were unwilling to
swallow the* fact that Russia received a concession from
China, and in 1897, Germany seized Tsingtao,
In direct violation of the agreement signed with Li
Hung-Chang, and regardless of the protests of Serge Witte,
Russia occupied Port Arthur and Dairen, and forced China
to lease to Russia the portion of Liaotung Peninsula which
included these two ports. Great Britain received concessions
on the Burmese frontier and acquired Wei-hai-wei- Every
power was anxious to get a slice of the Chinese melon. Rus
sia, Germany and Great Britain did just what they did not
want Japan to do, and Russia occupied that part of Liaotung
Peninsula which a few years previously Japan had been forced
In order to appease Japan, in April, 1898, Russia signed
an agreement with the Japanese Empire leaving Korea to
Japanese influence. For the time being, Japan appeared to
The Boxer movement, which originated in the south of
China, was spreading to the north, and finally broke out
with violence in Peking. The nationalist-minded Chinese
started to loot European embassies in Peking, with the usual
Chinese cruelty, killing some foreigners. The Boxer Uprising
had a slogan, Protect the country, destroy the foreigners! .
Russian troops were the first to enter Peking. They
were supported by the Japanese, and, later on by the troops
of other European powers. The Dowager-Empress and the
Emperor fled, and the well-known Imperial Palace at Peking,
with its priceless art and gem treasures, was looted. Unfortu
nately, the Russian troops took part in this looting.
THE REIGN OF CZAR NICHOLAS II
With tha accession to the throne of Czar Nicholas II,
the domestic policy of the Russian government changed very
little. The young Czar was more tolerant of the foreign
names of some of his subjects, but on the whole, the
Slavophils and the Slavophil ideas continued to have the
same domineering influence.
It was due partly to the influence - of Constantin
Pobedonostsev, Procurator of the Holy Synod, and some
other Slavophils, and partly to the deep feeling of respect
and adoration which Czar Nicholas II had for the memory
of his late father. This feeling he often carried to an extreme.
While he was the Heir-Apparent, with the rank of a
subaltern officer, Nicholas was appointed an aide-de-camp
to his father and wore the initials of the late Emperor on
his epaulettes. According to army regulations, with the
promotion to the rank of a general, the initials of the Czar
were removed from the epaulettes of the aide-de-camp, unless
he was promoted at the same time to the rank of General
of the Suite.
At the moment of the death of his father, Czar Nicholas
II was still a colonel. By the orders of the Army, he could
have been promoted to a four-star general, or even to Field
Marshal, but he wanted to keep the initials of his late father
on his shoulder straps, and therefore remained a colonel for
the rest of his life.
In 1896, General Sheremeteff, Viceroy of the Caucasus,
presented his resignation because of old age. In his place,
Prince Gregory Galitzine was appointed. The new Viceroy
ignored completely the character and traditions of the various
races which inhabited this region and proceeded to russify
the Caucasus by very harsh measures.
At that time, as a result of prosecutions by the govern
ment of Sultan Abdul-Hamid, thousands of Armenians moved
from Turkey to the Russian Caucasus- In his ardent desire
to make a true orthodox Russian out of every subject of
the Czar, Prince Galitzine became especially severe towards
The Armenians who moved from Turkey were experienced
revolutionaries and proceeded immeditely to instruct in this
art their brothers who were born on the Russian side of the
There were a number of cases of violence. In retaliation,
Prince Galitzine recommended that the Russian government
would confiscate the properties of the Armenian Church.
Due to the fact that there was only a slight dogmatic differ
ence between the Armenian Church and the Russian Orthodox
(Greek Catholic) Church, the majority of members of the
cabinet were opposed to this measure, realizing the hypocrisy
of it. However, with the support of Constantin Pobedonostsev
and of Vyacheslav Plehve, at that time Secretary of the
Interior, this measure was approved by the Czar.
There was an attempt on Prince Galitzine's life and the
unrest in the Caucasus became general. Finally Prince Galitzine
was recalled to St. Petersburg, and Count Worontzoff-
Dashkoff was appointed in his place. The new Viceroy
discontinued the policy of russification and oppression of
the natives. On his recommendation, the sequestration of the
Armenian Church's properties was stopped, and he succeeded
in pacifying the Caucasus. However, the greater part of the
properties of the Armenian Church had already been
Russification* of the Grand Duchy of Finland was entrusted
to General Bobrikov who was appointed Governor-General
of Finland. The original constitution granted to the Finns
in 1809 was confirmed by Czar Alexander II in 1872, and
even by his successor, Czar Alexander III, in 188L For
Alexander III it was not a question of policy but of honor.
Once a constitution was granted, he continued to stick to it. He
asked the Finns for a union of customs, currency and postal
service, but the Finnish Diet was reluctant to accede to it.
Alexander III did not insist.
In 1899, an Ukase, from Czar Nicholas II gave to the
Russian government the right to supervise all laws concerning
the Grand Duchy which affected the interests of the empire.
The official Finnish journal refused to publish the Ukase.
The Finns claimed that it was contrary to the existing
constitution. They were opposed to the use of the Russian
language in schools and government offices and to a new
form of oath established for the Finns by the Russian govern
ment. Discontent grew and ended with the assassination of
General Bcbrikov in 1904.
Poland, under the very liberal rule of Prince Imeretinsky,
Viceroy of Poland, escaped this process of russification ,
but a strong Socialist-Democratic Party of Poland was
organized with Joseph Pilsudski, the future Marshal and
dictator of Poland, as one of its leaders.
At this time a very hostile attitude was displayed by
the Russian government towards the Jews. The policy of
Czar Alexander II led to an eventual cancellation of all
restrictive measures imposed by the government and a
complete equalization of the rights of Jews with those of
other subjects of the Empire. If his successors had followed
this policy, the Jewish Question would never have existed
in Russia, at least not in such an acute form. Unfortunately,
with the accession to the throne of Emperor Alexander III,
the restrictive measures towards the Jews were increased.
This attitude of the government encouraged some anti-semitic
elements to violence. In April, 1903, a pogrom broke out in
Kishinev. Forty-five Jews were killed and about four hundred
wounded before order was restored. In August of the same
year, another pogrom took place in Gomel, in the province
of Mogilev, These pogroms could not possibly have occured
at the time of the reign of Czar Nicholas I and his son, Czar
If the plight of the Jews was bad, that of the peasants
was almost worse. The strengthening of the peasant com-
mimes had disastrous results on their welfare. The initiative
of the strong peasants was completely suppressed. Having
been kept in bondage of their communes, good and ambitious
workmen in a village could not work properly on their land.
It did not pay for them to work harder than the drunkards
and the lazy ones did.
During the last three decades, peasants' lands were
yielding surprisingly poor harvests. The quality of the soil
deteriorated rapidly, and the majority of the peasants were
able to sustain themselves only by working for neighboring
landowners who always needed some extra work. They paid
for this work, and with this money the peasants were able
to buy much needed grain.
The noble landowners, on less than one-third of the
fertile lands, produced enough grain to feed literally all Rus
sian towns and cities, and to feed Western Europe as well,
while Russian peasants, on more than two-thirds of the total
arable lands could not produce enough grain to feed themselves!
The increasing discontent of the masses resulted in some
open revolts. Actual peasant uprisings took place in 1902 in
the provinces of Poltava and Kharkov. Some army units had
to be called to suppress these revolts.
This growing discontent of the masses encouraged
revolutionaries to start a war of terror again, which was
discontinued with the assassination of the Czar-Emancipator
in 1881. However, the Nihilists did not exist any more.
Marxism was providing a new force, and terrorists were
now members of the Socialist-Revolutionary Party.
The first victims of the new terror were Bogolepov,
Secretary of Education, who was killed in February, 1901,
and Dmitri Sipyagin, Secretary of the Interior, killed in
April, 1902. Bombing and assassinations of government
officials were increasing rapidly, dissent was mounting among
the students of Moscow and other universities, as well as
among Russian intelligentsia. In July, 1904, Vyacheslav
Ptefave, Secretary of the Interior, was killed by a bomb while
driving in a carriage through the streets of St. Petersburg.
In 1901, Japanese Marquis Ito arrived in St. Petersburg,
trying to reach an agreement with Russia. By that time,
Russia was already building a railroad across Manchuria,
connecting Port Arthur with the Trans-Siberian Railway,
and Japan was considerably alarmed by the rapid Russian
At that time, Japan was willing to be satisfied with
very little, namely, Russia was to confirm that Korea was to
be in the sphere of Japanese influence. On the other hand,
Japan was to recognize the Russian seizure of Port Arthur,
and was ready to acquiesce to the construction of a railroad
to Port Arthur, but only a regular force to guard the railroad.
Russia was also to maintain an open-door policy in Manchuria.
Marquis received a cold reception in St. Petersburg,
He was anxious to reach an agreement with Russia because
at that time the Japanese Ambassador to the Court of St.
James was negotiating a treaty with Great Britain. In spite
of all efforts, Marquis Ito left St. Petersburg without reaching
any agreement with Russia. In the meantime, a treaty of
alliance between Japan and Great Britain was signed in
London. From that time on, the war party in Japan received
a predominant influence, and war with Russia became
In his memoirs, Count Witte, Russian Secretary of
Finance and Prime Minister, made Russia alone responsible
for bringing about this war. However, there are very good
reasons to believe that Count Witte was wrong. At the last
moment, Czar Nicholas II was willing to accede to pratically
all Japanese demands which by that time were already far
from reasonable, but it was too late. The opportunity to
avoid war by reaching an agreement with Marquis Ito was
lost, and Russia was forced to face a struggle in the Far East.
Predecessors of Czar Nicholas II were much more
cautious in their aggressive advances in Asia. Czar Alexander
II would not have missed a chance to avoid war and to
secure successful gains. His grandson, Czar Nicholas II,
advanced boldly in the Far East. It appeared that he did
not realize that by his bold actions he jeopardized not only
gains made in the Far East since he ascended the throne,
but was risking Russia's prestige and position among the
great European powers.
In the Czar's Far-Eastern policy, the leading role was
given to Bezobrazov, an irresponsible adventurer, whom the
Czar chose to trust more than his own ministers. Bezobrazov,
a retired major of the Chevaliergardc Regiment, had a scheme
of establishing timber concessions on the Yalu River. On the
part of Russia, it was a breach of the existing treaties and
of Russia's promise to Japan to leave Korea in the sphere
of Japanese influence
To the amazement of some members of the Cabinet,
Bezobrazov was appointed State Secretary to His Majesty.
A State Secretary in Russia was a rank in the civil govern
ment service. It did not correspond by any means to the
position of Secretary of State in the United States. Bezobrazov
was supported by Plehve, Secretary of the Interior. Both
these men supported Admiral Alexeyev, a protege of the
Grand Duke Alexis, at that time Admiral-General. Admiral
Alexeyev had no military or political experience and yet a
new post of the * Viceroy of the Far East was created for
It was a small group of irresponsible adventurers who
influenced the Czar at that time in the questions of his Far
East policies. It appeared that they did not realize that
Russia was not prepared for war, and that it was folly to
get Russia into war some four thousand miles away from
European Russia, with only one single track of the Trans-
Siberian Railway connecting the fighting front with its base.
From the outset this war was destined to end in disaster.
REVOLUTION OF 1005
Vyacheslav Plehve, Secretary of the Interior, adopted
underhand methods in his attempt to control the growing
revolutionary movement among the working masses. He had
his own agents provocateurs who pretended to defend the
interests of the workmen, and were trying to organize them
according to the instructions they received from the Police
A police agent who became well known in this field
was a man by the name of Vladimir Zubatov. In order to
discourage workmen who were trying to improve their
conditions by strikes and other more or less aggressive
methods, the strikes were arranged on orders of the police
and brought the workmen nothing but trouble.
After the assassination of Plehve in July, 1904, another
agent provocateur appeared among the workmen in St.
Petersburg. This agent was a Russian priest by the name
of Father Gapon. With the knowledge and approval of the
authorities, Father Gapon decided to lead workmen to the
Winter Palace to present their grievances to the Czar. This
march was scheduled to take place on Sunday, according to
the Russian calendar on the 9th, according to the European
calendar, on the 22nd day of January, 1905.
On the eventful day, a multitude of workmen, carrying
a portrait of the Czar and religious icons, with Father Gapon
at their head, approached the Winter Palace. The military
commander of the troops stationed in front of the palace
ordered the crowd to disperse. The workmen believed in
promises made to them by Father Gapon that the Czar was
ready to listen to them and, therefore, were reluctant to
leave. They did not know that a few days previously the Czar
had !eft St- Petersburg,
Was this provocation arranged purposely by the
distorted mind of some government official, or at the last
minute, facing a multitude of workmen, did those in charge
lose their courage? Anyway, an order was given to shoot, and
several hundred workmen were killed and wounded on that
day in the Palace Square.
How was that event reported to the Czar? It was doubtful
that the Czar actually was informed about all the details
and especially about the brutal role of the Police department
and of the Russian priest.
Three days previously, on the 6-19 of January, 1905, at
the time of a religious ceremony which took place on the
ice on the Neva River, in front of the Winter Palace, guns
placed at St. Peter and Paul Fortress fired a salute. And,
suddenly, shrapnel hit the ice near the place where the Czar
was standing and broke some windows of the palace. The
Czar remained calm; there was not the twitch of a muscle
on his face, and the ceremony proceeded as scheduled.
Later on it was reported to the Czar that a real shell
was used in one of the guns, which was the result of
negligence on the part of some artillery officers. On orders
of the Czar, these officers escaped punishment. They were
only transferred to some other units of the army. In this,
Czar Nicholas II was generous and forgiving.
On the 17th of February, 1905, the Grand Duke Serge
Alexandrovitch, the Czar's uncle and Governor-General of
Moscow, was killed by a bomb- The body of the Grand Duke
was blown to small pieces. The assassin, a member of the
Socialist-Revolutionary Party, did not attempt to escape. The
Grand Duchess Elisabeth, widow of the late Grand Duke,
spoke to him and offered to make an appeal for his life.
The man refused.
After the assassination of her husband, the Grand
Duchess retired to a convent and became a nun. She was
murdered by the Soviet Government together with some other
members of the Imperial Family in Alapayevsk, in the
Province of Perm, in 1918. The Grand Duchess was even more
beautiful than her younger sister, the Empress Alexandra
Czar Nicholas II adored his wife. Their marriage was a
very happy one in all respects but one. The young couple's
natural desire was to have a son, especially as it was important
to have an Heir-Apparent to the throne of Russia-
Year after year one girl after another was born... four
girls in succession! Medical science could not offer any
remedy, hence the Imperial couple turned to religion and
to mysticism. At that time, the Grand Duke Nicholas
Nicholayevitch, the future Commander-in-Chief of the Rus
sian Army in the First World War, was interested in spirit
ualism. In his palace near Strelna, besides the usual parties,
spiritualistic seances were arranged. The Grand Duke instructed
Count Muravyev-Amoursky, Russian Military Attache in Paris,
to invite to Russia a certain doctor de Chose (nom cle plume)
who was an authority on Jewish Kabbalah and had written
a book on the subject. Count Muravyev-Amoursky happened
to belong to a group of admirers of a certain charlatan
and a quack doctor by the name of Philippe de Lyon.
Admirers of this Philippe believed him to be a saint who
was not born but came down from heaven. According to
official records, this Philippe was tried several times by the
police court for fraud.
Following the request of the Grand Duke, instead of
bringing to St. Petersburg Doctor de Chose, who refused to
come, Count Muravyev-Amoursky brought Philippe de Lyon
to Russia. The Grand Duke and his younger brother Peter
Nicholayevitch and the two Montenegro sisters, Anastasia and
Militza, were very much impressed by Philippe Vachot
(Vachot was his family name) and managed to introduce him
to the Empress. From that time on, Philippe Vachot often
came to Russia and lived secretly near the summer residence
of the Czar.
He arranged stances and talked to the Empress and
had an enormous influence on her, practically hypnotizing
her. Under his influence, the Empress imagined that she was
expecting a child. Evidently on his advice, she refused to
submit to doctors' examinations, but all the symptoms of
her pregnancy were there. All court festivities were officially
suspended, but when the time came, no child was born.
Philippe Vachot was advised to leave Russia.
After his departure, his admirers, including Grand Duke
Nicholas Nicholayevitch, believed that he accomplished his
mission on earth and ascended to heaven alive!
At the court of the unfortunate King Louis XVI of
France and Marie Antoniette, at one time a charlatan known
under the name of Count Balsamo Cagliostro played an
important role. In a curiously similar way, Philippe Vachot
was also the harbinger of tragic events that followed.
After the unfortunate experience with Doctor Philippe
de Lyon *, the Imperial couple turned to the Mother Church.
Count Witte, in his memoirs, told a story of how a
hermit by the name Seraphim was canonized. This story
was told to Witte by Constantin Pobedonostsev, Procurator
of the Holy Synod. According to Witte, Pobedonostsev received
an order from the Czar to canonize Seraphim, and Pobedonost
sev obligingly executed the order. Of course, all necessary
formalities were properly followed by the highest authorities
of the Russian Church.
The Czar and the Czarina went for the opening of the
new Saint's relics at the Sarovsky hermitage. The Empress
prayed, and her prayers were finally answered. On the 30th
of July, 1904, a son was born to her, Cesarevitch Alexis
In the meantime, reports from the fighting fronts were
far from reassuring. The Russo-Japanese War started on the
9th of February, 1904, with a Japanese sneak attack on the
Russian fleet at Port Arthur. In the first two months of war,
Admiral Togo succeeded in sinking the flagship *Petropavlovsk
of Admiral Makaroff, Commander of the Russian Asiatic
fleet. Admiral Makaroff perished with his ship, and the
Japanese gained an indisputable control of the sea.
With the beginning of war, General Kuropatkin,
Secretary of War, and former Chief of Staff of General
Skobekv, a hero of the Russo-Turkish War of 1877-1878, was
appointed Commander-in-Chief of the Russian Army in
Kfaochuria. He took some time to depart for the fighting
front, bidding goodbye to different government departments,
garrisons and army units, and everywhere he was blessed
with an icon, Even on his long journey to Manchuria, dif
ferent delegations were awaiting him at the railroad stations
in order to bless him, and each one presented him with an
icon. By the time the brave general arrived at the fighting
front, he had quite a collection of icons, but the Russian
Army continued to retreat.
Kuropatkin intended to retreat until the army units
arriving from European Russia would give the Russians
superiority over the enemy. However, Admiral Alexeyev, the
Viceroy of the Far East, interfered continuously, and
Kuropatkin was not strong enough to stand his ground.
On the 1st of January, 1905, Port Arthur capitulated to
the Japanese* In February-March of the same year, at the
battle of Mukden, which lasted more than ten days, the Rus
sians suffered their greatest defeat. By this time the irresponsible
advisers of the Czar realized that Russia was not destined to
* dictate conditions of a victorious peace in Tokyo as they
were predicting, and began to scatter.
The idea of sending the Russian Baltic fleet to the
Far East proved to be disastrous. After the fall of Port
Arthur, Admiral Rozhdestvensky decided to get to the naval
base at Vladivostok- He reached the Tsushima Straits by
the end of May, when a battle with Admiral Togo took
place. In this battle, with the exception of a few small
ships, the entire Russian Baltic fleet was lost, and Admiral
Rozhdestvensky was captured by the Japanese.
Due to the news from the fighting front, disappointment
and bitterness increased among the Russian intelligentsia.
They refused to believe in a possible Russian recovery, and
were looking for revenge. They started an open struggle
against the Czar.
Strikes, bombings, assassinations of government of
ficials were increasing daily. Practically in all Russian towns
and cities socialist demonstrations with red flags took place.
The Marsaillaise, a song of revolution, became a very popular
song in Russia! Very often these demonstrations ended by a
general pogrom when stores were looted by the mobs in the
streets. The local police were helpless to prevent these
Throughout the country, peasants were pillaging and
setting fires to the country homes of the gentry. They were
destroying everything libraries, valuable furniture, oil
paintings they were killing cattle and horses, and were
burning down the barns and granaries of unfortunate
As a matter of fact, it was not hatred that prompted
Russian peasants to act that way towards their former noble
lords. In their own way, the peasants were fighting for more
land. They knew that the landowners, as a rule, did not carry
any insurance, or their insurance was not sufficient to permit
them to recover. After the loss of all their buildings and
implements, many of them were forced to sell or to give up
their land. And the peasants had exactly this aim in mind.
A general railroad strike was proclaimed and for two
weeks Russia appeared to be ruled by Khrustalev-Nosar,
president of the council (soviet) of the workers. It seemed
that the government was losing control.
At this critical moment, on the 5th of September, 1905,
Count Witte signed a peace treaty with Japan at Portsmouth,
New Hampshire. In spite of defeat, the conditions of this
treaty were not too harsh. Russia was to leave Lioatung
Peninsula as well as Southern Manchuria and Korea. All
these territories were to be in the Japanese sphere of
influence. Russia agreed to surrender to Japan the southern
half of Sakhalin Island. Komura, representing Japan in
Portsmouth, with the approval of the Emperor of Japan, waived
the question of indemnity.
It was the end of the Russian Far Eastern adventure.
On top of all material losses and thousands of men killed,
Russia lost face * in Asia. In addition, Russia was enveloped
in the flames of revolution.
On the 17-30 of October, 1905, a manifesto of the Czar
granting Russia a representative form of government was
greeted with tremendous enthusiasm and turned the tide
against the revolutionaries. Although the majority of intellec
tuals were perfectly willing to cooperate with the government
on the basis of this new constitution, the revolutionary
kaders, socialists and communists continued to remain
hostile to the existing order. The socialists believed that
socialism, and communism as its final phase, could be
immediately introduced in Russia. They desired the abolition
of landed property. During the fall of 1905, in nineteen
provinces of European Russia, approximately two thousand
landed estates were pillaged and destroyed.
On the 3-16 of December, 1905, the council (soviet) of
workers in St. Petersburg, with all its members, was arrested.
Its followers replied by an armed uprising in Moscow. In
many other cities and communities armed insurrections broke
out. In many places along the Trans-Siberian Railway
revolutionary upheavals took place.
Count Witte was destined to be the first president of
the unified cabinet. The government was facing two important
and very urgent problems. First, on account of the recent
war with Japan, the financial position of the government
was rather weak. The government needed a loan and
feared that the new Parliament would not sanction it.
Second, the Russian Army was still in the Far East. Owing
to the railroad strikes and disorders, the government was
unable to transport the troops through Siberia back to
European Russia and could not order a demobilization.
In a very short time, Count Witte solved these problems.
He succeeded in receiving a large loan from France. The
archives of the Russian Imperial government made public
by the Bolsheviks revealed the fact that Count Witte had
paid large sums to the French press in order to make this
At the same time, Count Witte sent expeditionary forces
to restore order on the Trans-Siberial Railway. The govern
ment was compelled to act ruthlessly in this matter, and
finally Count Witte succeeded in bringing back the army
from the Far East.
General Dubassov was appointed Governor-General of
Moscow. He was entrusted with the task of restoring orda
in this ancient capital, where revolutionaries had constructed
barricades and were fighting soldiers on the streets.
In different parts of the empire martial law was
proclaimed. A governor was appointed for Yalta and nearby
districts. This governor was the famous General Ivan
Antonovitch Dumbadze, a Georgian. He was extremely loyal
to the throne. The socialist-terrorists were hiding in the
mountains around Yalta, having at their disposal ammunition
and bombs. General Dumbadze ruthlessly raided these
socialist strongholds and paraded with his troops through
the streets of Yalta.
General Dumbadze stated that he was responsible for
the order and safety of the members of the Imperial family
who were living on their estates in Crimea and, therefore,
mercilessly deported all suspicious persons. A reporter,
Pervukhin, severely criticized General Dumbadze's actions, in
the columns of a local newspaper. Instead of deporting
Pervukhin, General Dumbadze challenged him to a duel.
Dumbadze told my father that he would get rid of Pervukhin
without order of deportation... Pervukhin left Yalta in a
The lists of the deported individuals were published
daily in the local newspaper- Some of them appealed to
General Dumbadze personally. Dumbadze was very abrupt,
and without going into details, usually asked the petitioners
to give him their word of honor that they would in the future
refrain from socialist activities. Whoever kept his promise
was left undisturbed.
Dumbadze was strict in the executions of his orders.
At the same time, he was fair and kindhearted. His integrity
was never questioned.
How well I remember the sound of a terrific explosion.
It was a bomb that was thrown at General Dumbadze on
Nicholayevskaya Street, when he was driving in his carriage
to Livadia, The bomb was thrown by a terrorist from a balcony
of the villa of a Mr. Novikov- By the force of the explosion,
General Dumbadze was thrown out of his carriage, but was
not seriously injured. His escort of four soldiers who were
riding behind his carriage jumped into the house, but it was
too late. The terrorist, after throwing the bomb, shot himself
ill the mouth.
Soldiers of the infantry regiment stationed in Livadia
adored General Dumbadze. When they heard the explosion,
they rushed to the place of the incident. The villa was
surrounded and burned down. General Dumbadze had
previously announced that he would destroy any building
from which a shot would be fired or a bomb thrown at any
government official. He made landlords and superintendents
responsible for the people whom they admitted to their
premises. Now he kept his word, and even the stone foundation
of the villa was destroyed-
Later on, the government paid Mr. Novikov seventy-
five thousand Roubles ($ 37,500) for his villa. This was more
than he could have gotten by selling his property.
General Dumbadze's eardrums were injured by the
detonation, and about a year later he took leave for a few
months to consult ear specialists in St. Petersburg and
Germany. During his absence, Novitzki, Governor of Crimea,
gave permission to a number of persons who had been
deported to return to Yalta. At that time it was rumored
that Novitzki's honesty could be disputed.
As soon as General Dumbadze came back for duty
after his leave, he demanded the Governor to give an explanation
for his actions.
I deport, and you return, the same people I he
exclaimed. In the course of the ensuring quarrel, General
Dumbadze ordered the deportation from Yalta of Governor
Novitzki himself, although he was his superior- Novitzki left
Yalta, but appealed to St. Petersburg. Dumbadze was delighted,
because he expected to be dismissed from his troublesome
I am only a soldier , he used to say.
However, members of the Imperial Family did not feel
safe without Dumbadze, and he was ordered to remain at
Gradually, normal conditions were restored thoughout
the Empire. Russia then entered a new era of economic and
industrial activities and began to develop rapidly. New rail
road were built, new factories were opened, new oil
wells were drilled, and all kinds of minerals were mined.
Russia's trade expanded rapidly every year, and prices on
the St. Petersburg Stock Exchange were continuously rising,
reflecting an unprecedented general economic, industrial and
financial growth of the country
Of course, I was merely a boy at that time and these
events did not affect my life much. I listened to the continuous
discussions of my elders with great interest, being able to form
my own opinion only years later.
PRINCE OUCHA DADIANI
As soon as order was restored in Russia, the Czar
resumed regular visits to his Crimean estate, Livadia. Even'
year he spent two or three months there in spring or
Long before his arrival the little town would be filled
with all kinds of government officials, courtiers and members
of St. Petersburg society. The exact date of his arrival was
never announced- His Majesty's yacht, Standard , was
traveling from St. Petersburg all around Europe, through the
Mediterranean, to the Black Sea, where the Russian naval
base at Sebastopol had a natural harbor of such tremendous
size that the whole Russian Black Sea fleet was able to
anchor there. The railroad from St. Petersburg to Crimea
terminated at Sebastopol, and from Sebastopol to Yalta, the
scenic shore drive through the mountain was famous for its
The Czar traversed Russia on the Imperial train running in
three sections, and boarded his yacht at Sebastopol. A few
days before his arrival, some battleships, cruisers and
destroyers were usually dispatched to Yalta and anchored in
the open sea two or three miles from shore. When the
Standard >, a most graceful yacht, slowly approached the
pier at Yalta, the battleships and cruisers fired the Imperial
salute of one hundred and one guns. This salute reverberated
in the mountains which surrounded Yalta in the north.
At the shore, the Czar was greeted by the solemn
strains of the national anthem, God Save the Czar , and
by the continuous hurrahs of the crowds.
Though the Czar had several motor cars at his disposal,
he always drove from the pier to his estate in an open
carriage, driven by two horses. Preceding the carriage galloped
an old Tatar guide, seated on a prancing Crimean pony,
and dressed in his national Tatar costume, all embroidered
in gold. The carriage of the Heir-Apparent, Cesarevitch Alexis,
followed, then the carriage of the four daughters of the
Czar These three carriages were followed by innumerable
carriages of the Grand Dukes and Grand Duchesses and the
members of the Imperial Suite.
The crowd appeared to forget the recent revolutionary
outbreak and greeted their Soverign with tremendous
enthusiasm that was restrained with difficulty by the police
and by the soldiers placed along the road.
After the assassination of Czar Alexander II in 1881,
his son, Czar Alexander III appeared rarely on the streets
of St. Petersburg. The last Czar, Nicholas II, never appeared
on the streets of the capital, yet he often appeared on the
streets of Yalta. He was usually accompanied by a few cossacks
of His Majesty's Escort in their colorful uniforms. At times
the carriage was driven slowly, and all the passers-by could
see the Czar very clearly. He saluted the crowd in a military
fashion, smiling in his usual gracious manner. His resemblance
to his cousin, King George V was striking, yet his eyes were
much kinder than those of the British Monarch.
The Czar had a well-tanned complexion, and there were
deep rings under his eyes- He had a habit of stroking his
moustache in a rather nervous gesture, although he never lost
his kingly poise, even after his abdication, when he was kept
prisoner in Czarskoye Selo, and later on, in Tobolsk, in
The Empress Alexandra Fedorovna was always rather stiff
and proud in her demeanor. She was a handsome woman, but
her beauty was marred by red spots which appeared on her
face- She had a nervous disposition. The Czarina, before her
marriage, was Princess Alix of Hesse. There were four
Princesses of the House of Hesse, who married members of
the Romanov family. Countess (Landgrafin) Wilhelmina of
Hesse was the wife of Czar Paul I (1796-1801). Princess Marie
of Hesse was the wife of Czar Alexander II (1855-1881). Princess
, .' a
Czar X wholes II and his cousin Ju?ig George V with sons
Prince of *now the of Windsor f md
Elisabeth of Hesse was the wife of Grand Duke Serge, uncle
of the last Czar, and her younger sister, Princess Mix of
Hesse, was the wife of the last Czar, Nicholas II. All four
of these Romanovs died violent deaths-
The little boy, Cesarevitch Alexis, accepted the greetings
of the crowd rather seriously, and punctiliously saluted back
in a military way. He was usually accompanied by a sailor,
Derevenko, who played the part of his nurse. I remember
the Cesarevitch once lost his composure, and standing on
the back seat of the carriage he screamed at the top of his
voice: Hurry up, Derevenko! The crowd roared with
laughter, looking at the sailor who was trotting on his pom
behind the carriage.
I remember Grand Duke Dmitri, brother of the Grand
Duchess Maria Pavlovna, who was surrounded by a crowd
in front of the Hotel de Russie in Yalta. The Grand Duke
stood smiling in his carriage, asking the crowd to make way
for him. The sight of the young, handsome man in the uniform
of the Imperial Horse Guards aroused the enthusiasm of the
crowd. The loud hurrahs acclaimed the young prince.
Many members of the Imperial family had their estates
in Crimea and lived on the shore of the Black Sea during
several months every year. The native Tatars were extremely
loyal to the Imperial family and to the Russian aristocrats
who had their estates and villas there. These Tatars did not
take part in the revolution of 1905. When the stores in
Yalta were looted during the disorders that followed the Rus
so-Japanese War, it was done by a street mob of Russians
who had come to Crimea looking for work- Being Moslems,
the Tatars had their own traditions, respecting their elders.
Unbounded hospitality has always been an essential part of
the religious code of an Oriental. He considered every guest
as sent to him by Allah, and Russian owners of Crimean
estates were regarded as guests in Crimea.
As a matter of fact, the Caucasians and the Tatars were
much more loyal to the throne and to their direct superiors
than Russians. These Oriental subjects of the Russian empire
were most interesting characters.
I remember His Serene Highness Prince Oucha Dadiani
of the former reigning family of Mingrelia, who served in
His Majesty's Escort. The Czar liked this Georgian Prince
very much," and Oucha, in turn, adored his Sovereign. Out
of 'deep affection for Oucha, the Czar singled him out by
addressing him * thou *, a very intimate way. Czar Nicholas
II addressed only very few of his most intimate friends that
Prince Dadiani usually accompanied the Czar on his
journeys in Crimea. More often than any other officer of
His Majesty's Escort he took charge of the guards placed
inside the Imperial Palace in Czarskoye Selo and in Livadia.
The Czar usually stayed in his office late at night, sometimes
until the early hours of the morning. But he got up every
day without exception at six o'clock; therefore, quite often
he" had only a couple of hours of sleep. This explained the
dark rings under his eyes.
The Czar had to read volumes of official papers and
reports delivered to him daily from different government
offices. Once in a while he felt tired and wanted to rest. If
Dadiani was on duty, the Czar called him to his office. He
liked to play chess with Dadiani, and listened to his stories
about his native Caucasus, its traditions and customs.
Although the Czar talked to Dadiani often in this informal
way, he never discussed affairs of state with him.
Dadiani had a considerable fortune, but he was a
gambler. Sometimes the Czar paid his card debts, trying at the
same time to persuade him to give up gambling.
Once, when the Czar was returning to Livadia late in
the evening, Prince Dadiani, as usual, accompanied him,
riding behind the carriage of the Czar. It was dark, and
raining. Dadiani lost his cap. His cossacks looked for it in
the darkness but could not find it. The Czar was amused,
and Dadiani felt embarrassed.
The next morning, at nine o'clock, the Czar went from
Livadia to visit Count Fredericks, the old Minister of the
Court, who was lying sick in bed in the Hotel Marino in
Yalta. The sun was shining, the fresh breeze was blowing
from the sea, but on the road there were puddles of water from
the previous night's rain. Dadiani again rode behind the car
riage of the Czar. Early that morning his cossacks had found
his cap hanging on a branch of a tree, and Dadiani's pride
f/it" son af flic last Czar,
Pnnee Oucha in Hie
of an of His Majesty's
of an efficient officer had been reinstated. When the Imperial
cortege entered Yalta, a gust of wind tore off the navy cap
of the Czar and it rolled along the street,
It will fall in a puddle, I am afraid , the Czar
remarked, and so it did. Now, it was the turn of Dadiani to
be amused. Of course, he did not dare laugh. A baker ran
out of his store, rescued the cap from the water and
approached the carriage, proudly presenting it to the Czar.
The Czar never carried money. He usually received a
gold coin every Sunday from his private purse to put on a
plate in church. It actually was the only allowance that he
received in cash. And now the Czar had no money to tip
Dadiani, give me a Rouble , the Czar asked. Dadiani
had played cards the night before, and had lost his last
penny. He turned to his sergeant, asking him for a Rouble.
The sergeant had to dig the money out of his boot; it was
wrapped in a piece of paper. The Czar wathched this slow
procedure how the sergeant finally got hold of the money
and gave one Rouble to Dadiani, and Dadiani in turn present
ed it to the Czar. The Czar took his cap from the baker,
thanked the man and gave him the money. Then he turned
Arent's you ashamed, Dadiani? You havent 1 a penny
with you! the Czar said. Dadiani lost no time in replying,
Your Majesty, if my Emperor has no money, how
can it be expected from a poor Prince Dadiani to have any?
The Czar laughed, and the Imperial cortege proceeded
without any further incidents to the Hotel Marino. The
same day, the Czar ordered the sum of fifteen thousand
Roubles to be given to Prince Dadiani.
In the First World War, with his native Caucasian
squadron, Dadiani crossed the Dniester River under heavy
fire from the Austrian artillery. His courageous deed marked
the beginning of the advance of the Russian armies into
Galicia. Prince Dadiani received the highest Russian
decoration for bravery, the Cross of St. George, and his
name was mentioned in the communique of the GHQ.
I also remember a great friend of my father, the old
Sultan Akhmeth Girei, Prince Genghis. Prince Genghis was
a direct descendant of Genghis-Khan, the great conqueror,
who invaded Europe in the beginning of the XIII century
Prince Genghis was brought up in the Corps des Pages in
St. Petersburg and served in the Cossack Regiment of the
Guards, He spoke French fluently and wore a lorgnette as
was the fashion of the past century. He was of Moslem
faith, was always dressed in a black Tatar national
costume. Although as a Mohammedan he was allowed by
the Koran to have several wives, he had only one.
Princess Genghis was a small Tatar woman. Her
wrinkled face bore traces of former beauty. In spite of her
age, her hair had remained jet black.
The villa of Prince Genghis in Yalta was built in Moorish
style. Inside, the furniture was European, with Persian rugs
hanging on the walls covering the low oriental divans- A
Tatar servant greeted guests at the door with a deep selam ,
bowing and touching his forehead and his heart with his
right hand. All servants of Prince Genghis were Tatars.
They were known in Russia as the best and most loyal
Prince Genghis liked to play pocket billiards with my
father, and they were close friends.
One day my parents received an invitation for lunch
from Prince and Princess Genghis. The lunch was arranged
in honor of His Highness Said-Mir-Alim-Khan, Emir of
Bokhara. In Central Asia, there were three Khanates: Kokand,
Bokhara, and Khiva, under the protectorate of the Russian
Empire. In 1876, Kokand was completely absorbed by Russia
and renamed Ferghana Territory , but the two Emirates
of Bokhara and Khiva preserved their semi-independence on
the condition that in their territory slavery was abolished
and their markets remained open to Russian traders. Bokhara
was known for its caracul, oriental Bokhara rugs, and silk,
somewhat similar to Chinese tussah. In Bokhara, silk cloths
were made of especially bright colors and the combinations
of colors were quite daring. Oriental robes for men ( khalates )
were made of this silk and were worn on the streets
The Emir of Bokhara, with his suite, used to come to
Yalta at the time when the Czar was living in Livadia, All
members of the suite of Emir consisted of men only* If
there were some women, these women were well hidden
because I never saw any. All men were dressed in long
oriental robes (khalates) of very bright colors, with white
turbans on their heads.
With the consent of Prince and Princess Genghis, my
parents took me with them, although I was only about ten
or twelve years old. We arrived at the villa and a Tatar
servant greeted my parents with a deep selam We were
conducted to the livingroom where some guests were already
assembled. I watched my father greet Prince Genghis first.
Then, he crossed the room, approached Princess Genghis,
bowed and kissed her hand. The old Tatar woman blushed
with pleasure and smiled at my father. I learned that my
father was right in a house of a Mohammedan the host
was more important than the hostess and had to be greeted
There was Princess Tarkhan-Moouravoff, sitting on a
low sofa. The Princess had an estate Kuchuk-Lombat on
the seashore, between Soouk-Sou and Ayu-Dag Mountain.
My parents used to visit her quite often. There were two
brothers, Princes Eristoff, a young Princess Dadiani, and
Abdurakhmanchikoff with his wife. The last one was a
member of an old noble family of Crimean Tatars which was
related to the old Khans of Crimea. He also was related
to Princess Genghis.
In a few minutes the Emir of Bokhara arrived,
accompanied by only one man of his suite. The Emir was
about six feet tall, and rather fat. He had a flat face of a
Mongol, with a long, dark beard, and wore the same oriental
robe (khalat) made of silk, only his khalat was black, and
his turban was unusually large.
While Prince Genghis was introducing his guests to the
Emir, General Dumbadze entered the room. He was followed
by Michael Mikhailovitch Gvozdevitch, Police Commissioner
of Yalta. Gvozdevitch rose from the ranks and became so
important that once in a while he was invited to the luncheons
given to the high government officials in Livadia. He was
elevated to the status of hereditary nobility and had a villa
After the necessary greetings and introductions were
over, we all proceeded to the diningroom. As the only child
present, I was placed at the end of the table, on the left
of Prince Genghis. The Tatar servants started to serve
noiselessly and with great skill. The lunch was very simple.
It consisted of some soup served in cups, and ragout of
lamb with rice and green salad. No wine was served because
all alcoholic beverages made of grapes were strictly forbidden
by the Koran.
When the ragout of lamb was served, I noted that a
special dish in a covered silver pan was served to Prince
Genghis. The Prince noticed my curious glance.
Would you like to try it? he asked me with a smile.
It is young colt's meat and it is delicious .
I hastened to thank the Prince and refused. I did not
know at that time that I was destined to be compelled to
eat horse meat a year after the revolution, and of some old
horse at that, as it was the only meat available in St.
Petersburg in 1918.
After lunch, we all moved to the livingroom, where
Turkish coffee was served in small cups, and some Turkish
delight, rakhat-loufcum , halva , and chocolate bonbons.
About half an hour later, the Emir rose from his chair.
He thanked his host and hostess, bidding goodbye to all the
guests. Prince Genghis accompanied him to the door, and we
all walked out on the small porch of the house. The carriage
of Prince Genghis, with two prancing horses, was brought
for the Emir to the entrance.
What beautiful horses you have, Prince! the Emir
complimented his host.
They are yours, Your Highness! the Prince replied
at once, following an oriental custom to present his guest
with everything the guest admired-
The Emir of Bokhara thanked the Prince and sat in
the carriage. From that moment on the carriage and the horses
became his property and the Tatar coachman of Prince
Genghis at that time became his servant.
A few days later, the Emir presented Genghis with
a dozsn oriental robes made of the finest Bokhara silk. In
the Orient this exchange of gifts was called Pesh-kesh .
About six months after the birth of Cesarevitch Alexis,
the Czar and Czarina received an unexpected shock. Their
only son and the heir to the throne. Cesarevitch Alexis, was
found to be afflicted with haemophilia, commonly known as
the bleeder's disease . This disease had been known since
Biblical times, occurring in certain male members of afflicted
families, transmission taking place through female members
of the same families, but the women themselves remaining
immune to it.
Due to the traditions which forbade discussions of the
Imperial family's health very few were aware of the afflic
tion of the Cesarevitch. Eventually, the public learned the
condition of his health, and blamed the Empress and the
House of Hesse for transmitting this disease to the heir of
the Russian throne.
As a matter of fact, the House of Hesse was not to be
blamed. The source of this affliction was to be found in the
British Royal family, namely, the old Queen Victoria and
Prince Albert, her consort.
Fortunately for Great Britain, their oldest son, King
Edward VII, was free from this misfortune, but his brothers,
the Duke of Edinburgh and the Duke of Connaught, suffered
from it, and the youngest brother, the Duke of Albany, died
from it. The old Queen Victoria had five daughters who
transmitted this disease to some other royal houses of
Europe, Her oldest daughter, Princess Victoria was the
mother of Emperor Wilhelm of Germany, who could not use
his left arm very well, although this detect could not have
been attributed to haemophilia but to the fact that he had
been crippled at birth. The second daughter of the Queen,
Princess Alice, was the mother of the Russian Empress. Her
third daughter, Princess Helene, was married to Prince of
Schleswig-Holstein. The fourth daughter, Princess Louise, was
married to Marquess of Lome, the oldest son of the Duke
of Argyll they had no children and, finally, the young
est daughter, Princess Beatrice, was married to the Duke
of Battenberg, and her daughter was the wife of King
Alfonso XFII of Spain, whose oldest son died from haemophilia
How terrible was it for any mother to realize that she
had transmitted an incurable disease to her child, and es
pecially if the disease could be fatal! A small, insignificant
cut could be followed by uncontrollable bleeding. A haemo
philiac was constantly vulnerable and at any moment his
life could be in danger.
Cesarevitch Alexis was a very lively child, but an
afflicted child romping about and falling on his elbows or
knees could develop bleeding in the joints, which could
eventually lead to deformities. One could imagine the poor
Empress Alexandra watching her little boy, constantly being
afraid of an accident that could be fatal to him. And court
etiquette did not permit the Empress to be a nurse to her
son. She had to appear happy and content, graciously smiling
to everybody, while her only son was lying in his little bed,
suffering from internal hemorrhages.
All the doctors pronounced this disease incurable and
fhe Empress turned to religion as her only hope.
Empress Alexandra was reared in England, with its
rigid and cold, well-regulated life. Therefore, she was much
impressed by the deep mysticism of her new country, so much,
as a matter of fact, that she accepted it and embraced it
with her whole being and became even more addicted to it
than the average native Russian. She expected miracles as
something perfectly natural, and when she was told that a
certain holy man by the name of Gregory Rasputin was
able to cure her son, she was willing to believe it. Gregory
Rasputin was a native of Siberia- He was brought to St.
Petersburg by the Russian Archbishop of Korea, and his
first appearance in the Russian capital was possibly in the
kitchen of Countess Ignatiev, a well-known hostess of St.
The late husband of Countess Ignatiev was appointed
Procurator of the Holy Synod, but died suddenly before he
had time to take over this post. His widow decided to take
over the administration of the affairs of the Russian Church,
and the reception rooms of her mansion in St. Petersburg
were usually crowded with archbishops, priests, monks and
other representatives of the Russian clergy, including some
Metropolitans (a rank of a Metropolitan of the Eastern
Church corresponded to the rank of a Cardinal in the Roman-
Catholic Church). They drank tea endlessly in the spacious
dining room, telling the good Countess all their troubles and
their aspirations to get a certain post or a certain parish.
From the rear entrance of the house the Countess
received so-called holy people , who sat in her servants'
quarters and in her kitchen for hours, drinking tea and
waiting to catch a glimpse of their benefactor.
A number of Russian peasants, men and women alike,
were leaving their native villages and were wandering from
one monastery to another. In one place, they worshipped at
the holy relics of some saint, at another they were kneeling
in front of some miracle working icon, and so on. These
wanderings lasted sometimes many months, even years. Quite
often these holy people made pilgrimages on foot to the
Holy Land to worship at the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem
Sometimes they were arrested in Russia by the police for
vagrancy, but generally speaking, they were regarded as
holy people * by the majority of Russians, and everyone
gave them some money, food, and even a place to stay
It was difficult to determine what exactly prompted all
these people to go wandering from one place to another.
Probably, many of them were just lazy, and left their native
villages to escape hard labor in the fields. Some of these
wanderers were possibly genuinely religious.
Rasputin wandered for many years, and went on foot
to the Holy Land. He received instructions from Buddhist
monks in Siberia, and acquired a hypnotic power. In spite
of being an illiterate mujik, Gregory Rasputin made a very
strong impression on all whom he met.
The pale blue, almost colorless eyes of Rasputin made
quite an impression on Countess Ignatiev, and she introduced
him to Anastasia and Militza of Montenegro, who, in turn,
introduced him to the Empress,
A number of Russian peasants, men and women alike,
were known to have an ability to cast a spell over the
blood , i.e. to stop bleeding. They knew what plants, when
applied to the tender tissue of the skin, could cause an
immediate bleeding, they knew what plants could stop it.
Some of them could make blood coagulate without even
touching the wound ( to cast a spell over the blood , in
Russian, zagovarivat krov). Was it a hypnosis? Maybe.
They stood so near to nature that they knew many things
which well-educated people did not understand. Rasputin was
not the only one who possessed this gift.
Rasputin was brought to the Empress for the specific
purpose of helping the Cesarevitch who suffered horribly at
that time from an internal hemorrhage. The boy was in bed,
white as a ghost. Blood, accumulating in one place, was
pressing and tearing tissues apart, causing terrible pain.
Rasputin approached the bed of the Cesarevitch, knelt, and
started to pray. Then he asked everybody, including the
Empress, to leave the room-
When, half an hour later, Rasputin emerged from the
bedroom, the Cesarevitch was asleep. He slept soundly that
night, and the bleeding stopped. The Empress believed
Rasputin was a saint!
A few months later, some railroad cars were derailed
on the road leading from St. Petersburg to Czarskoye Selo,
the residence of the Czar. Madame Anna Vyroubov, Lady-in-
waiting of the Empress, happened to be on the train and
her legs were injured. She was bleeding profusely... there was
nc doctor around, but Rasputin, who knew Madame Vyroubov
by sight, came to help her. In a very short time, the bleeding
After this accident, Madame Vyroubov became crippled
for life, but absolutely nothing could shake her faith in
Rasputin, who possibly at that time saved her life. Madame
Vyroubov was close to the Empress, and her strong conviction
influenced the Empress still more to believe that Rasputin
possessed some supernaturel powers
The Empress was anxious to have Rasputin near her
little boy at all times. Rasputin was called to the Imperial
Palace at any time of day or night, and his frequent visits
and his presence in the palace had to be officially explained,
It was decided to make Rasputin a priest. But t un
fortunately, he was illiterate! The task of teaching him to
read and write was entrusted to Yeromonach (priest-monk)
Iliodor was a classmate of Joseph Stalin in a theological
seminary. Stalin quit the school, being engaged in revolutionary
activities. Iliodor was graduated and became a missionary.
He was very successful, and his revival meetings attracted
huge crouds, especially women. He was introduced to the
Czar, a great reward for his achievements.
Iliodor became ambitious. His aspiration was to become
the Father Confessor to the Czar Instead, he was entrusted
with the task of teaching an illiterate mujik to read and
write, while he, the highly successful missionary, could not
even hope to become a priest of the Imperial Chapel. Adding
insult to injury, in the eyes of the Czar and Czarina, this
illiterate mujik was a saint!
Iliodor began to hate his pupil. These two men became
mortal enemies. Their mutual hatred lasted for many years
and induced Iliodor, from the place of his exile, Bergen,
Norway, in the summer of 1914, to send one of his admirers,
a woman by the name of Guseva, to kill Rasputin.
At that time Rasputin was visiting his native village,
Selo Pokrovskoye * in Siberia. The woman met him in
Tyumen, in the Ural Mountains, on his return trip to St.
Petersburg. She approached Rasputin for his blessing and
thrust a knife into his abdomen.
At the time of the assassination of the Archduke Franz-
Ferdinand in Sarajevo, Rasputin was lying in bed in a
hospital in Tyumen, recovering from this wound. He was
sending telegrams to the Czar, one after another, strongly
advising him to avoid war at any cost. Rasputin was a true
representative of the Russian peasants. The Czar knew it and
valued his opinion. The war was extremely unpopular
among the masses of the Russian people; if Rasputin had
been in St. Petersburg in the summer of 1914, possibly the
war would have been avoided who knows?
But, fate decided otherwise.
In december, 1916, Rasputin was killed by Prince Felix
Youssoupoff, my classmate in the Corps des Pages.
But, coming back to our story, Rasputin turned out to
be incapable of mastering Russian spelling; he never learned
to read and write, and never became a priest.
In order to explain his presence in the Imperial Palace,
hf was given a rank of a Lampado-vozjigatel . His official
duties were to light oil lamps in front of icons in the palace
rooms. His nearness 10 the Imperial family was very
damaging to the popularity of the Empress.
The Empress Alexandra was very much in love with
the Czar- She ran like a young girl to greet him at the
entrance of the palace when, during the First World War, the
Czar used to return from the fighting front. There was no
doubt that the Empress was a faithful and loving wife, and
a good mother to her children. However, the behavior of
Rasputin outside the Imperial palace was outrageous, and
caused much gossip and criticism. AH four daughters of the
Czar hated Rasputin, but the Empress stubbornly believed
in him. Her letters to him she signed: I kiss your feet ,
believing him to be a Saint.
Rasputin was known to frequent well-known night
clubs in St, Petersburg where everyone could see him, often
drunk. In his drunken stupors, he used to call the Empress,
disrespectfully, by her nickname Sashka , He acted like
an ill-mannered drunk-mujik who wanted to brag about his
position in the Imperial Palace. On some occasions, in his
usual intoxicated state, Rasputin insulted some high govern
ment officials who happened to be in the same night club
with him. Eventually, Rasputin became a notorious figure
and was hated and despised by practically every loyal subject
of the Czar-
And yel Rasputin never exercised the power which was
attributed to him. The Czar listened to him, believing that
he was a true representative of the masses of the Russian
people. And, undoubtedly, it was correct Rasputin was
a typical Russian mujik, but the Czar seldom followed his
The power of Rasputin was created by some government
officials who were eager to grant his requests, hoping that
by doing so they would win the favor of the Imperial family.
This part of Rasputin's activities was practically unknown
to the Czar, because the majority of government officials
refused to receive him in their offices, and the fact remain!,
that when in December, 1916, Rasputin was killed by Prince
Youssoupoff, he was absolutely penniless. Simanovitch,
secretary of Rasputin, amassed a fortune!
After the revolution, this secretary wrote a book which
was published in Russia. The title was A Jew Behind the
Throne . In this book, Simonovitch tried to prove that
Rasputin had a strong influence on the Czar and he,
Simonovitch, exercised a very strong influence on Rasputin,
which, undoubtedly, he did.
RUSSIAN FOREIGN POLICY IN EUROPE DURING THE
LAST TWO DECADES
Right after the peace treaty between Spain and the
United States was signed (August 12, 1898), Count M.
Muraviev, at that time Russian Minister for Foreign Affairs,
invited to his office in St. Petersburg ambassadors and
diplomatic representatives of all foreign countries, accredited
at that time to the government of the Czar, and read to them
a manifesto of Czar Nicholas II on the necessity lo limit
armaments. The declaration of the Czar stated that a
continuous increase in armaments represented a heavy
burden for every country and was leading to inevitable
Delivery of the manifesto was timed with the end of
the Spanish-American War so as not to embarrass both
This manifesto of the Czar took European powers by
surprise, and was met with resentment and suspicion,
France, then an ally of Russia, was unreconciled to the
loss of Alsace-Lorraine, and was inclined to consider the
Russian declaration as some kind of insult to her national
pride. Besides, from all the evidence, there was looming
a war between France and Great Britain at that very
moment the Anglo-Egyptian forces won a crushing victory
over the Dervishes at Omdurman and occupied Khartoum,
threatening the French at Fashoda.
Emperor Wilhelm of Germany regarded any limitation
of armaments as an invasion of his sovereignty. Imagine*,
he wired to the Czar, a Monarch dissolving his regiments
sacred with centuries-old history and traditions! ,
The Russian government itself did not sincerely believe
in the possibility of any armaments limitations. At that time,
Russian financial resources did not permit the government
to re-arm the Russian army with modern rapid-fire field guns
Russia was helplessly behind in the arms race; hence, a
Russian desire for limitation of armaments.
The only groups that greeted enthusiastically the ma
nifesto of the Czar were the liberals and the pacifists in every
In spite of all the resentment and all the difficulties,
the Russian government issued numerous invitations, and the
opening of the International Peace Conference, representing
twenty-six nations, took place at the Hague on the 18th of
May, 1899. The conference remained in session for about two
Discussions on the question of arms limitations did not
bring any results, but the conference established a World Court
of Arbitration and adopted certain modifications of the rules
of warfare. The conference did not spare any effort trying to
make conditions of war in the future more humane.
The results of the Hague Conference were very disap
pointing, because arbitration of any disagreement was not made
obligatory. However, the delegates felt a necessity to satisfy
public opinion and, therefore, a very unimportant case a
dispute between Venezuela and Great Britain was presented
to the World Court of Arbitration. This dispute was successfully
solved by the decision of the Tribunal, and a few days later,
without any arbitration, Great Britain went to war against the
Boers in Transvaal.
The Conference assembled for the second time in 1907,
with the same disappointing results. At the time of the First
World War, all measures adopted by the Hague Conference
modifying the rules of warfare were thoroughly forgotten
However, Czar Nicholas II had the right to claim to be the
first head of state to call for an international peace conference,
already at the end of the XIX century!
At that time neither Emperor Wilhelm of Germany nor
th* Czar himself could foresee the destructive force of the
coming world conflict and the disastrous results of this
conflagration in which perished the old empires, the old ideals
At the end of the Russo-Japanese War in July, 1905, the
C/ar made an effort to get rid of an undesirable inheritance
left to him by his father the alliance of Russia with the
Republic of France the notorious Entente Cordiale .
Czar Alexander III broke away from the League of the
Three Emperors and pulled Russia into an alliance with France.
At the beginning, it was a secret one. From the Russian point
of view, it was definitely a defensive compact, but France
was not satisfied with the defensive character of this alliance.
After a shameful defeat in the Franco-Prussian War of 1870-
1871, France was looking for revenge.
In Russia itself, under the influence of some ver\
prominent people who hated the Germans for some reason,
such as the Dowager-Empress Maria Fedorovna, the Grand
Duke Nicholas Nicholayevitch, the Montenegro girls, and some
influential Slavophils, Russian alliance with France eventually
became not only official, but a very aggressive one.
Russia was definitely on the wrong side of the fence.
The Russian empire was placed in a position that, disregarding
the outcome of the coming war, would make defeat for the
Russian empire inevitable. In case of victory of the empires
of Central Europe, Russia, as a country, would lose the war.
In case of a defeat of these empires, the principle of monarchy
would suffer a fatal blow and Russia, as an empire, would lose.
The attitude of the French Republic towards Russia was
outrageous! At the time of the Russo-Japanese War, when the
Russian fleet from the Baltic Sea proceeded around Europe
and Africa to the Far East, France refused to supply Russian
warships with coal, and denied the facilities of the French
ports to the Russian fleet- For instance, at Madagascar, the
French governor gave permission to the Russian warships to
remain in the harbor only twenty-four hours. As a result, they
were loaded with coal from German transports in the open
sea. The loading was done with enormous difficulty as stormy
weather and high waves endangered the lives of personnel.
It was Germany who supplied the Russian fleet with coal
all the way to the Far East. Furthermore, Germany guaranteed
to Russia the safety of her western frontiers, and made it
possible for Russia to concentrate her armed forces in
In July, 1905, the Czar met Emperor Wilhelm at Bj6rko,
at the coast of Finland, and the two monarchs signed a
defensive treaty of alliance. Under this treaty, France was
to be invited to adhere to this alliance at a later date. This
treaty was actually directed against Great Britain, and if
it had remained in force in 1914 r the First World War would
have been avoided.
Unfortunately, already in September of the same year,
the Grand Duke Nicholas Nicholayevitch, Count Witte, at
that time President of the Cabinet, and Count Lamsdorff,
Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs, persuaded the Czar that
this treaty with Germany contradicted the Russian treaty
with France (Entente Cordiale) which they considered to
preserve at any price. The Czar was very reluctant, but
finally conceded, and this treaty with Germany was cancelled.
It was the last attempt to change the combination of
powers in Europe. From that time on, a world war became
practically inevitable. It was only a question of time.
In October, 1908, Austria-Hungary announced the
annexation of Bosnia and Herzogovina. This action preci
pitated the Bosnia Crisis *.
According to the Treaty of Reichstadt, concluded in
1876 by Czar Alexander II with Emperor Franz- Josef, Russia
already had given her consent to the annexation of these
two provinces by Austria.
At the Congress of European Powers in Berlin in 1880,
at the urgent request of Prince Gorchakoff, Russian
Plenipotentiary, Austria agreed to postpone an outright
annexation and to get these two provinces * for occupation
and administration , but now, about forty years later, when
it became obvious that the Russian aggressive policy in the
Far East ended in a fiasco, and when Russian attention was
concentrated on the Balkans, Baron von Aehrenthal, Austrian
Foreign Minister, decided to confirm the right of Austria-
Hungary to Bosnia and Herzegovina. He secured the consent
of Alexander Isvolsky, Russian Foreign Minister, to annexation
in exchange for his agreeing to the opening of the straits
of Bosporus and Dardanelles to Russian ships of war.
The two provinces were annexed on the 5-7 of October,
1908, but Great Britain and France, our glorius allies , as
these two countries were called in the Russian press during
the First World War, objected to the opening of the straits.
Therefore, Isvolsky could not get his share of the bargain,
and, moreover, Russian public opinion cared little for the
straits, but cared much for the Balkan Slavs, our little
brothers , as the Slavophils used to call them.
Russia was ready to protest and war seemed imminent
when Charykoff, at one time Russian Ambassador to
Constantinople and Assistant Secretary for Foreign Affairs,
presented to the Czar a copy of the agreement of Reichstadt.
In Russia this agreement was kept secret by the Rus
sian government As a matter of fact, it was so secret that
even Czar Nicholas II did not know the exact terms. After
reading a copy of the treaty presented to him by Mr. Charykoff,
the Czar realized that he had no right to object to Austria's
At the same time Peter Stolypin, Russian Prime
Minister, declared that as long as he was in power, he
would do everything humanly possible to avoid war until
his reform would be fully established, and Russia would become
strong and healthy. He felt that with millions of Russian
peasants living in archaic communes, who were not as yet
full and equal citizens of the empire, Russia could not be
involved in any war.
The fact that the annexation of Bosnia and Herzegovina
was accepted by the Russian government* without protest,
aroused indignation among Russian intellectuals, and
especially among the Slavophils. In their opinion Serbia was
now getting into the sphere of Austrian influence. It seemed
that for the Slavophils interests of Serbia were much more
important than interests of their own country! They were
ready to plunge Russia into war, sacrificing millions of Rus-
sian lives, to protect Serbia from an imaginary danger of
being swallowed by Austria.
Especially excited was Grand Duke Nicholas Nicholavevitch,
who had two important personal reasons for it,
First, the Grand Duke knew that in case of war in
Europe, he was to be appointed Commander-in-Chief of the
Russian Army, and he was eager to prove that he was well-
suited for the post.
Second, the Grand Duke was married to Anastasia ol
Montenegro, whose oldest sister Zorka was married to King
Peter Karageorgevich of Serbia, and the Grand Duke felt
that by protecting Serbia, he was protecting his family \
interests. Unfortunately, the Grand Duke had a very limited
mentality and an unlimited opinion of his military talentv
THE COUNTRY OF THE PIG FARMERS
At the time of the First World War and revolution
which followed, Empress Alexandra Fedorovna was accused
of being a German and of having pro-German sympathies.
Of course, the Empress, before her marriage to Czar
Nicholas II, was a German princess, but by education she
was English. She was greatly influenced by her grandmother
the old Queen Victoria, who, after the death of her consort,
Prince Albert, was leading a very secluded life in the company
of John Brown.
Like her royal grandmother, the Empress Alexandra
was convinced that courtiers and members of society who
stood near the throne were wicked. For the sake of her
son, who suffered from haemophilia, she was inclined to
lead the same secluded life as her English grandmother. In
relations with other people she was shy and nervous and
her shyness was taken usually for haughtiness. The unfortunate
woman was not popular in Russia, but there was no reason
to accuse her of pro-German sympathies. As a matter of fact,
she did not like Emperor Wilhelm of Germany because, in
her opinion, the Emperor was unfair to her brother the
Grand Duke of Hesse-Darmstadt.
On the other hand, the Dowager Empress Maria
Fedorovna was very much at ease in her relations with
people. She had a friendly attitude towards everyone and
was well-liked in Russia- At all official social functions, the
Dowager Empress stole the show. Besides, the Dowager
Empress did not turn over to the young Empress the jewelry
which right-fully belonged to the reigning empress, and
Empress Alexandra was forced to be content with the
jewelry of the wife of the Heir-Apparent. The pride and
vanity of Empress Alexandra, a young and beautiful woman,
Under these conditions it was not difficult for two
Montenegro sisters to win the young Empress's favor. Both
sisters were ready to serve the young Empress hand and foot,
like chambermaids. They appealed to the vanity of the young
The dream of Anastasia of Montenegro was to become
a Russian Grand Duchess. As a wife of Prince George
Romanovsky, Duke of Leuchtenberg, she was only a princess.
Her mind was made up; she divorced her husband in 1906.
The fact that the approval of the Czar was won. in her
divorce, proved to be a remarkable feat of diplomacy on
her part. It proved also that Empress Alexandra exercised
considerable influence over her husband, because, by tradition,
divorce did not exist for a member of the Imperial family
Anastasia of Montenegro timed her divorce with a
period when the Grand Duke Nicholas Nicholayevitch broke
off with Madame Bourenin, or another lady who was his
favorite at the moment, and was an easy target for attack.
The Grand Duke and the Montenegro girl were married in
Yalta, Crimea, in 1907.
And so it came to pass that the Russian Imperial
family became related by marriage to the Serbian family
of Karageorgevich and became involved indirectly in several
murders. As a matter of fact, already in the second half of
the XIX century, Russia became deeply involved in the
Balkan's primitive politics.
Prior to the First World War, Serbia was a country of
pig fanners. There was no hereditary nobility, no class of
intelligentsia, and people were uneducated. For some four
hundred years Serbia had been a part of the Ottoman Empire
and had been ruled by the Turks. The Serbs periodically
rose against the Turks and fought them, hiding in the
mountainous part of the country. Only at the beginning of
the XIX century, among them appeared a leader. His name
was Kara George ( Black George*). He was a pig farmer.
too- It was said that Kara George shot and killed his own
father because the old man faltered in resisting the Turks.
In 1804 there was a Serbian uprising which ended more
or less successfully for the Serbs. Kara George was at the
head of the uprising, but in 1813 some new Turkish forces
arrived in Serbia and Kara George fled to Austria.
At that moment another pig tycoon by the name of
Milosh Obren appeared. Milosh Obren also fought the Turks,
but he appeared on the scene as a better diplomat. He
negotiated with the Turks and they agreed to grant autonomy
to Serbia on the conditions that the Serbs recognize Turkish
suzerainty and would pay an annual tribute to them. Milosh
Obren, proclaimed himself and his descendants hereditary
Princes of Serbia, which act outraged Kara George and his
followers. One day the new Serbian prince received a basket
with the head of Kara George. Nobody knew whether Milosh
Obren sent the assassins to kill his rival or if it was a gift
to him from some well-wisher. But from that moment on,
for about a century, there was vendetta between the two
In May, 1868, Prince Michael Obrenovich, a descendant
of Milosh Obren, was assassinated by the followers of Kara
George's descendants. According to the Serbian tradition, the
assassins celebrated their victory by thrusting their knives
into the Prince's body again and again. Forty-five dagger
wounds were counted afterwards. However, the followers of
the Karageorgevich family did not succeed this time in
establishing one of their family as a prince of Serbia. The
heir to Prince Michael Obrenovich, Prince Milan Obrenovich,
was proclaimed the ruler of Serbia. The fourteen year old
prince arrived from Paris where he was finishing his
education and was warmly greeted by his subjects. The
popularity of Prince Michael Obrenovich was reflected in
the attitude of the Serbs toward this young prince, and
in a few years the very important question of finding a
suitable bride for their young ruler occupied the minds of
the majority of his subjects.
Milan had tried to find a princess of royal blood, but
Napoleon III and other European monarchs had not been
inclined to establish a blood relationship with a family of
pig tycoons. Milan ended by marrying Natalie Keshko, a
girl of sixteen, whose father was a colonel in the Russian
army. It was hoped by some Russian diplomats that this
marriage would help in establishing a permanent tie between
Russia and Serbia-
At that time two factions existed in Serbia; one fovered
Austria-Hungary and Western Europe in general; the other
one consisted of ardent adherents to the idea of Pan-Slavism,
Slavonic Cause , Mother Russia, the Czar and the Serbian
Dream of uniting Balkan Slavs, primarily Serbs, Croats
and Slovens, into one great independent Slavonic State.
The Obrenovich family leaned towards Habsburgs while
the Karageorgevich family and their supporters favored
Mother Russia and the Romanoffs.
Prince Milan noticed that although Russia was pro
moting the idea of an all-Slavonic union, Russian diplomats
favored Bulgarians, Therefore, in 1877, the prince signed a
secret treaty with Austria-Hungary accepting domination by
the Habsburgs for his country. In the same year Czar
Alexander II declared war on Turkey and won the war for
the Balkan Slavs. At the congress of Berlin, Russia was
deprived of the fruits of this victory, but the Balkan Slavs
gained their independence. Therefore, many historians had
been of the opinion that Prince Milan stabbed Mother Rus
sia in the back and sold his country to the Habsburgs in
return for the payment of his gambling debts.
Anyway, the rivalry of the two Empires in the Balkans
increased and with the assassination of the liberal Czar
Alexander II in 1881, and the ascension to the throne of his
son, Czar Alexander III, an ardent Pan-Slav, this rivalry
caused the dissolution of the League of the Three Emperors.
In the meantime, Prince Milan proclaimed himself a
king at the ancient monastery of Zhitcha, where the medieval
Serbian rulers had been crowned, and his Russian wife,
Natalie, became a queen. The easygoing Milan usually fell
under the spell of any attractive woman and this weakness
caused a break in his marriage. The Russian diplomats
tried to widen the rift between husband and wife with the
idea of forcing King Milan to abdicate and of establishing
Queen Natalie as a Regent of Serbia Several attempts on
the life of Milan were made, but none succeeded. Finally,
Milan abdicated in favor of his son, King Alexander
The Russian government, in the meantime, had sent
peddlers into Serbia to sell cheaply printed holy icons to
the Serbian peasants. The Russian agents were trying hard
to recruit them all into the Radical Party which promoted
the ideas of the Serbian Dream , Mother Russia and the
Czar, The adherents of Peter Karageorgevich belonged to
this party of the Slavonic Cause and the party gradually
became the most prominent one in Serbia.
In 1893, the secret treaty signed by King Milan with
Austria was published in French newspapers, to the great
surprise and consternation of the Serbs. The Radical Party
demanded the immediate accession to the throne of Peter
Karageorgevich, but this movement was suppressed by force.
The young King Alexander Obrenovich fell in love with
Draga Mashin, a lady-in-waiting of his mother. Draga was a
granddaughter of a rich pig farmer who had loaned money
to Milosh Obren. This money the prince never returned and
the rich family of a pig farmer became poor- Being a pretty
girl, Draga managed to marry a man by the name of
Svetozar Mashin, a Serbian civil employee, who was
considerably older than his wife and who shortly afterwards
died from alcoholism. A few years later Draga became a
lady-in-waiting of Queen Natalie and, when the Queen was
banished by Skupshtina (Parliament) and went to live in
Biarritz, Draga went to live with her.
Alexander visited his mother, met Draga and fell in
love with her. Draga was several years older than Alexander,
but evidently Alexander needed not only a sweetheart but
a woman who would guide him. Against the wish of his
mother, Alexander married Draga and she became the Queen
of Serbia, which caused strong resentment on the part of
the Serbs. The point was that after the death of her first
husband, Draga had been very liberal in the choice of her
lovers. Belgrade was a small place at that time, and there
was talk that Draga was being supported by her numerous
Count Witte, Russian Prime Minister and Secretary of
the Treasury at that time, wrote in his memoirs that one
day Peter Karageorgevich appeared in his office asking for
a substantial subsidy. Count Witte refused flatly to finance
him in any shape or form, but with the approval of Czar
Nicholas II, Peter Karageorgevich received a substantial loan
from a bank in Bessarabia. The loan was secured by his
estate in Romania- Count Witte wrote that when he received
him in his office he could not imagine that this middle-
aged, modest man would in a short time be the King! It
was possible only through the cruel assassination of King
Alexander and Queen Draga , added Count Witte in his
The assassination of King Alexander Obrenovich and his
wife took place on June 11, 1903. They were killed under
peculiarly atrocious circumstances. This murder was organized
by Dragutin Dimitriyevich-Apis, a Serbian officer and imbued
with rare cynicism and cruelty. Queen Draga was expecting
a child and the assassins ripped open her abdomen. The
bodies of the King and Queen were thrown out of a window
of the palace onto the main street in Belgrade, where they
were eaten by dogs and pigs. Those of my readers who
would be interested in a detailed description of the Qbrenovich-
Karageorgevich vendetta, I refer to the book The Mistresses ,
by Betty Kellen, chapter The Serbian Nightmare .
Peter Karageorgevich did not actually take an active
part in this murder, but was a member of the group which
perpetrated the crime}. With the assassination of King
Alexander and his wife, the Obrenovich family became
extinct, and Peter Karageorgevich became the King of Serbia
Great Britain withheld recognition of the new govern
ment for some time due to the very lenient attitude of the
government of the new King towards the assassins, but
Russia, indeed at once, congratulated King Peter on his
accession to the throne.
In March, 1909, the oldest son of King Peter
Karageorgevich, the Crown Prince George, was to abdicate
his right of succession due to the fact that in a fit of passion
he mortally injured his valet. His younger brother, Alexander,
thus became Heir-Apparent.
And, finally, another murder was the assassination of
the Austrian Heir- Apparent, Archduke Franz-Ferdinand, at
Sarayevo, on the 28th of June, 1914.
Professor V. Mayevsky made a thorough documentary
research of this crime and in his book Inter-relationship
between Russia and Serbia *, published in New York in
1960, in answer to the question: Who directly caused
the outbreak of the First World War? , there was given
a well-founded and definite reply: The assassin of the
Archduke was a Serb by the name of Gabrilo Princip, who
arrived in Sarayevo directly from Belgrade. He lived in
Belgrade and it was there that he was prepared for this
crime and was supplied with necessary weapons and help
by other Serbs .
American Professor I. Remak, who studied Serbian
sources, asserted that the assassination of the Austrian
Archduke was organized by the same Dimitriyevich-Apis
who organized the assassination of King Alexander Obrenovich
and Queen Drage in 1903. This Dimitriyevich-Apis established
in Serbia a secret terrorist society by the name of The Black
Hand . Furthermore, Professor Rernak asserted that the
Serbian Crown Prince Alexander, who was at that time Regent
of Serbia, and Pasich, Serbian Prime Minister, knew about
the crime they intended to commit- It was proved that the
assassins had been in Belgrade, and had been secretly smuggled
across the Drina River into Bosnia, after receiving hand
grenades and revolvers from the Serbs. Pasich, Serbian Prime
Minister, confided this secret to his friend, Count Sforza, on
the Island of Corfu, This aforesaid knowledge of a crime to
be committed made the future King Alexander of Yugoslavia
and Pasich, Prime Minister of Serbia, accomplices to this
There has not been any doubt that Count Berchtold,
Austrian Prime Minister in 1914, who succeeded Count
Aehrenthal (Baron Aehrenthal was created Count in 1909),
was right when he insisted that the plot to assassinate the
Archduke Franz-Ferdinand originated and was organized in
Italian historian, Luigi Albertini, after exhaustive
documentary research and interviews of surviving key wit-
nesses, reached the conclusion that it was Dimitriyevich-Apis
who organized the assassination of the Archduke Franz-
Ferdinand and his wife, Duchess Sophie von Hohenberg, in
Colonel Dragutin Dimitriyevich, Chief of the Military
Intelligence Department of the Serbian army, was known in
conspiratorial circles (the Black Hand organization) as Apis.
According to Albertini, Colonel Dimitriyevich-Apis was on very
friendly terms with N. H. Harting, Russian Minister in
Belgrade, and particularly with Colonel (later General)
Colonel Artamonov and Dimitriyevich-Apis conducted
joint secret service operations across the Austrian border,
Dimitriyevich-Apis supplying secret agents and Artamonov
contributing large sums of money out of the secret fund
which was at his disposal as the Russian Military Attache.
They both shared military intelligence collected by their
agents, who were engaged at the same time in subversive
propaganda, distributing copies of a monthly publication
called Piedmont , an organ of the Black Hand organization.
The aim of this terrorist organization was to achieve the
union of all the Serbs, including those living within the limits
of the Austro-Hungarian empire.
It would be inconceivable to believe that Colonel
Artamonov was uninformed about the plan to assassinate the
Heir-Apparent to the Austrian throne, whose morganatic wife
was a Czech woman (born Countess Sophie Chotek). The
Archduke Franz-Ferdinand intended to combat the separatist
tendencies of Serbs and Croats by offering the South Slavs
home rule in a state of their own within the limits of the
empire. Such a grant would deal a mortal blow to all the
dreams of the Serbian nationalists as well of the Russian
It would also be inconceivable to suppose that the Grand
Duke Nicholas Nicholayevitch and his scheming wife, Anastasia
of Montenegro, were not informed about the state of affairs of
their nephew, the Crown Prince Alexander of Serbia,
especially since the Russian Grand Duke had been anxiously
awaiting a war against Austria and Germany. Reporting in
advance of the plot to assassinate the Austrian Archduke,
Colonel Artamonov could count on a favorable reception of
his news by the Grand Duke and his powerful support.
Only one question remains unanswered: Was Czar
Nicholas II informed about the actual role played in the
assassination by Colonel Dimitriyevich-Apis, head of the
Intelligence Service of Serbia, by Crown Prince Alexander,
by the Russian Colonel Artamonov and the others?
There has not been any doubt the Grand Duke Nicholas
Nicholayevitch exercised a decisive influence on the Czar at
this critical moment and made the Czar forget the oath he
gave at the time of his coronation to uphold first and
above all the interests of Russia!
At the critical moment in 1914 only the interests of a
group of irresponsible schemers were upheld, schemers who
did not hesitate to commit murder!
In 1914 Russia became involved in the bloodiest war,
without being prepared to fight, against an enemy armed
with the most modern weapons. There was a shortage of
ammunition in the Russian army, shortage of clothing,
shortage of boots. Russian railroads were inadequate to carry
necessary supplies to the fighting front, Russian industry
was in its infancy and was unable to produce all that the
The government mobilized all able-bodied men from
the age of eighteen up to forty-four, some fifteen million
men, but many of them, hundreds and thousands of them,
had to stay in the barracks because they had no suitable
clothes, and no boots. They were actually barefoot and,
staying in the barracks, spent their time in drinking tea and
playing cards. The shortage of boots and adequate clothing
produced much more tragic results at the fighting front
where many soldiers had frostbitten hands and feet, neces
Many soldiers, sometimes a complement of the whole
company, received only wooden sticks instead of rifles, made
in the form of firearms. At the fighting front there was a
decided shortage of artillery shells and Russian troops were
trying desperately to stem well-organized German attacks
without adequate ammunition by sheer superiority in
numbers. Some regiments lost their full complements of
men several times. There was a decided shortage of officers.
Russian losses were terrific! According to authoritative
sources, Russian army losses were four million men killed,
crippled and missing in action, far more than all the allied
armies put together!
France saw in this war an opportunity for revenge
after the humiliating defeat it suffered in 1870. Great
Britain saw in this war an opportunity to get rid of a
competitor. British industry, with its archaic methods of
production, could not compete with inexpensive German
products of good quality which were gradually replacing
British goods on the world's market. Even the German Navy
was getting much too strong for Great Britain!
But Russia could gain nothing in this war. Russia did
not need any territorial gains. As a matter of fact, Russia
and Germany supplemented each other, Russia selling
Germany grain, lumber and other raw material and buying,
in exchange, much needed products of German industry. If
the last Russian trade agreement with Germany, signed in
1904, was not very profitable for Russia, it was not worth
sacrificing millions of men to change this treaty to a more
advantageous one. The balance of trade with Germany was
in Russia's favor anyway.
The Russian intelligentsia were trying to distort the
truth, stating that Russia was fighting to get the Straits of
Bosporus and Dardanelles needed for Russian trade. They
were deliberately misrepresenting the facts. They knew only
too well that the empires of Central Europe were not so
much opposed to the Russian acquisition of the straits as
were the Russian allies. Especially for Great Brittain, it was
inconceivable to permit Russia to have an access to the
Meditteranean, so that Russia could menace the life-line of
the British Empire to India.
After two and a half years of fighting, in every Rus
sian family some men were killed, crippled, or wounded.
Slowly discontent was growing. Russian masses could not
understand what this unprecedented slaughter was for! It
is difficult to understand why a revolt did not break out
sooner. In ** any other country, disregarding the form of
government, under similar conditions, a revolt would have
broken out. In Russia the implicit faith of the Russian
people in their Czar, and centuries-old traditions, were still
holding people together until, finally, in March, 1917, after
two and a half years of war, revolution broke out.
The Czar and his family paid for this fatal mistake
with their lives in the cellar of the Ipatiyev house in
Ekatherinburg, and Russia was drenched in blood by the
THIS WAS THE PATH OF DESTINY THAT LED TO
THE RUSSIAN EMPIRE'S DESTRUCTION AND DOWNFALL!
RETURN TO KOLPINO
In 1907, my father decided to visit our estate Kolpino.
He had been absent for some twelve years and received
information that our superintendent, Peter Brunner, was
selling lumber from our forests without his knowledge and
In June, 1907, my father and mother and I went by
steamer via Sebastopol to Odessa where we stopped at the
Hotel London on the Boulevard de Richelieu. From our
rooms we had an excellent view of Odessa's harbor. Right
in front of the hotel was a wide stone and concrete staircase
leading down to the harbor. The staircase was so long that
next to it, two specially built cable cars were continuously
going up and down, providing transportation for the people
who did not want to walk hundreds of steps. At the bottom
of the staircase were railroad tracks, and freight cars were
moving day and night. Odessa was the largest commercial
port on the Black Sea.
We stayed in Odessa several days, and my father took
me to the former mansion of his late uncle, Stanislaw
Juriewicz, which was now Odessa's Public Library-
The fortune left by Stanislaw Juriewicz to his oldest
son, Mieczyslaw, was cut down considerably by the reckless
spending of Mieczyslaw and his son, Frederyk. The mansion
was sold, too, but Frederyk was still hanging on to Berszada.
Paul Juriewicz, a son of Stanislaw from his second marriage,
and a first cousin of my father, was married to Princess
Elisabeth Woroniecka, and was at that time the President
of the Racing Association in Warsaw.
When my father and I entered the imposing building
of the Public Library, I noticed excitement in his usually
calm countenance. This building was bringing back to him
all the eventful years of his youth and his marriage to
Adela. He did not pay any attention to the book shelves and
book cases that now occupied every room. In a low voice,
he was telling me that this room was a foyer, and here
was a big livingroom, and there was a Blue drawing
room , and there a cardroom, and so on. In every room,
there were ceilings with handwrought sculptured friezes,
mosaic floors with inlaid pieces of red and black wood, huge
mahogany doors with heavy bronze handles. Finally, we
entered a comparatively small area, and my father told me
that it was a boudoir of the second Madame Juriewicz, the
beautiful Lady Weinczeslawa! There was nothing in this
room now to remind one that it had been the boudoir of a
beautiful woman... only book cases stood there in a row
by the wall.
When we finally emerged from this building and were
on the street again, my father took a deep breath.
And so it goes , he said. Even a fortune which
appeared inexhaustible was not large enough to stand the
reckless spending of two generations. And the greater part
of the Russian landed nobility are losing their fortunes,
their estates are being sold to the State Bank of Peasants,
organized by the government, to be resold to the peasants.
It will not take long before most of the fertile lands of the
nobles will pass into the hands of the peasants. The good
Lord was merciful to Russia that Stolypin finally passed a
law permitting peasants to get out of their communes!
Otherwise, who could produce the necessary surplus of grain
to feed Russian cities and towns? If all landed estates were
taken away from the landowners, Russia would have a
I remembered those words of my father when, after the
revolution, as a result of the confiscation of the landed
estates, there was a terrific famine in Russia (1918-1922).
The Communist government accused the peasants of
hoarding their grain and other products and of criminally
sabotaing the newly created Government of the People .
The Communists accused them of being the enemies of the
working class , and organized armed bands of city workers
for the purpose of taking by force hoarded grain of the
peasants. These bands were armed by the Soviet Government
with rifles and machine guns.
The real reason for the hoarding of grain by the peasants
was the inflation of Russian currency and lack of manufactured
goods. Peasants were reluctant to part with the little grain
they had, getting worthless paper money in exchange. Millions
of them had been soldiers in the Russian army during the
World War I and had brought home their ammunition. An
actual war began between cities and towns on one side, and
villages on the other. Famine spread throughout the Volga
region with its fertile soil. There were registered cases of
cannibalism. An American, in the service of Hoover's Relief
organization, disappeared, having been devoured by hungry
But at that time, in Odessa, my father did not realize
how prophetic he was!
From Odessa we moved to Kiev, ancient capital of
Prince Oleg, Prince Igor and St. Vladimir, the first rulers
of Russia. For some reason, Russian historians were always
looking to the Byzantine empire, trying to find the facts
about the very beginning of Russian history. They neglected
completely the Scandinavian sources, although Prince Rurik
(in Scandinavian, Rorek), the first Russian ruler (862-879)
was a Viking and a member of the Scoldung dynasty.
My father took me to the Kievo-Pechersky Monastery.
This monastery, with many churches and buildings, had been
built on the western bank of the Dnieper River, which was
rising high above water level. Some of the buildings were
connected by underground passages with a series of caverns
and caves in which hermits and monks used to live. A
number of these hermits were canonized and became saints
of the Eastern Church. Visitors of the monastery were
conducted by monks to different caves, where they could
kneel and kiss relics of saints, while placing money on a
plate which stood by the relic, as their contribution to the
holy place. This monastery provided an additional income
to the Metropolitan (Cardinal) of Kiev of some fifty thousand
gold Roubles annually.
The underground passages were narrow, with low
ceilings, and filled with the strong odor of incense. The monks
with long hair which never was cut by a barber, and long
beards, looking very much like savages, produced a gloomy,
rather horrifying impression on me, and I asked my father
to get me out of these catacombs as quickly as possible.
Although on my mother's side I had plenty of Russian
blood, and one of my great-grandmothers was a Tatar girl,
the sight of this monastery, which was greatly venerated
by the Russians, did not arouse in me any religious feeling,
and I was glad when we returned to our hotel on Krestchatik
(the main street in Kiev).
At last we arrived in Vitebsk, and stopped at the
Kushliss Hotel on Zamkovaya Street. I was struck by the
Gothic towers of many Roman Catholic cathedrals in this
city, and the Jewish crowds on the streets.
As soon as we entered the lobby of the hotel, being
followed by porters who carried our numerous suitcases, my
father was surrounded by a crowd of Jewish factors .
Factors were familiar figures throughout Poland, Lithuania
and Belorussia in those days. They were like guides, who
used to attach themselves to the hotel guests. Such a guide
followed you continuously, trying to guess what you would
wish to do next. You could order him to mail a letter for
you at the postoffice, or to get a watchmaker, also a Jew,
into your room at the hotel, to repair your watch, or to
get tickets for the next performance at a local theater, or
to find out all about prices for grain in Windawa and in
Riga in short, anything. At the same time, your factors
considered it their duty to supply you with all kinds of news
and gossip of the city. At times, they would be annoying,
but on the whole, extremely obliging, being satisfied with
very little pay, and in a short time you would find your
My father, being by nature generous and lazy, was
attended usually not by one factor but by several. From
their point of view he was an ideal customer. And now they
recognized him and surrounded him on all sides.
At this moment, an old Jew with a gray beard and
whiskers, dressed in a lapserdack, a sort of long overcoat
worn by the orthodox Jews, who had stood quietly in a
corner, all of a sudden jumped at my father and attempted
to grab his hand to kiss it. My father drew back his hand
quickly, but, recognizing the old man, patted him on the
shoulder. Then he turned to me, and said, addressing him:
Look, Yossel, what a big boy I have!
To my great surprise yossel approached me, with tears in
his eyes, and kissed my forehead. Then he stroked my
head gently with one hand and with the other wiping tears
which continued to roll down his cheeks. He was overcome
with emotion at seeing his former Pan and his son.
I found Vitebsk very picturesque and interesting, but,
unfortunately, my parents did not stay there long.
My parents were facing the fact that Emilia, the
divorced wife of my father, continued to live in Kolpino.
Therefore, it was decided that my mother would stay in
Nevel, a small town situated about thirty miles from Kolpino,
and my father and I would visit Kolpino alone.
We arrived in Nevel by a passenger train, and at the
railroad station took a couple of isvostchik and ordered
them to drive us to the best hotel in town. My father knew
this hotel and its owner well It was owned by Mr. Papernov.
When our isvostchiks stopped in front of the hotel, my
father alighted from his carriage and entered a store next
door to the entrance of the hotel. Being very curious, I
followed him closely. We found the store completely deserted
except for a boy about eleven or twelve years old, who
stood behind the counter.
Are you Papernov's son? my father asked. The boy
nodded yes .
Where is your father?
Tatale? (father in the Yiddish dialect), repeated
the boy. He is in the cellar .
What is he doing there?
What is he doing there? the boy repeated again.
He is making Madeira .
It was a little strange to find a Jew in a small town
in Belorussia making a well-known brand of Portuguese
wine in his cellar, My father laughed.
Call him! he ordered the boy.
In a few minutes Papernov-father appeared in the store,
and after many greetings, lamentations, and expressions of
joy, the two best rooms of the hotel were placed at our
disposal, and our suitcases were carried there.
The same evening my father and I proceeded by horse
carriage to Kolpino. The horse and carriage were placed
at my father's disposal by the same Mr. Papernov.
We arrived in Kolpino at night. My father was overcome
with emotion. He pointed out to me the house, the park
and different buildings and gave explanations about every
thing, although it was dark and I could barely see anything.
The superintendent, Peter Brunner, was expecting us and
took us to the guest house, where a suite of rooms had
been prepared for us.
The next morning we went for breakfast to the main
house. When we entered the diningroom, Emilia threw
herself in my father's arms, weeping with joy at seeing her
Stas again. She covered me with kisses and immediately
proceeded to feed me some home-made mazurki (cookies),
jelly and freshly made coffee with thick cream.
At least twenty people were sitting around the dining
table; my half-sister Nussia, with her husband and their
four children, with a German Fraulein; Miss Alexandra
Bogomolec, a spinster, (emotionally upset out of sympathy
to her friend Emilia); Leonid Skorulsky, a neighboring
landowner, who had lost his fortune and had lived ever
since at Kolpino... and several guests.
My father was in the best of humor, graciously giving
to everyone a chance to kiss him, smiling and answering
After breakfast, I explored the house.
I made good friends with my nephew, Nicky, the son
of my half-sister, who was three and a half years older
than myself. My three nieces, Mary, Natalie, and Nina,
attracted my attention. I was a little shy as I had never
played much with little girls- Nicky took me to the Kolpino
Lake, which actually was a quarter of a mile away from
the house, to swim. Here we had a wonderful time. Because
I had lived on the shore of the Black Sea, I was a better
swimmer than he, but he knew much more about shooting
than I did, and I was a little envious of this superior
My father, being in a perfect mood, postponed
indefinitely the dismissal of the superintendent, and presented
me with a horse. I petted the horse, brought him sugar, and
could not sleep at night, worrying if he was well taken care
Next day, I rode through the fields and forests of
the estate, There were beautiful vistas on it. Everything
was new and interesting to me. I realized that here my
ancestors had lived, and here I would live, too, when I grew
up. Visions of the beautiful Crimea gradually faded from my
memory. A few days later, my father received a letter stating
that my mother had moved to the estate Gregorovo ,
which belonged to the family of de Grave-
My mother's youngest brother, Baron Alexis Rokas-
sowsky, was brought up in the Corps des Pages in St.
Petersburg, but had been expelled for bad behavior and
unsatisfactory results in his studies. He was transferred to
the army, where he served as a private (junker) until, finally,
he received his first commission. He served as Kornet
(Lieutenant) in the Hussar Regiment of Pavlograd for about
a year, retired and settled down in Dubokrai, which he
received as his share of the estate of my grandfather
Rokassowsky. He married Helen de Grave, a daughter of a
neighboring landowner, but remained just as reckless and
senseless as when he was a boy. He continued to live above
his income, borrowing money from Jewish lenders, until,
finally, his estate Dubokrai was sold at an auction. Alexis
Rokassowsky was ruined.
In the meantime, his wife died, leaving him three
children, two boys and a girl. The older boy, Alexis, Jr.,
entered the Corps des Pages, the girl Alexandra was in a
private school, and my uncle, with his youngest son, Platon,
moved to Gregorovo, an estate which belonged to his late
wife and her two sisters. By this time, he was trying to
drown his sorrow in drinking. He drank to excess, but as
soon as he learned that my mother was alone in a hotel in
Nevel, he considered it his duty to bring her to Gregorovo.
Gregorovo was only about twenty miles from Kolpino,
and the following morning, my father and I went there. We
stayed at Gregorovo for a couple of days, and I noticed
that my father did not like his brother-in-law, but for the
sake of my mother, was polite and kind to him. My father
invited him and Platon, who was about my age, to come
with us to Kolpino.
There was then a great family reunion at Kolpino. The
divorced wife of my father threw her arms around my
mother, and both women cried with emotion. From that
moment, they started to call each other by first names
Emilia and Vera and became good friends. Only the
peasants could not understand the situation, and, shaking
their heads, they insisted that the Lord of Kolpino had two
That autumn we stayed at Kolpino. Trees of the old
park were turning different colors, leaves were falling, the
squirrels were jumping in the bare branches of the trees.
I learned to ride, and usually went in the evenings through
a path of a thick forest to one of the lakes to watch the
sunset. The lake appeared to be a piece of a broken mirror,
thrown by an unseen hand between the hills. It reflected the
hilly shore covered by forest, and the sky with passing clouds
of different shapes. I learned to love autumn, and later on,
I liked it still more for the hunting season that began in
Late in the fall we returned to Yalta. From that year
on, we used to visit Kolpino every year, staying there for
three or four months in the summer and early autumn.
As soon as constitutional form of government was
granted to Russia on the 17-30 of October, 1905, a new
political party was organized. This party was called The
Party of the 17th of October . As the name implied, the
political program of the party was based on the Czar's
manifesto granted on that date, and my father was one of the
first to join it.
My father did not approve of autocracy. From his
point of view, it was not fair to blame one man, the Czar,
for the actions, sometimes very stupid, of every governor, of
every government official, just because they all acted in the
name of the Czar. On the other hand, my father was very
far from being an admirer of democracy. From his point
of view, democracy was well represented by Russian peasant
communes (obstchina) where an illiterate and stupid
majority ruled without restraint, A man with intelligence
above average had no chance unless he was able to get
out of his commune.
In the opinion of my father, at the head of the govern
ment there should always be a man who had received a
broad education, and who was well versed in the history of
his country; who stood above all classes of society, above
every group and political party; who did not need to seek
re-elections; who certainly was independent financially and
whose only aim was the welfare of his country as a whole.
A man with a broad vision who cared for the future of
his country even after his own death, on account of his
natural desire to leave to his son the best heritage. My
father was a monarchist through and through, but in his
opinion, the people of the country had an inherent right to
have a voice in the government.
And my father gladly accepted the constitution granted
by the Czar in October, 1905, as a basis for constructive
work and the development of the empire.
However, my father was a landowner first of all, and
he realized only too well that the greatest, the most vital
problem of Russia was not solved by the manifesto granted
in October, 1905. The peasants represented the great bulk
of the population of the Empire and their problem was not
solved. The great majority of the Russian peasants did not
understand the word constitution , in Russian con-
stitutzia . Some of them got an idea that it was a first
name for girls just like Constantin was a name for boys.
The landed nobility understood better than anyone else
the real needs of the peasants- The nobles realized that
unreasonable demands for confiscations of their estates were
ridiculous and would not solve the problem. Such confiscation
would inevitably result in a famine in Russia. The nobles
hated and feared the word commune (obstchina in Rus
sian) and blamed the system of communes for all misfortunes
of the Russian peasants. They realized that as long as this
system existed, they could not be safe living on their estates.
It was life on the brink of a volcano!
A marxist publication, The Beginning (in Russia,
Nachalo ) in 1889 noted with satisfaction that the standard
of living of the peasants was lowest in the provinces where
they owned more land, even with the quality of soil much
better, but where the peasant communes were the only
form of the peasant ownership of the land! The liberal intel
ligentsia was of the opinion that the peasant problem could
be solved by granting peasants equality of rights and pol
itical freedom, and by distributing among them the lands
of the Church, of the landowners, and of the Crown. But
even the most liberal economists realized that abolition of
landed estates in Russia would inevitably lead to disaster!
The liberal economists' opinion was based on the
productivity of the lands. The peasants' lands were known
for the lowest productivity. It was the landed estates that
produced the surplus of grain needed to feed Russian towns
and cities, and also needed for export.
In January, 1902, the Czar organized an ad hoc com
mittee to determine the agrarian needs of the empire. The
committee consisted of twenty high government officials,
mostly members of the Cabinet. The opinions were
controversial, and even the majority of peasants themselves
did not know where the root of the evil was- The committee
decided to organize special committees in all provinces
of European Russia. These committees had the right to
question and to consult anyone they considered necessary. At
this moment, D. Sipiagin, Secretary of the Interior, and a
very important member of the committee, was killed by a
terrorist. This murder antagonized the Czar, but the work
of the committee and subcommittees continued.
The great majority of the committees declared themselves
against peasant communes. However, Konstantin Pobedonostsev
and some other members of the Cabinet happened to be
faithful adherents to archaic communes, and in 1903, on the
advice of Vyacheslav Plehve, Secretary of the Interior, who
succeeded Sipiagin, the work of the committees was stop
But after the Russo-Japanese War, about two thousand
landed estates were burned down by the peasants, and the
government then realized the importance of the peasants'
In the spring of 1906, the Czar appointed Peter Stolypin
to the post of Secretary of the Interior. Stolypin was a
Marshal of Nobility in Kovno and for a short time Governor
of the province of Grodno. During the difficult times of the
Russo-Japanese War and the revolution which followed, he
was Governor of the province of Saratov, where he proved
to be an excellent administrator.
He risked his life freely on several occasions,
restraining a revolutionary mob in a town, and restoring
order in a village. He was practically the only Governor who
maintained order in his province during this stormy time,
and who won the respect even of his adversaries.
But, most important! Stolypin was a true representative
of the landed nobility and knew the real needs of the peasants.
In July of the same year, Stolypin was appointed to the
post of Prime Minister. Stolypin dissolved Parliament (the
first Duma) and according to paragraph 87 of the
Constitution (1), on the 9-22 of November, 1906, passed a
law permitting an individual peasant (or a village as a whole),
if he so desired, to get his share of the land ( Nadel ) as
his individual private property in one piece of land. Such a
peasant would cease to be a member of his commune and
would become an individual farmer.
It was necessary for Stolypin to pass this law without
its being discussed in the Russian Duma, because he knew
he would not win the necessary support for this measure.
Reactionaries and revolutionaries, for different reasons,
united in their ardent desire to preserve the archaic com
At the same time, Stolypin passed a law making
peasants eligible for any rank in the government service. In
other words, Stolypin freed Russian peasants of their com
munes (if they so desired), granting to them at the same
time a complete equality of rights. It was the greatest reform
since the Act of Emancipation of Czar Alexander II in 1861.
When this reform was first put into effect by Stolypin,
the great masses of Russian peasants were reluctant to quit
their communes. Their main worry was the small pasture
each one of them would have for his horse and cow. Only
gradually some of them agreed to become individual farmers.
Those who agreed to it, became prosperous in a couple of
years! Following their example, other peasants, many
thousands of them, filled out their applications. The movement
was gathering momentum with an ever increasing number
of applicants. There was a decided shortage of surveyors
(1) Paragraph 87 of the Constitution permitted the Czar, while
Parliament was not in session, to enact the necessary laws
without approval of the Parliament. These laws were supposed
to be discussed and approved by the Parliament at some future
Note of the Author.
CTOJ!HIlEK r K
Pn'rae Minister Peter Arcadievitch STOLYPIN.
measuring the land. Some of the peasants had to wait their
turn for a year or more.
In spite of all these difficulties, in the period of only
eight years preceding World War I, approximately twenty
percent of all peasants became individual landowners. It
appeared that Russia was getting on the right track to
become a prosperous member among other Great European
powers, and if the First World War had been avoided in
1914, and somehow postponed for a couple of decades, in
spite of a revolution, Russia would never have become Com
munist! It was proven by actual fact that in those parts
of the empire where the system of communes had not been
introduced in 1861, such as Finland, Esthonia, Latvia,
Lithuania and Poland, in spite of the terrific impact of the
revolution and the highly publicized genius of Lenin, Com
munism was not established. All these parts became
independent republics with a real democratic government
established in every one of them.
The system of communes was never introduced to the
natives of the Russian Caucasus, and the Georgians put up
a stubborn fight against the Communists, until they were
subdued by the detachments of the Red Army.
The system of communes never existed in Russian
Siberia, Turkestan, and other Asiatic possessions of the
empire. However, the population in those remote areas was
very sparse. As a matter of fact, the entire population of
all Russian possessions in Asia amounted to only about
ten percent of the population of European Russia. Consequently,
they could not offer any resistance to the armed forces of
the Soviet government.
During the first few years of Stolypin's leadership, Rus
sia enjoyed a new era of prosperity, an era of unprecedented
industrial and economic growth, and everyone was looking
hopefully for a bright future.
This tremendous industrial and economic growth
continued up to the very outbreak of the First World War
when, in the flames of the war, empires perished.
* * *
My father believed that the reform of Stolypin, which
permitted Russian peasants to become small proprietors and
full and equal subjects of the Empire, would make Russia
immune to any socialist upheaval. Russia was an agricultural
country, and Karl Marx's doctrine was supposed to appeal
to the class of industrial workmen, the so-called proletariat .
In Russia, at that time, workmen of industry constituted
less than ten percent of the population.
Only once, during the Bosnia Crisis , my father made
a very solemn statement in my presence. He said that if a
revolution would some day break out in Russia and the
Czar should be forced to abdicate, Russia would inevitably
It is obvious , he added, with the great majority
of the population living in communes, one cannot expect
anything else .
I always remembered his prophetic words. My father
knew Russian people better than the majority of Russian
intellectuals, and certainly better than the Slavophils,
although the latter pretended to speak on behalf of the people.
In March, 1909, Vasili von Hacken brought his wife,
my half-sister, Nussia, to Yalta. Nussia had comsumption
and her doctors advised her to go to a warm climate.
Nussia and her husband arrived by train in Sebastopol,
where they hired a carriage to drive them to Yalta. The
road from Sebastopol to Yalta, from the Baidary Gates
(Baidarskiye Vorota) down along the Crimean shore, was of
a rare beauty. On one side of the road were the high vertical
rocks, and on the other a breath-taking view of the mountain
slope, with the road winding like a serpent between huge
rocks, and, below, the great expansion of the sea.
When Nussia and her husband arrived at our house,
Nussia was still under the spell of the beautiful scenery,
while her husband was completely calm and indifferent to
the beauty of nature. He was preoccupied with a new cigarette
lighter that someone had presented to him.
The next day, Vasili von Hacken went back to Velikie
Luki, leaving Nussia with us, parting with her much against
her wishes. My father tried to be cheerful, but I could see
that he was worried. He was informed by Emilia and by
some friends that Nussia was very unhappy in her marriage.
Her husband rarely stayed home in the evening, playing
cards in a local club until all hours of the morning, and it
was known that he had many affairs with other women-
Yet Nussia was still very much in love, although she
suffered a great deal. Many sleepless nights when she was
waiting and worrying about her husband and his activities
had undermined her health and now, in the opinion of the
doctors, it was a question of only six months, maybe a year.
My father knew it well, and realized that he was
helpless to change the situation. He was very attentive to
Nussia, and tried to be kind to his son-in-law, who was
only a few years younger than him-self. In his conversations
with Nussia, my father carefully avoided the topic of her
Nussia stayed with us until the end of May and then
went back home. Early in June, the schools closed for the
summer, and Nussia's children were anxious to get to Kolpino,
where they usually spent their summer vacations.
When my parents and I arrived in Kolpino that year,
Nussia and her children, together with their German Fraulein,
were already there. Nussia was staying in bed most of the
time. She was feverish and was losing weight-
While my father was in Kolpino, he spent much time
every day talking to peasants or Jews who came to see him.
Ever since the time of his resignation as a judge, peasants
of his judicial district remembered him as one who was
always fair to them. They all had a feeling of deep respect
for him, and now they all came to him asking his advice.
My father usually received them in the guest house,
where my parents and I occupied a suite of rooms, in a room
which served as his office; sitting behind his desk he
greeted them in a friendly way, never permitting anyone
to kiss his hand, and asking them to sit down. He usually
placed along the front of his desk a big box of cigarettes,
containing over two hundred, and he invited them to smoke.
My father insisted that they should smoke his cigarettes
made of Turkish tobacco because he could not stand the
heavy and biting odor of makhorka , the local tobacco
which Russian peasants smoked.
At that time, the reform of Stolypin was of paramount
interest to all peasants, and although my father could tell
in advance what questions they intended to ask, he never
started the conversation. He was always ready to listen to
them, to all their grievances, doubts and troubles. Their
main worry was the small pasture each one of them would
have for his horse and cow, should they quit their com
munes. My father usually gave them ample time to tell in
their own way their stories- He used to wait for a while
after they finished talking, and only then he would begin
to tell them his own ideas on the subject. He used their own
expressions, in a language which was easily understandable
to them. He told them that long walks were not beneficial
for the cows and described to them some dairy farms in
Denmark where cows never left their yards at all. The
peasants listened attentively to him, smoking and repeating
the same questions again and again. My father was very
patient with them. He knew that they all were slow, and
that it took some time for them to digest new ideas.
The beneficial results of Stolypin's reform could be
seen in all the villages which got rid of their communes and
partitioned their land, each peasant becoming an individual
farmer. These new farmers usually built new homes for
themselves, apart from their villages, with fences around
their small yards and vegetable gardens. Their fields were
well fertilized, well ploughed and void of any stones and
weeds. It was a joy to see these new farms! And, within
a couple of years, they all became well-to-do, substantial
During the following years, peasants did not bother my
father with the same questions about pastures. They had
already learned the answer and their minds were made up-
They came to ask him to write petitions for them to the
Department of Agriculture to send land surveyors to partition
their land. Now they all were anxious to get rid of their
Stolypin's reform was progressing, bringing satisfactory
results. In the period of only eight years preceding World
War I, approximately twenty percent of all peasants became
individual landowners and full and equal subjects of the
Empire. The idea of private property was strongly established
in their mind. As a matter of fact, when in 1929, Stalin
started general collectivization throughout the Soviet
Union, these individual farmers resisted most stubbornly re
form of the Soviet Government, of re-introducing the old
communes in the form of collective farms (Kolkhoz). They
were called kulaks , were declared enemies of the Soviet
Union , and were ruthlessly exterminated by the Soviet
If only the First World War had been avoided in 1914,
or post-poned for some ten or fifteen years, a Communist
form of government would never have been established in
Russia! All Communists, or advocates of the Communist
doctrine, would have been chased out of every Russian village,
or would have been lifted on pitch forks in the true
One day that summer, when we were all sitting in the
diningroom having lunch, our maid, Katia, announced that
Itzeck had come to say goodbye to us. We all left the table
and went to the entrance hall where Itzeck was waiting.
Itzeck was a Jewish tailor. Contrary to the police
regulations of that period, which forbade the Jews to reside
in villages, Itzeck and his family were living in the village
of Lakushi , where there was a Russian Orthodox Church
and a Russian priest the priest Odintzov lived-
Itzeck (pronounced It-zeck) was the most inoffensive
creature in the world. We usually ordered him to make
linen suits out of material produced by peasants in Belorussia.
This material was sold at eleven kopecks (five and a half
cents) a yard, but it was just as good as the Irish linen.
We wore these suits in the summer, especially for hunting.
The linen was of excellent quality, washable and durable.
We wanted Itzeck to make our suits well-tailored. Therefore,
we usually gave him a suit made by a good tailor in St.
Petersburg and asked him to copy it. Itzeck would take
apart the suit which was given to him as a model, cut out
a new suit exactly like the old one, and then finish both.
For his work he charged two Roubles (one dollar).
Evidently Itzeck enjoyed his work- When he wanted
to enter the room, he did not knock. Instead, he first opened
the door very carefully. In the half-opened door, his head
would appear, turning to all sides and looking around. When
he saw us, he would smile, open the door widely and step
into the room. After the usual greetings, he would produce
a suit, ready to be tried on. He would walk around the
person who was trying on the new suit, as a great artist
observing his masterpiece. He would stand at one side,
spreading his arms and tilting his head; then, in a few steps,
he would take a similar pose on the other side of the person,
and then, all of a sudden, he would jump like a tiger right
on the person's chest, where he had noticed a thread which
he intended to bite off as tailors usually did at that time.
We all knew Itzeck well and liked him very much. The
announcement that he came to tell us goodbye puzzled us a
Where are you going, Itzeck? Why... , everyone was
In the meantime, Itzeck attempted to kiss my father's
hand, but my father never permitted him to do it. Itzeck
stood silently for a few seconds, and thep solemnly announced:
I am going to America!
This announcement produced a considerable effect ,on
all of us., we were surprised, and wondered why Itzeck
was travelling so far. Then, again, there were questions.
But why, Itzeck? Are you unhappy here? And how
about your family? Are they going with you?
Itzeck could not answer all the questions at once. He
waited a little, and then said quietly:
I did not tell you how horrible it was all these years
for me to live in the village among the mujiks (peasants!)
It was terrible. Every Saturday and Sunday, all glasses in
my windows in my little house were broken. We all sat inside,
afraid to move trying to keep quiet... my wife, my children,
trembling... And outside a mob of drunken mujiks, young
and old, and their loud voices, Dirty, damned Jew! We
are going to show you , and they banged on the door. We
wondered if the door and locks were strong enough. Every
Saturday night, every holiday, as soon as they would get
drunk. It was a torture! .
We all listened to Itzeck in complete silence. We all
knew he was telling the truth. Russian peasants were
ignorant and cruel even towards their own wives and children.
And they all hated the Jews with the blind hatred of ignorant
people. We felt sincerely sorry for Itzeck.
But why did you stay in Lakushi? Why didn't you
move somewhere else? someone asked.
I am poor , Itzeck said, and it costs money to
move. And, now it has been decided, we all are going to
America, and I came to bid goodbye to all of you . There
were tears in Itzeck's eyes as he approached my father
again. My father kissed Itzeck on his forehead and put some
money in his hand.
Here, it is for you. Take it! You will need it. , and
he patted him on the shoulder.
In a few minutes poor Itzeck was gone.
Poor fellow , my father said. He certainly had a very
difficult time- I only hope that he will have better luck
where he is going .
In the fall we returned as usual to Yalta, and in
February of the following year, my father received a telegram
that Nussia had died. She was buried in the family cemetery
In the early autumn of 1911, the unveiling of the
monument of the Czar-Emancipator took place in Kiev, and
the Czar with his family, the Imperial Court, members of the
Russian government and the diplomatic corps went to this
ancient capital of Prince St. Vladimir, who introduced
Christianity to Russia in the year 989.
On the 2-15 of September, the headlines of all newspapers
in Russia carried the tragic news that in Kiev, during the
performance of a play in a theater, in the presence of the
Czar, an attempt on the life of Prime Minister Stolypin took
The attendance on that day was only by personal
invitation. Stolypin was sitting in the first row of the
orchestra, not far from the Imperial box. During the second
intermission, the majority of the people went to the foyer.
Stolypin stood facing a half-empty theater and leaning on
the balustrade which separated the orchestra from the first
row of chairs. He was talking to Count Freedericks, Minister
of the Imperial Court.
All of a sudden, a man dressed in a tailcoat walked
rapidly towards him through the middle aisle and fired
point-blank two shots- For a few seconds, Stolypin continued
to stand. Then, turning slowly towards the Imperial box,
he made a sign of the Cross, blessing the Czar, and fell on
one of the chairs. A big scarlet spot appeared on his white
The would-be assassin tried to escape, but was stopped
by the people who rushed from the lobby at the sounds
of the shots. He would have been torn to pieces but the
police saved him from the crowd. He happened to be a
man by the name of Mordka Bogrov, an agent of the Security
Police, and a member of the Socialist Revolutionary Party
at the same time.
The revolutionary leaders realized that Stolypin's reform
was dealing a mortal blow to the very idea of revolution
and decided to kill Stolypin. But how a member of the
Socialist Revolutionary Party happened to become an agent
of the Security Police, entrusted to guard members of the
government in the presence of the Czar, was a mystery!
Obviously, something was amiss somewhere. As a strong
leader, Stolypin had many enemies among the high govern
Stolypin, lying in a chair, was carried out of the
theater. It was difficult to describe the excitement of the
crowd. At that moment, the strains of God Save the Czar
came from the orchestra and the crowd sang the National
Russian anthem. The great majority had tears in their eyes.
The Czar stayed in the Imperial box while the anthem was
played, and then left the theater.
Stolypin was taken to a hospital. There were two wounds;
one bullet had gone through the liver, and the other had
hit his right arm. The best medical doctors and physicians
from all over Russia rushed to Kiev and volunteered their
services. According to the doctors' opinion, Stolypin was not
in immediate danger, and they expected to save his live. The
Czar received a most reassuring report from Dr. Botkin,
the Czar's personal physician, and did not cancel all the
festivities connected with the unveiling of the monument,
but on the fifth day Stolypin's condition took a turn for
the worse, and late in the evening on the 19th September,
he passed away. All Russia mourned the great statesman.
The newspapers reprinted the excerpts of his speeches
in the Parliament (Russian Duma) when he was facing a
strong, hostile opposition- He spoke always very clearly,
very much to the point. He repeated many times that he
counted on the strong, hard-working peasants, not on the
drunkards and the lazy ones. He was trying to free Russian
people from the poverty and misery of archaic communes.
During one speech, turning to the members of the revolutionary,
parties, the left wing of the Duma, he shouted:
YOU ARE SEEKING GREAT UPHEAVALS, BUT WE
NEED A GREAT, STRONG RUSSIA!!! and in these few words,
he characterized the whole attitude, the desires and the aims
of the Russian revolutionaries on the one hand, and the
constructive work of the government under his leadership on
the other. Emperor Wilhelm of Germany was a great admirer
of Stolypin, and considered him the greatest statesman of his
The agrarian reform of Stolypin continued to bring its
beneficial results. Every year, many, thousands of Russian
peasants became small proprietors, and Russia was enjoying
an unprecedented prosperity. But at the critical moment caused
by the assassination of the Archduke Franz-Ferdinand in 1914,
the strong hand of a great Russian statesman was lacking,
and Russia became involved in a fatal war.
In Kolpino we all mourned Stolypin. In contrast to his
usual jovial disposition my father was in a depressed mood,
and, for several weeks, there was a feeling that we had lost
a close relative who was very dear to all of us-
It was o cloudy day early in October of 1911. A fine,
drizzly rain was beating against the window panes. This
dreary weather usually continued for weeks during the fall
in the northwestern part of Russia until the first sharp frost
came, covering the meadows with a hazy white blanket.
I was sitting in the gallery in Kolpino house, looking
at the oil painting of Prince Michael Kasimir Oginski, Hetman
(Grand Chancellor) of Lithuania. He was a direct descendant
of St. Michael, Prince of Chernigov, whose great-grandson,
Gregory, was called Ogon (means fire in Russian). The
Oginskis were the feudal lords of Kozielsk. In the latter part
of the XV century, the Oginski family moved to Lithuania,
and thereby escaped persecution of the Czar Ivan the Terrible.
At that time the feudal lords had the right to choose their
sovereign. And now the proud countenance of the Lithuanian
Hetman, dressed in a Polish national costume, looked at
me from his place on the wall
Next to him was an oil portrait of Prince Michael-
Kleofas Oginski (1765-1833), famous composer of Oginski
polonaises. Most of his life he lived in Florence.
Further on was a portrait of Joseph Deszpot-Zienowicz,
husband of Princess Polonia Oginski, owner of Kolpino.
At that time, many Russian and Polish nobles used to
go to Paris. It was right after the occupation of the French
capital by the Russian troops in 1813-1814. The Russian
nobles studied the advanced doctrines of Voltaire,
Montesquieu and Jean-Jacques Rousseau, and the history of
the French revolution. Being influenced by these ideas of
freedom, the Russian aristocrats organized a Revolt of
Decembrists in 1825.
Joseph Deszpot-Zienowicz also used to visit Paris and the
French Riviera, travelling in a dormeuse. This was a huge
travelling carriage on eight wheels that required at least
eight horses to pull it. Inside, the seats could be converted
into sleeping berths. At this time, as it was before the
invention of the locomotive, a trip to Paris would take about
Once Deszpot-Zienowicz took his valet on his trip. The
valet Zakhary was his Belorussian serf, an ugly looking
fellow, with long arms hanging limply at his sides. When
Zienowicz arrived in Paris and stopped at the hotel, he warned
Zakhary not to leave the house under any circumstances,
being afraid that he might get lost.
Zakhary did not obey the order of his master, and
eventually did get lost. Deszpot-Zienowicz notified the police,
and looked every-where, in vain, for his valet. About a
month later, Zienowicz happened to ride through a public
square in Paris where a street bazaar was going on. One of
the advertisements attracted his attention; he bought a ticket
and entered a booth.
On a small stage, an alert Parisian was delivering a
short lecture to the crowd about some unknown Polynesian
tribe. He explained that he had captured one of the savages.
Then two men dragged a cage on the stage. To the great
surprise of Deszpot-Zienonwicz, he discovered his Zakhary
sitting inside the cagel Large pieces of raw meat were brought
on a plate, and the Frenchman explained that the Polynesian
tribesmen he was talking about ate only raw meat, and even
human flesh- He put a piece of meat on a long iron stick
and pushed it into the cage. Zakhary grabbed the meat and
ate it greedily, being evidently frightfully hungry.
Deszpot-Zienowicz approached the cage and poor Zakhary
fell down on his knees. My Lord, save me! he cried in
his Belorussian dialect. Deszpot-Zienowicz ordered him out
of the cage, and took him away, though the Frenchman made
good offers to him for his serf.
Also hanging on the wall of the Kolpino gallery was
a portrait of Joseph Juriewicz, a direct descendant of a
Lithuanian princely family. Their appanage was the Orsha
district in the province of Mogilev. Centuries ago, the
Juriewicz family had moved to Poland, members of this
family intermarried with Polish aristocracy, and Joseph
Juriewicz had a characteristically Polish countenance. He was
very handsome with his long Polish moustache. He came
into possession of Kolpino after his marriage to Anna
Deszpot-Zienowicz, my great-grandmother. His principal
estates were Kraszuty, Franopol, and Porzecze, and in Kolpino
he was only a visitor- On his occasional trips to Kolpino,
he usually was greeted by a crowd of his serfs, who would
all come to pay their respect to their lord. Juriewicz would
address them with a short speech, and then give them vodka,
the famous Russian and Polish national drink, without which
no celebration was complete. Usually several barrels of vodka
were prepared on the day of the arrival of Joseph Juriewicz
to his wife's estate. Being very generous, be usually
instructed the superintendent of the estate to grant all the
petitions of his serfs, which were presented on this occasion.
The curly head of the decidedly Germanic countenance
of my grandfather Wrangell, dressed in a high white lace
jabot, gazed sternly at me from his bronze frame. My father
told me that he had a real hypnotic power over people. His
portrait was painted by Khrucki, a well-known Polish painter.
I looked at those portraits of my ancestors in the
gallery of Kolpino house. They had all been persons of culture,
who were accustomed to live in luxury and comfort. And I
remembered the ignorant faces of the peasants who lived
in their villages only a few miles away. I wondered why
there was such a difference between these two types of
human beings. I was deep in my thoughts when my father
entered the room. He was dressed in a hunting outfit. In
spite of his age, he held himself erect, and was in his
habitual good humor.
What are you doing here, Carl? he asked me. The
weather is dreadful , he continued. It is too wet to go
shooting. How do you like the country when it rains this
I do not mind it, Father. In fact I like this rain. It
has a certain charm... I was looking at those portraits ,
and I pointed to the wall.
What is wrong with the portraits? my father
inquired. Why are you in such a pensive mood? Do you
feel all right? .
I am fine. I just want to know why the peasants
are so ignorant! .
Oh, well , and my father turned his head away.
Don't occupy your mind with such ideas. You are too
young to understand it . He looked at me, and, seeing my
disappointment, added more seriously.
First of all, Carl, our ancestors were of a different
race- Beginning with Jean-Jacques Rousseau, they are trying
now to prove that inheritance means very little, practically
nothing. Well, I do not agree with that. Then why do we
breed thorough-bred racing horses and pedigreed dogs? He
stopped for a moment, and then continued.
In Russia, Europe and Asia meet. And Russian peasants
have a large amount of Mongolian blood, although void of
good traits of Asiatics. They inherited the worst features of
the Europeans and the cunning cruelty of the Asiatics. Rus
sian intelligentsia is trying to promote a myth that Russian
people are religious and good-hearted. In reality, they are
superstitious and extremely cruel! Russian priests are poor
and are just about as ignorant as the peasants themselves.
Look at our priest Odintzov. He is a mujik in a long
black frock! Look how cruel they are to the poor Itzeck!
They killed Andrushka, a boy servant of my mother because
my mother liked the boy and they were envious. They are
cruel to all defenseless animals- They beat their horses, their
dogs, all domestic animals. A peasant beats his children and
his wife, too. And if he doesn't, it means that he does not
love her! My father stopped for a moment again.
Last year the Czar signed the law of universal
education , he continued. According to the plan, in 1922,
education of practically all children in Russia is supposed
to be accomplished. The government provides a school
building and the cost of the teacher's salaries for any com
munity or communities with forty-five children. But the
climate is very severe. You cannot send children to school
in the winter when it is so cold that one hesitates to put
a dog out of doors! In the summer the children are working
the fields, helping their parents. It will take time before
all the people will learn to read and write. But even now,
more than fifty percent of all recruits are literate . My
father got a cigarette out of his cigarette case and lighted it-
I knew that once he started, he would continue.
We, the landowners, can influence the peasants in
the best way, We have to keep up with the times, introducing
new methods of farming and new machinery. Our estates
should represent schools were the peasants would be able
to learn correct agricultural methods. We do not need to go
to them. Primitive people are like monkeys. They are eager
to copy their masters, if you leave them alone. If you try
to force them, they become stubborn, like all ignorant people
who immediately become suspicious that we have some
ulterior motive. It is not difficult to go down to their level,
like Count Leo Tolstoy did. But we do not need to go down
to their level. We have to raise them to our level! It is
our problem! Can you imagine me dressed in a peasant's
attire, barefoot, ploughing a field, like that crazy old fool?
It was a publicity stunt and the height of hypocrisy on his
No, I laughed. The thought of my father dressed in
Tolstoy's fashion was ridiculous! My father smiled, and said,
Yes, I am telling you the truth! Tolstoy would go to
plough a field, dressed as a peasant, just for one purpose
to have his picture taken. Then he would come home,
and a butler in white gloves would serve lunch to him. But
you, Carl, remember: always be natural in all your relations
with peasants. Do not hesitate to accept all sorts of signs of
respect on their part. You know, they still continue to kiss
our hand. It was a custom of the time of serfdom, and I
do not like any sign of humiliation and submission on their
part. But you are a lord, and be one! Primitive people are
like children. They have a natural distrust for any kind of
pose. And do your duty work in Kolpino and forget
about the peasants. The better you work, the more they
will have to learn from you
My father had a very low opinion of the Russian
people. He found them lazy, ignorant and cruel. The subsequent
Russian revolution proved that his opinion was justified. At
the time of the Red Terror when millions of innocent
people were liquidated , the Soviet leaders found among
Russian people ready and willing executioners.
Contrary to the Russian intelligentsia, with Count Leo
Tolstory as one of them, my father had no illusions he
realized that no law which would give Russian peasant a
complete equality, could make them cultural and intelligent.
In his opinion it would take generations, may-be centuries,
before masses of the Russian people would attain a higher
degree of culture. My father never tried to lower himself
to their level, but he realized that the Russian peasants were
human beings and treated them accordingly. Being constantly
conscious of his own superiority, he was tolerant to their
short-commings as any cultured European would be tolerant
to a savage.
At that moment, my niece Natalie appeared in the room.
Her pretty head was covered with heavy reddish-brown hair.
Her big green eyes were shining with mischief. She ran to
my father, and standing on the tips of her toes, kissed him
on his cheek.
Please, Grandpa, play your mazurka that I like so
well! At fifteen she was very attractive, and I was secretly
in love with her. I did not dare to show my feelings to her,
and suffered as every other boy of fifteen suffers when he
falls in love for the first time.
My father went to the piano in the ballroom and
played an old mazurka by Szopowicz. The strains of the
stately Polish dance filled the room. My father had a good
touch and played with great feeling.
The same evening, as usual, we had many guests. Our
neighbors, Korsak, Emmanuel Mohl, Count Plater, and my
father, played cards. My mother and Emilia were playing a
double solitaire. Madame Korsak and Alexandra Bogomolec
were watching them- Our dogs were lazily lying in front of the
fireplace. In the ball-room Leonid Skorulski was playing dance
music, and I was dancing with Natalie. Continuing to dance,
we slipped away into the gallery. It was half-dark there,
and I kissed Natalie on her lips. The eyes of our ancestors,
from their portraits in heavy frames, seemed to watch us
and to follow us about the room...
In 1912, we stayed in Kolpino until late in the fall. It
was a beautiful autumn- I was sixteen years old and spent
most of my time shooting grouse, partridge and snipe.
Late in October my mother and I returned to Yalta.
My father remained in Kolpino because he wanted to supervise
personally the felling of trees in our forests which were sold
for sleepers railroad ties to some German railroad. Staying in the
forest for hours at a time, my father contracted pneumonia. At
first he decided that he had only a severe cold, but as his
condition did not improve, a doctor was fetched by carriage
from Nevel, a town that was some twenty miles from Kolpino.
The doctor diagnosed pneumonia and insisted that a wire
would be sent immediately to my mother urging her to come
My mother and I went immediately from Yalta to
Sebastopol by car, and took an express train north to Kursk,
Orel, Smolensk, Vitebsk a distance of more than a thousand
miles. We arrived when my father was already in a coma.
It was dreadful to see my father, always so handsome,
usually smiling pleasantly, in his last moments. His face had
become drawn and thin. His eyes, usually so kind and intel-
ligent, and sparkling with good humor, stared now with
a vacant, still expression- He was delirious.
The moment my mother entered my father's bedroom,
she knelt by his bed and remained there until he died,
holding his hand and muttering prayers...
I was told to approach his bed. For a moment he
recognized me and wanted to give me his blessing. He raised
his thin hand but it fell limply on the cover of his bed.
Half an hour later he passed away. For the first time I
fully realized that there was something in our life that we
could not avoid nor escape. My father died on the 13-26 of
January, 1913, et eight o'clock in the evening, and was buried
in a specially built vault in our family cemetery in Kolpino.
ALEXANDER, GRAND DUKE OF RUSSIA - Once a Grand Duke -
New York, 1932.
ALMANACH DE GOTHA, 1887 AND 1914 - Gotha, Germany.
ANNUAIRE DE LA NOBLESSE DE RUSSIE - St. Petersburg, 1900.
BENSONS, E. F. - King Edward VII, Longmans, Green & Co. - New York.
BOCK, M. P. VON - Reminiscences of my father PA. Stolypin -
New York. 1953.
BORODKIN, M. M. - History of Finland. Time of Emperor Alexander II
- St. Petersburg.
CARPELAN, TOR BARON - Attartavlor - Helsingfors, Finland, 1900.
COWLES f VIRGINIA - Gay Monarch. The Life and Pleasures of
Edward VII - Harper & Bros., New York.
DEUTSCHES ADELSARCHIV, JANUAR, 1952 Marburg, Germany.
ESSEN, NIKOLAI-VON ROKASSOWSKIJ (Ginealogy) ACTA
WRANGELIANA (Family publication) - Veru Roela. Estalnd, 1939.
FINLANDS RIDDERSKAPS OCH ADELS KALENDER 1941 - Helsingfors,
GENEALOGISCHES HANDBUCH DES ADELS 1961 - Furstliche Hftuser
Band VI - C.A. Starke Verlag, Germany.
GENEALOGICHESCHES HANDBUCH DES ADELS 1962 - Freiherrliche
Hauser A. Band IV - C.A. Starke Verlag, Germany.
GILLIARD, PIERRE - Thirteen Years at the Russian Court - New York
GOLOVINE, NICHOLAS, LT. GEN - The Russian Army in the World
War. Yale and Oxford, University Presses, 1931.
GOTHAISCHES GENEALOGISCHES TASCHENBUCH DER ADELIGEN
HAUSER - Deutscher Uradel 1924 - Gotha, Germany.
HAENSEL, PAUL PROF. - The Truth about Czarist Russia. Publication
Rossia - New York.
ILIODOR (Trufanov, Serge) - The Mad Monk of Russia New York. 1918.
KAREEV, PROF. - Russian History, University Lectures - St. Petersburg,
KELEN, BETTY - The Mistresses - Randon House. New York.
KLYUCHEVSKY, VASILI, PROF. - Russian History. University Lec
tures - St. Petersburg. Russia.
LAMB. HAROLD - The City and tht Tsar. - Doubleday & Co., Inc.
LAMB, HAROLD - Genghis Khan, Emperor of All Men.
THE LETTERS OF THE CZAR TO THE CZARITZA 19i4-1917.
- London, 1929.
LOCKHART, BRUCE - British Agent New York & London - Putnam, 1933.
LOUIS-FERDINAND, PRINCE OF PRUSSIA - The Rtbel Prince
LETTERS OF THE CZARITZA TO THE CZAR 1914-1916 - London, 1923.
Henry Regnery - Chicago, 1952.
MARIE, GRAND DUCHESS OF RUSSIA - Education of a Princess -
New York, 1931.
MASSIE, ROBERT K. - Nicholas and Alexandra
MEREZHKOVSKY, DMITRI - December 14th. - New York, 1923.
NICHOLAS II - Journal Intime - Paris, 1925.
OBOLENSKY, SERGE - One Man in His Time, Me Dowell, Obolensky,
PALEOLOGUE, MAURICE - An Ambassador's Memoirs, translated by
F. A. Holt - New York, 1925.
PALEOLOGUE, MAURICE - La Russie sous les Tsars
PARES, BERNARD - A History of Russia. Alfred A. Knopf - New Yoi k
PLATONOV, S. F., PROF. - Russian History - University Lectures. -
PALIAKOFF, V. - The Tragic Bride, the story of the Empress Alexandra
of Russia - D. Appleton & Co. - New York.^
ROMANOVSKY - KRASSINSKY, PRINCESSE - Souvenirs de la
Kschessinska Librairie Plon - Paris.
RUSSIAN BIOGRAPHICAL DICTIONARY - Rokassowsky, Baron Platon
I - St. Petersburg, 1912.
RUSSIAN BIOGRAPHICAL DICTIONARY - Juriewicz, Stanislaw -
St. Petersburg, 1912.
TARSAIDZE, ALEXANDRE - Czar and Presidents. McDowell, Obolensky
TISDALL, E. E. P. - Marie Fedorovna, Empress of Russia. The John
Day Co. - New York.
TUCHMAN, BARBARA (Wertheim) - The Proud Tower. A Portrait
of the world before the War, 1890-1914. - Macmillan, 1923.
VYRUBOVA, ANNA - Memoires of the Russian Court - Macmillan, 1923.
WATSON, HUGH SETON - The Russian Empire 1801-1917 - Oxford,
WITTE, SERGE, COUNT - Memoirs - Moscow, 1960.
WEST, REBECCA - Black Lamb and Grey Falcon. A Journey through
Yugoslavia - The Viking Press - New York.
WRANGEL, BARON NICHOLAS - The Memoirs 1847-1920 - J. B. Lip-
YOUSSOUPOFF, PRINCE FELIX - Lost Splendor - G. P. Putnam's
Sons - New York.
Abdul Hamid, Sultan of Turkey:
94 - 172.
Act of Liberation of peasants in
1861: 66 - 70 - 71 - 73 - 74.
Aehrenthal, Baron (Count): 206
Aksakov, Ivan writer and Slavo
phil: 72 - 96.
Albert, Prince-Consort: 59 - 195
Albertini, Luigi, Italian historian:
Alexander I, Czar (1801-1825): 15
16 - 89 - 110 - 167 - 168.
Alexander II, Czar (1855-1881): 6
45 - 51 59 - 60 - 71 - 88
90 - 91 - 93 - 97 - 101 - 103
105 - 109 - 131 - 141 - 142
149 - 172 - 188 - 205 - 211.
j Alexander III, Czar (1881-1894):
105 - 106 - 109 - 117 - 138
140 - 142 - 143 - 167 - 172
173 - 188 - 204 - 211.
Alexander, Crown Prince of Serbia
also see: Karageorgevich,
Alexander: 214 215 - 216.
Alexander Michailovitch, Grand Du
Alexander, Prince of Wurttemberg:
Alexandra Fedorovna, Empress
(Princess Alix of Hesse): 154
179 - 188 - 196 - 200 - 208.
Alexeyev, Admiral, Viceroy of the
Far East: 176 - 180.
Alexis, Grand Duke: 56 - 59.
Alexis Nicholayevitch, Cesarevich:
188 - 189 - 195 - 196.
Alfonso XIII, King of Spain: 196.
Alfred, Duke of Edinburgh
Alfthan, Baroness: 145.
Alice, Princess of Great Britain:
Alix, Princess of Hesse and Rhine,
Russian Empress: 167 189.
Anastasia, Princess of Montenegro:
109 - 179 - 198 - 207 - 209
Andrew Vladimirovitch, Grand
Anna loannovna, Empress (1730-
Annexation of Bosnia and Herze
Antoufiev, Nikita Demidovitch
forefather of Demidoff fa
Argyll, Duke of: 196.
Artamonov, Victor, Colonel, later
General: 215 - 216.
Battenberg, Prince Heinrich
Batu, Khan: 89 - 90.
Beatrice, Princess of Great Britain:
Beethoven, composer: 167.
Berchtold, Count: 214.
Berg, Count, Governor-General of
Bezobrazov, Statei^ecreta|ry: 175
i Bismarck, Prince, Grand Chancel-
1 lor of Germany: 80 - 95 - 96
Bobrikov, General, Governor-Gene
ral of Finland: 172 - 173.
Boer War: 203.
Bogolepov, Russian Minister: 174.
Bogomolec, Alexandra: 119 - 224
Balzac, Honore de, French writer:
Barszczewska, Wienczslawa: 46.
Barthou, French Minister: 142
Battle of Budapest, 1241
Battenberg, Prince Alexander Prin
ce of Bulgaria: 96 - 99 - 142.
Battenberg, Prince George: 117.
Arthur, Duke of Connaught: 195. | Bogrov, Mordka, assassin of Sto-
Bagration, Prince: 165.
Bakunin, Michael, anarchist: 104,
Bokhara, Emir of, Said-Mir-Alim-
Khan: 192 - 193.
Bonaparte, Jerome, Prince de
Botkin, the Czar's physician: 240.
Bourenin, Madame: 209.
Borer Uprising: 167 - 170.
Brown, John: 208.
Brunner, Otto, superintendent:
115 - 135 - 136.
Brunner, Peter, superintendent:
118 - 219 - 224.
Buffalo, Bill: 59.
Cagliostro, Balsamo: 180.
Canovas, Spanish Prime Minister:
Caprivi, Count, Grand Chancellor
of Germany: 143.
Carnot, President of France: 103.
Caserio, Santo, anarchist: 104.
Catherine I, Empress of Russia
Catherine II the Great, Empress
(1762-1796): 22 - 35 - 89 116
156 - 164.
Charykoff, Russian Assistant-Se
cretary for Foreign Affairs:
Charles X, King of France: 23.
Charlotte, Empress of Mexico: 79.
Charlotte, Princess of Prussia, Rus
sian Empress: 154.
Cherkassky, Prince, Slavophil: 72.
Chopin, Frederic: 43 - 167.
Chotek, Countess Sophie, Duchess
of Hohenberg: 215.
Chuprov, A., economist, professor:
Clemens, Russian General
Clement XIV, Pope of Rome: 36 ; Disraeli: 92.
Communist Manifesto of 1848: 71.
Congress of Berlin: 205.
j Congress of Vienna: 30.
i Constantin Nicholayevitch, Grand
| Duke: 16 - 165.
i Constantin Palaelogus, Byzantine
| Emperor: 89.
Constantin Pavlovitch, Grand Du
i Crimean War of 1854-1855: 33.
| Dadiani, Princess: 193.
Dadiani, Prince Oucha: 189 - 190.
Dagmar, Princess of Denmark, Rus
sian Empress: 106.
Davenhill, Miss: 145 - 152 - 153.
Demidoff, Anatol, Prince San Do-
Demidoff, Nicholas: 45 - 46.
Demidoff, Paul, Prince San Dona-
to: 45 - 46.
Derby, Lord: 93.
Derevenko, sailor: 189.
Deszpost-Zienowicz, Anna: 63 82
Deszpot-Zienowicz, Jan: 63 - 242.
Dimitrijevich-Apis, Dragutin, Chief
of Serbian Intelligence: 213
214 - 215 - 216.
Dmitri Pavlovitch, Grand Duke:
Dolgoruki, Prince Youri: 98.
Dolgoruki, Prince Michael: 97.
Dolgorukij Princess Catherine,
Princess Yourievsky: 97 - 98.
Doroshin, engineer: 78.
Draga, Queen of Serbia: 212.
Dubassov, General: 183.
Dulbet, General: 117.
Dumbadze, Ivan Antonovitch Ge
neral: 183 - 185 193.
Edward VII, King: 195.
Elisabeth, Empress of Austria: 79
Elisabeth Petrovna, Empress of
Russia (1741-1761): 105 - 116.
Elisabeth Fedorovna, Grand Du
Elisabeth, Princess of Hesse: 189.
Entente Cordiale: 109 205.
Eristcff, Prince: 193.
Ernst-Ludwig, Grand Duke of
Estherka (Esther) sweetheart of
King Kasimir the Great of
Eugenie, Empress of France: 80.
Farragut, American Admiral: 57.
Faure, Sebastien, anarchist: 104.
Ferdinand I, Emperor of Austria:
Ferdinand III, Grand Duke of
Ferdinand, Prince of Saxe-Coburg-
Fox, Gustavus: 61.
Francis II, Emperor of the Holy
Franco-Prussian War of 1870-1871:
95 . 140 . 143 - 204.
Franz-Ferdinand, Archduke: 199
Franz-Josef, Archduke, Emperor of
Austria-Hungary: 32 - 79 - 80
92 - 141 - 205.
Franz-Karl, Archduke: 32.
Frederic the Great, King of Prus
Freedericks, Count, Minister of the
Imperial Court: 190 - 239.
Galitzine, Prince Gregory: 172.
Gapon, Priest: 177 - 178.
Garfield, James, President of the
United States: 103,
Genghis Khan: 88 - 89 - 90.
Genghis, Prince: 192 - 194.
Genghis, Princess: 192 - 193.
George V, King: 188.
George, Duke of Leuchtenberg: 110.
George Michailovitch, Grand Duke:
George, Prince zu Waldeck: 145.
Giers, Nicholas, Russian Minister
for Foreign Affairs: 142 - 143.
Goldman, Emma, anarchist: 104.
Goncharoff, Natalie: 117.
Gorchakoff, Prince: 95 96 - 142
Grant, Ulysses S., President of
the United States: 59,
Grave, Helen de: 225.
Greek Uprising of 1821: 31
Gregory Ogon, Prince: 241.
Grinevetsky, anarchist: 105.
Gruber, Gabriel, General of the
Grudzinska, Joanna, Princess
Gvozdevitch, Police Commissioner
of Yalta: 193.
Hacken, Anna (Russia): 223.
Hacken, Mary: 224.
Hacken, Natalie: 224.
Hacken, Nicky: 224.
Hacken, Nina: 224.
Hacken, Vasili: 137 - 138 - 233.
The Hague Peace Conference
Halturin, workman: 100.
Hannibal, Abraham Petrovitch: 115
Hannibal, Nadejda: 116.
Hannibal, Joseph (Osip): 116.
Hannibal, Sophie: 116.
Harting, N. H., Russian Minister
in Belgrade: 215.
Haussmann, Prefect of the Seine:
Hegel, philosopher: 136.
Helena Pavlovna, Grand Duchess:
Helena, Queen of Italy: 110.
Helene, Princess of Great Britain:
Henry, Emilie, anarchist: 104.
Henri III de Valois, King of
Hohenberg, Duchess Sophie von,
Countess Chotek: 215.
Hohenlohe, Prince and Princess:
Holy Alliance: 30 32 - 34.
Holy Roman Empire
Hoover, Herbert, President of the
Humbert, King of Italy: 104,
Hungarian Uprising of 1848
Ibrahim Hannibal: 115.
Ignatiev, Countess: 197 198.
Igor, Prince: 221.
Iliodor (Iliodor) Russian priest-
Imeretinsky, Prince: 173.
Isvolsky, Alexander: 206.
Ito, Marquis: 174 - 175.
Ivan III, Grand Duke of Moscow:
Ivan IV the Terrible, Czar: 35 - 89
Jadwiga, Queen of Poland: 21.
Jagello, Grand Duke of Lithuania:
Jesuit Order: 36 - 37.
Johnson, Andrew, President of the
United States: 60.
Juarez: 79 - 80.
Jurievsky, Princess Catherine: 98.
Juriewicz, Adelaida (Adela): 64
65 - 87.
Juriewicz, Anna: 11 - 21 - 39.
Juriewicz, Conrad: 43.
Juriewicz, Emilia-Paulina: 76 - 82
86 - 87.
Juriewicz, Franciszek: 43.
Juriewicz, Fryderyk: 133 - 219.
| Juriewicz, Jacob, Kniaz: 23.
Juriewicz, Jan: 43 - 64 65.
Juriewicz, Joseph: 39 - 63.
Juriewicz, Michael: 42.
Juriewicz, Mieczyslaw: 29-43-133
Juriewicz, Paul: 62 - 219.
Juriewicz, Stanislaw: 23 - 26 - 28
47 - 53 - 54 - 55 - 62 - 65
69 - 75 - 76 - 80 - 133 - 219.
Kamayev, Elisabeth: 148.
Kankrin, Count: 50.
Kara George, a Serbian pig farmer:
209 - 210.
Karageorgevich, Alexander: 142.
Karageorgevich, Peter, King of
Serbia: 142 - 207 - 212 - 213.
Karagosov, Dmitri, anarchist: 60.
Kasimir the Great, King of Poland:
Kellen, Betty, writer: 213.
Keshko, Natalie, Queen of Serbia:
Khrucki, Polish painter: 243.
Khrustalev - Nosar, revolutionary:
Kibalchich, anarchist: 105.
Kishinev Pogrom: 173,
Kisselev, Count: 50.
Kokovtzev, Count, Russian Secret
ary of Finance
Komura, Japanese plenipotentiary:
Korsak, landowner: 247.
Korsak, Madame: 247.
Krabbe, Russian Admiral: 57.
Krassinskaya, Princess, born Mat-
hilde Krzesinska: 54.
Kropotkin, Prince Peter, anarchist:
Krueger, Johannes: 167.
Krzesinska, Mathilde, ballerina: 54.
Krzesinski, Felix, dancer of the
Kurcpatkin, General: 180 - 181.
Kuzminsky, Alexandra: 148.
Kuzminsky, Vasili, General: 148.
Lamsdorff, Count: 205.
League of The Three Emperors :
141 - 143 - 211.
Lenin, Vladimir: 231.
Leo, Pope of Rome: 15.
Leopold, Duke of Albany: 195.
Lermontoff, Michael: 166.
Leskoff, Nicholas, Russian writer:
Lessovsky, Russian Admiral: 56
Li-Hung Chang, Chinese statesman:
Lincoln, Abraham, President of the
United States: 55.
Lincoln, Mrs.: 55.
Loris-Melikoff, Count: 99 - 105.
Lome, Marquess of: 196.
Louis XVI, King of France: 79
Luise, Princess of Great Britain:
Louis-Philippe, King of France: 27
Lowicz, Princess, Joanna Grudzins-
! Luxemburg, Grand Duke of, Prince
i Nicholas of Nassau
Makaroff, Russian Admiral: 180.
j Malatesta, Enrico, anarchist: 104.
| Manifesto of the 17th of October:
31 - 52 - 182.
Maria Alexandrovna, Russian Em
press, bora Princess of Hes
se: 97 98.
Maria Alexandrovna, Grand Duc
hess, Duchess of Edinburgh:
: Maria Fedorovna, Cesarevna and
Russian Empress: 106 - 143
157 - 204 - 208.
Maria Pavlovna, Grand Duchess:
Maria Theresa, Empress of the
Holy Empire: 22.
Marie Antoinette, Queen of France:
79 - 180.
Marie, Princess of Hesse: 188.
Marx, Karl: 31 - 136 - 232.
Mashin, Draga, Queen of Serbia
Mashin Svetozar: 212.
Massie, Robert K., American wri
Maximilian, Emperor of Mexico:
Macklenburg-Strelitz, Dukes: 110.
Menshikoff, Prince Alexander Da-
nilovitch: 116 - 149.
Menshikoff, Prince Alexander Ser-
Merenberg, Natalie, Countess: 117.
Merenberg, Sophie, Countess: 117.
Michael Nicholayevitch, Grand
Duke, Viceroy of the Cau
Michael Michailovitch (Mish-Mish)
Grand Duke: 117.
Mikhailov, anarchist: 105.
Milford-Haven, David, Marquis: 117
Militza, Princess of Montenegro:
110 - 179 - 198.
Miloradovitch, Count: 17.
Milutin, Count Dmitri: 105.
Milutin, Nicholas: 72
Mingrelia, Prince of: 145.
Mohl, Emmanuel: 247.
Mohl, Stanislaw: 118.
Moltke, Count: 80.
Montfort, Prince de (Jerome Bo
Montfort, Princess Mathilde de: 45.
Montesquieu, Baron de, French
Maszynska, Joanna: 23 - 24
Moszynska, Maria, Countess Szem-
Moszynsky, Pietr: 24.
Murat, Prince: 165.
Muravjev-Amoursky, Count: 179.
Muraviev, Count M.: 202.
McKinley, William, President of
the United States: 103.
Napoleon I, Emperor: 45 - 79.
Napoleon III (Louis - Napoleon)
Emperor: 79 - 80 81 - 210.
Nassekin, Constance: 11-48.
Nicholas I, Czar (1825-1855): 13
16 > 28 34 - 44 - 48 - 49
50 - 51 71 - 72 - 97 - 102
Nicholas II, Czar (1894-1917): 72
101 167 168 - 169 - 171
173 - 175 - 178 - 179 188
190 - 203 - 206 - 213 - 216.
Nicholas, Cesarevich (son of Alex
ander II): 175 - 180.
Nicholas Nicholayevitch, Grand
Duke: 94 - 179 - 180 - 204
207 - 209 - 215 - 216.
Nicholas, Prince of Montenegro:
Nicholas, Prince of Nassau, Grand
Duke of Luxemburg: 117.
Nietzsche, German philosopher: 136
Novikov, landlord in Yalta: 184
Novitzki, Governor of Crimea: 185.
Obolensky, Princess: 155 - 157.
Obren Milosh, Prince of Serbia:
210 - 212.
Obrenovich, Alexander, King of
Serbia: 212 - 213.
Obrenovich Milan, Prince of Ser
Obrenovich Michael, Prince of Ser
Odintzov, Mrs. 85.
Odintzov, Russian priest: 84 - 127
130 - 236 - 245.
Oginski, Prince Michael-Kasimir:
Oginski, Prince MichaednKleofas,
Oginski, Princess Polonia: 43 63
Oleg, Prince: 221.
Order of Malta
Orloff-Davidoff, Count: 165.
Osman-Pasha, Turkish General: 93.
Pahlen, Count: 61.
Papernov, hotel proprietor: 223.
Pasich, Serbian Prime Minister:
Patti, Adelina, Italian coloratura-
Paul I f Czar (1796-1801): 36 - 188.
Paul Alexandrovitch, Grand Duke
Peace Treaty of Portsmouth
Peasant Uprising in Poltava
Perovsky, Alexander, Count: 145
Perovsky, Sophia, nihilist: 105.
Pervukhin, newspaper reporter: 184
Peter the Great, Czar, (1698-1725):
45 - 72 - 116 - 161.
Peter III, Czar (1761-1762): 116.
Peter Nicholayevitch, Grand Duke:
110 - 165 - 179 - 207.
Philippe, Comte de Paris: 31,
Philippoff, Mr: 48 - 54.
Piasts, aid Polish dynastry
Pilsudski, Joseph, Marshal and dic
tator of Poland: 173.
Pius VII, Pope of Rome: 15 - 36.
Plater, Count: 247.
Plehve, Vyacheslav: 172 - 174 - 176
Pobedonostseff, Constantin: 106
171 - 172 - 180.
Polish Uprising of 1830-1831: 141.
Polish Uprising of 1863: 118.
Poniatowski, Stanislaw, King of
Poland: 22 - 23.
Popov, Russian Admiral: 56.
Princip, Gabrilo, assassin: 214.
Pushkin, Alexander, Russian poet:
Pushkin, Alexander, son: 115
Pushkin, Gregory: 115-117-119
Pushkin, Maria: 117.
Pushkin, Natalie, Countess von
Pushkin, Serge: 117.
Radziwill, Prince: 21 - 22.
Rasputin, Gregory: 196 - 200 - 201.
Ravachol, anarchist: 104.
Re-Insurance Treaty: 143.
Remak, Professor: 214.
Revolt of Decembrists: 15 - 16 - 49
Revolution of 1905
Revolution of 1917
Richelieu, Duke de
Rokassowsky, Alexander: 155.
Rokassowsky, Alexandra, born
Rokassowsky, Alexandra, grand
Rokassowsky, Alexis: 225.
Rokassowsky, Alexis, Jr.: 148 - 155.
Rokassowsky, Elisabeth: 147 - 154.
Rokassowsky, Ivan (Johann): 156.
Rokassowsky, Olga: 147 - 159,
Romadonovsky, Prince-Caesar: 161.
Rokassowsky, Platon, Governor-
General of Finland: 148 - 149.
Rokassowsky, Platon, son: 148 - 155.
Rokassowsky, Platon, grandson:
Rokassowsky, Vera: 110-111-144
152 - 154 - 162 - 226.
Rokassowsky, Vladimir: 147 - 155
Romadonovsky, Prince-Caesar: 161.
cess Maria: 161 - 162.
Rotkirch, Adam: 116.
Rotkirch, Vera 116.
Rousseau, Jean-Jacques, French
philosopher: 242 - 244.
Rozdestvensky, Russian Admiral:
Rubinstein, Anton, composer: 144.
Rurik (Rorek) Prince: 63 - 97 221.
Russo-Japanese War of 1904-1905:
180 - 189 - 204.
Russo-Turkish War of 1828-1829
Russo-Turkish War of 1877-1878:
97 - 141 - 159 - 180 - 211.
Rysakov, nihilist: 105.
Saburoff, Sophia: 158.
Said-Mir-Alim-Khan, Emir of Bok
St. Michael, Russian Prince: 241.
St. Vladimir, Russian Prince
Samarin, Slavophil: 72.
Sand, George, French writer: 158.
Schleswig-Holstein, Prince of: 143,
Schopenhauer, German philosopher:
Sepoy's Rebellion of 1857: 58.
Seraphim Sarovsky, Russian saint:
Serge Alexandrovitch, Grand Duke:
178 - 189.
Seward, William, U.S. Secretary of
Shremeteff, General: 171.
Shishko, Nicholas: 146.
Sienkiewicz, Henryk, Polish writer:
Simanovitch, Secretary of Raspu
Sipyagin, Dmitri, Russian Minister:
Skjoberg, Chris tine-Regine: 116.
i Skozelev, General: 180.
1 Skorulski, Pani: 64.
Skorulsky, Leonid: 224 - 247.
I Slavophils: 171 - 204 - 206 - 232.
I Sobieski, Jan ; King of Poland: 22.
Soloviev, Slavophil: 72.
Sophie, Archruchess of Austria
born Princess of Bavaria: 32
Sophia Paleaologus, Princess of By
| Stalin, Joseph: 8 - 199 - 235.
i Stephan Batory, King of Poland:
: Stoekl, Baron, Russian Ambassa-
: dor to the United States: 77.
; Stolypin, Peter, Russian Prime
Minister: 206 - 229 - 230 - 234
239 - 240 - 241.
Sforza, Count: 214,
. Stowe, Harriet Beecher: 51.
Strauss, Johaim, Viennese com
Sygmunt-August I, King of Po
Szembek, Countess Maria: 29.
Szembek, Count Sygmunt: 28.
Szapowicz, Polish composer: 247.
Talavrinoff, Doctor: 161 - 162.
Tarkhan-Moouravoff, Princess: 193
Tarsaidze, Alexandre: 57 - 78 - 103.
Thackeray, William, English wri
Tiesenhausen, Baron von: 145.
Togo, Japanese Admiral: 180 - 181.
Tolstoy, Peter, Russian Ambassador
to Turkey: 115.
Tolstoy, Count Leo, writer: 115
245 - 246.
Torby, Countess Nadejda: 117.
Torby, Countess Sophia: 117.
Traubenberg, Alexander: 116
Traubenberg, Dorothea: 116.
Treaty of Bjorke: 205.
Treaty of Paris of 1856: 51.
Treaty of Portsmouth of 1905
Treaty of Reichstadt of 1876: 205,
Treaty of San Stefano of 1878: 95.
Treaty of Shimonoseki: 168.
Treaty of Tilsit: 15.
Triple Alliance: 143.
Turgenev, Ivan, Russian writer: 52.
Union of the Rhine: 14,
United Nations: 31.
Vachot, Philippe, doctor Philip
pe de Lyon: 179 - 180.
Vaillant, Edouard, anarchist: 104.
Victoria, Princess of Great Britain,
Empress of Germany: 195.
Victoria, Queen of Great Britain:
59 - 92 - 94 - 208.
Vladimir Alexandrovitch, Grand Du
Voltaire, French philosopher: 242.
Vyroubov, Anna: 198.
Waldeck and Pyrmont, Prince zu:
Waxei, Leo: 117.
Wessoczinska, Pani: 82.
Wiazemsky, Prince Alexander: 156.
Wilhelmina, Countess of Hesse: 188
Wilhelm I the Great, Emperor of
Germany: 141 - 202 - 203.
Wilhelm II, Emperor of Germany:
143 - 195 - 204 - 241.
Wilte, Count Serge, Russian Pri
me Minister: 169 - 175 - 180
182 - 183 - 205 - 213.
World War I: 203.
Waroniecka, Princess Elisabeth:
Worontzoff-Dashkoff, Count, Vice
roy of the Caucasus: 172.
Wrangele, Hinricus de
Wrangell, Adela, born Juriewicz:
75 76 - 82.
Wrangell, Adela, daughter: 87 - 137.
Wrangell, Albert-CarlJohann: 75
Wrangell, Anna, born Juriewicz:
28 - 29 42 - 43 - 46 76.
Wrangell, Anna-Leonida (Nussia):
75 - 76 - 82 - 86 - 87 - 88.
Wrangell, Carl Philipp: 11 - 14.
Wrangell, Emilia Paulina, born
Juriewicz: 76 - 82 - 86.
Wrangell, Ferdinand, Governor-Ge
neral of Alaska: 78.
Wrangell, George: 117 118.
Wrangell, Peter, Commander-in-
Chief of the White Russian
Wrangell, Stanislaw Alexis: 11-54
Wrangell, Vera, born Rokassowsky:
Wrangell, Woldemar-Constantin: 87
Wurttemberg, Alexander, Prince
Youssoupoff, Prince Felix: 200
Zhelyabov, nihilist: 105.
Zhukowsky, Russian poet: 97.
Zorka, Princess of Montenegro:
Zubatov, X'ladimir, police agent: