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Full text of "Memoirs of life in old Russia, World War I, revolution, and in emigration : oral history transcript / 1976"

University of California Berkeley 



Regional Oral History Office University of California 

The Bancroft Library Berkeley, California 

California-Russian Emigre" Series 



Ivan Stenbock-Fermor 

MEMOIRS OF LIFE IN OLD RUSSIA, 
WORLD WAR I, REVOLUTION, AND IN EMIGRATION 



Completed in 

Palo Alto, California, 

1976 



Copyright (cj 1986 by the Regents of the University of California 



PREFACE 



The Russian-Americans, although numerically a small proportion of the 
population, have for long been a conspicuous and picturesque element in the 
cosmopolitan make-up of the San Francisco Bay Area. Some came here prior to 
the Russian Revolution, but the majority were refugees from the Revolution of 
1917 who came to California through Siberia and the Orient. Recognizing the 
historical value of preserving the reminiscences of these Russian refugees, in 
the spring of 1958 Dr. Richard A. Pierce, author of Russian Central Asia. 1867- 
1917, (U.C. Press, Spring 1960) then a research historian at the University 
working on the history of the Communist Party in Central Asia, made the following 
proposal to Professor Charles Jelavich, chairman of the Center for Slavic Studies; 

I would like to start on the Berkeley campus, under the 
auspices of the Center for Slavic Studies, an oral 
history project to collect and preserve the recollections 
of members of the Russian colony of the Bay Region. We 
have in this area the second largest community of Russian 
refugees in the U.S., some 30,000 in San Francisco alone. 
These represent an invaluable and up to now almost entirely 
neglected source of historical information concerning life 
in Russia before 1917, the February and October Revolutions, 
the Civil War of 1918-1921, the Allied intervention in 
Siberia, the Soviet period; of the exile communities of 
Harbin, Shanghai, Prague, Paris, San Francisco, etc.; and 
of the phases in the integration of this minority into 
American life. 

The proposed series of tape-recorded interviews, as a part of the Regional 
Oral History Office of the University of California Library, was begun in 
September 1958 under the direction of Professor Jelavich and with the assistance 
of Professor Nicholas V. Riasanovsky of the Department of History. To date, the 
interviews listed below have been completed in several series. Each interview 
lasted a number of sessions, which were transcribed and, if necessary, translated. 
Each was edited by the interviewer and the interviewee, and then typed and bound. 
An interview by Professor R. A. Pierce with the late Professor Gleb Struve, still 
being edited, will constitute a fifth series. 

Funding for the California Russian Emigre' Series has come from several 
sources. First supported by the General Library, it was in the second and third 
series supported by the Center for Slavic and Near Eastern Studies. The fourth 
series, begun in 1979, received funding from the L. J. Skaggs and Mary C. Skaggs 
Foundation. 

In addition to the completed oral histories, other Russian emigre" materials 
have been acquired as a result of the interviewing program. 



ii 



An interview begun with Professor Nicholas T. Mirov was expanded by 
Professor Mirov and published as The Road I Came, The Memoirs of a Russian- 
American Forester (The Limestone Press, Kingston, Ontario, 1978). 

Several manuscripts were donated to Professor Pierce by emigre's who had 
already written or dictated their memoirs. These include: 

Lialia Andreevna Sharov, Life in Siberia and Manchuria, 1898-1922. 296 pages. 
Completed in Los Angeles, California, ca. 1960. 

Professor Ivan Stenbock-Fermor, Memoirs of Life in Old Russia, World War 
I. Revolution, and in Emigration. 1112 pages. Completed in Palo Alto, 
California, 1976. 

Professor Alex Albov, Recollections of Pre-Revolutionary Russia, the Russian 
Revolution and Civil War, the Balkans in the 1930* s and Service in the Vlasov 
Army in World War II. 550 pages. Dictated on tape, transcribed by Professor 
Pierce. 

These manuscripts will be made a part of the Russian emigre' collection of The 
Bancroft Library. 

The Regional Oral History Office was established in 1954 to tape record 
autobiographical interviews with persons who have contributed to the development 
of the West. The Office is under the administrative supervision of Professor 
James D. Hart, the director of The Bancroft Library. 

Willa K. Baum, Head 
Regional Oral History Office 



15 April 1986 

Regional Oral History Office 
The Bancroft Library 
University of California 
Berkeley, California 94709 



MEMOIRS 
Of 

IVAN 
COUNT STENBOCK-FERMOR 



r 



DEED OF GIFT 



The Regents of the University of California 
c/o Mr. James D. Hart, Director 
The Bancroft Library 
University of California 
Berkeley, California 94720 

Ladies and Gentlemen: 

I am pleased to present to The Regents of the University 
of California, irrevocably and for the use and purposes of 
The Bancroft Library all of my right, title and interest to 
the following materials: 

The memoirs of Count Ivan Stenbock-Fermor. 



This gift does not preclude any use which I may want to make 
of the memoirs myself nor any use I may authorize other 
persons to make. 



Sincerely yours, 



Professor I. I. Stenbock-Fermor 

2315 Columbia 

Palo Alto, CA 94306 

DATED: 



P315 Colu .Ma ;jc. 
Palo VI to, C..1. 34306 



Joptembcr 12, 1932 



L'ra. Uilla Tinum 

Regional Oral Iliotory Office 

The Da ;crof t Li.-rary 

Uni err;ifc. : : o.? Caii:'orni;.; Her.zley 



Ucnr Lira* ]3e.iua, 

Over a year o.^o I have ^iven all "Au.^or't 1 Kights" to riy 
"Me:..oirfl" to ;jy {jranddaaciiter I'ra. Maximilian von Stockiiauaen 
(6? 3hu; \7.nn Svraane, GOOO ?ranJ:furt. v;eu\; Gorr.iany. uer huaband ia 
an International la\vyer. 

I h::.vo , ivcn c^piep to both of :y sons, to tiie Hoover Institution 
and to r, ool.Tcrd-uin. 

I v;ill be ;jlad if Prof. It. A. fierce v.ould doposit :iia cpy 
at tiic Bancroft 



oincerely yours, 



Ivan otentoilc-Per;. or. 



MY CREDO 

I can never feel simply as a ruin, a residue from a 
time lost forever. On the contrary, the ever-present voice 
of the eternal life resonds in me; it calls me daily, 
summons me to commit myself to the future (life hereafter) 
with all the strength given me, yet to always remain true 
to the experience of the past. 

To be awake, alive (and thus to affect others) , to 
inspire joy, to uproot in myself the ephemeral and un 
essential, to let the eternal life resound (peal forth) in 
me, and thus to realize in the minutest part which is myself, 
the evolution of the whole universe - this is the meaning 
of my life, which is bestowed upon me, as a miracle, every 
day anew . 

Ivan Stenbock-Fermor 
Palo Alto, California 
May 8, 1976 



The lower depths of a human soul are the 
same as those of an orangutan, but the heights 
of a human soul are heavenly and attain the 
eternal dignity. Mankind sways between the two 
extremes . 

Ivan Stenbock-Fermor 
Palo Alto, California 
Christmas 1976 



TABLE OF CONTENTS 



page 

MY CREDO i 

QUOTATION ii 

TABLE OF CONTENTS iii 

CHAPTER I, MOTIVATION FOR WRITING 1 

CHAPTER II, HISTORY OF ANCESTORS (1560-1860) 3 

ANCESTORS 4 

CHAPTER III, MY PARENTS AND EARLY CHILDHOOD 25 

EARLY FAMILY STORIES 47 

SOME TRAVEL MEMORIES 73 

MEMORIES ABOUT INTERESTING PEOPLE AND EVENTS 89 

CHAPTER IV, WORLD WAR I 122 

THE FIRST REVOLUTION ( "Kerenschina" ) 173 

THE SECOND REVOLUTION 225 

CHAPTER V, LEAVING RUSSIA 483 

CHAPTER VI, REFUGE IN YUGOSLAVIA 528 

CHAPTER VII, CZECHOSLOVAKIA - THE OCCUPIED 

KINGDOM OF HUNGARY 562 
SOME INTERESTING PEOPLE I MET IN CZECHO 
SLOVAKIA 640 
CHAPTER VIII, MOVE TO FRANCE (1931) 671 
CHAPTER IX, WORLD WAR II 749 
CHAPTER X, USA - A PERMANENT HOME 928 

IDLE THOUGHTS OF A "PAPER AMERICAN" 1114 

CONCLUSION 1116 



ill 



CHAPTER I 



MOTIVATION FOR WRITING 



TO THE MEMORY OF EIGHTY YEARS, 
ABOUT WHICH I WANT TO PUT ON PAPER 
WHAT I HAPPEN TO REMEMBER 

I am writing not for shortlived fame, and not for the 
sake of criticism, but rather for entertainment and amuse 
ment, for my dear friends, for the memory of past days, 
and in the hope that it will also be of interest to my 
descendants to know how their forebears lived. There has 
always been a chasm between generations, created by differing 
perspectives on life. This chasm was described in Russian 
literature in Turgenev's novel Fathers and Sons, and in many 
others; in American literature there is Life with Father, by 
Clarence Day; and in historical documents we find tragedies 
between father and son, as it happened with Ivan the 
Terrible and later with Peter the Great. 

During my life there happened the tragedies of the First 
World War, the Revolution, the Civil War, Bolshevism, 
Hitlerism, and the Second World War. One can compare these 
only to an earthquake of unimaginable, worldwide proportions, 
and this earthquake was generated by a great difference in 
mutual understanding, feeling, perspectives, and all aspects 
of everyday life. As a child, my favorite fairytale was 
Koniok-Gorbunok ("The Hunchback Horse"), in which the young 



hero, riding his horse "flew over forests, over oceans..." 
Now there are no more fairytales. I myself fly, and not 
infrequently. Speed - the maximum speed of a frantically 
bounding troyka in which the hero of a nineteenth century 
novel rushes to "Her" - was 20 kilometers an hour or less. 
And now people rush about at speeds faster than sound. This 
gulf in the realm of technology is by no means the least of 
all chasms separating one generation from another generation. 



CHAPTER II 

HISTORY OF ANCESTORS 
(1560 - 1860) 



- 4 - 



ANCESTORS 

I was born on February 26th, 1897. When this event 
occurred, a lady of St. Petersburg society called the new 
born infant "The miracle child". In this she was right, 
because ray parents had been married in 1881 and through all 
those years my poor mother had had many mishaps. Her 
children were either stillborn or died two or three days 
after birth; it could only have been my mother, with her 
strong will and desire to have a child, who could risk it 
over and over again. On the above-mentioned date a child 
was born, a healthy and strong boy, and that was I. At the 
time of writing I am 81 years old and before I start to 
write about my long life of over three-quarters of a century, 
I want to say something about my ancestors, because their 
lives had enormous influence upon mine. 
Count Magnus 

I had two ancestors who played great roles in world 
history. One of them was Count Magnus Stenbock of Sweden 
(1664-1717) , who rose to importance in the early 18th 
century. The Stenbock family, barons from 1561 and counts 
from 1651, played a leading role in Sweden for many 
centuries and belonged to the upper level of Swedish 
aristocracy. Many members of the family held very important 
positions in the Swedish administration, civil and military. 
(In Swedish archives of the year 1205 the name Stenbock is 



mentioned). In the 16th century Katharina Stenbock, aged 17, 
was the third wife of the aging King of Sweden, Gustaf, 
founder of the Vasa dynasty. They had no children. 

At the very beginning of the 18th century Sweden was 
ruled by King Charles XII. He was a great warrior and 
under his command the Swedish army earned the reputation 
of being invincible. The Swedes fought victorious battles 
against the king of Poland and Saxony and after many 
victories Charles XII turned his "invincible" army against 
Russia. At that time Russia was ruled by Tsar Peter, who 
has been called "the Great" because of his genius and his 
understanding that land-locked Russia needed an outlet to 
the sea. He tried to obtain an outlet to the Black Sea, but 
at that time the northern shores of the Black Sea were 
nominally under Turkish rule, and fortified. The Black Sea 
was a "closed" sea; Constantinople, ex-Byzantium, was the 
capital of Turkey, and the straits could be closed at the 
Turks' whim. As a result, Peter the Great directed his 
attention to the Baltic Sea, the eastern shores of which 
were then part of Sweden. The war between Sweden and 
Russia, the so-called Northern War, lasted for many years 
(1700-1721) , and its first great battle took place at Narva, 
in north Russia. At that time, the young, modernized 
armies of Peter the Great were no match for the Swedes , who 
decisively defeated the Russians and took all their artillery, 

Later, in the summer of 1708, Charles XII took his armies 



- 6 - 

from Poland into southern Russia for winter quarters. 
Southern Russia was a very rich country, populated by 
people who were ethnically Russian, the so-called Ukrainians 
of Greek-Orthodox faith. Their elected leader or "hetman", 
Mazepa, was anti-Russian, but the mass of the people did not 
follow him in this. The Ukrainians did not trust the 
Protestant Swedes, still less the Roman Catholic Poles; they 
chose to follow the Greek Orthodox Russians. Charles XII 
was misinformed about the possibility of an uprising of the 
south Russian population against Moscow, and while in south 
Russia the Swedish army was practically cut off from Sweden, 
its supply lines extended over thousands of miles, the roads 
were covered with dry sand, bottomless mud or impassable 
snowdrifts, and the supplies coming from Sweden were ambushed, 
destroyed, or taken over by the Russians. 

In 1709 there was a battle near the city of Poltava. The 
Swedish King Charles XII, who had been slightly wounded in 
the leg in a previous skirmish, commanded the Swedish troops 
from a stretcher, but his troops were outflanked and out 
numbered by the Russians and were practically destroyed. 
With a handful of faithfuls Charles XII fled across the 
steppes of south Russia and managed to get to Turkey, where 
he took refuge. He lived there for years, and his status 
was somewhere between that of a political prisoner and an 
honored guest. 

Before moving deep into south Russia, Charles XII had 
appointed a viceroy in Sweden, and this viceroy was a direct 



- 7 - 

ancestor of mine, Count Magnus Stenbock. After the defeat 
at Poltava, when Sweden was without a king and without an 
army, the neighboring Danes wanted to profit from this 
disaster. They attempted to invade Sweden, but Count Magnus 
Stenbock raised a militia and threw the Danes back into the 
sea at the city of Helsingborg. Then he made a mistake. He 
crossed the very narrow water space and took his army into 
Denmark. Of course that made his supply lines very vulnerable. 
The Danes were much stronger. Finally, Magnus locked himself 
up in a fortified city and was besieged by the Danes. He had 
no supplies whatsoever and of course he had to surrender. 
He was taken prisoner by the Danes and was held in the castle 
of Copenhagen, where he died in captivity. 

Many, many years passed and I was on business in Copen 
hagen, where there was a discussion of the problems of 
writing a Russian grammar book. There were editors who 
were interested in it and I got the VIP treatment, a great 
dinner at the best restaurant in Copenhagen. The president 
at this reception wanted to be very nice to me and he said: 
"Sir, please be seated at the head of the table. This is the 
very same chair in which, only a few months ago, comrade 
Khrushchov from Moscow sat." Well, that president of course 
was a fool. He didn't realize the difference of opinions, 
mine and Khrushchev's. But I immediately took out my pocket 
handkerchief and carefully wiped the chair, to the laughter 
of everybody, and only then I sat down in the chair. Then, 



this editor made a second mistake. He said, "Sir, 
Professor, admire the view from this window, admire the 
castle across there." I said, "Why should I admire that 
castle? You Danes locked up there my ancestor who died in 
your captivity, and you are telling me to admire that 
castle?" Shortly after that champagne was served, and we 
drank to the memory of my ancestor, and I made up again my 
friendship with the Danes. 

There now stands an equestrian monument in Helsingborg 
which bears the inscription: "Motherland - to Magnus Stenbock. 
An artful strategist, a gallant soldier, a generous man. 
Great in victory - Greater even in adversity." And at the 
base of this monument there are guns that Count Magnus 
Stenbock took from Peter the Great at the battle of Narva. 
I have a postcard of this monument, as well as a picture of 
myself sitting on the ex-Russian guns. 

The Stenbock family motto in Latin is "Semper in altis", 
which means "Always on the top" . There is also a second 
motto, similar in meaning, "Pascitur in altis", or "He grazes 
in the heights", to be symbolically understood as an interest 
in the highest attainments in craftsmanship, academic 
matters, music, etc. Magnus Stenbock composed an opera and 
it is still performed in Stockholm under the name of the 
"Stenbock-Opera" . A drinking jar he chiseled from an 
elephant tusk stands in the Rosenberg castle in Copenhagen. 

Today Magnus Stenbock is still remembered as a national 



- 9 - 

hero. I found this in 1951 while going through the formal 
ities of becoming a United States citizen. All aliens have 
to pass an examination of sorts to prove that they possess 
a basic knowledge of the political and administrative struc 
ture of the United States. There is a booklet containing 
all the possible questions and correct answers. In 1951 I 
studied this booklet, and at a clambake given by a friend of 
mine at Cranes Beach, Ipswich, Mass., I asked many of the 
guests, mostly lawyers from Boston, some of these questions, 
and none of them gave the correct answers. I told them that 
they were all prime for deportation. When the day of my 
examination came, I was lucky. I stood in front of a small 
window while the gentleman on the other side of the partition 
was looking through my papers. Then he put them aside, smiled 
at me, and said, "Sir, I am of Swedish descend myself, and I 
am happy and proud that a Stenbock will be a citizen of the 
United States of America". That is all there was to the 



" exam" . 



Some years later my wife and I were on vacation near 
Los Angeles, California. We spent the first night at a motel 
but as it was much too noisy we soon left. I spotted a huge, 
castle-like hotel on a hill and found out that the cost of a 
room was the same as at the motel we had so disliked. 
I registered. The receptionist was a strikingly lovely 
blonde. I gave her my registration form and she said, "Oh". 
She beamed her most bewitching smile at me and said, 



- 10 - 

"Sir, I am Swedish". This was in 1957. Magnus Stenbock died 
in 1717. But the memory of him as a national hero has sur 
vived for two and a half centuries and will survive into 
eternity. 

The Northern War finally ended with victory for the 
Russians, who had outnumbered the Swedes by far. The eastern 
shores of the Baltic Sea became part of the Russian Empire 
and the inhabitants of these Baltic provinces, now known as 
the small republics of Estonia and Latvia, became Russian 
subjects. Members of the Stenbock family owned vast estates 
townhouses, and chateaux there, and there they stayed. The 
two older brothers sent their younger brother away to 
relatives in Sweden and he became the ancestor of the Swedish 
branch of the Stenbock family. My grandchildren, distant 
relatives of theirs, visited them in Sweden and were received 
with great kindness. 

Empress Elizabeth 

Empress Elizabeth, the daughter of Peter the Great, 
demanded that the population in the newly acquired "Baltic 
provinces" should give their oath of allegiance to the Russ 
ian throne or else leave for Sweden, so the two brothers 
pledged allegiance to the Russian throne and stayed in the 
Baltic provinces. Little by little Swedish influence there 
declined and was supplanted by the influence of descendants 
of the Germanic crusaders. Centuries ago these crusaders 
had moved from Prussia eastward, conquered the land, 



- 11 - 

christianized the population, built fortresses and castles, 
and kept large estates. The local population were Ests 
and Letts, descendants of pre-historical tribes, who had 
lived there since times immemorial. German in this way 
became the language of the Stenbock family. 

William Fermor 

At the end of the 17th century, William Fermor, a 
Scottish officer, being in favor of the house of Stuart, 
had been forced to leave Great Britain for political reasons. 
He found employment as an artillery specialist and military 
engineer in Russia and his son, William, also became an 
artillerist and military engineer. During the Seven-Year 
War, which allied the forces of Russia and Austria against 
Prussia under Frederick the Great, William Fermor was for a 
time commander- in-chief of the allied armies. He defeated 
the Prussians and later in the same war the Russian army was 
able to send out a detachment and occupy Berlin. 

Commander-in-chief William Fermor was rewarded with a 
sword, which he received from the hands of Empress Elizabeth. 
On the sabre of the sword there was an inscription in 
diamonds, "Award for the conquest of Berlin". In about 1881 
this sword was in the possession of Count Sievers who lived 
in St. Peterburg and was a friend of our family. My father, 
then a pupil at the Imperial Lycee at St. Peterburg, often 
visited Count Sievers when he was on leave from school. After 
what happened in St. Petersburg during the Revolution and 



- 12 - 

after the destruction of the city during the Second World 
War, the sword vanished and nobody knows what happened to it 
later on. I can only say that my greates wish was to wear 
that sword in the years 1915-16 during the First World War. 

The name Stenbock-Fermor 

As a reward for his victories over Frederick the Great, 
Commander- in-Chief William Fermor was given the title of 
Count of the Roman Empire. Count William Fermor, who was a 
Protestant, had an only daughter, Sarah. I still have a 
portrait of her as a young girl. She married Count Pontus 
Stenbock, and therefore the name Fermor was added to the name 
Stenbock. 

Much later, when I became a citizen of the United States, 
of course I lost the title of Count, and my double name of 
Stenbock-Fermor has given me no end of trouble. Once, when 
I was in New York City, I asked for a telephone to be 
installed in the house that I had just bought. Well, the 
telephone was installed and a few days later people from 
the telephone company came to install another telephone. 
When I asked them what was wrong, I was told that last week 
they had installed a telephone for Mr. Stenbock and now 
they had come to install one for Mr. Fermor. I had to 
explain that it was a misunderstanding, and they left. Then 
it occurred to me (I was working at that time for Columbia 
University) that it would not be such a bad idea if I could 
get paid first as Mr. Stenbock and then again as Mr. Fermor. 



- 13 - 
But somehow that did not happen. 

Ivan Stenbock-Fermor 

My great-grandfather Ivan was born in the year 1765. By 
that time Germanic culture had taken over in the Baltic lands. 
Ivan's family spoke German. All Baltic families of the 
landed nobility and all city-dwellers of the merchant class 
were Germanized. The city of Dorpat boasted a world- 
famous university and all lectures there were given in 
German. But the cultured class of the Baltic provinces 
would get very angry if somebody were to call them Germans, 
and the Germans of Germany proper would never consider the 
"Baits" to be Germans. The lower classes spoke Lettish, but 
switched to German whenever they managed to rise above the 
social level of the local peasantry. They pretended to 
belong to the cultured ruling class. 

Around 1800 there was a Count Ivan Stenbock-Fermor, whose 
Swedish name was Jons. He married early; I cannot remember 
his wife's maiden name. She was his only wife and she bore 
him four sons and fifteen daughters. The youngest of these 
four sons and of all the children was my grandfather 
Wilhelm, Count Stenbock-Fermor. His brother Theodore, who 
was much older than he, inherited the family's vast lands 
and the city mansion in the port of Riga. Theodore's 
descendants still exist to this day. They fled to Germany 
in 1920 and are quite Germanized. I had the pleasure of 
meeting a second cousin of mine from this branch of the 



- 14 - 

family, Count Theodore Stenbock-Fermor , president of the 
University of Aachen, when he came to visit Stanford 
University. We had a cosy and touching family reunion at 
my house, drinking a bottle of champagne to the health of 
all the surviving members of the Stenbock-Fermor family. 

Ivan's second son was Jakob. He went to St. Petersburg 
and graduated from the Officers' Candidate School as 
lieutenant of the cavalry in the regiment of His Majesty's 
Horse Guards. He married the only daughter of Count Essen, 
and the name of Essen was added to his name by Imperial 
order. He had four sons but as a result of the events of 
1917 his line became extinct. 

The third son, Alexander, followed in Jakob's footsteps. 
When he was an officer of the Horse Guards he married a 
Russian girl, Nadezda Jakovlev. The Jakovlev family was a 
family of merchants and had a huge fortune consisting of 
gold mines, melting ovens, and steel plants in the Ural 
region, as well as over 200,000 acres of forest. Nadezda 
Jakovlev, now the wife of Alexander Stenbock-Fermor, was a 
most remarkable lady in many respects. She had an acute 
sense of business and multiplied her large fortune many 
times over by buying wasteland on the outskirts of what was 
in those days the city of St. Petersburg. The city mush 
roomed, and within a few decades that wasteland was covered 
with cottages and villas and had become a "gold mine" of 
sorts. 



- 15 - 

The main street of St. Petersburg was called "Nevsky 
Prospect" (Nevsky Boulevard) . The city is located on the 
shores of the River Neva, which is about one verst wide at 
the center of the city. Early in the 19th century Nadezda 
Stenbock-Fermor managed to buy some old houses on the 
Nevsky Prospect. They were torn down and replaced by a 
huge building. This building was known to the St. Peters 
burg population as the "Passage" . One could walk through the 
building to a street paralleling the Nevsky Prospect. In 
my days this building housed numerous shops, a movie theater, 
and a private drama theater under its roof. There were 
probably some apartments in it as well. Again and again 
Nadezda Stenbock-Fermor discovered a new "gold mine". 

When Nadezda Stenbock-Fermor liked a person, she would 
shower him with presents and money, but if she had a quarrel 
.with somebody, she would be very disagreeable. She had a 
large family and when she became a grandmother she would 
open a savings account for every new grandchild, depositing 
25,000 gold rubles in that account. She was still living 
in 1897. Since I was only a grandnephew of hers, when I was 
born she deposited only 10,000 gold rubles in a savings 
account in my name. 

My grandfather Wilhelm 

My grandfather Wilhelm also followed his two older brothers, 
Jakob and Alexander to St. Petersburg, the Officers' Candidate 
Cavalry School, and the Horse Guards Regiment. He lived in 



- 16 - 

his brother Alexander's mansion, and due to the 18 years 
difference in age between the two brothers, Wilhelm was more 
like a son to Alexander than a brother. He led a carefree 
life in his brother's family. All the doors of St. Peters 
burg society were wide open to a young officer of the Horse 
Guards and Grandfather was very popular among his fellow 
officers. He was considered the best rider in the regiment, 
as well as the best dancer at all of the many balls held 
during the brilliant St. Petersburg season. When big court 
receptions were given by the Tsar, Nicholas I and later 
Alexander II, at the Winter Palace, they were followed by 



dancing; it was Grandfather who called the dances. Of 
course, he was considered most eligible by many mothers of 
marriageable daughters, but he managed to remain a bachelor. 
At the age of 36, having acquired the rank of Captain in 
command of the 1st squadron of his regiment, Grandfather 
became engaged to Miss Barbara Safonov, aged 18. A Grand- 
duchess exclaimed, "At last!" Grandfather's nickname in 
Petersburg court society was "Wilhelm the Conqueror". My 
father, Ivan, was born in 1859. His sister was born a year 
later, and soon afterwards Grandmother was expecting her thirc 
child. 

Now that Grandfather had a home, his family, and his many 
house-servants, he started to see that life was no longer as 
carefree as it had been during his long years of living as 
a bachelor in his brother's home. Grandfather also refused 



- 17 - 

to consider staying in St. Petersburg if not having the 
means to live on the same scale as Alexander. 

On a historical day in February 1861, Tsar Alexander II 
signed the "Ukaz" (Decree) , the Act of Liberation of the 
Russian peasants from serfdom. The Ukaz completely changed 
the economic situation in the country. Grandfather decided 
to retire from service in the Guards, to leave St. Petersburg, 
and to devote himself to managing the many estates of the 
Safonov family that now belonged to his wife. Tsar Alex 
ander II summoned my grandfather to the Winter Palace and 
asked, "Stenbock, why do you not want to be one of my 
honorary ADC's?" My grandfather's answer was that he would 
be very happy and greatly honored by such a nomination, but 
that his family affairs compelled him to retire from service 
in the Guards and to live on his estate in south Russia. The 
Tsar said, "I understand; I am very sorry", and he embraced 
Grandfather as a gesture of farewell. They never met again. 

Moving the family was by no means an easy task. The 
household consisted of two small children and many servants 
and nurses. Father was only three years old and Grandmother 
was expecting her third child. Anyone looking at the map of 
Russia can see that travelling in a caravan of carriages for 
weeks and weeks through absolutely roadless country would be 
risky at the least, but a railroad connecting St. Petersburg 
with the city of Warsaw in Poland had quite recently been 
opened. There was also a railroad connecting Warsaw with 



- 18 - 

Vienna, Austria, so the whole family travelled to Vienna. 
From there they took a riverboat down the Danube to the 
Black Sea. Then they boarded a seagoing boat for a 
relatively short voyage to the city of Odessa and preceded 
from there by carriage to the estate of "Troitskoe- 
Saf onov" , a distance of "only" 25O versts (kilometers) 
through roadless steppe. 

The Safonov Family 

Now I must go back to the turn of the 18th century. 
History books relate all the facts and also many legends 
about the death of Tsar Paul I. This drama deeply affected 
a very young officer of the Guards, my Grandmother's father, 
Evtikhi Safonov. He retired from service and left 
St. Petersburg forever. He sold his mansion that stood 
facing the "Summer Garden" in the center of the city. Many 
years later when, as a child I was taken for walks in this 
"Summer Garden", I admired my great-grandfather's mansion 
from a distance, and my young mind worked on plans to make 
it mine. But that was not to be. . . 

Safonov left the city for his estate in central Russia, 
south of Moscow. He started writing his memoirs, and I found 
them at Grandmother's house when I was about fifteen. They 
were written in French. The first words struck me. They 
were: "Now that I am 23 and my life is finished..." I know 
that Great-grandfather Safonov was about 7O when he died. 
What did he mean by writing "my life is finished" at age 23? 



- 19 - 

To him and his contemporaries LIFE existed only in the 
capital city of St. Petersburg, at the Tsar's court, in the 
regiments of the Guards. What about the rest of Russia, 
one-sixth of Mother Earth, and all its inhabitants? Yes, 
they existed, but it was not LIFE, just existence. 

During the first quarter of the 19th century the Russian 
government was very eager to repopulate south Russia. The 
city and port of Odessa were founded in the last days of 
Empress Catharine the Great and the northern shore of the 
Black Sea was now firmly in Russian hands. Vast tracts of 
steppe were sold for a pittance to landowners and to members 
of the nobility who owned serfs, under the condition that 
they resettle the land by moving serfs to this empty new area 
in the south. Gogol, one of the most famous Russian writers 
of the 19th century, describes this process in his novel 
Dead Souls. 

Grandfather Safonov, an obstinate bachelor, acquired a 
sizeable tract of land some 36 kilometers in length and 
about 10 kilometers in width. He not only moved some of 
his serfs south from his estate in central Russia, but he 
went along with them, sharing all the hardships of the end 
lessly long and slow move in carts to the south to settle 
in empty steppe. No building materials were available; 
only clay was to be found under a layer of fertile soil. 
This clay was combined with short cut grass. Some fresh 
cow manure was also mixed in with it, and the resulting 



- 20 - 

mixture was formed into bricks and dried throughout the 
summer. In the days of my childhood most dwellings and 
barns were built in the same way. Safonov's "Manor House", 
Troitskoe-Safonovo, was built by his serfs in exactly the 
same way as they built their own cottages. A row of cottages 
was connected by a door from cottage to cottage, and the 
house was shaped like a long sausage. "Troitskoe" comes 
from the word "troitsa" , meaning "The Holy Trinity", and 
many villages had a church of this name. Up until 1917 our 
family estate was called "Troitskoe-Safonovo". 

So as not to be lonely among his illiterate serfs, 
Safonov invited a fellow officer to live with him. I cannot 
remember this officer's name, but I do know from what was 
told to me in my childhood that he was married to a Finnish 
girl and had two small children. He had nothing but his 
very meager pension with which to support a family, but he 
was an educated man and the only company Safonov had. This 
officer's wife probably supervised the house-servants. 

Safonov's "Manor House" was as low as any of the serfs' 
cottages. It was still standing when I was a child, and I 
could jump up and touch the ceiling. This "Manor House" and 
the way it looked led to a funny event in 1917. A revolu 
tionary agitator had arrived from the city to foment dis 
order among the personnel of our estate and to make them 
demand higher wages, less work, land partitioning; in short, 
he spouted the classical revolutionary propaganda. At the 



- 21 - 

time we were absent from the estate. Later the servants 
told us that this revolutionary agitator walked back and 
forth and around all the farm buildings and in the old park, 
and he seemed to be desperately searching for something. 
Finally, a servant asked him what he was looking for and 
the fellow replied, "But where does the Count live?" The 
old servant pointed at our house, and the representative 
of the revolution exclaimed in disgust and disbelief, "That 
is the Count's house?" and he spat on the ground! 

The only heating fuel available in this steppe country 
was manure, bricks of sheep manure. The sheep were herded 
into a low, long barn for the winter. The sheep did not eat 
part of the hay, and the dry grass used as litter mixed with 
the sheep manure to form a hard layer on the ground. In 
the spring the sheep left the barn to graze on the open 
steppe. By the summer this litter had become almost rock 
hard. It was then cut into bricks and dried in the empty 
barn, exposed to the wind and heat of the summer. In the 
fall this was the only fuel that burned slowly, emitting a 
light, acrid smell. During a snowstorm, on a pitch-black 
winter night, you could smell a village from a mile or more 
away. The fire in the stoves of the serfs' cottages or the 
Safonov "Manor House" had to be started by burning straw 
and then those bricks of sheep manure and it was still done 
in this same way during my childhood. In my days coal was 
available but it was very expensive and had to be brought by 



- 22 - 

rail and reloaded into 'carts. Wood was totally lacking. An 
old fallen tree and dry twigs from the park gave my mother 
the rare luxury of using the open fireplace in the living- 
room. 

When Safonov settled in the steppe, agriculture was 
carried out on a Biblical level. There were many thousands 
of sheep and wool was the estate's only marketable product. 
Wheat, rye, potatoes, and cabbage were cultivaed exclusively 
for local consumption. ' Cattle were used for milk or farm 
work and horses were used for transportation. This was the 
"wilderness" in which Safonov lived. When he was nearly 
6O years old he married a girl almost 40 years his junior. 
She was the orphan of his friend, the officer who had lived 
with him at Troitskoe. Both of this girl's parents had died. 
This orphan girl was my great-grandmother, the mother of our 
beloved Granny who married Wilhelm Stenbock-Fermor in 1858. 
Her eldest son was my father. 

When Safonov died, his two daughters were minors. His 
estates and the Odessa house, as well as the upbringing of 
the two small girls, was managed by an appointed guardianship, 
a group headed by a doctor of medicine, most respectable 
but a poor businessman. The young Safonov orphans lived in 
the Odessa city house. They had a large household of 
servants and were educated at home by governesses. Later, 
when the girls were older, they could go occasionally to 
society gatherings. All this required ready cash, and so 



- 2 3 - 

the guardians sold part of the land on the outskirts of the 
city that was Odessa in those days. They meant well and 
could not have foreseen that Odessa would rapidly grow to 
become one of the biggest and richest cities in Russia, and 
that the land on the "outskirts" of Odessa in 1850 would 
become the most fashionable part of the city in 1900. 

When Grandfather Wilhelm left St. Petersburg in 1863 
and came via Warsaw, Vienna, the River Danube, and the 
Black Sea to Odessa, the family found Safonov's city house 
in Odessa, and when he and Granny and their three children 
settled in Troitskoe it was the same "wilderness" as in the 
days of Safonov. The "Manor House" had not been lived in 
for many years. It lacked all comforts. Grandfather had not 
the faintest knowledge of how to manage an estate. All he 
knew, as a commander of the 1st squadron of His Majesty's 
Horse Guards, was that a pound of flour must yield more than 
a pound of bread. 

It is hard to imagine under what primitive conditions 
they lived, but no one was ever hungry. When Father was 
fourteen he had three sisters and three brothers, the youngest 
one year old. Safonov's Odessa city house was eventually 
sold but before it was, the family lived there in the winter. 
A curious and rather typical thing for those days once 
happened. The family was spending the winter months in Odessa. 
An old nurse who had been left behind in Troitskoe sent a 
letter addressed in the following manner: "To the Count 



- 24 - 

himself in his own house. City of Odest" , a misspelling 
of Odessa. But to Odessa the letter came, and the post 
master looked up the list of all the houseowners in Odessa. 
He found that only four houseowners had the noble title of 
"Count". This peculiar letter was stamped "Troitskoe- 
Saf onovo" , and all Odessa knew that that was my grand 
father 's estate. So he got the old nurse's letter. 

After the Odessa city mansion was sold in about 1873, 
Grandfather bought a small estate about 10O versts north of 
Troitskoe. This was Kamenka. He bought it mainly because 
of the big and beautiful house on the property, built in the 
Empire style: broad terraces descending to a river, white 
columns supporting a balcony, many large rooms, two wings, 
one to house the kitchen and the servants' quarters and the 
other with several rooms for guests. I believe that Grand 
father must have been very happy to move into such a great 
house for it must have reminded him somewhat of the life he 
had left behind in St. Petersburg some ten years before. But 
my father was very unhappy at leaving Troitskoe. He had 
started to hunt partridge, quail, hares, and most of all 
ducks and other water fowl on the shores of a pond about ten 
versts from Troitskoe. This pond was to play a very big 
role in Father's life and in mine. "Kodyma" was built on the 
shores of this pond in 1895/97. 



#-' a 

ARMY LANGUAGE SCHOC 

PRESIDIO OF MONTEREY, CALIFORN 

Translation froa I.u.ccian. 

MILITARY in STORY 
of Count Ivan Sv..^uGK-PII'w.'IOK, 2nd Lieutenant 



of the 1st Guard Cuirassier Cavalry 

April 50th, 1020. 
Established according to testimony of witnesses. 

Born February 26, 1397 

Hereditary Gentry of the District of Ilerson, 

Graduated from the 8-class Gymnasium of tha 

St. Petersburg Reformed Church * lilay 27, 1916 

Graduated from the accelerated course of Il.il. 
"Corps dos Pafjea" Military Academy 
with the rank of 1st uiaAs. * ... February 1, 1917 

TTpon graduation ccr.2rj.asi one d Junior Lieutenant 
to the Horse Guard Re^iaeat with seniority 
of October 1, 1916 

Detacned to the School of Air-Observation 

in Eupatoria * * October 1, 1917 

On sick leave i % or 3 month tmc; did uot 
return to the School because of the 
Bolshevik Revolution ........ December 20, 1917 

Attached to t^ie Special Assignment Com 
pany of the Unified Guard Regiment . November 50, 1918 

Detached to the Squadron of Counted 

Scouts of the soao Ketiimeat. ... Deceuber 28, 1918 

Promoted 2nd Lieutenant v/ith seniority 

of.. June 1, 1917 

Transferred to the Squadron i\ : o.2 of the 

Unified Cuirassier Re&iinent. .... March 24, 1319 

participated in 7AVI from .*..... February 1, 1917 

to December 20, 1318 

and against Bolsheviks to t.J.s day, 

Was not wounded or contucined, 

Has no decorations. 

Y.'as never submitted to disciplinary punishment nor court- 
mar stalls d. 

The above military iiietcry of 2nd Lieutenant Count Ivan 

STEJ30CK-FEKI.IOR is known to us personally and is correct 

in accordance witn resolutions :io,421 of October 19,1919 

and Par. 3 of the Regulation Ko,17G 1IQ, of Commander-in-Ciiief 

of the Volunteer Aruy ;, : ovcniDer 19, ISIS, 

Siened: Colonel KLUCEITAU Colonel Baron FELEISEII 

I certify by my signature the exactitude of the translation 
of the original Russian document presented to mp oy ilr.lvan 
Stenbock-Fcraor, Instructor. 



day of April, 195>i? 




Subscribed and sworn to before 

, . - -.-. -^ 'T^^Trv*' ' < 1- r >lT > *?C l 

Mi v_V, . ' I ^ '' ' l..Ji*4ftaW _ 

11 )' s ijj-s ^l.bi^ry i'uoxio in a.su-^co; 

- ^ Stoi-o nf California 



- 25 - 



CHAPTER III 



MY PARENTS AND EARLY CHILDHOOD 






- 26 - 

My parents - (return to Troitskoye) 

My fahter graduated from the Imperial Alexander Lyceum. 
During the following year he married my mother, Maria 
Illiodorovna Shidlovsky, the sister of Nicholas Shidlovsky, 
one of Fahter 's classmates at the Lycee'. The family 
delighted in teasing Father about this, claiming that the 
only reason he had chosen to marry was to prove how grown-up 
he was. The curriculum at the Lycee did not include any 
instruction in the actual problems of running an agricultural 
enterprise, so my father began, without the benefit of 
training or advice, the task that had fallen to him, managing 
Troitskoye. He had indeed inherited a great deal of respons 
ibility and because of this he and his nineteen year old 
bride did not take a wedding trip. Instead, they moved 
directly to Troitskoye, to the same estate where Father had 
spent his childhood. My father had long dreamed of returning 
to the place he loved so deeply. 

Upon arriving there, my parents were met at the train 
station by Jordan, the old caretaker. A peasant from the 
estate was driving an old carriage that had not been in use 
since the Crimean War. It was drawn by six mis-matched and 
very scrawny horses. In this ancient carriage my parents 
travelled through 20 kilometers of mud to reach the house 
at Troitskoye. Jordan was not at all happy to see any 
members of the family return there. For many years he had 
held sole authority and he did not want to lose that. As a 
result, he resolved to try to discourage my parents from 



- 27 - 

remaining there. 

When my mother saw that the house was lacking in all but 
the barest of necessities, she asked Jordan where all of the 
furnishings were stored. Certainly the previous occupants 
had had to have linens, dishes, utensils for cooking, eating, 
cleaning, etc. In response to her request for linens, Jordan 
asked how many acres of flax should be sown to make linen. 
Other requests were met in a similarly helpful manner, always 
accompanied with a shrug and some remark to the effect that 
the late Safonov had preferred simplicity. 

My father turned to the business of reorganizing the 
management of this and the other family estates. He had to 
find a way to generate a larger cash profit from the 
estates in order to provide for his wife, his mother, and 
several brothers and sisters who were rapidly approaching 
maturity. To this end, my father decided to reduce the 
scale of sheep farming. Up to this time that had been the 
main business of the estate. Once, while visiting sheep 
farms in England, a friend of Father's had heard an English 
man boast that his farm had four thousand sheep, and so 
this friend pointed out to the Englishman that on their 
estates in Russia they had that many dogs to look after many 
more sheep. Father believed that the cultivation of wheat 
on the rich, virgin land of the steppe would be a more 
profitable enterprise than sheep farming. Many of his con 
temporaries declared that the idea was insane. Some even 



- 28 - 

suggested that the management of the estate should be 
entrusted to someone not subject to these flights of fancy. 
Jordan, of course, tried to thwart my father's efforts at 
every turn so he was soon retired and young Dmitri, a peasant 
boy, became Dmitri Fedorovich, the new caretaker. Instead 
of standing at the door waiting for instructions, Dmitri 
Fedorovich took his place beside my father's desk and 
became his right-hand man. With time Father's sanity was 
vindicated and at the beginning of the 20th century this 
area of southern Russia became one of the principal sources 
of the world's wheat supply. 

Move to Kodyma 

Life at Troitskoye and Kamenka continued prosperously. 
My parents were happy in every respect but one - they had 
no children. After several miscarriages they had to 
accept the fact that they would probably never have a child. 
In the late 1880's my father's brother Vladimir married a 
Miss Somov. The newly married couple joined my parents at 
Troitskoye. The following year they had a son and my parents 
took steps to adjust to this new development. Father ceded 
to Uncle Vladimir all claims, as the first born son, to 
Troitskoye. Then, with my mother, they took over another part 
of land called Kodyma and began the construction of a house 
suitable for a childless couple. Mother brought to this 
project all of the energy and devotion which she would have 
lavished upon a child. Under her supervision houses were 



- 29 - 



built for the servants, furniture was made, and lovely 
formal gardens were laid out. What my mother lacked in 
expertise she made up for in energy. Armed only with this 
and a firm idea of what she wanted, she coaxed a beautiful 
house out of the workmen, whose difficult job it was to 
realize her wishes. My father often teased her, in partic 
ular about the gardens. According to him, the only place 
where he had seen comparable gardens was at Versailles. 
Mother's battles with the craftsmen who built the furniture 
were also the butt of many family jokes. 

Eventually they moved into one of the servants ' houses 
and lived there until the main house was completed. The 
servant's house was quite small; it had a kitchen, a bed 
room, and a sitting room. As was their custom, they spent 
nine months of every year in south Russia and during the 
cold winter months, when all work stopped on the estates, 
they went to St. Petersburg. 

One Sunday, late in the spring of 1896, my mother and 
father were returning home after a stroll at the site of 
the future gardens of Kodyma when on top of the roof of the 
new house they saw a cloud of storks. They simply exchanged 
glances and said nothing. Neither one of them dared to 
express the hope that they felt. One year later, however, 
I was born in St. Petersburg. 

The household staff at Kodyma 

Anna, her last name I do not remember. She was my 



- 30 - 

mother's personal maid before I was born. She was the 
pillar of the establishment at Kodyma in summer and in 
winter at St. Petersburg. Never married, she was some 
what older than my mother. On some of our trips abroad, 
mother took Anna with us. Anna lived at the same hotel as 
we did and could order any food she wanted. But Anna hated 
being abroad and criticized absolutely everything. But 
she was very wise and observant and mentioned, "Well, many 
people in Russia think life abroad is better. They, the 
silly Russians, should come over and have a close look at 
how hard the people in Europe have to work. One person in 
Europe does the work that three or more persons do in Russia." 

In 1914, general mobilization of the armed forces was 
declared in Russia and by decree of the Tsar, the sale of 
vodka was forbidden. The purpose of this was that all those 
men who were mobilized into the armed forces should not get 
drunk and create disturbance and havoc. Everybody con 
sidered this as a very wise measure and because of this 
measure, the general mobilization of the army reserve 
troups succeeded in a very orderly way. But Anna read 
about it in the papers, of course, and she said that is 
all right but now the plain people, she meant the masses of 
the Russian peasantry called to arms, have nothing to drink. 
But the gentlemen and the rich people can go on drinking 
expensive foreign wine. This situation was considered by 
Anna as being unfair. 



- 31 - 

After the revolution broke out in 1917, Anna could not 
get accustomed to addressing my mother in public in the 
other way than she was used to. The way of addressing a 
titled person was "Your Ladyship" . Anna went on address 
ing my mother that way and it was dangerous and might have 
eventually created trouble. But fortunately, it did not 
create any trouble, and Anna stuck to her pre-revolutionary 
ways. 

Mother used to go abroad for reasons of her personal 
health and to take mineral baths in Austria or France. 
Finally, Anna succeeded to persuade my mother (and per 
suading mother was a great feat) to have crates of these 
mineral salts shipped in summer to Kodyma and Anna prepared 
the baths at home in Kodyma only to have mother not go 
abroad. And Anna repeatedly said "I hate that Abroad". 

Anna, also cooked in season all the jam and 200 pounds 
of Anna's jam was sent to St. Petersburg for the winter 
season. 

At St. Petersburg in winter, we had a butler but he 
never came to Kodyma in the summer. He remained in the city 
to guard the apartment. The butler's young assistant came 
to Kodyma. I remember him as a rather silly and clumsy 
young fellow. I remember, once this young fellow almost 
dropped the dish of the roast because of a joke that 
father told at the dinner table. Anna had the same dinner 
as we but in the pantry. At our dinner table, there were 



- 32 - 

my parents, my tutor and I and occasionally guests. Anna 
and the assistant butler were the only servants going back 
and forth in summer to Kodyma and winter to St. Petersburg. 

I was probably the age of ten when we were at Kodyma 
and there was a festive dinner on the occasion of my 
grandmother's visiting us and I noticed that the table was 
set in an unusual way. I saw different plates than we 
usually had. My father explained to me saying: "Vanya, 
those plates are older than your grandmother". I immediate 
ly replied: "Oh, then those plates must be at least onethous- 
and years old" . Grandmother was not very happy about my 
remark. 

At Kodyma, staff consisted of a cook, Anisim, a peasant 
from Troitskoye and the grandson of a serf of Safonov. 
Mother trained him as a cook but his talent was rather 
limited. Anisim 1 s wife presided over the laundry. That was 
quite a procedure and she was assisted by several girls. 
Anisim, the cook, had two girls to assist in cooking for us 
and all members of the household. The kitchen and the 
laundry were in a separate house just across the driveway 
and mother's strictest orders were that I never cross that 
driveway. When I was fifteen and older, mother caught a 
real obsession that some girl would become pregnant and the 
culprit would be me. Probably, for this reason, Anna had 
help from a girl by the name of Kilinka. Also a peasant 
girl from Troitskoye and I remember her because of her 



- 33 - 

unusual ugliness. Her age was probably twenty or less, she 
was tall, strong like a horse, had a blond pigtail the 
length of a rat's tail, she was flat as a board, her nose 
was almost horizontal to her face and her left eye looked 
to the right and her right to the left. No uglier girl could 
be found anywhere but she was also dumb as dumb can be. 
Under orders from Anna, she worked very well. This girl 
Kilinka was never taken to St. Petersburg in the winter. 

The first coachman, Vasili, used to lead my pony when 
I was riding as a child. This coachman was a very kind 

and gentle man. He never smoked and never used bad 
language. Only at my age of fifteen, I finally realized 
that good old Vasili was physically a weak man and pre 
ferred older, quieter horses and was very stingy giving 
them oats to avoid too much spirit and go in the horses. 
The second coachman, Theodor, was a great giant of a man 
and obsequious in his manners. I disliked him. He was 
rough on horses. Once we were driving at night to the 
railroad station, ten kilometers from the estate, and it 
was raining. The road was bottomless mud, the night pitch- 
black. On the carriage were two lanterns with candles. 
The light from the candles did not help much. Our carriage 
was pulled by four horses in a row. Suddenly, the carriage 
stopped and in spite of the dark, we saw that the telegraph 
pole stood between the two middle horses. So the coachman 
got down and he embraced the telegraph pole and started to 



- 34 - 

rock it back and forth. That was not too difficult because 
the ground was very soft due to the heavy rain. After 
having rocked that telgraph pole for awhile, the coachman 
pulled the telegraph pole out of the earth, dragged it for 
a short distance, and left it lying on the ground. He 
re-adjusted the harness of the horses and we drove on and 
arrived on time to catch the train. 

The gardener, Peter, after twenty years of service, 
became a Communist in 1917. In April, 1918, his ouster by 
me is decribed in another chapter. 

The above mentioned people were members of the inner 
staff. Besides them, there was a staff on the estate which 
consisted of the manager, bookkeeper, a mechanic, a black 
smith and several overseers. In summer, a group of season 
workers came from the district of Poltava. The region of 
Poltava was very densely populated, therefore young men and 
girls found work in our region. They had a contract from 
Easter until October 1. That group elected their own foremen. 
They were paid a lump sum in October and received from the 
estate food products and had their own kitchen in the 
barrack of the estate. The barrack was large enough for 
them to sleep in. Girls in one part, boys in the other 
part - usually they preferred to sleep in large straw or 
haystacks where they had more room and air. In the summer 
season, peasants from Troitskoye and other small villages 
were hired by the day. The peasants of Troitskoye 



- 35 - 

considered themselves our peasants because more than half 
a century ago, their fathers and grandfathers were serfs 
of my great-grandfather Safonov. It may sound strange, but 
the Troitskoye peasants were proud of their fathers' grand 
fathers and they still called themselves, and were called 
by other peasants, "The Count's peasants". The relationship 
of great-grandfather Safonov with his peasants was that of 
a great family father and this family relationship remained 
as tradition until my days and I owe my life to the help of 
some Troitskoye peasants who risked their lives for the 
sake of saving mine, my uncle's, my aunt's and my cousin's. 
How this happened is described in a chapter under the title 
of "I become of age". 

My early childhood 

My parents were overjoyed to have a son after waiting 
so long for a child. In order that I should not be spoiled, 
my parents were always very strict, but also very loving. 
Indeed, I remember my childhood as an extremely happy one. 
My parents were always accessible to me at all hours of the 
day, and although I often had no companions of my own age, 
I shared much of their adult world. During my youth there 
was only one thing with which they failed to provide me - 
information about the "facts of life". This subject was 
onehundred percent taboo, typically enough for that time. 
I never had any brothers or sisters with whom I might have 
talked about this taboo subject and the consequences of 



- 36 - 

this were later to prove sometimes embarassing, sometimes 
laughable, and sometimes even dangerous. 

As a very young boy I had a nurse who was part gypsy 
and who, in spite of my mother's intentions, did manage to 
spoil me a bit. In Petersburg we went for a walk every 
afternoon, and while walking we got into the habit of 
buying a balloon each day. The balloon vendor came to 
expect this and usually followed us on our route until we 
had made our purchase. When my mother learned of this, she 
told my nurse that it had to stop. My nurse protested, 
saying that she paid for the balloon out of her own pocket, 
but it was all to no avail. My mother was determined that 
I should not be spoiled. One day, as we went for our 
usual walk, the balloon vendor arrived but my nurse ignored 
him. At this I began to shout and cry loudly but it had no 
effect. In great anger I tore the hat off my nurse's head 
and threw it into the gutter. She brought me, screaming and 
sobbing, all the way home, where I received the only 
spanking of my life, from Father. 

My first nurse was replaced by another woman named Mavra. 
To my mother's satisfaction, Mavra was not at all soft with 
me. In fact, although she had been raised in an orphanage, 
my father swore that her father must have been a colonel of 
the gendarmes. Mavra had been trained as a nurse and she 
was efficient, strict, and strong-willed. She stayed with 
us for several years and during this time we developed a 



- 37 - 

tremendous mutual affection. 

Until I enrolled in school, my parents and I, my nurse, 
and the rest of the household regularly spent the winter 
months in St. Petersburg and the spring and summer months 
at Kodyma in southern Russia. I remember one incident 
which took place when I was three years old and while we 
were making the trip between Kodyma and Petersburg. By this 
time there was a railroad which linked north and south. In 
Novy Bug, a small station about ten kilometers from our 
estate, we boarded the train which ran from Nicolaev, on 
the estuary of two rivers into the Black Sea, to Kharkov. 
In Kharkov we transferred to the express train to St. Peters 
burg. On this occasion, the train from Nicolaev was an 
hour late and it seemed certain that we would miss our 
connection to Petersburg. My mother telegraphed her cousin, 
Commander Savich, then commander of the troops garrisoned 
in Kharkov. In her wire she asked that he delay the express 
train until we arrived. In due time we boarded the train 
from Nicolaev. On the way, Father decided to stretch his 
legs and so wandered into another car in which several 
actors from a theater group were sitting. He overheard them 
and realized that they were worried about making the same 
connection we were to make. One of them reassured the others 
saying that he had heard there was some sort of a count on 
board and that the train in Kharkov would certainly wait 
for the count. Some of the actors expressed resentment at 



- 38 - 

the special treatment, the bending of regulations which 
was accorded only to a few people. Upon hearing this 
Father smiled broadly, then laughed and pointed out to 
them that the count of whom they spoke, was only three 
years old. We arrived, eventually, in Kharkov, and found 
that the express train had indeed been delayed. My 
mother's cousin met us at the station and, spluttering 
angrily, he asked her if she realized that the Sebastopol 
express train normally was held up only for the Imperial 
Family. She did not respond to this and asked only whether 
or not the train was waiting. It was, he said, and so 
we boarded the express train and completed the trip to 
St. Petersburg. 

As usual, the following spring we returned to southern 
Russia. In fact, my fondest memories of early childhood are 
those of the time spent there on our estates. For several 
weeks out of each summer we visited my grandmother at 
Kamenka. I looked forward to these visits especially 
because Grandmother always had a particular present waiting 
for me. It was a papier-mache troika - that is, three 
crudely made and decorated cardboard horses, each about the 
size of a retriever. I spent many happy summer days play 
ing at driving my troika; with the horses in front of my 
chair and my dolls behind, I imagined all kinds of wild 
drives about the countryside. One summer Grandmother 
thought to improve on this gift and ordered a very 



- 39 - 

elaborate set of toy horses from Odessa. Although they were 
fashioned of real leather and horsehair, I had no use for 
this luxurious toy. Promptly a coachman was sent to a 
neighboring small town to pick up the usual cardboard 
troika which was my preference. 

But back at Kodyma after our visit with Grandmother, I 
was not given such special treatment. Under Mother's watch 
ful eye Mavra was an excellent but strict nurse to me. She 
was, as I mentioned before, a very determined woman, and 
would tolerate no nonsense. My mother's personal maid, Anna 
Nicolaevna, was another strong personality in our household. 
Between Mavra and Anna Nicolaevna the management of the 
household was accomplished smoothly and efficiently. Some 
how, though, the two women never clashed. Like two diplomats 
each maintained her respective sphere of influence and did 
not intrude into the other's. 

Our house at Kodyma was a lovely one and modern by 
standards of the times. Alcohol lamps provided light 
instead of the old-fashioned petroleum lamps. There was 
no running water in the house and bathing water had to be 
brought from wells and heated over a fire. There were two 
water closets with simple holes in the floor and a wooden 
armchair over the hole; one of the closets was for my 
father and the other was shared by my mother, me, and all 
of the house servants. Only when I was thirteen did we 
finally install a system to provide running water in an 



-40'.- 

annex of the house. It was a rather crude arrangement but 
it was a luxury for us then. A five-room annex to our house 
was built across the road from the original house. In the 
annex was a bathroom which had a tub with faucets to carry 
hot and cold water. A huge bucket stood outside of the annex 
and Nikita was responsible for seeing to it that the bucket 
was kept full. Two servant girls had to harness a pair of 
oxen to a wagon holding a large vat. They led the oxen to a 
pond where they filled the vat with water. Then they returned 
with the water and pumped it into the bucket standing outside 
the house, and from this huge bucket the hot water was hand- 
pumped into the attic into a reservoir. From there the cold 
water flowed directly to the bathtub and the water to be heated 
flowed into a column which was heated by a woodfire and from 
there the water flowed into the bathtub. 

Nikita was a long-time fixture at Kodyma. He lived next 
to the school and did a variety of jobs on the estate. They 
included looking after the school, cleaning lamps, main 
taining the boats on the pond, and in addition he was in 
charge of hunting and fishing on the estate. Nikita also 
replaced the coachman whenever he was too drunk to drive. 
When I was old enough he taught me how to hunt. Nikita 
was an extremely reliable and knowledgeable man. Before 
he came to us, he had been a jail warden. He was married 
to a German woman. This woman considered that she had made 
a bad match, marrying a Russian peasant. Even then there 
was a sentiment among some German people that Germans were 
"ttbermenschen" and all others were inferior. Nikita 's wife 



- 41 - 

believed this; Nikita, though, did not. He belonged to a 
sect of the Russian Orthodox Church called the Old 
Believers. Many years before, the Church had made a 
review of the sacred texts. Most people accepted the 
revised texts. The Old Believers, however, did not. 
Members of this sect were often persecuted but they con 
tinued to cling to their old customs in spite of the 
persecution. They never drank or smoked and they were 
known to be excellent workers and soldiers because they 
were so well disciplined. I certainly admired Nikita and 
cared very much for him. In some ways I learned more 
from him than from all my tutors. In his spare time, 
Nikita often sat on the servants' porch eating watermelons. 
For this reason my aut called him "the man who eats water 
melons" . 

It was Dmitri Federovich's job to oversee the harvest 
and all other activities on the estate. In return, he 
received 600 rubles a year, a house, his food supplies, 
several farm animals, and the right to graze these animals 
on our land. Although 600 rubles per year is not a high 
figure, Dmitri Federovich lived a very comfortable life. 
He eventually built a stone house in Novy Bug. Of his two 
sons, one became a veterinarian and the other a lawyer. His 
seven daughters went to school and then got married. One 
of his daughters married an officer and Dmitri Federovich 
often said that her husband was a decent man, in spite of 



- 42 - 

the fact that he was an officer. Uncle Vladimir suggested 
that if Dmitri Federovich had really stolen as much as 
people said he had, he ought to be made Minister of Finance 
to the Tsar. At harvest time, Dmitri Federovich organized 
hundreds of seasonal workers who came from Poltava to 
help with the harvest. These people from the Poltava 
region were usually tall, sturdy, dark boys and girls. 
Some of them were assigned to walk up and down the rows 
of wheat, gathering the cut wheat into sheaves which they 
then secured by twisting a stalk around the bundle. The 
sheaves could then be pitched into the wagon by the other 
workers. The girls made quite a pretty sight as they 
worked with their skirts tucked up high and their feet bare. 
The soles of their feet were so tough that they could move 
easily on the sharp stumps of cut wheat. When I was a bit 
older, I often rode out to the fields to watch these 
girls working bare-legged. The sight was very interesting 
to me despite the fact that I remained quite ignorant of 
life. 

Other workers were occupied with arranging the straw 
in great mounds after it had been separated from the grain. 
This required a crew of boys and girls working together. 
Although the work could be dangerous at times, they often 
took the opportunity to play at flirting. In one instance, 
one of the girls fell in a moment of flirtation and broke 
her leg. Her father demanded of the boy she had been 



- 43 - 

working with that he either pay 250 rubles or marry her. 
He felt this was quite reasonable as it was improbable 
that any other man would take as his wife a woman with a 
limp. The boy chose to marry the girl and happily enough, 
it turned out to be an excellent marriage. 

When harvest was finished, much of the rye and wheat was 
sold and shipped to Odessa, where it would be taken to other 
parts of the country and to Europe. The excess straw was 
collected and served as a supplement to the dung which on 
cold days and nights heated our house. After the harvest, 
in late summer and fall, I delighted in going hunting with 
Nikita when my tutor gave me time away from my studies. 
I will never forget the first time we went. We drove out 
to a field some distance from the house. Nikita left me at 
a spot he had chosen and told me to watch in one direction 
because I could expect the birds to appear from there. At 
the time I did not know how he could be certain that they 
would arrive from that particular direction. Later I learned 
that his. knowledge of birds and the animals' habits and of 
the weather patterns allowed him to anticipate their 
behavior. After a time the birds appeared just as Nikita 
had said they would, and as they swept overhead, rather low, 
I raised my gun and shot. To my dismay, the birds flew on 
and disappeared, although I was sure that I had hit one. 
I waited for Nikita to arrive but it turned out to be a very 
long wait indeed. After several hours, during which time 



- 44 - 

I grew increasingly frustrated and angry, Nikita came with 
the bird I had shot. He explained that the bird's feathers 
protected them everywhere except at the tail. In shooting 
them one had to aim for the tail, firing just at the moment 
when they seemed to pass by. Nikita had followed their 
flight until the wounded bird dropped. This led him all the 
way over to Uncle Vladimir's estate, Troitskoye. When we 
returned home, Uncle Vladimir jokingly claimed the bird as 
his own because it had landed on his property. My tutor 
at the- time was a medical student and he suggested that we 
try to stuff the bird. This was quite a job and we smoked 

m 

cigars while doing it, but after a day with the odorous 
carcass we gave it up. 

New technical inventions are imported 

I remember in my early childhood when I stood in 
admiration before the latest technical invention from the 
United States of America. That object was a washstand. My 
father brought it back to our estate of Kodyma when he 
returned in the year 1894 from the United States, where he 
represented the Russian Ministry of Agriculture at the 
World Fair in Chicago. This object, the washstand, was 
standing in my father's dressing room. At first when you 
looked at it, it looked like a cupboard. At the bottom of 
the cupboard there was a door that opened in two pieces, and 
there was a kind of a receptacle for water that could be 
removed from out of there by hand. Then there was at the 



- 45 - 

proper level a wash basin, but it had a hole in the center 
that could be plugged by a cork, which was held in place by 
a little chain so that it would never be lost. The top of 
the cupboard had a mirror on the outside and you could 
shave in front of it. In the back of the mirror, there was 
also a kind of a receptacle for water. It was of course 
Nikita's job, as with all kinds of unusual jobs at the 
estate, who filled that water container in the early 
morning with water brought by hand, and removed the dirty 
water down below the washbasin. From the top receptacle 
there was a kind of a spout, and at the bottom there was a 
peddle that you could step on. When you stepped on the 
peddle, some kind of a valve opened and that spout released 
water. Well, that was running water, a thing unheard of. 
Usually it was Nikita's job to pour water out of a jug when 
I washed my hands or my face. Now there was running water. 
I could wash my hands or my face in that fresh water, with 
out Nikita in sight. That was of course the latest 
technical invention, brought right from the United States. 

The gentry and physical labor 

Then we had the visit of a neighbor. The neighbor was 
a small landed gentleman, very elderly, born probably be 
fore the first half of the nineteenth century, and so was 
his manservant, who started serving him even before the 
liberation of the serfs. The two were inseparable. So 
when this gentleman came visiting us, he always came with 



- 46 - 

his old manservant. He was shown this latest invention 
of the United States, and he found it very interesting. 
Then he came closer, and he addressed his manservant: 
"Timothy, step on the peddle. I wish to wash my hands." 
I am speaking about it because this is so typical. 
Stepping on the peddle - that was physical work, and he, 
an ancient member of the Russian gentry, was not supposed 
to perform any kind of physical work. For that purpose 
you had servants. 

This same attitude toward servants-, and the situation 
of a gentleman who is not supposed to even step on that 
little peddle by himself, reoccurred very many years 
later when I was in Hungary. One of my fellow emigrant 
officers in Hungary was invited to live on the estate of 
some very wealthy Hungarian landowners, as were many other 
Russian families. The idea was to help them survive for a 
couple of years until law and order will be re-established 
in Russia. Everybody was convinced that the Bolsheviks 
could not exist for long, and then united Europe would 
re-establish law and order and return all property to its 
lawful owners. My friend was a bit older than I was. He 
was a bachelor, and he accepted that invitation. But he 
had great trouble to explain to his new-found Hungarian 
friends - who went out of their way to be as nice as 
possible to him - that under any conditions, a man needs 
some cash, be it only for cigarettes or to buy postal stamps 



- 47 - 

for his correspondence. He cannot exist there in greatest 
luxury but not a cent in cash. He wanted to work for cash, 
and for those Hungarians, it was quite a great problem; 
because their answer was, and I quote: "We can't make a 
gentleman work. You are a gentleman, and therefore you are 
not supposed to work". But finally a solution was found, 
and he became a teacher of French and a teacher of playing 
bridge; and he was very good at both. Teaching French and 
playing bridge was and could be paid for even to a gentleman. 
That, for some reason, was not considered work, it was not a 
kind of menial work that a gentleman was not supposed to 
do. 

EARLY FAMILY STORIES 
My father's family 

In 1895 my father, his three brothers, and three sisters 
all had reached adulthood and, understandably, desired to 
be independent. Grandmother Safonov agreed then to 
partition the family property among them. It was a law 
in Imperial Russia at that time that every daughter had 
the right to inherit one-seventh of her family's wealth. 
Accordingly, each of the girls received a portion of land, 
and in addition each acquired some of the very valuable 
Safonov jewelry. The remaining land and property was divided 
more or less equally between my father and his brothers, 
George, Vladimir, and Nikolas. 



- 48 - 

My three aunts were great believers in many of the 
socialist theories which had gained acceptance within the 
intellectual order during the last century. Upon receiving 
their share of the estate, they promptly set about selling. 
They sold their jewlery in Odessa and then sold much of 
their land among the peasants in the area. They received 
cash in return for the property but the money was quickly 
spent. 

One of my aunts had the property adjoining Kodyma and 
so my father bought it from her. Shortly afterwards he 
began the task of surveying the lands and marking off the 
new boundaries. Father had six thousand acres at Kodyma, 
Vladimir had six thousand acres at Troitskoye, George 
inherited fifteen hundred acres at Kamenka, and Nikolas 
received land further south toward Odessa. My father 
spent many long days on horseback, riding all over the land, 
making careful measurements, and establishing fair boundaries, 
Since his childhood, Father had had a deep love for this 
land and he came to know every square inch. It became, in 
fact, a part of his soul. For this reason he never in his 
life considered selling it, although he would have made a 
great profit if he had done so. The estate at Kodyma brought 
an average annual income of 30,000 rubles. Had my father 
sold the land and bought state bonds instead, he would have 
had an annual income of 60,OOO rubles - double that from 
Kodyma. Yet it angered my father whenever anyone suggested 



- 49 - 

that alternative to him. In his will, Father stipulated 
that, although Kodyma was to belong to Mother during her 
lifetime, the law required that she not mortgage or sell. 
When she died, Kodyma was to revert to me and I was free 
to do as I pleased with it. 

Indeed, most people who lived in the steppes came to 
love that region. Gogol wrote, "Steppes, Oh steppes, the 
devil take you! How beautiful you are". A neighbor of 
ours compared his feelings for the land with those which a 
seaman must have for the sea, saying, "In the steppe, you 
drive and drive, on and on, and see nothing - how beautiful", 
It is a land covered by tall grass and it stretches in all 
directions - seeming never to end. There are no trees; it 
is virtually flat and only the gentlest of slopes relieve 
the landscape. Here and there minor rivers and man-made 
ponds cut through the earth. In summer, it is dry and 
very hot; in winter it is bitterly cold and the land is 
frozen. In spring, the rains transform it into a sea of mud, 
In all of its extremes it remains an awe-inspiring land. 

Our neighbor told us once of an experience he had 
fording a river. It was so dangerous, he said, that the 
water almost came to his galoshes. . .and he was sitting high 
atop his hunting carriage. On another occasion, while 
fording the river after a heavy rainstorm our neighbor's 
horses lost their footing. The coachman made the sign of 
the cross and jumped, and the passenger threw off his 



- 50 - 

clothes and followed him into the water. When he reached 
the shore and had to walk through the village naked, the 
first people he met were women and village girls, who 
screamed and fled from him. Finally one of the peasants gave 
him something with which to cover himself. One winter 
evening our neighbor and his coachman were going to 
Nikolaev, some fourty kilometers away, when they lost their 
way in a snowstorm. They decided that the only thing to do 
was to let go of the reins and let the horses find the way 
home, trusting in the horses' instinct. All that night they 
drove and drove and when morning came they realized that 
they had been going round and round in a circle which the 
horses had recognized as their old training track. 

This neighbor of ours had long been a resident in the 
area. His first wife had died when his two daughters were 
in their early teens. He soon married for a second time 
and his second wife was younger than his daughters. The 
situation was an uncomfortable one and he resolved to marry 
off his daughters, each of whom had a handsome dowry. He 
called upon Joska, an elderly rabbi in the area, to solve 
the problem. In return for his matchmaking efforts, Joska 
received a commission. Three months later both of the girls 
were happily married. The first married an employee of the 
Zemstvo; the second married a German baron. Only one and 
a half years after his daughters' marriage, our neighbor 
had a heart attack and died. My father bought one of his 
carriages and some of his horses for me. 



- 51 - 

As I mentioned, Father's younger brother George inherited 
the estate at Kamenka. At twenty, George was tall, blond, 
broad-shouldered, and looked just as his Viking ancestors 
must have looked. Like my father, George had graduated 
from the Russian Imperial Lycee in St. Petersburg. After 
that he returned to Kamenka and took over the management of 
the estate, where he lived with his mother, his mother's 
personal maid, and the rest of the staff. In essence he was 
alone, having no wife and no companions of his own age. 
Grandmother and her maid had been at Kamenka for years and 
were the pillars of the household. As a young girl, the 
maid had been called Katerinka, later she was Katya, then 
Ekaterina Nikolaevna, and finally, in deference to her age, 
Nikolaevna. Ekaterina Nikolaevna dressed in the fashion of 
Queen Victoria. She was a stern figure and Grandmother 
never dared to contradict her, although Ekaterina Nikolaevna 
herself frequently contradicted Grandmother. The two women 
presided over the house and so George was left alone and 
quite bored. He was an excellent administrator and had 
hired an overseer, a Polish man, who was equally competent. 
The estate ran very smoothly under their guidance. 

Not far from the house, along the river which cut 
through Kamenka, there was a great outcrop of granite. 
George was able to sell this rock to the railroad company 
and the rock was then used to shore up the railroad tracks, 
to build bridge abutments, etc. Uncle George made a large 



- 52 - 

profit for Kamenka from this project. Projects such as 
this one, however, could not occupy all of George's time. 
He often left the estate in the overseer's hands in order 
to travel abroad. At home, he eventually got involved with 
a girl. The girl had a son whom George never officially 
recognized. It was common knowledge though that the boy was 
his. The mother and son remained in the area and the boy 
attended school with all of the other children. Fortunately 
for all concerned, Uncle George's illegitimate child died 
of pneumonia at the age of twenty. Not long afterward, 
George finally married. 

George was forty when he married Nadya Delaroche. I was 
quite young at the time and I remember giggling with my 
cousins at the thought of such an old man wanting to get 
married. Nadya's paternal grandfather had been born to a 
poor French family and it was said that he had been a drummer 
in Napoleon's army during the ill-fated invasion of Russia. 
He was, in any case, one of the few survivors of that 
campaign and stayed in Russia afterwards. Nadya's maternal 
grandfather was a man named Haritonenko. He was a peasant 
who became quite wealthy when coal was discovered on his 
land. Although he never abandoned his rough ways, he gave 
his children every thing; he sent them to the best schools 
and insured that they would become part of St. Petersburg's 
highest society. Most of his daughters married million 
aires, all but one that is. Nadya's mother fell in love with 



- 53 - 

her music teacher, Delaroche, and married him. Nadya 
later recalled with amusement the fright that the other 
children felt whenever their grandfather came to visit. 
At the sight of the ill-dressed, rough-spoken old man, the 
children would run to their British governess crying, "A 
peasant 1 A peasant!". 

After Uncle George and Aunt Nadya were married they left 
Kamenka. Nadya did not feel at ease there for two reasons: 
first, Grandmother had long been mistress of the house and 
Nadya could not expect her to give up that role; and second, 
Nadya did not want to live with the legend of George's 
bastard child. So George and Nadya took up residence on 
Nadya's estate on the Dneiper. They lived there with their 
son, Lev. Until their arrival the estate had been badly 
mismanaged but under George's expert guidance it soon became 
a model estate also. Aunt Nadya was a dedicated member of 
the Russian Orthodox Church all of her life. George teased 
her occasionally, saying that she was more devout than the 
Lord himself. Unfortunately her stubborn dedication was 
later to be the source of great grief for Nadya because it 
brought about an irreparable quarrel between her and her 
only son, Lev. 

Father's second brother was my Uncle Vladimir. When he 
was a boy and ready to attend school, the family could not 
afford to send him to the Russian Imperial Lycee as they had 
my father and Uncle George. As a result, Vladimir stayed 



- 54 - 

in south Russia and attended a school in Odessa. The 
curriculum there was more technically oriented; it placed 
greater emphasis on mathematics and sciences than on the 
humanities. Socially this school was a far cry from the 
Imperial Lycee and Vladimir always resented this. Later, 
as a private, doing his military service in a remote 
fortress at Ochakov on the Black Sea, Uncle Vladimir found 
more cause for resentment. This had none of the prestige 
of service of the Horse Guards in St. Petersburg, which had 
been' the family tradition. For these reasons, Vladimir 
became a man with something of a chip on his shoulder. But 
he was a successful man, too. He later attended the Moscow 
Agricultural Academy and became an agricultural engineer. 
When the family property was divided among my father and his 
brothers and sisters, Vladimir acquired the property at 
Troitskoye. He managed the property very, very well and 
never missed an opportunity to tease my father, saying that 
he thought my father's estate at Kodyma was being run in a 
rather antique fashion. Being an ambitious man, Vladimir 
became a member of the Zemstvo, a representative body com 
posed of members of the nobility, merchant, and peasant 
classes. A member of the nobility was chosen to preside 
over the group. This was the law of the land and it was 
done to prevent the development of any leftist, socialist 
ideas. Vladimir was elected to that position of president 
of the local Zemstvo of Kherson. He also became Marshall 



- 55 - 

of the Kherson nobility. My mother often said that it 
would not surprise her if Uncle Vladimir continued to rise 
in the administration of Imperial Russia and eventually 
become the Tsar's Minister of the Interior or Prime Minister. 
The events of 1917 made this impossible however. 

Living at Troitskoye with Uncle Vladimir and his wife, 
Pasha, was an old spinster aunt. She was a rather comic 
figure and much loved by everyone in the family. She had 
never married although it was rumored that Turgenev had once 
proposed to her and she had refused him. When I knew her, 
she was very old and somewhat deaf. On one occasion she 
approached my cousins and asked us what we were reading. 
We told her that it was Anna Karenina. "Who wrote that?" 
she asked. "Tolstoy", we answered in unison. "But which 
Tolstoy?" And upon hearing that it was by Lev Tolstoy, 
she remarked, "Yes, that Lovushka was always a nasty boy". 
Our spinster aunt was also an extremely stubborn woman. So 
much so that when she had a toothache she adamantly refused 
to make the trip by train to Nikolaev to see a dentist. 
The family asked if she were afraid of the train. She said 
that she was only afraid of God and the Tsar. She was, 
however, a member of the Russian gentry and so refused to 
jump like a trained animal at the whistle of the conductor. 
She was not opposed to travel though when it suited her. 
In fact, once a year in summertime she made her annual visit 
to a neighbor of ours of her age. This should not have been 



- 56 - 

a very long journey except that she insisted that her 
carriage be pulled by a pair of oxen, as she considered 
horses too unreliable. So each year her old carriage was 
brought out, cleaned off, and the oxen were harnessed to it. 
She started off at dawn and, at a very leisurely pace which 
included frequent stops along the way, she made the trip to 
her friend's house, arriving at long last as the sun went 
down. 

Uncle Nikolas was the youngest of my father's brothers. 
He was only ten in 1881 when their father died. He never 
attended school and my grandmother taught him at home. He 
learned Russian and French from her. The French language 
was the language of Russian upper class society of Grand 
mother's generation. As a boy, Nikolas 's companions were a 
friendly gang of village boys from Kamenka and as a result 
he grew up with a deep understanding. and sympathy for the 
Russian people. Uncle Nikolas also had a great talent for 
training dogs and horses. At thirteen he acquired a set of 
bicycle wheels, attached a seat between them, and harnessed 
six shepherd dogs to this makeshift carriage. As he drove 
all about, the village, he was the envy of all the other boys. 
One day while driving in this contraption, a mad dog attacked 
Uncle Nikolas 's dogs. Nikolas jumped into the fray and drove 
the mad dog away. Then, seeing that his dogs had been 
bitten, he sucked their wounds clean. After that, he went 
to the blacksmith and burned his own wounds so that he, too, 



- 57 - 

would not be infected. 

When Nikolas was twenty, Uncle Vladimir was twenty- three 
and had begun to court Pasha Sumov. Miss Sumov was the 
daughter of a highly respected judge in Odessa. The judge 
was an extremely ugly man. Pasha herself was one of his 
more attractive children. She had another sister, Mary, who 
was quite beautiful. Nikolas was very much in love with 
Mary. However, Russian law forbade that two brothers marry 
two sisters and, since Vladimir was the older and more 
eligible of the two brothers, his suit for Pasha took pre 
cedence. Nikolas, though was not to be deterred. On the 
very same day that Vladimir and Pasha were married in Odessa, 
Nikolas eloped with Mary and they were married in a village 
church. This done, there was nothing that anyone could do. 

Nikolas and Mary moved to the estate he had inherited. 
Uncle Nikolas raised trotting horses there. Eventually they 
had a family of two girls/ Olga and Marie, and a son, Serge. 
After Serge was born, Aunt Mary became quite ill and lost 
her sanity. She was put into a sanatorium in Berlin where 
she stayed for the next forty years and finally she died 
there. The estate was sold to pay Uncle Nikolas 's debts. 
The children lived in the winter with Mary's sister, Nadya 
Sumov. In the summer they lived with Vladimir and Pasha at 
Troitskoye. 

After his wife's sickness, Nikolas lived a rather 
mysterious life. He was legally married and the church did 



- 58 - 

not recognize insanity as grounds for divorce. Uncle 
Vladimir always thought that Nikolas found it very 
convenient to be officially married so that no woman 
could expect him to ask for marriage. Living in a small 
apartment in St. Petersburg, he had a cook but it was 
obvious that their relationship was also very very close. 
When on rare occasions I came to visit uncle Nicholas, 
this cook of his put on the table marvellous Russian 
food and then immediately vanished. He never introduced 
us boys to her. 

MY YOUTH 

My formal education begins 

During 1895, the same year in which the family property 
was divided amongst the children of William and Varvara 
Stenbock-Fermor , my parents' new house at Kodyma was under 
construction. They also had a school built there for the 
children of the people employed at Kodyma and those from 
the neighboring villages. My parents paid the school 
teacher's salary. Other than that, the school was super 
vised by the Zemstvo. Eventually the school was fninished 
and the new teacher arrived to begin classes. After her 
arrival, my mother invited the young teacher for luncheon. 
On this first visit she barely spoke a word and acted 
throughout the lunch as if she were sitting on hot coals. 
Mother invited the teacher to come again, and the second 
visit was a much less strained one. Just before she left, 



- 59 - 

the teacher blushed and confessed, "Oh, I feel so comfort 
able in your house. I thought that you were a countess 
before". My mother replied, "That's silly, you mean you 
assumed that all countesses were nothing but stupid old 
geese? Why, that's just as if I were to assume that all 
school teachers were socialist revolutionaries carrying 
bombs in their pockets." After that, Mother enjoyed a 
friendly relationship with the school teacher. 

After I was nine I had several tutors in succession. 
The first was a young man named Ernst von Friedenthal. He 
was a German, from the Baltic provinces, and he walked as 
if he had swallowed a yardstick. I detested him and once 
I went so far as to ask my father for 100 bricks in order 
that I might build a wall between the two of us over which 
Ernst would never be able to climb. One day when I was 
particularly exasperated with Ernst I told him, "Ich mochte 
mit dieser Peitsche Dir in die Fratze hauen" (I would love 
to hit your snout with this whip"). He was quite insulted 
and reported to my mother what I had said. Upon hearing 
this she remarked that what German I knew I had learned from 
Ernst himself. The next day he left Kodyma. A carriage 
of the estate took him to the nearest rail station. 

Jules Henri Drouin was another of my tutors. The day 
after he arrived at Kodyma my mother asked him at breakfast 
whether or not he had slept well. He answered that the 
perfect quiet of the country night had disturbed him. He 



- 60 - 

missed the sound of street cars to which he had grown 
accustomed in the city. I did not find anything amiss in 
this and went on to ask him the French names given to 
horses. When I realized he did not know, I lost all 
respect for him. M. Drouin taught me French literature. 
The book he chose, Nana, was by a very famous French writer. 
It described the period of 1870. Nana belonged to the 
oldest profession in the world; she knew she was sick and 
she was proud to contaminate all Germans, considering it to 
be her patriotic duty. Mother saw that book and the next 
day M. Drouin, confused, suggested that we buy another 
book. 

Villages around Kodyma 

In my youth I loved horses and riding on horseback over 
our estate on the steppes. In our stables we had over 
twenty horses, only geldings and stallions; some for the 
family carriages, some for riding. We had no real neighbors 
and the nearest villages were three kilometers or more 
distant from us. Some of the villages had been settled by 
soldiers who had received land in the area after doing the 
required twentyfive years' service. Until 1860 and reforms 
by Alexander II which liberated serfs, it was a law that 
each landowner should send a number of serfs for military 
service. When they had completed their service they were 
given land on which to settle. Their villages were usually 
named after the church in the village or after the company 



- 61 - 

number in which the soldier had served. Other villages in 
our area were settled by Jews during the reign of Katherine 
the Great. She gave them land and intended for them to 
farm it under the guidance of German settlers. Eventually, 
though, many of the Jews rented their land to the Germans 
and became merchants in the village - they supplied the 
farmers with finished goods and left farming to the German 
settlers. 

Celebrating Name's Day 

According to the Russian calendar, June 24th was the 
day of John the Baptist. This was an especially important 
holiday in our household because it was also my father's 
and my name day. It generally coincided with the start of 
the rye harvest and the girls from Poltava, there to help 
with the harvest, traditionally made a great crown of rye 
for my parents and a smaller one for me. On the morning of 
the holiday, Dmitri Fedorovich and his wife would arrive 
at 10:30, Dmitri Fedorovich wearing his customary long 
yellow overcoat. (He always wore it as protection against 
drafts.) This was the only day in the year when Dmitri 
Fedorovich 1 s wife appeared. She sailed in like a huge 
battleship; always the same tall, bosomy woman in the same 
green velvet dress trimmed with bits of lace, and she seldom 
said a word. Her contribution for the day was also the same 
thing year in and year out. It was a heavy cake covered 



- 62 - 

with raspberry jam and I always felt that one piece of her 
cake seemed to stay with me until the following namesday. 
We gathered that Dmitri Fedorovich's wife was a difficult 
woman to live with. On one occasion Dmitri Fedorovich fell 
ill and Father finally persuaded him to see a doctor in 
Kharkov. When he returned my father asked him what the 
doctor had found wrong. Dmitri Fedorovich beamed and said 
he thought that the doctor was an excellent one. The 
doctor's diagnosis was that Dmitri Fedorovich suffered from 
a wife with a difficult character. 

At eleven that morning we began the traditional 
ceremony of the day. It was a reception for the workers 
and school children at Kodyma. My parents and I stood on 
the main balcony to greet all of the people who gathered 
that day. On each step ot the staircase leading up and down 
the balcony were bushels of candy. Nikita stood by the 
candy wearing a spotless white apron and he thoroughly 
enjoyed himself as he distributed candy to all who passed 
by. 

Later in the day, Uncle Vladimir and his household 
arrived for a holiday luncheon. They came in three carriages 
in order of rank. The first carriage was drawn by two 
German stallions and driven by the coachman, Selifon. My 
cousin Andre rode on the box next to Selifon and Uncle 
Vladimir and Aunt Pasha were inside the carriage. The second 
carriage brought Aunt Pasha's sister Nadya, her nieces Olga 



- 63 - 

and Marusya. In the third carriage was their old governess, 
a woman of German-Baltic origin named Amalya Androeevna, and 
with her was my old tutor Jules Henri Drouin, who now lived 
with Uncle Vladimir's household. We all enjoyed lunch, after 
which we rested a while. When the noonday heat had sub 
sided, many of the younger members of the family played 
tennis. Father never played but he did like to watch. Once 
a peasant from Troitskoye came to talk with him while he was 
watching us and after observing the game the peasant told 
Father that if he had to hire someone to do that sort of 
work - run about in the hot sun after those little balls - 
he would have to pay much money. 

After a break for tea we resumed our tennis play. It 
was customary that the butler bring us something to drink 
during the play. Usually it was a simple, refreshing drink 
made of blackberry leaves. One day, though, because it was 
a holiday and my namesday, the butler brought us champagne 
instead. Between sets we all took long gulps of the drink, 
not realizing what it was. That year the finals of the 
tennis match was full of surprising effects and misses. 

At dusk, Uncle Vladimir would bring out the mysterious 
wooden box he had brought with him. It contained all sorts 
of fireworks, the most popular one of which was a large 
balloon attached to a basket containing cotton soaked in 
alcohol. When the cotton was lit, the balloon rose in the 
air. I and my cousins Serge and Andre loved to dash after 



- 64 - 

the balloon on horseback to see who would be the first to 
find it. Whoever brought it home was sure to get a prize. 
Once, on my favorite grey, I almost got the balloon, but as 
I tried to approach near enough to grab it, the horse shied 
away, afraid of the fire. Meanwhile my cousin Serge arrived, 
saw what had happened, and dropped from his horse to run up 
and snatch the balloon himself. He then disappeared like 
a Don Cossack back to the house and his prize. 

Many years later, while a refugee in Hungary, I witnessed 
a ceremony much like the one on the occasion of my nameday 
which I have just described. After the Revolution, my 
mother lived for a time on the estate of a Hungarian noblewo 
man. The woman herself had no family, but had taken in the 
wife and children of her late brother. My mother was 
employed there as French tutor to the two boys. Early teen 
agers, they called my mother Aunt Marie. The house on the 
estate was like a fortified castle, for it had been built 
many years ago to withstand the periodic invasions of the 
Turks. On St. John's day, Mrs. Boronkay sat at the entrance 
to this fortress in a large armchair. A small table was 
placed next to the elderly woman. On the table was a cushion 
upon which she rested her hand so that the people might 
kiss it as they filed past. Her butler stood close by with 
a bucket of wine from which he dispensed a jug of wine to 
each person. 



- 65 - 

Gymnastics group 

When I was seven, there was a gymnastics group which met 
at our house. I was very young to be in that group and 
Nicky Koznakov, who was a good gymnast, bullied me all of 
the time. He was one of the Corps des Pages officer 
candidates. There was also a girl, about Nicky's age, in 
the gymnastics group. Her name was Margaret. She was my 
first love because she protected me from the bully. 

In later years she became a nun - but beyond that I do 
not know what happened to her. Her older brother was a 
cavalry officer. In 1914, he was involved in a skirmish 
which took place in East Prussia. A German officer was 
wounded and Margaret's brother went to him to give him a 
drink of cognac. The wounded officer shot him. The Russian 
troops saw this and were furious. The German was bayonetted 
and clubbed to death. This was just the beginning of the 
horrors which took place during those years. 

Public Learning Institutions 

When I was ten years old, my parents decided that I 
should go to a public school, be among children of my own 
age. As readers of my memoirs know, I grew up alone amidst 
grown-ups, I mean my parents, nurse, several governesses 
and then the staff of our household on the country estate 
in the summer and city of St. Petersburg in the winter. 
I had no playmates of my own age. So in the spring of the 



- 66 - 

year 1907, I had to pass an entrance examination to be 
accepted as a pupil of the first grade. At that time in 
Russia, schools could be compared to todays schools in the 
United States. This particular school had two preparatory 
schools - ages 8 to 9 for boys - then first grade. In 
struction lasted for eight years. Such a school was called 
in Russia a "Gymnasium". This same Gymnasium brought about 
many misunderstandings for emigrants in the United States. 
A friend of mine, my age, studied in a Gymnasium and then 
a school of Pages. When he wrote this in his papers in the 
United States, people shrugged their shoulders and said 
this is not much of an education in a Gymnasium and then a 
School of Pages. My friend meant to say he had graduated 
from a senior high school plus one year of junior college 
and then from an officer candidates school that corresponds 
to the West Point in the United States. That was quite a 
difference. But because of terminology and different under 
standing of words, it brought about a great misunderstanding. 
After that my friend graduated from the Russian War School 
Academy. 

My Gymnasium taught Ancient Latin, Ancient Greek, History 
of Antiquity, World History, Russian Hisotry, Mathematics, 
Physics, Chemistry, and the French Language. With the 
exception of Russian Literature and Russian History, all of 
the subjects were taught in German. My school was one of 
four parish schools of various and numerous Germans living 



- 67 - 

in St. Petersburg. Many such Germans were from the Baltic 
lands that had become part of the Russian Empire during the 
early 18th century and other children of the school were 
the children of German merchants. Tsar Peter the Great and 
many rulers of Russia after him had invited many foreigners 
into Russia as technicians in various fields of industry, 
architecture, medicine, etc. 

At the time I was ten, there were four parish schools 
teaching in German and preparing their pupils to continue 
their studies in the German University in Germany. Each 
such school had about 1000 students, boys and girls. But 
no co-education God forbid! 

The building of my school had one wide entry door and 
a huge hall where all the overcoats should be left, boys in 
the left part and girls in the right part. On the dividing 
line of that hall, there stood an inspector of the boys' 
class and a lady inspector of the girls' class. All we 
boys dared to do was just to have a glance on the sly 
across that dividing line. One of these schools was called 
the school of St. Anna. In the middle of the yard stood a 
Protestant big church and this church was right across the 
street from the house where we lived. This was probably 
one of the reasons why my parents chose that school for me. 

In the days I am speaking of, there were few universities 
in Russia. Many university students were engaged in politics, 
demonstrations and protests against the government and their 



- 68 - 

studies were often disrupted and the university was closed. 
Therefore, my parents planned for me to go to Germany later 
and study in a German university. My mother dreamed that 
I would become an archaeologist. Archaeology has nothing 
to do with politics. 

I was led by my mother across the street and put into 
the hands of one of the teachers who would examine me for 
my entrance into that school. That was seventy years ago, 
but I remember very vivivdly the teacher walking upstairs 
and I was following him and a crowd of boys of all ages 
were descending these stairs in a rush. They were yelling 
and pushing. I wonder if the reader of what I am writing 
can realize my feelings. The boys were pushing me and I had 
never in my life been pushed and never in my life had I 
heard such yelling. I was completely stunned. The teacher 
led me into a classroom and gave me some assignments in 
German, Russian, elementary mathematics, in short, what a 
boy entering the school was supposed to know. Actually, I 
was well prepared by various teachers at home but as I just 
mentioned I was stunned by all the surroundings and so I 
flunked everything completely. 

I was rejected. Mother led me home and arriving home, 
I threw myself on the couch and immediately fell asleep. 
Was it sleep or was it a fainting spell? I did not wake 
up for five hours. Mother became scared and wanted to call 
for a doctor. But after all, I was all right and for the 



- 69 - 

rest of the year I continued studying at home with private 
teachers. Of course, this could be looked at as sort of a 
catastrophe. But it turned out to be a blessing in disguise, 
Of course, I was one year late compared to the boys of my 
age. Therefore, I finally graduated from the Gymnasium a 
year later and because of that, I graduated from the 
officers candidates school one year later- and I was gradu 
ated to the rank of an officer on February 1, 1917 and did 
not take part actively in the First World War. Very possib 
ly this saved my life. And then in the same month of 
February 1917, the revolution broke out, and I had four 
years of Russian civil war instead of having four years of 
a university education. 

Entering the Gymnasium in St. Petersburg 

As stated above, in spite of thorough preparation, I 
failed the entrance examination of the German Gymnasium in 
St. Petersburg. I can remember that as I entered the 
school I was stunned to see so many children all at once. 
Furthermore, they all crowded and pushed without taking any 
notice of me. I was absolutely flustered by the experience 
nothing in my life as an only child had prepared me for 
this and as a result I did very poorly on my exams. One 
year later I took the exams again and that time I passed 
them and entered the Gymnasium. I studied at this German 
school rather than at a Russian one that was state-run 
because Russian schools were disorganized and subject to 



- 70 - 

political influence, particularly the Russian universities. 
At the German Gymnasium I was prepared to enter a university 
in Germany which was known for its excellence. 

There were four German schools in St. Petersburg: an 
eight-year Gymnasium for boys and girls, a seven-year Real- 
schule, a six-year Commercial Schule, and a two-year prepar 
atory school for children. Each of these schools had about 
1,000 pupils. At the German Gymnasium all of the courses 
were taught in German except for Russian language and 
literature. We had eight hours of courses per day and 
school was held on Saturdays, too. I was a day student 
there. 

We only saw the girls in the front entrance as we came 
in and left the school. Even then the boys and girls were 
kept separate by two inspectors, one man and one woman, who 
supervised us. During the week I got up early every morning 
to go to school, came home for dinner, did my homework, and 
went to bed at ten o'clock. I was only allowed to go out 
on weekend nights - Saturday night, that is. My closest 
friend at school was named Serge Lipsky. He was an un 
usually handsome, gifted, and enthusiastic boy. He had a 
brother who was also at our school and he also had a sister 
a few years younger than he. Serge's uncle had five 
daughters. The oldest of Serge's cousins was married but 
his cousin Nina was at the Girls' Gymnasium right 
next door to my family's apartment, and I remember spending 



- 71 - 

hours watching her when she sat in the window across from 
our place. With her long blond braids, I thought she was 
very beautiful. 

After school in St. Petersburg, I used to make a one- 
hour detour on my way home in order to see the girls of my 
age as they walked along the banks of the Neva with their 
governesses. We never spoke to one another; the most I 
could hope for was a smile. Nonetheless, it was well worth 
it to me. I had dancing lessons at home. I was a very bad 
dancer although my teacher was a good one. Twice during 
the season we had dancing parties in the afternoon. When 
I was seventeen, in 1914, we had a ball in the evening for 
once. It was at the house of Princess Obolensky. Her 
governess was especially nice - she knew exactly when to 
disappear and when to reappear. 

For the most part my years at the Gymnasium in St. 
Petersburg were uneventful. The director of the school, 
Artur A. Brock, was a wonderful man, beloved by all pupils 
in all classes. Brock was very short-sighted and always 
wore a double pince-nez. According to regulation, he wore 
the uniform of the Ministry of Education. We boys wore 
mufti. Whenever one of the boys had a problem or a question, 
he saw the Director. Director Brock never asked names - 
he knew them all already - and often he knew the problem 
beforehand also. 

In 1905-1906, during the attempted revolution, there 



- 72 - 

had been great disorder in the schools in St. Petersburg. 
Gangs of boys tried to close those schools that were still 
functioning and one gang tried this at our school. When 
they entered, several members of our school took their 
hockey sticks and used them. The gang left and Director 
Brock called an assembly of all students and teachers. In 
the great front hall there was dead silence. Brock stood 
in front of us and said, "My dear young friends, if there 
is the slightest disturbance in our school, I will resign." 
There was no further disturbance in the school. 

During the winters in St. Petersburg, skating and 
"mountains" were the favorite sports. "Mountains" were 
actually wooden scaffolds, two stories high, with a runway. 
Blocks of ice were set under the runway and water was 
poured over it until it froze. There were many of these 
all around St. Petersburg - one was in the garden of the 
Taurida Palace. Next to the big lake where we skated, there 
was a block house where we changed our boots and skates. 
The house had a balcony and on the balcony were three 
officials, all muffled up, who watched those skating on 
the lake. One was a captain who kept an eye on the cadets, 
one was an Inspector who looked after the civilian boys, 
and the third was a woman Inspector who watched the girls. 
They all had binoculars and would not allow any nonsense. 

While skating on the lakes in St. Petersburg, I noticed 
that the girls skated more often than we did and were very 



- 73 - 

graceful. Still, they fell a great deal of the time. Of 
course the boys there would help them to their feet, but 
the clumsy girls often prolonged the whole process by 
falling again. Finally the inspector on the balcony issued 
a decree that the boys were forbidden to help the girls 
if they fell. The next day, the girls stopped falling. 

While sleigh riding on the hills, though, we were not 
watched so closely. Our sleighs were very low and had flat 
cushions. I liked to sit on the front of the sleigh, 
holding the runners which directed it. Anyuta Obolensky 
sat behind me on her knees, holding on tightly as we flew 
down the hill. There was another type of sleigh which 
was like a large basket on runners. This sleigh could 
hold ten girls at a time. After they had all scrambled in, 
I climbed on behind and held on. We made a great weight 
and went like lightning down the slope. When we got to 
flat ground, I liked to make a quick movement right or left 
and tip the whole basket over. This was great fun but also 
dangerous. There was one accident and the daughter of the 
Prime Minister (Stolypin) was badly cut, but happily enough 
the boy who was responsible for her cut married her eventu 
ally. 

SOME TRAVEL MEMORIES 

Trip to Austria and France 

In 1906, as was our custom every other year, my parents 
and I spent the summer abroad. That year we planned to go 



- 74 - 

to Karlsbad and my nurse, Mavra, was to stay at Kodyma. She 
was upset at this and so was I. She tried in every way she 
knew to make my mother change her mind but she was unsuccess 
ful; we left and Mavra stayed behind. Father had given 
instructions that Mavra could go for a drive whenever she 
liked. We later learned that she took far greater liberties 
than this. While abroad, we received a telegram saying that 
Mavra was driving over the estate and issuing orders to 
everyone. By return telegram, my parents told Dmitri 
Fedorovich to let her drive anywhere she liked but to ignore 
all of Mavra 's orders. 

We spent part of that summer in France, in Contrexeville. 
We lived in a hotel there and I soon met the daughter of the 
hotel manager. She was an attractive, lonely child, but when 
she asked me to paly with her, all I could do was run away 
to my parents, frightened by the girl. My father only 
laughed at the time and remarked that in a very few years 
my reaction would be a different one. 

I remember that during that summer at Contrexeville 
there were many well-known people also staying there. The 
Shah of Persia (Iran) and his entourage were in one hotel 
and a Russian grandduchess was in another. Although most 
people were presumably there for reasons of health, many 
devoted a great deal of attention to social and diplomatic 
maneuvering as well. On one occasion the Grandduchess was 
invited to a reception by the Shah, after which she felt that 



- 75 - 

she had to reciprocate, so she arranged for an elaborate 
luncheon for the Shah on a Wednesday. The Shah informed 
her that he was indisposed on Wednesday but planned to come 
for lunch on Thursday. Naturally, this threw all of the 
Grandduchess 's careful arrangements into a state of chaos, 
to the despair of her secretary, Mr. Paul Etter, a close 
friend of my parents. Even the children of the Shah were 
rather inconsiderate. I remember that we all waited a very 
long time for them to arrive at a Punch and Judy show 
before the show could begin. All the French children 
started to imitate a cat's "meow" - "Where are the little 
cats?" 

A short and yet a long trip 

In 1907, when I was only ten years old, we were making 
our annual visit to Grandmother, the mother of my father, 
at Kemenka. This time we came straight from St. Petersburg 
by train. The closest railroad station was fifty kilometers 
from Kamenka, and those kilometers had to be covered in a 
horse-drawn carriage. That was a station where the express 
train usually never stopped; the engineer of the train had 
to be asked to stop just for long enough to get the passen 
gers out of the train with their luggage. When we got off 
the train at the station, an ancient, big carriage was 
waiting for us, an enclosed carriage drawn by six horses, 
four in a row and two ahead. They were driven by the old 
coachman, Vasili, who was a great giant. He was very, very 



- 76 - 

strong, and had a great family - seven sons and he did not 
know how many daughters. He said the girls did not count 
anyhow. He was very proud of the seven sons and all seven 
sons served in the Russian Infantry Guard Regiment because 
of their size. When the train stopped at that little 
station, it was late in the evening and most of the fifty 
kilometers had to be made after dark. It had rained 
heavily and at about the midway point there was a small 
narrow valley that would be called in California a "creek". 
Sometimes there was little water in the creek and sometimes 
there was so much that it could not be forded, but there 
was a bridge. Now those Russian bridges had a very great 
peculiarity. Everybody on the road tried to avoid the 
bridge if possible while crossing the small river or the 
dry creek. But when the bridge had to be used, the carriage 
stopped and the passengers got out and crossed the bridge 
on foot. The servants would walk across the bridge carrying 
all the luggage and then of the six horses the side and 
front horses would be detached and the empty carriage would 
be drawn very, very slowly across the bridge. The old 
coachman, Vasili, would take off his cap and make many re 
peated signs of the cross before he dared to cross that 
rickety bridge riding on that heavy carriage. And besides, 
it was pitch dark. Even before arriving at the bridge we 
had a little accident. The carriage was slipping right and 
left on the dirt road and so were the horses. One of the 



- 77 - 

side horses slid into a ditch, all its feet up in the air, 
and the horse was upsidedown in the ditch. Well, Vasili, 
the coachman, got off the box and approached that horse in 
the ditch and grabbed the horse's tail and he lifted that 
horse and put it back on its feet. And of course, being 
ten years old, I thought he was some kind of a miracle 
worker. When we came to that dangerous creek and that 
bridge, we were met by six grooms coming from my grandmother's 
estate. They had lances; one part of the lance was fixed 
to their stirrups and the other part had bags stuffed with 
straw and when we approached, those bags, soaked with 
kerosene, were lit. Torches, six men with torches on their 
lances, surrounded our carriage. My British governess, upon 
seeing those torches for the first time in her life, decided 
that they were there only to honor her because she represent 
ed the British Empire. It was typical of the British. 

There was another station, also fifty kilometers from 
Kamenka. In full summer, when the roads were dry, a two- 
horse carriage was sent to pick up my French tutor, M. Jules 
Drouin, whom I have mentioned many times. He rode by 
himself in that carriage and the fifty kilometers took about 
five hours of driving. The road passed through many villages 
and upon arriving Mr. Drouin said that he was really very 
touched by the politeness of all the villagers, who took off 
their caps as he drove by. He said, "I am convinced that 
all the Russian peasants were saluting in me the represent- 



- 78 - 

ative of Swiss democracy" . My Uncle Nicholas was there 
and he murmured into his beard, "What a darn fool, that 
Swissman. The peasants, seeing the horses and carriage 
and the livery and coachman of the estate of Kamenka would 
take off their caps even if that Swissman would have been 
replaced by a bag of potatoes". But M. Drouin kept to 
his illusions about democracy and the Russian peasants. 

Trip to Vienna 

I remember an experience about this same time when we 
were leaving Kodyma for a trip abroad. Kodyma was ten kilo 
meters distant from the railroad station so there was a 
carriage for my parents, drawn by four horses. There was 
a second carriage, with four horses, for me and my tutor. 
Our luggage was on a cart with four horses and with the 
cart there was a driver, a stable boy, and of course, the 
indispensible Nikita. For some reason we did not take the 
main railroad line, the espress train to Vienna. We took 
a second class railroad line where there were no rapid 
trains; and we were going leisurely through provincial 
Austria in that train when suddenly the conductor of the 
train appeared and declared that we must vacate our com 
partment and find someplace elsewhere, because this com 
partment was needed immediately for an important Austrian 
general. But my father got angry and said that he was a 
member of the Russian Duma, the Parliament, and he had no 
intention of vacating this compartment to anybody. 



- 79 - 

Probably the junior officer attached to the general was 
over zealous, because about fifteen minutes later the 
general himself appeared and presented his apologies to 
Father and told Father that he was very sorry about the 
incident. But that general - I do not remember his name - 
his appearance was obviously Jewish. And at my age of 
nine or ten, I was completely flabbergasted. How was it 
possible that a Jew might be in the uniform of a general? 
Because in the old days in Russia Jews were drafted, usually 
for supply units, cobblers and tailors and what have you, 
but they were never promoted to officers. That was 
politically a great mistake, and it had some disasterous 
consequences in 1917. 

When we arrived in Vienna, my parents, my tutor, and I, 
a porter put all of our luggage onto a little wheelbarrow 
and took it out to the street. On that street there was a 
covered carriage with only one horse. All four of us 
squeezed into that one carriage and all of our luggage was 
put on the roof. And so we drove into the city of Vienna, 
and my feelings were very hurt. In Russia, there were 
twelve horses and five or six men taking us to the station, 
and here in Vienna... so I felt bad. 

Trip to Karlsbad, Austria 

In 1909 we spent some time in Karlsbad, Austria. That 
time Father hired carriages in which we traveled about much 
of the countryside. I sat on the box with the driver and 



- 80 - 

chatted with him in my best German I told him all about 
Kodyma and particularly about the twenty horses we had 
there. The coachman just shook his head at the thought 
of twenty luxury horses. Later I told Father about my 
conversation with the coachman and he laughed and said, 
"Now I understand why the man barely thanked me when I 
gave him a tip of ten kronen" . 

At about this same time I was in love with Olga 
Izvolskij. She was my age. By coincidence, her father 
replaced Obolenski as the curator of the Holy Synod. My 
mother and I visited the Izvolskij family in the country 

* 

south of Moscow. They were great friends of my mother's. 
Olga had several older brothers and on the day of our 
visit they were all planning to go riding. I was given a 
horse too and took off at a gallop with .them all. My 
mother was amazed and I was too. That was the day I first 
met Olga. Her nickname was Mulya and she was not really 
pretty. She was a tomboy with an irresistable charm. 
Later, many boys - friends of her brothers - were charmed 
by her. In fact, when I was in school I thought that one 
way to tell if a boy was a liar was to ask him if he loved 
Olga. If he said no, then I was sure he was a liar. It 
did not seem to make any difference that she was actually 
unattractive. 

She treated me like a kid, as she was only interested 
in boys five or six years older than herself. She probably 



- 81 - 

noticed these feelings of mine and, whether out of annoy 
ance or pity, one day she talked with me about a friend of 
hers, a girl named Dina. Olga said that Dina was a very 
pretty girl and that she danced well. At the next dancing 
lesson, I looked for Dina. She was everything that Olga 
had said and I fell in love with her and remained faithful 
to her until I was twenty-one. At that time, when she was 
eighteen, I proposed to Dina. It was in a little town in 
south Russia. She said that she liked me and wished to be 
a friend of our childhood days. It was a classic answer. 
In fact, Dina never married anyone. Fifteen years later, 
in 1933, I met Dina accidentally while crossing a bridge 
over the Seine River in Paris. Dina was a ruin and she 
said, "That is what I look - like now". 

Last visit abroad 

In 1911 we went abroad for the last time. Our first 
stop was Homburg. At the time it was not only a famous 
Kurort where Mother could take advantage of the new mineral 
springs discovered there, but it was also known as the 
center of tennis sport. Even the youngest son of Kaiser 
Wilhelm was there to play tennis. My parents offered to 
give me tennis lessons that summer but I said no. I preferrec 
to ride about the countryside on bicycles with my tutor, for 
no one took us to be foreigners. 

The day that the new mineral spring was opened was a great 
occasion. Both Kaiser Wilhelm and King Edward IV of Britain 

v 



- 82 - 

were there for the opening. The other children and I 
stood on the street to watch the parade. Kaiser Wilhelm 
passed by wearing the full dress uniform of a British 
Admiral, while King Edward wore the full dress uniform of 
a German Admiral. 

After Homburg we travelled to Luzerne, Switzerland, where 
we lived in a hotel for a while. There was another hotel 
just across the street from us and one night at dinner time 
my mother noticed a young woman changing her clothes in 
front of her large window. The blinds were not drawn and 
the room was lit up. I soon took the binoculars in order 
to get a better look. Unfortunately my tutor quickly 
grabbed them from me, exclaiming "Bist du verruckt?" 
("Are you crazy"). In Luzerne there was an American family 
staying in the hotel, too. They had a twelve year old 
daughter who collected stamps just as I did. She wanted to 
know the words for Russian stamps. I told her that they 
were called kopejka: 1 kopejka, 2 kopejki, 3 kopejki, and 
5 kopejek. At this she said, "You Russians - you do have 
a hell of a language!" Then she wanted to know the Russian 
word for "hell", and I told her. She repeated it after me 
and said that it was easy. So she asked, "How do Russians 
say 'go to hell 1 ?" I told her that we do not send people 
to hell, but rather to the devil, "Idi k chertu" . This 
was, in a way, the beginning of my career as an instructor 
of Russian. Half a century later I taught hundreds of 



- 83 - 

students at Stanford. For this teaching I received a 
Certificate of Outstanding Eminence in Teaching and a life 
time honorary membership in the California Parent-Teacher 
Association. 

I also learned gambling from this American girl. It was 
legal in Switzerland at the time and the halls of our hotel 
had several "one-arm bandits". She taught me to use them. 
I got some Swiss coins to use in the machines and the first 
time, I doubled my money. The second time I lost it, then 
the third time I gained again, and I continued to play like 
this for a while. All of a sudden I hit the jackpot and 
won seven times my original money. I was elated at this 
and ran upstairs to tell my parents about my great luck. 
From the threshold of their door I could see my parents 
holding newspapers and their faces were distorted by amaze 
ment and grief. I knew that something was very wrong. My 
parents had just read the news of the assassination of 
Stolypin while he was at a theatre performance with the 
Tsar in Kiev. Later many Russians said that if Stolypin had 
not been assassinated, but rather the Tsar himself, it would 
have been less of a tragedy for Russia. 

Stolypin was the Tsar's Prime Minister, one of the most 
important of the Tsar's administrators. He had come from 
nowhere. At one time he had been an obscure member of the 
lower gentry, then he had a position as an administrator in 
a distant province. In 1905, however, Stolypin quelled the 



- 84 - 

revolution which took place that year. He was a great 
speaker; when Stolypin spoke, the Duma (Parliament) listened. 
Paragraph No. 86 in the Russian Constitution gave the 
Prime Minister the authority to take those measures which 
were necessary during an emergency. Stolypin used this 
authority liberally in 1905. He sent out government troops 
to fight the revolutionaries and he instituted courts to 
judge, condemn, and hang the revolutionaries. Leftists, 
terrorists, and all of their like detested Stolypin. The 
Prime Minister's instructions to the Russian soldiers we're: 
"The duty of a Russian soldier is to protect the Tsar from 
all external and internal enemies." When an illiterate but 
well-trained soldier was asked, "Who are externals?", the 
soldier replied, "Turks, Japanese, French, and Germans". 
When asked who the internal enemies were, the soldier 
answered, "Socialists, students, and all other types of 
rabble (svoloch)". 

During our stay in Luzerne, my tutor and I often took 
excursions into the mountains. We took the same route 
through the Swiss mountains that the Russian troops had 
taken under the command of Souvorov during the 18th century. 
Along the way we stopped at an inn for lunch. This inn was 
like a museum and had all sorts of things that the Swiss 
had found after the campaign of the Russian troops in 
Switzerland. The innkeeper had sent some things to the 
museum in St. Petersburg, established in memory of Souvorov. 



- 85 - 

He had got a reward for this, a portrait of Souvorov him 
self and one of Nicholas II and Alexandra. At the time I 
was amazed to see these huge portraits in their gilded 
frames in a little inn in Switzerland. We had an excellent 
meal there. The innkeeper's daughter served it and accepted 
our appropriate tip. 

It was autumn and the Swiss army was on maneuvers. 
There was no regular army but all Swiss men were required 
to do a month or so of training. A group of them came into 
a railroad station in Luzerne, into the luggage room, 
where they left their rifles and hand grenades just like 
ordinary baggage. I wondered how the Russian commander of 
the Horse Guards would have reacted had he seen that - he 
probably would have fainted. 

From Luzerne we travelled to St. Moritz. It was then, 
as it is now, a very fashionable resort spot. In St. Moritz 
we made a trip on the Zahnradbahn, i.e., the mountain train. 
We were in the last carriage and during the trip it got 
loose from the other cars going up the steep hill. It 
looked awfully bad - people panicked and rushed to the doors. 
My mother started to jump too, but Father grabbed her and 
made all of us stay in the car. Eventually our car came to 
a halt. Those who had jumped had been hurt but those who 
stayed in the car had not been. Father said, "Never follow 
a panicky crowd" . 

Our next stop was a place called Tarasp Vulpera, in 



- 86 - 

lower Switzerland, right next to Austria. We went by 
coach with a driver and six horses and also a bugler. At 
every turn on the mountain road the bugler sounded his 
horn to let other people on the road know that we were 
there. When we arrived in Tarasp Vulpera there was a 
festival going on. There was a shooting contest and my 
father was the only foreigner to participate. Father won 
second prize in the target shooting contest and this was 
very .good - the Swiss are known for their marksmanship. 
Once, when my tutor and I were taking a walk in the area 
we got lost. We came to a highway but we did not know 
whether to go right or left. There were some workmen 
nearby and we asked them in German for directions. They 
did not understand our questions so my tutor tried in 
Italian. The workmen were angry at hearing Italian. 
Finally I tried Latin - they smiled at that and understood 
every word. They were, in fact, Latiners, descendants of 
Romans who had been deported to this place. They detested 
Germans and Italians. This was one time when my classic 
Latin education had a practical use. 

Visiting Grandmother at Kamenka 

On very many occasions as a young lad, and the last time 
as an officer on leave, I visited my grandmother, my father's 
mother, on her estate of Kamenka. Kamenka was managed by 
an overseer. Grandmother and her maid for many many years 
managed the huge house, and all her grandchildren would come 



- 87 - 

to visit her during summer vacation. The manager of 
that estate, as I have mentioned, was a Pole, a very good 
manager, but his wife, a Polish woman, was quite a character. 
The house in which the manager lived was almost next to 
Grandmother's big house and not far away in the direction 
of the village there stood a church. Grandmother, in spite 
of her age (she must have been a little younger than I am 
now, that means she must have been between 75 and 80) , always 
walked leisurely to the church service, which meant for 
Grandmother maybe 15 or 20 minutes walking. But the manager's 
wife always drove from her house to the church in a carriage 
with four horses. Once my Grandmother asked her why she 
did that and she answered that being a Polish woman, her 
dignity as the wife of the manager did not allow her to come 
to church otherwise. 

My grandfather Stenbock-Fermor ' s name was Wilhelm, but 
since there is no such name in the Russian calendar, all 
people who had that name were called Vasili, which means 
Basil. And so my Grandfather was Vasili and Grandmother 
used to joke and say, "All my life I have been married to 
Wilhelm and for some reason all my children are called in 
Russian sons of Vasili" . My grandfather had been a Protest 
ant all his life and when he was dying, as of course there 
was no Protestant clergyman for a hundred or more miles 
around, the priest came from the Russian church and gave 
him the holy sacraments. On his dying bed, Grandfather 



- 88 - 

became Russian Orthodox and he was buried in the enclosure 
of that church at Kamenka. 

My grandmother went to church very regularly and the 
priest of the church was very cultured, which unfortunately 
was not always so of the Russian clergy in far away places 
in the country. When there came the news in the papers that 
Tsar Alexander III had died, Grandmother wanted the priest 
to say a funeral mass for the soul of the dead Tsar. The 
priest said, "I would like to but I cannot. I cannot until 
I get official orders from the center where the Bishop 
resides, far away. I cannot consider the Tsar as dead only 
on the grounds of what the newspapers wrote. I know it is 
so, but I have to wait for official orders and they probably 
will not come for a month or more" . So my grandmother 
asked, "What are you going to do because at every mass when 
the priest comes out of the altar he says a prayer for the 
Emperor and the Empress and all the family?" Grandmother 
continued, "You cannot sanction a dead man as if he were 
still living, so what are you going to do?" The priest 
said, "I will pray all night; God will instruct me." The 
next day was Sunday, and at mass Grandmother was waiting for 
something to happen. When the priest came out with the holy 
sacraments and started the prayer for the Imperial family, 
he omitted the name of Tsar Alexander III completely as if 
he had never existed, then went on mentioning the Empress 
and all the members of the Imperial family. And so 



- 89 - 

Grandmother said later, actually for over a month there 
was no Tsar in Kamenka and we were under the reign of 
Empress Mary. The priest was wise, he followed the 
regulations and he found a way to turn a difficult sharp 
corner. 

An aunt of mine told me much later that when she 
revisited that place many years after Russia had become 
Soviet Russia, neither the house nor the church existed 
any more; there was just a clear field with nothing on it. 

MEMORIES ABOUT INTERESTING PEOPLE AND EVENTS 
Joska 

My early infancy and pre-school years ended in 1908. 
I was eleven years old then. During that time I spent long 
summers on my parents' estate, Kodyma, in south Russia. 
"Kodyma" is a Turkish word meaning "military outpost". On 
the first day of every month during the summer, a man whom 
everybody called Joska would appear at our house. I knew 
that Joska was a diminutive of the name Joseph, but I 
wondered why everybody used his diminutive name. I was 
even upset about it but hid this feeling from everyone. 
Joska was old, dignified, and very polite; he had an 
impressive long white beard and dressed in a way that seemed 
very strange to me, always in black and with a very long 
kaftan in spite of the summer heat. He wore an unusual 
black felt hat all summer. When Joska "s arrival was 
announced to Father, he would order the servants to let 



- 90 - 

Joska into his study. He would ask Joska to sit down but 
Joska never did, and each time he would say to Father, "Your 
lordship, I can also stand". Now this same ceremony 
repeated itself for months and months and then for years 
and years. 

One month Joska asked my father for a loan of 100 rubles 
in cash ($50,00 in those days) . The next month he returned 
the loan in cash. One month later he asked for the same 
amount, then returned the loan, and so on. I wondered 
about this and finally asked someone, but not Father. I 
asked the manager of our estate, a shrewd and barely 
literate old man. His explanation was simple: "Because 
of your father's kindness, young sir, Joska has working 
capital of 600 rubles a year without having to pay any 
interest!" 

Joska brought us meat. He was a butcher and a rabbi 
and only kosher meat could be depended upon to be good 
and fresh. The estate was self-sufficient in poultry and 
pigs, but meat had to be obtained from Joska. He lived 
miles away from our estate in a place which was neither a 
village nor a city. The Russian name for such a place 
was "mestechko" , a diminutive form of the word "mesto" , 
meaning "place". This place was by no means little. It 
was a very big village and part of it was inhabited by 
a Jewish population. 



- 91 - 

The Jewish problem in Imperial Russia 

So here I am starting to write about "the Jewish 
problem" in Imperial Russia. For reasons that I cannot 
understand to this day, Jews were restricted in many ways. 
They could not be landowners, but they had rented many, 
many estates for generations. They were drafted into the 
army but could not be officers. Only a token percentage 
of Jews were admitted to the universities. I would not use 
the modern expression "racism" here, because from the moment 
that a person of the Jewish race became a Protestant (Jews 
rarely became Greek Orthodox) , he acquired all his rights. 

* 

I myself knew members of the highest Russian society at 
the Court of the Tsar who were of the Jewish race but 
professed to be Christians, at least officially. Moevis, 
a captain of the artillery of the Imperial Guards, was a 
typically handsome Jew. He looked 100 percent Jewish and 
it was a rare occurence to find someone like him. He was 
an honorary ADC to the Tsar Nicholas II and he married a 
Princess Galitsin, a striking beauty and a member of one of 
the oldest and most historically notable families of the 
Russian nobility. Count D. Tolstoy, director of the 
Hermitage in St. Petersburg, was married to a lady of the 
Jewish race on her mother's side. The grand old lady 
(Count D. Tolstoy's mother-in-law) was 10O percent Jewish 
by birth and was the honorary lady-in-waiting to both the 
Tsar's wife and to the Dowager Empress, widow of Tsar 



- 92 - 

Alexander III. 

In the year 1906, there was a general strike all over 
Russia. No trains were running and we were stuck in Kodyma 
in deep fall weather. It was getting cold. My mother needed 
a warm dress; the stuff was there, but the dress had to be 
made. So, a tailor was summoned from Novy-Bug, that was 
thirteen kilometers away from our estate, to make my 
mother's dress. When he appeared, the tailor was Jewish, 
as all tailors were. When mother asked him whether he 
could make the dress, he was almost offended. He said, 
"of course, your Ladyship, I can make a dress for you. Two 
years before, I made the slipcovers of the big carriage." 
Of course, we laughed very much about the comparison, my 
mother and the big carriage. Then, he asked to be paid not 
in money, but in ducks, live ducks. We had a poultry farm 
on the other side of the pond and there we had white, 
so-called Peking ducks, that were very unusual and rare in 
those days. And here was the start of bartering, which then 
became so commonplace during the war and the days of the 
revolution. And this tailor was very proud to have the same 
white ducks at his home as we had at Kodyma. 

More about Joska 

In the autumn of 1905 all railroads and telegraphs 
and the postal service in Russia were on strike. It was an 
attempt at a revolution, a reaction to the unsuccessful war 
in the Far East against Japan. I was eight years old. We 



- 93 - 

were stranded at Kodyma. There was no way of getting back 
to the city of St. Petersburg as we usually did in the fall. 
Gangs of city and village rabble and have-nots roamed the 
countryside, looting and burning the estates of the landed 
gentry and the well-to-do farmers. These latter and the 
clergy were the most hated by the revolutionary rabble and 
were often tortured to death. At Kodyma we had no neighbors 
who were owners of large estates, but there were many 
wealthy farmers. At night we could see huge fires burning 
on the horizon. 

Our permanent employees, numbering about 20, went to 



father asking for weapons with which to protect the estate. 
Actually, they wanted to protect their own families and 

jobs. So father sent a request for arms to the governor of 

Kh tfh 

the district of Herson. The city of Herson was about 

100 versts from Kodyma. Incidentally, the district of 

Kh 

Herson was, in square miles, about as big as half of France. 
There was no reply to father's request and none to his 
second request. The district was officially in a state of 
siege. So when Joska came along bringing our meat, he 
was asked about the possibility of finding arms. About 
ten days later Joska came back, bringing with him in his 
cart twenty military rifles and one thousand cartridges. 
For each rifle he charged and received one hundred rubles. 

Family affairs were handled by Joska, procurement of 
illegal arms, as well as every other transaction, be it the 



- 94 - 

sale of an estate, a horse, a dog, or what have you. It was 
a common joke to ask who had more actual power in the 
district, the governor appointed by St. Petersburg, or Joska. 

But Joska was not alone or unique. Every district or 
sub-district had a "Joska." It was an organization, an 
underground, a very effective chain of command that covered 
all of south and southwest Russia and had connections in 
the big cities like Odessa and even Moscow and St. Peters 
burg. 

As I mentioned before, Joska was a rabbi.. The Jewish 
ethnic group was excluded from making careers in the 
military or civil service, but Jews could earn their liveli 
hoods in commerce and banking. They took over in these 
fields. They also flooded the so-called liberal professions, 
such as those of lawyers, doctors and druggists. 

Dr. Bardach was a very well-known doctor in Odessa, a 
highly respected gentleman, wise, kind, and very wealthy. 
A Mr. Gordon was a druggist in St. Petersburg, and all the 
drugs for the Tsar and his family came from the Gordon 
drugstore. A Mr. Ginsburg was a very rich merchant in coal. 
He had international connections and arranged coal deliveries 
to the Russian warships sailing from St. Petersburg around 
half of the world to the shores of Japan. It ended with a 
dramatic sea battle and the sinking of the Russian ships. 
But a lot has been written about that. 

For many centuries Jews were the managers of large and 



- 95 - 

small estates owned by the Russian and, more often, the 
Polish gentry in south and southwest Russia, also called 
the Ukraina. This word literally means "at the border." 
The border of what? - Of "Moskovia," that is, Russia 
proper. 

Well, the owners of large estates lived on them, but in 
the winter months they usually lived in city mansions. And 
the management of such estates was, for many centuries, 
entrusted to Jewish managers. They could count money and 
keep the books, since they were taught to read and write 
in synagogue schools, while the general population, ethnic 
ally Slavs, remained illiterate. 

Such Jewish managers had to collect money from the 
peasants who rented land from the big landowners. Collect 
ing money never endears the collector to the debtors. They 
often have to exercise some kind of pressure in order to 
get the money. In past centuries one of these pressures 
was to induce or bribe local authorities (the police) to 

j_ _ 

close a church until the peasantry payed up. In those days 
religious feelings, whether Roman Catholic or Russian 
Orthodox, were much stronger than they are now. The closing 
of the churches by non-Christians as a measure of coercion 
was violently resented and generated hatred among the 
general population, but did not affect the upper class. 
Money collectors and money lenders are never beloved and 
are often hated. Such hatred remained in the bone-marrow 



- 96 - 

of the lower social level of the Russian peasantry for 
generation after generation. 

At the age of nine or ten I myself remember telling my 
nurse that the Holy Virgin Mary, mother of Christ, was of 
Jewish race, in short, a Jewgirl. My nurse dashed to the 
corner of the nursery where there was an icon, an oil lamp 
permanently burning, and a little jar of holy water. My 
nurse sprinkled me with holy water. She made me get on my 
knees, and she stayed with me and prayed that I would be 
forgiven by the Holy Virgin for my blasphemy. 

Later my nurse confronted Mother and blamed my behavior 
not so much on me, her adored little Vanechka, as on the 
influence of my first tutor, Herr Friedenthal, a Bait, a 
Protestant, a university student and probably a revolution 
ary socialist, a disguised enemy of the Tsar and of all of 
holy Russia. My nurse must have made a real big row in 
order for me to remember this incident that took place over 
a half a century ago! 

Considering their status of second class citizens, 
deprived of many rights and means of existence, it is a 
small wonder that all Jews developed a genius for organi 
zation and discipline and had no love for Russians, be they 
members of the ruling class or of the general population. 

In the year 1917 Russia floundered in chaos. The 
Tsar abdicated. The army disintegrated. Civil war began. 
Volumes upon volumes have been written about those events. 



- 97 - 

In the later chapters of my memoirs you will be able to 
read about how it all affected me, if you have that much 
patience. 

At this point I would like to call to your attention 
a comment of Lenin's. He was not Jewish. Lenin once said, 
"If it had not been for the enthusiastic support of Jews 
and their genius for organization, I would never have been 
able to make a revolution and make it triumph." 

During the period of civil war most leaders on the 
Red side, the most important leaders as well as the lesser 
ones, were Jewish. They were called "political commissars." 
The top man was Leon Trotsky Bronstein. 

Means of Transportation 

In. 1910, when I was thirteen, Father and I began to ride 
daily together from 5 to 7 each afternoon. He had learned 
to ride with his father and he was just as strict with me 
about my riding as his father had been with him. This 
training was later a great advantage for me. Normally, 
Father and I never went beyond the boundaries of Kodyma. 
One time, I did manage to coax him into a ride through a 
forest. It was owned by the government and was a rather 
sickly forest. It represented an unsuccessful attempt by 
some bureaucrats to reforest the steppes and thereby to 
change the dry climate of south Russia. Unless people from 
the surrounding villages came twice yearly to clean the 
area of grasses, the trees would be edged out by those 



- 98 - 

grasses which were natural to the steppes. For a time the 
villagers did do this, but during the First World War no 
one was available to do it. By 1917 the grasses had killed 
all the trees. 

Although my father usually rode a horse on the estate, 
he was interested in motors when they became available. For 
a while he used a motorbike to get around the land. It was 
a very heavy, unwieldy machine and thoroughly unsuited for 
the roadless Russian provinces, as it tended to sink both 
in mud and in dust. Once, when crossing a dam on his motor 
bike, Father met a cart full of lumber driven by a peasant. 
The horses reared and upset the cart with the lumber and the 
peasant was thrown into the bushes. Father went over to see 
if the man was hurt. The peasant told, him no, he was 
not hurt, but he knew what he would have said if "it were 
not his lordship on the motorbike" . Father eventually gave 
the motorbike to Nikita. Nikita removed the engine and used 
his feet to propel himself about on the bike. 

A few years later cars became available in south Russia 
and during the summer months when the roads were hard and 
dry one could use them. One day when I was sixteen, we were 
expecting Uncle Vladimir and his family to visit us. They 
planned to make the trip by car. It was a rainy day, though, 
and they were late in arriving. Eventually a cousin came 
on horseback and told us that their car had got stuck in the 
mud on one of the dams. Dmitri Fedorovich sent a team of 



- 99 - 

oxen to pull the car out of the mud. The car arrived with 
its passengers at our house drawn by oxen, much to the 
delight of Dmitri Fedorovich and all of the coachmen. 

The Automobile comes to Russia 

I was about seven years old, with my parents in the city 
of Biarritz, France, also with a cousin of mine who was then 
about sixteen or seventeen. My father hired a horseless 
carriage, a kind of contraption that started appearing then, 
and we went out for a drive in the mountains. On the eve of 
that day, my cousin sent a telegram to her mother, who was 
then living on her estate in the depths of Russia, in the 
Ural region. The telegram said, "Mother, pray for me. 
Tomorrow I am going for a ride in a horseless carriage." 
So, the horseless carriage appeared in front of our door. 
The coachman had huge goggles and a fur coat, the fur out 
side; and it was the month of July. We also donned heavy 
coats, got into the car, and started for the mountains. 
A railroad track ran parallel to the road, and a train was 
running on the tracks. My cousin asked the coachman - also 
called chauffeur - if he could run the car faster than the 
train. It was a challenge. So he accelerated the car to 
a neck-breaking speed, an irresponsible rapidity for this 
kind of a road, and we were driving thirtyfive kilometers 
per hour. Then, mother protested because of the jolts; so 
he slowed down to the normal speed of thirty miles per hour. 



- 100 - 

When my cousin came back to Petersburg, she coaxed her 
mother, Aunt Nadia Tolstoy, into buying a car. So, my aunt 
was one of the first persons in Petersburg to have a car. 
I remember it as if this car were right now standing in front 
of my door. It was an open car, red in color. She used it 
to drive in the city of Petersburg, .shopping or visiting; 
but driving beyond the city, into the surrounding suburbs 
that was rather risky. When you came up to a bridge, it 
was safer to get out of the car and cross the bridge on 
foot, to make sure that the bridge was sturdy enough to 
carry a car. Of course the big bridges in the central part 
of the city, crossing the Neva, could carry cars. 

One day, I was playing at home with my cousins, when 
their Grandmother came up in a horse-drawn carriage, with 
beautiful horses. She picked up the two boys, her grand 
children, to take them for a drive to the islands in the 
estuary of the Neva; but she did not take me. This old 
lady was really famous for her unkindness and mean character. 
Of course, there was enough room for me, but she just 
wanted her own grandsons and nobody else. I was very upset, 
and as a very spoiled boy, I started yelling and weeping. 
All of a sudden, there drives up Aunt Nadia in her red car. 
She came in and asked, "What is the matter with little 
Vania?" So I told her. She detested the grand old lady 
who had just taken away my cousins. So she said, "All 
right, Vania, get into the car, and we are going to drive 



- 101 - 

to the islands." So, we drove out to the islands, and there 
we met the carriage. The horses got frightened with such 
an unusual gadget on the street - they bolted and almost 
upset the carriage. My cousins started weeping because I 
was in a car; and their grandmother was very much disturbed 
and angry. But Aunt Nadia was delighted, and so was I, 
because I had outdone my two cousins. 

In 1912 there was the first big car show, because the 
Russian government, the ministry of war, had decided to buy 
some cars for the army. Cars were not produced in Russia. 
They were produced in Germany, many of them in France, 
some in England, and of course, everyone wanted to sell cars 
to the Russian army. At that show, one of the sellers of 
Rolls-Roy^ cars stuck to my father like a leach, because my 
father was president of the Russian Imperial Aeroclub and 
a member of Parliament. Father told him very bluntly that 
he was in no case whatsoever a buyer of a Rolls-Royce. The 
Rolls-Royce then cost 22,000 rubles in gold. However, he 
insisted so much, that in order to get rid of him father 
consented to take a ride. Of course, I was with him. We 
went to the islands and back again. It was late in the 
winter - very early spring maybe - and some of the roads 
were still iced. On a very busy corner of the Nyevsky 
Prospect, the car had to slow down to let pedestrians pass. 
The car stopped - anyhow, it was barely moving - but when 
it finally stopped completely, the rear of the car slid a 



- 102 - 

little sideways, to the right and the rear of the car 
touched - not hit, touched - an elderly man. The chauffeur 
driving the car, a British mechanic, did not even feel this. 
But the old man slipped, fell backwards, and was dead. We 
did not even realize at that moment that our car had killed 
a man. Of course there was an investigation, but I do not 
remember the result. 

One of the Rolls-Royce cars was bought by one of the 

tj~\ 
officers of my regiment, Grand Duke John of the Romanov family 

and with it came a British mechanic to drive the car around 
Petersburg and vicinity, and they even went as far as Moscow 
in that car. As a result of all this, the Rolls-Royce less 
than six months later was a total wreck. It was not intended 
for Russian roads. 

There was great competition between all the car makers, 
and so the war minister decided to make an experiment and 
have a race of all the cars through Russia. They all had 
to start in St. Petersburg and go westward to the city of 
Minsk, the region called "White Russia", then all the way 
south to Odessa, from there to Poltava, thence to Kharkov, 
and Moscow, and back to Petersburg. Which car would make 
it faster back to the starting point? Only one of all the 
cars competing made it back, all the others were either 
wrecked or stuck on their way. The only car that made it 
back to Petersburg was a Ford. Then, of course, Fords 
were ordered for the army. And during the First World War, 



- 103 - 

my cousin, who was a nurse on the front lines, - and they 
had some Fords - said that they were the only car that was 
actually usable because when a Ford went out of commission, 
what happened? A pair of oxen or a team of horses was 
harnessed to the Ford, and the journey continued! 

One of my cousins could never call a Ford car a car. 
He said, "It is not an automobile. It is some kind of a 
contraption in which you can drive. It does not deserve 
to be called an automobile." They looked like spiders, with 
very high wheels - they did not look imposing and refined. 

Finally, at that show of cars, my parents decided to buy 
a car, and they bought one. This car had a British motor, 
a Hotchkiss. This was the motor also used then for the 
British field artillery, and they were excellent. The rest 
of the car was made in France. 

In those- days, all those auto makers always presented 
one of their models to the garage of the Imperial Court, 
just for the sake of advertising. The cars of the Imperial 
Court from the year before were then auctioned and sold. 
So the Court always had new cars, actually most of them were 
never used by the Emperor in person. At that time I heard 
about a last year's car being sold, a Mercedes-Benz. The 
carosserie - the body of this car - was built by a very 
famous designer of carriages in Berlin. Now he was 
designing the car bodies and putting them together with the 
motors. And this was a very beautiful piece, and cost the 



- 104 - 

same amount as the car my parents bought. The Hotchkiss 
was a very good car, but it had no looks - there was no 
comparison between it and this Mercedes-Benz built especial 
ly for the Tsar of Russia. Of course, I was very eager to 
buy that car, but my parents bought the Hotchkiss. Many 
years later, when we were all immigrants and reminiscing . 
about the years of my youth, I asked my mother, "Why didn't 
you and Papa buy that car? I wanted it so much, and it cost 
the same as the car you bought?" She calmly replied, "We 
did not buy the Tsar's car because of you." "What do you 
mean, because of me! Didn't you know that I wanted it so 
much?" "Yes, but Father decided that he did not want young 
Vania to be so offish and to ride around St. Petersburg in 
the Tsar's car. It would not be good for his education." 

I meet Sikorsky - My first flight 

It was 1912. I was fifteen years old and living with 
my parents. I happened to be in the study room of my father 
when a servant announced the arrival of the young engineer 
Sikorsky. For some reason, he immediately made a great 
impression on me. His hair was extremely untidy and long, 
and it was not the fashion in those days. And then, his huge 
black eyes, that I cannot forget for my whole life; and his 
huge black eyes gave him the expression like he was somewhat 
crazy. Probably, that was the sign of a genius, because 
he proved later really to be a most unusual genius. This 



- 105 - 

young engineer came to tell my father that he had blue 
prints for a different kind of a flying machine, an aero 
plane that instead of having just one motor, had four 
motors, and could lift up into the air fifteen or twenty 
passengers - a huge machine. When he showed those blue 
prints to the Russian War Ministry, the old generals had 
one look and said, "We cannot afford to spend the crown 
money, the Tsar's money, on some kind of fancy toys." My 
father asked him, "Well, according to your calculations, 
how much would it cost to build such a plane at a private 
plant?" Of course, every single little part for such a 
plane would have to be made by hand. Sikorsky said that 
such a plane would cost forty thousand gold rubles. Soon, 
this sum was raised from private persons, my father con 
tributing - he was a member of Parliament - and a private 
plant started working on that unusual gadget. Shortly 
before Christmas, 1912, Sikorsky reported that that plane 
was ready and had been tested. He invited Father to take 
part in a flight of that plane. Of course, I held on to 
my father's coats for dear life to go along. It was a 
wintery day, and snow was falling all over St. Petersburg; 
and we had just gotten the news of the death of a distant 
relative. So, before going to the racecourt where the plane 
stood, because that was the only place where such a gadget 
could stand, we went to the cathedral in St. Petersburg for 
a Requiem Mass. That was a kind of an omen, we had the 



- 106 - 

feeling: wouldn't there be the next day a Requiem Mass for 
us because of our attempt to fly on that gadget? Anyhow, 
we went to that racecourt, convinced that there would be no 
flight in such a snowstorm. When we arrived, the plane was 
barely visible at a distance. Sikorsky said that there was 
absolutely no reason why we should not fly. It was not a 
storm actually, but snow was falling thick and fast. The 
plane itself stood on skis. Well, we mounted into that 
plane, and Sikorsky went into the engine compartment all by 
himself and started the motors. The roar of the motors 
was such that one could not hear a word if it was not whisp 
ered absolutely so to say from lip to ear. In the passenger 
compartment there was a card table, two wicker chairs, a 
very narrow corridor went into the tail part of the plane, 
and in the tail part of the plane there was a tiny cubicle 
with a certain commodity. The plane's motors roaring, snow 
flying all around us, we did not realize whether we were 
sliding on those skis or whether we were up airborn, not 
before we were some twohundred meters above the ground. 
Then we realized that we were up in the air. Next to that 
racecourt there was a forest of pinetrees, very ancient, 
very tall pinetrees; and above those pinetrees there were 
all the time lots of crows flying. I admired those pine- 
trees and those crows, looking upward at them. Now, I was 
looking at them downward, and that impressed me very much. 
On we flew, and we flew right over the city of Petersburg. 



-107 - 

All of a sudden, because of the excitement, I felt kind of 
uncomfortable in my belly, and I rushed through that narrow 
corridor, and I used that cubicle. I am very much afraid 
that it was just the moment when we were overflying the 
Winter Palace. We flew on, and then Sikorsky came out of 
the machine room, and there was nobody in the machine room 
any more. He just wanted to show how he trusted his plane, 
and how stable it was. We told him that we believed in the 
stability, but would he please go back to the machine room. 
There were fifteeen aboard: my father, some members of 
Parliament, the Chief of Staff of the Russian Guard troops, 
the vice-president of the Russian Aeroclub - my father was 
the president of it - and some other persons I do not 
remember. When we asked Sikorsky to go back to his pilot 
cabin, he kind of took offense. Then, without any warning, 
when we were about 2,000 feet up in the air, overflying the 
summer residence of the Tsar, he switched off the motors, 
all four of them. From that roaring, suddenly dead silence. 
Then, the plane went gliding down at a sharp angle. I was 
sitting in one of the wicker chairs. My father was standing 
next to the wicker chair. And because the surface of that 
floor, of course, was under a very different angle, my 
father fell to one of his knees. I observed the expressions 
of other people on that plane for a fraction of a second, 
expressions that reflected, "This is the end." But it was 
not. And then, Sikorsky came back to the racecourt where 



- 108 - 

we started, and our flight was over. 

It was a great success. Immediately, several big planes 
were ordered and made at the expense of the army. By 1914, 
there were maybe six or eight of them, and everybody con 
sidered them to be good for bombing. No other country had 
any such big planes at that time. But unfortunately, the 
army high command did not realize the way how to use those 
planes. They could carry a heavy load of bombs, but they 
were slow in their flight, and German fighters were very . 
rapid in their flight. So, some of the Sikorsky planes 
were destroyed in the air. It did not occur to anybody 
that those slow, heavy planes should be escorted by Russian 
fighter plances for protection. Now, it seems so clear to 
any young boy of school age. But in those days, the old 
generals just did not know what to do with those planes, not 
only the big ones, but even the smaller ones. Each head 
quarters of the Army corps had in 1915 small reconnaissance 
planes that could carry one or two persons for reconnaissance. 
They were attached to the headquarters, but headquarters 
did not know when and how to use them. One of my friends 
whom I met many years later in San Francisco was an officer 
of the generals' staff, and he got orders from his army 
commander to deliver a very urgent, very important message 
to a neighboring corps commander. He got an order to take 
a car - a pool of cars was of course attached to headquarters 
and to take that message over, a trip of maybe forty or fifty 



- 109 - 

kilometers. The chauffeur of that car said, "Sir, orders 
are orders, so let's start. But I cannot guarantee that 
we will ever get to our destination, because in springtime 
the Russian roads are bottomless mud. We have ninety- 
nine percent chance if not all hundred to get stuck some 
where on the road, and that urgent message will never reach 
its destination." Another young officer, a pilot, overheard 
that conversation, and he was bored to death just walking 
around his plane doing nothing, and not having any assign 
ment whatsoever. He said to my friend, "Sir, if you want 
to get into my plane, I will fly you to those headquarters." 
That is what he did. Half an hour later, my friend 
delivered his message, and another half an hour later, he 
was back at his own headquarters. There he ran into the 
army commander, and the army commander started yelling at 
him, saying, "I have ordered you to deliver an urgent 
message to such and such a place, and you are still here!" 
Well, my friend saluted smartly and said, "Your Excellency, 
I am already back, message delivered." 

Well, I think nowadays most young generation Americans 
know what a Sikorsky plane is. Sikorsky managed to leave 
Soviet Russia to come early enough to the United States to 
have a plant here and to continue inventions. He was the 
man who invented the so-called "choppers." Without that 
Russian engineer Sikorsky, there probably would not have 
been any choppers around. So that was one of the very many 



- 110 - 

contributions to the United States that gave such a free 
asylum to many Russians, and they repaid it as best they 
could. In a very small degree, one of them is probably me, 
because I have taught Russian, and there are now several of 
my former students who are - professors in \^_ American 
universities. 

Theater - an early part of our social lives 

My Aunt Nadya Tolstoy was a granddaughter of Alexander 
Stenbock-Fermor and his wife, Nadejda Jakovlev, and she had 
the same difficult disposition and character as the legend 
ary Aunt Jakovlev. Nadejda Jakovlev died when I was only 
three years old. And here was Aunt Nadya, who was the same 
age as my mother but by the family tree also was of the 
same generation as I was. So, one day she gave me a beauti 
ful protrait of herself and on that portrait she wrote: 
"To my dear cousin Ivan", and she signed, "Aunt Nadya". She 
had a son Alexander, who was born a few months after the 
death of his father. Alexander had two sisters much older 
than I was and he belonged to the group of my close boy 
friends. There were five or six of us. 

When Aunt Nadya liked somebody, she liked them very 
much and spoiled them, but when she disliked somebody, she 
really disliked them! She had what was called "une dame de 
companie" , a lady companion, who was half servant and half 
friend and who was responsible for the household. She was 
of Baltic-German origin, about the same age as Aunt Nadya. 



- Ill - 

She spoke Russian rather poorly but she loved good food, 
and Aunt Nadya had a wonderful cook. That poor lady said 
once or twice, "It is terrible. The food is so good, but 
I cannot swallow it because I am so afraid of the Countess 
Tolstoy. I just cannot swallow it." Of course we all 
laughed at her. 

Aunt Nadya had a box at the Imperial Theater in 
St. Petersburg which was used for daytime shows of opera 
and ballet. Her son loved music, but then he was only ten 
years old. I was fourteen and we were in that group of 
boys all about the same age, between ten and fourteen. 
Every other Sunday we went to the theater to a ballet or 
opera performance and it was a great, great treat. One 
day we had an extra boy invited, but our box in the theater 
would hold only seven people. And of course we boys were 
always accompanied by a tutor, and usually it was our French 
tutor, Monsieur Jules H. Drouin. As there was no place in 
the box for eight people, one place in the front rows was 
bought for this extra man, and none of us boys was very 
keen to sit there all by himself. So Monsieur Drouin was 
delighted to be in this seat below and to enjoy the show 
all by himself, while we boys were left alone in the box. 
In the entreacts, M. Drouin came up and I remember his face 
and his words when he said to us, "Boys oh boys, at your 
age you do not realize where you are." And these perform 
ances of the Russian Imperial Theater were really quite 



- 112 - 

c 

outstanding. .. the performance of the famous basso Shalyapin, 
or the ballerina Pavlova, and the others, but we boys just 
took it for granted. And the theater, drama, or ballet 
were a way of life in Russia. Those Imperial theaters 
were so called because they were subsidised financially by 
the sums of the Russian Imperial Court; it was never just 
a commercial enterprise as in other countries. It was 
never in the red, because it was always financed by sums 
coming from the Imperial Court. The schools, theater and 
ballet schools, were also subsidised by the Imperial Court 
and so the Russian theater plays and the ballet, even half 
a century later, are still welcomed all over the world... 
this is perhaps the one and only tradition of Imperial 
Russia which has survived in the communist Soviet Union 
of today. 

Christmas at Aunt Nadya . 

Aunt Nadya, when Christmas time came, had in her apart 
ment in St. Petersburg a big Christmas tree, set up in the 
ballroom, and decorated, and the decorations consisted of 
all kinds of little presents for everybody, some quite 
valuable, small things in silver, small toys, not just small 
plain decorations. The tree was lit up with wax candles, 
not electric bulbs, and when the candles burned down, one 
of Autn Nadya's guests, Admiral Prince Vyazemsky (who was 
in command of all the Imperial Navy as well as of the 
personal yacht of the Emperor; he was a rather short, 



- 113 - 

broad-shouldered, and very sturdy man) went down on his 
knees in front of the Christmas tree, and with one hand 
grabbing the tree near the bottom, he tipped it over so it 
was lying on the floor. And then came the looting of the 
Christmas tree. All of us children were supplied with 
scissors and we could loot the tree. We enjoyed it very 
much, because probably all Russians have a drop of some 
Mongol blood from the Tartars who looted Russia centuries 
earlier. The greatest joy for all of us seven or eight 
boys was the looting - it is funny', but in that group there 
were no little girls our age, there was just that gang of 
boys, and after having looted the tree each of us had a 
table to himself for all the loot, set up in the next 
living room, what was then called a drawing room, or guest 
room. And then we went from table to table and bartered 
whatever loot we had, and somehow the son of Aunt Nadya, 
Alexander, was the greatest barterer of us all, so he had 

/ 

at his table all the best things. 

Now I must make a jump of many years, to 1931. I was 
in Paris and I was in a very difficult situation, financial 
ly and otherwise, and in the process of obtaining a divorce 
from my first wife. Alexander, with Aunt Nadya, offered me 
room and board. I lived with them in Paris for several 
months and they were extremely kind to me and understanding, 
So that friendship between us lasted almost half a century. 



- 114 - 

A special visit to the theater 

At the moment my memory takes me back to the Russian 
Imperial Theater, to the ballet. My father loved the ballet 
very much. He wrote a text for a ballet and a friend of his 
wrote the music for it, and this was the first ballet 
presented in the costumes of the epoch which my father 
wrote about, and that epoch belonged to antique Rome. The 
ballet was called Ernila and it was danced in the costumes 
of ancient Rome. A rising young ballerina, Karsavina, 
barely out of ballet school, was the prima ballerina. The 
whole set-up was arranged by a young artist by the name of 
Fokin. It was a great innovation in the ballet, which had 
always been danced in the classical ballet tunics. 

My father had a reservation - he had a chair in the pit 
for all three performances, but as he was a member of the 
Russian Parliament, he was sometimes summoned to Parliament 
for an extra meeting, and at the last moment he could not 
make the ballet. If he had known it a day in advance, he 
could have saved his place for one of his friends, but it 
so happened on that day that he was summoned to come immedi 
ately, just as we were sitting down for dinner. It was too 
late for my father to contact anybody. It was the first 
year that I sported a tuxedo and, of course,! rushed to my 
father and he gave me his ticket. I forgot all about dinner, 
donned my tuxedo, took a cab, and rushed to the theater. 
The theater was already dark and in the pit the musicians 



- 115 - 

were starting to play. I wiggled into the second row and 
sat down. Immediately there appeared a very dignified 
servant of the theater, who asked me to show him my ticket, 
because it was very unusual to see a youngster in such a 
place. I showed him my ticket and, bowing slightly, he left. 
The play started. There were three plays in all, then the 
curtain came down, the theater was illuminated, and I sat 
in that second row like a little rabbit. All the other 
places were occupied by high dignitaries from the government, 
the parliament, the court, all dressed in gala uniforms, 
and everybody stared at me. Suddenly I saw a very imposing 
general stand up, and coming right up to me, he put his 
finger on my chest - of course I stood up in front of him - 
and he said to me, "I presume that you are the son of 
Count Stenbock-Fermor. " And I said, "Yes, Sir, I am." 

Mentioning Karsavina: she later became a great and very 
famous ballerina. She married the assistant Consul of 
Great Britain and after her marriage she did not dance any 
more except for performances for raising money for charity. 
She managed to escape from Russia during the Revolution and 
gave performances for charity's sake in Bulgaria and then 
in Prague in a great and beautiful theater. The tickets 
were very expensive and it was completely sold out long 
before it started. I came to Prague from the south part 
of the country and heard about the performance the next day 
from the papers. I realized that I had not the slightest 



- 116 - 
chance of getting in. 

Invitation to a Wedding 

It must have been 1911 or 1912. A few years before the 
terrible 1914 when the "good old days" died in the agony 
of World War I, and a new world came upon us. An ugly one. 
Cruel fighting of neighboring country against neighboring 
country. A new world demoralized, disorganized, socialized, 
bolshevized, communistic, beastly, egotistic, filled with 
greed and betrayal. A new virtue, a world motorized and 
airborne, televised and atomized. Ugly and disgusting, 
with rare glimpses of a beautiful recent past, gone for 
ever. Well, all the coming horrors were unforeseeable in 
1911-1912, and an invitation to a grand wedding was very 
exciting for me at the age of fifteen. It was the wedding 
of Kitty Martens, eldest daughter of Professor Martens of 
the Imperial University of St. Petersburg. Kitty was charm 
incorporate. Not tall, but smart and vivacious. There was 
a joke in St. Petersburg society about how to find out if 
a young man was a liar or not. If the young man insisted 
that he was not in love with Kitty Martens, it meant he was 
a liar. 

Well, young Count Sologub was in love, and so was Kitty. 
And I was asked to the wedding. Count Sologub was the only 
son of the Countess, who was a widow. She was of Baltic- 
German origin and was a Protestant, but had taken to the 
Russian Orthodox Church years before. When people change 



- 117 - 

their faith they often overdo it and become fanatic about 
their new faith. This was the case with Countess Sologub. 
Her only son was marrying a beautiful girl. It was an ideal 
love match. "All Petersburg" rejoiced, except for the mother 
of the bridegroom. The Martens family was Protestant. 
Countess Sologub was upset, sick with grief. Friends 
tried to console her by saying that a basic law of the 
Russian Empire required that children of a mixed marriage 
be christened into the Russian Orthodox faith. But Countess 
Sologub retorted, "I know the laws of the Russian Empire, 
but how will a Protestant mother be able to raise my future 
grandchildren in the holy Russian Orthodox faith?" 

So she went to seek consolation and moral support from 
the Metropolitan Platon, then head of the Russian Church in 
the St. Pertersburg diocese. He was a highly respected 
Archbishop, a very cultured person and a great authority 
on all matters of religion. 

The Countess talked about her grief, and the Archbishop 
answered, "Do not be upset, my daughter. Humans have 
different kinds of faith in God, but the different express 
ions of faith are but human screens, and their heights do 
not attain the height of our Lord." 

Well, the wedding was brilliant. The newlyweds were 
happy. A ladyfriend of the old Countess Sologub asked her, 
"How are your children?", meaning the happy newlyweds. 
The Countess Sologub retorted, "Do not ask me about my 



- 118 - 

children! I have but one son - and he has a WIFE!!!" 

The happy young Count Sologub was a great sportsman 
and hunter and, of course, his dear wife went hunting with 
him. It was in the late autumn, and a hunt for hares was 
under way. Beaters moved through field and bushes. Each 
hunter stood on his "number," shotgun on the ready. 

While standing on her "number," Kitty Sologub noticed 
some movement in a cluster of bushes and, for a fraction of 
a second, wondered what kind of hare, if any, could make a 
large clump of bushes move so much. 

And out of the bushes emerged a big, brown bear. Kitty 
calmly unloaded her. shotgun and reloaded it with a single 
bullet cartridge that happened to be in her cartridge belt. 
And she fired almost point-blank, and the bear fell at 
Kitty's dainty feet! She was not even surprised. Even bears 
seemed to know the right place to fall! 

Father Konstantin 

Father Konstantin, a young priest in St. Petersburg, in 
1881 officiated at my parents' wedding. I knew him from the 
days of my earliest childhood. We always attended the church 
where he was priest Sundays, holidays, Christmas, and Easter. 
It was also customary for members of the church to go to 
confession at least once a year, usually during Lent, the 
seven weeks that precede Easter. I was fifteen and to me 
he seemed to be a very, very old, agelessly old man. Yet 
he was probably younger than I am today. 



- 119 - 

Now at age fifteen, I had an accident. I was doing 
gymnastics on the rings at home when a heavy iron hook, 
placed in the ceiling of my room got loose. I fell to the 
floor and the hook fell right on my teeth. Because of this 
I had to visit a dentist often for treatment after school. 
In the springtime at late afternoon I would walk home from 
the dentist's office. I went along the Nevsky Prospekt, the 
main thoroughfare of the city then called St. Petersburg. 
It was a cold spring and I was wearing a camel's hair coat.. 
Some young, good-looking girls were walking too. They 
giggled and called me "teddy bear" and told one another 
(for my benefit) that they would like very much to cuddle 
such a nice young "teddy bear". I quickened my steps. 

My mother at home knew exactly when school finished and 
how long I would then be at the dentist's. She knew how 
long it took to get home walking from the dentist's office, 
so I would have no way of explaining any time spent else 
where. My mother always demanded from me very exact reports, 
even later, when I was a Lieutenant of the Horse Guards. 
I was bothered and on subsequent days tried to avoid the 
Nevsky Prospekt. I took small side streets home and to 
my horror I found that this was much worse. On those 
side streets many girls were standing in doorways. Some 
times they simply grabbed me by the arm, insisting that 
they wanted to cuddle. 

I was an only child and so had no one to consult about 



- 120 - 

this ticklish problem. When I went to confession with old 
Father Konstantin, I told him that I was bothered. Father 
Konstantin was horrified and he told me that if I so much 
as looked twice at one of those girls, my spine would dry 
up and my nose would vanish. I was terribly scared. 

At home in the morning, I often checked in the mirror 
and felt with my fingers to see if I still had a nose. Pro 
bably Father Konstantin was wrong because after more than 
half a century my spine is O.K. and my nose is still in 
place. That was in my early youth, in May, 1912. 

Finance Minister Kokovceff negotiates transaction with France 

About the year 1912, Russia was negotiating a loan from 
France. Bonds were to be issued and France was supposed to 
buy many of them to help out Russia financially. Of course 
those bonds discussed were very many millions, and the then 
Russian minister of finance, M. Kokovceff, was in Paris dis 
cussing these loans with the French government. The French 
authorities were in agreement with the sums mentioned by 
Kokovceff, but there was a sum of 40,000 gold rubles that 
somehow interfered with all those calculations and because 
of that minor sum that loan could not be finalized. Finally 
Kokovceff got rather angry and said to the French, "Now let 
us not be ridiculous. We are discussing millions and milli 
ons, why do you insist on that sum of 40,000 gold rubles?"; 
and the French minister said, "We have to put that sum in 
there because that is your bribe!" The French could not 



- 121 - 

visualize any kind of agreement without, so to say, 
"buttering up the palm", this is a translation of the 
French expression, the best I can imagine at this moment. 
Well, Kokovceff was very eager to conclude this loan, so 
he stretched out his palm and said, "Okay, put the butter 
on my palm and let us sign the agreement between France 
and Imperial Russia." So that was done and the Russian 
finance minister, Kokovceff got his bribe. When he returned 
having concluded that great financial transaction, he came 
with a report about it to Nicholas, the Tsar of Russia, and 
he told him, "Your Majesty, I have accepted a bribe." The 
Tsar was surprised, and then Kokovceff said, "Here is a check 
for the 40,000 gold rubles for the bribe I have taken to con 
clude this business, and I gave this check to the curator 
of Russian girls' schools for all over Russia." And then 
both of them had a good laugh about the French government 
who could not conclude business with another country with 
out the problem of a bribe. And it was the first time in 
history, I believe, that the minister of finance of Imperial 
Russia was bribed. And this story is authentic because 
Kokovceff later told the story to my father. 



- 122 - 



CHAPTER IV 



WORLD WAR I 



- 123 - 

1914 - World War I 

In the spring of 1914, we were living at Kodyma and 
planning a trip abroad for the summer. My mother and I 
and my tutor were to go, while Father stayed behind to 
supervise affairs at Kodyma. In fact, he often got bored 
on these trips abroad. Late in June we started off and 
our first stop was to be St. Petersburg. Enroute, we 
changed trains at Kharkow, where we were to get on the 
Sebastopol Express. While waiting we saw boys running 
about, waving newspapers and shouting, "Crown Prince of 
Austria assassinated in Sarajevo!" My tutor at the time 
was a German subject and this news made his future very 
uncertain. When we arrived in St. Petersburg we noticed an 
unusual amount of activity in the city for that time of year, 
Usually the city was very quiet in the summer as that was 
the time when many people went on. holiday and the troops 
were out on maneuvers. The season in St. Petersburg lasted 
from Christmas to Easter, normally. That summer in 1914, 
though, there were many people still in the city. My 
mother asked to have lunch with the commander of one of the 
regiments garrisoned in St. Petersburg, an old friend of 
hers. At lunch Mother explained that she did not want to 
know any secrets, she just wanted to know what he would say 
to his wife and son if they were planning to go abroad at 
this time. He smiled and told Mother that he would advise 
them to go right back to their estate. Mother took his 



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advice. My tutor could not accompany me to Kodyma, so Mother 
sent me to her family's estate, the Schedlovskij estate, 
where my cousins had a Finnish tutor - Finland at the time 
was politically not altogether independent although they 
were free to the extent that they could mobilize their army. 
Besides the Finnish tutor, there were many other people at 
the Schedlovskij estate: my cousins, my aunt and uncle, my 
mother's mother, the French governess, the Russian teacher - 
in all there were twenty people at the dining table every 
day. Almost everyone there was excited at the question of 
whether or not Russia would be mobilized and they scarcely 
talked of anything else. 

Russia mobilizes 

Ten versts away from the estate was a small city with 
a railroad station. My uncle had had a telephone line put 
in between the house and the station. One night when I 
was there, the phone rang. My uncle went to answer it and 
the voice on the other end said just one word - "Mobilizat 
ion" . Everyone at the house was happy and elated at the 
news - everyone except for the Finnish tutor and me. They 
all thought, "Now we will show them! We will kick Germany 
and defend the Balkan Slavs as was done in 1877". The Finn 
was very gloomy, though, because he foresaw terrible 
consequences. I sensed this and felt the same way and I 
was teased because I did not show the same elation as the 
others. In fact, most of the country was excited at the 



- 125 - 

prospect of this war. The Tsar appeared on the balcony of 

the winter palace before a crowd of people who were on 

their knees before him, ready to fight at his command, and right 

there they sang "God Save the Tsar". All junior and 

senior officers were in a huffy to get to the front. This 

war would bring glory, medals, and decorations, and no one 

wanted to miss out on the chance and be late to get his 

share - they assumed the war would be over very quickly. 

I do not intend to write in detail about World War I be 
cause so many other books have already been written on the 
subject. I was seventeen then and I want only to describe 
the atmosphere of the time. 

The Russians mobilized. By decree of the Tsar, vodka 
was not to be sold any more. In the first weeks, the 
mobilization went well, but it did take time because Russia 
was such a large country. It took approximately twenty days. 
The Germans knew it would take this long so they did not 
consider Russia a threat for a while anyway; what they did 
not know was that the Russian Command was capable of crazy, 
suicidal decisions. 

At first the Germans ignored Russia and made a concentrat 
ed blitzkrieg attack on France in 1914. The Germans soon 
arrived at the gates of Paris and the French attaches in 
St. Petersburg were on their knees begging for help. So the 
Russian troops moved into and occupied East Prussia, even 
though they were ill-prepared, ill-trained, and ill-equipped. 



- 126 - 

Officials in Berlin were upset and they moved an army corps 
from the western front to the defense of East Prussia. This 
was a logical move but a mistake nonetheless. The German 
General Staff lost their nerve and the French took advantage 
of this. They won the battle of the Marne and called it 
the "miracle de Marne". In later years, the French Chief 
of Staff, Joffre, said in his memoirs, "Let us, the French 
people, never forget that it was Russia who saved us in 
1914". 

As the war continued, the Russians suffered more and more 
losses against the Germans. The great Russian general, 
Sampsonov, eventually committed suicide because of the 
German defeat of the Russians in East Prussia. In St. 
Petersburg, the atmosphere changed. Many officers were 
being brought home for burial. People began to realize the 
tragic difference between maneuvers and a real war. Almost 
everyone lost someone, a father, a son, a fiance, or a 
friend. 

All over Russia people suffered the consequences of this 
war. At Kodyma in summertime there was no one to help with 
the wheat harvest. The boys who used to come and do the 
seasonal labor were all in the army. The girls who used to 
come had to stay at home and do the men's chores. It was 
very difficult to find help with the harvest. Finally we 
arranged to hire people from the Jewish settlement in the 
area. They were craftsmen and merchants and the war had 



- 127 - 

killed their businesses and they needed work, but they 
were totally unaccustomed to such labor. I will never for 
get seeing a girl wearing dainty patent leather shoes and 
stumbling on the sharp stumps of cut wheat while she tried 
to tie up a sheaf. I also saw an elderly man with a large 
pot belly wearing a heavy vest in the hot summer sun. He 
was trying to gather up the wheat and only got tangled up 
in everything. Years later, when I was an emigrant in 
Slovakia, I was in a similar situation. I had finally 
found a job - a textile company gave me a weaving machine 
and supplied the raw materials. I was to weave it into 
cloth and they would buy it from me. It seemed a good way 
to make money, but when I tried it I got so tangled up in 
the threads that my friends needed several pairs of scissors 
to cut me loose and away from the machine. 

Military Reform 

About the year 1860, Tsar Alexander II, grandfather of 
the last Tsar Nicholas II, made many many reforms; and 
among them was the complete reform of the ministry of war. 
Before that reform, every landowner had serfs. Serfdom 
was abolished, but before it was abolished, every landowner 
was obligated to furnish a certain number of serfs - as 
many as he had sown acres of land. The serfs this landowner 
had to choose were of course young boys, between twenty and 
twenty-five, and had to be in good health and sturdy. 



- 128 - 

But at the same time, the landowner had this opportunity to 
get rid of certain boys he disliked - if they were drunks 
or troublemakers. Of course, there were misuses. If the 
landowner liked a servant girl and the poor fellow liked 
her too, then he might be dispatched into the army. And the 
service in the army in those days was for twenty-five years, 
lifetime service. But, the soldiers, after so many years 
of service, were made professional soldiers. Their back 
ground was of peasants, serfs. The background of the officers 
was of quite a different class. They were of the gentry, 
the aristocracy. When I was in the military cadet school, 
I was not yet an officer. I belonged to the class of soldiers, 
Therefore I was as restricted as the other soldiers. I had 
no right to go into the higher class restaurants, nor sit in 
the Imperial theaters except up- up- up in the gallery; and 
there were terrible notices, at the entrances of city parks, 
that entry into city parks is prohibited to soldiers and 
dogs. And those plates remained in place - of course, they 
were overlooked by everybody - but I remember those plates 
still standing in the parks. Of course, the revolutionary 
people and the Socialists used those in their propaganda. 
It was a very unfortunate situation. 

Now, there came a new minister of war, General Milutin. 
He suggested, and the Tsar agreed, that from now on recruits 
would be taken from all over Russia. Every Russian boy, no 
matter what class he belonged to, when he reached the age 



- 129 - 

of twenty-one would have to serve in the army. Just only 
sons of a family were exempted from this duty. And the 
army took on a very different aspect: it was very much a 
peoples' army. But the attitudes of the officers, belong 
ing to the gentry class, and of the soldiers, belonging to 
the ex-serfs, remained in their minds for many years after 
this reform, even up to the war of 1914. 

I clearly remember an officer of my regiment. Here I 
must say that some of the guards regiments were extremely 
exclusive. Any officer candidate who wanted to join the 
regiment had to apply for it - a kind of unofficial rule - 
to the Officers' mess, and the officers voted on whether 
they wanted this young man to be an officer in their regiment 
or not. No matter what grades he had, no matter what he 
finished, officially he had the right to be an officer in 
that regiment. But the Officers' Mess had this unwritten 
law, of voting whether they wanted him or not. 

Honor of wearing uniform 

Officers in these guard regiments, in peacetime, wore 
very many elaborate uniforms for many different occasions , 
and for all those uniforms the officer had to pay out of 
his own pocket. An officer was obliged to have, besides 
a regimental horse, a horse of his own, and that horse had 
to be approved by the senior officers of the regiment. So, 
service in these regiments was possible only for officers 



- 130 - 

who had sufficient means of their own. An officer never 
saw his pay - it all vanished into the Officers' Mess. 
Each regiment, besides having a brass band, each Mess had 
a singers' choir and an orchestra. In that orchestra there 
were often musicians who had studied in the Imperial 
conservatory of music - they were students of music, and 
they were paid wages. Therefore, the minimum that an 
officer of such a regiment - and there were several of 
those - had to have in personal income was six thousand 
gold rubles every year. 

Many years later, I was teaching in the Monterey 
military school and my young students in the military 
asked me to tell about my days as an officer in the regiment. 
I told them - and this was my family regiment, my grand 
father had served in this regiment and commanded a squadron, 
so there was no question about my joining this regiment - 
that just before I joined my father asked the commanding 
general of that regiment, "How much must I give my son 
Vanya in pocket money, to be an officer in this regiment?" 
The general smiled and said, "Well, if Vanya continues 
living in his parents' apartment in Petersburg, and if 
there is nothing going on a particular day he has his 
lunch and dinner at home, and if he does not keep more 
private horses than the one which he has to have" - some 
officers had many horses which were fed out of their own 
pocket, while the one regimental horse was fed by the 



- 131 - 

regiment - and then he smiled more broadly and said, "And 
if your little Vanya does not entertain a ballerina, because 
then there is no limit, Vanya must have six-thousand gold 
rubles every year." When I said that, one of my American 
GI students jumped out of his chair. He started calculating 
something very rapidly, then looked at me and said, "Nowa 
days, that amounts to $800 per month". I told him, "I am 
not interested in your financial calculations, whether they 
are right or not, but just for argument's sake, let us say 
that you are right". Then he gasped and said, "Sir, if your 
father could afford to give you $8OO per month, why the 
hell did you serve?" Of course, this young man could not 
understand the moral climate in Russia in those days and 
earlier. Looking at the map of Russia, covering one-sixth 
of the earth, and you see all the borders, Russia had to have 
an army to defend the country. Therefore, the military 
officer was the most honorable kind of life, and all the 
officers were considered to be at the top of society. There 
was even a joke about it: if you want the Russian girls to 
love you, become an officer. 

In America, I found out to my great surprise that those 
roles are very contrary. When a big fundraising party was 
to be started in San Francisco, the choir of the army 
language school was invited to go there. They were taught 
to sing in Russian, and some of them sang very very well and 
always made a great impression. Some of the boys asked us, 



- 132 - 

the Russian teachers, how they were to dress for this party, 
whether it would be very formal or what, and we said that 
they were to wear their uniforms. And the boys gasped and 
said, "Never! If we appear at that party in soldiers' - 
even officers' - uniforms, no girl will want to dance with 
us." We replied, "You forget that there will be very many 
Russian girls there, brought up in the old tradition, and 
you wearing an officers' uniform will be for them an honor 
to dance with you." They would not believe us! But finally, 
on orders of the commandant, they all wore their uniforms, 
and they all danced and sang. 

I was always amazed that after their last class in the 
afternoon, at four o'clock, all the officers and enlisted 
men left the classroom as if the classroom were on fire. 
They all rushed to their barracks and homes, and they would 
not loose a second in changing from their military uniforms 
into mufti. The Russian officer, when he had to go abroad 
on private business or as a tourist, had to be in civilian 
clothing, and he was miserable. The moment he came back - 
he had with him his officer's uniform - the moment he 
crossed the border, he was back in uniform. 

Corps des Pages 

In June, 1916, I graduated from the German Gymnasium and 
entered the Corps des Pages - the equivalent of the West 
Point Academy in the United States. My military training 
was to last eight months. In normal peacetime, an officer's 



- 133 - 

training lasted two years, however, because of the war we 
were supposed to get the same training in only eight months, 
which meant of course that a lot of theory and book learning 
was sacrificed. 

The first four months as a cadet I spent at a camp in 
the vicinity of St. Petersburg. I had no trouble doing the 
exercises we were required to do in camp; the riding, hurdles 
and maneuvering were all easy for me. I hated the formal 
drills and parade marches though, and because I hated all 
these formalities they gave me the nickname "Partisan", a 
word which at that time referred to untrained, nonregular 
fighters against Napoleon's armies in 1812. Cadets had to 
study also. We had to know all the regulations on cavalry 
maneuvering, garrison rules, etc. After my studies at the 
Gymnasium, which included many hours of Latin and Greek, 
all this seemed like child's play, but I was very much 
interested in the material. I read it carefully and knew 
it by heart. As a result I always had top marks as a cadet, 
which meant that I would be able to apply for a commission 
in a regiment of the Guards. I was also a very good shot, 
like my father. But when I first had learned to shoot while 
hunting, under the guidance of Nikita, I developed the habit 
of closing my right eye, aiming with my left eye, and shoot 
ing fern my right shoulder. No one else around me could do 
this, and cadets were forbidden to shoot this way. At camp, 
my training officer put a kerchief over my left eye and made 



- 134 - 

me shoot; I tried and almost shot the training officer in 
the attempt. After that they left me alone. When I 
graduated, I got second prize in the target shooting 
contest and my training officer was dismayed, but happy 
for me. 

While I was a cadet in the Corps de Pages, my cousins 
were also there. My mother and aunts rented a large house 
at Tsarskoe Selo, a few miles away, and every Saturday my 
mother's car came to our camp and brought us home to that 
house for the weekend. There we walked in the Palace 
gardens, went to outdoor concerts, etc. Some weekends when 
I was on duty and had to stay at camp during the weekend, 
other cadets on duty with me often talked about what they 
liked to do on free weekends. They frequently went to 
St. Petersburg. They had made many trips there before and 
talked about visits to "forbidden places", about what they 
did and who they saw - it all sounded very interesting to 
me, although probably rather expensive. Still I had enough 
pocket money - I had had an allowance since I was fifteen. 
But it would have been difficult to explain to my mother 
what I was doing in St. Petersburg on my own, so although 
it sounded fascinating, I never got to go. 

As cadets, most of the food we got was soldiers' food. 
But in the evening we, being officer candidates, had our 
own table where we could have dinner of food we had bought 
ourselves. We bought our food from the "Jackals". These 



- 135 - 

were people who came to camp at nightfall, selling things 
which were not available officially - extra food, 
cigarettes; they also had money to lend and could supply 
us with both funds and interesting addresses in St. Peters 
burg. 

Although we were in training to become officers, we 
were of course children at heart. One night when my cousin 
Serge and I were at the table, we got into a conversation 
about what things human beings were capable of eating. 
Serge said that human beings were capable of eating any 
thing and we made a bet on it. I was to make a mixture of 
anything I wanted and he was to eat it. In a bowl I put 
two sardines, some yoghurt, chopped melon, two tumblers of 
vodka, and boiling water. Serge ate this, and promptly lost 
both, his dinner and his bet. 

My father dies 

One day in July 1916, while visiting at Tsarskoe Selo, 
Uncle Vladimir arranged for a group of us to make an 
educational trip to a famous planetarium. We filled three 
troikas and set off for the planetarium. The horses wore 
bells, we had a picnic along the way and returned in great 
spirits. When we returned, my uncle stood in front of the 
house and waved at us to stop. Then he came to me and 
embraced me. That day, July 16, 1916, my father had died 
of a heart disease he had had for several months. 



- 136 - 

My mother told me that he had had a premonition and called 
her to his room. He asked her to open the window and said, 
"My soul will fly out like a swallow. Please do not worry 
or be upset. Vanya is only nineteen and too young to be 
without a father, but the war is as good as won. Vanya 
will have only to pick up the laurels." He died with this 
impression of Russia in the summer of 1916. 

Three days later my father was buried at Tsarskoe Selo 
in great pomp. Dmitri Fedorovich came from Kodyma with a 
bag of Kodyma earth to put into Father's grave. I got a 
leave of absence from camp to go to Kodyma and Kamenka, 
where my grandmother lived. Of course a telegram had been 
sent to her, but because of the war it did not reach her. 
My grandmother learned of Father's death when she read about 
it in the St. Petersburg newspaper. She sent my mother a 
telegram saying, "I am praying for my son. Don't worry 
about me." After a short visit to Kodyma and Kamenka I 
returned to camp. In September all cadets had to be in 
St. Petersburg for the last four months of our training. 
The buildings of the Corps des Pages in St. Petersburg were 
too small to accomodate all of the wartime cadets, so I 
lived at home during my military training in St. Petersburg. 

Around Christmastime that year, I was invited to an 
evening performance of the ballet at the Russian Imperial 
Theatre. My school friend, Serge Lipsky, invited me and 
told me that his cousin Nina would be there also, but when 



- 137 - 

I asked my mother if I could go, she said, "What? The 
ballet? On a week night?" I was supposed to go out only 
on Saturdays and Sundays. So, although I was an officer 
candidate, just months from battle, I agreed to stay home. 
Half a century later I discussed with my friend Tatiana 
this subject. She lives in San Francisco and has a grand 
daughter also named Tatiana. The younger Tatiana is 
seventeen, and half American. She is good looking, a smart 
girl, and goes out quite often in the evening. When her 
grandmother asks her what she has been doing, where she 
went, whom she sees, the granddaughter says, "Grandma, you 
belong to the dumb generation." Things were very different 
when we were teenagers . 

A secret communist takes a chauffeur job in our household 

In 1916 we had a sturdy car and our driver was a man who 
had previously been a coachman. He was not in the least 
mechanically inclined. One day my mother asked a friend, a 
member of the air force, to look over the car's engine. 
He told her that the motor was filthy, all it lacked was a 
crayfish inside, so Mother dismissed the driver and began 
looking for a new chauffeur. She found a young man who 
seemed intelligent and knew abaut cars. Part of his job 
was to pick me up at the Military School every day at 
4:00 p.m. One day he was not there and I took a cab home. 
That night when I asked him why he had not been there, he 
made up some story about engine trouble. I told him that 



- 138 - 

he ought to be ashamed of himself - he was an intelligent 
man and should not debase himself in that way. After that 
his behavior was exemplary, although once he mentioned 
obliquely that those women were very entertaining and great 
fun. (I did not pursue the matter with him) . 

Later, when the revolution began, there were disturbances 
in the streets. Most cars were stopped by rabble or AWOL 
soldiers and "requisitioned" to be used by members of 
various revolutionary committees. Some chauffeurs actually 
sold the cars of their employers and told them that the 
car had been requisitioned. Our chauffeur, Berzin, never 
did that. By that time I was not at home, having joined the 
regiment, and Mother was alone. She did not have much need 
for a chauffeur, but my Uncle Serge, who was a vice 
president of the Duma, came to live with her and she put 
Berzin at Uncle Serge's disposal. Uncle Serge stayed with 
my mother in order to be closer to the Parliament offices. 
It had become dangerous to be out in the streets after the 
Revolution started, but Uncle Serge had to be able to get 
to the Duma. So Berzin took him where he needed to go. 
Eventually Uncle Serge asked my mother, "What kind of a 
chauffeur have you got? There are roadblocks everywhere 
and troops in the streets, but he always gets through. He 
never has any problems and always has the necessary documents 
for every particular roadblock" . 

Once, my mother was afraid that gangs of Bolshevik 



- 139 - 

emissaries would come and search the house, supposedly 
looking for firearms, but as a pretext for looting, a 
frequent occurence. So Mother put all the firearms we had 
on the table in the dining room. When Berzin saw this he 
asked her why, and she explained that she did not want them 
to loot and destroy the apartment. Berzin told her to put 
everything away and not to worry - there would be no 
searches in our flat. And he was right. 

Finally my mother had to tell him to sell the car. 
Berzin did it and brought the money to my mother. Then he 
kissed her hand and departed. That spring, in the carriage 
house that had served as a garage, we found behind a pile 
of wood stacks of Soviet propaganda literature that Berzin 
had left there. Later our chauffeur became a diplomat; he 
was the first Attache of the Soviet Embassy in Vienna. 

The Sporting Club 

In the fall of 1916 I was still in the uniform of the 
military school, an officer cadet, and in that fall of 1916 
nobody dreamed, of course, that these would be the last 
months of Imperial Russia. Nobody expected the Revolution. 
There was some political strife, as expected and predictable 
in every country, but the thought of a huge explosion was 
just considered crazy. Social life in the fall of 1916 was 
somewhat dimmed because of the war; there were no big parties 
and no big balls as in peacetime, and the teenagers did not 



- 140 - 

know quite what to do and how to get together, so there 
was organized a so-called sporting club. Some old ladies 
grumbled and murmured, "Sporting club indeed. We believe 
a better name would be 'flirting club 1 ". 

The arrangement of that sporting club was, of course, 
the brain child of Anyuta. A sporting club, like any club, 
has to have a president, a vice president, a secretary, and 
an assistant secretary. Even in those days the young 
Russian generation had ideas of equality between men and 
women. So if the elected president was a man, the vice 
president had to be a girl; if the secretary was a man, the 
assistant secretary had to be a girl. Besides, of course, 
we were all bachelors and bachelorettes , and no married men 
or women were eligible to become members of the club. But 
members of the club were allowed, theoretically, to marry 
one another. There was a founding session with a secret 
ballot and to my great amazement I was unanimously elected 
president of this club. And, of course, Anyuta was elected 
vice president. A very close friend of mine, Count Nicholas 
Pahlen, called Nicky, who was also an officer cadet and 
would join the same regiment as I, was elected assistant 
secretary, and the elected secretary was Countess Irina 
Tolstoy. 

Irina was an outstanding beauty. Of course, many 
ladies visiting my mother smiled and said to her, "Your 
little Vanya's secretary is much too beautiful." Many 



- 141 - 

people imagined that I must be deeply in love with Irina 
but that was never the case, we were only very good friends. 
She was a remarkable secretary, highly efficient, energetic, 
and she had the mind of a man. And it was not an easy job: 
she had to keep accounts, to have lists of members, to 
order railroad cars when we went on outings, to take care 
of a villa which was on the outskirts of the city and where 
we went, and she had her hands really full. As a secretary 
I appreciated her enormously, but as for being in love or 
even the slightest flirting, that was totally absent between 
us, believe it or not. 

At the time of the founding of the sporting club the 
political situation in Petersburg was tense; there were 
many legal, sometimes illegal, meetings of political clubs, 
and my Uncle Nicholas, older brother of my mother, became 
anxious and worried and said that if we called ourselves 
members of a club, we would have to register this club 
officially with the proper authorities, so I went to the 
offices of the civilian governor of the city, Count 
Sollogub. I presented to him the charter of our club and 
its organization, and submitted a list with the names of all 
club members. I was then only a candidate officer in the 
uniform of a page of His Majesty's military school and I was 
nineteen years old. When talking to the governor, I had 
the impression that he was making terrible efforts to keep 
his face straight, to have an official expression on his 



- 142 - 

features and not to laugh about the whole business. Of 
course, I got the club registered and all the red tape was 
in order, but the fact that the club existed and that I, 
a page of nineteen, was elected president made some 
impression on society circles. And some people started 
predicting for me a fantastically brilliant career in the 
future. If at nineteen I was elected president of such a 
club, probably before I became forty I would be Prime 
Minister of Russia. 

As this elected president I became, so to- say, famous. 
Many mothers were finding me eventually eligible not only 
because of the name Stenbock-Fermor , but also because this 
name was always connected in St. Petersburg with the 
legendary millions coming from the Ural Mountains to the 
Alexander Stenbock-Fermor s. Anyhow, at nineteen a boy 
(in spite of legendary millions that actually weren't there) 
was not eligible because of his youth. However, one never 
knew what might happen later, and so I got many invitations. 
One of them came from the family of my high school friend, 
Serge Lipsky, with whom I had spent seven years on the same 
schoolroom bench. He had a cousin, Nina, about sixteen or 
seventeen years old. She was tall and slim but very well 
built, and she had two thick blond braids hanging way 
below her waist, a peach complexion, and gray-blue eyes 
like lakes. I thought that it would have been heavenly 
to be drowned in those lakes. When I spoke to my mother in 



- 143 - 

such enthusiastic terms about my meeting Nina, Mother 
exclaimed suddenly, "Is your chair burning under you?" 
But Mother was also upset because Nina belonged to a very 
different circle of Petersburg society. She was one of the 
daughters of a doctor of medicine. This doctor took care 
of all the artists in the Russian Imperial theaters, ballet, 
opera, and drama, a highly honorable situation. But to use 
an expression that I learned many years later in the United 
States, Nina's family did not "belong". That meant she was 
not part of the Russian nobility. In my mother's defense, 
I must say that she was not a snob. 

After the Revolution, and many years later, in the year 
1946 or 1947, I was living as an immigrant on Long Island, 
New York, in a place called Sea Cliff. There was a colony 
in that place that was close to the headquarters of the 
United Nations, where many Russians were interpreters. At 
a party at Sea Cliff I met a Russian gentleman whose last 
name was Vladimirov. He introduced me to his wife, whose 
features seemed to me familiar, resembling someone that I 
used to know and remember well. She was addressed by every 
body as Olga Feodorovna, as it is a custom in Russia to 
address people by their first name and the name of their 
father. So her father's name, Theodore, and her familiar 
features made me ask Mr. Vladimirov if his wife's maiden 
name was not Lipsky. This gentleman looked at me in 
surprise and said, "Why yes, it is, but how did you know?" 



- 144 - 

I smiled and said, "Then your wife must be Nina's sister." 
And he told me that I was right. "But where is Nina?" I 
was then married already, twice. He told me that Nina and 
her husband were living in New York. "Does she ever come 
to see you?" I asked. "Oh yes," he answered, "of course, 
she comes quite often." Well, my wife and I spent several 
months in Sea Cliff and I met this gentleman again many 
times, so one day I asked him, "Why does Nina never come; 
I see you often but I never see Nina." And then Vladimirov 
smiled and said, "Nina does not want to come". And when I 
asked him why, he told me that when he had mentioned me to 
Nina she said, "I want Vanya to remember me as I was in the 
old days." Then Vladimirov explained that Nina, through 
out all the passed years, had become unusually stout, and 
that nothing remained of the Nina that I had known thirty 
years earlier. Probably she was still coquettish and 
did not want me to see her so very much changed from the 
days of our youth. 

We rented a villa for the club, about one hour's rail 
road trip toward Finland, and this place, near the village 
of Finns called Yukki, became very popular indeed. There 
were hillocks, but not very big hills as in Switzerland, and 
any poor skier could show his skill without breaking his neck, 
For Christmas, 1916, we decided to have at the villa a 
Christmas tree and a big party. It was not easy to convince 
the mothers of the girls that this would be absolutely proper. 



- 145 - 

In those days young girls were never supposed to go any 
where without being chaperoned. Every girl of those families, 
of the so-called "high society" of St. Petersburg, had a 
chaperone, usually an English governess. Anyuta also had 
an English governess. This governess seemed to us very 
old - she must have been close to forty. She was very 
active and sportive and had a lot of tact. She knew when 
to be present and when to disappear - never too far away - 
and she had a sense of knowing when to reappear again and 
whether her reappearance at that moment was wanted or not 
did not bother her at all. So she was the one who chaperoned 
all the girls at that Christmas party. 

Almost bordering Petersburg, not more than twenty miles 
away, was the boundary between Russia and Finland. Finland 
had belonged to Russia since the beginning of the 19th 
century, but Finland was a kind of separate country. The 
Tsar's title was "Tsar of Russia and Grand Duke of Finland." 
We went right to the border of Finlad, where the population 
was already Finnish. It was still Russia, though, and 
going across the border into Finland was much too complicated, 
tied up with all kinds of red tape as the Americans say. 

For the Christmas party it was my idea to go to the 
villa not on trains, for once, but in sleighs with the 
Russian classical troika, as it was often done in peacetime. 
There was in St. Petersburg an organization which hired 
horse-drawn carriages, with two horses or with one horse. 



- 146 - 

We had such a carriage. Most people rented their carriage 
instead of keeping their own horses which they might have 
brought from their estates. If one of your hired horses 
got lame and you were stuck, then the organization would 
replace that horse with another; or, if one coachman was 
sick or drunk, you would get another coachman. So I got in 
touch with that organization and arranged to have troikas. 
The troikas were very festive, with bells all over the 
harnesses, and they were decorated with ribbons. So when 
those troikas pulled up on the Palace Quay, in front of the 
Obolenskys ' house, facing the Neva River, to my surprise 
and disgust they were not sleighs, but some kind of boxes 
that could hold fifteen to twenty people, of course, on 
runners so they could ride on the snow, but harnessed to 
those boxes were four horses in a row instead of three. All 
the poetical aspect of the troikas with the silver jingle of 
bells described so much in Russian literature was absent. 
Anyhow, we got into those boxes which, of course, with their 
four horses could not go as fast as a troika, and after a 
lengthy drive finally arrived at Yukki. 

There was a Christmas tree and surrounding it were all 
kinds of fine edible things. As president of the club I 
had to make a speech of welcome. I made a short speech, 
which later in my life I have repeated on many occasions 
and at many gatherings; I have repeated it in Russian, in 
French, in German, and even in English when I was teaching 



- 147 - 

at Stanford, and always with the same great success and 
thunderous applause. I stood up and, holding a glass in 
my hand, said, "Let us all drink to the girls, because 
without them it would be like having a Christmas tree 
without the candles." 

Before graduating from Cadet School 

About a month before graduation, all the officer cadets 
had to go on maneuvers, and the maneuvers were held in the 
region of Yukki. All the club girls went to the villa to 
warm themselves, to change clothes, and to eat. They were 
there on a picnic, hoping that some of the pages would some 
how get lost during the maneuvers, take a wrong turn, and 
find themselves at the villa in Yukki. They expected us to 
be part-time deserters. So the maneuvers went on and it so 
happened that I did take a wrong turn, and I did become a 
part-time deserter. I was the only one to reach the villa 
at Yukki and rather late, too. The girls were already 
about to leave in great disappointment, so you can imagine 
how welcome I was when I arrived. From the villa I had to 
get hold of a sleigh and a Finn to drive me back so that I 
could suddenly reappear at the headquarters of the maneuvers. 

When the maneuvers were over and it was already getting 
dark, we entrained to go back to St. Petersburg, the enlisted 
men in boxcars while the officers entrained in first class. 
There was no possible communication between the cars as the 
train rolled on. It was quite a warm December; we were very 



- 148 - 

much elated at becoming officers so soon and we had to let 
off some steam. Now I insist that there was no alcohol 
among us, it was just an elation of youth. We opened the 
doors of those boxcars and started shooting salvos. Of 
course they were blank cartridges. And as the train rolled 
on, we were shooting one salvo after another. The officers 
heard the salvos but they could do nothing. In wartime all 
the railroad tracks were guarded and our railroad tracks 
were guarded, too, by old, bearded reservists who, hearing 
the shooting, panicked. They telephoned the commandant of 
the garrison in St. Petersburg, saying that there was a 
mutiny of some kind by a unit, moving toward the city and 
firing salvos right and left out of the train. Well, when 
we arrived in one of the central railroad stations of 
St. Petersburg, we saw that there was a battalion of army 
police waiting for us with machine guns and in full battle 
dress, to repulse the invaders and the unit in mutiny. And 
who did they see arriving? The cadets of His Majesty's Corps 
des Pages. That was a very eventful arrival. 

The next day, in the barracks of our officer cadet 
school, we were all lined up in formation. The director's 
usual greeting to us was "How are you, Pages?" And our 
answer was, in free translation, "We wish your Excellency 
good health." The director was, of course, a general, and 
this time, which will always remain unforgettable, the 
general came up to where we stood, not saying a word. He 



- 149 - 

paced up and down the ranks, and in his rage he was actually 
incapable of uttering a word. Then he addressed our ranks 
in a most unusual way by calling us "Mal'chishki" , which 
means "youngsters", or small boys in general, but this time 
it meant "naughty boys", and this word was not complimentary 
but definitely offensive. As this was not a greeting, the 
regulations required that we remain mute. Then the general 
calmed down a little and said, "Boys, you should be ashamed 
of yourselves. In little more than a month from now you are 
going to be officers, responsible people, and what did you 
do, how did you behave? Probably you did not realize what 
you were doing, but you must have been aware that the 
general situation in Russia is at present very tense and you 
did this silly thing of shooting salvos. Now I command, 
those who shot the salvos, two paces forward, march." And 
all 360 pages stepped two paces forward. Naturally, the 
general could not put all 360 pages under arrest on the eve 
of their promotion to officers, so finally the whole incident 
had to be hushed somehow and forgotten. But if something 
similar had happened in the reign of Emperor Nicholas I, 
almost one-hundred years earlier, none of us ever would 
have been promoted to officers, but degraded to the ranks 
of plain soldiers and sent to some obscure infantry regi 
ment fighting somewhere beyond the Caucasus. 

I mentioned before that Mother was not a snob, on the 
contrary. Because of the official position of her father, 



- 150 - 

and later her husband, Mother had the right to go to all the 
court receptions given by the Tsar in the Winter Palace; 
Mother never once went to any such reception. When asked 
why, she always answered, "I do not want to be one of the 
crowd." Well when Mother was seventeen she graduated from 
a private school for girls, and then she was asked by her 
parents, "Now what do you want to do?" She replied, "I want 
to go to the University." Her parents were very surprised 
by her sudden and unexpected answer, for in those days girls 
could not go- to the University but there were courses for 
girsl taught by professors from the University and the 
course was almost the same. When these girls graduated 
they usually became school teachers. Mother got her 
diploma when she was nineteen but she never became a 
teacher because she married my father. My father had a 
court rank; he was Honorary Master of the Imperial Hunt. 
This was a purely honorary position and did not bring any 
money. On the contrary, it cost him money. He had a very 
brilliant court uniform that he had to purchase out of his 
own pocket, but having that position of Master of the Hunt, 
Father felt that he was obliged to attend the big court 
receptions held about three times a year at the Winter 
Palace in the presence of the Emperor, the Empress Alexandra, 
the Dowager Empress Marie Feodorovna, all the Imperial 
family, the Diplomatic Corps, Statesmen and Court Chamber 
lains in gold embroidered coats, generals in brilliant 



- 151 - 

uniforms and blazing decorations, officers from the Imperial 
Guards in all kinds of full dress uniforms, ladies wearing 
gorgeous Court dresses, and ladies of society covered with 
precious glittering jewels. Those receptions, with the 
bright gleam of women's dresses, the varying uniforms of 
blue and green and scarlet, and the dazzle of jewels and 
decorations, were a fantastic shifting mass of color, an 
unforgettable picture which stunned everybody by its in 
comparable beauty and splendor and by the magnificence, which 
had a kind of' magic in it. 

Now I want to give a description of the Court dresses - 
they were copies of a Russian national dress of many 
centuries ago and were all made alike (but the "dames du 
palais" and the young "demoiselles d'honneur" had different 
colors) in the old traditional form of close-fitting bodices, 
cut low off the shoulders (which was contrary to the old 
times) , and set with jewelled buttons. They were made of 
stiffly embroidered satin, the long heavy trains slung from 
the shoulders, and soft tulle veils hung from the diadem- 
shaped "kokoshnik" , which were always made of the same color 
as the dress and the train, sown with pearls and precious 
stones. Centuries ago the Russian woman would never have 
put on such a low-cut dress with bare arms, because in her 
opinion such a dress was a great sin which would bring her 
immediately and forever to hell. The trains were extremely 
long and heavy and it was a problem to learn how to walk and 



- 152 - 

to turn around when wearing those dresses. All the ladies 
of the Imperial family wore similar dresses, including the 
Empress, and each of them had attached to her a page from 
the officer candidates' school. I was never in such a 
function because I joined the army during the war, when 
there were no court receptions. These specially chosen 
pages had to carry the long trains, and when the ladies 
turned a corner they had to bend down and quickly make the 
long train sweep around the corner so that the lady should 
not stumble. I was told that to perform this' thing was 
rather difficult because the page could not just grab the 
dress and lift it up, showing the shoes of the lady, which 
was considered highly indecent. So the pages had to 
exercise to do that properly and gracefully in a gallant 
way. The colonel, inspector of the school, taught them how 
to do it. At school there was a big ballroom where the 
colonel used to strut back and forth, having attached to 
his spurs a long rag for wiping the floor. He turned 
around and around, and the pages had to pretend they were 
escorting the Empress or one of the Grand Duchesses and 
learn how to carry a train, now represented by a rag. 

As I said, my mother never went to any of these court 
receptions, but my Aunt Nadya Tolstoy, my favorite aunt, who 
was a widow, loved them and always attended, escorted by my 
father. My father used to laugh, saying, "It is wonderful 
to go to these receptions with Nadya, because if the crowd 






- 153 - 

gets somewhere near a little dense, she immediately says, 
'Oh, I am fainting, I am fainting,' and then the crowd 
makes room for us and we precede unhindered, and because 
of Nadya we are always in the front rows of every recept 
ion." To behave in such a manner was typical for Aunt 
Nadya. 

Graduation from Military School 

After eight months' training during wartime, we cadets 
became officers. That is, we looked like officers, we 
marched, dressed, and saluted as was expected. We knew the 
regulations as they had been written some fifty years 
before, but this training had little in common with the 
realities of World War I. Upon graduating, we knew less 
than any soldier who had been in the ranks since the 
beginning of the war. But we graduated from the Corps des 
Pages on February 1, 1917. 

In peacetime the Tsar usually came to the school 
graduation to congratulate the new officers, and it was a 
great event. There was little festivity at my graduation. 
An obscure general, the commander of the St. Peterburg 
garrison, congratulated us, and there was little more to 
the ceremony than that. There was a dinner for all 360 of 
us new officers that night at the Hotel Astoria and in 
other circumstances we would have gathered afterwards in 
small groups of friends to paint St. Petersburg red. But 
at that time there was a war, and it was also the eve of a 



- 154 - 

great church holiday. As a result, all the Imperial 
theaters, the ballet, the opera and drama, and the private 
theaters were closed. So some went to disreputable places, 
others went to the outskirts of St. Petersburg to listen 
to gypsy music, but none of these things appealed to me 
or to my friend Nicky Lvov. Nicky decided simply to go 
home, and I took him in my car. Nicky's aunt was the 
Princess Obolensky, wife of Alexis Obolensky, whose daughter 
was Anyuta. When we arrived at the Obolensky "s house, 
Nicky's family rushed to meet us, thinking something was 
wrong, but they discovered that we had chosen to come home 
and they made a feast for us. Prince Obolensky, then 
curator of the Holy Synod (the Synod coordinated the affairs 
of the Church) , brought champagne and toasted the two new 
officers and then we all had supper. 

Nicky was a wonderful musician. There was a piano in 
the huge dancing hall, which was dark and empty. That night 
Nicky played the piano while Anyuta and I danced. Nicky 
played for hours and we waltzed and eventually we danced 
over to the huge windows which looked out on the Neva. 
Behind the heavy drapes Anyuta and I admired the fantastic 
view of the frozen river, the gilded dome of the Fortress 
of St. Peter and St. Paul, and the blue night sky. Anyuta 
was very close to me behind the heavy drapes and the 
situation seemed full of promise. But fate decided other 
wise. After I left at 2:00 a.m. that morning I never saw 



- 155 - 

Anyuta again. 

I left to join my regiment the next day. Several days 
later, the Revolution began. The upheaval that it caused 
changed the course of the world. Event took me to south 
Russia and Anyuta stayed in St. Petersburg. She knew a 
great deal about art, objets d'art, paintings, etc. During 
the course of the Revolution many works of art were con 
fiscated and a commissar was put in charge of these things. 
His name was Lunacharsky. He was an intelligent man and a 
lover of art and he gathered all of these works of art 
together and moved them to the Hermitage in order to save 
them from looters. Anyuta was his assistant. It was even 
rumored that he was in love with her. This did not surprise 
me for she had great charm. While working with Lunacharsky, 
even though she was not a Bolshevik, she was able to get 
jobs for others who needed them. Lunacharsky was eventually 
accused of harboring counter-revolutionaries under the 
pretext of saving art. 

Years later Anyuta married a Swede who was a graduate 
of the Imperial Lycee. They went back to Sweden and raised 
a family. During World War II when Hitler terrorized Europe, 
Anyuta, as a Swede, was able to help many Russians in Germany. 
Once, at a party in New York, I met Anyuta 's younger sister. 
The last time I had seen her in St. Petersburg, she had been 
in a nursery. In New York she was a married lady. She 
beamed when she saw me and said that she would write to Anyuta 



- 156 - 

to tell her that she had met me. She was sure that Anyuta 
would be thrilled. 

Finally I am an officer and join my regiment 

After my promotion and after one week of visiting friends 
and officials, I left by train to join my regiment. We were 
seven young men all joining the same regiment, and I was the 
senior because I had the best grades at the promotion. Now, 
as of today, I am the only one left of those seven young men. 
The seven, and I would like to immortalize them here, were 
Count Grokholsky, Count Pahlen, two Dovgiello brothers, 
Oznobishin, Teplyakov, and myself. On the eve of our 
departure, Mother invited all my six comrades for supper at 
our house. At that time we had an excellent cook; he was 
an old man who had served Mother's father in the days when 
my grandfather held great official dinners. While a very 
young assistant cook at my grandfather's, Arseniy was sent 
to Paris at my grandfather's expense to learn French cooking 
and French pastry, and in this art he became a true expert. 
When he returned from Paris, he served at my grandfather's 
until my grandfather's death, and then he served the ambassa 
dor of Turkey as an assistant cook. From the Turkish cooks 
he learned all the oriental delicacies and became one of the 
most famous cooks in St. Petersburg. One day, Mother was 
looking for a cook and there came Arseniy. He was quite a 
figure, and he said to my mother, "Your Ladyship, I have 
heard that you are looking for a cook." My mother replied, 



- 157 - 

"Yes, Arseniy, but I know what kind of a cook you are and 
you know the way we live, we don't give big parties and so 
on. What would you do in our house?" "In my old days," 
replied Arseniy, "I wish to serve the daughter of my late 
master." So he became our cook, and with time was actually 
considered as a member of the family. 

One day during the war, when the sale of alcohol was 
forbidden by decree of the Tsar and was available only on 
prescription by a doctor, our doctor, who was a friend of 
the family, came to Mother, saying, "Your staff, headed by 
your cook, has demanded that I make out a prescription to 
the drug store for a bucket of pure alcohol. I am ready to 
sign it, but I thought it my duty to tell you about Arseniy 
and his ordering this bucket of alcohol" (I think it must 
have been roughly five gallons of pure alcohol) . My 
mother said, "Very well," and then she called Arseniy and 
asked him, "Why do you need such an amount of pure alcohol?" 
And in the very familiar way of an old servant, Arseniy asked 
my mother if she ever saw him drunk. Mother replied, "Thank 
God, no, never, and I do not want to." "Well," Arseniy 
said, "and you never will see me drunk, but I do need a glass 
of alcohol every day. " He diluted that alcohol with plain 
water to the strength of vodka, and so, in his old age, he 
drank that amount of alcohol every day. When the Revolution 
broke out, prices skyrocketed; many things were unobtainable 
and one had to do sometimes almost with nothing. So one day 



- 158 - 

Arseniy said to my mother, "I must leave you because I can 
not cook in this new revolutionary way." He retired to a 
little house of his that he had bought in Finland and I 
never saw him again. 

But on the eve of my leaving to join the regiment, 
Arseniy distinguished himself in preparing that supper for 
me and my friends. There was a huge turkey with all the 
trimmings. There were all kinds of tidbits, and although 
we were not yet adults but officers, we all had a drink 
or two of vodka. Then Arseniy produced a dish which he knew 
was my favorite: mashed, sweetened chestnuts with a moun 
tain of whipped cream in the middle. And to my horror, on 
top of the whipped cream was a count's crown made of sugar, 

what we called "bird sugar". I did not like it at all be 
cause I thought that it looked very snobbish, and of course 
my friends smiled though after all, out of seven of us, 
three had the title of count. Anyhow, we ate up every 
thing that was there and then we departed to join the 
regiment. 

At that time the regiment was in deep reserve, far 
behind the actual front lines. Everybody expected that in 
the spring of 1917 Russia would start an offensive, for we 
all knew that Germany was almost eshausted and could not 
fight much longer.* In order to cover their exhaustion and 



* I remember reading the memoirs of Winston Churchill, who 
wrote that in the spring of 1917 Russia did not even need to 
go over to an offensive. Russia just had to hold the line 
and thus make the Germans keep part of their army facing the 
Russian lines. That would have been enough. 



- 159 - 

fear, the Germans worked hard to bring down the spirit and 
the discipline in Russia by fomenting and aiding the 
Revolution. Their agents were all over Russia, encouraging 
unrest and working hand in hand with Russian intellectuals, 
most of them left-leaning Socialists. The Germans wanted 
the disintegration of Russia for obvious reasons and to that 
pack of Socialists like Kerensky (then an obscure lawyer 
and member of the Duma) and many others, victory for 
Imperial Russia would be unthinkable, the death knell for 
all their propaganda to tear down Tsar ism and Imperial Russia, 
There were also many Americans, emigres from Russia, who 
were for the success of the Revolution and the downfall of 
Imperial Tsarist Russia. All those forces were abetting 
the Revolution and exploiting the difficult situation as to 
food supplies. Contrary to what people said and heard, food 
in Russia was in plenty. The whole problem was in getting 
that food to the big cities. Most railroad boxcars were 
requisitioned for the transportation of troops. The rail 
road tracks had been, since the beginning of the war, in 
disrepair, trains rolled slowly, and among the railroad 
personnel there were many Socialists who exercised plain 
sabotage. All of this created an artificial shortage of 
food supplies in the big cities like Moscow and Petersburg. 

But in the days of my promotion and joining the regiment, 
I knew nothing about all this. I was interested in sport, 
in riding, and in waging war against the Germans, charging 



- 160 - 

them on my steed, sabre in hand, as described in the novel 
"War and Peace", by Tolstoy. However, the methods of war 
had changed by this time, but I did not realize it. When 
I joined the regiment I had, of course, to report to the 
headquarters. The commander of the regiment was a rather 
rough man, personally very brave. When I presented myself 
to him and stood at attention, surrounded by other officers, 
he looked at me and said, "Lieutenant, do you shave your 
moustache?" Still standing at attention, I replied, "It 
does not yet grow, Your Excellency." This was, of course, 
greeted by a roar of laughter from the other officers. 

I was assigned to the Third Squadron because a relative 
of mine had been in that squadron long before and another 
distant relative of mine, also a Stenbock, was in that 
squadron, and four months before that, my cousin Andre had 
joined the same squadron. So, unofficially, it was never 
referred to as the Third Squadron, but was called the 
Stenbock-Fermor Squadron. We officers, who were of almost 
the same rank and age, were given nicknames by the soldiers 
so they could distinguish us. One of my cousins, for heaven 
knows what reason, was given the nickname of Chyapkin. This 
word is meaningless in Russian, so nobody knows its origin 
or meaning, but it became very popular. Once a Corps 
Commander visited and inspected our squadron, and each 
of the horses in our squadron had to be brought before him. 
He wanted to know what state our horses were in because 



- 161 - 

fodder was scarce, and a soldier had to stand in front of 
him with each horse and report: "So-and-so horse belonging 
to such-and-such officer", first giving the name of the 
horse and then the name of the officer. Of course next to 
the Corps Commander stood the Regimental Commander and all 
the high brass, and up walked a soldier leading my cousin's 
horse, who was then on leave, and reported in a loud voice: 
"Horse so-an-so belonging to Lieutenant Count Chyapkin." 
Hearing this name, the Regimental Commnder raored, and 
everybody else had a good laugh as well. And naturally, 
after that, that name of Chyapkin stuck in the whole division 
and sometimes, by mistake, some clerk would put in an 
official report, "Officer of the day, Lieutenant Count 
Chyapkin. " 

The name of this very distant relative was not Stenbock- 
Fermor, but just Stenbock, Herman Stenbock. He was my age, 
he had finished the same high school as I had one year ahead 
of me, and then had gone to the same military school I did. 
He graduated a year ahead of me, we both joined the same 
regiment, and he was always considered my cousin. The 
Stenbock-Fermor family in Petersburg was numerous, and 
because of my great Uncle Alexander's branch of the family, 
each time the name of Stenbock-Fermor was mentioned it was 
connected with the many, many millions of gold rubles that 
the other branch had. Everybody knew the name Stenbock- 
Fermor and addressed my cousin as Count Stenbock-Fermor, and 



- 162 - 

each time he took great offense so that sometimes he even 
made himself ridiculous. 

My commander, Prince Guedroitz 

When I joined the regiment and because it was in deep 
reserve, most of the officers were on leave and there was 
only my Squadron Commander and myself. The Commander's 
name was Prince E. E. Guedroitz. This name was orginally 
Lithuanian and the descendants of that name were of the 
royal family founded in 840 by a Prince Guedimin. 

Of course in a war not only can a soldier be crippled 
or even killed, but he loses some of the discipline which 
has been trained into him by peacetime parades. So Prince 
Gedroitz received a complaint from a very old woman where 
our squadron was stationed. It was that a soldier had 
stolen from her half a dozen eggs, and he ordered me to 
make an investigation. Before I start to tell about the 
investigation, I must tell that Prince Gedroitz went to war 
with seven pairs of riding boots. He could not visualize 
being at war with less than seven pairs of riding boots. 
One pair was ordinary riding boots, the second pair was 
another pair of ordinary riding boots that he put on to 
give time to his orderly to clean those that were dirty. 
Then he had a bigger pair of riding boots with stockings 
in them in case of cold. Then he had one pair of riding 
boots, peacetme riding boots, that were lacquered and shiny 
like a mirror. That shows you the kind of man he was. 



- 163 - 

Besides that he was very short and all the men of the 
regiment were, in peacetime, chosen for their height. And 
Prince Gedroitz had recently married a very beautiful girl 
and she was taller than he and he resented very much her 
vigor and his height, and besides, he was very short 
sighted. He was a remarkably well trained drill master in 
peacetime but he disliked the sound of explosives or the 
sound of rifle fire or machine gun fire too close to where 
he happened to be. That is, he was not much of a warrior. 
But he knew all the instructions and all the paragraphs of 
Army Regulations inside out and backwards and forward. 

So he gave me orders to make an investigation. That 
was in early Spring and in that part of Russia there was 
bottomless mud that stuck to my boots and I had to wade from 
the village into each peasant's home where our soldiers were 
lodged. I asked and found out all that I could about the 
old woman and her half dozen eggs. It was rejected by 
Prince Gedroitz because I had not mentioned the origins of 
the woman and her background and the background of the 
soldier according to paragraph so-and-so of Army Regulations, 
So I had to rewrite the report. Once more I presented my 
report to Prince Gedroitz and once more it was rejected be 
cause I had used regular sized paper and had not left enough 
margins on the right and left sides of the text. Well, the 
reader can imagine how frustrated and how mad I was with my 
commander. I did not know what to do, but finally the 



- 164 - 

Master Sergeant of the squadron took pity on me and when I 
went to him privately he said to me with a broad smile, 
"Your Lordship, why don't you ask the clerk of the squadron 
to write the report for you. You will just have to sign it 
and you will give the clerk a tip, and I bet the report 
will be accepted." 

In spite of the mud, we had to exercise the men and the 
horses. Outside of the village we found an elevated place 
where the squadron could maneuver and the commander rode 
away a certain distance with his bugler following him, and 
then the bugler played the commands. An officer was 
supposed to recognize by that music which commands he should 
give. Now from my early childhood, I have been tone-deaf. 
As one of my great aunts said, "The nurse did not properly 
pay attention and an elephant must have stepped on your 
ear." I could not distinguish the music of a waltz from the 
music of a polka and therefore at dancing lessons and 
children's parties I was always late in asking the girl 
I wanted to dance with because I did not know what they 
were dancing. And then of course I got the worst looking 
girl. Now I stood in front of the squadron and there was 
the bugler palying something and I had no idea what it was. 
The squadron commander yelled from far away, "Lieutenant, 
please, kindly (but he used some rough words) will you 
command the squadron?" Well then the Master Sergeant, 
required by regulations to be behind the deployed squadron, 



- 165 - 

rode out and rode up to me and whispered into my ear what 
was being played. The captain immediately yelled, "Master 
Sergeant, kindly take your regular place." So the Master 
Sergeant had to go behind the squadron again and there I was. 
And there again was the bugler, bugling something, and at 
random I uttered, at the top of my voice, a command that was 
wrong and all the deployed squadron broke out in laughter. 
Of course I was mad and Prince Gedroitz realized at that 
moment that it was against regulations in this event to 
make a young officer a laughing stock in front of the 
soldiers, so he came down and took over the command and I 
.followed. We came back to our quarters and dismounted and 
the commander of the squadron came up to me and in a very 
official, dry tone said, "Lieutenant, please note the 
commands and study them." And of course I saluted and said, 
"Yes, Sir." When he went away I called the bugler and said 
to him, "From now on you will give me lessons; of course I 
will pay privately for those lessons." So the bugler was 
enchanted and asked me, "Sir, when will you order that we 
begin?" And I said to him, "Tomorrow morning at five 
o'clock in the morning." He blinked and agreed. 

We were located, as I mentioned, in a small house. The 
hall of that house was two stories high and had big windows. 
Behind the hall was a large room where the officers lived, 
and behind that large room there was a small room where the 
squadron commander lived all by himself. I closed the doors 



- 166 - 



and windows of the big hall and I knew the sounds would not 
carry far enough to alert the squadron, and when the bugler 
came at five o'clock and asked, "what do you command today?" 
I told him "Blow the Alarm". And he did. And the resonance 
in that closed hall was terrific when the bugler played 
the Alarm. Three seconds later Prince Gedroitz, in high 
boots and pajamas, jumped out of his little room and yelled, 
"What is happening? What is going on?" I stood at attention 
and said, "According to your orders, Sir, I am learning the 
commands." He was furious and he yelled at me and said, 
"Kindly choose another time for learning." 

About two years later fate brought us together again 
under very different circumstances and a different relation 
ship came up between us and we became great good friends. 
He was a very educated person and had read many very serious 
books, but he really should have been born two centuries 
earlier. 
I learn about life in the Regiment 

The other officers came back after their leaves had 
expired and we decided to give a party for the many officers 
of other squadrons. At such parties there was a lot of food 
and a lot of drinking, and my squadron had the unusual luck 
of having among our soldiers a fantastic professional cook. 
This man was very dedicated; his name was Samsonov. Before 
having been drafted into the Reserves he had been a secret 
police agent and a trainer of police dogs. Food was 



- 167 - 

plentiful because there was a supply center for the whole 
division where one could buy delicacies that had been 
brought from the city. Otherwise eggs, butter, meat, and 
poultry could be bought in some of the local villages. So 
with the delicacies from the city, the local food, and the 
fantastic cooking of Samsonov, I never ate better than from 
the moment I went to war. 

There was also a string band made up of soldiers and 
they played all kinds of music to entertain the officers. 
That was of course a tradition that went back to the days 
before the reforms in the army under Tsar Alexander II, when 
soldiers were serfs in uniforms and officers were gentlemen 
officers. It was customary that the senior officer present, 
in this case Prince Gedroitz, should take a glass of vodka 
and present it to a junior officer, who then had to drink 
it all to the health of the captain of our regiment while 
the musicians played a tune for the occasion. But here 
came the problem. I knew that our regiment had a reputation 
of quite solid drinking and we were getting young officers 
drunk, and I was afraid that if I got drank I Might make a 
fool of myself, so in advance I had Bade the decision not 
to drink a drop of alcohol. There was the Captain and in 
his hand a glass of vodka for me, a junior officer, and I 
was teHifvy hia, "I am very honored. Sir, but: I never drink 
anything." He stood like a fool with the drink and the 

did not know what to play and it was a disaster. 



- 168 - 

But it was, of course, only a party, there was nothing 
official about it, so the next day I could not be asked to 
appear on regular notice. The next evening two of my 
cousins and two other officers in my regiment came up to 
me in a very friendly way and said, "Vanya, yesterday you 
spoiled for us the whole evening. It is quite impossible, 
you cannot do that, you cannot do that." I told them in 
good Russian to go to Hell and told them I would like to 
see an officer in the Horse Guards transferred to some 
other unit in wartime because that officer refused to drink. 
Of course it could not be done. Then came the intervention 
of the senior colonel, von Wahl. He was a Baltic German and 
a very clever man and he was a friend of my family. He had 
found a solution, and he said to me quite unofficially, 
"Vanya, to avoid any future friction, I am going to appoint 
you Officer of the Day each time there is some occasion 
where there is some drinking. An Officer of the Day wears 
his field outfit and his cap anywhere, outdoors and indoors, 
and everyone can see who the Officer of the Day is. He can 
drink whatever he likes, but according to the Regulations 
nobody dares offer him a drink." So that was a very clever 
solution by the colonel. 

We were entrained at Easter of that same year (1917) but 
the train was standing still and not far from the tracks 
there was a little village with a little church where Easter 
Mass was being celebrated. Of course none of us dared leave 



- 169 - 

the train because we never knew when the train would move 
on. All of a sudden there came Samsonov and some soldiers, 
all of them carrying trays full of Easter eggs and all the 
classical Easter foods and goodies that were a very ancient 
and lovely Easter tradition. How and when Samsonov 
managed to bake and to cook and put together all this while 
on the move, remains to me a mystery. 

The Tsar abdicates 

^MMMM^H^HMMHM^^MB^H^MM^M^H^M 

Some of the officers returning from Petersburg mentioned 
that the situation there was very tense; there were rumors 
of disorders in the factories, of demonstrations, and of a 
lack of food supplies, especially bread. It came out later 
that this lack of supplies was quite artificial. It was 
created by the revolutionaries, the socialists, and all those 
who wanted to provoke disorders and to make the Russian army 
weak and unfit to continue the war. German secret agents 
were all over and in the factories they allied themselves 
with the working class. There were many intellectual 
Russians who were socialists and for them Russia's 
winning the war would be a disaster. They did all they 
could to subvert and poison the army, especially the reserve 
battalions that were stationed in Petersburg, and they 
succeeded. 

I do not intend now to rewrite or to talk about all the 
events of the Russian Revolution of 1917 because so many 
books have been written about it, great scholarly books by 



- 170 - 

people who knew more than I did at the time. I was only 
twenty, so what could I know about the general situation 
in the country and in politics. But the disintegration 
after the abdication of the Tsar went on rapidly. Two 
weeks before the abdication everybody expected big up 
heavals in the capitol city. There were rumors that our 
Guard Division would be entrained and brought back to 
St. Petersburg for the support of law and order but if the 
Tsar gave such orders to his Chief of Staff, General Gurko, 
he never followed up the orders. I do not know whether 
they were formal orders or a suggestion of the Tsar or just 
a wish that it would be a good idea. Instead of an order 
calling the Guards back to Petersburg, a very unusual order 
came that all junior officers from all regiments of the 
Guards' cavalry should be sent individually, followed by 
their orderlies, to inspect roads in the westward region, 
the region that had been taken back from the Austrian armies 
not so long ago. That order was, of course, absolutely 
idiotic, because the roads were quagmires, some of them were 
still covered with snow, and the rivers were impossible to 
cross. 

It was clear to everybody that this order had come from 
Headquarters for the purpose of making our Guard Division, 
all four Regiments, helpless because all junior officers 
were somewhere in the backwoods and could not even be 
summoned back before they had completed their jobs. We were 



- 171 - 

given two weeks to complete the job. On the route where I 
stopped with my orderly to have some food, I can remember 
the great pine trees and the tables in the open air where 
Red Cross girls were helping out with the food, and I can 
remember that there was a radio receiver connected to the 
outside world and that evening we heard the news that the 
Tsar had abdicated. When I told it to my orderly, he 
started weeping. At the same table was sitting an old, gray- 
haired army colonel, and when he heard the tragic news, he 
started sobbing and he said, "Now that the Tsar has abandoned 
us I am going to serve the Sultan of Turkey." That old 
colonel had been brought up with the notion that he had to 
serve a master, and his master was the Tsar, who held his 
power by the Grace of God and was annointed in the Moscow 
Cathedral in a great, great ceremony. For that colonel, the 
Tsar's word was God's word, and he reigned and he ordered by 
the Grace of God. And now this old colonel was deprived of 
the Tsar that he loved, and so sobbing and weeping he 
decalred that he would go to the Turks, the arch enemy of 

V I 

all Russia, and serve the Sultan. You have to really 
comprehend the state of mind of an old Russian line officer 
to understand the tragic meaning of what he was saying. 

Well anyhow, orders being orders, the next morning we 
preceded to our task, but of course there was no question 
of mapping the roads. I rode, my horse stumbling in the mud, 
and I found trenches not so long ago occupied by Austrian 



- 172 - 

infantry. Some of the trenches were of course knocked into 
a state of total destruction by Russian artillery, but some 
that the Austrians had left in panic after they were sur 
rounded were in perfect order. I marvelled at those 
trenches. The floors and the sides were made out of birch 
wood. Birches were growing there all over the place - there 
was no end to birch trees. All the connections were laid 
out with birch pavements and there were signs saying, "to 
Company so-and-so", "To Headquarters Regiment", all 
typically German. The trenches looked like some sort of 
fairyland for children playing in the woods. 

I bungled my job of mapping, letting my fancy play 
around with where roads ought to be, and after three days 
in the woods I came to a road that was in good condition 
and started back to where I expected to join the Headquarters 
of my Regiment. On that road I accidentally ran into a car 
that my regimental commander was driving. Now commanders in 
those days were not supposed to have cars but this man was 
extremely wealthy and had this old car in the regiment at 
his own expense. He ordered me to get into the car and 
said that my orderly would bring the horses back to the 
squadron, and then he gave me all the details that he knew 
about the happenings in Petersburg and the abdication of the 
Tsar; again, those events have been described in so many 
books that I am not going to repeat them, only I was very 
very happy that we had left Petersburg almost on the eve of 



- 173 - 

those events, because when those events did take place in 
Petersburg there was fighting in the streets and many 
officers were murdered by the mob just because they were 
officers. 

THE FIRST REVOLUTION 

("Kerenschina" , first days of March 1917) 

Early days of the revolution 

In early 1917, under the government of Kerensky, receiv 
ing a commission as an officer was as good as receiving one's 
death sentence. A person in uniform, with golden epaulettes 
on his shoulders indicating his rank and unit, was in real 
danger of being shot. Hatred of officers was widespread at 
the time I was promoted to the rank of officer and I wonder 
ed why that was so. I came to some conclusions after 
Captain Wadim Kushelev told me about an incident that had 
occurred in 1914 at the very beginning of World War I. 

He was on a reconnaissance mission with the first squad 
ron of the Horse Guard Regiment and they were approaching a 
group of houses in East Prussia that were occupied by 
German infantry. Kushelev ordered his men to dismount. 
One out of every three soldiers took a horse and two other 
horses belonging to the soldiers next to him and moved out 
of the firing range. The remaining soldiers, roughly 120 
of them, moved or crawled under fire toward the houses. 
When Kushelev considered that they were close enough to 
charge on foot, he yelled, "Hurrah! Horse Guards follow me!" 



- 174 - 

and holding his sabre high above his head he charged just 
as he had learned in military school when on summer maneuvers. 
Kushelev was tall and an excellent athlete. He ran quickly 
toward the houses and when he got there he dropped to the 
ground and opened fire with his rifle. When he looked 
around him, he saw that only the master sergeant and about 
a dozen soldiers were with him. The rest of his men were 
lying on the ground far behind him, still firing. He and 
the few men who had followed him found themselves caught 
in the crossfire. Kushelev managed to crawl back and the 
skirmish ended when the Germans fled under fire of a 
Russian artillery unit. 

This little skirmish taught Captain Kushelev a lesson 
that he remembered for the rest of the war. After this, 
when his cavalry squadron approached on foot, Kushelev took 
his position a few paces behind his men and instead of his 
sabre he carried a pistol with which he drove his men to 
attack. The incident had occurred just at the beginning of 
1914 in a crack unit of the Guard Regiment. Two years 
later only a few remnants of such "elite" units existed. 
Whole divisions now consisted of reservists, elderly soldiers 
or green recruits, all commanded by young men who had been 
made officers after six months' training. In the opinion of 
an old professional military man, it was not a regular 
army but an armed crowd. Many of these men, young and old, 
were individually very brave men. However, as a group they 



- 175 - 

were ill-trained and disgruntled at being torn from their 
families, their jobs, and their civilian lives. Such a 
group had very little fighting spirit. 

In about mid-1917, my squadron of the Horse Guards was 
in a small provincial village, Korosten, in the region of 
the Ukraine, northwest of Kiev. Discipline had not yet 
completely disintegrated, mostly because of the friendly 
relations of officers to soldiers and the soldiers' trust 
ing us, particularly my friend who had the nickname of 
Jojo. He never, so to say, fraternized with the soldiers, 
but he knew how to talk to them and how to act and how to 
establish a friendly relationship. This kind of relation 
ship existed among his men and us officers - we were then 
four or five in that squadron. Of course, one exception was 
the squadron commander, Prince Gedroitz, with whom I had 
many troubles. And who did not have any troubles with him? 

There was a kind of a feast planned in Korosten. I 
believe it was June 24th, St. lan's Day, a great feast all 
over Russia since days immemorial. There were speeches to 
be made in the main market place by representatives of the 
local population. One of them was the revolutionary 
commissar, who acted as the governor used to act in pre- 
revolutionary days. This new authority, the revolutionary 
commissar, was quite comic. He was rather stout. He was 
a veterinarian and therefore was exempt from being drafted 
into the fighting units. Politically, he was just starting 



- 176 - 

toward what he thought he could make a great career. He 
was a revolutionary socialist, leaning somewhat toward 
Communism, and he was also a great Ukrainian. Just to 
enhance his authority and his prestige, he wanted to appear 
at that rally on horseback, so he came to our squadron and 
asked for a horse. He warned us that he had never ridden 
in his life, so the quietest horse we had, one that was 
used only for carts, was saddled. Four of our soldiers 
lifted that revolutionary commissar up and put him onto 
the saddle. He was wearing a semi-military kind of uniform 
and on his left shoulder he had a huge red ribbon, a 
revolutionary ribbon. On his other shoulder he had the 
colors of the Ukraine, yellow and bright blue. Both sides 
would be content. 

Finally that rally started. There was a sort of podium 
hastily nailed together for the speech makers. The first 
who came to that podium was our commander, Prince Gedroitz. 
He did not deign to mount that podium but he spoke from 
horseback on his beautiful horse imported from Ireland, a 
beautiful enormous jumper. He made a short patriotic 
speech, reminding everybody that we were still at war with 
Germany and that every Russian should be on the line de 
fending the country against the Germans. Well, his speech 
was really short and even some of our soldiers and some of 
the Cossack Fourth Don Regiment who were also located in 
Korosten cheered our commander. Then came another speaker, 



- 177 - 

a Russian priest in his robes, a big cross on his breast. 
He spoke about religion and all the woes and all the dis 
order due to the fact that fewer young people went to mass. 
Their forefathers had believed in God, believed in the Holy 
Russian Orthodox Church, defended their country under the 
sign of the Cross, therefore Russia had become an enormous, 
wealthy, stong country. A few cheers came from the 
Cossacks. Then came the next speaker, also on horseback, 
our new superior authority, the revolutionary commissar. 
He repeated as a zombie all the sentences that everybody 
knew in those days by heart, revolutionary sentences 
encouraging the soldiers to leave the front lines and to 
rush back into the interior and to hurry and grab the land 
from all those who had more than they had, especially to 
grab the land of the gentry. Then, after his inflamatory 
speech, there came the local rabbi. The local rabbi was 
clad as all the rabbis were, in very special attire. He was 
a poor speaker and he really did not know what to say. All 
of a sudden from out of the listening crowd there was a 
stir, giggles and yells, and especially the Cossacks start 
ed heckling him. If it were not for our still more or less 
disciplined squadron, that poor rabbi would have been drag 
ged down from the podium, and only God knows what might 
have happened to him. But fortunately we foresaw that it 
might happen, and without any special command, we had our 
soldiers posted as close to the speakers as possible. So 



- 178 - 

the rabbi descended under jeers and yells of the population, 
especially the Cossacks. But the population of that little 
city of Korestin was about eighty percent Jewish, and I was 
amazed that all the younger ones, obviously Jewish, jeered 
and yelled and heckled the rabbi. 

Well, after this was all over, towards the evening the 
crowd dispersed. There was a kind of a runway and there 
was hurdle riding by officers of our squadron and the Don 
Cossacks. The riding of the Cossacks differed very greatly 
from the riding of the regular troops. They had very 
different saddles and very different ways of riding. They 
just stormed ahead whereas our riding was inspired by 
instructors of the British Cavalry. Our heavy horses galloped 
at a speed as if they were just walking; it was a very, very 
short gallop. And when the horse approached the hurdle at a 
short gallop, all of a sudden the heavy horse jumped across 
the highest possible hurdle without upsetting it. The 
Cossacks were amazed and also kind of disgusted. What kind 
of riding is that? We Cossacks, we are going to show you 
Horse Guard Cavalry what real riding is. They formed a 
group of Cossacks rather far away from the obstacles. Then 
one of the Cossacks used his whip on the horse and started 
full-speed storming against the obstacle. And right in front 
of the obstacle, of course, his horse veered outright. The 
Cossack standing in the stirrups used his whip on the horse's 
neck and on the horse's head, making the horse go straight. 



- 179 - 

But the horse just knifed into the surrounding crowd, eighty 
percent Jewish. The Cossack was mad, and he just used his 
whip on the horse and all the bystanders. So that riding 
contest, fortunately, was over before it started. 

While we were still stationed in Korosten, all regulat 
ions were strictly adhered to. The banner of the Horse 
Guard Regiment was always carried by my third squadron. The 
banner stood in the room next to the room occupied by the 
commander of the squadron, and day and night two soldiers 
were on guard, right and left of the banner. 

Later two officers took that banner to a cathedral in 
St. Petersburg, the cathedral that was the cathedral of 
our regiment, right next to the barracks of the regiment 
and only two or three blocks away from the Winter Palace. 
They hid that banner in the altar of that church. Years 
later the Bolshevik government in St. Petersburg decided 
to enlarge the city, to build an electric tram way across 
that place. The church was torn down completely, as were 
many other churches during that anti-religious movement that 
swept all over Russia, of course organized by Communists 
and non-believers. Communists would not admit that some 
body could be believing in anything other than the Communist 
doctrine. Believing in Christianity and the churches just 
could not be according to the party line. All the churches 
had to be torn down, and going to church was very dangerous 
for those who continued to do so. Fortunately, some big 



- 180 - 

churches, some big cathedrals were turned into anti- 
religious museums and centers fo anti-religious propaganda. 
Anyhow, by this unusual way the buildings were saved and are 
now admired by so many tourists that go visiting those 
cities. As our cathedral was totally destroyed to its very 
foundation, nobody could say what had happened to the 
banner. Very many years later, one of my fellow officers 
who was later a great businessman managed somehow to get 
himself documents that said he was a Finnish citizen. As 
a Finnish citizen he could freely travel all throughout the 
Soviet Union. Part of his business was in Finland, part of 
it was in Paris, France. And in Paris he met many officers 
of my regiment, immigrants, whom he had not seen for years 
and years. There at a reunion he told us a wonderful 
story. He as a Finnish citizen was visiting the Winter 
Palace as a tourist and also the Hermitage Museum adjoining 
the Winter Palace. All of a sudden, in the Hermitage 
Museum on a high pedestal, he saw the two-headed eagle. 
This eagle used to be above our sacred banner. And under 
that pedestal, just under the glass cover over that eagle, 
there was an inscription in Russian: "This eagle is from 
the banner of the Imperial Horse Guard Regiment." For 
somebody it was just an object of art, and somehow by the 
grace of God this object was found standing in the Hermitage, 
My friend asked the guide leading that group of tourists, 
"May I take a picture of this object of art?" Of course, he 



- 181 - 

did not mention that he was an officer of the Horse Guards 
and that it was the banner of his regiment. He just asked 
the guide if he could take a picture of the wonderful 
object of art. And the guide, of course, did not have any 
objections. 

Provisional Government takes over 

The last order of the Tsar before his abdication was 
that all his subjects should obey the Provisional Government 
as they would obey him. This was a very patriotic gesture 
from the Tsar but very unrealistic because the Provisional 
Government was a group of self-appointed people. Among 

f 

them was a lawyer who was a great speaker, an actor, and he 
could talk to the mob, that knew nothing about anything, 
into everything that he wanted to talk them into. And this 
lawyer was Alexander Kerensky. 

It was customary in church during the liturgy to sing 
a hymn to the Tsar, "Long live the Tsar" and "Many years 
to the reign of the Tsar". Now there was no Tsar, so the 
church choirs and priests sang, "Long live the Provisional 
Government," which of course was absurd and sounded 
ridiculous. The Provisional Government was an anonymous 
group of people that played at democracy. They played at 
elections with a majority that changed from day to day and 
their duties changed accordingly. Kerensky became Minister 
of Justice but no one actually knew who was Minister of what, 



- 182 - 

and chaos from St. Petersburg spread all over the country. 
Soldiers of the reserve battalions, factory workers, just 
plain street rabble stormed a great building in St. Peters 
burg in which a girls' school was located and they drove 
the girls from the building. It was called Smolny and once 
upon a time had been a monastery. It had been built 
centuries ago, The workers, the soldiers, and the alleged 
representatives of the peasants were armed and they were 
the only ones that represented an armed force. This lot 
was taken over and directed by Lenin and his henchmen, among 
them Trotsky, whose real name was Bronstein. He was Jewish 
and he had a genius for organizing. Somewhere in his 
memoirs Lenin mentions that without the organization talent 
of Trotsky the Revolution would have floundered in the first 
days. 



The military force desintegrates 

The word "soviet" means "council". The Ministers of the 
Provisional Government could talk and talk about the very 
best intentions of democracy but they had no power to 
implement any suggestions. The power belonged to the 
Soviets and this balance between the Provisional Government 
and the Soviets lasted throughout 1917 until the Second 
Revolution in October 1917. All through 1917 the Soviets 
were established in Moscow and in all large cities after 
much opposition and much fighting and much bloodshed. The 
Soviets sent out their Commissars into every Army corps, 



- 183 - 

every regiment, every squadron. I recall that the 
revolutionaries did not trust the officers and were 
afraid of an uprising, a counterrevolution by the officers. 
But the officers and generals were not politicians. They 
knew that the last order of the day of the Tsar had been 
to obey the orders of the Provisional Government. Besides, 
we were still at war with Germany so the officer corps was 
advised that the war had to be continued and the country 
defended against the Germans. Therefore officers continued 
to do the officers' tasks and it became more and more 
difficult because every order had to be okayed by the 
Revolutionary Commissar. Some of my fellow officers in 
the trenches during a German attack knew that the best 
defense would be a counterattack, but according to the new 
Democratic Socialist Regulations all the soldiers had to 
vote: could we counterattack or could we not. Under 
such conditions waging war became impossible and officers 
who tried to do something and uphold some discipline were 
quite often murdered by their own soldiers. The Germans 
were very sly. They saw that the Russian lines were dis 
integrating totally so they did not attack on a great scale. 
Why risk the lives of our own German soldiers? Why risk our 
supplies and ammunition? They conserved all this for the 
Western Front against the French and the British and the 
now-coming-on Americans and let the Russian army dis 
integrate and vanish by itself. All the soldiers now were 



- 184 - 

eager to go home because for them the war was over. 
They had been trained for generations to wage war for 
Holy Russia and they had also allegiance to the Tsar, the 
Russian Orthodox faith, and the Motherland. Now they 
considered themselves free from all allegiance and were 
really eager to rush home. There were rumors that big 
estates that belonged to big landowners would be divided 
equally among the peasantry and all of the soldiers were 
afraid they might be too late to grab the best parcels of 
land. They stormed into army trains and they were sitting 
in the cars and clinging outside the cars and sitting on the 
roofs of the cars. When the trains came to great station 
junctions there were attempts to stop the flight of the 
Tsarist soldiers and to lead them back to the front, and 
for this purpose some of the stations were occupied by regi 
ments that had conserved discipline. One of them was my 
regiment of Horse Guards. This was actually police duty 
and we officers and all of our men resented the assignment 
very much. It was an absolutely hopeless job because the 
soldiers anticipated being checked and they just got off 
the trains before they reached the city and went around the 
city on foot, and two or three days later they would board 
a new train. 

The contact of our soldiers with this constant mob 
deserting from the front had also its effect on our soldiers, 
We were very happy to be relieved and just before being 
relieved we were told that a regiment of machine gunners, 



- 185 - 

about 2,000 men, was in mutiny and occupying the city of 
Rovno. The officers of that regiment had fled to save 
their lives but some of them did not succede and were 
murdered. So our regiment got orders to quell that mutiny. 
We were a cavalry regiment of nearly 400 men and we were 
armed only with rifles and we were to oppose a regiment of 
2,000 soldiers in mutiny. They had more than 200 machine 
guns and had occupied a barracks. We marched up to the 
barracks and sent an ultimatum to the mutineers to come 
out of the barracks unarmed, to line up, and then we would 
escort them to the railroad station. When they saw us 
marching in order led by officers with their gold epaulettes 
showing their rank and our men singing classical soldiers' 
songs, all 2,000 men came out of the barracks unarmed and 
lined up in front of us. There was not a single shot fired. 
We escorted them to the train and the train went off and 
then we came back to where we were located, outside of the 
city. That shows that if there had been some leaders 
willing to risk something, relying on still disciplined 
troops, the Revolution might have been quelled. But no 
body had the pluck or courage to act on his own and what 
could I do as a junior lieutenant? 

In mid-June a replacement squadron came to Rovno from 
St. Petersburg. We saw it coming and it was led by a non- 
com officer, and on his banner was an inscription in gold 
letters. And I insist that the banner was silk and the 



- 186 - 

inscription was in gold letters because after all the men 
were there as replacement of a regiment of Imperial Horse 
Guards, and they were very proud of it in spite of the 
Revolution. On that banner of the replacement squadron 
were the words: "First Replacement Revolutionary 
Squadron of Russian Imperial Horse Guards." What a mess 
in the heads and minds of those poor men! 

Uncle Nicholas escapes the mob 

In 1917 when the Revolution began, Uncle Nicholas was 
living in St. Petersburg. Crowds of people roamed the 
streets looking for wealthy people and homes to loot. They 
came to Uncle Nicholas's very modest apartment, discovered 
that he was a count, and wanted to loot the place and arrest 
and shoot him. But when they dragged him out onto the 
street, all the women on the block rushed out and drove the 
mob away. "No one will touch our count!" they cried. Uncle 
Nicholas had a knack for befriending people without losing 
his dignity. 

After the Revolution he moved to Moscow where he got a 
job in films. He played the stereotype of the people's 
enemy - a member of the upper class bourgeoisie. Once 
while he was standing in a bread line, people recognized 
him from the movies. They said: "Aha - now you, too, have 
to stand in this line as we do. You used to have servants to 
bring you coffee or chocolate in bed and now see how it is!" 



- 187 - 

He replied: "Oh, no - I never drank that for breakfast -" 
"What did you have then?" they asked. "A cup of proletarian 
blood every morning," he answered. They all laughed at this 
and Nicholas was the victor. With his cool, assured 
appearance, Nicholas could get away with things like that. 

Uncle Nicholas shared an apartment in Moscow with his 
sister Katherine. She had a Swedish sort of beauty and a 
most difficult character. She had married twice - her second 
husband was Prince Kudashev and she had a son with him who 
was about my age. When I was younger Prince Kudashev came 
to our house once in a while for lunch or dinner. I always 
thought he was a bit strange; I could not believe that he 
was a real prince for he had no estate and no job with the 
government. To me this was quite suspicious. He was an 
engineer - an inventor, I think. I do not know what happened 
to him in later years. 

After the Revolution Katherine "s son, Serge', lived in 
Moscow. He had to marry the daughter of his landlord and 
they had a baby and named him Serge". Soon after, my cousin 
Serge died of typhoid. The baby was left with Aunt Katherine 
and Serge's wife went back to her native Switzerland in order 
to work and earn money for the baby's support. This Swiss 
girl was rather ugly but very clever. She became the 
secretary to the famous writer, Remain Rolland (he was 
known to be a leftist sympathizer) . Eventually she became 
Mme. Rolland. 



- 188 - 

After they were married, M. Holland wrote to the 
Soviet government and said that he was very interested in 
this new progressive state. He wanted to come to see it 
and to live for a while in Moscow. The Soviet government 
answered politely, saying that he was welcome to come but 
only after six months because they were still in the 
process of repairing houses and could only guarantee him 
housing after six months. This was really a trick. The 
government officials realized that they could not put him 
in the poor district of town nor could they lodge him in an 
old aristocratic palace. In six months' time they carried 
out a crash building program. The apartments they built 
were simple but comfortable. In them they housed workers 
and members of the Tcheka. When the Hollands came they 
were given a place there. 

Mme. Holland went to see her son (4 or 5 years old 
then) , who was living with her ex-mother-in-law, Katherine 
and Uncle Nicholas. Nicholas was older and very active 
in the defense of the Russian Orthodox Church; he had been 
imprisoned for this thirteen times. Often they gave him 
salt herring without water, trying to get a confession out 
of him, but Nicholas never ate the herring and never con 
fessed. 

Mme. Holland was very happy to see her son Serge and 
very grateful for all that Aunt Katherine had done for him, 
but she believed that the kind of education he was getting 



- 189 - 

was too oldfashioned and too sheltered. She thought that 
he ought to learn with the people the realities of the 
world around him. Aunt Katherine said, "You are his 
mother, it is your decision", so the boy was allowed in the 
street any time and soon began playing with all the other 
boys on the street. One day not long after that, Mme. 
Holland asked her son what he wanted for his birthday. He 
told her, "money, of course", so on his birthday, with 
Uncle Nicholas and Aunt Katherine there, Mme. Holland gave 
Serge three rubles. He loo'ked at the money and said to 
his mother, "Only three rubles! Fuck you, Mother!" Uncle 
Nicholas laughed and Mme. Holland decided that perhaps 
Katherine's way of educating the boy was a better way. 
Eventually young Serge became a pilot and flew with the 
Air Force in World War II. He was probably killed in battle. 

But to continue with the Hollands 1 visit in Moscow, 
one day they received an official invitation to dinner at 
the Kremlin. Among the guests were many distinguished 
foreign visitors. At the time, Lenin was the leader of the 
country and Stalin was the party secretary. Litvinov was 
the Minister of Foreign Affairs. The Hollands accepted the 
invitation. 

While at dinner, one of the guests asked Litvinov: 
"Is it true that Russian citizens here have difficulties in 
obtaining visas to go abroad?" Litvinov answered: "Who 
says such nonsense? That is just nonsense." Mme. Holland 



- 190 - 

then entered the conversation and asked, "If that is so, 
why then is there no visa for my uncle? My uncle has waited 
a long time for a visa to go abroad." Litvinov turned to 
her. "Who is your uncle?" "Count Nicholas Stenbock-Fermor , " 
she told him. "And why does he want to go abroad?" 
Litvninov asked. Mme. Holland explained, "His two daughters 
now live in Paris. They are married to officers of the 
White Army and so they have settled in Paris and he would 
like very much to see them." Thus in the midst of this 
dinner at the Kremlin, the room was full of rumors of 
scandals. Litvinov explained that it must be a misunder 
standing. He told Mme. Holland that she should tell her 
uncle that he would personally take care of the matter. 
After dinner, Mme. Holland rushed to Uncle Nicholas to tell 
him what had happened. The next morning Nicholas went to 
the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and told the porter at the 
door that he was there on the personal orders of Minister 
Litvinov. The porter gasped and let him in. Nicholas 
sat and waited for two hours before an orderly appeared 
carrying on a tray all the necessary papers and a passport. 
Within 48 hours Nicholas left the country. 

He arrived in Paris and went to his daughter Olga. 
Olga's husband worked as a cab driver while she herself 
took in laundry and did babysitting. It was a terrible 
situation financially but they were all very happy. Olga 
was delighted to see her father. 



- 191 - 

When Nicholas arrived in Paris he wore typical Russian 
clothing - riding boots, wide blue pants, a black shirt, 
and a big black military cap. In July in Paris his costume 
was rather unusual. While taking a stroll, school children 
surrounded him and jeered at him. Nicholas stopped and 
turned to them, saying in perfect French, "Children, do you 
know who I am?" "No, monsieur," they replied. Nicholas 
said, "I am Father Christmas - I am here in Paris for my 
summer vacation." After that the children simply bowed and 
said, "Bon jour, monsieur." 

The Revolution touches Kodyma 

In June of 1917, three months after the Revolution, it 
was my turn to go on leave for 21 days. It was almost a 
year after my father had died. I went to my estate, Kodyma, 
where my mother was staying along with a British lady, 
formerly a governess in a Russian family. Because of the 
money shortage after the Revolution, this Russian family 
had been unable to keep her, and because of the war con 
ditions she could not return to Great Britain, so she 
was very happy to act as companion to my mother on our 
estate. 

I arrived in my officer's uniform and found conditions 
at Kodyma almost as normal as before. The events in 
Petersburg, the contagion of the Revolution, had not yet 
reached that far. I stayed at Kodyma and enjoyed my 
horses and my dogs just as if nothing had ever happened, 



- 192 - 

but soon left to visit my grandmother at Kemenka so that she 
could see me in the uniform of the Horse Guards. Shortly 
after I left my mother, a Revolutionary Committee arrived. 
Three men, a Jew, a sailor with a rifle, and a soldier 
comprised the committee. They demanded that all wages 
paid to workers on the estate be raised one hundred per 
cent. Mohter calmly explained to them that she did not 
want to deceive them - she could sign her name agreeing 

to meet their demands, but her signature would be meaning- 


less without the approval of the trustees of the estate, who 

were in Kherson. I was not twenty-one yet and the trustees 
of the estate supervised affairs with my mother until I 
should come of age. These young revolutionaries were 
awkward and unsure of themselves. In the face of my 
mother's calm demeanor they were very polite, addressed 
my mother as "Ladyship", and left. The next day my mother 
went to Kherson and told the story to the trustees, and 
after hearing about it, they said that they were surprised 
that she was still alive. Had I been there in my officer's 
uniform, we would certainly have been killed the way many 
others like us were. 

In 1917 our gardener also became a determined Bolshevik, 
After twenty years of service with us, he began to try to 
rouse people against us. When I turned twenty-one I con 
sulted with Volkof and then decided to fill all of our 
contractual obligations to him and then dismiss him. Six 



- 193 - 

months' worth of produce, money, a house, and his salary 
were given to him and he was ordered to leave. I think 
many were surprised to see "the young Count" take such 
drastic action. This was happening later, in the summer of l! 

Last Visit with Grandmother 

The distance from Kodyma to Kamenka was one hundred 
kilometers as the crow flies. Years and years ago, as a 
young man, my father rode on horseback from Kodyma to 
Kamenka, but that would have taken too much time, too 
much for me, so I took a train. It took me more than 
24 hours to get to Kamenka, that with a detour and changing 
trains twice. And though I came closer to Kamenka, I still 
had to cover about 50 kilometers in a horse drawn carriage. 
When I arrived at Kamenka I was very proud to show myself 
in my uniform with the coveted white and red cap of the 
Horse Guards, the same regiment in which my grandfather had 
served almost half a century earlier during the reign of 
Tsar Alexander II. I stayed a few days at Kemenka and 
enjoyed it, but because of the Revolution supplies were 
very difficult to obtain. Of course there was no electric 
ity in such a remote place and the huge house at Kemenka 
was usually lit with kerosene. Now, kerosene and ordinary 
candles were not available and the only light that could be 
had was that of church candles. The priest of Kamenka 
gave them to my grandmother every Sunday and they were 



- 194 - 

precious. Every person moving from one room to another 
had to carry his church candle. I must say that this was 
rather depressing. I could stay only a few days and then 
left because I had to go back to the regiment. At that 
time Mother and her personal maid, Anna Nikolaevna, went to 
Kiev in order to be nearer to me. Kiev, however, was full 
of marauding Bolsheviks and members of the Tcheka. 

Grandmother dies - Destruction of Kamenka 

Several months later the contagion of the Revolution 
spread all over the country. The inhabitants of two small 
cities about 10 kilometers away from Kamenka, excited by 
revolutionary ideas and following the new slogans aimed 
at destroying the upper class, came to Kamenka for looting. 
Dedicated old servants at the last minute led my grand 
mother, who was then close to eighty, out of the house and 
hid her in the fields in a haystack, where she spent all 
night. While she was in the haystack, those looters ran 
sacked the whole house, destroying or carrying things away. 
In all this destruction there also perished a volume of 
memoirs of my ancestor, her father, Safonov, who had 
retired from the army after the assassination of Tsar Paul I 
in 1801 and gone to the country to live there. 

In the morning, after the house had been looted and 
poor grandmother had remained all night in the haystack, a 
servant took her to the city of Elizavetgrad (now Kirovograd) , 



- 195 - 

fifty kilometers away, where the railroad junction was. 
There she came to the house of a priest whom she knew and 
a few weeks later, at the home of that priest, my grand 
mother died. Of course all that anxiety and the night 
spent in the haystack had been too much for her at her age. 
When Grandmother died, the local communist authorities 
denied permission for her burial. They denied it because 
she was, in their understanding, an ex-countess, a member 
of the Russian aristocracy, which had no rights any more, 
not even the right to be buried. Fortunately the new 
authorities overlooked something: they did not know that 
every church had a cellar and this cellar was used for 
keeping the coffins of the dead that for some reason could 
not be buried as was the rule on the third day after death; 
sometimes the weather did not permit it, the ground would 
be hard frozen, one could not dig. Therefore these 
coffins were kept in the cellar and that is where the local 
priest put the coffin of my grandmother when she was denied 
burial, and there her coffin stayed for a number of years. 
As the years passed and the situation in Russia became less 
acute, one of my grandmother's daughters travelled all the 
way from Moscow to Kirovograd for the purpose of finally 
taking her mother's coffin to the cemetery. The church still 
existed, but churches were being torn down everywhere and 
what would have happened to Grandmother's coffin if the turn 
of this church had come? So her youngest daughter, my aunt 



- 196 - 

Katharine, travelled all the way from Moscow and she 
succeeded in burying her mother in the cemetery. 

My aunt, who all her life had loved luxury of any 
kind, was a very favorite aunt of mine and had been a 
striking beauty. In 1916, when my father died and she 
came to the funeral (she was about 50 at that time) she was 
still a beauty and full of pep and adventure. After 
burying her mother she hired a peasant cart and drove to 
another station, where she took a train back to Moscow. 
She knew that in that cart she would have to pass through 
Kamenka and she wanted just a look at that place where 
she had been born. She did not dare to stop the cart and 
take a walk because she was afraid of being recognized by 
local people, and who knows what might have happened. But 
she saw that the house did not exist any more. It had been 
a very, very big house and had been built by the pupil of 
a great architect. That beautiful house had vast cellars 
and two stories above them. The new Communist authorities 
spent several days blowing that house to bits and pieces 
with dynamite. And why did they go to all that trouble? 
Well, there was a belief spread by communist propaganda 
that if the houses of the former landowners remained 
standing, the day would come when the rightful owners would 
return and take over their homes. That big house might 
have been used for a school or just for a warehouse, or 
for some other purpose. But no, it had to be destroyed with 



- 197 - 

dynamite and they went to all that great trouble to do it. 

That makes me think of the fate of my parents ' house 
at Kodyma. After the Revolution, in 1918, this estate was 
looted, as were others, and it was abandoned by the people 
who were employed on it. There it stood, a no man's land. 
People from surrounding villages came and helped themselves 
to bricks, and boards, and furniture, and all that was there. 
This reminds me of what I used to do as an early teenager. 
I had a little rifle and with it shot crows. Then I put 
those crows on an anthill and the next morning only the 
clean white skeletons of the crows were there. The ants 
had taken away feathers, flesh, everything, and this is 
what the surrounding villagers did to Kodyma. 

During the German occupation of France (1940-1944) when 
I worked in France as an interpreter in a shipyard, one of 
the German soldiers on duty there was transferred to Russia, 
to the region where Kodyma used to be. From there he wrote 
me a postcard which he sent through the German army post 
services, saying that "the place you mentioned, called 
Kodyma, could not be located; you would never know that it 
had been there; it is just clean prairie, clean steppes, as 
it used to be before. And besides, the climate of the 
country has changed .very much and I am sure the new climate 
would not be very good for your health." Well, I understood 
what that clever German meant by the word "climate". 

So that was the fate of Kamenka and Kodyma and the fate 
of my grandmother. 



- 198 - 

A convicted criminal becomes revolutionary hero 

Back in the year 1915 there arose a sudden crisis in 
the means of transportation of goods and ammunition to the 
front fighting lines. In peacetime, the superior army 
command did not realize the amount of supplies of all kinds 
that would have to be moved in wartime. The army suddenly 
lacked means of transportation, that is, horse-drawn carts, 
that had to take everything from the railroad stations up 
to the front lines. Therefore, the governor of Herson 
issued orders to all landowners to send to the army three 
horse-drawn carriages with three coachmen. According to 
the amount of land my father owned, he had to send five 
such carriages or carts. The order of the governor mention 
ed carts, good horses, harnesses, and coachmen. To that 
my father replied in a letter to the governor, rather 
sarcastically, that if the army needed transportation he was 
ready and willing to give to the army all the carts and all 
the horses of our estate, but the governor must remember 
that serfdom had been abolished more than half a century 
ago and therefore my father could not appoint anyone from 
the staff of the estate to be coachmen. Well,, the governor, 
of course, had made a great mistake and in order to get 
out of this dilemma he ordered the local regional chief of 
police to mobilize coachmen. Because the whole region was 
on a wartime footing, there was almost a total dictator 
ship, so the chief of police of our region mobilized as 



- 199 - 

coachmen a sickly boy, son of the local drugstore owner, 
and two young boys who were sons of the owner of the local 
lumber yard. All of them were very wealthy Jews and of 
course most unfit to drive carts and to handle horses, so the 
local policeman took bribes to relieve those boys from 
being mobilized, 15,000 rubles from one of them and 25,000 
rubles from the lumberyard owner. This all came to light 
thanks to the research of Uncle Vladimir, then president of 
the local Zemstvo. The police officer was demoted, arrested, 
judged, and condemned to 50 years of hard labor in the 
mines of Siberia. That was 1915. 

In 1917, the Revolution broke out. Imperial Russia 
was no more. There was a Provisional Government in St. 
Petersburg. The Minister of Justice, an obscure lawyer 
before that but a member of the Duma, a fellow by the name 
of Alexander Kerensky, immediately gave orders that all 
those deported to Siberia under the rule of Imperial Russia 
should be freed, whether they were political deportees or 
common- law deportees. Everybody had to be freed because 
they were victims of Tsarism. So this police officer who 
had taken those bribes became a victim of Tsarism and a hero 

\t \ 

of the Revolution. He came back to the region of Herson 
in his official capacity as a revolutionary commissar 

. 

representing the new powers ruling Russia. And of course 
he began saying right and left that he would get the hide 
of my Uncle Vladimir. But fortunately he did not succeed. 



- 200 - 

What happened to him later as commissar I do not know, and 
who was appointed to be coachmen of those carts in the long 
run is not important. But this little story is very typical 
of that period in the first months of the Revolution. 



The impending coup (Kornilov Revolt) 

In August of 1917 I was in St. Petersburg, joining a 
group of officers of my regiment. There were rumors of a 
political coup to take power into the hands of a military 
dicatator instead of the Kerensky government. Of course I 
was only nineteen, a junior officer, and knew nothing about 
politics or what was going on. I just had to follow the 
orders of the colonel of my regiment, and these orders were 
to meet every evening in the officer's mess of the Horse 
Guard Regiment, which was only a few blocks from the Winter 
Palace. In the daytime I was free to do what I wanted and 
I used to walk in the streets of St. Petersburg and look at 
the houses. The best blocks of the city, including the 
house where I had lived on the shore of the River Neva, 
and the houses of my friends were all in an awful state. 
During the first days of the uprising, the so-called 
February Revolution, almost all the houses were decorated 
with the red flags of the victorious Revolution, but now 
they were dirty, tattered and torn rags that nobody bothered 
to take away, and the only clean houses were those of the 
foreign embassies. Of course the streets were not cleaned; 



- 201 - 

those beautiful streets were piled with firewood that had 
come down the river on barges. The whole city of St. 
Petersburg was in those days using wood for stoves, and 
it is hard to imagine how many thousands of cubic yards 
of birch wood were burned for the purpose of heating the 
city. 

I used to go to have my hair arranged by a hair 
dresser, a Frenchman named Mallet. His shop was not far 
from the barracks of my regiment and he was not just an 
ordinary kind of a hairdresser. M. Mallet had about fifty 
patrons of his own choice and he would trim a beard or 
moustache only if his client was a general or a member of 
the Council of the Empire. M. Mallet knew absolutely every 
thing that was going on in St. Petersburg, officially and 
unofficially. While I was sitting there, only a junior 
lieutenant, many clients looked askance at me but of course . 
they said nothing as this youngster was wearing the uniform 
of the Horse Guards. So everything went smoothly, but I 
was astounded that all these people were talking exclusively 
about the impending political coup. Conspiracy? But what 
kind of conspiracy was it? Once when I went to have lunch 
in one of the restaurants, also French, all the people I met 
there were also discussing the details of the same conspiracy 
And although I was very young, I was wondering, because the 
restaurant had a number of servants and who knew who they 
were? They might have been socialists, spies, or some 



- 202 - 

politically-minded people who wanted information. This plot 
and the impending coup seemed to me very childish, and 
childish it was. Many books have been written about that 
period by historians, and they all stress that the well- 
intended generals were personally very brave but quite 
incompetent in all political matters. 

As I mentioned before, about August 15th, 1917 - I do 
not remember the exact date - I arrived in St. Petersburg 
and reported to my regimental barracks. I was quite 
surprised to meet there in the officers' mess many of our 
officers, a group of about 15 of them. At the head of them 
was Colonel Count Pahlen and Colonel Count Benigsen. Other 
names I do not remember - they were junior officers like me. 
Those two colonels were direct decendents of those - their 
grandfathers or great-grandfathers - who played a great role 
in the death of the Russian Emperor Paul the First. This 
event, which I believe occurred in 1801, is history and 
described in many books, so I will not go into details. 
Anyhow, Pahlen and Benigsen instructed us junior officers 
to meet there every evening and await further instructions - 
and that they could be, for us to penetrate into the Winter 
Palace, because most of our officers knew the Palace very 
well, which was a labyrinth of corridors and doors and you 
could be very easily lost wandering in the Palace. The pur 
pose of our penetrating the Palace would be to arrest the 
provisional government, which was then headed by Kerensky, 



- 203 - 

who proclaimed himself head of the government and minister 
of war. He was under great pressure from the Soviet, 
and actually, Russia and the front, the army, were dis 
integrating because of his orders and actions. There was 
a conspiracy to overthrow him and to institute a military 
dictatorship under General Kornilov, who was then commander 
in chief of all the Russian armed forces. But he was with 
his staff in the city of Mogileff , and by direct wire con 
versations went back and forth between Kerensky and Kornilov. 
The main object was to get rid of, chase away, the self- 
appointed Soviets; but Kerensky vacillated. He was a 
socialist. Once, allegedly, he said, "Long live the 
revolution. I care only for the revolution. The revolution 
has to succeed, and Russia be damned (as a country)." Of 
course that irked very much all Russian patriots, officers - 
and Kerensky had the feeling that should this military coup 
succeed, he would have no place any more in any ministry, 
his role would be finished and he could consider himself 
happy if he had gotten away alive. 

General Kornilov was a national hero because he had 
managed to escape from prison in Austria, when his troups 
had been surrounded and he was taken prisoner a year earlier. 
He escaped and came back, and was considered to be a national 
hero. He was a very brave man, a perfect commander of 
troops ; but he was absolutely childish in every other respect 
about politics and conspiracy. And so were the other general; 



- 204 - 

They did not understand a thing about conspiracy. The 
va^cillating Kerensky was frightened, and finally he 
declared Kornilov to be a traitor. That brought about 
chaos and the start of the Civil War. A division of cavalry 
that was approaching St. Petersburg under orders of 
Kornilov was entrained - the trains were side-tracked by 
railroad employees, many of whom were Bolsheviks and 
socialist, and the troups never arrived. A deputy of 
Kornilov, the general whom he sent to talk to Kerensky, 
allegedly commited suicide in St. Petersburg. The whole 
conspiracy and the military coup was a flop. This is all 
described in great detail in the book White Against Red/ 
by Dimitry Lehovich, edited in New York (W.W. Norton & Co., 
Inc., New York) which is not a novel, but a scholarly 
research book. I am not going to repeat in my own words the 
context of what is in that book, that I recommend vary , very, 
much to anyone interested in knowing all the tragic details 
of that period. 

My cousin Mika helps me escape from the chaos in 
Sj:. Petersburg 

At the last meeting at our barracks, Count Pahlen and 
Count Benigsen gave us orders to leave St. Petersburg 
immediately, by any means we could. I was very lucky to be 
living at that time in St. Petersburg in the apartment of 
my cousin Mika Fredericks. Poor Mika was somewhat crippled 
since his birth. He limped, and he had a very, very 



- 205 - 

difficult disposition - he was embittered against every 
body, all his close relatives. As friends he had people 
of a different social and financial group, where they 
kind of made a hero of him, first because as Fredericks 
he was a distant relative of the minister of the court, and 
besides that, he had very much money from his estates. He 
had many so-to-say suspicious friends. He was a bit older 
than I was, and he was very eager to marry - most impossible 
girls. He came once to my father - this was before my 
father died in 1916 - and he said, "Uncle Vania, she is such 
a nice girl." My father said "Of course she is nice, 
because you are in love with her, but that nice girl has so 
many undesirable relatives." And my father smiled and said, 
"What if you have a son, and the son happens to be one of 
the undesirable relatives?" Well, at the time I lived with 
Mika, he was not yet married, but he had many friends - 
I would even dare say, in the underground of St. Petersburg - 
and he had friends among the railroad employees. So he 
managed to get me the very same evening tickets for the train 
leaving St. Petersburg for Kiev. In those days it was very 
difficult to obtain a ticket so rapidly, because all the 
trains were overcrowded. But I left St. Petersburg in style, 
first class carriage, sleeping carriage with attendant for 
the carriage as in peacetime, white linen pillows, and so 
forth. This happened to be the last of such kind of train 
leaving St. Petersburg for Kiev. After that, the chaos of 



- 206 - 

of the revolution broke communication between St. Peters 
burg and the south, communications with Kiev were cut. 

1917 back to Kiev - a short time of care-free life 

In Autust of 1917, after the attempt of General Kornilov 
to become a military dictator of all Russia and get rid of 
Kerenski, I was told to leave the city of St. Petersburg and 
I was very lucky to get into the last luxury train leaving 
for Kiev. My mother was living in Kiev and life in Kiev 
was not completely disturbed by events - I mean, life of 
society. Many Polish people had left Poland and settled in 
Kiev. They were very nice, gay people and loved gatherings 
and dining parties. I was invited quite often and I never 
had similar parties in St. Petersburg because I was too 
young. I was only an officers candidate and was not con 
sidered to be a grownup at the age of nineteen but only a 
school boy. Now in Kiev, I was a junior officer of the 
Horse Guards. Besides, our estate was deep in South Russia 
and we were still having income money sent to Kiev by the 
estate manager. At these parties, poker games were played 
and other card games. I had never played cards before. 
So I had beginners luck. When I told mother about my 
beginners luck and the money I had won, Mother became very 
upset. She told me that I could also have lost and that her 
conviction was that playing cards was a sin anyhow, even if 
you win. 



- 207 - 

I apply for a transfer from cavalry to aviation 

So, I came back to Kiev, to the apartment where my 
mother was still living. I had asked before for a transfer 
from the cavalry unit to the then just beginning Russian 
air force. My demand to be transferred to the airforce had 
to go through channels, and more channels, and more channels; 
and finally get to the headquarters of the army in Mogileff . 
I waited and waited, and nothing happened. My only document 
stating who I was - that I was an officer on leave - was 
expired for many many months. In those days, patrols in the 
city stopped people on the street, officers even if they were 

civilians, who had to identify themselves, because there 



were orders to search for those people who preferred to 
remain in the big cities, who were in no hurry to go back 
to their units on the front lines, units that were rapidly 
disintegrating, giving officers nothing to do, and if an 
officer attempted to instill some new discipline, quite 
often he was murdered by his own soldiers. Anhow, my 
document was officially invalid. I risked to be arrested, 
so I decided to go personally to Mogileff to try and 
accelerate my transfer. This city had been chosen, even 
before the revolution as the principle headquarters from 
where Tsar Nicholas could send out his orders. 

After the abdication of the Tsar, the headquarters 
automatically continued their paper work. Among the 
mountains of such paper work was my request for transfer. 



- 208 - 

So I went to Mogileff to try to accelerate the process of 
my transfer. The city's railroad station was about two miles 
from the city proper. At the railroad station there were 
many cars standing beside the railroad tracks and those 
cars became living quarters for officers who had some 
business at headquarters. So I got a ticket giving me 
permission to live on one of those cars for six weeks and 
to have my breakfast and my noontime dinner at the officers' 
mess which was located in one of the cars. The problem was, 
getting from that railroad station to headquarters. Two 
miles walking on a dusty road or a bottomless road after a 
rain was very disagreeable. Cars in those days were 
available only to colonels and generals. So private enter 
prise saved the situation and this private enterprise was 
organized by local Jews. For some reason, horse-drawn 
cabs had always Jewish drivers and a cab could hold no more 
than four passengers. The traffic was very intense. To my 
surprise, those Jewish drivers found in some local estate 
two vehicles that had not been used since the days of 
Katherine the Great. The name for those vehicles was 
Lineyka, which means in English a ruler. These vehicles 
were long and one sat on them sideways back to back with 
another fellow passenger and this way a cab would carry 
twenty passengers. The coachman's seat had some tresses of 
gold, gilded centuries ago. It was a very fancy vehicle 
and on that gilded box sat the Jewish driver, in his typical 



- 209 - 

attire, he always wore a long black coat and black hat no 
matter how hot it was in the summer. Two skinny horses 
were pulling that vehicle and it took more than a half hour 
to cover the distance of two miles for a very moderate 
fee. That was the only way of transportation to general 
headquarters for all the Russian armies. A very antique 
way of transportation. 

All my documents were in the hands of different 
clerks of different departments; the headquarters of the 
army, the airforce, some of them on each table. The clerks 
discussed politics and did not do their jobs as clerks, 
with all those documents. I somehow succeeded in finding 
out on whose table my documents lay. And besides, many 
of the clerks were Russian intellectuals, very socialist 
if not communist-minded, and they disliked a document 
belonging to an officer of the Horse Guards, and besides 
having a title of Count to his hame, and they would not 
process it. So I had a little talk with the clerk. I 
slipped him, I believe, 100 rubles, and my documents were 
suddenly on the top of the heap, instead of being on the 
bottom. The process went on and on. 

I do not know exactly why and how, but I had cash, so 
I went in the evenings to a restaurant to kill time, and 
from there every evening, for about five weeks which I 
spent in MOgileff , I went to the operetta theatre, where 
they played all kinds of Austrian classical operettas - 



- 210 - 



just to kill time. 



I return to Kiev without my transfer papers 

And then, documents permitting me to stay in Mogileff 
ran out, so I had to leave Mogileff empty-handed. I came 
back to Kiev and told my mother, "I cannot stay in Kiev, 
risking to be arrested, or locking myself up in my room 
with this document that I have. I must return to my 
regiment, still somewhere on the front lines, the regiment 
or whatever was left of it, and I have not the faintest 
idea of events going on at the regiment." And so I went 
with my mother to the railroad station in a hired carriage, 
and I said to my mother, "Please do not accompany me." 
But she insisted. So I said, "All right, but promise me 
that you are not to get out of that carriage. You will 
stay in the carriage, I will leave to board the train. 
You know that the railroad station is in chaos, and crowds 
go back and forth. If somebody goes there and has a date 
to find his own brother, he probably would never find him 
in all that crowd." So, we drove up to the station, and 
keeping her promise, my mother stayed in the carriage. 
While I mounted the very broad stairs that led to the 
entrance of the station, she told the coachman to stay where 
he was, because she wanted to have a very last glimpse 
of me as long as she could see me in the crowd. 



- 211 - 

A fateful reunion - I finally receive my transfer papers 

When mounting those stairs at the railroad station in 
Kiev, all of a sudden I meet face to face with one of the 
officers of my regiment, whom I had not seen for quite a 
while. We just bumped into each other. He tells me, 
"Where are you going?" I said to him, "Well, I am going 
back to the regiment." He said, "You are crazy. I just 
saved myself from there. If you go back to the regiment, 
and it is known that you were in Petersburg participating 
in the attempted coup, you would be immediately arrested 
and imprisoned, court-mar tialled - the kangaroo court of 
soldiers would certainly condemn you to be shot." So, 
I turned around. He was there exactly as a guardian angel 
with a flaming sword, to prevent me from going back to the 
regiment. This was unexpected and fantastic luck that we 
just bumped into each other. So, I went back to mother's 
apartment with mother, in that carriage which was still 
waiting. And upon arriving at my apartment, what do I see 
on my desk? A huge package from Mogileff headquarters, 
with all the documents of my transfer to the airforce. I 
almost missed it by an hour or two. 

At that time in Kiev, there was a French airforce unit 
that France had sent over to Russia as a gesture of good 
allies. Russia had sent, at about the same time or before, 
two army corps, all around Scandinavia, to Great Britain 
and then to Marseilles. And those two Russian army corps 



- 212 - 

were fighting on the French side, and of course that im 
pressed the French very much, and also the Germans. When 
some German unit met Russian troops on the French front, 
that had very much of an impact on the German morale, how 
they were surrounded and how helpless they were. And there 
was that French airforce unit in Kiev, under the command of 
Prince Napoleon Murat. He was married to a Russian lady and 
was a great gentleman. Murat was one of the most dashing 
cavalry leaders in the days of Napoleon. And this Napoleon 
Murat was of course a great friend of my father, who was 
always interested in aviation and in ballet, and so was 
Murat. And when I came to present myself to Prince Murat 
and told him of my situation, he opened his arms to me and 
said that as of today he has a position for me on his staff. 
But, plans were in the making for this French unit to leave 
Russia, because it was hopeless to fight on the Russian 
front, and they were anxcious not to be captured by the 
advancing German troops, which could advance and later did 
advance without any resistance as far as Kiev. The French 
were eager to leave before that happened. I thought about 
the consequences if I accept the offer of Prince Murat and 
I would leave with the French unit, what would then become 
of Mother? I could not take her along with the French unit; 
she would have to stay in Kiev, and obviously we would be 
separated completely for God knows how many years, maybe 
forever. Besides, I was anxcious to get to the Crimea, 



- 213 - 



where the Russian airforce was exercising and so-to-say 
was being born. And I was also eager to get to the Crimea 
because I had some vague information that somewhere on the 
Crimea, probably in Yalta, I would meet Dina. So, I had 
very personal reasons for going to the school of flying 
observation officers, located on the Crimea, in the coast 
city of Eupatoria. Prince Murat said that the course there 
was a course of six months for observation officers, and 
if after six months they were still there he would welcome 
me to their unit. He wished me good luck and we parted 
and never saw each other again - and I left for Eupatoria. 

From Kiev, my mother followed to Eupatoria. There were 
some Russian friends there, and we found a rather large 
house to rent and lived there. I started the course for 
flying observation officers. 

We flew our planes - Wilbur Wright planes, they were 
actually bicycles with wings. The school lasted until the 
November days when there was an uprising in St. Petersburg 
and Moscow, and Kerensky fled and disappeared - after 
attempting to resist a little bit, he had nobody to 
support him anymore. Then Lenin came to power. 

Down south in Eupatoria, the events of St. Petersburg 
trickled in slowly. All the officers from the school were, 
of course, anti-Lenin, except the commander of the school, 
a colonel on the general staff, who had changed his name - 
it used to be Hammer, which sounded too German, so he 



- 214 - 

changed his name to Molotov, which means hammer in Russian. 
And that shows the kind of fellow he was. Exercises at the 
school went on more or less. There was mutiny in Sevastopol, 
the base on the Russian Black Sea, horrible mutiny. Many 
officers were dragged by their sailors, and there were 
heavy weights, shells, tied to their feet, and they were 
thrown overboard, living. Of course, all of them drowned, 
hundreds of them. 

I remember once, later, when Sevastopol was occupied 
by Russian troops, the port of Sevastopol sent a Russian 
diver into that water. And divers usually have some kind 
of a wire and a bell to raise them up again when they have 
finished their job. Well, the diver went down, and in a 
minute, maybe two, the bell rang to take him up again. And 
he was quite crazy. After he recovered and had a couple of 
vodkas to help his recovery, he was questioned, "Why did 
you come up so rapidly without having done anything?". 
He said, "I just could not stand what I saw. There was a 
forest of corpses, officers in their uniforms, and what 
they had on their feet - the shells - held them down. And 
the corpses stood upright, and the movement of the water 
made their hands and hair wave as if they were still alive. 
It was such a horrible sight that ..." That shows you 
what was going on in Sevastopol. 

In Eupatoria our officers' school was a pain in the 
neck for the Bolsheviks in Sevastopol. Of course, they 



- 215 - 

were absolutely certain - and they were right - that this 
group was counter-revolutionary. So they sent two 
destroyers, manned by sailors only, to Eupatoria, and the 
destroyers threw anchor outside of Eupatoria Bay that was 
too shallow for them to approach very closely. They 
threatened to bombard the school and the city of Eupatoria. 
Two of our planes went up into the air and circled above 
those two destroyers. In those days, planes were so new, 
and so unpredictable as to what a plane could achieve, 
that those sailors on those destroyers panicked about being 
bombed from the air, and they immediately took off, back to 
sea, disappeared, and nothing happened to Eupatoria. That 
was psychology. 

But anyhow, the school in Eupatoria was falling apart. 
Many officers were leaving. When I was still exercising my 
bombing from the air, and making maps and photographs from 
the air, I told the soldier who was actually the pilot of 
my plane - and I the observer - to fly the plane over 
Eupatoria and to circle three times the house where my 
mother and her friends were living. This, of course, drew 
everybody's attention. My mother realized that this plane 
was circling this particular house because of me. When I 
came back, she said to me, "I know you are flying, that it 
is in your line of duty, but while you are flying somewhere 
I can only pray to God. But when you are flying right over 
my house, it makes my heart beat too much - don't do it again. 



- 216 - 

Some of our experiences at Eupatoria 

The military airforce school was on the coast of the 
Black Sea and there was a beautiful sandy beach with very 
shallow water. One had to walk in the water for at least 
twenty minutes before one could really begin to swim. The 
weather was very fine and the days were very hot. My 
friends and I had a flat-bottomed boat and we spent our 
Sundays in it sunning ourselves, jumping into the water, 
then climbing back out again. It was really great fun, 
but the second day my temperature rose, my body looked like 
a raw steak, and I could not even get a shirt on for two 
days, so I had to report sick to the aviation school. My 
mother, in spite of the difficulties of travelling, had, as 
mentioned earlier, joined me in Eupatoria. She shared a 
house belonging to the family of her old friends by the 
name of Romanov. This name was very common in Russia and 
it had nothing to do with the Romanov dynasty or the 
Imperial family. There were many persons in the nobility 
who had that name, as well as innumerable peasants all over 
Russia. Mother's friend, Mrs. Romanov, had a daughter 
who was married to the colonel of my regiment. The 
colonel and his wife were also in Eupatoria and they had 
a niece called Dina, who had quite a sense of humor and 
knew all about me, always teasing me and calling herself 
the "wrong" Dina. Where the real Dina was at that time 
I had no idea. I was hoping to find her in Eupatoria; she 



- 217 - 

had been there for a very short time but then had departed 
to the Crimea and I could not find out where. 

While I was on military duty there, morale, as in all 
the rest of the armed forces, started disintegrating after 
Lenin and his henchmen took over the power in Russia. But 
as this was an officers' school and very counter-revolution 
ary-minded, there arose a great concern lest the sailors 
from the Black Sea Fleet, who were the worst kind of 
Bolsheviks, would come and raid Eupatoria. Preparations 
were made to defend the town against such an invasion but 
we had only our small arms and no artillery, so the colonel 
and I proposed that we should get rifles from some kind of 
a depot. These rifles had last been used in the Crimean War 
half a century earlier, and actually belonged in a museum. 
The assignment that the two of us got was a stretch of beach 
on the Black Sea, a stretch of one kilometer between the 
two os us, and we were to repel the landing of the Black 
Sea Fleet. So that shows you what the situation really was. 

My colonel's wife was not young, at least in my eyes; 
she must have been somewhere between thirty and forty, and 
she was expecting a child. Electricity in Eupatoria was 
very unreliable and at the advice of my mother everyone in 
the house had to bring two or three candles home from church. 
Mother was very wise, because the child was born at night 
by candlelight. There was no doctor but there was a so- 
called wise woman who helped, and the child was born quite 



- 218 - 

normally. My mother became the godmother of this child. 
Later, when the colonel and his family left Eupatoria, I 
lost sight of them, but we met many many years later as 
immigrants in Europe. 

A second cousin of mine, Alexis Orlov, was an officer 
in the Hussar Guard Regiment and also stationed in Eupatoria. 
His mother was nee Stenbock-Fermor , the granddaughter of 
Alexander Stenbock-Fermor, and she also lived in Eupatoria 
together with his grandmother on his father's side. This 
old lady Orlov was constantly asking her grandson, "Why 
are we stuck in this city? It is early November and I want 
to go back as usual to St. Petersburg. Why don't you take 
me back to St. Petersburg?" And Alexis replied to his grand 
mother, "Dear Granny, when you think of St. Petersburg you 
think of your horse-drawn carriage, your favorite coachman 
with a man servant sitting next to him, who descended to 
open the door of the carriage for you and to announce when 
you arrived at the homes of your friends. This St. Peters 
burg does not exist anymore. You would not recognize the 
city if you went there." But of course my second cousin's 
Granny was too old to realize the serious situation in 
St. Petersburg. I think she died peacefully in her house 
in Eupatoria. 

Alexis Orlov must have been about twenty five. He was 
of medium height, very slim, and remarkably well built. He 
had a peach-colored baby face and very beautiful eyes. He 



- 219 - 

always used to say about himself, "I know I am not hand 
some but I have much charm." Fortunately for me, I had 
left Eupatoria before the Bolsheviks took over the city. 
The school had completely disintegrated and ceased to 
exist. There was a house-to-house search by Bolsheviks, 
with the intention of arresting anyone who was an officer. 
Alexis Orlov was in danger of being arrested but it was 
avoided by putting him to bed. He lay flat on his back, 
holding a big cushion on his belly and had a blanket 
pulled up to his chin. When the Bolsheviks came to 
arrest him, they were told that a girl, one of the family 
members, was expecting a baby at any moment. They tiptoed 
into the room where Orlov was lying in bed, saw his peach- 
colored face and a mound covered with a blanket, and they 
tiptoed out of the room again. Well, in those days Bolshe 
viks were also in their infancy. Later, in the Stalin days, 
that would never have occurred. 

The maiden name of old Mrs. Romanov was Baroness Meller 
and the Meller family had great holdings in the Urals, 
similar to those of the Stenbock-Fermor family. In the 
Urals, the melting ovens and goldmines were run by a 
director whose name was Kabanov, which means "wild boar" in 
Russian, and everybody joked because he really looked like 
a wild boar. He had no manners whatsoever, but he was a 
very good manager. He rose to the rank of manager from the 
lowest working class in the mines, so he really knew that 



- 220 - 

business inside out. In the days before the Revolution he 
lived in Eupatoria with his wife and he had some money there, 
Mrs. Kabanov resembled her husband very much in weight and 
size. She looked like a plain peasant woman and she spoke 
the rural Russian of an uneducated woman, and she had a 
wonderful talent for baking pies. She got the stuff to 
make those pies because all the market women liked her ways 
very much and she could speak to them in their own language. 
Mr. Kabanov liked to play the gentleman and he gave many 
parties. An uncle of my first wife r who became a wonderful 
uncle to my boys many years later, also lived in Eupatoria. 
He was a diplomat in the foreign ministry of Imperial 
Russia, a bachelor, and above everything else he loved to 
eat well. He also joined parties given by St. Petersburg 
society who happened to be in Eupatoria, all of them my 
contemporaries. He was then probably fifteen or twenty 
years older than we were and never thought about it, but 
we did, though he never noticed the fun we made of him. 
He also visited the Kabanov family and he always enjoyed 
their food, but the manners and speech of Mrs. Kabanov upset 
him very much. The pies, however, were so good that he 

managed not to notice anything. 



When I was living in Eupatoria, there was a family of 
General Lomachevsky. He was a retired Hetman of the Ural 
Cossacks and he was a living symbol of the 19th or even of 
the 18th century. He was extremely tall, broad-shouldered, 



- 221 - 

and very good looking. He had a wonderful white beard 
almost down to his waist, which he combed to both sides 
because around his neck he wore a decoration, the Cross 
of St. John of Jerusalem. The Cross of St. John of Jerus 
alem was an idea of Tsar Paul I who, for some historical 
reasons mentioned in many books, detested his mother, 
Catherine the Great, accusing her of having been in a 
conspiracy to murder his father, Peter III. Therefore 
everything that the Empress Catherine did, her only son 
and heir detested. Catherine the Great had instituted the 
Order of St. George the Victor. It was given to officers 
and soldiers for successful bravery in battle. In the days 
of Catherine the Great and up to 1917, it was the most 
popular decoration in all of Russia. Of course, Paul I did 
not want to award this order to anyone because it had been 
founded by his mother, and so he invented the Order of 
St. John. Since the reign of Paul I was very short, only 
a few people were awarded this order, which was inherited 
by the sons and sometimes the daughters of the man so 
decorated. General Lomachevsky had inherited the Order of 
St. John from his father, who had distinguished himself 
during the short period of Emperor Paul I's reign. After 
Paul I's death, Alexander I reinstituted the Order of St. 
George and the Order of St. John ceased to exist and became 
very rare. 

Usually the lining of a general's coat was scarlet, but 



- 222 - 

the gray coat of General Lomachevsky had a yellow lining 
because that was the color of the Ural Cossacks. When he 
walked around Eupatoria with his coat open because of warm 
weather, the Cross of St. John around his neck, and his 
long white beard, he was quite an impressive sight. He had 
a daughter about my age named Marianna. She was very 
beautiful and at our parties she was somehow always quite 
close to me, and she detested it when I mentioned the name 
of the "real" Dina. 

How the Lomachevsky family got away from Eupatoria 
during the period of occupation I do not know, but more than 
thirty years later and quite by chance I met Marianna in 
Sea Cliff. She was a doctor of chemistry and she had 
married a Russian ex-officer of the Guards who was also a 
retired professor of chemistry. I renewed our friendship 
and very much later I heard that Marianna's husband had 
died. I asked her what had happened to the Cross of 
St. John of Jerusalem that her father used to wear and she 
replied that the Cross was in one of the vaults of a New 
York bank. When I left for California I lost sight of 
Marianna. On one of my stops in New York on my way to 
Europe, my brother-in-law gave a party and I asked him to 
invite Marianna to his party. When she came I was startled 
because her good looks were totally gone. She looked ill 
and had to be helped out of her chair. I appreciated very 
much her taking all the trouble and her courage in coming 
from some other part of New York to that party only for the 



- 223 - 

purpose of meeting me again. As of now I do not know whether 
she is still living. I doubt it because she never answered 
a letter that I wrote to her, trying to find out about that 
unique Cross of St. John of Jerusalem and what happened to 
it, because in my opinion it belongs in the museum of the 
Hoover Institute. 

Aunt Nadya in the "People's Court" 

In the years 1917-18, when the revolution broke out, 
many people of high society went to the Crimea, where they 
had their summer houses. Aunt Nadya Tolstoy and Alexander 
were in the Crimea living in a hotel. At that time the 
Crimea was under the rule of the Bolshevik communists. 
Knowing that Yalta was full of the bourgeoisie and that 
they had with them many of their valuables and jewels, 
the communists passed a decree that all the jewels in 
private hands belonged to "the People" and had to be 
surrendered to the leaders of the Bolsheviks. Aunt Nadya, 
hearing of that decree, started sewing her many jewels 
into the bottom of her skirt because she hoped that if 
somebody should search her they would not find them in her 
skirt. But a maid in the hotel noticed what Aunt Nadya 
was doing and reported it to the Bolsheviks in the city of 
Yalta. Aunt Nadya was promptly arrested and imprisoned. 
But the Bolsheviks wanted all the outward appearance of 
justice, so they had a "People's Court" (the American 
expression is "Kangeroo Court"), which meant that if you 



- 224 - 

belonged to the upper class you were of course condemned in 
advance. But above all they wanted appearances, so there 
was a hearing and representatives of the "people", or so to 
say a kind of jury, were impanelled. And, as a member of 
the jury, there appeared a butler of Aunt Nadya's cousin 
who had worked for the family. The butler's name was Cyril. 
He was an old man, very tall, sporting a beautiful white 
beard, so he looked like the classical butler of the early 
nineteenth century, and he was a very dedicated servant of 
the family. But the Bolsheviks made a mistake in calling 
him for the jury. When he was asked what he knew about the 
accused Countess Tolstoy, he declared in a loud voice, "The 
Countess is the kindest, best woman ever. On the great 
holiday of the resurrection of our Jesus Christ," - he 
made a big cross in the air as he mentioned Christ - "the 
Countess always presented me with a coin of ten rubles in 
gold. " And of course the Bolsheviks gasped and many people 
in the audience were laughing at what this man, the 
representative of the "people", said, and what he represented 
did not suit in any way what the Communists wanted to hear. 
So they were stuck. A few days later, German troops, 
advancing and occupying all of south Russia, entered Yalta 
without any resistance, and the leaders of the Communists 
fled, so everyone in the prisons was saved by the fact of 
the Germans' entering Yalta. 









- 225 - 



THE SECOND REVOLUTION (November 1917) 
CIVIL WAR STARTS IN RUSSIA 



Special assignment to rejoin cavalry regiment 

I had to do something, so I left the flying school and 
reported to a cavalry regiment. This cavalry regiment 
was a very unusual regiment, not a Russian guard regiment, 
but a regiment of local Crimean Tatars. There were not 
enough educated Tatars to give that regiment enough officers, 
the amount prescribed by regulations, though some 
intellectual Tatars were officers in that regiment. But 
all the other officers were just Russian officers. The 
Tatars knew enough Russian to understand Russian commands. 
And this regiment in peacetime was located in the center of 
the Crimea in a city that was roughly sixty miles from 
Yalta, on the coast of the Crimea that had a climate like 
the southern coast of France. Here the Imperial Family 
stayed for many months, and therefore that regiment had 
many opportunities of carrying out security duties around 
the palaces and to get personal contact with members of the 
Imperial Family. Of course, that was many times very use 
ful for promoting their future career. 

This Tatar regiment was now developed into two regi 
ments. They were extremely anti-Communist. They were 
Moslems, and counter-revolutionary-minded, officers and 
soldiers . 

Barely had I achieved to be accepted into that regiment, 



- 226 - 

when I received orders to go north to the region beyond the 
Crimean peninsula and further, and to requisition horses. 
Those regions were rich, very many rich peasants and many 
rich colonies, descendants of Germans that were brought 
into that region years and years ago under the reign of 
Catherine the Great. They all became very wealthy farmers 
and had very fine horses. So, I left the Crimea by train. 
I went to the station from the barracks by carriage - it was 
quite a distance - driven by an elderly Jew. For some 
reason, all the transportation business was in the hands of 
Jews. Probably this transportation and communication helped 
their knowledge of how business was going on here and there, 
as they travelled. And I paid for it. The distance was 
rather great, and that driver refused to take me there, 
complaining that his horses were too tired and too weak. 
But I had to get there. I offered him a sizeable amount of 
money, and besides that, I took out my Colt revolver. So, 
the coachman agreed. And he was right about the horses. 
When we got to the railroad station, the horses were barely, 
barely moving. But the train was there. I managed to get 
into one of the boxcars - they were overfilled with people 
and soldiers - and almost immediately after that the train 
left for the north. Later I was told that that very same 
day, two trains from Sevastopol, armored and with crews of 
sailors, one hundred percent revolutionary and excellent 
fighters and soldiers as they were, they came to fight the 



- 227 - 

Tatars. Of course, those two cavalry regiments of Tatars, 
with rifles and a few machine guns, were no match for the 
two armored trains and the Black Sea sailors, marines. 
The Tatars scattered and saved their lives by hiding in 
the mountains of the Crimea. And the Tatar regiments were 
wiped out with scarcely a fight. I just got away from that 
a few hours before. 

I realized that travelling all by myself, in boxcars 
filled with all kinds of people, mostly deserters and 
soldiers, and travelling there in the uniform of an officer 
was very, very risky. So I had my shoulder epaulettes, 
showing my rank, detached from my coat. It was an officers' 
coat lined with sheepskin that every officer was wearing, 
and many soldiers had stolen or requisitioned similar coats, 
and they were all undisciplined - just a crowd and all 
staring at me, try ing to guess who I might be. Some suggested 
that I might be an officer and if so, I should be immediately 
thrown out of the freight car while the train was moving. 
I had on my head not a military cap but very fortunately a 
lady's felt hat with a tail of a deer - very fashionable 
in Tyrol, Austria. All that rabble in my freight car had 
never seen anything like it and it threw them completely 
off balance as to who I could be. They stared and I 
stared back. They tried to talk to me but I never uttered 
a word nor made a gesture. 

Those fellows got out and got some hot water and they 



- 228 - 

made some tea, and one of them handed even to me a mug of 
tea, which was most welcome in the cold weather. But I did 
not say a word. I accepted the tea, I drank it, and then 
I just smiled slightly and nodded my head, without saying 
a word. 

I arrived finally at my destination, or rather at the 
place where I had to change trains, a city on the Dnepr 
river, the city of Alexandrovsk. This city had two rail 
road stations, and to get to the other station to get a 
train in the direction of Nikol^ev I had to cross the city, 
and I stopped in a hotel in the city. And barely had I 
undressed and was in the process of going to bed when there 
was a knock on the door, and a group of fellows with machine 
guns and revolvers came in and declared that I had to be 
questioned. The city was occupied, I found out, by 
Bolsheviks calling themselves anarchist communists. They 
intended to question me, and we went to the dining room of 
the hotel. I did not realize the danger. Therefore, I 
managed to keep one hundred percent cool. Those anarchists 
were talking for hours and got all dry throats, so I called 
the waiter and I ordered tea at my expense. And I asked the 
waiter if he had a supply of rum left. He produced a bottle 
of rum, and the anarchists started looking at me like a 
friend. They questioned me from where an whence I came, 
where I was going, and I told them all kinds of fairytales 
that I invented here and there, just to keep the discussion 



- 229 - 

going. Then, they released me and said that they were 
satisfied with my documents and my intentions. I went 
back to my room and went to bed. I was scarcely asleep 
when I heard a knock at the door. And I said to myself, 
"Oh hell, there they are again." But it was only a servant 
of the hotel, a young fellow in civilian clothes, but I 
noticed that he had several ribbons of the order of St. 
George, soldier's decorations for bravery in battle. This 
fellow addressed me, "Sir, officer, those fellows are still 
in the dining room discussing whether they should arrest 
you or not. They might. So, you better leave, disappear 
from this hotel." And I followed his advice, left the 
hotel - it was barely dawn - and spent the rest of the time 
in a city park. 

A coincidence reunites me with Dina 

Then, I do not exactly remember from whom or how, but 
from someone in this very small city of Alexandrovsk, I 
learned that Dina and her parents were living in Alexandrovsk 
They had a great estate not far from that city that I had 
visited in the year 1915; and now they were living in a 
house they had rented in Alexandrovsk, because living on the 
estate was much too dangerous. They had a general manager 
of their estates, a Russian of peasant origin but that had 
become educated, and his name was Dybenko. It was a rather 
plain name. And one of the most prominent and most cruel 
leaders of the anarchist communists had also the name 



- 230 - 



Dybenko. So, when this very dedicated manager of the 
estates of Dina's parents took measures to protect them, to 
find food for them, he came as Dybenko and made a very 
great impression on all the new Bolshevik soviet authorities 
when he was asked, "Are you a relative of the famous 
Dybenko?", he immediately said, "Of course, he is a cousin 
of mine, and we spent all our childhood together," and 
immediately he became a great person in the eyes of all 
those fools. He was very clever, very honest, very dedicat 
ed to the parents of Dina. 

Of course, I got their address and came to pay them a 
visit. They were very kind to me, and they said to me in 
the presence of Dybenko, that it was very dangerous for me 
to live in a hotel in the city, and I should live in their 
house. Under the same roof with Dina! And in that back 
yard they had a little house that was empty. Both their 
sons, who were much older than Dina, were somewhere - 
nobody knew where exactly - and this back house in the 
yard was unobtrusive, so I could live there. Actually, I 
had no other place to go to. The neighbors on one side 
were small landowners who had also fled to the city. They 
had two daughters, the eldest the same age as Dina, maybe 
a little younger, so sometimes there was company. I was 

not alone face to face with Dina. Those girls were all 



the time present. We played the piano, sang songs, played 
chess, passed the time as best we could. Right across the 



- 231 - 

street was a house that had been requisitioned, and that 
house was the headquarters of the anarchist communists. 
And above the house they had a huge black flag, and on that 
flag was a big human skull and two crossed bones. That 
was their symbol, and they were our neighbors just across 
the street. I had to register with them and the seal of 
this gang was stamped on my document that mentioned that 
I am "Count Ivan Stenbock-Fermor , Lieutenant of the 
Imperial Horse Guard Regiment, on leave for 21 days." This 
document was given me in June 1917. It later also was 
stamped by the Ukrainian seal of Hetman Petlura and later 
by the Kaiser lich Deutsche Komandatur. Quite a document! 

The fate of Universities and the Free Press under Lenin 

After Lenin declared that his government was the legal 
government, his first step was to forbid the free press. 
Lenin declared, "We are not so dumb as to give to our 
opponents the great power that the press has over the 
masses." There was no censorship, oh no, they found 
something much better: all paper was requisitioned and 
all plants that produced paper were requisitioned by the 
one and only Communist Party. So all those who wanted to 
write something had to get paper from the Communist Party 
and they were refused paper if they wrote anything that 
was not in the Party line. It was as simple as that. 

Besides, they wanted to create a new ruling class; 
they did not trust the old ruling class. In order to get 



- 232 - 



rid of that old ruling class - of course they could not 
physically destory that many people - the first move was 
to forbid the right to go to school to the children of all 
civil servants, military officers, and soldiers of the 
Russian Empire, all children of the clergy, and all children 
of landowners. They wanted a nation of unskilled workers. 
Those who would become skilled workers had to prove their 
proletarian origins. They had to prove that they were the 
children of peasants whose grandfathers had been serfs, of 
peasants who had no ownership of land, or of unskilled 
factory workers. Only those children had the right to go 
to school; and not only had they the right, they were 
ordered to go to school. If the small kids went to school, 
well, they started from scratch, but many proletarian 
people of university age were ordered to go to the university. 
If they were in no way prepared for university study it 
was completely disregarded. About all that was required was 
that they could read and write. 

Michael, a friend of mine and one of the officers of 
my regiment, was stuck in Russia and so he "mixed with the 
crowd" . He got some papers stating that he was of proletar 
ian origin even though he was from a very ancient aristocratic 
family, descendants from the Tatars centuries ago and Michael 
looked exactly like a Tatar peasant from any village on the 
Volga. Nobody would ever recognized in him and in his 
features an officer of the Horse Guards. That helped Michael 



- 233 - 

a lot. He was a very, very talented person, so he went to 
the university. In those days there was no way of taking 
pictures, so the documents stating that he was a student at 
that university did not have a picture of him. Making 
fingerprints was unknown in those days and that document 
stated only his name. Together with him were those new 
unfortunate boys belonging to the Communist Party and 
ordered to go to the university. Study or else! We need 
doctors and engineers that have been brought up with 
Communist ideals. Those poor young students did not know 
what to do. They could not grasp the university studies, 
being so ill-prepared. They were formed into groups of 
ten and one who was bright enough (one of these of course 
was my friend Michael) was put in charge of that group. 
He had to coach them and help them in their studies. He 
was given total power over his group. He could beat them 
up, he could make them stay hungry; he was a dictator, a 
total dictator over his group of ten. And then the exams 
came around. Of course my friend Michael passed the exams 
brilliantly but he was credited only if the ten students of 
his group also passed. (Many, many years later I was talk 
ing about that system at Stanford and suggested that the same 
methods be adopted there, but my suggestions were turned 
down ! ) 

Now I just want to mention why my friend Michael led 
such an unusual life. He graduated from the Corps des Pages 



- 234 - 

at the same time I did. He was in the front lines while 
I was in the rear and therefore he participated actively in 
battling the Germans. He got a decoration, the Cross of 
Stanislav with crossed swords. It was a minor decoration 
for a junior officer for bravery. Then he was stuck in the 
Soviet Union and because he so brilliantly finished at the 
university he became a junior member of the Moscow Academy 
of Science and a reserve officer in the Red Army. At the 
beginning of the Second World War he was called to duty as 
a reserve officer. He was one of the first parachutists 
and he was decorated with the Silver Star of Lenin. Then 
during the war he managed to surrender to the Germans. His 
dream, of course, had always been to get away from the 
Soviet Union, and with many many thousands of others he 
surrendered to the Germans. The Germans immediately 
recognized in Michael a very talented young man and officer 
so they put him to a test. They offered him an opportunity 
to join a German Military Academy. He could speak German 
as well as he could speak Russian. If he refused, he would 
be locked up in a camp and starved to death. So Michael 
graduated during the war from an accelerated course at the 
General Staff Officers' Academy. Then he was appointed 
to be regiment commander of some Russians, mostly Cossacks, 
who had decided to fight on the side of the Germans because 
they wanted to fight Communists. If they had to be on the 
side of the devil, or the Germans, they did not care. They 



- 235 - 

wanted to fight the Communists. That was it. And while 
fighting the Communists, Michael, the German commander, was 
decorated with the German Iron Cross of Hitler. 

The Tcheka visits my aunt 

"Open the coffins and sell the tails!" That was the 
text of a telegram sent in early 1918 from Yalta in the Crime* 
to my aunt, who was still living in St. Petersburg, by her 
brother. In my aunt's family the "coffins" was jokingly 
the name of long and narrow boxes in which the very elaborate 
gold embroidered court dresses of my aunt and her daughters 
were kept. At court receptions and grand balls all ladies 
used to wear dresses with very long trains, heavily em 
broidered with gold. The gold on such dresses represented 
a value on the black market of St. Petersburg in the very 
early period of the Revolution, 1918. 

But all telegrams were controlled by the Tcheka. This 
dreaded word appeared in the Russian vocabulary in 1918. It 
stood for a special power committee which was to eliminate 
all counter-revolutionary activity and illegal black 
marketing; it was the insturment of the new and self- 
appointed government and its role was to terrorize everybody 
into obedience. Members of the Tcheka had unlimited powers 
to suspect, spy, arrest, search, interrogate, jail, judge, 
condemn, and execute. There was no recourse possible 
against them. 

-t 

"Tcheka" if put in Russian words, it is an abbreviation 



- 236 - 

of a name "Extraordinary power commission to fight against 
counter-revolution and black-marketeering. " It was 
created by an order of Lenin. This red terror organization 
changed its official name to befuddle the "Western 
Democracies." It is to this day the pillar of the USSR 
interior politics with all due respect to all theorititians 
of "Human Rights" or in plainer language, fools and cowards. 
Stanford University has a picture of Lenin in a place of 
honor - as an image of a Great Humanitarian. 

Members of this committee came to my aunt's house to 
investigate about "coffins to be opened and tails to be 
sold." In early 1918 there were among members of the Tcheka 
some former employees of the secret police of the defunct 
Tsar's government. They were turncoats, fellows with no 
allegiance to any ideals, and they just served the hand 
that fed them. 

In those days all of the population of St. Petersburg 
was in a desperate situation for lack of cash. Bank 
accounts and savings were all "requisitioned." Those who 
served the new authority got wages in cash, or still 
better, in food products or fuel. Food and fuel were 
becoming scarcer by the day and winter had just started. 
Anyone interested in knowing in more detail about everyday 
life in St. Petersburg or Moscow during the winter of 1918 
should read "Pilgrimage through Hell", by Mrs. Mary Avinov. 
She lived in those days in Moscow and has described everyday 



- 237 - 

life with a talent that I sadly lack. 

During the search of my aunt's house, one of these 
"turncoats" mentioned that his organization needed a typist 
who knew English, and my cousin Mary realized that by 
taking such a position she would be able to feed her 
parents and her sister. At that time she did not realize 
the functions of the Tcheka. Cousin Mary was abnormally 
samll and felt that to be a family disaster in spite of the 
family's trying, perhaps too hard, not to let her feel that 
way. Mary was 24 but looked 15. What she lacked in height 
she made up in brains and pluck. 

My cousin Mary becomes a typist for the Tcheka in Petersburg 

During her work as an English typist, Cousin Mary 
overheard that my mother ' s vacant apartment (Mother was 
then in the south of Russia) would be given to a person 
employed in the new government. This person happened to 
be an ex-general of the Tsar, now working as a scribe in 
one of the numerous government offices. He moved into the 
apartment along with his brother, an ex-army Corps Commander, 
now a cobbler. But before they moved in, cousin Mary 
succeeded in storing all of Mother's belongings and some 
furniture in two rooms, and she sealed the doors of these 
two rooms with the seal of the Tcheka. She had had the pluck 
to steal this seal one evening from the desk of her boss 
and she put it back the next morning. These two rooms 



- 238 - 

remained sealed for four years. People dreaded even to 
glance at those seals and dreaded still more calling 
attention to themselves by asking the Tcheka to remove 
them. 

In those early days of 1918, some employees of the 
Tcheka believed and probably even hoped that the new ways 
would not last and that it might be wise to have friends 
among the former high-ranking families. With the help of 
such people, Cousin Mary succeeded in getting herself, her 
parents, and her sister out of Russia. With such help and 
at the right time, they crossed in a sleigh the frozen 
Finnish Bay and escaped to Finland. During the crossing, 
by night of course, the sleigh and even the horses were 
covered with white bed sheets to protect them from being 
detected by searchlights of the Kronstadt sea fortress, 
constantly sweeping the frozen waters of the bay and 
opening fire on anything that moved. Such a way of escaping 
Soviet Russia was not unusual in those days. It was an 
escape route for many families. This escape occurred in 
1919. 

My cousin Alexander 

With his family, my cousin Alexander fled from the 
Baltic area where they lived when the conflict between 
Russia and Germany began during World War I. As a young 
man, Alexander worked in the industries located in the 



- 239 - 

Ruhr region in Germany. He came to know the workers there 
and from his experiences wrote a book called Coal. It was 
published by a leftist publisher in Switzerland. This 
publisher had a daughter who also had leftist sympathies. 
Alexander married her. His next book, Germany from Below, 
described his experiences with the jobless and poor 
fighting Hitlerism in the early 1930's. This book was 
banned when Hitler came to power. A German navy engineer 
managed to get a copy and gave it to me while I was living 
in Biarritz. Alexander's third book, Per Rote Graf , was 
published after his death. This described further his fight 
against Hitler. While Hitler was in power, Alexander had 
to go into hiding. The best way was for him to enter 
Hitler's army, which he did, and at the age of forty became 
an infantry private. Because he was older, he became in 
fact a "reserve uncle". When the war ended and Germany was 
occupied by the Soviets, Alexander was taken by Russian 
troops and brought to an officer of the KGB. The officer 
was surprised that this man in a German uniform spoke 
perfect Russian and seemed a very intelligent man. The 
KGB officer asked about this. Alexander told him, "I am 
a descendant of Kropotkin. " (Kropotkin was a well-known 
Marxist who lived during the time of Nicholas I.) On 
hearing this, the KGB officer hugged Alexander and wel 
comed him. Eventually Alexander was appointed mayor and 
administrator of a German city. 



- 240 - 



General P. Wrangel saved by his wife 

As I described earlier, nightmarish events were 
happening in Sebastopol on the Crimea, the base of the 
Black Sea Russian fleet. This fleet was in mutiny and 
one or two destroyers (all officers on them murdered and 
thrown overboard) sailed in to the harbor of Yalta. This 
resort city was crowded with refuges from St. Petersburg, 
Moscow and other cities from the north and many had been 
very, very wealthy and had priceless jewelry with them. 

The crew of the two destroyers landed and started 
arresting all officers in sight or in the homes, moving from 
house to house. In the nick of time many officers escaped 
leaving the city for the mountains near Yalta. They found 
refuge in the villages of local Tatars. The Tatars were 
all Moslems and vehemently opposed the revolution and 
Communism. They gladly accepted to hide and help the 
Russian officers, many of them belonging to the highest 
Russian aristocracy. 

But a division commander, General Baron Peter Wrangel 
did not escape in time and was arrested for the only reason 
that he was a general and to make this worse, he had the 
title of a baron. He was draged aboard the destroyers, 
"courtmartialled" and his fate would have been to be 
murdered and thrown overboard with a heavy shell tied to 
his feet. But it was not to be. His wife, Baroness Olga 
Wrangel, her maiden name was Ivanenko, intervened on his 



- 241 - 

behalf. I knew her very closely and admired her as one of 
the greatest woman I ever knew. The Ivanenko family many 
generations ago was of peasant stock and became very 
wealthy in the second part of the 19th century when coal 
was discovered on their land. They became members of 
the St. Petersburg society. Her brother graduated from 
the Corps des Pages and as a very young junior officer he 
was an internationally famous hurdle rider, rewarded with 
many prizes. 

His sister Olga (Baroness Wrangel) had the great 
wisdom and also the figure of a Russian, stout and plain 
Russian middleaged woman and she managed to get aboard 
the destroyer where the Baron was a prisoner. She had 
with her all her jewels. The general was released - but 
it was not the jewels that did it, Olga's personality and 
legendary charm did it. She found the proper words that 
changed the minds of a crew in mutiny. After all the 
crew members were Russian sailors and Olga was a Russian 
wife of her husband. 

At that time the mutinous sailors little realized 
that they had let go not just one of so many generals or 
admirals, but Peter Baron Wrangel, the man that would become 
two years later the commander in chief and legendary hero 
of all anti-communist Russians, even after his much to early 
death in 1928 in Belgium. 



- 242 - 

I become of age (1918) 

I became of age on February 26, 1918. I was living 
with my Uncle Vladimir and his wife and my cousin Andre, 
about six months my junior, on my uncle's estate, Troitskoye, 
in south Russia. Ten kilometers away from this estate 
was my estate of Kodyma. In those days my mother was stuck 
on the Crimea, where she had followed me when I was attached 
to the aviation officers' school. That school had fallen 
apart because of the Bolshevik Revolution and then I had 
joined a Tatar cavalry regiment and left the Crimea on the 
pretext of mobilizing horses for that regiment. I was very 
lucky to have been sent north of the Crimea because the very 
next day the Crimea was taken over by the Red Army and 
sailors of the Black Sea Fleet, after their mutiny and the 
assassination of many officers. I barely got out of the 
Crimea on time. Then I came to Kodyma and Uncle Vladimir 
suggested that I not live alone there but that I live with 
them. A carriage from my estate came over to pick me up if 
I wanted to go to my home and then took me back in the 
evening, and that was a kind of established routine that 
lasted for some six weeks. 

On the evening of February 26, 1918, when I became 21, 
there was a dinner, extra-elaborate if I may say so, as 
elaborate as times permitted. There was absolutely no 
communication whatsoever with the outside world. Trains 
had long ago stopped running; the Post did not function; 



- 243 - 

there were no telegrams; telephones were nonexistent. We 
knew what was going on, more or less, ten kilometers away 
from us, but those were only rumors. There was a rumor of 
a gang, one of many gangs that then marauded all over the 
country, living on the people of the country, looting, and 
raping. One of those gangs was a remnant of a line cavalry 
regiment. Many of the soldiers had left the regiment on 
their own to go home as best they could, but there remained 
roughly some 200 who did not want to go, for reasons of 
their own, back to the place where they had come from; and, 
practically, they did not know where to go and how to 
exist. They were no longer supplied with food or anything 
else but they still had their rifles and hand grenades and 
some amount of ammunition so they became marauders. 

Maruska-Gang ravages the region 

One of those gangs in south Russia came under the 
influence and leadership of Maruska. Maruska was a girl, 
she was an intellectual. I never met her because if I had, 
I would not be here writing my memoirs. But she was a 
very unusual woman. It was said about her that she was 
very literate and very smart and beautiful, roughly between 
twenty and twenty-five. Out of the gang of soldiers she 
took a lover and when she was tired of that lover she 
shot him, then took another lover and shot him also, and 
the members of the gang took all this as something quite 
normal. Maruska probably had lots of guts and maybe even 



- 244 - 

some kind of occult influence on those people. Of course 
the soldiers in that gang were half-literate peasants and 
could very easily be influenced by such a leader as Maruska. 

Maruska was taking revenge on society. She had been a 
quite famous prostitute in the city of Nikolaeff and she 
took revenge on the life and society that had made her what 
she was. Therefore she especially attacked, at the head of 
her band, the wealthy peasantry and some landed proprietors 
of the gentry that had not yet fled. In every village 
where she came if she found a priest, she arrested him, made 
him smoke and dance - which were sins in the eyes of the 
priesthood - and made him do all kinds of most awful, 
disgraceful acts. The priest's wife and daughters, no 
matter their age, were all raped many times over right in 
front of him before he was tortured to death. That was 
for Maruska a kind of system. 

At that dinner in honor of my coming of age, a retired 
butler served, a relic of a very distant past. When he was 
a boy about fifteen or sixteen, he was given - and I insist 
on the word given, because in those days he was a young serf 
of my great grandfather - to my great grandfather's daughter, 
my granny, mother of my father, when she married at the age 
of eighteen. And this Andre was in those days a sixteen 
year old errand boy. He stayed in the family for many 
generations. For him, the young master was my grandfather. 
And when my father was a boy between seven and ten and came 



- 245 - 

to the dining room where he was not supposed to come, 
Andre" took a wet towel and chased the kid - my father - away. 
So, for Andre, my cousin and I were of course just little 
nobodies. He was very, very dedicated to the family and he 
had to serve on great occasions. Telling him that he was 
too old, that he could not do it, would have been a great 
offense. Nobody would dare tell him that. When he took a 
heavy dish with a goose or a turkey, the whole dish trembled 
in his hands, and for us it was very exciting: would he 
drop it or would he not? But before taking the dish, 
champagne was uncorked and served, of course, by old Andre, 
and he poured himself the first glass before serving us. 
Then, raising that glass, he drank it bottoms up, to the 
health, in this case, of me on the occasion of my becoming 
of age. After that, for a short time, his hands trembled 
less and nothing happened. 

Well, of course that evening when we dined, the four 
of us, we did not realize that that was the very last day 
of so-called Old Holy Russia. The next morning we became 
displaced persons, actually emigrants. But we did not 
realize it immediately. It came about when the next 
morning, in my carriage, I was driving back to Kodyma 
with my coachman. First we had to descend for about a 
kilometer down to a dry river bed. In that river bed 
there stood a building built by Uncle Vladimir, and the 
building had a pump. It was a stone building and it 



- 246 - 

pumped underground water for the irrigation of the gardens 
of Troitskoye. This building played a great role a few 
days later. When we were mounting up from that river bed, 
of course, the horizon was very limited, and therefore I 
found myself face to face with a mounted group of villains. 
I recognized from their tattered uniforms the regiment that 
they belonged to. They immediately surrounded my carriage 
and one of them shouted, "Maybe he is a White Guard officer 
on reconnaissance." That meant that I would have to be shot 
there and then. I cried back, keeping my cool, and said, 
"It looks to me that all of you are soldiers. And who 
is the idiot that suggested that I am on reconnaissance? 
Who would go on reconnaissance in a horse-drawn carriage 
with a liveried coachman on the box? It is absolutely 
ridiculous." So the whole gang started laughing, and that 
was a good sign of course. But nevertheless, they surround 
ed me and made me turn around and go back to Troitskoye. 
So I arrived at Uncle Vladimir's house with a good honorary 
escort. Then they dismounted and immediately demanded 
lodgings in the house. 

The house was very unusual. It was built by the serfs 
of my great grandfather. It was a row of peasant huts, very 
low and just stuck together. The whole house looked like a 
long sausage with a corridor, a very wide one, in the 
middle - that was the library. The corridor ended with a 
double door. It was a glass door and the glass was painted 



- 247 - 

so you could not see through it from either side. 
The gang was lodged in an anteroom bejond that glass, so 
my cousin and I crept up from the corridor side and listened 
to what they were talking about. From their talking we 
gathered that they were some kind of an avant-garde of a 
bigger gang led by Maruska. We had already heard enough 
about her, so we knew what to expect. This avant-garde 
was just waiting, doing nothing to us, but they expected 
towards late evening the arrival of Maruska and the rest 
of the gang. 

Hiding from the Maruska-Gang 

We decided that we had to leave, but where could we go? 
My. aunt was a sickly person. Uncle Vladimir all of a sudden 
declared that he would not go anywhere, that he had been 
born in this very same house and if it were his fate to die, 
he wanted to die in the same house where he had been born. 
I was very cool and I said, "OK, Uncle, but keep in mind 
that before you are tortured to death, Aunt Pasha and your 
son Andre will be tortured right in front of your eyes. I 
am going to leave anyhow." We all decided to leave. The 
three of us, my uncle, my cousin, and I were armed. We 
had our officers' revolvers and we had light German Mauser 
rifles. Towards evening we left the house. We could not 
carry any food with us, just what my aunt could gather in 
the pantry, because we did not want anybody to get the idea 
that we were leaving. Our idea was to leave the house and 



- 248 - 

to walk for about a kilometer to that pumping station, which 
as I have said was a stone building with narrow windows. 

There was water therein any amount, and three armed men could 

a 

resist the assault of that gang, especially because all 
those gangsters were never very eager to risk their lives. 
That punping station stood in the middle of a wide, open 
field. They could not rush it or they would be under our 
fire, and before they got at us many of them would certainly 
be killed or heavily wounded. We could sustain a siege in 
that place for a number of days. We had heard rumors that 
German troops were moving into south Russia, and where the 
German troops came the Communists and Bolsheviks fled and 
some kind of order was established; and then there was no 
more looting and murder would not be tolerated, so we could 
hope for our eventual escape. 

We walked, having left the house in the evening. It 
was not very dark and we noticed that a night-watch had seen 
us leaving. As incredible as it may seem, that night-watch 
was a Hungarian POW attached to farming, as many POW's were, 
for lack of Russian farmers not yet back from war. We did 
not know what that Hungarian POW would do. Would he alert 
the Maruska gang or say nothing? But anyhow, we were at his 
mercy. We went through an old park. Then, climbing over a 
ditch, we had to walk through a wide-open field, and we 
were about a quarter through when we heard the sound of 
running horses. We said, "Well, that is it. That gang is 



- 249 - 

on horseback and is after us. We are in a wide-open field 
full of moonshine. So we will open fire and kill as many 
of the gang as we can, each of us reserving the very last 
bullet for himself, so that under no conditions will we fall 
alive into their hands." Then the sound of the hooves came 
closer, and what did we see? It was a two-horse carriage, 
driven by our old coachman, Selifon. 

This old, dedicated coachman, Selifon, took us away to 
a remote little village where he had a friend that he could 
trust, where we could go into hiding at least for a short 
time. Selifon was drving a very high, open carriage. My 
uncle and aunt were sitting in the back seats, so they had 
the icy wind right in their faces, while my cousin Andre 
and I were in officers' winter coats, lined with sheepskin 
and we were much warmer. We decided to change places in 
that carriage, not losing any time. Therefore, I got out 
of the carriage and stood on the steps and my uncle and 
aunt switched places with their son, Andrei I was standing 
on those steps and the horses were running as fast as they 
could when my foot slipped and I fell to the ground. My 
finger got caught by a hook that was there to hold the big 
apron (this apron was used when the front seats were not 
occupied) , and this hook got under the ring that I had on 
my finger (it was a coat of arms ring) and that ring cut 
into my finger to the bone. Of course there was not much 
blood in such a place. As to the pain, I did not even feel 



- 250 - 

it in all the stress and excitement of that moment. So we 
drove on and the coachman deposited us at a remote cluster 
of peasant dwellings and immediately he drove back to the 
estate and put the horses back in their stables. That old 
man, who was very famous for never smoking or drinking, got 
himself on purpose dead drunk so he could not be questioned. 

While we were in hiding in that remote place, events 
continued to develop at the estate. I heard all the stories 
when I came back about five or six months later after that 
part of the country had come under German and Austrian 
occupation. When Maruska arrived, they searched the house 
for us and we were not there, we had just evaporated. Then 
they went down to the cellar and in the cellar there were 
many, many boxes of champagne, French champagne that my 
uncle loved and used at big parties as a marshall of the 
local nobility. My aunt had always been a sickly person 
(she died at the age of ninety-two as an immigrant in France, 
so she probably was not that sick) and she always sent for 
some kind of a cure, and she had mineral waters from Austria, 
from a very famous cure place called Karlsbad. This was 
actually a kind of purgative. Maruska and her gang were 
too drunk to distinguish horses from mutton. A bottle is 
a bottle and a liquid is a liquid, so actually they drank 
half and half, the purgative from Karlsbad and my uncle's 
champagne. And after that one can imagine what kind of a 
condition they were in. They were in no condition to search 



- 251 - 

any more, or to pursue. They were flat on the floor and 
went no place for at least two or three days. When they 
had recovered, some went away but part of them stayed. 
Of course they were all very much interested in horses. 
In the stables there were our carriage horses which they 
requisitioned, not to say looted, and there were also 
riding horses. Those riding horses were very expensive, 
they were great jumpers, and they were all imported from 
Ireland. They were called Irish Hunters. They were big, 
strong, heavy, but they had never been harnessed. Maruska's 
fellows harnessed those Irish Hunters to a cart and then 
eight fellows got into that cart. The Irish Hunters were 
very well trained and as they did not know what was expected 
of them, they just stood calmly. Then one of the drunken 
soldiers, one of the deserters, took a big whip and lashed 
away at those Irish Hunters. A minute later the cart was 
upside down and there were many broken legs and arms. The 
soldiers immediately decided that the Hunters were performing 
sabotage and the Hunters were shot there in the yard in front 
of the stables. 

We were more or less safe in the remote little village 
but gangs sent out from the master gang were all over the 
countryside. Rumors started that we were in hiding there 
and we had to get away, further away. I made an attempt to 
go on foot for about ten miles to Kodyma to get horses and 
a carriage. I arrived at Kodyma and all the shepherd dogs 



- 252 - 

greeted me, wagging their tails, and the many- times 
mentioned Nikita gasped when he saw me. The first thing 
I ordered was a hot bath. He prepared it and then I asked 
the cook to give me a good lunch, and the lunch was pre 
pared. Both Nikita and the cook, who was a grandson of a 
serf of my grandfather from the village of Troitskoye, 
warned me that I would be very much in danger if I went to 
my stables to get some of my carriage horses. These elderly 
people would not refuse me anything but their sons had just 
deserted from the Black Sea Fleet and they were obviously 
one hundred percent Communists and Bolsheviks and probably 
had with them rifles and hand grenades. They would not let 
me have horses. They would not dare, the two of them, to 
attack me, but they had already sent a rider to the small 
city about thirteen miles from our estate for reinforcement 
to take me and probably shoot me on the spot. Well, I 
calculated how much time it would take for that rider to 
ride those thirteen miles, alert thei.r people there, and how 
much time it would take to ride those thirteen miles back. 
I had at least four hours' time. So again on foot I walked 
back to the remote little village where my uncle, my aunt, 
and my cousin were waiting for me. I had to walk in the 
daytime. It was the month of March but the sun was very 
hot and my officer's heavy coat was very warm. I realized 
it was the only warm object that I had and I did not dare 
drop it and leave it in the middle of the fields so I had 



- 253 - 

to keep it on me. I walked and walked,- and when I arrived 
at the village I saw my uncle and aunt and cousin Andre 
sitting in a cart with horses, driven by a young peasant 
from Troitskoye. This fellow was one of the many sons of 
a certain peasant in Troitskoye and he had sent his horses, 
his cart, and his son to save us and drive us further on. 
And that is what he did. 

We drove on to the city of Nikolaeff and when we were 
close to the city, only a couple of miles away, we heard 
rapid artillery shooting. Earlier Nikolaeff had been 
occupied by Austrian troops but the Bosheviks had managed 
to throw the Austrians out of the city. Then German ground 
reinforcements came and placed their artillery on the other 
shore of a very wide river. On the left shore was located 
the city of Nikolaeff and the German artillery was on the 
right shore. The Germans had the plan of the city and they 
knew from scouts which houses the Bosheviks had used when 
they shot at the Austrians. Precisely those houses were 
destroyed by German artillery fire, with German absolute 
precision. The Germans were throwing the Bolsheviks out of 
the city and of course there was street fighting, and that 
was not the proper moment for us to drive into the city. 
Our driver knew of a safe place and he turned off the main 
road and after going a couple of miles we arrived at a water 
mill. The owner of the water mill was an extremely old man. 
He greeted us in the most friendly way and invited us into 



- 254 - 

his house. He said that the horses would be taken care of 
and he gave us milk, cottage cheese, lard, homemade bread, 
and whatever he could find in his pantry, assisted by his 
very old wife. Uncle Vladimir and Aunt Pasha were 

absolutely exhausted, but the old man turned toward me and 

/ 

my cousin Andre and said to us in the proper old soldiers' 

way, "Gentlemen Officers, I have something to show you." 
We followed him and he opened a very big door. We proceeded 
after him and gasped in astonishment. We had before us a 
big ballroom that could have been in any palace and obvious 
ly was never used. The ballroom had beautiful parquet floors 
that were shining like a mirror. The walls were decorated 
with huge painted copies of portraits of Tsar Nicholas I, 
Tsar Alexander II, Tsar Alexander III, and the last Tsar, 
Nicholas II, all in full dress uniform, life-sized, bigger 
than life-sized portraits of the four Tsars in big, gilded 
frames. Suddenly the old man started sobbing and crying, 
and through his sobbing and tears he said to us, "Young 
Gentlemen Officers, I have served as a soldier to four 
Tsars, I gained this Cross of Saint George for bravery in 
the Crimean War." At that time, that had been more than 
fifty years ago. Then he started sobbing again and saying, 
"What are they doing now to our Holy Russia?" 

We escape the Maruska-gang and reach Nikolaeff 

We stayed at the water mill for a day or two, and when 
the fighting in Nikolaeff was over, we drove into the city. 



- 255 - 

On the borders of that city, on the high road, stood a Ger 
man patrol under the command of a corporal. To us "young 
gentlemen officers" who had been at war with Germany for 
four years, seeing those soldiers was quite a shock. But 
at the same time we realized that from this moment, and 
thanks to those Germans, we were safe. The German corporal 
was very correct and asked us, "Are you officers?" As I 
spoke German fluently, I answered him in that language, say 
ing, "Yes, we are." He saluted immediately and asked again, 
"Do you have arms on you?" I said, "Yes." We had Mausers 
and pocket revolvers. Then the German corporal said to us, 
"Sirs, I am obliged to ask you to surrender your arms to 
me." We did it, of course, immediately, and the corporal 
added, "Tomorrow, if you come to the Commandantur (the Ger 
man headquarters was on the main street of the city of 
Nikolaeff , across from the Hotel London) , you will probably 
get your arms back." 

We drove into Nikolaeff to a friend of my uncle's. 
Nikolaeff was crowded with refugees who were trying to save 
their lives from the Communists. Well, this gentleman, my 
uncle's friend, had a very large house, but all he could 
offer us was his ballroom. So cots were arranged in that 
ballroom for all of us and the next day we went to the 
German headquarters. When we entered that building we saw 
the German Commandant of the city of Nikolaeff sitting in 
the hall and he was an exact copy of Kaiser Wilhelm, 



- 256 - 

mustache and all. As we came to his table he addressed 
us in German, and I answered because my cousin knew little 
German. The first question from the General was, "Are you 
officers?" I replied, "Yes, Your Excellency." Then the 
General asked his next question, rather sternly, "What is 
your regiment?" I answered, "We are officers of His 
Majesty's Horse Guard Regiment." The General immediately 
jumped to his feet and saluted. He offered us a seat, 
addressed me by my title of Count, and offered me a cigar, 
which I declined, saying that I never had smoked. Then, Of 
course, a few minutes later we had our arms back and we had 
all the passes we needed to go anywhere in the city of 
Nikolaeff at any time of day or night. After that, the 
conversation with the General became friendly and he asked 
us our opinion of the general situation. I told him that 
all the German units of occupation forces in south Russia 
had, naturally, interpreters. Most of those interpreters 
were Jewish because the Jewish jargon, Yiddish, is very 
similar to German for some historical reason that I am 
ignorant of to this day. But the Jewish population in south 
Russia could understand the Germans much better than the 
Russian peasants could. At that time, most of the Jewish 
population was very much pro-Bolshevik and pro-Communist 
for a reason I will speak about in much detail later; by no 
means all of them (I do not want to make any kind of general 
ization) , but very many of them were, especially the younger 



- 257 - 

ones propagandized the German occupation troops little 
by little. I told the German general that I believed that 
in six months, or maybe more, the German army would revolt 
and fall apart, just as the Russian Imperial Army had, 
sapped by propaganda. The general said, "Oh No! Never in 
the world. Our German soldiers are loyal to our Kaiser...", 
and so forth and so on. 

Well, I did not stay long in Nikolaeff , but I came 
back to the city in the late fall of the year 1918, when 
the Germans had surrendered and collapsed. In Nikolaeff 
I saw drunken rebel soldiers with big red ribbons on their 
shoulders, riding around in all sorts of carriages with 
the worst kinds of girls on their laps. But the Comman- 
dantur was still there, and as I entered the building I 
saw the very same general. He was half lying in an arm 
chair and sobbing like a baby. And that was the last I 
saw of His Excellency General Gillhausen. But I will al 
ways remember him. 

When I was in Nikolaeff during the German occupation, 
I did not live for long with my Uncle Vladimir, Aunt Pasha, 
and my cousin Andre, for I rented a room in a girls' 
school (the girls were absent) . 

I also happened to discover, that in the city of Niko 
laeff there was a bank, the name of which I do not remember. 
But I remember the name of the director of that bank, a 
Mr. Dekiriko. He was a Greek and I met him socially somewhere 



- 258 - 

I was introduced to him and he said to me, "Young man, 
do you know that you have a bank account at my bank?" 
I said, "Really? Do I?" It was all the money that was 
taken from the sale of wheat, cattle and so forth from 
our estate of Kodyma and that money was deposited in 
Nikolaeff in this bank. And I had very little knowledge 
of business and money affairs in those days in spite of 
being twenty-one. So the next day I went to the bank to 
Mr. Dekiriko's office and he told me, "Your bank account 
now has 80,000 rubles." Eighty thousand rubles in peace 
time before the war was worth forty thousand American gold 
dollars. How much that would be on this day of my 
speaking, who knows? Anyhow it was a sizeable sum of money. 
In peacetime before the first war the estate of Kodyma 
had an income of roughly forty thousand rubles. Now, on 
that account there was eighty thousand rubles, but of 
course in the year 1918 the ruble was not worth what it 
used to be in gold. Anyhow, Mr. Dekiriko asked me, "How 
much do you need?" My pockets were almost totally empty, 
and he gave me a slip of paper and I signed the slip of 
paper not knowing that that paper was called a check. He 
gave me on a tray which a bank clerk held, five thousand 
rubles in cash. 

Travel to Eupatoria to find mother 

Early in April, 1918, after my escape from the clutches 
of the Maruska gang to the city of Nikolaeff, I thought of 



- 259 - 

going from Nikolaeff to the Crimea, where my mother had 
been left in Eupatoria. There was no reason for her to 
stay there anymore and I wanted her back in Nikolaeff, maybe 
Kodyma, or wherever she wanted to go. But travelling was 
not easy. Regular trains did not exist and only occasional 
ly did trains run and nobody knew when or where they were 
going and where they would stop. So I managed to leave 
Nikolaeff with a military convoy of German troops, thanks 
to my knowing the German language, and I got with them as 
far as the city of Alexandrovsk on the Dnepr River, where 
Dina and her family were living. I was back in Dina's home 
again. There, the Germans stopped for some reason and 
did not proceed toward the Crimea. I did not ask any 
questions about their military plans, of course, but there 
I was, stuck. 

Russian Easter came around. The Russian custom at 
Easter mass, when the priest says, "Christ is risen" and 
everybody answers, "Indeed, He is risen", demands that all 
Russians kiss each other three times. And I was wondering 
what would happen when I said to Dina, "Indeed He is risen." 
Would she kiss me three times, with all that kissing going 
on right in church? But somehow when the moment came, she 
wiggled behind some girl friends and the momentum was lost. 
Well, I considered it a rather good sign, because kissing 
for Easter three times only means kissing anybody. There 
wasn't any different meaning to that kiss, but the fact that 



- 260 - 

she had avoided kissing me, that did have some kind of a 
meaning. 

At that time, the city of Alexandrovsk was occupied 
by an Austrian infantry division. Easter passed, and one 
day a car stopped in front of the house where Dina's 
parents were staying. An Austrian general descended and 
asked if Dina's father would receive him. It was no 
pleasure, but he had to be received. The general said 
that the commander was giving a party and that he had come 
in the name of the commander to ask that Dina's family be 
present at that party. Dina's old father refused. Obvious 
ly he had been invited because he was a very prominent 
political person in the days of Imperial Russia, but of 
course he would not want to go to a party with an 
Austrian commander. Dina, aged 18, was crazy to go dancing, 
of course, no matter with whom, but as she did not want to 
go there unescorted, she asked me to come with her. I told 
her that if she could get me a civilian suit of some kind, 
I would escort her, but that I was not going to escort her 
wearing the uniform of a Russian officer. So she did get 
ahold of some kind of a civilian suit that fitted me rather 
nicely and with her mother and I as escorts, we went to that 
party. 

There was a huge dinner table and at the center of the 
table sat the commander, surrounded by his staff officers, 
typical Austrian officers of Vienna. Farther around the 



- 261 - 

table were quite a different sort of crowd sitting, not 
even looking like officers. I was surprised by the 
appearance of the Divisional Commander. He was, of course, 
in full dress uniform, and wore all the decorations of 
the Austrian Empire. He looked to be thirty or a little 
older, an unusually young age for a Divisional Commander. 
I sat almost opposite to him on the other side of the 
table. My neighbor was an Austrian major who was very 
happy to talk German with me. Pointing with my eyes at 
the Commander, I whispered into his ear, "Who is he?" 
The Austrian major giggled and whispered back into my ear, 
"But that is the Herzog, Grand Duke Wilhelm of Hapsburg." 
He was there as a Divisional Commander under the name of 
Vasiliy Vishnevany. This, of course, was a fictitious 
name, and this young member of the Austrian Imperial family 
was being groomed by the Austrian General Staff to become 
king of the independent Ukraine, in other words, all of 
south Russia. During that dinner, the people sitting at 
the far end of the table stood up and started singing. The 
Austrian Grand Duke stood up, so everybody else stood up 
too, I whispered into my neighbor's ear, "What are they 
singing?" I barely understood anything of the words but it 
was definitely not German. He giggled back into my ear and 
said, "That is the Ukrainian National Anthem." 

After a few days I found out that some German military 
trains were moving south toward the Crimea, and boarding one 



- 262 - 

of them I finally arrived once more at Eupatoria. A few 
days later, Mother and I started our journey back, but 
again, as I have said, travelling was a problem. Eupatoria 
was the end station of a small railroad, and after about an 
hour or so of travel we came to Simpheropol, where we had 
to change trains. It was the main city on the Crimea and 
it was on the main railroad line from Sebatopol to Peters 
burg. Actually, this railroad was the backbone of the 
European part of Russia. The train at Simpheropol came from 
Sebastopol and the cars were already filled to capacity, 
people mostly sitting on each other, on the roofs of the 
cars, even on the bumpers. Getting into such a train was 
a problem. The windows of the cars were all broken, but it 
was springtime and warm and this gave some aeration to 
the crowd. We were accompanied by some friends, Tatar 
soldiers. When the train stopped, we were just facing 
one of the broken windows of the car. At that minute 
my mother, aged 56, was grabbed under her arms by two 
Tatar soldiers, two other soldiers grabbed her legs, and 
she was rammed through the window of that overfilled car. 
And she actually dropped on the knees and the heads of the 
people that were already inside. That was the only way to 
get into the train. My two suitcases were thrown through 
the same window on top of my mother. Because of my 
mother's age, a girl rose and sat on the floor of the car 
so that Mother could have a seat. I managed to be like a 



- 263 - 

monkey and got hold of the steps of that car, which was 
already moving, and then I wiggled inside to be a little 
safer. Thus we travelled to Alexandrovsk. Probably it 
took us four or five hours. 

Alexandrovsk was a big junction and there many people 
got off the train, including us. We went to the house 
occupied by Dina's parents and again they were very kind to 
us and very considerate. But Dina was very panicky when 
she saw my mother, because of course it was no secret to 
anybody that I had asked Dina to marry me and she had 
answered, "No, let us remain old friends from the days of 
our childhood." So that created of course a difficult 
climate all around, because getting into another train 
and leaving Alexandrovsk by a different railroad in order 
to go back to Nikolaeff depended on when there would be 
another train. Finally, the estate manager of Dina's 
parents, Dubenka, told us that probably this evening there 
would be a train leaving for Nikolaeff. He accompanied 
Mother and me to the railroad station and there the old 
porters all had keys to cars parked far away from the 
station, on side tracks. For a good tip, a porter led 
Mother and me, with some other porters carrying our few 
suitcases, and told us that for sure this particular car, 
now locked and empty, would be part of the train leaving 
for Nikolaeff. So he unlocked the car and we were inside 
an empty car. But we were not alone for long, because 



- 264 - 

many other porters did the same thing. We were sitting 
in that car for almost ten hours before it was pushed by 
a little local engine and the train was formed. Fortunate 
ly we had some food with us and water in bottles. After 
travelling for about 24 hours we arrived in the city of 
Nikolaeff, where Mother had a room that I had rented for 
her in the same school where I was living. 

Some historical background 

Now I might as well explain some of the history of 
Russia, and I advise anyone interested in the situation to 
have in front of him a map of Russia. On that map you will 
find Warsaw, the capitol of Poland. From that point draw 
a line eastward so that the line goes right through 
Moscow, and then further east as far as the Urals and on 
into the vastness of nowhere, called Siberia. Now draw 
a line from Moscow southward to the tip of the Crimean 
peninsula. Following that line from Moscow sothward, you 
will see several cities: Tula, very famous for its 
factories of ammunition and samovars, then the city of 
Orel, farther south the city of Kursk, and south of Kursk 
the city of Belgorod, which was fortified to repel Mongol 
invaders from the south Russian steppes where they lived. 
Belgorod was the last fortified city to protect Moscovia. 
This word Moscovia meant, of course, Moscow and the 
surroundings: south as far as Belgorod, west as far as 
the city of Smolensk, to the north into dense forests 



- 265 - 

inhabited by some tribes of unknown descent, and to the 
east Moscovia went as far as the city of Kazan on the 
Volga River. Kazan was the capitol of a Tatar chieftain 
and was captured in the early days of the reign of Tsar 
Ivan the Terrible. This country, Moscovia, described very 
roughly by me, had no access to the sea, it was land 
locked. It had to fight against the Tatars in the east, 
against the encroaching Swedes in the north, the Poles 
in the west, and those migrating hordes of Mongols in the 
south. Those were the days of Ivan the Terrible and of 
Boris Godunov, the last name made famous by the opera of 
Mussorgski and the poem of Pushkin. The south border of 
this Moscovia was never firmly established. The region south 
of this border of Belgorod was "at the border" of Moscovia. 
In Russian, "at the border" is rendered by two words: 
"U Kraya" . "At the border" was a very vast region. In the 
west of that region was the River Dnepr with the beautiful 
city of Kiev. Many centuries ago, Kiev was the political 
and commercial center of the Slavs. The country was known 
as Rus ' . 

When south Russia, also called Ukraine, was no-man's 
land, emptied by an onslaught of Mongols, and when the 
Mongols retired, Kiev was completely destroyed, abandoned 
by its population and was, for many many years, in ruins. 
The population of Kiev was Slavic. They fled north into 
the dense forests, and somewhere in the forest, on a little 



- 266 - 

river called Moscva (it flowed then into the upper 
reaches of the Volga) , was a fortified village that has 
now become Moscow. The Tatars could not venture into the 
dense forests because they were horsemen and did combat 
only with lances. In the forests every big tree was a 
fortress by itself, and besides there was no grass to 
feed the Tatar horses, so the dense forest saved whatever 
was left of the population of Kiev that had fled north 
ward. The emptiness of south Russia in later years was 
resettled by the same people that had once fled to Moscow,' 
so they were practically Russians. It was also, to some 
degree, settled by Poles in the west. Mostly those Poles 
obtained large tracts of land and were wealthy landowners 
and Roman Catholics. But most of the population coming from 
the north and resettling that region were of Russian 
Orthodox faith. That, of course, produced frictions. The. 
most western part of south Russia came under the influence 
of Austria, but those in the area did not want to be 
Germanized, and as they lost all contact with Russia and 
did not want to be Poles or Roman Catholics either, a new 
word came up: they became "Ukrainians." And centuries 
later, all through the nineteenth century, the daydream 
of the Austrian General Staff in Vienna was to support 
Ukrainians, to help them regain the southern part of Russia, 
and to create a new state under Austrian influence. So the 
Ukraine state became the brainchild of the Austrian General 



- 267 - 

Staff. 

All winter of the year 1917-1918 was a period of total 
chaos in south Russia. The Soviets in Moscow called for 
an armistice and in March 1918, the Soviet government 
signed a peace treaty with the Germans, thus abandoning 
the alliance with France and England and prolonging the 
First World War for over a year. The entering of the 
United States of America into the western war partly 
replaced the Russian manpower but the Russian armistice 
gave the Germans the chance to transfer most of their 
troops to the western front to fight the English, the 
French, and the newly arriving Americans. That peace 
treaty between Imperial Germany and the Soviet govern 
ment in Moscow was actually dictated by the Germans. 

The Russians, that is to say the Bolsheviks, in Moscow 
were represented by Trotsky, whose real name was Bronstein. 
He tried to talk to the Germans but that did not last very 
long and some German general, I believe it was General 
Ludendorf, hit the table with his fist and said, "You sign 
this peace treaty as we have set it up or else...." And 
the Moscow side understood that the "or else" was alluding 
to an advance of German troops right into Moscow and the 
upsetting of the present government. That was the last 
thing the Bolsheviks wanted and so they signed away all of 
south Russia, then called by the fictitious name of 
"Ukrainia", which really means "at the border." The 



- 268 - 

Ukrainian government that also signed that treaty was 
Socialist, if not outright Communist, but at least it was 
some kind of "national" government. 

First the Germans and the Austrians recognized as 
the leader of this new country a man named Petlyura. He 
was a socialist. There was a joke: Petlyura and his 
so-called government lived in a railroad car and the joke 
went that "the government is the railroad car and the 
territory is under the railroad car." Over all the rest 
of the country he had no authority whatsoever; it was in 
chaos and could not deliver the goods that the Germans 
wanted. When Petlyura could not manage, the Germans and 
Austrians arranged a meeting with some very wealthy 
Ukrainian landowners, mostly Russian dignitaries from 
St. Petersburg. One of them was General Skoropadsky, who 
had been commander of my regiment of the Horse Guards in 
1914 when the war started. He took over under the title 
of "Hetman", because that was an ancient word used in 
south Russia. When Moscovia was weak, the Hetman in the 
south played a great political role, almost as a king, but 
he was an elected person. 

General Skoropadsky was an extremely wealthy land 
owner in south Russia and he had been a page in his youth 
at the Corps des Pages from which I had graduated in 1917. 
He was a great gentleman, an ex-officer of the Imperial 
Guards. So he was by no means a Socialist or a Communist; 



- 269 - 

he was, from a certain point of view, the very greatest 
representative of the extreme Rightist reaction. But his 
distant ancestors in the Ukraine had been elected Hetmen 
of the Ukraine, which actually was never an independent 
state, as it is generally understood, but was balanced 
centuries ago between Moscow and Poland. The population of 
the Ukraine was of Russian-Greek Orthodox faith; part of 
the gentry and others were Roman Catholics. This period of 
Skoropadsky ' s rule in south Russia under the protection of 
the German bayonets gave the Germans an opportunity to 
requisition or buy whatever foodstuffs they wanted. 

I become a civilian 1918 in Kiev 

Kiev was called "The Mother of Russian Cities", and that 
was a pain in the neck to all those Ukrainians who wanted 
to consider theirs an independent state. The capital of 
the place was unquestionably Kiev and that did not suit 
the Ukrainians at all. In Kiev there was a very famous 
university, so when I got my papers of demobilization and 
became a civilian, legally demobilized according to all 
regulations in the old Russian days, I was given a passport, 
and I still have it, and I love that passport because it 
says that I am a student, that I am twenty- two, and a 
bachelor. I went to the university to listen to lectures 
about political economy; I went to that university twice. 
The lecture hall was overflowing with students and probably 
with some non-students. The lecturer was a very famous 



- 270 - 

professor and I met him again much much later as an 
immigrant when I was living in Monterey, California. 
During that lecture, next to me sat a woman and during that 
lecture she was breast-feeding her child. Well, I saw 
many things at Stanford when I was teaching there much later, 
but not that. At least not yet. And on the other side 
next to me there sat another girl and she was devouring a 
huge loaf of black bread and some very smelly herring. 
That was the atmosphere of the University of Kiev in 1918. 

1918 - Life in Kiev 

The period of the new Hetman under the protection of 
the Germans lasted in Kiev from April to October , 1918. The 
railroad junctions and lines were protected but otherwise 
in the country gangs similar to Maruska's were roaming 
around and doing whatever they wanted, terrorizing the 
population. The Germans did not have enough manpower, 
obviously, to occupy all the villages and all the small 
towns in that vast country which was almost as large as all 
of France. But this period was a breather, especially for 
people living in Kiev. Many wise people even imagined that 
somehow things would be rearranged and life would come 
back to normal and the war would be ended by some kind of 
an arrangement between Germany and the Allies in the west, 
who must realize that the Germans now had so many raw 
materials to help them. 



- 271 - 

While this breather lasted there was some kind of a 
social life in Kiev. There was a group of people about my 
age, some of them escaped from St. Petersburg and the 
Bolshevik part of Russia under the pretext that they had 
been born in south Russia or had some property in the south. 
According to the arrangements of the peace treaty, under 
such conditions they were eligible for repatriation so now 
they were enabled to come from the north back to the south 
and therefore their lives were saved. 

Almost every week at my mother's apartment there was 
a knock on the door and there stood a bum, dirty and in 
rags, and said to my mother when she opened the door, "I 
am Niki so-and-so", or "I am Ivan so-and-so", and one 
time it was a nephew of my mother's and he had just escaped 
from Bolshevik Russia in an illegal way, disguised and 
dirty and with his clothes full of lice. These escapees, 
and there were many of them, started the lice plague. 
Lice became everywhere present. 

One of my cousins that had gone to high school with me 
and then graudated with me from the Corps des Pages appeared 
in Kiev and was washed and fed. The next day I gave him 
some of my clothes and we went for a walk through the city. 
As we were walking together, suddenly I noticed that he 
was not next to me anymore. He had vanished and I wondered 
what had ahppened. I turned around and there he was, half 
a block behind me, in front of a delicatessen that was full 



- 272 - 

of goodies and he was frozen in front of that window and 
he just could not tear his eyes away from there because he 
had just been through a period of extreme hunger in 
Petrograd. In those days in Kiev, there were private 
theatres and there was a comedy going on, the main theme of 
which was the hunger of people escaping to Kiev, and all 
of a sudden my cousin stood up and said, "I cannot see 
that anymore. I have to leave the theater. I just can't. 
I went through all that personally, myself. Here it is a 
show you can laugh at, a comedy, and there it was sheer, 
extreme suffering." 

There was a big garden in Kiev called the Merchant's 
Park. It was on the high border of the Dnepr, with a 
fantastic view. In that park was a kind of podium on 
which musicians played on weekends. Our group of young 
people went often to those evening concerts. Among that 
group of young people was Helen Leuchtenberg. She had an 
immense charm and all the boys were very much under this 
charm of hers, including me. For the time being, Dina 
was forgotten, I did not even know where she was. At one 
of the concerts in that park it started raining, kind of 
a drizzle. Helen opened her umbrella, which was not too 
big, but somehow both of us found protection under that 
umbrella. I did not listen too much to the music. Then, 
another day, there was an outing and one of my friends, a 
former Russian officer of my regiment and now in the 






- 273 - 



service of the Hetman, got a big motor boat and enough 
gasoline for an excursion up the Dnepr River to the 
famous monastery. Late in the evening we went aboard 
that boat again for the purpose of returning to Kiev, and 
then something went wrong with the motor and the boat had 
no power. When a boat has no power, the steering becomes 
impossible. The -boat was just carried by the current of 
the river. It could have carried us to one of the shores 
or a shallow place, and there we would have been stuck 
for who knows how long. But barges with lumber were also 
descending the river, so we called to the men aboard the 
barges and the men yelled back to us many very typical 
expressions of Russian people, which fortunately the 
society girls did not understand. Finally the men threw 
a rope and started towing us back. It started to drizzle 
again. They pulled our boat quite close to the barges so 
that some of us could get off the boat and aboard the 
barges for shelter. I climbed over to the barges and so 
did Helen. I was wearing a Caucasian long cape of sheep 
wool, a typical cape of the Caucasus mountaineers, and it 
covered a person from the shoulders right down to his feet. 
You could wrap yourself up and lie even on snow or ice 
without feeling cold. So that cape served me very well. 
And both, Helen and I, were wrapped in one and the same 
cape. That made one of the girls look askance at us and 
ask, "I wonder what they are doing inside that cape?" But 
if a kiss was exchanged that was all. We reached the city 



- 274 - 

of Kiev only next morning, and of course all the families 
of the girls who were with us were in a great panic. 
Whatever had happened? In those days the girls spending 
the night, God knows where, was a most unusual situation. 
There was lots of talk about that excursion of ours. 

When the German troops broke down and were leaving 
Kiev, Helen and her father (the rest of her family was 
stuck in St. Petersburg) got out, thanks to the help of 
German troops, to Germany, where the family had a big 
estate and a castle in Bavaria. The rest of the family 
escaped too, and lived on in that castle for a few years 
just as if nothing had happened and there had been no 
Revolution. As a result of this, the day came when the 
castle and all its historical furnishings, pictures and 
everything, had to be sold to cover the debts of the 
family. Helen married a Russian musician and now lives 
in Paris, where we once met again. It was a wonderful 
meeting and it was nice to remember the good old days when 
we were young and bachelors. The poor Duke, Helen's father, 
had to move into a small apartment as a very sick and 
broken man. He died about a year later and that was a 
blessing for him because he belonged completely to a world 
that did not exist anymore. 

At that time in Kiev, in summer 1918, there were big 
parties, and they were my first big parties because while 
in St. Petersburg, I was an officer candidate until the 



- 275 - 

Revolution, not a full-fledged member of society, more or 
less considered a kid in spite of my 19 years. But now, 
in Kiev, I was a junior lieutenant of the Horse Guards and 
a full-fledged member of society. Besides, I was a young 
man with money. At such parties usually somebody was 
invited to entertain the guests, an artist, a singer, a 
story-teller. A very popular Gypsy singer of that period 
was Nura, who was then maybe twenty and married to a 
Russian officer of the cavalry. His situation was rather 
uncomfortable from a social .point of view; he was invited 
to those parties as a guest because he was Nura's husband, 
but he had to stay in the background because of course 
everybody courted that beautiful Gypsy girl very ardently. 
Well, somehow he managed that difficult situation very well 
and the Gypsy girl managed very well all those who attempted 
to court her. I was one of them. At one big party she sang. 
During an intermission I was sitting on a couch, and some 
how the place right next to me was empty. Nura came and 
sat down right next to me, very close, although there was 
plenty of space on that couch. Of course that closeness 
excited me and amused Nura very much. She moved even closer. 
Then she took her shawl off her shoulders. Now I must say 
that all Gypsy girls always have a shawl around their 
shoulders, and while singing or dancing they sometimes take 
it off and wave it around to the music. It is part of their 
performance. I cannot imagine any Gypsy girl without her 



- 276 - 

shawl. Nura took her shawl from her shoulders and threw 
it in my lap. And she, sitting in her evening dress, 
very lowcut, did not decrease my excitement. Very fortunate 
ly, the host, Count Uvarov, a newly married friend of mine, 
who had married a beautiful Greek girl - he was a charming 
man, huge in size, very tactful, always smiling, but 
carefully watching the goings-on at his party, - noticed 
my predicament on that couch with Nura. He came up, 
smiling broadly, and offered Nura his hand, saying, "Won't 
you please come to the piano and sing something again?" Of 
course, Nura had no choice but to accept his hand and to 
get away from the couch, leaving me to regain my senses. 

A year later, on leave in Yalta, I was again at a 
very large party, a fund-raising event for needy refugees, 
wounded volunteers, soldiers of the White Army; and of 
course, the greatest entertainer at that big party was the 
Gypsy, Nura. The party lasted up to about eleven in the 
evening but then it broke up into smaller groups. Touchkov, 
one of the officers of my regiment was living in Yalta with 
his family and he had the idea of going home with a group 
of his close friends. For some reason, he asked me to go 
over and ask Nura to come along with us. When I approached 
her, she was talking with an officer, Captain Baron Laudon, 
and when I intervened he took it very badly and in a rather 
loud voice he said to me, "Lieutenant, I dislike anybody 
speaking to a lady while I am speaking to that lady." And 



- 277 - 

I responded, "I do not care what you like. When I want 
to talk to a lady, I will talk to her whether you like it 
or not." Well, a crowd gathered around us and according 
to old traditions that smacked of a duel, shooting it out 
next morning. Somehow, friends in the crowd positioned 
themselves between Baron Laudon and me. Nura, almost in 
tears, declared that she would go right home if we did not 
stop that quarrel and make up immediately, so we were more 
or less forced to shake hands, Baron Laudon and myself. 
That incident was like a cold shower on all members of the 
party. The party disintegrated. Nura asked my friend 
Touchkov to escort her to her home and he agreed immediately 
and the whole party broke up. We followed Touchkov to his 
home and when we got there we discovered that Nura was also 
there. Touchkov had been very, very smart. Then, in 
Touchkov 's home - he was newly married and had a little 
baby son - Nura sang for a small group of us until the sun 
rose above the horizon. 

I never saw Nura again, but I was told by friends that 
she had emigrated to Paris. She was getting older and 
gypsies in Paris were not so sought after as in the old 
days in Russia. I heard also that Nura died in extreme 
poverty in a French hospital for destitute people. A very 
tragic end for beautiful Nura. 

But I will say again, this year was a breather for many, 
and a group of us played tennis and went on outings, and it 



- 278 - 

was a kind of social life all over again and everybody was 
hoping that finally the Bosheviks in Moscow would be crushed 
and life would be as it used to be before 1917. That, of 
course, was a lot of wishful thinking but very experienced 
and serious people indulged in that wishful thinking. One 
of them was a great friend of my late father. He was a very 
outstanding person, ex-governor of a province, and before 
the Revolution he was considered one of the candidates for 
Prime Minister of Russia. But now he was indulging in that 
wishful thinking and he said to me, "My dear Vania, the 
war is now over, peacetime is back again. Go and study at 
the University." But towards the fall, in spite of 
strictest censorship, news drifted through that the Germans 
were exhausted on the West Front and new manpower from the 
United States and supplies from the United States were 
continuing the war. That was too much because Germany 
was exhausted and Germany was down. 

The first condition of the Armistice imposed by the 
allies upon Germany was that they withdraw all their troops 
from the Ukraine. Of course everybody realized that that 
would mean a renewal of chaos. Petlyura would probably 
reappear and life in Kiev would become impossible. The 
Germans did start to pull out and immediately there were 
self-appointed Commissars in Kiev waiting for the last 
Germans to leave. At that time, Mother had lunch with a 
friend of the family, Baron Peter Wrangel. A few years later 



- 279 - 

he was Commander-in-Chief of the White Armies on the Crimea 
and I was an officer in his personal bodyguard. But at 
that lunch in our home, Wrangel was discussing the 
situation that he had just talked over for a long time 
with a German general, Count Alvensleben, who was in 
command of all German troops in the Ukraine, and Wrangel 
was telling him that a brigade of German troops should be 
put on trains and those trains should roll to Moscow, which 
meant roughly twenty-four hours of riding. And the 
respect and fear that everybody in Moscow had when seeing 
the German uniforms was still such that they would arrive 
in the city unopposed and they would overthrow the Moscow 
Bolsheviks and Moscow would have a new government, a 
Russian government of the Germans' choice, and that even 
having a government of German choice would be better than 
having the Bolsheviks in Moscow. But somehow for some 
reason the government in Berlin, in the last days of 
Kai'ser Wilhelm's reign, had decided against such an action. 
And Wrangel said, "If that action does not take place 
within a month's time, later it will be too late." 

I heard later that General Wrangel had left Kiev and 
that he had gone to the Don Region. In Kiev, in spite of 
German censorship, there were vague rumors that in the 
Don region Russian people, mostly officers, were gathering 
to re-create a fighting force, an "Army", and that was the 
beginning, the infancy, of Whites against Reds, that Civil 



- 280 - 

War in Russia. So I decided to follow in the steps of 
General Wrangel, and from November, 1918, to November, 
1920, I was in that Civil War. I do not intend to write 
a new history of the Civil War, but I will mention certain 
events of that period that happened to me personally. If 
someone is interested in this period, I recommend a book 
called "White Against Red, the Life of General Anton 
Denikin" , by Dmitry V. Lehovich, published by W. W. Norton 
& Co. , Inc. , New York. 

Of course Mother realized that she would have to stay 
in Kiev no matter what, and just to quiet her a little, I 
thought up a story and I said I had to leave Kiev to avoid 
the blood-bath that would come after the last Germans left, 
and then when things quiet down I could come back. Mean 
while, I would go to Odessa and from there I would go to our 
estate of Kodyma to see how things were going there and to 
see what I could get in money and maybe other things. 

During the period of quiet in 1918, from Kodyma we had 
been sent large boxes of food that had become scarce in 
Kiev. They had sent us mostly butter, buckets of slightly 
salted butter, and my mother's maid had to go to the railway 
station and pick up those buckets. Once one of the buckets 
arrived and it was weighed right in front of Anna Nikolaevna, 
and it was the very exact weight recorded on the accompany 
ing papers. So Anna Nikolaevna procured, not without 
difficulty, some kind of a cab and brought that bucket home. 



- 281 - 

When the bucket was opened there was no trace of butter in 
it but there were just broken up bricks. So somebody had 
taken great pains to open that bucket, take all the butter, 
and put back very carefully the exact weight in bricks. 
This could have been done only by some railroad employee 
and it was very characteristic and descriptive of the 
general atmosphere, of the people in the region, and what 
was going on. 

Just before leaving the city of Kiev, on October 1, 
Mother took me to the Cathedral, Saint Sophie. In very 
ancient times, before the Mongolian invasion had destroyed 
Kiev completely and driven all the inhabitants northward, 
a cathedral had been built. After the Mongol destruction, 
only a single wall of this cathedral remained, and this 
wall was decorated in mosaic, representing the Holy Virgin 
and Child; this was called "The Indestructible Wall". 
Around this wall was built a new cathedral, the Cathedral 
of Saint Sophie, which was Byzantine in style. Now in 
front of that "Indestructible Wall" there was a service for 
my safety and safe return to my mother again, and the next 
day I took the train to leave Kiev. 

I leave Kiev to join the White Army 

There were still Germans around and Austrians and 
trains, luxury trains, were running between Kiev and Odessa, 
It was a night's journey and I had a berth in a sleeping 



- 282 - 

car, first class; I had the top berth and a gentleman I 
did not know at all had the lower berth. We started from 
Kiev and I fell asleep on my top berth. And then I dreamed 
that I was on horseback and my horse was galloping at such 
a pace that I could hardly remain sitting in my saddle. 
When I woke up I felt that I was being projected in dark 
ness, total darkness, right into space. So by instinct I 
shot out a hand and grasped a net and a railing above the 
berth where I had my luggage, and I held onto it so as not 
to fall into nowhere. At that same second, my fellow 
traveller lit a cigarette lighter and I looked around and 
realized that my car was lying on its side. The entrance 
door to my compartment was right above my head and the voice 
from the lower berth asked me, "Are you alive?" I said, 
"Yes, I am." And at the same time there was the sound of 
broken glass and of something crashing, and yells and 
moans, and I opened the door above my head, crawled through 
the open door, and found myself sitting on the side of my 
car. The cars were in a heap and moans and cries came from 
that heap, and the engine was also lying on its side, and 
my first idea was, "Now that engine is going to explode, 
any second." But fortunately the engineer had at the last 
moment the presence of mind to let out all the steam. The 
cars behind my car were standing on the rails and some of 
them were transporting Austrian soldiers, and immediately 
those Austrian soldiers jumped out of the cars and surrounded 



- 283 - 

the wreck. This gave me the safe feeling that we were at 
the moment under military protection and that some gang, 
Maruska style, would not attack us. This all happened 
about half an hour after the train had left Kiev. In 
between Kiev and another railroad station, there was a 
railroad knot, many tracks converging at that station 
from other parts of Russia. And from this big station 
eventually a train came out to our wreck to pick up the 
wounded and the dead and the passengers that were still 
alive, and took us to that big railroad station. And from 
there I immediately went to the telegraph and sent Mother 
a telegram saying that I was okay. The next morning my 
telegram was in Mother's hands before she got the local 
newspaper, which had banner headlines about that wreck. 
Mother was quite astonished and she said later to me, "I was 
really surprised that my little Vania was such a good boy 
that after being only one hour away from Mama he sends her 
a telegram that he is okay." And when she opened the 
morning papers she understood why I had sent her that tele 
gram. 

Now, we were a group of young men in civilian clothes, 
all of us officers in our twenties, and we were all having 
in mind to go to Odessa and from there to go by boat on the 
Black Sea to join the White Armies and General Wrangel. 
The German and Austrian official authorities were against 
the White Armies and against the policies of General Denikin, 



- 284 - 

who was pro-western and continued to consider the Germans 
as enemies. In those days in Russian society there was 
a great split and great discord about this policy of being 
allied and pro-German or pro-Western Allies. 

Well, we were holed up in that station barely two 
hours' drive from Kiev and we had to find some kind of 
transportation to get to Odessa. We heard that there 
was a train heading for Odessa and that the train was 
over-filled with some civilian passengers and a great number 
of Austrian soldiers in great disarray, and actually at war 
with the large crowds that were trying to get to the coal 
mines. It was very difficult to get a place on that train. 
Then we met a group of Austrian officers, young fellows 
of the same rank as we were, and they were in uniform and 
very neat. They yelled at their soldiers, using very strong 
language, and ordered those soldiers to clear out a compart 
ment for us. Those soldiers were still somewhat disciplined, so 
they cleared out everyone, and we had a compartment, maybe 
two compartments, for us, a group of about fifteen. So we 
thanked them and I was the speaker because I knew German 
better than anybody else in that group. The train stood 
in that station and stood and nobody knew when we would 
actually start moving. And what did we see coming from 
the building of the station? We saw those Austrian 



officers coming back again and with them some Austrian 
soldiers carrying four large wooden boxes. And they came 



- 285 - 

to our compartment and one of them said, "I presume you are 
Russian officers." And I said, "Yes, we are." "And you 
are travelling to Odessa and then from Odessa on for the 
purpose of joining the White Armies in the Don region?" 
(This was against the official Austrian-German government.) 
I said, "Yes, we are," because it was so obvious. And then 
the Austrian officer said, "Gentlemen Officers, here are some 
provisions for your journey. Here are the four boxes." 
We immediately opened one of them and there were a dozen 
champagne bottles. That was the attitude of officers and 
the spirit of officers in the old days of my wearing that 
uniform. Of course we thanked those officers and with their 
help we emptied the whole case of champagne and the train 
eventually started. 

Return to Troitskoye and Kodyma 

On my way to Odessa I got out at the station that was 
closest to our estate. There I hired a cart. I had with 
me a friend who was also going to Odessa and from there to 
join the White Armies then beginning to fight in the 
Caucasus. I was 21 years old and so was my friend. When 
we came to Troitskoye we saw that my uncle's estate had 
been looted. All the books of his enormous library were 
strewn all over the house, partly torn, because there was 
a belief that people having money put it inside books to 
keep it from being stolen. But that was only a legend; very 
few were silly enough to do that. Nevertheless, all looters 



- 286 - 

were first of all after the books. Our library at Kodyma 
was also completely in ruins. 

At that time Troitskoye could hardly be called a 
village. Since my great grandfather Safonov founded 
Troitskoye more than a century ago, it had developed quite 
a bit. The so-called village had five elementary schools 
and two higher schools. The inspector of schools was 
living in Troitskoye and he was a great friend of my 
uncle's, a very decent man and an excellent teacher. So 
that shows you how large that so-called village was in 1918. 

When I arrived in Troitskoye I called on the elder of 
the village. The elder was an official, elected by the 
villagers, and he had certain powers to keep law and order. 
This elder who stood before me was a very nice, decent, 
and quite wealthy peasant. I ordered him to call a gather 
ing for the next day. Gatherings were called for elections 
of the local village authorities and gatherings decided 
what had to be done for this or that. Many years later in 
America, when I was in school, I remember that there were 
often rallies and the school children liked them very much. 
Instead of listening to my business of Russian grammar, a 
rally was much more fun. So, this was a rally of sorts. 
I do not remember exactly, but I think there was a huge 
crowd. Obviously, I had no loudspeaker then, nor did I have 
a bullhorn. I stood on a large bucket and addressed the 
crowd. I have no idea how many of them could hear what I 



- 287 - 

was saying and I did not realize the great danger I was 
in. With me was only one person, my friend, and we were 
facing an enormous crowd. But as there were no Austrians 
and no Germans around Troitskoye for miles and miles and 
no officials of the so-called Ukrainian police, it was no 
doubt a psychological moment. Nobody knew what was 
happening; the peasants of Troitskoye had no idea whether 
there were any police or any troops in the area. When they 
saw me alone, talking to them as I did, they imagined that 
a huge armed force was just a few miles away. And I told 
them the following: "My friends, I spent my childhood here 
and I know that my late father was popular with you, also 
my uncle and my grandfather. And my great grandfather 
brought you from central Russia, where people still live 
in poverty in small villages, but you are a very wealthy 
village and a large one. And sometimes during my childhood 
many of you rented acres of land from our estate at Kodyma. 
In 1917, when the Revolution broke out, you did not loot 
our estate as some outsiders did but you took over all the 
cattle, all the machinery, and all the supplies of Kodyma. 
You placed the cattle in your own yards as if it were your 
own property. You know the rental price of an acre and I 
consider it to be as if you had rented all of Kodyma for 
one year. Now I demand that you bring me the money owed 
to me for having rented all of Kodyma for one year and I 
demand that this money be collected overnight and be 



- 288 - 

brought to my room tomorrow morning at daybreak." After 
that I told them good-bye and left. 

The next morning my friend and I had a cart ready 
with a pair of the best horses I could get out of the 
stables, and at daybreak a long line of peasants was coming 
up to the house carrying bags stuffed with money. There 
were old paper rubles of Imperial Russia, 25, 50, 100, even 
500 ruble notes; there were Ukrainian paper rubles of the 
Hetman, worth nominally 50 rubles; there was money issued 
during the days of the Provisional Government of Kerensky, 
looking more like large postage stamps, and their value was 
20 or 40 rubles. So those bags and even some milk cans 
were stuffed with all kinds of that paper money. I did 
not bother to count it all, it would have taken all day and 
the psychological moment of the situation would have been 
lost. So I just put all the bags, including the milk cans, 
into the cart and we drove off to the city of Nikolaeff , 
100 kilometers away. 

It was already quite dark when we arrived in Nikolaeff, 
and the horses were barely moving. I drove into the yard 
of the girls' school and covered the cart with some sort 
of tarpaulin that I found. I was very tired and went to 
sleep leaving that huge amount of money outside in the cart. 
Early next day, the horses had rested, and together with 
my friend I drove up, still in that cart, to the bank in 
Nikolaeff that did business with the estate at Kodyma. 



- 289 - 

As mentioned earlier, I had an account in the bank and at 
an earlier visit was very glad that the director of this 
bank had brought this fact to my attention. At that point 
I was penniless and the access to this account was a most 
appreciated rescue. Now, when I brought the director all the 
bags and the milk cans, he almost collapsed. He called in 
a few clerks and they started counting. There was about 
one million rubles in paper. Of course, that million 
rubles could not by any stretch of the imagination be 
compared with one million gold rubles in the days of the 
Imperial Russian Empire but anyhow, it was money. After 
that I went on to Odessa. 

A short stop in Odessa 

That was in October 1918. In Odessa I had relatives-: 
my Aunt Somov, her two nieces, and her nephew Serge, later 
killed during the Civil War. And lots of youngsters were 
coming and going in that house, which was overcrowded with 
refugees from the north. In her big livingroom were six 
or seven cots. It was a kind of dormitory and we officers 
slept there. 

An incredible rescue mission 

Uncle George had an estate about 30 miles north of 
Alexandrovsk. When the Revolution began, Uncle George, 
Aunt Nadya, and their son, Lev, fled from the estate and 
went to Ekaterinoslav. Many landowners did the same. 



- 290 - 

Ekaterinoslav was terribly crowded and all the hotels there 
were jammed. When the Bolsheviks took over Ekaterinoslav 
they were pleased to find so many landowners all in one or 
two hotels. Uncle George was arrested and put into jail. 
Somehow, because of a bribe perhaps, he coaxed his captors 
into putting him in the hospital. It was clear that his 
eventual destination was before the firing squad. George's 
brother-in-law Delaroche was a Hussar Captain. He knew all 
of the worst places and people in the city and he was much 
loved by these people.' They treated him as a sort of Robin 
Hood. He organized his own group of "communists" and led 
the gang himself into the jail hospital. Making a great 
row, he burst into that jail, brandishing his revolver and 
saying that it was a scandal that Count George was in the 
hospital and not in jail, like everybody else, and that he 
would make the jailers responsible for it. He himself would 
immediately grab this so-and-so count and take him out and 
shoot him right around the next corner. He made such a row 
that the jailers were impressed and terrorized and Delaroche 
got Uncle George out of that jail and saved him. 

A young British girl outwits the revolutionaries 

In 1918 when Uncle George and his family escaped to 
Ekaterinoslav, Aunt Nadya's niece's British governess stayed 
on the estate. The British governess said it was exciting 
to see a country in a time of revolution. She put up a 
British Union Jack and the Red flag of the Revolution side 



- 291 - 

by side outside her room, then she declared herself to be 
a representative of the British "people". As "one of the 
people" she deserved her share, too. The governess knew 
where all the family jewels and furs were kept and she took 
them all as if for herself. The revolutionaries were 
awed by her pluck and left her alone. They did burn down 
the estate, though. 

In 1920 Uncle George escaped with his family to Istan 
bul. That year the British governess arrived in Istanbul 
also, with all of the family property she had managed to 
save. She really was a smart girl. She gave the property 
to Uncle George and then looked for a job. Eventually she 
found one as executive secretary of the Headquarters of 
the British Occupation Forces. (At that time Istanbul was 
occupied by British, French, and Italian troops.) A few 
months later she married a British colonel who was head of 
the British military police there. She returned to Britain 
later and kept in touch with the family for several years. 

Uncle George's descendants 

George's son Lev was five or six years younger than I. 
He had no part in the Civil War as he was too young. As a 
teenager he escaped with his parents to Turkey and later to 
Yugoslavia, and attended high school there. There were 
many Russian emigre's in Yugoslavia to whom King Alexander 
gave asylum because he was grateful for Russian aid during 
World War I. Lev went to Belgium when he had finished his 



- 292 - 

studies in Yugoslavia and with the help of a Roman Catholic 
Bishop there he eventually became an engineer. He married 
a Belgian woman and they had a son and daughter. Lev's 
children were baptised Roman Catholics to the despair and 
horror of his mother. Aunt Nadya was a devout Russian 
Orthodox and was very unhappy that her grandchildren had 
become Roman Catholics and there opened up a great rift 
between mother and son and they ignored each other for the 
rest of their lives. Uncle Vladimir wrote to Nadya trying 
to comfort her, saying, "All of the Stenbocks are of 
Swedish descent - before they were Lutherans they had been 
Roman Catholics." Nadya replied to this, saying, "My dear 
Vladimir, I know you are a historian and that you are right 
about the Stenbocks. But you could go further and find 
that they had all been heathens." 

Cousin Lev got a job in the Belgian Congo as an 
engineer. He never saw or corresponded with his mother. 
Friends of the family who knew of him in the Congo said 
that Levushka and his wife were divorced. These friends 
did not think much of his first wife. She re-married - 
a Belgian man - and Lev's children became Belgians. Today 
his son is a doctor and his daughter is married to an 
Englishman. 

While in the Congo, Lev fell in love with the Princess 
of Uganda Urundi, a black woman, but her father refused to 
allow them to marry. He did not believe that a Princess 



- 293 - 

should marry a Belgian engineer. In order to persuade her 
father to change his mind, Lev wrote to friends in Belgium 
asking for information about his family background. They 
found that in the 160O's, in Sweden, Gustav Adolph of the 
Vasa Dynasty married Karin Stenbock. Their picture is in 
the museum in Stockholm. So the Princess's father gave his 
consent and they were married. She had been educated in 
the Belgian Congo in a French convent, she spoke perfect 
French, and had exquisite manners. She and Lev had two 
daughters and a son. These children were quite black, 
although Lev himself was as blond as a Viking. My sons 
met their black cousins in Europe. The girls are now about 
25 and their brother is a few years older. I learned 
from my boy in France that Lev died a few years ago. I have 
always wondered what would happen if I brought the two 
black countesses Stenbock-Fermor to visit at Harvard in 
Cambridge. 

Cousin Lev lost his second wife and married again, 
a cousin of hers. She had two children by her first 
husband who was black. Lev adopted them and had more 
children. He died in 1976 but possibly now the world has 
more black counts Stenbock-Fermor than whites in the 
generation of my grandchildren. 

One of my fellow officers 

At the same time as uncle George was in Ekaterinoslav, 
there was a man named Andrew, called Andrusha, there. He 



- 294 - 

had been one year ahead of me in the Corps des Pages. His 
father had died some years ago and his mother had spoiled 
him. His sister was a large, broad-shouldered, ugly woman. 
Andrusha looked just like her. He was a nice person but 
awfully stupid. His head was very small compared to his 
body and we often asked where he kept his brains. His only 
interest was girls - girls of a certain profession. They 
all crowded around him because he was so rich and so kind. 
When he fled from St. Petersburg and came to Ekaterinoslav, 
the girls in Ekaterinoslav surrounded him there too. When 
the Bolsheviks came to Ekaterinoslav and began arresting 
members of the nobility, one of the persons they arrested 
was Prince Andrew Kozlovski - Andrusha. Now many of Andrusha 1 s 
girl friends were also friends of these Commissars. They 
told the Commissars that if Andrusha were harmed they would 
have nothing more to do with the Commissars. So Andrusha 
was saved. A few years later Andrusha joined the White 
Army. Eventually, in 1919, he was shot during a cavalry 
charge between Reds and Whites. 

During World War I Andrusha had been an officer in my 
regiment. He was one year my senior and we were on the 
Russian-German front in the trenches. One of his duties 
was to survey the trenches. He and a few soldiers were 
supposed to walk through them. But not Andrusha - he in 
sisted on walking outside the trenches because they were 
too narrow and too dirty. When the Germans saw this huge 



- 295 - 

man walking outside the trenches they opened fire. Andrusha 
did not care. He never even got a scratch. He got a severe 
reprimand from the Regiment Commander though. The Commander 
said, "If you want to expose yourself to such danger, if you 
want to commit suicide - stupid Andrusha - that is your 
business... But you have no right to expose the other men 
to that danger. Those soldiers following you could have 
been killed." 

In Odessa - refugees from the North 

At that time most people had no money. My cousin Olga, 
then 22 or 23 and full of energy, fed 20 or 25 mouths every 
day in the house of her aunt and mine. She managed to do 
that by going to the market, and since she was very popular 
among the market women she could get some food from some 
of the villages surrounding Odessa. But of course that food 
was usually millet, a kind of cereal, and sometimes in that 
cooked cereal there were some little bits of lard, but not 
every day. Then she cooked a kind of Russian vegetable soup 
and on great occasions, on Sundays, there was even a piece 
of meat in that soup. We were not hungry but it was rather 
tedious. 

There was a club in Odessa. Members of very fashion 
able Petersburg clubs, dignitaries of the Imperial Russian 
Empire, very wealthy merchants who had managed to escape 
from Moscow re-established it and called it the United Club. 



- 296 - 

This club had a very good cook and the lunches were 
excellent. (It is a wonder how the cook managed to get 
all that food.) But the price of that lunch was 50 rubles 
in Ukrainian money. Normally, in peacetime, in the best 
restaurants in Petersburg and Moscow an excellent lunch 
would cost either three and a half rubles or five if you 
had some fancy entrees and caviar. I went many times to 
that club and became one of the most junior members of it 
because the club could not refuse admission to a young 
officer of the Horse Guards regiment. But my Aunt Nadya 
considered having lunch at that club a sin and she did 
not approve of my going there. 

I had to get out of Odessa by one of the few passenger 
boats (the only possible way of leaving Odessa) that 
occasionally sailed to the Crimea and Yalta. The Crimea 
was still occupied by Germans who were reluctantly leaving, 
so they did not prevent people in general from boarding 
those boats. They knew very well, however, that the boats 
would go further, as far as the city of Novorossisk, and 
that all the young men who were trying to board those boats 
were doing so in order to get to the Don region to join 
General Denikin, who was so dedicated to the western allies, 
the enemies of Germany. And the Germans and Austrians in 
Odessa did not want those Denikin forces to be reinforced, 
so all kinds of tricks had to be used to get aboard those 
boats to leave Odessa. And that took time. Meanwhile, I 



- 297 - 

lived at the home of my Aunt Somov, whose sister was married 
to my Uncle Vladimir and whose other sister was married to 
my other uncle, Nicholas, whom I have already mentioned in 
my memoirs. While we lived there, a group of young people 
and girls often came to Aunt Nadya's to play tennis and to 
enjoy her hospitality and her parties. It was at one of 
those parties that I met a girl by the name of Elizabeth 
Sevastopoulo, called Ely, and at first we did not even notice 
each other. She told me later that she had noticed me just 
the same because she was very friendly with my two cousins, 
Mary and Olga, who were a little Oder than Ely, and that she 
did notice a new cousin of her girl-friends' - that was I, 
and that was all. It happened in 1918. And when we met 
again in 1932, this time we did notice each other. She 
explained that she had known by hearsay that I had been very 
much in love for the past seven years with a girl by the name 
of Dina. Well, everybody had known it, and that was that. 
Eventually I boarded a boat and left Odessa together 
with my cousin, Andre''. We stopped at the port of Yalta and 
an officer of my regiment who lived in Yalta with his 
mother as a refugee from the north came aboard and told us 
that we had to disembark in Yalta and not to proceed to 
Novorossisk because detachments of Denikin's White units 
were coming very soon to Yalta to join a very small formation 
consisting mostly of officers, about one hundred men in all. 
This formation was protecting the outskirts of Yalta and 



- 298 - 

the Imperial Palace. No one lived in that palace, but some 
of the other palaces were still occupied by close relatives 
of the Russian Imperial Family. 

I join the volunteer army 

In the last days of December 1918, an order of the day 
of the Commander in Chief of the so-called Volunteer Army 
came, and it said that all the officers belonging to the 
First Cavalry Division of the Imperial Guard might now 
reconstitute their regiments. Of course, all of us young 
men of those Guard regiments were great patriots. Our 
average age was between 20 and 25, with a few Colonels close 
to 40. We were politically very naive, not to say childish, 
and the reconstitution of those regiments was just a 
childish day-dream of people who did not have the slightest 
notion of what was going on in Russia and the whole world. 
About one hundred of us officers in those four regiments 
gathered on the Crimea. Then we entrained to go north of 
the Crimea to the steppes lying between the Crimea and 
the city of Alexandrovsk on the Dnepr River. There we 
took over the estate of a very wealthy German descendant 
of the colonists that were brought into that no-man's-land 
in the days of Catherine the Great. The estate was really 
very big and very, very fine in every respect. My first 
look was at the stables, of course, and my eyes popped 
because they looked like a palace if compared to our stables 
at Kodyma. Also, the big house would hold all of us 



- 299 - 

officers, roughly 100 in number. Every officer was very 
partial to his own regiment and everyone was wearing the 
colors of his regiment. Actually, this number corresponded 
to about two squads of a peacetime regiment. At the head 
of us was Colonel Danilov, who was a great gentleman if there 
ever was one. He was personally extremely brave under fire 
but he was also very careful and never rushed into situations 
from which he eventually would not be able to escape. He 
was very wise and tactful. Huge in size, he looked like a 
bear and had the character of a lamb. We all adored him. 
He was the real classic type of regiment commander. In the 
old days he would have been called Father Commander by all 
the soldiers of his regiment. He belonged to a regiment of 
the Second Brigade, and about 50 percent of the officers 
present had belonged to his regiment before the war of 
1914 started. My regiment of the Horse Guards was in the 
minority. It was represented only by one junior lieutenant, 
and that was I. The reason for this was that many officers 
of the Horse Guards were at that time fighting in the 
Caucasus under the command of General Wrangel, commanding 
units of Caucasian Moslem mountaineers who were very 
strongly anti-Bolshevik but who did not have enough men 
trained and educated to be officers. 

The first assignment of the officers here, our first 
job, was to expand, to find volunteers willing to serve as 
privates. So every officer representing one of these four 



- 300 - 

regiments had a cart with two horses, one cart per regiment, 
because we did not have more horses than that. The whole 
future First Division of the Imperial Guard had at that 
time sixteen horses! And so, we drove around the country 
to look for volunteers. It was January-February, 1919, and 
in that region the cold was bitter but there was no snow. 
The roads were covered with a layer of thick dust and our 
officers' coats, lined with sheepskin, were full of dust. 
That was worse than if there had been a lot of snow around. 
To the amazement of all the other officers, my activity in 
getting volunteers was 100 percent successful because I 
knew German even better than I now know English, and I drove 
around the so-called colonies of German settlers. 

These Germans had been there since the days of Catherine 
the Great, more than a century, yet they were still Germans. 
Their villages were typical German villages. Most of them 
were Protestants and the pastor of the Protestant Church 
was their leader. I addressed them in perfect German and 
the fact that a Russian officer could speak just as they 
could, made a great impression on them. They were very 
wealthy landowners; they had perfect cattle and excellent 
horses that we requisitioned according to Army Regulations 
of the past. For the requisition of the horses and the 
cattle they got a slip of paper, signed by me and stamped. 
They realized, of course, at the bottoms of their hearts, 
that those receipts were not worth very much. In the old 



- 301 - 

days , they could have presented those receipts to the 
Russian authorities of Imperial Russia and they would have 
been paid. Now, who would pay for those receipts? That 
was a very problematic question. But, as I said, they 
were very much against the Bolsheviks, and the Bolsheviks 
in those days were just gangs like the famous Maruska 
gang. They lived off the country and they looted the very 
wealthy colonies of the Germans. 

But not all the country was just German colonies. 
Next to the German colonies there 'were big villages of 
Russian peasants. They were the Germans' neighbors, and 
I was amazed that there was a kind of iron curtain between 
those two groups living next door to each other. The 
Russian villages were mostly primitive, not to say dirty. 
Their cattle were skinny and there was good reason for 
this: the Russian peasants were not individually full owners 
of their land. Back in the days of Tsar Alexander II, when 
he abolished by decree serfdom (1861) , some of the lands of 
the local nobility were taken over by the administration and 
paid for at a token price with bonds issued by the govern 
ment to compensate for the land that was to become the 
peasants' land. Now it belonged to the villages and it 
was distributed to the heads of families for the duration 
of seven years. After seven years the families of the 
village were recounted. Sometimes there were fewer, but 
sometimes there were more, and the land which belonged to 



- 302 - 

the village as a whole was redistributed again among the 
villagers. So any villager knew he had his plot of land for 
only seven years and naturally he was not interested in 
making any improvements, like digging ditches or putting 
manure into the land. He just tried to get out of the 
land as much as he could with the least possible effort, 
because any improvements he might make would just be passed 
on to somebody else. Sometimes, of course, the plots were 
many kilometers away from his house in the village, and to 
get to his plot to work would take a half -day's driving; 
Sometimes he had to build a makeshift dwelling on his plot 
to protect himself from a cloudburst, rain, or wind. 
Therefore, agriculture was stagnating. Actually, those 
Russian villages were communes. It could be said that it 
was Communism under the rule of a distant Tsar somewhere - 
in Petersburg or Moscow - whom the peasants never saw. . 
Therefore, these Russian peasants were not anti-Bolshevik* 
On the contrary, these peasants were being promised by the 
Bolsheviks a final redistribution of the land belonging to 
the colonists and to the gentry, and they were told that 
this land would be their own. This had been their dream 
for many, many centuries, and therefore the propaganda of 
Bolshevism had a powerful effect on them. Some of the 
Russian peasants had noticed the success of the Germans 
and they imitated them as well as they could. They saved 
money, they bought land from those of the gentry who were 



- 303 - 

eager to sell the land in order to take up some job in the 
government and live in the city. These peasants who did 
imitate the Germans, rapidly became just as prosperous as 
the German colonists, and extremely anti-Bolshevik, and 
their sons were eager to join the regiments which were 
being formed to fight Bolshevism. They also joined my 
volunteers. So starting with myself and a volunteer that 
another regiment had "loaned" to me, my squadron grew 
faster than the others, to the amazement of everyone. My 
squadron soon numbered about twenty , and we marched and ' 
exercised, and this Russian Volunteer Squadron of the 
White Army was marching and singing battle songs in German. 

Besides me, there was another officer of the Horse 
Guards with us, named Prince Obolensky. He had been the 
last Adjutant of my regiment before the collapse of 1917. 
He was an excellent Adjutant; he did all the paper work 
very well and he was very tactful, greatly beloved by all 
the officers, and his role had not been easy at all. So 
Colonel Danilov took Prince Obolensky as his Adjutant 
because otherwise the headquarters of our Volunteer 
Regiment would have been staffed only by officers of Danilov 's 
regiment and that would have produced some friction and 
envy. But that left me alone to represent the Horse Guards. 

Then a group of our officers made a raid on Ascania 
Nova, the great estate of a German descendant. From that 
estate they requisitioned 100 horses. There was a big 



- 304 - 

stud on that farm. These horses were about four years 
old and were used to grazing on the steppes. In winter, 
they were lodged in a big barn where they were free to 
move around. They were not tied. Immediately we called them 
mustangs, and they were driven into a big enclosure made up 
of a mixture of old hay or straw and manure. It formed a 
wall around the enclosure high enough so that no horse in 
the world could have jumped over it. These horses were dri 
ven into that enclosure and then they had to be distributed 
among us. Of course every officer wanted the best horse, 
his choice. We were all sitting around that enclosure on 
the high wall and there came Colonel Danilov, who said, 
"Gentlemen Officers, the glorious regiment of the Horse 
Guards is here represented by one officer only, and this 
officer is the lowest rank of a Junior Lieutenant." Then 
he turned to me in a fatherly way and said, "Dear Ivan, you 
have the first choice. Go and choose any horse you want." 
That was typically Colonel Danilov, a grand gentleman. But 
imagine my situation in front of all those officers, eager 
to watch, thinking, "Now let us see what that junior 
officer of the Horse Guards can do!" But, as I have said, 
I had a soldier "loaned" to me from one of the other 
regiments. He had been put into the uniform of the Horse 
Guards. Like many of that period he was the rascal of all 
rascals and had not the slightest idea of discipline, but 
he was a go-getter and he was very proud at that time to be 



- 305 - 

the only soldier of the Horse Guards. So the two of us 
moved into the enclosure. I took a bridle in ray hand with 
two long cords attached to it. We moved inside the 
enclosure and spotted a fine horse, black of course, as all 
horses had to be in my regiment, and we maneuvered that 
horse little by little until we got it into one of the 
corners of the enclosure. The horse was backing away from 
us and when he got into the corner his tail was tight up 
against the wall. We were approaching the horse and at 
that moment the horse counter-attacked us. It just charged 
against us, as any animal will do that is cornered and 
gets a kind of feeling of despair. At the moment that the 
horse charged, my soldier challenged him and like a monkey 
the next mement he was hanging with hands and feet around 
the neck of the horse, from below. Of course that compelled 
the horse to lower its head and in that instant I put the 
bridle on him. The horse reared, but we had both ends of 
the cords of the bridle, and we led out that rearing horse 
to the thunderous applause of all the other officers. Well, 
the Horse Guards were still Horse Guards! 

Then the other officers went to get their horses. The 
horses had to be tamed, saddled, and trained, but that was 
not too difficult and about a week or so later we had the 
horses under control, more or less. During that time more 
volunteers arrived and soon there was not enough room for 
everybody, so we moved to a village, a colony of German 
settlers, Eichenfeld. That colony had roughly 100 houses 



- 306 - 

and a big school that could be used for the headquarters of 
the regiment. There, the training of the horses continued. 
Still more officers came to join us, more volunteers. 
Officers of my regiment were detached from their assignment 
in the Wr angel army and came over to join me. They were 
all in senior rank except one who had just come from Yalta, 
a mere boy of nineteen. Obolensky took over the command of 
the growing squadron, which now had about 100 volunteers 
and seven officers. 



My squadron encounters the Bolshevik sailors 
from the Baltic Sea Fleet 

In February 1919, we were told by the German colonists 
that a rather numerous Bolshevik gang was in the vicinity, 
looting, burning, raping. Our first battle assignment was 
to get hold of and liquidate that gang. We were very eager, 
of course, to go into battle, but part of our volunteers 
were not ready. As Colonel Danilov joked, they had no idea 
whether a bridle should be put on the head of a horse or on 
its tail. The trained group consisted of 20 men or so and 
the squad of men still in training had to be left behind - 
they could not be taken into battle not knowing how to use 
weapons or how to ride. Someone had to stay with them. The 
question arose: which of the officers would be left behind? 
Of course, all seven of us wanted to go. Obolensky gathered 
us all together in a quite unofficial manner and said, 



- 307 - 

"Dear friends, being the senior among you I took over the 
command of the squadron. Naturally, I am not going to be 
the one to stay behind. We cannot leave behind the youngest 
of all the officers because he is not trained enough him 
self to be training others, besides that would be unfair 
toward the youngest. So we will pick someone from the 
middle." Then he turned to me and said in an official 
manner, "Lieutenant Count Ivan Stenbok-Fermor , you take 
over the training unit. You stay behind." Naturally I was 
furious but I could not talk back under regulations of 
discipline, so that was it. And out they went, together 
with the other squadrons. 

I was training my squad late one afternoon when I saw 
that squadron coming back. An officer rode up to me with 
tears in his eyes and said, "Stenbock, I must report to you 
that your squadron has suffered a terrible disaster." When 
they had come in touch with that gang, the officer told me, 
they did not realize that this was not just a local gang of 
peasants. That gang consisted of the Baltic Sea Fleet 
Bolshevik sailors, the most Bolshevik, the most dedicated 
Communists ever. They had among them some peasants, but 
they were in command of the group and they were soldiers, 
very well trained for battle, and very enthusiastic 
Communists. They were occupying a village surrounded by 
open country. At a rather large distance from the village, 
a colonel of one of our regiments found nothing wiser to do 



- 308 - 

than to order the men to charge, like in the old days of 
Napoleon. And, of course, they charged, crossing open 
country under fire, and when they came in contact their 
horses were almost exhausted. The Bolsheviks, in spite of 
being sailors, abandoned their positions and started to 
run, leaving behind one of their machine guns. But then, 
turning around, they saw that our side had suffered losses 
and were not as numerous as their first impression had been, 
so they promptly came back to their machine gun and 
started shooting. Their rifles were stuck on fences so 
they could really choose their marks, and they chose to 
shoot at short distances at the officers leading the 
squadron. In all this fighting, Prince Obolensky's horse 
was killed. It fell and he found himself under the horse. 
Before he could release himself from that position, the 
sailors were on top of him and he was sabred to death. 
Four other officers of our regiment were killed in that 
skirmish; one came back, leading the remnants of our 
squadron. This one, a friend, is still living in New York. 
He then bacame the senior officer of the remnants of the 
squadron. 

The village where the skirmish took place was called 
Blagodatnoe ("full of grace") - it sounded like a tragic joke, 
We were still able to joke because we were so young, and it 
was whispered around that the remaining officer was wounded 
by a stray bullet which hit his forehead, and that the 



- 309 - 

bullet which hit him was flattened by the impact but that 
nothing had happened to Captain T's forehead. This was 
partly true: it was a bullet coming from a great distance 
and it had no penetrating power. It just scratched his 
forehead, but at a closer distance he would have been 
dead. He became, for the rest of the year 1919 and 1920, 
the commander of our squadron. He had joined the regiment 
in the spring of 1914 as a private, just for the sake of 
his military service. He never had planned any kind of 
military career. He was promoted to officer's rank and 
remained in the regiment because of the war. 

There were at that time other officers that belonged 
to the regiment but they were too old for battle duty. 
It is worthwhile remembering and noting down a few memories 
of my good friend and officer, Colonel Count Beningsen of 
the Horse Guards. During the civil war for a period of 
time, he was commanding my regiment. He describes a 
cavalry attack at the end of 1919; and before that, he 
mentions a soldier that was attached personally to him 
to take care of the colonel's horse. He was a volunteer, 
recently from senior high school, a lad, enthusiastic to 
fight communism. Well, this young lad did not know, accord 
ing to Beningsen, whether the halter should be put on the 
horse's head or on its tail. Anyhow, the horses of the 
squadron at the end of 1919 were mostly unshoed. Nowadays, 
the horse and buggy age has passed into history, and 



- 310 - 

probably many people of the younger generation do not 
realize the difference between a horse that is shoed and 
one that is unshoed. Horses hoofs have to have metal, so 
to say, shoes. Then those shoes have short nails that grip 
into the ground, especially if the ground is iced and 
slippery, and the horse does not fall. Those horses have 
to be carefully shoed by blacksmiths, and a blacksmith can 
take care of so many horses a day, because he has to proceed 
very carefully so as not to hurt the sensitive part of the 
horse's hoofs, or the horse will go lame for a long time. 
The squadron was never in one place for a long enough time 
to take care of the horses; and this squadron was mounted, 
as I mentioned, on horses that were not shoed. The ground 
was frozen and icy. The horses were slipping, and there 
fore they could not move fast. A classical cavalry charge 
has to go fullspeed together against the enemy. This time, 
the squadron was deployed, and the pace was a slow walking 
pace against the enemy - a most unusual charge. But all 
along the line, the voice of "Hurrah" was thunderous, 
in spite of the horses walking at a slow pace. And the Red 
units against us preferred to retreat. So the result of that 
charge was good, and there were no losses. It was very 
typical of that period of the so-called civil war. 

Most of the officers of the Volunteer Squadron of the 
Horse Guards were very young men, not to say boys like me, 
who had joined the regiment during the First World War. 



- 311 - 

The middle generation of the officers of the Horse Guards 
had suffered great losses during the First World War. Many 
of them who were of Baltic origin were in northern Russia 
and very few of them were in southern Russia. This all 
explains the reason for the great disparity in age of our 
officers. 

The sailors of the Baltic Fleet who were responsible 
for that disaster were the most dedicated of Communists and 
they had come from the north to give support to the amateur 
gangs of Bolsheviks in southern Russia and to transform 
those gangs from plain looters into fighting units. This 
was one of the first occasions where they proved that they 
had done a good job, and a disastrous one for us. 

There were funeral services for the dead officers and 
the coffins had to be taken to their burial place in the 
city of Yalta because their families were living there. 
I was assigned the sad task of accompanying the bodies of 
these officers and of representing the regiment at the 
funeral services in Yalta. Besides that, I was ordered to 
find some way to reach from there the city of Odessa. In 
the city and region of Odessa, formation of White units 
was in progress and at the head of this formation was 
General Biskupski, who had begun his career in the regiment 
of the Horse Guards. 

I have orders to reach Odessa 

At that time Odessa was full of all sorts of military 



- 312 - 

supplies and had great depots of arms and whatever was 
necessary for soldiers. Because I was a young officer of 
the Horse Guards, it was believed that Biskupski would 
meet me as a fellow officer and give us the necessary supplies 
which could then be shipped to the Crimea. But Biskupski, in 
the rank of Army General when I reported to him, met me very 
coldly and I remember his words for they startled me very 
much. He said, "Go back to the Crimea. Tell all of them 
there to move over to Odessa under my command and then you 
will have all the supplies available. But I am not going 
to give anything to that Crimean group." That was very 
typical of him, very nasty. He wanted to be the boss. 
Being an Army General, he did not want to give supplies 
to some colonels attempting formations north of the Crimea. 
Jealousy, rivalry among Army Generals did a lot of harm 
all through the First World War. This unfortunate rivalry 
among high-ranking generals was typical not only in the 
Russian Imperial Army but in the German army also, and 
during the Second World War also in Hitler's army and in 
the French army. Every general wanted to be the big boss 
in spite of disastrous consequences for the war he was 
fighting. 

So I was stuck in Odessa. French troops had landed 
there in December, after the Armistice. The Austrians 
were gone. Small groups of Russian officers were there 
attempting formation of anti-Bolshevik units, but all the 



- 313 - 

rabble of Odessa was very strongly pro-Bolshevik and sporadic 
fighting occurred every day. The French troops came from 
a French army that had landed earlier in the city of Salonica, 
in Greece. The French had come to Salonica to reinforce the 
Greek armies who were on the side of the Allies against the 
Bulgarians who were supported by the Germans. Of course, 
the French High Command did not send to Salonica the best 
divisions that France had - this was natural. The divisions 
sent to Salonica, and this was no secret to anybody in France, 
were the most unreliable and the worst France had as far as 
fighting spirit and morale were concerned, and the French 
commander in Salonica chose to send to Odessa the worst and 
most undisciplined division he had, and was glad to get 
rid of it. 

They disembarked at Odessa with their heavy artillery 
dragged by huge mules. They deployed outside the city some 
twenty kilometers distant, in the steppe or prairies surround 
ing Odessa. They deployed against nobody and they started 
digging trenches as if they were trying to construct a new 
fortified city of Verdun. (That was a fortress that the 
Germans tried to take, and after terrible losses on both 
sides they never succeeded.) Well, the French soldiers 
deploying and digging in the empty steppe had interpreters, 
Russian officers. One of these interpreters was a Russian 
Air Force officer - there were a few Russian planes - and 
he was overflying those French trenches and taking notes. 



- 314 - 

He came back to French Headquarters and there he met the 
French colonel who was reporting to the French Commander- 
in-Chief that the positions of his trenches were untenable. 
The French had seen somewhere on the horizon of these 
prairies some riders. These were of course a few Bolshevik 
scouts. Now the French colonel was reporting to the high 
command in Odessa that his positions in the trenches were 
untenable against the pressure of the enemy. The Russian 
Air Force officer got mad when he heard it. He could speak 
French very, very well, and he interrupted the colonel and 
said to the Commander- in-Chief of the French troops, "If 
the French abandon those trenches and retreat, I with my 
ground crew of the Air Force will occupy and hold the 
trenches." Well, the general took the words of the Russian 
officer as an insult to the honor of the French armies and 
yelled back at him and there was a great quarrel, one of 
the first between the Russians and the French in Odessa. 
My present-day brother-in-law, who can speak French 
perfectly, was attached to headquarters of the French armies 
in Odessa, so he knew very well everything that was going 
on. One of my other friends, an officer of the Guard 
Cavalry Division, happened to be in Odessa and instead of 
joining the group north of the Crimea, he stayed in Odessa 
and became an interpreter for the French battalion occypy- 
ing those trenches, manned by French soldiers with artillery 
and machine guns and facing the emptiness of the steppes. 



- 315 - 

Finally some groups of Bolsheviks really did attempt 
to attack those trenches. The French immediately retreated 
in great disorder. They had to cross a small bridge over 
a river. They were not retreating soldiers, they were a 
mob trying to get over that bridge, everyone for himself. 
My friend, the Russian Guard officer, got mad. I must say 
that he was a huge man, like a bear on his hind legs. He 
told me himself the story, that he got so mad that he did 
not give a damn about an thing. He had a good Cossack whip 
in his hands and he closed his eyes and started whipping the 
French right and left, whether enlisted men or officers, he 
just did not give a damn. Some order was restored, and 
the French battalion regrouped and continued to retreat in 
better order. My Russian friend was convinced that he would 
be seized, taken to French headquarters, court-mar tialled, 
and shot. Well, he was actually invited to French head 
quarters and the French commanding general pinned the 
decoration of the Legion d'Honneur, the French Legion of 
Honor, to his chest for having stopped a retreating unit. 

Years later, that same friend of mine was a taxi driver 
in Paris, as were many Russian officers at that time. And 
when he was wearing his driver's uniform he always had the 
decoration of the Legion d'Honneur on his taxi-driver's 
coat. He told me that this decoration on his coat in Paris 
produced bigger, more generous tips. 



- 316 - 

I am to be court-martialled 

After we had requisitioned the one hundred horses from 
the estate of Ascania Nova, in May 1919, the owner of that 
estate made out against me an accusation that I had looted 
his estate. That accusation went through many channels, 
reached the headquarters of General Denikin, and I was 
court-martialled. That is, I was to be court-martialled 
but nothing ever happened because military and political 
events overtook all the red tape involved. Two days after 
driving those horses back to the Crimea to our reserve 
squadron, we got orders to entrain. We had quite a difficult 
time with those wild horses but we managed. By train we went 
north to the vincinity of the city of Poltava. 

Poltava was a very historical place because of the battle 
many years earlier (1709) between the Russians and the 
Swedes where the Swedes were destroyed. For the first time, 
Russia had drawn attention from all the Western countries 
as being a great military power. Besides, that region of 
black, very fertile earth was famous for being the richest 
part of all Russia. When we were there most of the riches 
had been looted by the retreating Reds, but by the time of 
our arrival the first British supplies were beginning to 
come in very small quantities. We were expecting to get arms, 
cartridges, and shells as the British had promised; instead 
we got chocolate and powdered milk, and that powdered milk 
I will never forget. Maybe we did not know how to use it 



- 317 - 

in the proper proportion, but having tea with that powdered 
milk was awful. 

From Poltava we moved north to a great junction called 
Sinelnikovo. This was a great railroad junction and also 
a big village. While we stayed in that village I was again 
detached to go back to the city of Odessa. Why, of all 
officers, it was I again had its reason in the fact that 
I was no stranger in Odessa. I had relatives there where 
I could live. My assignment there was to try to get supplies 
from the huge army depots in Odessa. Besides, I was 
interested in crossing to the right bank of the River Dnepr 
to the city. of Ekaterinoslav. This city was founded in 
the days of Catherine the Great, and the name means 
"Glory to Catherine". I was eager to reach that city because 
I knew that Dina's family had a great house there and I hoped 
that the family might be there. This city had been occupied 
by White cavalry just a few days earlier and the cavalry 
had moved a little to the north, maybe ten miles. Holding 
such a large industrial city, where many factory workers 
were very much pro-Communist, was difficult for only a few 
regiments of cavalry. The railroad bridge crossing the 
River Dnepr had been blown up but I saw a fisherman with a 
small boat and I suggested that he take me across. He did 
not want to but finally he agreed, seeing money in my left 
hand and a pistol in my right. Actually, I did not realize 
the danger I was risking. This fellow had an assistant with 



- 318 - 

him, and the two of them together could have easily thrown 
me overboard right into the river. Then there would be 
no writing of memoirs now. But probably they were afraid 
to risk their own hides and they landed me on the outskirts 
of Ekaterinoslav. It was late in the afternoon. I walked 
into the city and to Dina's family's great house and I 
started banging at the gates leading into the yard. After 
long banging I saw a man, an old figure, cautiously 
crossing the yard and coming up to the gate. He opened the 
gate and I recognized in him the family footman. I remember 
ed him so well in all his gala uniform, sitting next to the 
coachman on the box. He stared at me as if I were a ghost. 
He let me in and then he said that two days earlier the 
family had left. He did not know, or did not want to say, 
he was so scared, where they had gone. He told me that they 
had not been living in this house, it was much too danger 
ous, but for the last few months they had lived on the out 
skirts of the city with a family of an officer's widow. It 
was quite late and getting dark, so he let me into the big 
house and arranged a bed for me and I spent the night there 
all by myself. In the morning he managed to bring me a cup 
of tea and even a slice of bread with some lard, and he gave 
me the address of the widow on the outskirts of the city. 
He also asked me to leave the house because he was much 
too scared. 

So I went and found that widow, who was a very, very 
nice lady, and she explained to me that Dina's family had 



- 319 - 

left a few days ago for the south, not actually knowing 
where they were going. The general in charge of the troops 
occupying the city had told them that the city probably 
could not be held against the eventual attack by the Reds 
and that his cavalry would have to leave the city. He 
managed to put at the family's disposal a truck, and with 
that truck they had left. She saw that I was almost 
exhausted, physically and otherwise, and she suggested that 
I stay in her home and have a rest. I was very happy to 
accept. She was right, for the next day I had a very high 
fever and was knocked out by an attack of malaria. I stayed 
with her, recuperating for almost three weeks before I was 
strong enough to go to Odessa. 

Recruiting volunteers in Odessa 

As I have said, while in Odessa, my assignment was to 
get some supplies and to get also more volunteers. Among 
my friends in Odessa I discovered a young artist. He was 
a painter of pictures and I gave him an idea for making a 
huge propaganda poster for the White armies. He did his 
best and his poster was huge, more than life-size. It 
represented a horrible red dragon crawling along the bushes , 
and above the dragon was a rearing stallion, of course a 
white stallion, and astride the stallion was an officer in 
full dress uniform of the Horse Guards. It was a very 
impressive poster, inspired by an ancient icon of St. George 
and the dragon, the red dragon. This poster was put into 



- 320 - 

one of the big windows on the main street of Odessa, asking 
volunteers to join, and I gave my address at my aunt's, 
where they could be conscripted into my squadron. 

My aunt had been a great idealist since her youth, and 
idealistically leaning to the left. It was murmured in the 
family that once upon a time she had been in love with a 
student who had been caught in some kind of a socialist 
conspiracy and deported to Siberia. Therefore her nick 
name among us was "The Red Aunt" because of her convictions. 
Besides, she was employed by the City of Odessa and most of 
the employees of Odessa City Hall were left-leaning liberals 
and socialists. They saw my dragon in the window on the main 
street of Odessa, and when my aunt came to the city hall, 
they all rushed up to her, asking if she had gone mad. Why 
did that reactionary poster of St. George and the dragon in 
the window give her address? My aunt knew nothing about this 
picture and she was quite flabbergasted, and when she came 
home she told me what she thought of me. Anyhow, it was 
impossible to have a quarrel with that dear aunt. Volunteers 
started pouring in and I changed the address in order to be 
closer to the center of the city. I gathered about 20 or 30 
volunteers. 

But getting supplies was another task. As usual, the 
supply officers demanded a formal requisition slip and proper 
forms, and those forms had to be signed and countersigned 
by headquarters and other headquarters and third headquarters, 



- 321 - 

and so on. One of my volunteers happened to be a very 
smart and very good-looking fellow around 2O, and it was 
common knowledge that the young wife of the elderly senior 
officer had a very tender heart, especially toward boys 
not over 20. My volunteer, in the exercise of his first 
military duties, won the heart of that lady, and not only 
the heart. He also managed to win the keys to the supply 
dumps. Thanks to this, that night we entered the supply 
dumps, bribing the sentinels with vodka and money. We got 
cloth, badly needed to put our volunteers into uniforms, 
and as a bonus we even managed to get from that supply 
dump two heavy machine guns and a large amount of ammunition. 
This was all loaded at the main railroad station in Odessa, 
officially, and with two cars of volunteers and those supplies 
we were hooked onto a train which took us to the city of 
Kiev. I could not get those cars to my reserve squadron 
immediately because the bridges across the river Dnepr 
were all blown up, and Kiev was on the right shore while 
my reserve squadron was on the left shore. After arriving 
in Kiev, I continued to call for volunteers. About ten or 
twenty young men volunteered. Most of those volunteers 
were just out of high school; they were very enthusiastic 
young boys, very anti-Communist, some of them belonging to 
very prominent families of the Russian nobility, but they 
were by no stretch of the imagination trained soldiers. 
I had to rejoin my regiment, to bring them those 



- 322 - 

volunteers and the supplies. Mother remained in Kiev, 
occupied by very small, number ically weak units of the 
White Army. What happened to Mother later will be in 
a later chapter. But when I rejoined the reserve squadron, 
we had to dress up all the volunteers. We had the cloth 
and other stuff to make them shirts. The worst problem 
was boots. But the place where we were then located 
was a small provincial town, and it was very famous for 
the profession of tailors. Ninety percent of that town 
was inhabited by a minority - I mean Jews - and most of 
them were professional tailors. One night we made a search 
of that small town, and we arrested every Jew who was a 
tailor - this was a procedure of civil war, of course, it 
was not foreseen by any regulation of the Imperial Army. 
Of course, the Jews were panicky, and expected to be 
executed. But we told them, "We are not members of the 
Red Tcheka. All we want from you is your skill as tailors. 
Here is the stuff." We had them rounded up and locked up 
in a school, and we told them, "You are going to stay 
here to make uniforms from the cloth that we give you, 
and you are going to stay here until our squadron is 
fully dressed. And your wifes, sisters or daughters can 
every day bring you your kosher food, because we are not 
going to feed you." Sentinels were posted around that 
school, and the tailors were told, "Do not ever try to 
run away, or it will be your fault if a bullet reaches you." 



- 323 - 

After such drastic measures with the tailors, ten days 
later we were all in new uniforms which replaced the old 
tattered ones and also the tattered civilian clothes. We 
really looked like a military unit. The volunteer boys 
were trained for only two weeks, and then a squadron was 
formed to join the squadron north of us that was in the 
fighting lines. 

After I returned from Odessa with the supplies and 
volunteers, the officers of the first squadron went on 
leave. My second squadron joined the first one and a 
group of officers replaced those who were on leave. We 
proceeded northward without encountering any real resistance 
from the Reds. Of course, we realized that ten miles to 
the east or ten miles to the west of the road we followed, 
there was nobody. Eventually, there were some small 
communist gangs that avoided our advance, that were left 
there for the purpose of attacking our rears, destroying 
our communication lines or attacking small units going back 
south. Everybody who went on leave south could not risk 
going alone, but only in a small armed group. And we went 
northwards through wooded country, very sandy roads, 
some marshes, the worst possible terrain for cavalry units. 
Proceeding northward we reached the city of Gluchov. This 
was a very ancient Russian city. It used to be a fortified 
city back in the days of Tsar Ivan the Terrible and even 
before. It was intended as a trading post, and it had the 



- 324 - 

buildings - they were stone buildings - that represented a 
quadrangle. There was a well in the middle of that 
quadrangle. And that quadrangle was known by the name 
Kreml. This word Kreml is well known to all tourists who 
now visit Moscow. But the word is a very ancient Russian 
word which used to mean in the very old days just plain 
"fortress." It could resist the onslaught of the Tatar 
hordes. To me, it used to remind me of some decorations, 
some setups I used to see in the theater when operas were 
given. The famous opera Boris Godunov had in the back 
ground a picture of just this kind of an ancient forti 
fication. 

Of course, the city of Gluchov had grown and had 
surrounded that ancient fortification. We had nice living 
quarters. Personally we lived in a requisitioned school, 
and we made friends with some teachers, lady teachers. One 
of the elderly lady teachers offered us tea in the evening 
and discussed the present military and political situation. 
And she told us, "For the population, and for me personally, 
what is the difference between the Red armies and the White 
armies? Of course, there is a great political, moral, and 
psychological difference. But," she said, "practically, 
there is only one difference" that she could see. She said 
"You Whites, you hang your opposition. And the Reds, they 
shoot." Of course, the words of this elderly school 
teacher were a great shock to us. If that was the only 



- 325 - 

difference, then what was this all about, all our fighting? 

Once again in Odessa in search of supplies 

In spring of 1919 I was again detached from my unit 
on the Crimea to the city of Odessa for the purpose of 
getting supplies. At that time Odessa was occupied by 
French troops. I was living in the home of my Aunt Nadya 
Somov and the house was full of refugees. Among them were 
two brothers who were planning to go back to their estates 
to fetch their families and to try to escape to Rumania. 
Therefore, in Odessa, they managed to have quite a large 
amount of Rumanian money. The banks could not exchange 
money legally, but in Odessa anyghing could be obtained in 
a round about way. Then the two brothers, for reasons I 
do not know, changed their minds and decided to go back to 
their families and to try to somehow survive in the chaos 
of that region of south Russia and so they did not need 
those Rumanian liras any more. I was dead set on leaving 
Odessa because I knew that the French would be leaving 
very soon and that the only way out would be through Rumania, 
I still had a sizeable amount of money from the last income 
from Kodyma, so I made an exchange with those two gentlemen 
and I took their Rumanian liras and gave them all the money 
I had from that last income. There was Soviet money and 
old Tsarist money and they would be able to have the use of 
it where they were going. Incidentally, when they left to 
go to their families they never arrived; on their way they 



- 326 - 

were murdered by some gangs and years later their families 
managed to escape and I will talk later about their escape. 

So I had the Rumanian money. I was actually a stranger 
in Odessa because I had never lived there until after the 

s 

Revolution. But my cousin Serge Stenbock-Fermor lived in 
Odessa. He had finished school there and after that he 
had finished at the artillery academy in Odessa and he knew 
the city inside out and had great friends in all social 
groups of the city. One day he rushed into Aunt Nadya's 
home in great excitement, telling me that the last French 
troops were evacuating and leaving Odessa the next day. 
Part of them were being shipped back on French military 
ships, transport ships, but there were not enough ships and 
part of the French troops were marching to the Rumanian 
border about a ten days' march from Odessa. He said that 
we had to leave Odessa to join those French troops. 

Besides the French troops in Odessa, there was a so- 
called Russian Volunteer Brigade mostly composed of officers. 
I doubt very much that this brigade had more than two 
thousand men in it. Junior officers were just plain infantry 
men, squads were commanded by colonels. They were armed 
only with rifles and small arms and only a few machine 
guns, and of course, they were in no shape to hold the 
great city of Odessa even against that rabble. The 
Communist rabble, the underground of any such big city, was 
only waiting for the French to leave so they could grab 



- 327 - 

Odessa. Besides, they would of course be joined from the 
outside from the north by stronger Communist forces. So 
that small brigade of General Tymanovsky had to leave 
Odessa with the French. Tymanovsky was a typical person 
for those times. He had graduated from high school in 
Odessa in 1912 and had joined the Russian Army as a 
volunteer private in the fall of 1914. Now in the early 
days of 1919 he was a general, I could almost say, a general 
of his own making and promotion. He was a hero in the early 
days of the volunteer army. He participated in the so- 
called cold, windy, ice movement of the small Russian 
White units that had to leave Rostov and go into the steppes. 
Of course, Tymanovsky was a hero, an idealist, and in 
manners he was a young Russian bear. He had a convoy that 
consisted of about one hundred men. He knew my counsin 
Serge very well because he had gone to high school with 
Serge's older sister, Olga, who also planned to leave 
Odessa with us as a nurse with the Red Cross. So we joined 
the body guard of Tymanovsky but for us cavalrymen marching 
away on foot was a nightmare. 

When Serge burst into the room telling that the French 
were leaving, he also said in great excitement that at 
this very moment a race course and the stables of the race 
horses, that were not far away from where we lived, were 
being looted by soldiers of a Polish Legion. This Polish 
Legion was a fighting unit composed of officers and enlisted 



- 328 - 

men of Polish origin. They had re-grouped and their idea 
was to fight their way back to Poland and to help Poland 
become an independent, sovereign country. This Polish 
Legion was composed of real fighting men; they were command 
ed by Polish officers, very many of whom had served before 
that in the Russian Imperial Army. They had discipline 
among them and they had a call to regain and to reconstruct 
their beloved Poland. Now they were taking away all the 
thoroughbred horses from the race tracks of Odessa. So 
Serge and I rushed to those race tracks and to the stables. 
I entered one of the stables, my big British colt revolver 
in my hand, and I put my colt right under the nose of one 
of the Polish legioneers who was attempting to enter the 
same stable and the legioneer "evaporated", vanished, 
probably due to the influence of my colt. That stable had 
in it a horse and a saddle. Saddling a horse was no problem 
for me and I led the horse out and I was on horseback. The 

s 

same thing happened to my cousin Serge and when we joined 
the Tymanovsky group of bodyguards we felt much better. 
Other soldiers of the Tymanovsky bodyguard got horses by 
just grabbing in the middle of the streets local coachmen 
that one could hire and taking the horses, deharnessing 
them from the carriages, and driving the coachman away and 
getting astride of those horses - saddles were available. 
And this particular group of the bodyguard of General 
Tymanovsky had just two ways of moving, either to walk or 



- 329 - 

gallop full speed because there were those carriage horses 
and our racing horses. I felt that I was astride a really 
good horse. 

Move toward Rumanian border 

So we left Odessa, toward the Rumanian border and with 
an endless column of soldiers and officers, belonging to no 
unit whatsoever, carts with refugees, and some carts with 
Red Cross nurses, including my cousin Olga. While we were 
moving toward the border, a well-dressed eldarly gentleman 
approached me while I was waiting for my turn to cross a 
bridge and addressed me very politely and said, "Sir 
Officer, may I please ask you a question?" I said, "Of 
course, go ahead." He said to me, "Sir Officer, do you 
happen to know what horse you are riding?" I said, 
"I have not the faintest idea. As you probably know, I 
took it under certain circumstances when the Polish Legion 
was looting the stables." The well-dressed gentleman 
said, "Allow me to present myself to you. I am the manager 
of the racing studs of Mr. Lazarev. " Now the name of 
Lazarev was that of the greatest,, most famous Russian racing 
studs. And he said, "Sir Officer, you are astride of a 
five year old mare, Fantasia. And that mare has won the 
Russian Imperial Derby and a prize just before the Revolut 
ion, a prize of two hundred thousand gold rubles. It was 
the greatest prize in all of Russia." Well, I had felt I 
was astride a good horse because I knew something about 



- 330 - 

horses. I immediately fell in love with my horse and 
started taking great care of it. Fodder was very scarce 
but somehow I managed to ride to the encampment of the 
French supply units which were very poorly guarded by 
French black troops, most undisciplined, and I got hold of 
a sack of oats to feed my Fantasia. And then grass was 
growing along the roads but that new, fresh grass is not 
good fodder. Anyhow, I was in possession of Fantasia for 
about a week. 

And then we came up to a sandbank of Burgaz. This 
sandbank was the border between Russian territory and 
Rumanian territory and crossing the river there was a 
railroad bridge. We expected the Rumanians, who had been 
allies of Russia in the First World War, to receive us, 
to give us an opportunity to re-arm and re-form and fight 
back against the Bolsheviks. Rumanians were practically 
under the command of the French troops who were in Rumania, 
also our old allies, but their mentality had become very 
different from what we had expected. They did not want to 
get into any trouble with Soviet Communist Russia and there 
fore they refused to let us pass through the Rumanian 
border. We were on the sandbank without fodder for the 
horses, without food for ourselves and the refugees. Never 
theless we attempted to cross that railroad bridge. There 
were railroad tracks but the wood-ties under the tracks 
had been mostly taken away by the Rumanians. So we 



- 331 - 

dismounted and led our horses and my Fantasia stepped ginger 
ly from one tie across empty space to another tie, never 
losing her footing. At that moment the Rumanians sent a 
railroad engine to meet us and that railroad engine was 
of course managed by an engineer, a Rumanian. He stepped 
full speed on the throttle and jumped off the engine, and 
the engine rushed against us as we tried to bring our horses 
across. Well, some of those who were in front of me had 
the presence of mind to throw some hand grenades at the 
engine and the engine fell off the side of the bridge and 
into the river. But part of the bridge was also destroyed 
because of those hand grenades, so we just had to lead our 
horses back. 

Then came orders from the French commander (besides 
the French troops he was in charge of us and the Polish 
Legion, in fact everyone who was in the group) saying that 
French landing boats would take us aboard the next day, but 
that we would have to leave all of our guns, heavy armaments, 
and all the thoroughbred horses must be surrendered to the 
French command. All the rest of the horses would be taken 
by the Polish Legion. Of course we had some private 
luggage and suitcases in the carts. My cousin Olga, in her 
Red Cross dress, penetrated during the evening into the 
encampment of the French supply units. She was carrying a 
bottle of vodka and she managed to trade that bottle of vodka 
with the black French troops for a very strong mule, a pack 



- 332 - 

animal, with all his pack equipment. She led the animal 
back to our encampment and that big, strong mule was 
immediately called by all of us, "Anselm" , which was the 
last name of the French Commander. We wanted to honor 
him. The mule came in very handy. Then the Polish Legion 
contacted us (as I said, many of the officers were ex- 
Russian officers) and they said to us, "Listen, fellow 
officers, if you surrender your thoroughbred horses to 
the French, they will take them to France and you will never 
see them again. Give those thoroughbred horses to us Poles. 
We will take them to Poland and then when all this chaos 
is over they will be safe and they will be surrendered back 
to the non-communist Russian forces, because Poland and 
Russia are neighbors." Well, that sounded very nice and I 
was put in charge by General Tymanovsky, because of my 
knowledge of French, of going to the French Headquarters 
of General Anselm and reporting to him that his orders were 
not going to be followed, a rather nasty thing to have to 
report. I was confronted by General Anselm in person and 
I said to him in my excellent French, "Mon General... 
and so forth and so on." He was jumping mad and he yelled 
at me that he was going to immediately give orders that I 
be hanged and my General Tymanovsky along with me. Well, 
I saluted and left and another order of General Anselm was 
never implemented because I am still here. The next day my 
Fantasia was taken over by the Poles. I parted with her 



- 333 - 

with tears in my eyes and I do not know whatever happened 
to her later. 

The French landing ships did come but they could not 
approach the sandbank because the water was much too 
shallow, so we were taken to the ships in rowboats. The 
rowboats were very low, the rails of the ships were very 
high, and only cord ladders were hanging down the sides 
of the ships to the small boats. Everyone who wanted to 
get aboard had to climb those ladders. I started climbing 
like a monkey, holding to the ladder with my right hand, 
and in my left hand I had my suitcase with all my belongings, 
It was rather heavy and my strength started leaving me. 
As I mounted and mounted I was confronted for a few seconds 
with the question: should I let go of that suitcase with 
all my belongings and get aboard? If I did not let go of 
it I probably would not be able to get aboard. But I was 
almost up, and very fortunately somebody's hand grabbed 
me by my collar like a puppy and pulled me aboard and I 
had not let go of my suitcase, so I and my suitcase were 
aboard. Of course, those ships were overcrowded with 
refugees and Russian volunteers and on the ship General 
Tymanovsky had his headquarters. I was suddenly in the 
role of private in spite of my officer's rank, for as I 
have said before, squads were commanded by colonels and I 
was only a junior Lieutenant. 

That day, before the ships left for Rumania, my turn 



- 334 - 

came to be on duty guarding headquarters and the big money 
box. How much money was in that box I do not know - I doubt 
there was much - but the money box always played a great 
role in all regiments. Next to the money box, even in peace 
time, there stood the banner of the regiment and a guard 
went on duty every four hours and was supposed to stand at 
attention, guarding that box. I was rather tired and I was 
not sure of being relieved four hours later, so after about 
three hours of standing there I just put my rifle on the 
top of the box and sat next to it. There came around a 
senior officer, an officer of some obscure line regiment, 
and when he saw me sitting on that official box he almost 
fainted and then there was a big row. What liberties those 
junior lieutenants of the Imperial Horse Guards were taking! 
Well, what can you expect from the officers of the Imperial 
Guards? Of course, from his point of view it was a scandal, 
almost worse than the Revolution itself. To make things 
worse, I kept my cool and I told that excited colonel that 
if I sat on the box I would be able to guard it all night, 
but if I had to stand at attention according to all the 
regulations, I would have to be relieved every four hours. 
So he insulted me and called me a partisan - a partisan was 
a not-very-regular officer. Well, that scandal finally 
blew over. 

We enter Rumania 

The French landing ships moved and they took us up an 



- 335 - 

estuary of the Danube River which separated Rumania from 
Bulgaria. We came to the little provincial city of Tulcha, 
in which the inhabitants did not really know who they were, 
Rumanians or Bulgarians. At that moment they were 
Rumanians and the place was occupied and supervised by the 
French High Command and by French African black troops. 
There was a problem with lodging for the refugees and the 
Russian military units and this problem was in the hands 
of a Rumanian colonel, the commandant of the city of Tulcha. 
Those diplomatic relations, conversations with Rumanian or 
French authorities, had to be handled by someone who knew 
foreign languages. In all that so-called brigade there 
were only four of us: myself, my cousin Serge, my friend 
Rodzevich, who was a graduate from St. Petersburg Law 
School, and a professor candidate Zimmerman, a candidate of 
international law. So Zimmerman headed the little group of 
the four of us and jokingly we were called the Ministry of 
Foreign Affairs. Professor Zimmerman was a very, very 
handsome man and he really imagined himself to be a kind of 
Minister of Foreign Affairs which was reflected in his tone 
and in his speeches with the local authorities. I was 
assigned to the Rumanian Commandant Colonel of the city of 
Tulcha. 

The refugees were standing in the streets waiting to 
get some kind of lodgings and when I came to his office late 
in the afternoon, the Rumanian Colonel Commandant was in no 



- 336 - 

hurry. That made me very mad. Our conversation was in 
French and I was so mad that I yelled at that Colonel that 
if measures were not taken immediately to find lodgings for 
all those waiting people and they had to spend the night 
in the open street, I would immediately call some of them 
off the streets and into his office and have them grab him 
and his helpers and dump them into the Danube. Well, he 
could have shot me or he could have reported me to the French 
High Command but he gave in, seeing that I was so mad and 
using such strong language. The result was that all the 
troops and refugees were lodged in barracks and houses that 
very same evening. That was the only way to talk to 
Rumanians . 

Supplies were given to us by the French. We were given 
cans of French corned beef that came from Madagascar, an 
island then under French command. Our soldiers and many 
Russians were convinced that it was not beef, that it was 
some kind of monkey or orangutan meat and they called it 
"du cinge" - cinge means monkey in French. So there were 
those cans and I cannot quite remember how much, but I think 
there was a can for two persons per day. And then they 
gave us chocolate and that was all. Fortunately I still 
had those Rumanian liras with me so I could go into the 
city market in Tulcha and there, for a very token price in 
Rumanian liras, I could buy ground corn and ground millet, 
so I became the cook for our Ministry of Foreign Affairs. 



- 337 - 

A Rumanian villa had been requisitioned for us and there we 
lived. I cooked millet or ground corn and then I dumped 
into that porridge the contents of that can of so-called 
monkey meat and then I stirred it. It was very nourishing. 
For dessert I boiled a new portion of ground millet and I 
stuck into that boiling millet or corn the chocolate that 
the French had given us. And that was our ration every day 
all day. We did not go hungry and it was very nourishing 
but it was very tedious. Of course, very good coffee could 
be bought in Rumanian taverns, cups of excellent coffee that 
we had missed for so long and we indulged in that coffee to 
such an extent that despite the average age of 20 to 25 years 
we noticed that we were drinking too much strong coffee. 
Of course, the French also gave us some wine, because no 
Frenchman can live a day without wine. The French saying 
is that a day without wine is like a day without sunshine. 
I agree with this. 

The French High Command decided to have a party and to 
invite General Tymanovsky, his staff officers, and us so- 
to-say diplomats. Well, I conveyed that invitation to 
General Tymanovsky and his response was, "I am not disposed 
to go to them this coming Wednesday. Tell them that I will 
come on Thursday." That was poor diplomacy and poor manners 
and, of course, the relationship between the French High 
Command and Tymanovsky and persons on his staff was a great 
problem for us . 



- 338 - 

Going back and forth between the French High Command 
and the Rumanians, I was the first one to get the news, the 
very welcome news, that the Russian White Armies were 
having success and that they were sending Russian troop 
ships, escorted by a Russian cruiser (one of the few still 
left on the Black Sea in good shape) and that we would be 
able to leave Tulcha, where we were something between 
prisoners and unwelcome guests. We were to be shipped 
back to Russia to join the Russian White Armies. At that 
time in Tulcha on one of the shady streets there were shops, 
a kind of stock exchange, and those shops were all in 
Jewish hands. They paid Ukrainian money at a low liras-rate. 
We had a large amount of Rumanian money and I knew that 
Ukrainian money, once we arrived in Russia, could be ex 
changed ruble for ruble for the money that was worth 
something in south Russia. So I went into one of those 
Jewish shops in my officer's uniform with liras in my hand 
and I asked to buy that Ukrainian money. That old Jewish 
man gasped and stared at me but he could not refuse, and 
I bought some of that Ukrainian money for the very low 
exchange rate then existing in the city of Tulcha. From 
there I went next door and I did the same. That whole 
business lasted maybe ten minutes. When I went to the third 
shop I was told that the stock exchange for today in Tulcha 
was closed. They were dumbfounded by the fact that an 
officer in uniform was giving away those Rumanian liras for 



- 339 - 

the purpose of buying the almost worthless Ukrainian money. 
Of course, through the back door a boy had rushed from 
shop to shop and said in Jewish jargon that something was 
wrong, something unusual was going on, that there was an 
officer buying that worthless money and giving up liras for 
it. There was a panic in Tulcha on the Jewish stock exchange, 
a panic created by me. I was very happy and had a good laugh 
with my good friends. And that was the only time I succeeded 
in creating a panic on a stock exchange anywhere in the 
world. 

Across the Black Sea - back to Russia and the war goes on 
A few days later the Russian varship arrived. It was 
flying a Russian National flag, white blue and red, and was 
escorted by a cruiser decorated with the Russian Navy 
battle flag. That was quite a sight! We all cheered and 
we noticed that the Rumanians changed their attitude toward 
us, apparently feeling that, well, Russia is still alive. 
We boarded those ships, very happy to get away from Tulcha, 
and those ships took us from west to east, across the entire 
Black Sea. We could not enter the ports of the Crimea be 
cause they were then occupied by the Red armies. Aboard 
those ships I questioned the Russian Navy officers about 
what had been going on in general, because while we were 
in Tulcha we knew absolutely nothing of what was happening 
outside. From them I learned that my unit was now on the 
Crimea. They had retreated back into the Crimea and then 



- 340 - 

eastward toward the city of Kerch, which was separated 
from Crimea proper by a very narrow strip of land maybe 
twenty kilometers wide. On one side of that land was the 
Black Sea, on the other side was an inland sea, called 
the Azov Sea, which was very shallow. On that narrow piece 
of land the Russian White volunteers dug in and resisted the 
Red advance, defending the city of Kerch. It was a sort of 
stalemate because the defendants of that narrow strip were 
supported by British warships; destroyers that could go 
into the shallow water stood in the Azov Sea and heavy 
British warships stood in the Black Sea, and when on both 
sides they opened fire, there was a kind of fire curtain. 
That curtain was so strong that the Bolsheviks did not 
dare move and attack the trenches which the men of my unit 
were occupying. 

I landed in the city of Novorossisk and in the couple 
of days that I spent in Novorossisk I rushed around the city 
meeting lots of friends and trying to find out from them if 
they knew the whereabouts of Dina and her parents. Well, 
nobody knew anything about them. I met there my ex-secretary 
of the sporting club, irina Tolstoy, and her friends, but 
not Dina. Finally I joined the reserve units of the regiment 
located east of Kerch across a narrow strip of water, and 
for some time I was in that reserve unit that was training 
volunteers and preparing an offensive while the fighting 
unit was in the trenches defending the city of Kerch. 



- 341 - 

The city of Kerch had a very unusual feature. It was 
a very ancient city founded centuries ago by Greek merchants. 
All of the houses were built of stone and that stone had 
been dug out of the earth, forming great caverns under and 
very near to the city. They were very deep and had corridors. 
It was like an underground city and it was full of Communists 
and Bolsheviks. There were many entrances, some in orchards, 
some in houses. But who could know what houses or what 
orchards? The Reds came out at night and stabbed our 
sentinels and there was a danger of their coming out in 
numbers and attacking our trenches from the rear, and no fire 
of the British fleet could help us in such a case. So the 
British sent help in a different form: British specialists 
in gas arrived. Wherever a hole was found that might be an 
entrance to those caves, that hole was closed with stone and 
cement, and into those holes that remained open they put gas 
under pressure. The heavy gas went into the caverns and all 
those who were in them had the choice of being suffocated or 
fighting their way out. The moment they appeared, half 
conscious, they were bayonetted or clubbed because our soldiers 
were so incensed at having lost so many of their friends to 
those rascals. Well, my friend Captain Jo jo was in command 
of gassing one of those holes. He was an excellent officer 
and a very kind man and he was shocked at what our soldiers 
were doing. He prevented them as best he could but it was a 
difficult task to manage those enraged soldiers. One fellow 



- 342 - 

appeared out of a hole, very dizzy, barely standing on his 
feet, and the moment he appeared Captain Jo jo grasped him in 
his arms and thus prevented him from being bayonetted or 
clubbed and when this fellow, now breathing fresh air, came 
to his senses, my Captain Jo jo immediately ordered him to 
become a volunteer of our unit. He was enlisted then and 
there as a volunteer. It turned out that he had been a work 
man in a St. Petersburg armaments factory and he was a 
specialist, a mechanic, a genius of a mechanic. He had been 
a specialist in keeping all kinds of arms, the smallest, 
most complicated arms, in good shape. He joined us for good 
in thankfulness that his life had been saved and he became a 
treasure of a man in our squadron. Finally, when the White 
momvement was over (he was in the bodyguard of General 
Wrangell) he became an emigrant, and of course as an excellent 
mechanic he got a very good job long before we officers could 
dream of getting any kind of work at all. 

Finally the advance of the Russian Whites started in 
what must have been early June 1919, and from the reserve unit 
I had to cross the channel by ferry to get into Kerch. My 
unit consisted of four four-wheel carriages with four horses 
each, and each carriage had a heavy machine gun. Those 
machine guns on four-wheel carriages were the ancestors of the 
tanks of the future. The problem was how to have the greatest 
and fastest mobility combined with the greatest fire power. 
I had to join the group in Akmanai and when I got there I heard 



- 343 - 

that that group had already advanced, fighting and penetrat 
ing back into- the Crimea. And they had moved just twenty- 
four hours before my arrival in Kerch. So I moved to follow 
them, intending to catch up with them. 

Chinese fight on the Reds' side 

In midsummer of 1919 the White Army units were approach 
ing a very important railroad junction, the junction of 
Bahmach and a small provincial town of the same name. 
Apparently the Reds had plans to defend it stubbornly and 
they did not destroy the railroad lines. This gave our 
armored trains an opportunity to move and occupy the main 
railroad station. The Reds panicked and fled but then ordered 
that the station be re-captured and our armored trains destroyed 
regardless of losses. Hords of drunk and drugged Chinese 
attacked our armored trains blindly. In spite of our point- 
blank fire they. crawled on the trains, on the roofs of the cars, 
attempting to blow holes with hand grenades or to penetrate 
into the cars through the car windows. Those Chinese climbed 
over layers of bodies of other Chinese, like ants. It was 
an unimaginable, nightmarish fight. When our cavalry reached 
the station of Bahmach, no Chinese were alive. The trains 
were as if painted red. Pieces of human flesh were sticking 
to the walls of the cars and the windows were covered with 
human brains and pieces of skulls. 

Why Chinese in the Comunist Red Army? Well, in 1915 
as a result of general mobilization a lack of unskilled 



- 344 - 

labor force occurred, especially for maintenance of the rail 
roads. For this reason many working battalions were im 
ported from over-populated China. They were excellent and 
cheap labor. 

In the summer of 1917, under the government of Kerensky, 
havoc spread all over Russia like a rapid brushfire. The 
Chinese "Labor Battalions" were forgotten, unfed, unhoused 
and they went wild serving the hand that fed them. 

In 1918 they became cannon fodder for units of the 
Communist Red Army, not having any notion what they were 
fighting for, with whom and against whom. 

One of my fellow officers picked up on the side of the 
road a Chinese young fellow, dying of hunger. My friend 
picked him up, fed him, took him to his estate and entrusted 
him with the care of the horses. Shortly after this estate 
was looted as all others. My friend was absent. But the 
Chinese boy was murdered by peasants while he was defending 
the horses of his master. Chinese loyalty to the hand that 
feeds them. 

General Shkuro and his "Brigade" 

While the main forces of the White Armies had been moving 
northward along the Sevastopol-Moscow-St. Petersburg railroad 
and had advanced as far as Kursk, other units were moving in 
the same direction along the banks of the Dnepr. But to the 
west the region between Ekaterinoslav, Odessa, and Nikolaev 
was still in the hands of the Reds. If one looks at the map 



- 345 - 

one realizes that all that region on the right bank of the 
Dnepr, a region equal in square miles to more than half of 
France, was being cut off from the north by the White 
Armies; inside that region there was only the brigade of 
Shkuro, 2000 men, to fight the Reds and keep law and order. 
Of course this was an absolutely impossible task. The 
stretch of land that Shkuro and his men controlled could be 
at the utmost 20 to 30 km wide, and right and left of it 
reigned total chaos. Small and large bands of Reds were 
living there off the population, terrorizing it, and 
disrupting all the supply lines of the White Armies. 

Some of the Reds, to avoid being encircled in Nikolaev, 
left the city in panic and disorder and moved northward 
along the railroad lines connecting Nikolaev with Poltava, 
which was already in the hands of the Whites. They went as 
far as the station of Novy-Bug, about 100 km north of Nikolaev. 
Shkuro 's brigade was moving southward along that same rail 
road line. General Shkuro 's train got stuck some 40 miles 
north of Novy-Bug. There was a stalemate along the railway 
lines because the Reds coming from Nikolaev were extremely 
well armed. They even had heavy guns mounted on railroad 
flat-cars. On the other hand, General Shkuro and his men could 
not attack trenches that were defended by machine guns and 



even heavy artillery. So what did Shkuro do? Shkuro himself, 
with his hundred-men personal bodyguard and a brass band 
mounted on horses, rode for about 50 km around fortified 



- 346 - 

Novy-Bug through the emptiness of the steppes, and at the 
break of dawn he galloped into the city of Nikolaev at the 
head of his personal bodyguard, his brass band playing the 
Russian national anthem, and the Russian national flag 
flying from the lance of one of his men. 

No matter how well armed a unit is, if it is panicky it 
is not a fighting unit any more. The appearance of Shkuro 
made such an impression on the Reds still in Nikolaev that 
they fled north to Novy-Bug as fast as they could and when the 
Reds heard what had happened they, too, abandoned their 
entrenched lines and all their heavy guns and fled on foot 
or in carts, thus leaving the whole railroad line free for 
the Whites. The Reds fled to the west and the north to get 
out of a presumed encirclement by Shkuro, an encirclement 
that in fact did not exist. It was only the dashing 
maneuver of Shkuro, riding on horseback through the city 
with his brass band, that did it. 

The whole brigade of Shkuro moved now into the city of 
Nikolaev. There was a great parade. The clergy of the city 
in all their glistening robes met Shkuro on the main square. 
A church service of thanksgiving for the liberation of 
Nikolaev from the Red terror was held, and when Shkuro rode 
through the crowd, many women tried to reach his horse and to 
kiss his boot or his stirrup. It was something quite medieval. 

Just to finish the life story of this dashing General 
Shkuro: he emigrated after the collapse of the White Armies. 
He lived in France and from there he continued to send messages, 



- 347 - 

secret messages of course, into Russia and to his native 
region of Kuban. Kuban was a vast and rich region. It bears 
the name of the river flowing through it. Some of his 
messengers were caught by the Reds and the Reds protested 
officially to the government of France that an emigre, 
living in Paris was attempting to make anti-Soviet propaganda. 
In those days, the 1930 's, France was trying to make friends 
with the emerging power of Soviet Russia, so the French 
officials were very much annoyed and Shkuro was expelled from 
France. He left for Germany and then for Yugoslavia. In 
Yugoslavia, a large French engineering company was building 
dams on the Danube to prevent the river from overflowing its 
banks in early spring and also for the purpose of turning the 
marshes into productive land. Shkuro organized a workers' union 
of Cossacks who did this building work. I met Shkuro (In 1933 
in July, General Shkuro was at my wedding in Beograd, 
Yugoslavia, as a guest of honor) in those days in Yugoslavia 
and he was commanding those workers just as if he were a 
Division Commander. He said to me, "I know very well my 
so-and-so Cossacks. The moment they get paid they go to some 
local pub (in Serbian: Kafana) , and there they spend most of 
their earnings. When winter comes and there is no work, they 
have nothing left and they are hungry. So when they are paid 
through me, I deduct 50% of their pay and I keep it for them 
so that in winter they shall have something. 

Once a great party was organized for the inauguration of 



- 348 - 

one of those dams. All the French engineers came to that 
party as well as all the Cossacks who had worked on it, and 
of course there was a band. Somehow, Shkuro managed to get 
instruments out of nowhere. It was a big Cossack brass band. 
They had learned to play the French national anthem and many 
Cossack songs. Shkuro was a man of foresight and psychology. 
He had set apart a group of Cossacks who were forbidden to 
drink a drop of vodka, ordered to be sober at the end of the 
party, and to have stretchers ready. The stretchers came in 
very handy because when the party was over those sober 
Cossacks carried away the French engineers on those stretchers. 
When World War II broke out, all those Cossacks, in spite 
of being advanced in age, were still good fighting men and 
they wanted to fight the Communists. They were ready to be 
the allies of the devil himself, or Hitler, or anyone who 
would fight the Communists. They became fighting units on 
the German side, fighting Stalin's Reds. They were excellent 
fighters and they gave great trouble to Stalin's troops. 
But when Germany collapsed there was the infamous agreement 
in Yalta, made between Stalin, Roosevelt, and Churchill, 
that all Cossack troops in Germany be rounded up by United 
States and British troops and delivered to Stalin as traitors 
to their country. By some kind of subterfuge and lies by 
the British authorities, Shkuro was one of the generals that 
the British military authorities in Germany delivered (like 
on a platter) to the Red Army. Shkuro was then taken to 



- 349 - 

Moscow with some other Cossack generals. There was a sham 
trial and he was sentenced to death by hanging and he was 
hung in the central prison of Moscow, but he was not hung 
by a rope. He was hung by butcher hooks that were stuck 
into his ribs and he was left hanging there by his ribs. 
He lived for more than twenty-four hours, suffering the death 
of a martyr. In those days President Roosevelt was dead 
and the new President, Truman, was speaking of Stalin in terms 
of "our good Uncle Joe." However, it is officially known 
that on June.l, 1945, in a small town in Austria called Enns, 
near Linz, 37 Cossack generals, 2,605 officers, and 29,000 
other ranks were treacherously delivered to Stalin by the 
British military authorities. ("Keelhole operation", all 
documents about it are at the Hoover Institute at Stanford 
University, Stanford, California) . 

When Shkuro's armored train had got stuck north of 
Novy-Bug I got off because this was the station closest to 
Kodyma. Only one soldier went with me. I found a peasant cart 
and we travelled 30 km through a kind of no-man' s- land. Of 
course at that time I had no idea of the overall military 
situation and I did not realize that the station of Novy-Bug, 
only ten kilometers to the west of Kodyma, was the center of 
the resistance line of the Reds. Then I went on to Nikolaev 
with some carts from Kodyma and from there I went to Odessa. 
When I finally reached Odessa it was just a few days after the 
city had been occupied by White Armies. Other units of the 



- 350 - 

White Armies were north of Odessa and the Reds occupying 
Odessa had been scared of having their roads of retreat to 
the north cut, so they left the city and small units of 
officers came out of hiding in Odessa, but altogether their 
number would barely represent one regiment in peacetime. 
It was a very small unit to try to keep some semblance of 
order in such a big city as Odessa. 

Again I lived with my Aunt Somov. I managed to hire a 
carriage to take me from the railroad to her home on the 
outskirts. Any other forms of commuting, such as electric 
trams, were not functioning. When I drove up to the house 
(it was about July, 1919) in an open window of the house, I 
saw my cousin Mary sitting on the window sill. When she saw 
the carriage, which was quite an unusual sight, and when she 
saw me in the carriage, she just jumped out of the window 
into the garden and ran to come and greet me. 

My last visit to Kodyma 

All through the year of 1919 during the Civil War, the 
war was waged mostly along railroad lines. Scouts went 
right and left of the railroad lines, sometimes twenty 
kilometers, sometimes more, for food and fodder, but other 
wise all that huge region between the city of Ekaterinoslav 
and the city of Odessa - looking at the map and realizing the 
square kilometers of that region and comparing it with a map 
of France, that region was bigger than half of France. 
Between the city of Ekaterinoslav and Odessa, there was a 



- 351 - 

cavalry brigade of roughly two thousand Cossacks. How much 
of the territory was really occupied or ruled by them would 
be hard to say. It was only a little strip of land that we 
went through. Right and left of that strip there was no-man's 
land of thousands and thousands of square miles infested with 
irregular small or large bands of looters. And armored trains 
played a great role on the railroad lines. An armored train 
was some kind of a makeshift contraption built of materials 
that happened to be on hand. Usually there was a railroad 
steam engine. In front of that engine there was a flatcar 
and on that flatcar a gun of the field artillery protected by 
bags of sand. Then came the engine, then came the car full 
of coal to keep the engine running, then came a passenger car 
for the personnel of that train and it was protected with 
plates of metal to somehow hold off the .fire of the enemy. 
The engine was also protected, especially the boiler room of 
the engine. That was the most vulnerable part of the so-called 
armored trains. If the boiler got shot at, the water ran out 
and the train was out of commission. In the back of the 
train there were flatcars with rails and tools to repair rails 
that were sometimes broken some miles in front of the train 
or behind it. These trains were highly vulnerable of course. 
The passenger cars were armed with machine guns and the 
effect of such a train was felt as far as the machine guns 
and the artillery gun could shoot. But if shot at, it was 
a sitting duck. Once the train was immobilized, it was almost 
defenseless. The Red side had such trains; the White side 



- 352 - 

had such trains. Once our side was very bothered by a Red 
train that was shelling our positions and preventing our 
cavalry to deploy an attack. Our field artillery came to 
help us, led by one of my artillery officer friends who was 
a born genius of artillery. Just as there are great artists 
of the past and their pictures are in the museum because 
they had a kind of super talent by the grace of God, this 
artillery officer was an artillery officer by the grace of 
God. He could judge a distance and point the guns and when 
he opened fire after the first shot of the guns, the second 
shot landed right into the chimney of the Red armored train. 
And of course that had such an effect on our troops that 
they started really worshipping that artillery officer. 
Besides when we advanced, dismounted and advanced as infantry, 
his artillery guns were right in our lines, shooting point 
blank at the enemy. Sometimes when we retreated, he remained 
with his guns and covered our retreat, his guns not being 
protected by anybody. When we were leaving, during the 
general retreat that started in late fall of 1919, we were 
leaving the city of Gluchov under no pressure from the Reds. 
Then after leaving the city there were a few skirmishes and 
a few Red soldiers were taken prisoner and we asked them 
then, "Why did you let us go, leave that city without any 
pressure? We were completely outnumbered by you?" And then 
they said, "Well, we knew that on the main road north of 
Gluchov stood a battery of artillery guns under the command 
of Colonel Logodovsky and he was famous, not among you 



- 353 - 

Whites, he was famous among us Reds.. And we knew that the 
guns of Colonel Logodovsky could shoot in all four directions 
at the same time!" Well, later, fortunately that Colonel 
escaped to France and had a great garage of taxi cars that 
he had organized. He died not so long ago; he was one of 
the greatest heros of the White Army. 

When I was sick with malaria in July, 1919, in the city 
of Ekaterinoslav, I spent there about three weeks and then I 
had to proceed onward to Odessa because my orders were to go 
to Odessa to try and get some supplies for our squadron. In 
peacetime travelling by passenger train to the city of 
Odessa from Ekaterinoslav took about twenty-four hours. But 
in 1919 that was quite a different story. There were no 
trains moving. And I fortunately saw an armored train that 
had orders to go to Odessa. This armored train belonged to 
a cavalry brigade and had been supporting the brigade with 
its heavy guns. The cavalry brigade ocnsisted of Cossacks 
and Moslem mountaineers of the Caucasus. They were savage 
fighters, especially on horseback. And whereever they 
appeared, the Red troops fled. And they were now moving in 
the direction of Odessa from the northeast. The Reds in 
Odessa and the vicinity, same as in the vicinity of 
Nikolaev, were very unhappy and afraid of having their roads 
of retreat to the north cut from the north and the whole 
region of Nikolaev-Odessa would be as if in a bag. So they 
started hastily to retreat; they left Odessa. In Odessa, 



354 - 

small units of local officers appeared. There were many 
different units. Some officers were politically minded as 
socialists, some were monarchists, some did not know them 
selves what actually politically they were. But anyway, they 
were militarily weak, ill-led and could not hold such a huge 
city as Odessa when there was so much underground rabble, 
very Bolshevist-minded, and a local uprising could errupt 
any moment. But units of the White Army from the Crimea 
came by ship to Odessa and landed. The small local Odessa 
units joined them and Odessa and the vicinity of the city 
about twenty miles inland was in the hands of the White 
Army once again and the Reds were fleeing north. 

Now my armored train, on which I was a guest, was moving 
to Odessa from the north, so there was bound to be a clash 
with the Reds heading northward and the Whites coming from 
the northeast southward. Looking at a map you will see the 
railroad line Nikolaev, Poltava and north of it, Herkov. That 
was the railroad line that we travelled twice a year in 
peacetime and in my infancy. I knew and I think I still know 
by heart the railroad stations along that line. My armored 
train where I was a guest, as I said, went slowly, stopping 
at many stations because the cavalry regiments that the train 
was supporting were also moving cautiously and slowly. I was 
slightly bored having nothing to do on that train, but I will 
never forget the moment when being in one of the compartments 
of that train I felt something tickling my hand. When I had 
a close look, I discovered lice. The whole country, everything 



- 355 - 

was infested with lice that later produced typhoid fever and 
typhoid fever took a greater toll of Whites and Reds than 
the real fighting. And there was no medicine, or scarcely 
any to combat that epidemic. So I knew that sooner or later 
I would have typhus, because I had lice. And the train 
rolled southward and stopped finally at a station that was 
only thirty kilometers from my estate of Kodyma. On that 
train I was not alone; I had a volunteer private who had 
joined me in the city of Ekaterioslav.- There were two of us. 
He was about the same age as I was. And I could not resist 
the temptation of leaving this armored train to get a cart 
and to drive the thirty kilometers to Kodyma. Well, I 
persuaded a driver, a local peasant, to drive me in his cart. 
The methods of persuasion in those days were only two: 
money in one hand and a revolver in the other. The peasant 
agreed to drive me. And of course I did not realize the 
crazy danger that I was putting myself in, because that country 
was no-man's land, infested with all kinds of bands and 
what was in Kodyma, who was in Kodyma? I had not the faintest 
idea. Anyhow, I drove right in to the astonishment of the 
whole staff that was still there. I entered the house that 
had been thoroughly looted. And the looters always imagined 
that those who had cash money hid it in books. And therefore 
wherever there was a library, their first gesture was to 
ransack the library, to tear up all the books, looking for 
money and usually finding none. So when I entered the study 



- 356 - 

of my late father, I saw all the books lying in a heap on the 
floor, the bookshelves, the book cupboards smashed to pieces, 
his desk also. But on the desk there stood a miniature picture 
made by some artist in the mid-nineteenth century representing 
my Grandfather in the uniform of the Horse Guards and on the 
other half in that way was my Grandmother dressed in mid- 
Victorian style, a very very thin waist and a very ample skirt. 
Of course, I knew my Grandmother and she looked very different 
from the days when I knew her. And for some reason I did not 
take that miniature picture with me. I was of course very 
excited about the whole situation and I still am sorry that 
I did not take it, though probably I would have lost it any 
how. Much later, in Paris, I found a photograph of that 
miniature picture and I still have it. And standing next to 
that heap of torn books , I suddenly noticed lying right at 
my feet a thin metal needle. And it was one of the gadgets 
that you could look for for days and days and never find it, 
and here it was right at my feet. It suddenly dawned on me 
that this needle was used by my father to open the very 

/ 

intricate locks of the safe that was standing on the wall. 
Next to me was the manager and he had witnessed all the 
looting while it was going on and he told me that the looters 
tried with all kinds of gadgets to break open that safe but 
could not. The safe was still standing there. I remembered 
the combination of numbers and letters that had to be turned 
around and when that was done there appeared a very very small 



- 357 - 

hole. That needle had to be introduced into the hole and 
pressed. And then it opened up. So that is what I did. It 
was very good that I remembered all the combination of 
numbers and letters. Just for amusement I opened, as a 
child and a young man, that safe many many times. It con 
tained nothing particularly valuable - lots of medals and 
prizes for cattle shown in big shows and also I discovered 
there a box with about twenty or thirty gold coins, German 
marks from peacetime and Austrian crowns. Well, gold is 
gold no matter what. So this was the only really valuable 
thing I found in that safe and of course it came in very handy, 
So I immediately put the gold into a small bag and put it 
into my pocket. So I decided to leave Kodyma the next morning, 
I went and had again a hot bath, which was a great luxury 
after many months. 

Early next morning the cook re-appeared. He had fled 
during that looting and had actually participated in the 
looting. He explained in front of me on his knees - I immedi 
ately grabbed him and made him stand up - the old man was 
crazy with fear. And he said to me that he was not a looter 
but that he had attempted to save the cellar and all the wine 
that was in the cellar. Therefore he loaded it onto his cart 
and the cart of a friend and drove it into the village and 
put it in his home. Well I pretended to believe him. "And 
now" he said, "the two carts are just outside where I have 
brought all that wine back again." He was afraid of having 



- 358 - 

that wine with some of his neighbors in the village knowing 
that it was wine, so he washed all the lables off the bottles 
so nobody could know what was contained in them. Of course 
we could not take those two carts along with us, but we could 
take at least a dozen or more. My volunteer and I, both 
aged twenty- two, decided that the only way to proceed was to 
open all the bottles and to taste what was in them. And we 
started opening the bottles just as they stood and tasting 
whatever was in them. Sometimes we recognized the bottles 
of vodka by their peculiar shape, and we knew it was vodka 
but we just did not taste it - we took just a few with us 
later. It was mostly red and white wine. Then there was 
just one bottle that had a very peculiar shape. It was un 
corked and my volunteer tasted and the liquor in it was rather 
thick and I said to him, "What do you think it is?" He reported 
to me, "Sir, I believe it must be kerosene." "Well, it is 
only one bottle anyhow and if you think it is kerosene, then 
I prefer not to taste it." So we corked it up and took the 
bottle with us along with a dozen or more of the other bottles. 
And finally, after travelling two or three days with some 
volunteers from Odessa, I reached the city of Kiev, where I 
found my mother. I will later speak about my Mother living 
in Kiev and going through all the horrors of the occupation 
of Kiev by the Reds. Now Kiev was liberated by the White 
Armies, but they were very weak numerically. They stood 
twenty or thirty kilometers to the north of Kiev. But if the 
Reds would have exercised some pressure, there were too few 



- 359 - 

of them to resist and keep Kiev in the hands of the White 
Annies. Well, the Red army did take Kiev but that happened 
two or three months later. 

My mother lives through the terror of the Red occupation 
of Kiev 

When in Kiev, I found my mother. She had lived through 
the occupation of Kiev by Ukrainians. Later, for a short time, 
the Ukrainians were thrown out by regular Reds, Communists 
coming from Moscow, and during that time there were horrors 
and arrests through the city day and night. In mid-summer 
of the year 1919, the White Armies were rapidly advancing 
from the north and we surrounded the great city of Kiev, 
still occupied by the Reds. The only escape for the Reds was 
up the River Dnepr on barges. I did not participate in the 
battles around Kiev because I was on the other sector. 

Mother had lived in Kiev throughout the occupation of the 
city by the Reds, and she knew of and saw all the Red terror. 
She lived in the apartment house of a Russian lady and an 
English lady who was with her because she could not return 
to England. Not far from her apartment house was the 
governor's mansion of the region of Kiev, and the latest 
governor of that region had been Mother's cousin. So in 
other times Mother had visited that house very often and she 
knew that house as if it were her own. During the Red 



- 360 - 

occupation that house was occupied by the Red organization of 
the Red secret police. There were cellars, and those cellars 
were used for the purpose of executing the enemies of Communism. 
And some of those terrorists, or if I can say, employees, 
lived in Mother's apartment. They went to "work" in the 
evening and late in the morning came back somewhat drunk or 
under the influence of some drugs and they immediately 
stretched out and went to sleep, so they did not represent 
any danger at that moment. In the evening they vanished 

again. 

When the city of Kiev was surrounded they had to 
escape at the last moment; they were panicky and they grabbed 
anything close at hand and threw it into bundles , things of 
value or not, they threw it all into curtain bundles and took 
them to the barges to escape. One of them grabbed a coffee 
pot. Now that coffee pot was the favorite pot of Anna, who 

had been lady's maid to my mother since before my birth, 
and this Anna was quite a character. When he grabbed the 

coffee pot Anna threw herself at that terrorist and put 
her hands around his neck and said, "If you want to take 
me, okay, but I will not let you take my coffee pot!" 
Well, the coffee pot remained in the kitchen, and so did 
Anna! 

When they were gone and the Whites were beginning to 



- 361 - 

enter the city in very small numbers, my mother decided to 
take a walk and she went to the governor's mansion and 
descended into the cellar. Later she told me she could not 

remember how whe got out of the cellar into the street 
because she was so stunned and shocked, and those expressions 
were much too mild to describe what my mother saw in that 
cellar. 

The floor of the cellar was strewn with corpses and 

it was obvious that the victims had been tortured; the 

walls and the floor of that cellar were splattered with blood 

and human brains and bones. 

The cellar had been used almost every night by members 
of the Tcheka for executions for almost a year for all those 
who were allegedly siding with the Whites and eventual 
enemies of the Red rulers. "Tcheka" stands, in English 
translation, for Extraordinary Commission Against 
Speculation and Counterrevolution. This unit had the right 
to suspect anyone, to spy, to intrude, to search, to 
arrest, to judge, to condemn, and to execute - all in 
one. Most of those Tcheka fellows were sadists. They 
were clad in leather coats and leather pants, and if some 
one was seen dressed up like that, all the population knew 
immediately what he was. 



- 362 - 

Well, I came to the house and of course Mother and Anna 
were delighted to see me. Anna prepared one of the luxurious 
rooms with a luxurious bed and covers so that little Vanya, 
as she called me in spite of my rank as captain, should have 
a good rest. When I went to bed I could not fall asleep, 
so in the middle of the night I got up and got my collapsible 
bed (it was called a caterpillar) and a very thin mattress 
was stretched on it, and there I immediately fell asleep and 
had a very good night's rest. About eleven in the morning 
Anna came into the room to wake me up and found the empty bed 
and me sleeping on that caterpillar, and poor Anna almost 
fainted! 

We gathered some food and invited a few friends still 
living in Kiev. My volunteers and I brought in wine boxes 
that I had found at Kodyma and we had some good red and 
white wine. We also uncorked a bottle of vodka. And then 
I produced one bottle that tasted like kerosene, but 
obviously kerosene would never have been poured into such an 
elaborate bottle and such a bottle would not have been kept 
in our wine cellar. Mother started laughing and she said 
that years and years ago, when I was but a child, they had had 
a housekeeper who gathered roses in the garden, where there 
was a long, long alley full of wild roses. With the petals 
of those roses that housekeeper, who had died years ago, had 
made liqueur of roses. It was thick and it smelled of roses, 



- 363 - 

of perfume. That same kind of liqueur was also made in 
Odessa in my wife's family; they were of Greek origin and it 
was a Greek recipe. When the French were occupying Odessa 
my mother-in-law offered some of that liqueur to a French 
officer. He tasted it and then very politely said, "Madame, 
this is not drink, it is cosmetic." Well, toward the end 
of the dinner old Anna produced some real coffee that she 
had kept for an unusual occasion because coffee, of course, 
was absolutely unobtainable, not even for its weight in gold. 
And with that good coffee, that bottle of liqueur became 
empty that very same day. 

Mother has to leave Kiev 

I stayed in Kiev for only a few days because I had to 
return to my unit. Mother stayed on in Kiev because there was 
a lot of wishful thinking about the rapid success of the 
White Army. I do not think they actually realized how few we 
were. Because of the significance of Kiev, it being a big 
city and a railroad junction, the Reds decided to take it 
back. They concentrated their troops and Kiev was attacked 
and the Whites could not hold it so they had to abandon the 
city rapidly. When it was first known that Kiev was being 
abandoned by the Whites, trains of refugees from Kiev began 
to move southeast toward the region of the Don River and 
Mother decided not to stay. 

Anna decided that she wanted to go back to St. Peters 
burg, which had not yet been disgraced by the name of Leningrad. 



- 364 - 

Anna had a sister there and the sister had two children, and 
all of Anna's personal, private life had been an effort to 
assist her sister and to bring up those two girls. Of course 
Anna had no idea what was going on in St. Petersburg. We never 
saw her again, and probably if she ever reached St. Petersburg 
she probably died of hunger there as thousands of others did. 

With the help of friends in Kiev, my mother managed to 
board one of the refugee trains and it took her to 
Novocherkask, which was the biggest city in the Don Region. 
It was populated by Cossacks and it was the moral center, the 
soul of the resistance against the Reds. But when she got 
there, taking all that she could carry at her age and scarcely 
any money, by good fortune she met a good friend with whom 
she had been friends from time immemorial, the inspector of 
a girls' school of St. Petersburg. That school had been 
very famous since the days of Catherine the Great, and it was 
located in a once-upon-a-time monastery, and this monastery 
for very good reasons was called Smolny. When the revolution 
started in St. Petersburg the Red battalions and all the 
rabble just broke into that school and chased away all the 
girls and established their headquarters there. It was an 
ancient building, very large, and actually was like a 
fortified castle where any attack could be resisted. Later 
the school had been re-established in Novocherkask. Because 
of the influence of that lady inspector, my mother was able 
to live with her in the school and my mother became an 



- 365 - 

English teacher at that school. The Reds were attacking and 
it was known that the city must be vacated and surrendered, 
but some schools were left and the school, where my mother 
was, remained in use. A lot of fighting noise was going on 
around and then all of a sudden the noise stopped and there 
was silence and everybody knew the battle was over. The 
Whites had gone, the Reds were in the city. What was going 
to happen now to the school and the sixty girls? Of course 
the old inspector was very upset and she imagined that 
Communist troops would burst into that school and murder her 
and my mother and the other teachers and rape all the girls. 
In the big hall in the school was a big outside double door, 
and they all sat there and prayed for their fates. Then on 
the threshold there appeared Communist authorities in Red 
attire and with ammunition around their necks and hand 
grenades on their belts. They stopped in the doorway and 
at that moment all the girls stood up like one person and 
without saying a word made a deep curtsey. That was the 
way in the old days of greeting the arrival of the Russian 
empress, and when the empress entered, the girls would all 
say in one voice, "I have the pleasure to greet your Imperial 
Majesty!". That had been done for almost two centuries. And 
here were those fellows with hand grenades on their belts and 
they retreated immediately, closing the door as fast as they 
could. They had decided they must have burst into a lunatic 
asylum, and the girls were saved. 



- 366 - 

Then Mother and the inspector were ordered to do something 
else, they were ordered to make fuel. All day long Mother had 
to make little bricks which consisted of glue and coal dust. 
They had to make a certain quota of bricks and in relation 
ship to that quota they got tickets for food. If you do not 
make enough bricks, you do not get any food. Also, Mother had 
to walk around the city with a big placard in her hand with 
some kinds of sentences to the glory of Lenin. Such demonstrat 
ions and strikes and counter-strikes were well organized by 
the Reds. And there were elections, just to show the United 
States and Europe that the Soviet Union was a decent country. 
In those elections there was only one candidate to be elected, 
and before the electoral votes were counted the winner was 
declared. Well, while making those bricks, Mother hurt her 
finger and this finger became infected and she was in danger 
of having blood poinsoning, so she was put into the hospital. 
That was in the month of December, and inside the hospital the 
water in the glass was frozen, for there was no heat. Fortun 
ately, the hospital was run by a real doctor, a surgeon, and 
he was a good surgeon and he also knew who my mother was, so 
he operated on that finger and she had to stay in that hospital 
for quite a time. There were nurses in the hospital, though 
most of the nurses were in the White army. These nurses were 
jokingly called consolation nurses. Their job was to sit on 
the bed of the wounded who were recuperating and to console 
them and to keep them happy, and they behaved in any way that 
you can imagine. So you can guess what went on, especially 



- 367 - 

at night time, and even in the middle of the day. Mother had 
managed to keep with her a little book of the Holy Scriptures. 
These nurses, the girl friends of the Communists, asked her, 
"What are you reading?" Mother told them and the girls 
replied, "Oh, do you still believe in all those fairytales 
and that nonsense?" And Mother said, "I do, and nobody can 
be made to believe or not to believe!" So she had quite a 
relationship with those girls and they said, "Granny, when 
you die we are not going to leave you on the surface." That 
meant that burying was a problem, especially when the ground 
was so hard-frozen. Well, they did not have to keep their 
promise. 

Mother is being moved to Moscow 

Then with the help of that real doctor she got a place 
in a railroad car, and that railroad car had a special 
assignment to take insane persons to Moscow, where there were 
better hospitals. The time to Moscow by train was ordinarily 
36 hours, but that particular journey lasted two weeks. On 
the third day of the journey she started to realize that most 
of the people on that car were just as "insane" as she was 
herself. It was a trick of the kind doctor to get them to 
Moscow. 
My uncle Leo, the Commissar of Sanitation 

Finally they arrived in Moscow, and there it was a 
different story. There, the head Commissar of Sanitation, a 



- 368 - 

professor of biology and a very grand Commissar, was my uncle! 
In the days when he was a student in Odessa and studying biology 
he had to travel to a lot of places and he came to my grand 
mother's estate, Kemenka. He spent the summer there and lived 
in the house and Father's sister, my aunt, fell in love with 
that young student and they got married, and it was a very 
happy marriage. That young student was very involved in 
politics and he was in danger of being arrested by the 
Imperial police and being deported to Siberia. Well, Father 
and his brothers intervened and the deportation was modified 
into an exile to Paris. This was some difference, not Siberia, 
but Paris! In Paris, where he was exiled for many years, he 
was the right-hand of the famous Professor Pasteur. As soon as 
the Revolution occurred in March, 1917, and there was not yet 
Communism or Bolshevism, my Uncle Leo came back to Moscow 
University. He was appointed Head Commissar of Sanitation of 
all the Soviet Union, and he was given somebody's estate 
where he had to keep all kinds of animals. Of course he also 
had the responsibility of hiring people to keep that estate 
in shape, and by doing so, he saved and helped very many 
people. When my mother arrived they immediately embraced 
and she lived with him quite a while. 

There was a meeting of all the Commissars in Moscow and 
Uncle Leo declared that the great mortality in Russia in those 
years was due not only to the anti-sanitary conditions 
because of the war and the Civil War, but also because of the 



- 369 - 

moral depression of the population. Those words "moral 
depression" , caused him to be sentenced to prison for one 
year because it was considered an attack against Communism. 
After a year he was released and came back as head Commissar 
of Sanitation. Why? Because Uncle Leo was a famous 
professor, and when scientists came to Moscow he was the only 
one who could talk science with them, so the Communists 
wanted to show off that they had science at the same level as 
any other country. 

Many years had passed after the war and we were refugees 
in Paris, we read in the paper that there had been a convention 
of scientists and the Soviet Union had been represented by 
Uncle Leo. A few days later we got a postcard that said, 
"Dear Masha," which was my mother, Mary, "please do not make 
any attempt to see me. I perfectly well know that I have two 
shadows. Your loving Leo." And we understood what he meant. 
Somehow we got in touch with a taxi driver who would be on 
such and such a corner, at such and such an hour, and Uncle 
Leo was passing by and he hailed that particular taxi. The 
taxi driver was the husband of his niece, and this Russian 
ex-White officer drove around and around Paris for hours, 
and there they could talk, He told them of the way of life in 
Moscow in those days, not propaganda but the real thing. Then 
again we read in the paper a few days later that at a gathering 
of scientists in Western Germany, in Dresden, this great 
Russian professor committed suicide by jumping out of the 



- 370 - 

window of his hotel from the fifth floor. And Mother said, 
"I have known Leo all my life, and he was not a man to jump 
out of a window like some kind of teenager who was desperately 
in love with a girl who did not want him!" He was 70, or close 
to 80 at that time. "And he would not jump out of a window, 
he was pushed out!" Somehow they must have found out that he 
had talked too much. But on the other hand, it was possible 
that he did jump because he saw how things were in Dresden in 
those days, and in comparing life and the attitudes of the 
people he was completely disillusioned. Probably he was 
reminded of his young days and probably he was sorry for his 
activity, which had been geared to the overthrow of the 
existing order in Russia, and overthrown it was, and when he 
saw and realized the results of that overthrow, he did not want 
to live any longer. And that was the end of one of my most 
favorite uncles. 

Battle on the outskirts of Rostov 

In the late fall of 1918, many officers of different units 
had managed to escape from north Russia, from the region of 
Kiev, and even from Odessa, all to the city of Rostov, lying 
in the estuary of the Don River. 

Now, somebody interested in the situation must have a 
look at the map of Russia, finding the main railroad connecting 
the north, St. Petersburg, Moscow, and then way south to 
Sebastopol on the Black Sea. This railroad was, so-to-say, 
the backbone of European Russia. The fighting of the White 



- 371 - 

units moved northward mainly along this line. That was the 
center of the advance of the so-called White front. To the 
east of this line there was the Don River region, of the 
Cossacks who were mostly cavalry. When they fought the Reds, 
they fought like lions, as long as they were liberating their 
Don region from the Communists. But when they reached the 
border of their own region, the border with Russia proper, 
the region that used to be called Moscovia ages ago, those 
Cossacks felt that they were in enemy territory. Therefore, 
they acted accordingly. The local population suffered from 
this quite a lot. West of the Cossack region lay this main 
railroad line, and the crack regiments of the White army. 
There were three of them, that had names of officers who 
actually gave birth to those regiments when the front against 
Germany was disintegrating. Those officers then were fleeing 
from all over Russia, chased by Communists. 

Rostov was a big industrial city and the region just 
beyond that city was the region of the Don Cossacks. The 
Don Cossacks were very anti-communist. Those officers in 
the city of Rostov formed units and regiments to fight 
Communism and to restore national Russia. That group of 
heroes and enthusiasts had no money, no supplies, nothing but 
burning patriotism and enthusiasm. Politically they were 
not more developed than junior Boy Scouts since politics was 
completely out of any army life in Imperial Russia. Even the 
best generals were just plain naive children when it concerned 



- 372 - 

politics such as running the civilian administration part 
of the country and even more so, when it came to foreign 
politics, of which they had no idea. And all those regiments 
that were not numerically larger than peacetime battalions 
were named after the generals who led them. The commander of 
all the regiments was General Kornilov. Another regiment 
was named Markov, and a third Drozdovsky. At the outbreak 
of the Revolution Drozdovsky was only a captain in an 
artillery unit that was then on the front at the border of 
Romania. Most of Romania was overrun by German troops. In 
that part of Romania where there were Romanian troops and 
Russian troops to support them, there was much friction 
between the Romanians and the Russians and eventually 
Drozdovsky made an appeal to all those who wanted to follow 
him from the Romanian front all the way across south Russia 
to the Don region. He got about a battalion-sized unit 
and they marched, fighting Communist gangs all across south 
Russia, to join those in Rostov. 

There was a day when those units in Rostov were fighting 
against superior forces of the Red Army to the north of the 
city and they were retreating, outnumbered and outgunned by 
the Reds. The situation was very difficult and quite 
desperate. Right on the border of the Don region, in the 
Ukraine, there stood a German cavalry regiment of real 
regimental size. They looked on through binoculars at the 
then losing battle of the Whites and they offered their 



- 373 - 

support to the Whites against the Communists. But the 
Commander- in-Chief of the White Army, then General Denikin, 
had a short-sighted, foolish, and naive policy that he must 
be absolutely loyal to the far-away allies, the French and 
British, and to consider the Germans as enemies and not to 
have any kind of contact with them, let alone accepting their 
help. So the help of the German regiment was declined. The 
retreating White units all of a sudden noticed that the Reds, 
who were obviously gaining success, also started to retreat 
and retreated very rapidly, almost in panic. The White 
side could not figure out any reason for the Reds' retreat 
when they were obviously winning, but anyhow they were 
happy for this event and they too retreated, carrying their 
wounded and some of their dead with them. When they were 
passing very close to the German cavalry unit, a German 
mounted brass band was standing in front of the regiment 
playing the Russian national anthem, and in front of the 
band was the commander of the regiment with his sword drawn. 
Many German officers were great gentlemen and followed 
the ancient traditions of the medieval knights. I am 
reminded of a similar event that occurred much later. One 
of my regimental comrades was a Russian German from the 
Baltic provinces, as they were called. This young man 
left Soviet Russia for Germany, became a German citizen, and 
then was mobilized into the reserve of the German Army. 
And the reserves of the German Army had to go on maneuvres. 



- 374 - 

This was a year or two before Hitler took over in Germany. 
While they were on maneuvres, my ex-Horse Guard officer, 
who was in German uniform as a junior officer, was somewhere 
in the rear of the column of his regiment. All of a sudden 
a rider came up to him and by order of the commanding 
general of the regiment he was told to bypass the whole 
regiment at a gallop and to join right next to the regiment 
commander. My friend was very scared - he thought he had 
done something wrong. But he did as he had been ordered, 
put his horse to a gallop, and rode up alongside of the 
General. The General said to him, "Ride next to me. I have 
a little surprise for you." This unit was going back to 
barracks through the city of Berlin, and when they reached 
the Triumphal Arch in the center of the city, the regimental 
band started palying the Russian national anthem in honor of 
the ex-Horse Guard officer in their ranks. Again, another 
example of rare German chivalry. 

Now I have to go back to that battle on the outskirts 
of Rostov. When the winning side, the Reds, retreated all 
of a sudden, the Whites had no idea why they did it but 
later they found out the reason. It was the Drozdovsky 
unit who, having marched all through south Russia, had 
gained the vicinity of the city of Rostov and found them 
selves on the rear of the Reds who were attacking Rostov. 
Their coming was quite unexpected and the Reds, discovering 
quite a large fighting unit of the White Army in their rear, 



- 375 - 

panicked and retreated. 

But the city of Rostov was a very big city, populated 
by many factory workers who were very much pro-Bolshevik. 
This small group realized that they could not hold such a 
big city so they had to leave it, mostly on foot. There 
were few carts, few supplies, and they went out into the 
steppes without knowing exactly where they were going. But 
General Kornilov was leading that group of Martyrs. It was 
late fall, and in the steppes they were overtaken by snow 
storms and severe frost. When they reached a village 
occupied by Red Army soldiers they had a choice: either 
storm that village and get into some warm houses or perish 
in the snow of cold and hunger. So they stormed. They 
stormed through small rivers of water up to their necks. 
When they got out, they went on storming again, and the 
water froze and their uniforms became as hard as steel. Of 
course they had losses, but as I said, they had no choice. 
This was called the "Ice Campaign." All of the participants 
were heroes and martyrs and they succeeded in waking up 
many people to the idea of saving Russia from the Reds, from 
the international gang now in power in Moscow. 

Later these regiments grew in numbers, and now they were 
on that railroad line after having chased the Reds out of 
south Russia. They were on the borderline of the region 
called Moscovia years ago. But those regiments were larger 
in numbers, but very very different in spirit, because the 



- 376 - 

heroes and martyrs, most of them, were dead. Some still living 
were wounded. Very few of them were still in the ranks of 
those regiments. The bulk of the regiments consisted of 
mobilized south Russian people, mobilized men of military 
age but not of the same spirit. Besides, headquarters of 
the regiment commanders made the mistake of relying on 
numbers and not on battle quality. For the sake of numbers, 
war prisoners taken by their advance from surrounded Red 
army units were a few days later put into the ranks of their 
own regiments. So, a fellow who was two weeks ago or less 
a soldier in the Red army, now found himself to be a soldier 
in the White crack regiments. And those PWs , some of them, 
a very few, were quite sincere, and at the bottom of their 
hearts they were against the Reds. There were others that 
vacillated. Depending on the success of a skirmish of battle 
in process, they again changed sides. When the White regi 
ments were in a difficult situation, the mobilized Reds, 
abandoning arms or even taking their arms with them, they 
would again rejoin the Reds. In so doing, for good measure, 
they would shoot the White officers who were in command of 
a whole company. The whole company consisted of recent ex- 
Reds led by a few officers of the White army. So, that is 
why the momentum of the movement of the White armies was 
gone. There was a kind of stalemate. And the last city 
along that railroad line that the White armies occupied was 
the city of Kursk and north of it for a very short period 



- 377 - 

the city of Orel. 

Now, my dear reader, imagine that you are standing in 
Kursk, looking northward towards a few cities, and beyond 
that, some 200 miles to the north, Moscow. But the drive 
of the White armies was blunted, and winter was coming. 
Conditions of fighting in the winter were of course much 
harder, and the spirit of the advancing White armies was 
almost exhausted. Their supplies rarely reached them, 
because in the south, communist gangs became more and more 
numerous, grabbing the roads and grabbing the supplies. 
Now, looking north, my unit was far more west. We were then 
in the city of Gluchov, and there was also a stalemate. North 
of Gluchov was a village, a very large village, Berezovka. 
That name means willow, and there were very many willow trees 
in that region. It was an enormous village, occupied on and 
off by Red units, on and off by our reconnaissance units. 
It changed hands many times. We attacked Berezovka and then 
the Reds fled, dropping their arms, jumping out of their 
trenches, even taking off their boots to run faster. In one 
of those attacks, my squadron managed to take two machine 
guns abandoned by the Reds. And then, back we went 
to Gluchov and just stayed there waiting for something to 
happen. 

The city of Gluchov had outposts for security's sake. 
I was in command of one of those outposts. Among my 
soldiers, I had three very unusual fellows. One was a 



- 378 - 

Moslem from the Caucasus, another one was a German colonist, 
and the third one was a high school boy. They were the ones 
who went out to search for fodder and supplies. That Moslem 
came up to me and said to me, "Captain, we are bored, doing 
nothing. So, let us go as scouts into Berezovka, and we will 
get some supplies." I said, "All right, but be careful, 
because we do not know. Red forces may be occupying Berezovka." 
That afternoon, that trio left. Late in the evening they came 
back, bringing some supplies. We had a nice supper, and I 
asked them whether they saw the Reds. They said, "Oh yes, 
while we were there we saw about two squadrons of Red cavalry 
approaching Berezovka." So I asked them, "What did you do?" 
They said, "We deployed our forces (there were three of them) 
and we counterattacked the two Red squadrons." And, what 
happened? "Well, the two Red squadrons retreated, and so, 
here we are." After that, I thanked them for bravery, we 
had a good supper as I mentioned, and then, without undressing 
of course, I lay down on the couch and fell into a kind of 
slumber. Then, through my slumber I heard a terrible noise 
outside the house I was in. I woke up, and in came the 
commanding colonel of our regiment with two squadrons of 
cavalry and horse-drawn artillery. And he started yelling 
at me that I am not watching, I am lying here sleeping. 
Reports came to headquarters that Red cavalry was attacking 
Berezovka. Two squadrons from another regiment were sent 
out, and then they retreated under attack by Red cavalry. 



- 379 - 

I kept my cool, and the Colonel changed his tone. Then I 
asked, "Sir, may I ask when was the exact time that those 
two squadrons retreated under attack?" Well, he told me, 
and it was the exact time when my scouts were there. So I 
told about the report of my Moslem scout, that the three of 
them deployed and attacked the two squadrons that were our 
squadrons from a different regiment. The Colonel beamed. 
He was delighted, and immediately ordered me to follow him 
to the headquarters of the division. Headquarters of the 
division were lit up all night. Staff officers were study 
ing maps on the wall, and we barged in, and also the 
commander of the other regiment. Then it was established 
what exactly had happened, to the great confusion of the 
commander of the other regiment who had retreated when 
attacked by my three scouts. That incident looks like a 
joke, like an anecdote, but the meaning of it was much deeper. 
It shows the spirit of some White units. There were two 
squadrons deploying to enter the city of Berezovka. They 
saw three riders that they took for Red cavalry, and that 
was enough for them to retreat. That was the poor spirit of 
many exhausted White units. 

Once again we were ordered to attack Berezovka. Infantry 
entrenched in front of Berezovka. Snow had fallen, rather 
deep snow. And at a later date I will tell of this last 
attack in which I just barely missed being killed, due to 
some kind of a miracle, probably the prayers of my mother 



- 380 - 

somewhere in Kiev. 

Vladimir Rudin 

In the month of August 1919, during the Civil War, the 
Whites were successfully advancing in the general direction 
of Moscow, but they were still quite far from attaining the 
city, in fact we never attained it. But during August we 
occupied a fairly calm sector of the front. A river separated 
our lines from the Red lines. Our field artillery exchanged 
rather lazy fire with the Red field artillery on the other 
side and then that was over and calm reigned. I had my 
quarters in a peasant house. I was having some tea when an 
artillery officer, a cousin of mine, came in. I offered him 
some tea and he said that he had something to tell me. My 
cousin reported to me that one of my non-com officers had 
come strolling into his positions and started making some 
observations about their fire. I listened, knowing very well 
that my cousin was not a genius in artillery matters, and 
that probably his firing was missing the target. "Anyhow", 
said my cousin, "it is against discipline for a cavalry 
non-com officer to come strolling into our positions and 
making remarks about our shooting." We had tea together and 
shortly afterward my cousin left. The next morning I called 
my non-com officer, by the name of Vladimir Rudin. I told 
him about the strolling into that artillery position and 
about his act of poor discipline in making remarks about the 



- 381 - 

shooting. Then I made him sit down, offered him some tea, 
and told him quite frankly that he was not just a cavalry 
volunteer but a man trained in artillery as well. Rudin said, 
"Yes, Sir. I have been a captain of field artillery since 
the beginning of the war in 1914," (and we were in the year 
1919.) So in great astonishment I asked him what he, as a 
captain, was doing in my squadron, serving as a non-com 
officer. I knew that he was an excellent squad commander 
but that was not his real profession. Then Rudin said to 
me, "Sir, will you please look at my rifle?" I gave him my 
consent and he brought the rifle saying, "Sir, look at the 
rifle butt." I looked at the rifle butt and saw scratches, 
many rather deep scratches. And Rudin said to me, "As an 
officer I could not do what I am doing on my own free time. 
Each scratch meanst a shot Jew." Hearing this, I jumped to 
my feet and said to Rudin, "You do not look like a crazy man, 
but what you are doing is something most unusual, to put it 
mildly." Then Rudin said to me, "Sir, I like you very much. 
You are younger as an officer but I have great sympathy with 
you and I would like to tell you what happened in my life." 
I replied, "Well, if you want to, go ahead. I am not going 
to tell it to anybody and I am very touched that you have 
so much confidence in me. Obviously you want to unburden 
something that weighs heavily on your mind." Rudin said, 
"Yes, it does, Sir. As a young artillery officer, back in 
1917, I came home on leave. My father had a modest estate in 



- 382 - 

the vicinity of St. Petersburg. We belonged to the Russian 
nobility but not to the very wealthy top-notch aristocracy 
of Russia. We are of an impoverished but very ancient and 
noble family. My father served all his life in the army and 
was a retired general, too old to participate in the war of 
1914. He lived in that home of ours with my mother, my 
sister, and my fiancee, who was visiting them when I came on 
leave. And then, out of the blue, came the Revolution. I 
know that you were somewhere out in the provinces with the 
regiment. You were not in Petersburg and the horrors of the 
Revolution reached you gradually. But to us who were there 
it came as a big blow out of nowhere. A few trucks full of 
drunk sailors, led by several Jewish youths of St. Petersburg, 
seized my father and shot him outright. They tied me to a 
tree with ropes so that I could not move at all. They put 
a gag in my mouth and then in front of me that gang raped my 
sister and fiancee and then they shot them both, as well as 
my mother. They looted and smashed everything in the house 
but for some reason that I do not understand, they forgot 
all about me. Finally that gang drove off, probably to do 
the same thing to our neighbors. Terrorized local people and 
servants came out of their hiding and they untied me. Of 
course I was as much as crazy. They made me swallow a large 
amount of vodka and then they forcibly stuck me in a tub of 
cold water to bring me to my senses. Well, as you can see, 
Sir, I revived. The memory of that day is with me day and 



- 383 - 

night and my only purpose in life is to take my revenge on 
the Jews . " 

Some time after this massacre Rudin went back to the 
front lines. As I was saying, the front lines had disintegrated 
and he had nowhere to go, but by a bit of luck he was able to 
join my squadron as a volunteer. As a soldier and officer 
Rudin was an exemplary man. In every battle, in every 
skirmish, and in every hand-to-hand fighting he was always 
right in the thick of it, and it was quite obvious that he 
was seeking death. In cavalry charges and attacks he was 
always way in front of the rest, having a very good horse. 
As I said, he was seeking death, and throughout more than 
three years of Civil War he never had a scratch. 

Well, in 1920, a few months before the end of the 
Civil War, my squadron was ordered by General Wrangell, who 
had started his career as an officer of our regiment, to be 
his personal bodyguard. Rudin declared that he did not want 
to serve as a bodyguard in the rear, he wanted to go on fight 
ing as long as the fighting lasted, so he was detached to 
another unit. At that time the agony of the White Army cannot 
be described. Outnumbered and outgunned about twenty to one, 
the army could not fight any longer, so General Wrangell 
ordered an evacuation of the Crimea and he ordered all of the 
White troops that remained to retreat to the ports of the 
Crimea. So Rudin retreated with them. All those who wanted 
to be shipped were shipped and eventually Vladimir Rudin came 



_ 384 _ 

to Constantinople as an emigre. From Constantinople he went 
to Yugoslavia, to the city of Beograd, as a civilian. During 
those early days many soldiers who had been demobilized found 
jobs in Yugoslavia and some of them went to other countries. 
I was in Yugoslavia then for about a year and a half, but 
there were about fifty of our soldiers that were unemployed. 
Rudin became a cabinet maker. He was remarkably skillful 
with his hands and as a cabinet maker he made a sizeable 
amount of money, actually more money than those officers of 
my squadron who were employed in banks as clerks. Finally 
Rudin took over command of the remaining unemployed fifty. 
He started finding all sorts of employment for them, digging 
ditches and so forth. He found somewhere on the outskirts 
of the city discarded tram cars. He got permission from the 
city fathers to occupy those tram cars. He restored them 
with materials that he got, God knows where, and made them 
liveable, and he put in some heat. In the mornings, before 
he started his work as a cabinet maker, he went to the cattle 
market where the butchers slaughtered the cattle, and where 
the remainder of the cattle, the lungs and other unuseable 
remnants could be had for free. He took this food to his 
cars, where he had constructed some kind of an oven, and he 
boiled it with some vegetables and this became the Russian 
soldiers' soup. And with this soup he fed his unemployed 
comrades . 

Some time later a chapel, a copy of a very venerated 



- 385 ~ 

chapel in Moscow, was built in the graveyard where many 
Russians were buried. Next to it there was also a house 
built for a guardian, and Rudin became the guardian. He 
cleaned the chapel after services and he dug graves for those 
who could not afford to pay grave diggers. One of our very 
aged officers and his wife also lived in the city. They had 
lost their only son in the war and now they lived on a small 
pension that the government of Yugoslavia was giving to aged 
officers of the ex- Imperial Russian Army. The old couple 
lived on the second or third floor of a house. The colonel 
was an invalid and his wife had a serious heart condition, 
and every other day Rudin visited that couple and brought 
firewood up to their apartment. And every day Rudin polished 
the boots of the old colonel until they shone like a mirror. 
He actually became the colonel's volunteer servant. In short, 
Rudin acted like a saint. 

Besides all his self-imposed duties, Rudin managed to 
have an official letterhead printed. The heading was 
"Volunteer Squadron of the Horse Guard Regiment." And on 
this paper he wrote letters to embassies and governments in 
France and many other countries, asking for visas and pass 
ports for his men. He signed those letters "Non-Corn Officer 
of the Horse Guards, Rudin." And these official papers 
worked magic but they upset very much our ambassador in 
Beograd, who was still recognized as the Russian Ambassador. 
Rudin went right over his head to obtain passports for his 



- 386 - 

men. A most unusual situation for the Ambassador! 

I lost sight of Rudin when I left Yugoslavia and many 
years after the Second World War, when Yugoslavia was 
occupied by Soviet troops, many Russian emigres left there 
because they did not want to remain under the rule of the 
Communists. As an emigre and a displaced person, Rudin 
finally came to southern France. By that time he was in an 
enfeebled condition, aged and sick. He had tuberculosis and 
other very nasty and incurable ailments. He lived in a 
home for the elderly and penniless refugees in Nice. A friend 
of mine who was one of the assistants of the director of that 
place had great sympathy for that old warrior, but she 
realized that physically and mentally he was a complete ruin. 
Sometimes when he had a few francs in his pocket he spent 
them on red wine, but in his state of health the red wine 
was not good for him. However, it was his last pleasure and 
when he had had a glass or two he became excited and talked 
about the most extraordinary events he had been through 
during the days of the Civil War. Then came a letter from 
that friend of mine in Nice, addressed to me at Stanford, 
where I was teaching. And the letter said that Rudin was 
dead. I think that it was a blessing for him, because 
living as an invalid probably was very painful and distressing 
to him. A big envelope, found in his room, was sent over 
to me, too. I thought at first that there might be some 
interesting memoirs, but as I opened the envelope I saw that 



- 387 - 

it contained letters from people /mostly thanking him for 
what he had done for them, and then there were some old 
receipts for utilities from the time when he was living on 
his own in Beograd, a whole bunch of them. I do not know 
why he kept all those receipts in such perfect order, as I 
never knew him to be an accountant. But apparently it was 
fairly typical for him to keep every little scrap of 
official paper. I heard later that he had been buried in 
a Russian cemetary in Nice, called "Caucade." And so, the 
life of Vladimir Rudin came to an end. He became a 
martyr due to the events, he was a great soldier, a 
terrorist, and a saint, all in one. It is strange how a war 
and even more so a civil war, produces quite often good or 
bad qualities of mind and acharacter. 

War atrocities 

Our Twentieth Century has seen two world wars, and 
revolution, and by now every child all over the world knows 
that war is something very, very horrible. And the more 
sophisticated it gets, the more horrible it is. But nothing 
can be compared with the horrors of civil war, where many 
people become wild beasts or worse. For history's sake, 
I wish to mention two horrible events which occurred during 
the civil war in Russia in the years 1918 and 1920. 

Horrors were committed by both sides. I was fighting 
on the White side, the enemies were the Reds, the Communists. 



- 387a - 

Acts of bravery were performed on both sides, and I have 
great respect for bravery, no matter who performs the act of 
bravery. By no means do I wish to imply that all those 
adversaries of ours on the Red side were one hundred percent 
devils and murderers. Among them there were just some very 
brave Russian fellows. The same, exactly the same, applies 
to my side, the White side. There were acts of great bravery 
and there were also acts of horror. So, I will mention two 
incidents, one caused by the White side, and the other one 
by the Reds, so that the scales of history can stand even. 
And I am mentioning it only for history's sake, and not for 
the sake of making out of it a horror film that can be seen 
now almost every day on any television program, unfortunately. 

Well, the first incident happened when the Russian armies 
disintegrated south of the Caucasus mountain chain. Again, 
my reader must absolutely have a map to find that the Caucasus 
chain stretches from the Black Sea eastward to the Caspian 
Sea, and south of the range lies the city of Tifles. South 
of the city, battle lines were drawn between Russians and 
Turks in 1917. When the Russian armies disintegrated, the 
Turks were too weak to pursue and advance. But the Russian 
mob of soldiers that had once been an army had now an urge 
to return to their homeland in Russia proper, as fast as 
possible, because the Red propaganda was telling them that 
they have to hurry to grab land from the wealthy, rich, grand 
land proprietors, the aristocracy, and to become owners of 



- 387b - 

the big plants, and so forth and so on. The half-literate 
soldiers believed them. And this armed mob rushed northward. 
They had to cover a very, very long distance, living on the 
country, plundering and sacking villages. The villages were 
inhabited by wealthy Russian peasants, so-called Cossacks. 
Cossack regiments were still mostly on the European front 
facing Germany and Austria. They were also disintegrating, 
but they were not yet back home. So those villages had only 
older men and women, and they were defenseless against the 
hordes of deserters that were passing through. It was mostly 
wine country. Every village had its own reserves of wine, 
and the passing deserters got drunk. Once drunk, they molested 
all the femal population, from really young girls to quite 
elderly women. The older Cossacks, to avoid being murdered, 
fled and hid in the marshes and the reeds of the river. One 
night, when the deserters were very tired from drinking and 
molesting all the women, and they were fast asleep, the 
old Cossacks with some very young Cossack boys rushed into 
the village, slaughtering every Russian soldier they saw, in 
their sleep. Some woke up in time to flee, and about 200 
were taken prisoners alive. Then the old elected head of the 
Cossacks of that village ordered those 200 prisoners to be 
tied against the fence in the main square of the village. 
They were tied with their backs to the fence and stripped 
naked. Then the village chief let it be known to the women 
to come and inspect those prisoners, and to bring with them 



- 387c - 

very, very sharp knives. And if the women recognized one of 
the deserters who had molested them, they were ordered to 
use the very sharp knives and to cut away from the tied man, 
you-know-what. That is what happened to those 200 prisoners, 
every single one of them. Some of them fainted right away. 
Some of them did not, and they could look on as dogs, hungry 
village dogs, gobbled up what was cut away from them. Of 
course, a few hours later, all of those tied to the fence were 
dead from bleeding to death. It was, of course, atrocious. 

On another occasion, the Reds had stormed into a village 
occupied by a small detachment of Whites. Some of the Whites 
were wounded and could not get away, and some were captured. 
The wounded and the captured were all driven into an enclosure, 
and they were made to dig foxholes. A foxhole is a very 
narrow dugout, just wide enough for a normal grownup person 
to hide in it; and those foxholes were very useful during 
battle situations to save yourself from splinters of 
shrapnel or some enemy fire. In this case, those foxholes 
were dug, the White officers - prisoners of the Reds - were 
tied with their hands behind their backs, and each one of 
them was then thrust into his own foxhole. Then, the fox 
holes were filled with earth, stamped down, and the living 
man was buried, but just so deep that his head stuck out of 
that foxhole. Then a bunch of very hungry pigs was driven 
into that enclosure. All that those unfortunate martyrs 



- 387d - 

could do was to yell, but that yelling did not drive away the 
pigs. And when, a few days later, that village was re 
captured by the Whites, they could only have a priest say a 
funeral mass for those that were little by little beheaded 
by the pigs who ate them away while they were stuck alive in 
the foxholes. Again, an unimagineable atrocity. 

Of course, such events were the cause for revenge, and 
revenge calls for revenge, and therefore civil war is so 
atrocious that it is hard to describe and uncanny to remember, 
even decades later. But it happened, and believe it or not, 
but it did happen; therefore, I wanted to put it on paper for 
future generations that I hope will never be so inhuman as 
what was my fate to witness. 

An incident in the city of Rostov 

In the late fall of 1919, the city of Rostov on the 
estuary of the Don River was full of stray soldiers in great 
turmoil because of the retreat of the White Armies. A friend 
of mine, a young officer in those days, was crossing one of 
the squares of the city when he saw a very old man being 
heckled and pursued and molested by a gang of young, uniformed 
Cossacks that had become quite undisciplined. My friend was 
not a Cossak officer, but he was just angry that an old man 
was being heckled by a gang of youngsters, so he took out 
his revolver and yelled at those young Cossack soldiers in 



- 388 - 

such a manner that they fled, leaving the old man alone. The 
old man came up to him, profusely thanking him in the most 
poetical, elaborate words for having helped him. And my 
friend just said to the oldster, "I do not want all those 
thanks of yours, just scram, get away from here, because I am 
going my way and those youngsters might return and molest 
you worse." But the old man said to the officer, "Young gentle 
man officer, I see that you are very, very young and that 
you are a great gentleman, so please take this little slip of 
paper as thanks for what you have done for me. And he rapidly 
wrote something on a small slip of paper and thrust it into 
the hands of my friend. Mechanically, automatically, my 
friend stuffed that little piece of paper into his military 
overcoat and went his way. 

Two years later, this friend of mine was a refugee, an 
emigre, in Yugoslavia. He had no job. He lived by selling 
his last belongings on the flea market but by now they were 
all sold, and the only thing he found at the bottom of his 
suitcase was the old military overcoat. So he thought, why 
not take this coat to the flea market? Maybe I will get a 
pound or two of bread in exchange. And mechanically he 
searched the pockets of his overcoat and there at the bottom 
he found a slip of paper with some writing on it that he could 
not decipher. And he wondered, where did that paper come from, 
and what might the scribbled message be? And then it dawned 
on him, that it might be Jewish Hebrew script. Oh yes, he 



- 389 - 

remembered that incident of two years ago when he met an old 
Jew that was being persecuted by a gang of youngsters. That 
must be it. And having nothing to do, he took that paper and 
went to the local synagogue in the city of Novy-sad on the 
borders of the Danube River. It was a very wealthy city, a 
commercial center, and almost ninety percent of that city was 
Jewish. He came to the synagogue and showed somebody that 
slip of paper. The fellow who looked at the paper said, "Sir, 
will you please come again tomorrow at such-and-such an hour?" 

My friend shrugged his shoulders and said, "All right. 
I have nothing to do anyhow." The next day he came to the 
synagogue and there was a gathering of elderly Jewish people. 
They asked him very ceremoniously to sit down and then they 
explained to him that the heads of the Jewish synagogue in 
Novy-sad had made a decision that he would receive a pension 
of two thousand dinars per month and that a room in a nice 
hotel would be at his disposal for life. My friend was so 
astonished that he could not believe he heard correctly, and 
they had to repeat what they had just said. A pension of 
two-thousand dinars was in those days equal to about three 
hundred dollars. He could live very well on that, a single 
man especially, considering that his room would be paid for 
life. He than asked those Jewish synagogue men, "Why? What 
is this all about?" And they told him, "Sir, this little 
slip that you gave us yesterday tells us that you saved the 
life of the chief rabbi of Russia." 



- 390 - 

I re-join the squadron 

After I left Odessa and re-joined the squadron, we had 
to dress all the volunteers. We had the cloth and other stuff 
to make them shirts but the worst problem was boots. The 
place where we were then located was a small provincial town 
and it was very famous for its tailors; ninety percent of 
that town was inhabited by a minority - I mean Jews - and 
most of them were professional tailors. One night we made a 
search of that small town and we arrested every Jew who was 
a tailor - this was a procedure of Civil War, of course, it 
was not foreseen by any regulation of the Imperial Army. 
Of course the Jews were panicky and expected to be executed, 
but we told them, "We are not members of the Red Tcheka, all 
we want from you is your skill as tailors. Here is the 
stuff." We locked them up in a school and we told them, 
"You are going to stay here to make uniforms from the cloth 
that we give you and you are going to stay here until our 
squadron is fully dressed. And your wives, sisters or 
daughters can every day bring you your kosher food, because 
we are not going to feed you." Sentinels were posted around 
that school and the tailors were told, "Do not ever try to 
run away or it will be your fault if a bullet reaches you." 
After such drastic measures with the tailors, in ten days 
we were all in new uniforms which replaced the old tattered 
ones and also the tattered civilian clothes. We really looked 
like a military unit. The volunteer boys were trained for 



- 391 - 

only two weeks, and then a squadron was formed to join the 
squadron north of us that was in the fighting lines. 

The officers of the first squadron went on leave. My 
second squadron joined the first one and a group of officers 
replaced those who were on leave. We proceeded northward 
without encountering any real resistance from the Reds. Of 
course we realized that ten miles to the east or ten miles 
to the west of the road we followed there was nobody. Eventual 
ly there were some small Communist gangs that avoided our 
advance. They had been left there for the purpose of attack 
ing our rear, destroying our communication lines, or attack 
ing small units going back south; one who went on leave south 
could not risk going alone, but only in a small armed group. 
We went northwards through wooded country, very sandy roads, 
some marshes, the worst possible terrain for cavalry units. 
Proceeding northward we reached the city of Gulchov. 

Now somebody interested in the situation must have an 
other look at the map of Russia. He must find the main rail 
road connecting the north, St. Petersburg, Moscow, and then 
way south to Sebastopol on the Black Sea. This railroad was, 
so to say, the backbone of European Russia. The fighting 
of the White units moved northward mainly along this line. 
That was the center of the advance of the so-called White 
Front. To the east of this line there was the Don River region 
of the Cossacks, who were mostly cavalry. West of the Cossack 
region lay this main railroad line, and the crack regiments 



- 392. - 

of the White Army. 

The main movement of these White forces was along the rail 
road line Sevastopol-Moscow-St. Petersburg. The goal of the 
Whites was to move as far as Moscow, to chase away the 
Communists, and to take power. This was a naive dream. No 
matter how brave, how dedicated, how ready to be martyrs to 
their cause, the Whites were outnumbered by the Reds by 
twnety to one. The Reds had their hands on that part of 
Russia where all the military depots were concentrated; they 
had plenty of ammunition and through threat and terror they 
could mobilize the population. The unfortunate officers of 
the Imperial Army could not get out of the territory occupied 
by the Reds because the Reds had their families under arrest, 
and those families were hostages. They were threatened by 
execution and torture if the officers did not join and even 
lead the Red units. Some army officers were bachelors and 
had nobody to care for or to leave in the hands of the Reds: 
they crossed over to the Whites on many occasions. But others 
of them could not do it because their families were under 
threat by the Reds, but they did what they could. I 
remember an incident in which I participated. We were then 
dismounted for lack of horses, and for a cavalry man to be on 
foot is not only a disgrace, it also gives a most uncomfort 
able feeling. Besides, we were under attack by Red cavalry. 
For a cavalryman on foot to be attacked by enemy cavalry - 
that sounds simply awful. The Red cavalry was still off at a 



- 393 - 

certain distance. We had, just a few days before, been 
supplied with new British rifles because our shortage of 
rifles had been simply disasterous. Well, the British rifles 
could shoot eleven times without being reloaded and this 
was something new to us. If we were going to use those 
British rifles, our men had to be re-trained and even ourselves, 
and we had just one night to do so before going into battle. 

When we opened fire at a long distance against the 
approaching Red cavalry, the British rifles would not work. 
They were stuck. That was a really nasty situation. The 
British rifles had been intended by the British to be sent 
to India and therefore they were greased with a very thick 
grease and that grease got thicker and thicker because of 
the low temperature in the late autumn in Russia. So there 
we were. The Red cavalry was advancing toward us and we 
formed a so-called quadrangle to receive the Reds with our 
bayonets, the only weapons that we had. Then we saw a real 
miracle happening. Probably the Red artillery had the task 
of supporting the Red attack and softening our quadrangle by 
shelling us before the Red cavalry charged, but instead of 
shelling us they shelled their own cavalry. And instead of 
attacking us the Red cavalry scattered in all directions and 
disappeared under shell fire of their own artillery. We were, 
of course, very happy about that event, and I still suspect 
that that Red artillery might have been under the command of 
an old artillery officer of the Imperial Army. An artillery 



- 394 - 

officer can always misjudge a distance and fire too close 
or too far but I still believe that this time the Red artillery 
shelled their own cavalry on purpose. And the artillery 
officer probably got away with it because he could always 
make a mistake. 

The three infantry regiments of Markov, Kornilov, and 
Drozdovsky were moving northward along the main railroad line. 
Looking north along the line, to the right of this main thrust 
was the Don region and the Don Cossacks. They were tradition 
ally excellent fighters and fought like lions as long as they 
were liberating their Don region from Communists. But when 
it was liberated and they were in Russia, these Don Cossacks 
did not want to go on fighting. They wanted to go home and 
protect their own region. Because they were not interested 
in going further northward they became quite unreliable on 
the right flank of the main column in the thrust toward 
Moscow. My units were on the left flank of this main thrust, 
and we moved into the city of Glukhov. Still more west of 
us there were very weak infantry units of the White Armies 
and many small and large bands of Communists, local people 
that were more interested in looting than in fighting. 

Speaking about the main thrust of the White regiments, 
I must say that those regiments now were more numerous, because 
during the thrust northward, they mobilized local people of 
military age. They also put into their ranks POW's from the 
Red army, taken prisoners just a few days earlier. Few of 



- 395 - 

those heroes that had started the White movement were still 
in the fighting line. Many of those martyrs were dead or 
heavy invalids. Only a few of them were still in the ranks 
of the regiments, making the thrust toward Moscow. Those 
regiments had their historical names of Markov, Kornilov, 
Drozdovsky, but the spirit of those troops was not the same. 
They were more numerous, but far less reliable for obvious 
reasons. The POW s of the Red army, drafted into those elite 
regiments of the White army, were unreliable of course. If 
we were advancing and having success, they came along. If 
the situation became difficult, or the Red fire too heavy, 
they just broke and ran. That, of course, also obliged the 
rest to retreat, sometimes even in great disorder. Worse 
things happened. There were companies in those elite 
regiments which consisted exclusively of mobilized, or 
recent Red POW's, taken by us with just a few officers lead 
ing them. Those officers were shot by their own men. And 
the whole company of those elite regiments went over, 
crossed back to the Reds. Besides, the winter was coming 
on, a very severe, early, and unexpectedly cold winter. The 
White armies were ill-prepared, ill-equipped for fighting 
a winter campaign. And the resistance of the Reds grew from day 
to day, because they were really scared that the Whites would 
succeed to thrust as far as Moscow. So they threw into 
battle against the Whites everything they had. Old officers 
of the Russian Imperial army, that had been all through the 



- 396 - 

First World War, were telling me that they had never experi 
enced during that war such heavy artillery barrages as the 
Reds were then firing against the Whites. And the Whites 
had only few heavy guns, and scarcely any shells to reply 
in kind. So the Whites retreated. 

This retreat forced us, occupying Glukhov, also to 
retreat, and we retreated to the city of Rylsk. On the march 
from Glukhov to Rylsk we faced no resistance from the Reds, 
but we faced a snowstorm. Snow icicles were blowing right 
in our faces'. We made very slow progress, the cavalry in 
deep snow. But before the retreat to Rylsk, there was a last 
attempt to move forward; and from Glukhov we attacked a 
village, lying about ten kilometers north. The ground was 
covered with snow. I was at the head of my squadron, and 
the cavalry group, including my squadron was charging that 
village. Coming quite close, I noticed a machine gun mounted 
on a peasant sleigh, and I pointed out to my men that 
machine gun. At the same instant, I found myself sitting on 
the snow, my horse somewhere deep under me. My first idea 
was that my horse had been killed. But my horse was still 
trying hard to get out of that snowdrift; and being a very 
good, strong horse, requisitioned by me a year ago in Ascania 
Nova, the horse took me out forward, and I realized that 
there was a deep ditch in front of that village. The ditch 
had been completely covered with snow, and most of my 
squadron was in that snow, fighting, trying to get out of 



- 397 - 

the ditch on the other side. Only the strongest horses 
managed to do so. So, on the other side of the ditch there 
was no longer any squadron, there were maybe fifteen or 
twenty riders, including me. When the Red infantry saw the 
situation, they turned around from their attempt to run, came 
back and started shooting almost point-blank at us. I will 
remember all my life a very tall young fellow, with a big 
blond mustache, in a gray civilian coat with a so-called 
Finnish cap on his head, and a rifle in his hands, who was 
pointing the rifle right at me at a distance of probably 
less than fifty feet. I was on horseback. I took out my 
German revolver and started aiming at him, but the revolver 
was stuck. I was so mad that I cursed my revolver and threw 
it at the man. Of course, the revolver never reached him. 
But for some reason, I saw him move his rifle slightly, and 
shoot and kill one of the men of my squadron that was right 
next to me, instead of me. It all lasted a minute or two. 
And then my soldiers were there, and they struck that man 
with their lances. He fell to the ground, and was probably 
trampled by the horses and killed. But that figure in the 
gray coat, aiming his rifle right at me, remains an unforget 
table vision for all my life. 

Well, our attack was a flop, but the Res also retreated. 
We came back to the city of Glukhov for a few more days, and 
then we were ordered to retreat southward; because the main 
troops of the thrust in the direction of Moscow, were retreating 



- 398 - 

south, so as not to be encircled. Our group also had to 
retreat, without any pressure from the Reds. 

Moving through that horrible snowstorm, we reached the 
city of Rylsk, which reminded me of the theatrical set piece 
that I saw as a boy when I went to the Imperial theater to 
see the opera Boris Godunov. Rylsk was a very ancient Russian 
city, a trading point. Stone buildings two stories high were 
built as a quadrangle, inside which there was a well. Those 
buildings were like a medieval fortress. They had heavy, 
thick wooden gates, reinforced with iron, and those gates 
most certainly had repulsed many invasions of Tatars in the 
days of Ivan the Terrible and before him. That was the 
center, or - I want to use the modern expression "downtown" 
of the city of Rylsk. Around that fortified city - it was 
called Kreml, just as the Kreml in Moscow - because the 
word Kreml in Russian means fortress. We were lodged in 
Rylsk in a school. We met two school teachers, an elederly 
woman and a young one. They greeted us almost in tears, 
saying: "How wonderful, how miraculous to see humans again. 
You are humans. Those who were here before you were just 
wild beasts." That schoolhouse was very well built. There 
was a rest room inside the house, a very rare thing. But 
going to the outhouse in a snowstorm was not fun. And this 
particular place was the warmest place in the house, because 
the pipes from the stoves and from the open fireplace ran 
through the walls of this place. I spent in there more time 



- 399 - 

than was strictly necessary, just because it was the warmest 
place in the house. But most unfortunately, our stay in 
Rylsk did not last. Our security units patrolling outside 
of Rylsk reported numerous Red troops gathering, and we were 
under orders to retreat southward without battle or resistance 
against the numerous advancing Reds. 

Many suffer frostbite 

Again, we had to move through mountains of snow and 
bitter cold. Most of us, me included, had received British 
army boots. The boots were laced, they were not Russian boots, 
which covered the legs up to the knees with one piece of 
leather. The lacing looked very fine, but the snow got in 
side it, thawed because of body heat, and then froze again. 
The boots became icicles on our feet. Besides, on the 
bottom of the boots were big pieces of metal, probably for 
British soldiers walking somewhere in the mountains of India. 
Because of that iron in the boots, they were no protection 
against frost. So, if I was on horseback, my legs would 
freeze. If I dismounted, I had to fight my way through a 
snowstorm and through heaps of snow, sometimes up to my waist. 
In the column where I was, I dismounted from my horse. I 
took the tail of the horse in my hand and the horse pulled 
me through snowdrifts, and I was moving my legs as fast as 
I could to get warm. Actually, I was dragged by my horse, 
holding the horse's tail in my hand. This was never fore 
seen by any cavalry regulations. 



- 400 - 

After marching all night, we reached a hamlet and in 
that hamlet we were billeted, if I may use that word in such 
a case, in one hut that had to hold about a hundred and 
fifty men. Horses remained outside. Normally that hut would 
hold about 20 men. So the men took turns staying half an 
hour in the hut and then they had to go outside into the cold 
to make a place for others. When my turn came, I took off 
my boots, and inside my boots there was a layer of ice and 
my right leg inside was slightly frostbitten. Because of 
this, rumors had reached Moscow where I had many relatives. 
It is hard to believe even on this day, when I am talking 
here in Palo Alto, that during the time of the Civil War 
there were no communications whatsoever. Try to imagine no 
newspapers, no telegrams, of course no telephones. In short, 
there were only rumors which somehow crossed the fighting 
lines. The rumors in Moscow were that both my legs were 
amputated. 

Fortunately for my mother, she knew that this was not 
true. When my mother came to Moscow, as described by me in 
another chapter, of course, she met all her close relatives. 
Mother was very surprised that they spoke with her about 
everything except me - her only son. They were afraid of 
mentioning me because of the rumor that had reached them. 
Finally Mother asked them bluntly, "Why don't you mention 
Vanja?" Then they were very happy that the rumor about my 
legs was greatly exaggerated. 



- 401 - 

I was one of the luckier ones because more than half of 
our men were very heavily frostbitten, and they were not 
battle-fit. They had to be transported as invalids even 
though they were not wounded, but frostbite is a terrible 
thing. If it is very severe and not treated in time, then 
it turns into gangrene, and gangrene produces blood poison 
ing and rapid death. 

Then our retreat continued southeastward until we 
finally hit the main railroad line connecting the south of 
Russia, Sevastopol on the Black Sea, St. Petersburg on the 
north, passing through Moscow. That railroad line was 
occupied by trains standing one after the other. (Nowadays, 
comparing it with traffic in the United States, I want to 
say that the trains were bumper to bumper) . 

In those days, of course, steam engines moved the trains. 
The steam engine was to be continually supplied with coal and 
water. If the coal is lacking and the water freezes, then 
the engine is out of commission because the boilers burst. 
And if there is no water to replenish the contents of the 
boilers, the engine is worse than useless. There was a 
scramble for engines that would still work. Every unit that 
had a train and a working engine had to protect that engine 
and have armed guards around the engine or a flat-car in 
front of the engine and sacks of sand on the flat-car and 
behind those sacks a machine gun to protect our engine from 
being stolen or sabotaged by somebody. 



- 402 - 

The cars of those train columns have to be explained to 
those who have never seen or heard about them. They were just 
wooden boxes used for transporting goods or cattle, and in 
wartime - troops. Every such car could officially hold forty 
soldiers or eight horses. It was written on every car - 
40 men, 8 horses. There was an army joke that when recruits 
complained that the car was too small to hold all forty of 
them, some old master sergeant pointed out to those who had 
complained, "You see, eight horses have to come in besides 
you people." Well, of course, that was a joke. 

Now in some of those cars, usually in the center of the 
car (the car opened on both sides by a big sliding door) there 
stood a cast-iron belly stove. (Such stoves can be found now 
even in Palo Alto in antique shops) . They could burn any 
thing - bits of wood or whatever the soldiers could pick up 
along the railroad lines, or you could steal some coal from 
the engine. This warm car was called in Russian "Teplushka," 
because the word, "teplo," is the word for warmth, and 
"teplushka" was to say the source of warmth. Some translater 
translating the works in the novel of Dr. Zhivago describing 
this kind of a warm car, describes it as being a pullman, a 
luxury pullman car. Well, there is a very big difference 
between this and what that fellow understood, not knowing what 
he was talking about. 

A painful injury 

The car I was riding in, or the "teplushka", was being 



- 403 - 

heated and the stove was usually red-hot. The chimney stuck 
out direct through the roof of the car. When we reached our 
train that had such warm cars, I came to that car on some 
kind of business and I stood, my back turned to this oven 
and at that minute the train started with a jerk. Quite 
instinctively I made a gesture with my hand and put my hand 
flat on the red-hot iron stove. Well, I still feel the pain 
of it and the surprise of it. There was no oil at hand 
whatsoever, so I just had to bite my lips. But it happened 
to be a blessing in disguise. Another painful blessing 
because, of course, after the first pain subsided, some ice 
and snow was put on my hand. That was one of the worst things 
to do. I had a huge blister on the entire surface of my 
palm and I could not wear a glove. Because I could not wear 
a glove, I could not be on horseback. Holding the reins in 
this wounded hand without a glove in that freezing weather 
was out of the question. So I was relieved of the command 
of my squadron by another officer and I mounted into a vehicle, 
something between a cart and a carriage. 

And here again, I will describe this vehicle which played 
such a huge role in the Civil War. It was a "tachanka." 
Imagine a four-wheel, high carriage (I think in English they 
could be considered a hunting carriage) . It had no roof at 
all and it was rather wide - three men could be seated in the 
back seat, two men in the front seat, and three men on the 
box. It was drawn by two very strong horses or mostly by 



- 404 - 

four horses in a row. Sometimes two other horses were in 
front of the four - one of them was saddled and had a very 
young, light rider. And on those carts - let us call them 
carts - there was a machine gun. Those carts were the 
ancestors of nowaday modern tanks. The idea of today's tanks 
and those carts carrying machine guns was the same - fire 
power and rapidity of movement. Rapidity of maneuvering and 
opening fire from the most unexpected places. Of course, 
all this contraption of this cart and the men on it, managing 
the machine gun with four horses, if not six, they were 
extremely vulnerable. It sufficed for one of the horses to 
be heavily wounded or killed and the whole thing stopped and 
the killed horse had to be deharnessed and dragged away and 
replaced or to just go on with less horses. But this was a 
very, very potent weapon in those days in flat country, and 
also used for transporting sick or wounded. 

I was one of the injured. I was neither wounded nor 
sick, but I was injured with that hand, and that huge blister 
grew and grew. As we moved southward, the weather changed 
and the conditions of the roads changed. From where we 
were, northward in the vicinity of Gluchov there was snow 
on the ground and our supplies moved on sleighs or on a cart. 
If we could move ten kilometers per day, that was considered 
a good achievement. The roads were so bad and so bumpy that 
once, driving through a small little city on that mud road, 
the cart that I was in, with another wounded fellow officer, 



- 405 - 

overturned and was lying on its side. We were thrown out of 
it into the mud. While travelling in that cart, which was 
in very bad shape and in need of repair, there was some kind 
of a rusty nail sticking out somewhere and that rusty nail 
tore open the palm of my hand and broke my blister. Of course 
that did not help the condition of my hand and I had to stay 
on that Red Cross train, which I was put on and which moved 
very slowly southward. 

The whole railroad line for miles and miles and miles 
was nothing but trains moving slowly. Sometimes there was 
a station that had several tracks and useless engines were 
pushed away from the side of the track to allow other trains 
to move on. But every day at daybreak or when the sun went 
down, Red riders came up to those railroad lines and from a 
rather big distance, they opened fire from their rifles, 
galloping alongside the tracks. Of course, they aimed at no 
body in particular, they just aimed at those cars and trains. 
Sometimes a bullet would wound an already sick or wounded 
White soldier or a nurse or a doctor working on that train. 
Those riders could not stop us but they were a great nuisance. 
Those who had rifles on the trains, they shot back from the 
open windows of the cars. Most of the windows of those cars 
were smashed and open since they had no glass anyhow. Some 
times our sharpshooters were lucky to hit one of those 
riders and his empty saddled horse galloped away. That was 
a kind of a revenge. I think both sides looked at it as some 



- 406 - 

kind of sport and even considered it fun in the dull, slow 
movement of trains. Well, it was a fun of sorts. 

Finally the train that had our supplies for my unit 
for some reason switched to the line that took our supply 
train back to the Crimea. By that time my hand had healed, 
and I had rejoined my fighting unit. The fighting unit 
had orders to move more eastward in the direction of the city 
of Rostov. The idea was that the city of Rostov and the 
River Don could be a basis for a new line of resistance. A 
line of resistance against the Reds could be established 
and was established, but did not hold very long. 

I contract thyphus and barely survive 

When we were just outside the city of Rostov, orders 
came from headquarters of the so-called division for a con 
sultation. When we looked around, the senior officer of the 
then united cavalry guards - the ex-four regiments that had 
dwindled, were united into one squadron - and all the officers 
were sick with typhoid, and I found myself to be the senior 
officer. So I went to the headquarters of the division, where 
some generals and elderly colonels were gathered. The general 
who was then in charge of all the cavalry units looked up at 
me and growled, "Couldn't you find among you a younger one?" 
Well, after that general's joke I took my orders and rode 
back to my unit. And while riding, I felt very queasy and 
I had to make an effort to remain in the saddle. When I got 
as far as my squadron, I called an assistant communications 



- 407 - 

officer and said to him, "Take my temperature." I had a 
very high temperature and I understood then that it was 
typhus, that it was my turn to be sick, and that I would be 
unconscious maybe in a few minutes. I gave the strictest 
order that whatever happened to me, I must never be sent to 
the Red Cross unit or to a hospital, but must be kept in the 
ranks of the fighting squadron on a cart or a stretcher, as 
I did not want to be away from my fighting squadron. And 
after that I passed out. 

As I have, said, I realized that I had typhus, for typhus 
was raging on both sides, White and Red. Red Cross units 
were subject to raids by the Red cavalry and the hospitals 
were just plain hell. The large hospital that had been 
built before the war of 1914 was overcrowded with wounded 
and sick people; they were lying in the corridors and all 
over the place. You could not move without stepping across 
a sick man or a man already dead who had not been noticed 
for a day or two. When the White Armies left Rostov, the 
Reds stormed that huge hospital and the sick and wounded 
White officers and volunteers were bayonetted or shot point- 
blank in their beds. And those who were killed outright, 
were the lucky ones because then the whole hospital was 
poured over with gasoline and set afire. All those who had 
not died before, perished in the fire and the hospital was 
burned down to its foundations. Doctors, nurses, wounded 
and sick were all burned to death. That was one of the many 



- 408 - 



nightmares of the Civil War. 

When I fell sick we were still north of Rostov and the 
Whites were attempting to establish a new line of resistance. 
The sick and wounded had to be evacuated southward toward 
the region of Kuban. There many wealthy Cossacks lived in 
the ir " s tani tsa ", which in the local language means a village 
and each "s tani tsa" had an elder. A column of carts with 
sick and wounded and an open four-wheeled carriage with me 
in it and my fellow regiment officer, Captain Taptykov, who 
was also sick with typhus, crossed the wide Don River. The 
only bridge, a railroad bridge, was hopeless because the bridge 
and all its approaches were clogged by trains full of wounded 
and sick people and many engines were out of order because 
the boilers had frozen and burst. Some of the engines had 
been sabotaged and some had been unhooked from their cars 
and used on other cars. The engines had to be protected by 
the military. Next to us was a train that had, fortunately, 
a very powerful engine that had been used to run express 
trains in peacetime from Sevastopol to St. Petersburg. This 
powerful engine pushed a row of cars in front of it and 
behind the engine there were many other cars, so that column 
of cars finally got across the bridge. But our column of 
carts had no chance whatsoever. Finally the colonel who was 
leading that column decided to cross the river on the ice. 
It was very late fall. The question was whether the ice was 
thick enough to carry a column of carts or whether it would 



- 409 - 

break under such a load and we would all drown. But we just 
had to take that chance. Drowning in the river was less 
terrible than falling into the hands of the advancing Reds. 
In spite of my being sick with typhus and having attacks 
of very high fever and unconsciousness , I was at other 
moments conscious of what was going on around me. I can 
still see that frozen river and our column of carts crossing 
it, and our carriage somewhere in the middle of that river 
of ice. Would the ice break or not? Well, the ice held. 
I remember very well that the driver of our carriage was a 
volunteer from the German colonies who had joined us more 
than a year ago. The other driver was my orderly who had 
been taken prisoner by us from a Red unit. Maybe at the bottom 
of his heart he was a Bolshevik, but at that time he stuck 
it out with us and was very helpful and took good care of us 
sick officers. If he had wanted to, he could have thrown us 
out of that carriage at any time but he just did not. Finally 
our column reached the other side of the Don river and 
entered the "stanitsa." We were supposed to be given quarters 
in that Cossack village but the elder of the village and some 
of his assistants got the idea of treating us like war 
prisoners. They decided to exchange us all as soon as the 
Red cavalry had gained the "stanitsa." It was clear to every 
body that this might happen in a weak, maybe two. Those 
Cossacks had participated in fighting the Reds on our side; 
now they wanted to make a great gift of so many sick officers 



- 410 - 

to the Reds in order to gain pardon for having fought against 
them. We were all too weak to defend ourselves but one of 
the officers accompanying the column was in good health and 
he was quite a bright man. I cannot remember his name, but 
he went to the post office of that "stanitsa" and sent a 
telegram to the headquarters of General Denikin about our hope 
less, defenseless situation. When his telegram reached 
headquarters, and probably it never reached General Denikin 
in person, someone at headquarters had the very bright idea 
of sending back a telegram to the elder of the "stanitsa" 
which read, "Immediately supply the column of sick White 
officers with everything that is necessary, and after having 
given them a good rest and care, let them proceed on their 
way. If you do not obey my orders, I will move toward your 
"stanitsa" with a detachment of my Cossacks for reprisals 
against you." The telegram was signed, General Shkuro. 
Now many years later I knew this General Shkuro personally 
when he was an emigre in Paris. He was a very unusual person, 
a typical product of those years. He was a Cossack himself 
and had been a junior officer at the beginning of the war of 
1914. He was a born leader and his Cossacks believed in him 
as a miracle worker and followed him anywhere he led them, 
and his name was feared by everybody. If at any moment 
General Shkuro 's whereabouts was unknown, you could be sure 
that he was fighting back the Reds somewhere. He knew 
nothing of the telegram and he knew nothing of our being stuck 



- 411 - 

in that village, but just his name was enough to make the 
Cossacks change their minds. 

It was already getting dark, and while we were waiting, 
an elderly Cossack came up to the carriage. Taptykov was 
unconscious and I was only half-conscious. The Cossack told 
the driver to follow him. He walked ahead and brought us to 
his house and I immediately realized that he was a very 
wealthy man. Our driver and his helper carried the unconsci 
ous Taptykov into a room and I followed them on my own, barely 
able to stand on my feet. Our host said to me, "Mr. Officer, 
follow me, I want to show you something." I followed him 
because I wanted to be polite to that old man. He led me 
through one room of his house, then through another, and 
finally he opened a large door and I saw a beautiful room 
with a huge glass cupboard in it. In that cupboard I saw 
a dress uniform of the Cossack bodyguard of the Tsar which 
they used to wear before 1914. Then the old Cossack broke 
out into tears and said, "This is the uniform of my late 
grandfather, this is my father's uniform, and it was my 
uniform too. Three generations of us have served in the 
personal bodyguard of four Russian Tsars." Well, it was 
our luck to be in the house of such a man. After a few days 
in that house, Taptykov was getting worse and worse. He 
was delirious. We were in a room that was in the second story 
of the house. Taptykov 1 s face was red and pink and blue, 
and he stammered something in his delirium. Outside the house 



- 412 - 

was deep snow and frost. All of a sudden Taptykov jumped up 
from the couch, tore off his pajamas, and completely nude 
he rushed to the window and opend it. His orderly and our 
driver were also in that room but they were struck with 
sudden surprise and terror, and just for a few seconds did 
not dare to grab their nude, sick senior officer. And those 
few seconds were enough for Taptykov to jump out of the 
window right into a deep snowdrift. Before we realized what 
was happening, many minutes passed. I could not do anything 
because I was much too weak. I yelled at the two men, "Go 
and fetch him! Bring him back. Get him out of the snowdrift." 
At last they obeyed and carried him back to the room. Mean 
while a doctor had been called and when the doctor had had 
a look at my friend he said, "There is nothing more that 
I can do. Hurry and send for a priest." Well, ray friend 
Taptykov later lived on the outskirts of New York and he 
passed away in 1977 in New York. 

Some time after the above described incident a doctor 
explained that probably the shock of jumping into the snowdrift 
had reacted against Taptykov 's high fever, but of course he 
must have had a remarkably strong heart. Only three years 
ago he lost his wife and remarried. Taptykov was one of 
my greatest friends and to the time- of his death we correspond 
ed with each other. As I said, he lived near New York for 
many years and he was a grandfather. 

We left that "stanitsa" and moved toward the city of 



- 413 - 

Ekaterinoslav and headquarters of the dwindling White Army. 
I was still very weak and Taptykov could move just a little. 
Of course the city was absolutely overcrowded and we decided 
to attempt to reach the port of Novorossisk because it was 
clear that the Reds would soon overrun all of the country that 
we still occupied. There were high mountains between 
Novorossisk and us but a railroad connection still existed, 
so we decided to reach Novorossisk by train. Trains were 
running on that line as we would say now of American cars, 
bumper to bumper, day and night. Sometimes they were stuck, 
not moving at all, and the average speed was about ten miles 
per hour or less. We were joined in our attempt by Doctor 
Rousseau, who had been a veterinary surgeon in our regiment 
before the 1914 war. He was older than we and he was beloved 
by everybody in the regiment. We mounted a freight car at 
the railway station and, for some reason that I will never 
understand, that freight car was empty. There was some straw 
in that car, probably used for bedding. All the other cars 
were overcrowded but this car, standing on the side tracks, 
was empty. It had an iron stove in the middle with a chimney 
sticking through the roof, but no fuel whatsoever. It was 
bitterly cold and in order to be able to light a fire in the 
stove, we had to move as well as we could around the tracks, 
picking up scarce sticks of wood and whatever else we could 
find that would burn. Taptykov was too weak and he just lay 
on the straw. Dr. Rousseau and I started to light a fire in 



- 414 - 

the stove just in time, because the train had begun to move. 
But we had very little fuel and realized that we would never 
keep the stove going and that we were in danger of freezing 
to death inside that car. Suddenly the car stopped, and 
opening the door, we looked around. We noticed a telegraph 
pole was lying next to the place where our car was standing. 
So we, the two of us, got out of the car and we managed 
somehow (because despair gives a terrific strength to a 
person for. a few moments) to lift that telegraph pole and 
to put one end of it into the car and shove it, little by 
little, inside the car. The tip of that pole we shoved into 
the stove since we had nothing with which to break it into 
pieces. Little by little we succeeded in shoving the pole 
into the stove and the other end was sticking out of the door. 
Anyhow, that glowing iron stove took away most of the frost 
inside the car which otherwise would have certainly killed 
us. 

Thus we finally arrived at Novorossisk and there we 
reported to the local authorities. The city was overcrowded 
and there was no place available anywhere in any house, but 
we accidentally met an elderly gentleman, Colonel Count 
Bennigsen, who at one time had been an officer of the Horse 
Guards, and he told us that he had a requisitioned room and 
that he would take us in. It was the living room of a local 
small merchant. I do not remember the family of the merchant; 
they must have been in the house somewhere. But we had one 



- 415 - 

room, the living room. And when I say "we" I must explain 
that I mean "many". We shared that room with the Colonel 
and his wife, their three teenaged children, and the un 
married sister of his wife. Then came Taptykov, Dr. Rous 
seau, and myself. When it was necessary, it was impossible 
to move from one door to the other without stepping across 
several people in that room. I do not really remember how 
we were fed and what we did eat in those days. Probably 
Countess Bennigsen, who was not sick and who was a woman of 
great energy, managed to get somewhere some kind of food and 
to cook it for us. When I got somewhat stronger, I ventured 
out into the city. I was still wearing the British army 
boots and under those boots were nails to consolidate those 
boots, and because of those nails I was mostly skating 
instead of walking on those icy streets. Besides, I was 
wearing a cape, very popular among the Cossacks, which 
enveloped all of my figure from my neck down to my boots and 
kept me warm, and I wore that cape day and night. As there 
was no question of changing linen or undressing in the room 
which we were occupying with the Bennigsen family, lice were 
all over us. 

The city of Novorossisk was surrounded by high mountains, 
There was a pass in those mountains and down the mountains 
and through the pass there comes a wind. Sometimes that wind 
in Novorossisk became a storm or something that is now 
called a hurricane. It upset people and carts and one day I 



- 416 - 

was seized by the wind because of my cape and I could not stop, 
all I could do was to stay upright. And besides the storm, 
a heavy snow was falling, so I could not see what was ahead 
of me, but suddenly I saw some kind of a shape and I just 
embraced that shape. It was a solid shape, standing sturdily 
on its feet, and while embracing it and having a very close 
look, I realized that it was a British officer. At that time 
the British had a mission in Novorossisk and they were 
helping with supplies and foodstuffs. Realizing that it was 
not a lantern post that I was embracing but a British officer, 
I held him tight and spoke to him in English. He had, of 
course, not the faintest idea who I was, but he was delighted 
to hear me speaking English. And then with me still embrac 
ing him in the middle of the street, he invited me to come 
and have supper with him. He said that obviously I needed 
to get stronger. 

He took me to a nightclub, the one and only nightclub 
still functioning in the city of Novorossisk. This night 
club, as I well remember, was called "Slon", which in English 
means "elephant". The restaurant occupied not too big a 
room, maybe ten tables or so, but it was the only place where 
the best possible food was abundant. How the owner of the 
restaurant managed it will always remain unknown to me, but 
the prices were astronomic. But what did the British officer 
care? Pounds were standing sky-high in exchange for Russian 
money and printed paper by the authorities of the White Army 



- 417 - 

was getting worthless by the day, even by the hour. Every 
one was trying to get British pounds or French francs or some 
kind of foreign exchange that would be very useful if ever 
they succeeded in getting out of Russia. I had a glance at 
the bill which the British officer paid in huge amounts of 
that worthless paper money, and I realized that the cost of 
our elaborate supper, plus vodka and wine, was roughly half 
a million rubles in local paper money. That was really a 
fantastic rate of exchange. 

Speaking of exchange and worthless paper money, in those 
days the paper money of the Communists was just as worthless 
as any other money. I remember hearing how, two years later, 
when Mother was still stuck in St. Petersburg, she went to 
buy some firewood for her stove. She paid for that fire 
wood in Soviet money of those days two million rubles and, 
at the age of sixty-five, she picked up the wood. and carried 
it home. So how much wood did she get for her two million 
rubles? 

To come back to those days in Novorossisk, the situation 
politically and militarily was very tense. The army had 
lost trust and confidence in the High Command and in General 
Denikin himself, who had earlier been considered by many as 
a hero. A hero he was as concerns his personal bravery under 
any circumstances, he never cared for his life, but when it 
came to problems of international relations or civilian rule 
of a country, he was like a baby, he knew nothing about it. 



- 418 - 

He had very stubborn ideas of his own; he stuck to the idea 
of remaining faithful to the allies of the First World War, 
the French and British, and he was hoping against hope, and 
even convinced, that they would come with great numbers of 
fighting men, supplies, and what not. That was his dream 
and his wishful thinking. A small trickle of supplies did 
come and a small unit did land in the city of Odessa but then 
left again. 

Disagreement between Denikin and Wrangell 

The ways of Denikin were very severely criticized by 
General Wrangell. General Wrangell, at the beginning of the 
war of 1914, was the best captain in the Horse Guards. He 
led a very brilliant attack and took a German artillery unit. 
He was a born leader of men and he was a leader by the grace 
of God. His tall figure, his good looks, his waist (envied 
by many ladies) , and his Cossack dress, his dagger and his 
decoration of the Cross of St. George for bravery under fire, 
made the picture of a hero, and men followed him through 
thick and thin anywhere he led them. He was a cavalryman to 
the bone and with his units he succeeded, during the Civil 
War, in occupying a large industrial city, which was a miracle 
in itself. The name of Wrangell was on the lips of every 
body and he was everybody's hope to produce some kind of 
miracle and to stop the Reds. He made a report to his direct 
superior, Denikin, which was very critical of Denikin in the 
strongest possible terms. Somehow this report leaked into 



- 419 - 

the ranks of the army and of course General Denikin was offend 
ed and wanted to court-martial Wrangell for lack of discipline. 
Anyhow, Denikin relieved General Wrangell of all of his 
command duties and suggested (not to say ordered) that he 
leave the territory. A Russian boat, a destroyer, was in the 
port of Novorossisk, and this destroyer was to take Wrangell 
to Constantinople and remove him completely. Now, on this 
destroyer Wrangell still had his personal bodyguard, fanatic 
ally dedicated to him. The situation was so tense that 
Wrangell expected that at any moment a detachment under 
Denikin 1 s command would come and arrest him. If so, it was 
quite clear that Wrangell 's bodyguard would resist his arrest 
and that there would be shooting between two units of Whites. 
Well, Denikin was clever enough not to attempt an arrest of 
Wrangell because that would have meant a rebellion of all of 
what remained of Denikin 's army. Probably some units would 
have arrested, if not shot, Denikin himself. 

Leaving Novorossisk for the Crimea 

It was a custom among us officers of the Horse Guards 
that whenever we were somewhere in the presence of a senior 
officer of our regiment (and in this case that would have 
been General Wrangell) we would report to him our presence. 
In other words, in civilian language, we would pay him a 
visit and pay him our respects. Taptykov was strong enough 
to walk, and of course we went walking (there was no other way) 



- 420 - 

through the city to the port. We went aboard the destroyer 
and Wrangell received us with open arms and asked, "Where 
is your fighting unit now? You two in Novorossisk are, so 
to say, up in the air. Where is your fighting unit?" Nobody 
had any idea then where any fighting unit was. Some fighting 
units had retreated to the mountains, to the Caucasus, and 
there was a last battle which I will describe later. But 
Wrangell told us that our reserve unit was now in the Crimea 
and if we stayed aboard the destroyer, he would land us in 
the city of Kerch in the Crimea, and there we could join our 
reserve unit and have a rest before leaving for somewhere 
else. It seemed that he did not know himself what was going 
to happen. Well, for us that was an unusual bit of luck 
because we left Novorossisk some six weeks before the disaster- 
ous catastrophe of the evacuation of that city started. This 
evacuation of Novorossisk has been described by many historians 
and witnesses who participated in it, so I shall leave it out, 
as I am speaking in my memoirs only about what happened to 
me personally. I was very fortunate to be in the Crimea, 
avoiding that disaster and avoiding the last cavalry battle 
of four thousand White cavalrymen against twelve thousand 
cavalrymen of the Red Army. After that battle very few men 
from the White cavalry were left alive to get out of Russia 
over the Caucasus Mountains or to the Crimea or as refugees 
to Constantinople. I was in Kerch when some ships came from 
Novorossisk bringing more troops to the Crimea. The evacuation 



- 421 - 

of Novorossisk was completely disorganized, not foreseen by 
the High Command of General Denikin, and no measures what 
soever were taken to organize this evacuation or to use force 
of arms if needed to get everybody aboard the ships and to 
take them towards the Crimea. 

Now I want to tell a story about one of my volunteers 
who now lives in Santa Barbara, California. When I knew him, 
he was a young boy and he was in a hospital just barely 
recuperating from typhus. He realized that if he remained 
in that hospital and if the Reds took over the city, he 
would be killed, so he decided to leave the hospital. While 
nobody watched, he crawled out of the hospital, half crawl 
ing and half walking. When he was out of the hospital, he 
had the feeling that he was walking on sand or frozen snow, 
because under his feet he heard the sound of crush, crush, 
crush. Looking down he saw that the earth beneath him was 
moving with a layer of lice, and that his crushing of the lice 
produced the sound of crush, crush, crush. Such a thing may 
seem incredible, but it was no exaggeration. Finally, on all 
fours, he came as far as a cordon of British soldiers in the 
port of Novorossisk. There also stood a British Red Cross 
ship evacuating a British military mission and also units of 
a British flying Air Force squadron, and my young friend 
(he was then barely eighteen) crawled up and was lying at the 
feet of a British soldier from that cordon. The instructions 
of the British cordon were, of course, not to let pass anyone 



- 422 - 

aboard their ship. Well, this young boy could speak English 
and that saved him. He just begged the soldier to let him 
pass and the soldier took pity on that young boy and said, 
"Go ahead, I am looking the other way." So my friend 
crawled further, reached the planks of the ship, and while he 
crawled along the planks he was picked up by Red Cross 
personnel. Maybe they even took him for an Englishman. The 
boy was taken by that ship to Egypt, where he recuperated, 
and he is now living in Santa Barbara as a retired gardener. 

When the ships from Novorossisk arrived in Kerch on the 
Crimea, they were carrying tattered soldiers and part of our 
fighting squadron. These fighting men came on shore and then 
joined our reserve squadron, which was reorganizing and 
recuperating. The Crimean Peninsula was connected to the 
mainland by a narrow strip of land, maybe twenty miles wide, 
called"Perekop" , which means "dig through" in English, because 
all across that strip of land there was a very deep and very 
wide ditch dug centuries ago when the Crimea was still in the 
hands of Tatars and under the rule of the Turkish Sultan. 
This ditch in those days was used as fortification against 
the advancing Russians from the north, while the Crimean 
Tatars periodically raided south Russia, and only in the days 
of Catherine the Great were the Tatars finally subdued. 

Now this narrow space was occupied by a White Army unit, 
a rather weak unit. But fortunately the Red High Command 
somewhere in Moscow, then headed by Trotsky, was so eager to 



- 423 - 

push the White Armies into the sea at Novorossisk and to 
destroy the main forces of the armies under Denikin that 
they completely overlooked that small unit defending the 
Crimea. There was a moment when they could have rushed in 
and occupied all of the Crimea with very few losses on 
their side, but they missed that opportunity. Whatever 
remained of Denikin 's army on the Crimea was concentrated 
little by little in that narrow place. East of "Perekop" 
there was a wide space of swamps and saltwater marshes, and 
east of that was a narrow piece of land and railroad tracks 
connecting the Crimea with the rest of Russia to the north, 
tracks that carried famous trains, express trains, and the 
Tsar's trains from the Crimea to the mainland; that was the 
only link the Crimea had with the mainland. It was not so 
difficult to fortify those spots against the Reds, so for the 
time being at least the Crimea was safe. Denikin sent his 
family (he had married very late in his life a girl that 
could have been his daughter) away to Constantinople, which 
had a very demoralizing effect on the troops, and he came 
with the remnants of his army to the Crimea. He was aware 
that he had lost all respect and all faith in him and had to 
abandon his High Command, but to whom? The tradition of 
the Russian Imperial Army did not permit any kind of elections 
A group of colonels and generals could not elect a Commander- 
in-Chief because that would be against tradition. If an 
elected new commander could be voted for in parliamentary 



- 424 - 

fashion, he could just as well be voted out, and discipline 
would be destroyed by this voting system. 

Finally, Denikin was talked into the only thing that he 
could do, to give up his command to General Wrangell, who was 
in Constantinople. That was a very bitter thing for Denikin 
to have to do, for he hated even the name of Wrangell and 
Wrangell responded in kind. But finally Denikin made the 
decision and issued an army order stating that because of his 
ill health and a nervous breakdown he was ordering, order ing 
General Wrangell to take over command of the army. But 
Wrangell was not there, he was in Constantinople as a private 
person. There was no wireless connection, so that order of 
Denikin 1 s was brought to Constantinople by a British destroyer 
and handed over to the British Admiral in command of the 
British Navy in the Black Sea. This admiral went to see 
Wrangell and gave him Denikin 's order (not that the British 
Admiral could order Wrangell to do anything; he could only 
hand the order to Wrangell) and Wrangell said, "I refuse to 
take over command because I know, as a military man, that the 
situation on the Crimea with those tattered units, without 
arms and without artillery, is completely hopeless." Then 
the Admiral replied, "General Wrangell, Sir, you are complete 
ly right, and it is worse than hopeless because to my great 
sorrow and to my great shame, His Majesty's government in 
London has made the decision to stop all supplies to the 
White units on the Crimea." And Wrangell stood up and said, 



- 425 - 

"In such a case, I take over command." Wrangell was at heart 
a knight such as there used to be in the Middle Ages and he 
said again, "All I can do is to save people that are still on 
the Crimea, and save the honor of the Russian Army." So 
Wrangell departed from Constantinople and landed in the port 
of Sevastopol. There were crowds of people, not many units, 
but many scattered officers and soldiers, and all this numer 
ous crowd greeted him enthusiastically with cheers. He was 
the Miracle Worker who had come to save them. And Wrangell 
did perform a miracle. He addressed all units with his 
first order of the day: he warned them that he was not a 
miracle worker and not to expect that, but everybody should 
do what he could and he expected every soldier, every officer, 
every civilian on the Crimea to do his duty as a Russian 
patriot. The mood of the population changed from one day to 
the next. The formerly undisciplined units of the army from 
Novorossisk became perfect military units, disciplined and 
well-dressed. They went to the north and they reinforced the 
position at "Perekop", and the spirits of the units was resur 
rected just by the appearance of General Wrangell. Then the 
fighting (it was in April of 1920 that Wrangell took over the 
command) went very successfully and even the Reds north of 
"Perekop" were attacked. The purpose of this attack was to 
enlarge the territory, to get food from those fresh regions, 
and eventually more men. But that was wishful thinking of 
that group of forty thousand fighting men, no matter how 



- 426 - 

enthusiastic. Lacking supplies and artillery, they could not 
be victorious over the Red Army that had an unlimited supply 
of everything: manpower, artillery, food, and had as their 
hinterland all of Russia, while the Whites only had the small 
Crimean Peninsula that could barely feed its local population, 
and no reinforcements of manpower. So the situation remained 
desperate all the time and everyone realized it. But in spite 
of everything, Wrangell attacked (I was in the attack) the 
territory that was about twice as large as the Crimean 
Peninsula, by November of 1920. The Red High Command under 
Trotsky was absolutely flabbergasted at the spirit of the 
Whites, for they believed that spirit had been lost in 
Novorossisk but it suddenly rose again with their victorious 
advance. Then, at the end of 1920, the Red side concentrated 
immense forces against us and the resistance could only fight 
back as much as we could, and then retreat fighting. The last 
three months of that fighting, autumn through early winter 
of 1920, ended with the complete evacuation from all the ports 
of the Crimea. 

I want to say, and I will explain in detail later, that 
Wrangell immediately realized that the last move would be a 
total evacuation of the Crimea. So realizing that, he took 
wide measures in advance that this evacuation should proceed 
in perfect order and not look like the catastrophe that had 
occurred in Novorossisk. And all through that period I was 
in the fighting units and later, in the last month or so, in 



- 427 - 

the personal bodyguard of General Wrangell, so I can truly 
speak for what happened during that period, and personally 
to me. 

Retreat towards Crimea 

Let me go back to early June of 1920 and describe how 
this re-born White Army broke out from the Crimea, northward 
and gained the shores of the Dnepr River. It was a very large 
river and our side, the left side -of the river was low and 
swampy and covered with bushes and trees. The other side 
was elevated and from there the Red Army could observe any 
movement on our bank. There were lots of Red artillery, 
including heavy guns on railraod flatcars that were on the 
right bank. We had scarcely any artillery; we had some 
heavy guns brought in by the British. We had some shells, 
and we had some French artillery guns with French shells. 
And we also had a few Russian guns with Russian shells. And, 
of course, those shells only fit those guns they were made 
for. So having the proper shells for the proper guns was 
sometimes quite a problem and sometimes left us with un- 
useable artillery because we had the wrong shells and they 
would not fit our guns. And along the Dnepr there was a kind 
of stalemate. Artillery fire was exchanged and we moved up 
to the very shores of the Dnepr River and we were entrenched 
in those marshes, in the weeds and the bushes and the Reds 
began to cross the river from a ridge just across from us. 
There was no bridge but they made rafts and got some, they 
had lots of boats, and they opened what used to be called 



- 428 - 



"drum fire" - that means non-stop fire with all their artillery, 
But they aimed above our heads; they wanted to cover the 
open ground so that the troops that were entrenched along the 
water line could not get any supplies, reinforcements or 
buckets of water. That was in July 1920. Drinking water 
was the worst shortage. Buckets of water drawn by horses 
were supposed to come from the rear, but they had to cross 
that artillery fire. There were some direct hits, some 
buckets just turned around and we did not have water. But 
we had the polluted marshes right under our feet. The water 
was green, infested with frogs, mosquitos, all kinds of 
vermin. And that was the water we started drinking. I 
started drinking the water myself. It was quite clear to us 
that drinking it would mean immediate typhus. By some kind 
of a miracle that I cannot explain, although the events I am 
talking about happened sixty years ago, we did not have one 
single man sick in the squadron because of drinking that 
stagnating water. Well, under that fire, the command at 
headquarters ordered all units on the left bank of the Dnepr 
River to retreat towards the Crimea. We felt pretty safe 
on that waterfront because all those heavy shells thundered 
through the air over our heads and we had no losses whatso 
ever. And just behind us there lay an old big cemetary. 
Probably the Reds were of the opinion that we were entrenched 
somewhere in the cemetary, where the old grave stones would 
give us some shelter. And that was a mistake the Reds made. 



- 429 - 

They fired at that cemetary with their guns; they actually 
ploughed up that cemetary with direct hits. Just looking 
over our shoulders, backwards at the cemetary, we saw graves 
split open and pieces of the boards flying through the air 
as well as whole skeletons. That was a ghastly sight, of 
course. But we felt safe and I must say that each man 
realized that in a minute or an hour he could become a 
skeleton himself. And nobody gave a damn, excuse my express 
ion. And the Reds attempted to cross the river supposing 
that the left bank was empty. We saw them coming on rafts 
and many, many boats. They were expecting to land not finding 
any resistance. When they came quite close, we opened point 
blank fire from all the rifles and machine guns we had. That 
was a great surprise for the Reds. Panic broke out on the 
boats and the rafts. Most of them were upset and the 
occupants of the boats drowned in the Dnepr River and some 
of them - very few - reached the bank they came from. Then 
they opened heavy artillery fire, but again, mistakenly, they 
fired over our heads. So we were quite happy, if the word 
"happy" suits that situation. Then we realized that to the 
right of us, up the river and to the left of us, down the 
river, all units of Whites had retreated under orders from 
headquarters. But we had no orders to retreat, so we stayed 
where we were. And when we realized that we were alone, 
roughly one hundred and fifty men, and the Reds now knew we 
were there, that we also had to retreat. The Reds would 



- 430 - 

surround us and take us prisoners. They could land up 
stream and downstream from where we were. So we had to 
retreat. 

This retreat was one of the nastiest hours of my life 
because we had to cross that open space and the Red artillery 
saw our small unit retreating, walking, for about an hour to 
get outside of the range of those heavy guns. And there 
were direct hits and one of my fellow officers, a boy younger 
than I was , was walking about one hundred to one hundred and 
fifty feet ahead, and I saw the earth rising up in the very 
spot where he was. And I thought, "Oh dear, oh dear, my dear 
frined Dima has been blown up to pieces." But when that earth 
fell down again, I saw Dima walking quietly on. I had the 
uncanny feeling of seeing the ghost of Dima; he could not 
have survived a direct hit. I felt quite queer and I 
questioned myself whether I was alright in the head. Well, 
finally when we walked out of the range of the heavy guns, we 
were back in a proper formation and there came the division 
commander on horseback with officers of headquarters and he 
rode up to our unit and he said in a loud voice, "All those 
so-and-so Horse Guards ... I have sent seven times an order 
for them to retreat, but probably the commanding officer of 
the Horse Guards did not have a dictionary in his pocket and 
the Horse Guards do not know what the word 'retreat' means, 
even in Russian." So, of course, we felt very proud. 

That spirit and tradition of the Horse Guards throughout 



- 431 - 

two hundred years of course were very important for us, but 
at that time the situation was that all those seven orders 
of the commander to retreat were sent to us by riders because 
there was no other way to get to us. And the riders had to 
cross that open space under heavy fire. Some riders were 
killed, some just turned away and galloped back and no orders 
ever reached us. Had an order reached us, of course, we 
would have retreated long before. But to retreat on our own, 
well that was not our way. When we had had a rest in the 
shade of an old haystack, there was my friend Dima and he had 
not a scratch. He was a bit shaken up but not more than that. 
And later we questioned artillery men: how could that be? 
And they explained to us that if a big shell hits a certain 
spot, the explosion goes upward in all directions, but from 
the very spot of the hit there is a co-called dead space. 
And Dima, a man as tall as me, happened to be in that space 
on the spot. If he had been a few feet to the left or right 
of that spot, he would have been blown to pieces by the debris 
of the shell. Of course he was under shock of the air that 
such a shell produces when it explodes, and that was noticed 
a few days later when we were moving already on horseback far 
away from the fire zone at a slow walking pace and young Dima, 
who was a very good rider, all of a sudden slipped off his 
horse and fell to the ground. And he was unconscious. That 
was the effect of the air shock that he experienced. Well, 
he was picked up and sent for recuperation on the Crimea, to 



- 432 - 

Yalta, of course. And shell shock is sometimes worse than an 
actual wound. All his system, all his nerves were shaken up 
and it took a long time for him to recuperate. His re 
cuperation in Yalta was being helped by a charming young 
widow. And it came to the point where Dima wanted to marry 
her. But that charming young lady who also fell in love with 
Dima, who was a very, very handsome man, said, "My dear, I 
cannot marry you, I do not know if I am a widow or not." 
A year before, her husband had been reported missing in action 
and nobody knew what had happened to him. He could be a POW 
with the Reds, he could have fallen sick with typhus and 
recuperated. He could have been somewhere. There were many, 
many cases in those days where young women did not know 
whether they were a widow or not. So Dima had to wait and 
wait and they waited for a whole year and then there was a 
basic law of the church of Russia that if the husband was 
missing and it was impossible to find out his whereabouts, 
he was supposed to be dead and his wife was supposed to be a 
widow and she could re-marry. So that is what happened to 
this young lady and Dima and they did get married and they 
spent a very, very nice life, had children, and Dima had a 
sporting lodge in Canada. And maybe only two years ago I 
learned that he forgot that he was not that young anymore, 
and he climbed on the roof of his home because there was too 
much snow on the roof and he started removing that snow and 
his foot slipped and he fell. He had a brain concussion and 



- 433 - 

a few days later, he died. He was one of my best, closest 
friends. He had a German-sounding name, and as I said, he 
was a very handsome man, and when we were stationed in the 
German colonies, his German-sounding name, and his German 
title of Duke of Leuchtenberg impressed the old German wives 
of the colonists. They had special respect for him. And 
one of the wives, the wife of an old colonist was saying 
one evening, "Isn't that terrible, terrible! Those young 
officers in the evening after supper and some drinks, they 
start singing. And sometimes they sing terrible songs. 
Terrible songs! And my, oh my, that young handsome Duke, 
he sings with them." 

The second part of August of 1920 saw our squadron mounted 
but there were not enough horses for all men, so only half 
the squadron was on horseback and half were foot soldiers. 
We were in reserve somewhere behind the actual fighting lines, 
some thirty kilometers behind, stationed in a rustic little 
village and everybody was bored to death. We had learned the 
lesson that having more than two officers in a squadron at 
any time, was more than enough and an undersized squadron of 
men with six or seven officers was much too much to command 
them and it only exposed officers to being killed uselessly. 
So at the moment I am speaking of, the officers were on leave 
in Yalta, and with the squadron there was my cousin Andre 
and myself. I was about six months older in age, but Andre x 
was four months my senior, having graduated from military 



- 434 - 

school before me. So he was the senior in command. And 
when headquarters sent us orders to join the fighting units 
thirty kilometers north of us, I was very happy. And not 
being bored anymore, I was ready to start northward with 
half the mounted squadron that was under my command, to join 
the bulk of the regiment. And I saw Andre writing to head 
quarters a report that he was taking over the mounted squadron 
and I was to remain in that village with the other soldiers 
that had no horses yet. Of course I got mad at him and as 
two cousins, we had a verbal fight. But he had four months 
of seniority as an officer. So he wrote a report to head 
quarters that he was taking over the mounted squadron and 
I was being ordered to remain there with the men on foot. 
There was nothing that I could do. I could tell my cousin 
all the nasty words I knew, but I could not change anything 
officially. The next morning, disgusted and furious, I stayed 
in that little village and my cousin Andre went north to join 
the regiment. Less than a week later, rumors reached me that 
my cousin Andre' was killed point blank during a charge of 
our mounted regiment against Red infantry. Well, fate is 
fate. His body was brought back, placed in a metal, sealed 
coffin, and it had to be taken back for burial in Yalta, 
where there was the burial ground for officers of our units. 
And I was ordered to accompany the cart with his coffin on 
horseback. It was a very sad journey. We reached the Crimea 
junction from which we had to proceed to Yalta by horse-drawn 



- 435 - 

cart. And at that junction station, there stood the train 
of the Commander in Chief, General Wrangell. And by tradition 
wherever there was a senior officer of the Horse Guards, 
the younger ones had to report to him and pay him their 
respects. So I went to that train of the Commander in Chief 
and I was introduced into the car where Wrangell was and I 
found him all by himself. And he embraced me and said how 
sorry he was about the death of my cousin. And then he took 
off his table a blank of the Commander in Chief of the White 
Armies and in his own hand he wrote on that blank that 
Captain Ivan - that was me - was under orders to accompany 
the coffin of his cousin to Yalta and to remain in the city 
of Yalta as long as he would not receive other orders from 
the Commander in Chief. Then he called his Chief of Staff 
and said, "Countersign my signature." The seals of the 
Commander in Chief were put on that blank. It was a unique 
document written in longhand by the Commander in Chief himself, 
Then I proceeded to Yalta; there was the burial of my cousin. 

So, I had to stay in Yalta according to orders. But 
there was a problem of where to live in Yalta. Yalta was 
overcrowded. Yalta was full of refugees and officers. There 
was a huge hotel called Hotel Russia; it was overflowing with 
refugees. There were no rooms. One of our older officers, 
too old to be in a fighting unit, had requisitioned the bath 
room. And being senior colonel, he slept in the bathtub and 
the officers who shared the bathroom slept on the floor and 



- 436 - 

they were lucky if they could get hold of a mattress. Well, 
I stayed in Yalta and I visited everyday the family of Prince 
and Princess Scherbatov and their many children; and the 
mother-in-law of Prince Paul was Princess Bariatinsky and her 
maiden name was Stenbock-Fermor . She was a cousin of my 
father. So I felt quite at home in that place. And the 
eldest granddaughter was named Nadejda also and she had just 
graduated from high school at the age of seventeen. That 
was in 1920. When we immigrated to Constantinople in 1921, 
the two of us were married. Well, while I was staying in Yalta, 
I had a meeting with the commandant of Yalta who had the duty 
of checking officers on leave and checking whether their 
papers were still valid and to find officers that had to 
rejoin their units and ask them why they were still in Yalta 
with documents that were not valid anymore, that were in fact 
overdue. So he called me into his office and asked in a rather 
rough tone, "Captain, will you please explain your prolonged 
presence in Yalta?" I took out that Wrangell document and 
I said, "Sir, kindly read that document." Well, he became 
red in his face, then white and green, handed me that 
document back almost with a bow in spite of being higher in 
rank. And I decided that some orders probably did not reach 
me. And I left Yalta on my own and I got as far as the 
junction station where Wrangell had given me that document 
two months before, and I found the commandant of that station 
and I reported to him. "I am here to rejoin my unit. Has 



- 437 - 

there been some communication where that unit is now?" 
And he said to me, "I have not the faintest idea where any 
unit is anymore because just north of the Crimea there is 
total chaos and the last agony of the White cavalry. They 
are outnumbered twenty to one by the Reds. The Reds are just 
chasing the White units out of the north." So they were all, 
what is left of them, on the Crimea. He looked at Wrangell's 
orders and ordered me to go back to Yalta and stay there 
until I got the proper orders. So that is what I did. 

Selbilar, the home of Nadejda's family 

I have to talk somewhat about geography. The Crimean 
Peninsula is cut from west to east by a range of high mountains; 
sometimes, once in ten years maybe, the tips of those mountains 
are even covered with snow. Those mountains protect a strip 
going from east to west on the shore of the Black Sea from 
the icy winds and snowstorms that cover all the rest of Russia 
in winter. Actually, this strip - not more than twelve or 
fifteen miles deep and sixty or seventy miles long - is 
climatically not at all part of Russia. Climatically, it 
reminds one very much of the famous strip in France, Monte 
Carlo with its gambling casinos, the city of Nice, and other 
cities which have become so popular with British, and later 
American tourists. But this strip of the Crimea and the port 
of Yalta were inaccessible before a railroad was built - the 
railroad that linked St. Petersburg, the capital of Russia, 



- 438 - 

with Moscow to the south and farther south with Sebastopol, 
which became a fortified port and the base of the Russian 
Black Sea Fleet. When that railroad was finally built, one 
had access by rail as far as Sebastopol or a junction city 
north of Sebastopol, a big city that used to be the capital 
of the Crimea when the Crimea was a semi-independent Tatar 
state, centuries ago. From either Sebastopol or that other 
city, Yalta could be reached only by horse-drawn carriage. 
As I remember, one had to stop for the night half-way through, 
have a rest, feed the horses, and then one could proceed 
onward to Yalta. From those days on, Yalta began to be very 
popular, especially after Emperor Alexander III had a palace 
constructed just outside the city. The Imperial Family 
spent much time in that new palace and many of the Russian 
nobility and many wealthy merchants of St. Petersburg and 
Moscow came to Yalta and constructed their own houses and 
palaces all along the coast. 

One such estate on the very outskirts of Yalta was called 
Selbilar, probably a Tatar name. This Selbilar belonged to 
Princess Bariatinsky. Her maiden name was Stenbock-Fermor 
and she was the daughter of Alexander Stenbock-Fermor, the 
elder brother of my grandfather. So Nadejda Princess 
Bariatinsky was a cousin of my father and her children were 
all my second cousins. The eldest girl of the three of them 
married Prince Scherbatov and in 1921 he became my father-in- 
law and his wife, Anna, my second cousin, was my mother-in- 
law. 



- 439 - 

Prince Scherbatov was a one-hundred percent gentleman 
if there ever was one. He was a carbon copy of his ancestors, 
who many centuries earlier had been the ruling Princes of 

y 

part of Russia and had descended from the legendary Scandinav 
ian Prince and founder of the Russian dynasty. Prince 
Scherbatov in his youth was an officer of the Hussar Guard 
regiment. He was very broad-shouldered and very strongly 
built. His eyes were absolutely remarkable. There is a say 
ing that the human eyes are the mirrors of the soul; the eyes 
of Prince Paul reflected unlimited, boundless kindness. He 
was always in good humor, in spite of difficult times. He 
was a very brave man. During the days of the first Revolution 
of 1905, there was a mutiny in a fortress lying just outside 
St. Petersburg. This fortress was at the base of the Baltic 
Sea. Part of the garrison of that fortress remained true to 
the Tsar but the greater part was in mutiny. Orders had to 
be given to quell that mutiny and there was no other way of 
sending those orders except by hand. Prince Paul was in 
structed by Grand Duke Nicholas, Commander-in-Chief of all 
the Guard troops, to take those orders personally to that 
fortress in mutiny. To reach the fortress he had to be dis 
guised and go in by rowboat from the shores of Finland. That 
is what he did, risking his life in the exercise of his duty. 
In 1917, when the family decided to leave St. Petersburg 
and to go south to Yalta, for some reason they did not want 
to take with them the jewels that his mother-in-law, Princess 



- 440 - 

Bariatinsky, and also the Scherbatov Family, had. The jewels 
were really priceless, equal almost to the personal jewels 
of the Tsar's family. So in order to leave the jewels safely, 
and a bank would not have been safe for there they could be 
requisitioned or stolen, Prince Paul personally made a hole 
in one of the thick walls of his mother-in-law's home and 
put the jewels in that hole and plastered it over. Probably 
some of the servants knew what he was doing but they were 
very faithful people. No one else knew that the jewels -were 
in that wall. Then later, in the year 1918, they wanted to 
get the jewels out because the income from the estates that 
they had all over Russia had become zero, and the jewels 
would be very helpful in feeding that very numerous family 
of eight children. Prince Paul travelled in disguise as a 
proletarian factory worker north to St. Petersburg. He was 
not the only one to make such a trip in disguise and in those 
days some gentlemen disguised as proletarian factory workers 
were caught because of their hands. Their hands were much 
too clean, uncalloused, had no broken fingernails; they were 
not proletarian hands, they were hands of an aristocrat. 
In order to change the hands of an aristocrat into the hands 
of a proletarian worker, it takes time and technique. The 
technique consists of holding your hands in the warm ashes 
of the fireplace, not too hot, just warm enough to change the 
pigment of your skin. Then you have to artificially do some 
thing to get your hands calloused. And you never wash your 
hands. Thus he reached St. Petersburg and came back carrying 



- 441 - 

on his person all the jewels. It was really the feat of a 
hero. 

There was a family legend that when Prince Paul was 
engaged to be married and his fiancee and her mother were 
visiting one of the Scherbatov estates in central Russia, 
he wanted to show off his strength. When a carriage with a 
troika - three horses - was standing at the door and his 
fiancee with her mother was already in it, Prince Paul 
seized the wheel of the carriage with both hands and kept 
it from turning, so that the troika could not start. Well, 
that was of course a good exercise. But his brother-in-law, 
Count Apraksin, sarcastically said after hearing that story 
many times over that the old faithful coachman of the 
Scherbatov estates got a very handsome tip for not having 
urged his horses forward too much. Prince Paul got very 
angry at such sarcasm. Sometimes he could get angry even 
about nothing. He could flare up like a pot of milk, but 
that never lasted. As soon as he had cooled down he was 
sorry. Then, to make up, he would permit something he had 
been dead-set not to permit half an hour earlier. As I have 
said, kindness was a very basic trait of his personality. 

When my father was very young and just a student at the 
Imperial Lycee at St. Petersburg, he spent much time during 
vacations ,which were too short to go all the way south to his 
mother, visiting his cousin Princess Bariatinsky. That became 
quite a tradition and when I was about fifteen, Father took 



- 442 - 

me with him. I loved to accompany Father on such visits. 
The grandchildren of Princess Bariatinsky were in those years 
in the nursery. Her oldest grandchild, Nadejda, was then 
twelve or thirteen years old, and I rarely met her - maybe 
once or twice - and of course it did not dawn on anybody 
that years later, in 1921, she would become my wife. Maybe 
grandmother Bariatinsky did have such an idea somewhere in 
the back of her mind; anyway, she would have been and later 
was very happy that her oldest granddaughter would carry the 
same name that she had had before she married Bariatinsky. 

Now this estate in Yalta, Selbilar, was not just a summer 
cottage. It was a huge house with many buildings surrounding 
it and I do not remember how much acreage of vineyards and 
orchards. All those vineyards and orchards were leased to 
local Tatars who paid in money or in kind. They said, "Please 
tell all your grandchildren not to climb in the peach trees. 
We will bring to you all the best peaches we have. But 
children taking down the peaches on their own will break 
branches and destroy the peach trees." Well, eating peaches 
was fine but taking them down from the trees, of course, was 
great fun. So, just on the sly, we did take some peaches 
ourselves. 

When my father married in 1881, his cousin Princess 
Bariatinsky acted as Father's mother, who could not come all 
the way from south Russia on account of ill health. So the 
relationship between us and Princess Bariatinsky, with all 



- 443 - 

her daughters and their children, was really very close. 
During the Civil War when I came to Yalta, I went to Selbilar 
to present my respects to the old Princess Nadejda Bariatinsky. 
When I got there, she was living on the ground floor of that 
big house and the upper rooms were crowded with all the 
Scherbatov family. In other buildings was the Apraksin 
family with many children, the eldest girl about thirteen and 
promising to become an outstanding beauty - she kept her 
promise later. The other children were just small kids and 
'they had a nurse. 

At the time I first came to Selbilar, three families, 
the families of all the three daughters of Princess Bariatinsky, 
were living on that estate. Counting the three daughters, 
their husbands, and their numerous children, I come up with 
around twenty persons. Of course the big house and surround 
ing buildings were full of servants from the old days and the 
servants just could not leave, did not want to leave, and 
had no place to go to anyhow. There must have been at least 
fifteen or twenty of them, and their families. So Selbilar, 
with all its inhabitants, could be considered just as one big 
family, not to say tribe. 

I begin to court Nadejda 

Of course I came to Selbilar each time I was in Yalta. 
I felt very much at home there; I "belonged" to that family. 
The eldest granddaughter had just graduated from the Gymnasium, 



- 444 - 

(equivalent of a senior High School in the USA) and she began 
some courses at the local hospital to become a Red Cross nurse. 
There is an old French saying that I will try to render in 
English: that cousinship (cousinage) may develop into a 
dangerous neighborhood. Young Nadejda Scherbatov was the 
oldest of many, many children, but she was not quite eighteen. 
Red Cross regulations demanded that such a person be at least 
eighteen years old but in her case this was overlooked. 
After she had completed those Red Cross courses, she had 
the right to wear the Red Cross nurses' uniform with a big 
red cross, a red cross on a white dress. That inspired me 
to go to a flower shop in Yalta - Yalta was, of course, 
overfilled with flowers at all seasons - and I bought up 
bunches and bunches of lillies of the valley, which are white, 
and I bought an amount of red roses. I had a large box and 
it was stuffed with lillies of the valley, and in between were 
stuck red roses, making a red cross. I came to Selbilar, 
carrying that box, and I presented it to young Nadejda. At 
that moment I noticed that her parents, uncles and aunts 
looked at each other and winked. They got suddenly a feeling 
that the cousinship was becoming rather dangerous. 

All during the last part of the Civil War, in 1920, each 
time I came to Yalta I visited Selbilar. It was, so to say, 
a last little splinter of Holy Russia as I had known it 
through all my childhood - family life, dedicated servants. 
Selbilar lived its own life as if the Revolution had never 



- 445 - 

occurred, and I loved the atmosphere of all that place, which 
I considered almost as home. All the people living there 
considered me as a member of the family long before I actually 
fell in love with young Nadejda. One of my fellow officers 
that I had known since my childhood teased me, saying, "You 
are not in love with a girl. You are in love with all the 
atmosphere of the whole family." For the time being, at least 
in the beginning, he might have been right. 

Recuperating in Yalta 

Anyhow, when I came from the northern part of the Crimea, 
where I had been recuperating from my second attack of typhus," 
I was sent for further recuperation to Yalta. For many officers 
who could occasionally obtain leave from the front lines, Yalta 
was the place to go. But that was also not always a great 
blessing, because while we were on the front lines the army 
supplied us with food and lodging. Sometimes the lodging was 
just a haystack, some place in the middle of nowhere. But 
when we came to Yalta we had to have lodgings which were 
requisitioned for officers on leave. The greatest hotel in 
Yalta was the Hotel Russia. It was a brand new building, a 
huge modern hotel, but it was crammed full of people who 
were there by requisition or who still had some means to rent 
rooms. And when I arrived there were no rooms available. 
We junior officers slept on the floor of a bathroom. Those 
were our living quarters. Sleeping bags as they are known 
today did not exist, so we just wrapped ourselves in blankets, 



- 446 - 

or maybe we got hold of a mattress. To get around in that 
bathroom we had to step over one another. The colonel, who 
lived with us, managed to have a little table and on that 
table was a gadget, called a primus, a burner of sorts. 
The bottom of the burner was filled with kerosene and a 
little cup on the top of the burner had to be filled with 
alcohol. This burning alcohol developed a high temperature 
and then the gas of the kerosene rose up and burned. It was 
not the kerosene burning, it was the emanation of the 
kerosene burning in that burner. It was very, very popular 
in those days. It could be carried around anywhere and fit 
on the smallest table and it served for cooking, because 
going to any local restaurant in Yalta was impossible, beyond 
the means of the officers on leave, who had scarcely any 
money at all. But they managed to buy something at the 
market and then cook a meal on that gadget in the bathroom. 

Evacuation of the Crimea 

Very soon after the collapse of Germany and Turkey, the 
straits of Constantinople were open, and the British and the 
French fleet sailed into the Black Sea. The British govern 
ment sent a man-of-war to anchor off Yalta. The Admiral 
conveyed an invitation to the Dowager Empress, the widow of 
Tsar Alexander III, and members of the Romanov family to 
board that British man-of-war that would take them to safety 
in England. The Dowager Empress said that she was very, very 
touched, but that she would not leave Yalta unless some of 



- 447 - 

her friends could be taken out also. So the government of 
Great Britain gave permission to the Admiral to take all 
people according to a list that he would receive from the 
Dowager Empress. It was a very good opportunity for many 
families to seek safety abroad, because otherwise they would 
never have gotten out. They had no means to pay their 
passage on ships. Anyhow, there were no passenger ships. 
Very many families that I knew in Yalta left on the ship with 
the Dowager Empress. 

So, when I arrived in Yalta, I found Yalta, so to say, 
empty. Of course, Yalta was over-crowded, but when I say 
empty, I mean Yalta was empty of families I used to know in 
my teenage period in St. Petersburg. The only friends that 
I knew since then were my relatives, living in Selbilar, who 
had decided to remain there. A year later, when the Crimea 
was evacuated by order of General Wrangell, everybody left, 
except one of the daughers of Princess Bariatinsky, who remained 
This daughter and her husband and old Princess Bariatinsky 
were murdered. I will describe that tragic event later. 

Let me refer back now to the time when I returned to 
overcrowded Yalta. At that time my visiting Selbilar became 
a daily occurance and I always remained there for dinner. 
That was served in a big entrance hall because the main 
diningroom had been turned into a bedroom for some of the 
inhabitants. How my future mother-in-law, Princess Scherbatov, 
managed all that household - she had to feed roughly forty 



- 448 - 

persons every day - was to me a miracle. Of course, through 
some of the servants there were connections with the Tatars 
renting the orchards and vineyards, and occasionally they 
brought from the mountains where they were living some meat, 
vegetables when available, and fruit, a huge amount of grapes 
in season. Grapes and peaches were not just delicacies, like 
dessert, but were food. The worst and most difficult was the 
question of bread. The Tatars had their water mills in the 
mountains; they brought a sack or two of flour and bread 
was made at home. Somehow, all this great family, or as I 
said, tribe, managed not to go hungry. The Tatars in the 
mountains had a lot of sheep which produced cheese in season, 
and this sheep's cheese is very popular in the south. It is 
very rich and it is a food locally produced, so there is 
plenty of it on the market. That was the main staple of 
the officers on leave. 

There was a restaurant in Yalta, run by a very famous 
cook by the name of Korniloff, allegedly one of the cooks of 
the Imperial Family. Later, when he managed to emigrate, he 
had a luxury restaurant in Paris. Now, when I came from the 
northern part of the Crimea I brought a bucket of butter, 
slightly salted. I brought some hams and eggs, because there 
was plenty of all of that in the so-called German colonies, 
villages of Germans that had come down there in the days of 
Catherine the Great. They became extremely wealthy farmers 
and they had no outlet for their produce because of the lack 



- 449 - 

of any transportation. So we had all those luxury items: 
chickens, geese, ducks, ham, eggs, milk, and so on. And it 
was delicious because usually there was no variety. I remem 
ber an incident: Once I was walking in the streets of Yalta, 
probably in the company of my friends, officers, and my 
future fiancee. I was telling about my life in the reserve 
squadron in a rather loud voice, and I mentioned that I was 
sick and tired of eating ham and eggs, butter, lard, and fowl. 
Suddenly I was stopped by. an elderly gentleman, and very 
politely lifting his hat, he said to me, "Sir, officer, may 
I ask you a question?" I said, "Go ahead." He asked, "Will 
you please tell me where you come from?" It sounded to him 
like paradise. Well, I explained the situation. Now, when 
I brought all the goodies from there, I brought them all, of 
course, to Selbilar, and my future mother-in-law was delighted. 
I was happy because I could reciprocate for all the frequent 
dinners that I had enjoyed there. And I also brought several 
sacks of sugar and two cases of vodka. I gave one sack of 
sugar to my future mother-in-law but I never mentioned to her 
a word about having two cases of vodka. I brought that stuff 
down to the restaurant of Kornilov and I said to him, "Listen, 
to estimate the money value of this stuff today is quite 
impossible because money does not have any value at all, it is 
worth less and less every day. But I offer the following 
arrangement: You take over that stuff and you give me tickets 
for so and so many dinners at your place. So when I come to 



- 450 - 

have dinner at your place, alone or with a friend, I can 
pay with these tickets." He was delighted. 

A few days later I was having dinner in that restaurant 
with my officer friends, my future fiancee, and two or three 
of her girl friends at a rather large table. All of a sudden 
I saw a very scared look on the face of my yet unofficial 
fiancee. I said to her, "What is the matter, what is wrong?" 
She said, "Oh, in that corner over there, sitting at that 
little table, is Uncle Peter Apraksin." It is hard to under 
stand nowadays, but for a girl of eighteen to have supper at 
that restaurant with a group of young officers, unescorted 
by her mother or a .governess, was not at all in the Selbilar 
tradition. My future fiancee was scared that her Uncle Peter 
would report it to her parents and she would be scolded very 
thoroughly. But Uncle Peter was at that table with a lady, 
and that lady was not his wife. All of a sudden, Uncle Peter 
came sheepishly up to our table, and addressing his niece, 
he said, "Dearest Nadejda, I have not seen you this evening 
and you have not seen me." After that, the authority of Uncle 
Peter became zero. 

Count Peter Apraksin - as the children called him, 
Uncle Peter - sported a typical Russian beard and he had 
been the personal secretary to Empress Alexandra, the wife 
of Tsar Nicholas. When the Tsar abdicated and lived under 
house arrest, and later was deported to Siberia and murdered 
with all his family, when those tragic days started, Uncle 



- 451 - 

Peter reported sick. That was a sort of diplomatic sickness 
and plain cowardice. He did not want to risk his precious 
hide and be deported or eventually shot. That was very much 
held against him by very many Russians, including his two 
brothers-in-law. 

Besides that restaurant, there was also a night spot, 
the only one in Yalta. Of course I visited that night spot 
once or twice. There was a very characteristic figure 
there, and as I heard he came every evening. He was the 
military commandant of the city of Yalta, a retired Hussar 
general by the name of Zykov. He was in his general's uniform, 
a very stout man, completely bald, sporting a beautiful white 
moustache. He sat in that night spot at a table with champagne 
bottles and a chorus girl on each of his knees. Everybody 
knew where they could always find General Zykov if they had 
some official business with him as Commandant of Yalta. He 
would never be found in his office. The office was run very 
thoroughly by some well-trained military clerks and he had 
full confidence in them. Occasionally he came to the office 
to sign some papers, never reading them. He was a figure of 
the distant past. What happened to him later I do not know. 
I hope, for his sake, that he passed away before the Crimea 
was overrun by the Reds. 

We requisition food supplies 

Now I must explain how I managed to have those sacks of 
sugar and those cases of vodka. I have to go back to the 



- 452 - 

fall of 1919, when the White armies were rapidly retreating. 
We were in a large village south of the city of Harkov and 
there was a sugar factory there. The suagar factory belonged 
to the family of a young boy who was a volunteer in my 
squadron, but he was then somewhere in the rear in training. 
This sugar factory produced sugar and it also distilled 
vodka. I ordered my men to requisition, by force if necessary, 
as many carts as they could find and I believe they got some 
thirty horsedrawn carts. The owners, local peasants, drove 
the horses, in the hope of someday managing to come back to 
their homes. Some of those carts were loaded with sacks of 
sugar. The manager of the factory was there, and he just 
asked me to sign a paper that I had requisitioned so and so 
many sacks of sugar. He wanted to be covered, not accused 
eventually of having himself robbed the factory for which he 
was responsible. That was quite a normal demand, so I 
signed away. Then we went down to the basement of that huge 
establishment. It was a cellar, but a huge cellar that could 
hold maybe two or three modern swimming pools. Many soldiers 
from all kinds of units were carrying out vodka and at the 
same time drinking it, getting drunk, falling into that 
cellar that was maybe three feet deep in vodka, and they 
drowned in that vodka. The corpses of the drowned were 
swimming around the whole cellar. Other soldiers were stand 
ing on all fours, lapping up vodka and pushing away the corpses 
of those who were already drowned. That was a ghastly sight. 



- 453 - 

My men were carrying out cases of vodka and they were also 
drinking. I realized that if we stayed there ten or fifteen 
minutes more, my men would not be able to leave, they would 
be just as drunk as all the mob that was already drunk and 
drowning in that pool. So I said to my master sergeant, 
who was an old soldier and a very disciplined man, "Stop, 
that is enough! We are going to start out right away." He 
talked back to me and said, "Sir Captain, there is still some 
room on those carts." He himself was not very steady on his 
feet. Then I took out my Colt revolver and I held it right 
under the nose of my own master sergeant and I said, "Out we 
go!" in such a tone that he got sober. He ordered his men, 
who fortunately were not too drunk, and we left, having many 
cases of vodka on our carts. After we were maybe three or 
four kilometers away from that plant the whole big plant went 
up in flames. Some one of those drunks had thrown a match 
into that swimming pool of vodka and all of the drunks and 
the dead and the half -drunks were burned in the flames of 
that big plant. That fire was followed by two very strong 
explosions . 

That is how I got hold of so much sugar and so much 
vodka. Then I was accused of having looted the place. A 
report of my actions got as far as the headquarters of 
General Denikin and he ordered me to stand before a court 
martial for looting. Well, that court martial never took 
place because events overtook it. But that was very typical 



- 454 - 

of those headquarters. They did not realize that if I had 
not taken as much sugar and vodka as I could, two days 
later when the whole region fell into the hands of the Reds 
they would have taken whatever they wanted. Headquarters 
followed the regulations of yesteryear. To draw a line 
between lawful requisitioning and plain looting was very, 
very difficult. But my loot, so to say, helped us very much. 
When we were retreating, we exchanged some vodka with the 
local peasants for fodder for. our horses. During that retreat 
we made an average of fifty miles a day on horseback, every 
day. Of course the horses were exhausted and there was 
little fodder, but we sprinkled a little sugar on what we 
had and they ate it very well and the sugar gave them a lot 
of energy. And we exchanged vodka for our food. During the 
whole campaign of the White armies, the front-line soldiers 
and officers never got any pay and never got any food supplies. 
They had to live on what they could find among the local 
people and requisitioning it, and requisitioning sometimes 
degenerated into plain looting. But that could not be other 
wise. Therefore, it was considered quite normal that an 
officer going on leave and not having received any pay for 
a whole year would consider two or three cases of vodka and 
two or three sacks of sugar as compensation for the wages he 
would have gotten in normal times. That is the explanation 
of how I managed to get as far as Yalta with that vodka and 
that sugar. 



- 455 - 

But getting from that German village, that colony in the 
northern part of the Crimea, to Yalta was a problem. There 
was no railroad connection from Sebastopol or any other place 
to Yalta in those days and Yalta could be reached only by 
horse-drawn carriages or carts, as I have already mentioned. 
But there was a group of Tatars who had formed a kind of union 
of teamsters; they had no trucks but they had very large carts 
and very, very strong, large horses that I envied and admired 
because those Tatar horses were stronger and looked much 
better than the horses that we had' before the Revolution at 
our estate in Kodyma. I managed to talk one of those Tatars 
into giving me a lift. I sat on those boxes of vodka and the 
sugar was covered with a tarpaulin. We drove slowly, crossing 
the mountain ridge to get to Yalta. At the half-way point, 
having already crossed the mountain ridge and at the shore 
of the Black Sea, we stopped at a little village. It was 
rather late in the evening. There was an inn full of people. 
I was in the uniform of an officer. My intention was to stay 
with my cart there at that inn overnight. My Tatar coach 
man, in broken Russian, explained to me, "Sir Officer, that 
inn is full of all kinds of people, maybe many deserters, may 
be some Communists among them. They are all drinking heavily. 
When they see you, the only officer in uniform among them, 
you might get into real trouble. I advise you to walk two 
or three miles ahead and I know of a little inn there that 
is practically empty. When I drive by at the break of dawn 



- 456 - 

I will pick you up again." That was very decent of him and 
I realized that maybe he had saved my life. So I walked and 
I found that inn, which was a very small place, and practical 
ly empty. I even managed to have a nap, not undressing, and 
of course having my Colt right next to me on the ready. In 
the morning, at the break of dawn, that Tatar and his cart 
really drove up to me and stopped and picked me up again. 
We reached Yalta, where I could get ahold of a carriage for 
hire and unload my stuff and bring it - part of it - to 
Selbilar and part of it to that little Russian restaurant. 
I felt as if I were the king of all Yalta, having all those 
goodies for my friends. 

Nowadays it is hard to realize all those unusual 
situations of sixty years ago in the Civil War in Russia. 

Nadejda and I become engaged 

On September the seventeenth - that was a very unusual 
day in Russia - it was the namesday for four girls' names: 
the name of my unofficial fiancee, Nadejda, which means hope 
and the other name was Vera, which in Russian means faith, 
and the other girl's name was love in Russian. And they were 
saints of the Russian church for centuries. The mother of 
those three girls, martyrs of the early Christian era, was 
wisdom, Sophia. Very popular names for girls and all four 
had their namesday on that very particular day, September 
seventeenth. And that was the day that the parents of Nadejda 



- 457 - 

finally allowed us to be officially engaged. Our betrothal 
took place and the priest of the family came to celebrate a 
te-deum, a short church service to the health of the two of 
us. It very closely ressembled almost a wedding. But it 
was not. We were still officially fiancees. And on that 
very same day I got a wire order from Sebastopol from the 
headquarters of General Wrangell to report to him in Sebasto 
pol. So the very day of the betrothal, I left. 

When we were still on the Crimea in Yalta, Nadejda was 
so to say the only girl of her kind, which means we belonged 
to the same society in St. Petersburg and had the same back 
ground and we were cousins besides. So, Nadejda or no 
Nadejda, I had a home in Selbilar. She had in Yalta four 
girlfriends. Two of them were sisters. They were daughters 
of a very renowned general of a Russian Guard regiment. He was 
a division commander and a great and very kind gentleman. Some 
how it never occurred to me to court those two girls, for a 
reason that I do not know to this day. Another girlfriend of 
hers was the daughter of the mayor of the city of Yalta. He 
was of Greek origin. The girl was very nice, she was even 
good-looking, always in good spirits, but her father was 
simply horrible. He was horrible even to all his family. 
They were living half hungry while he was spending money in 
the nightclub in Yalta. On his rare visits to Selbilar he 
also came to pay his respects to Princess Bariatinsky or 
Nadejda' s mother. On these occasions he was so obsequious 



- 458 - 

and it was so evident that he felt so flattered to be 
received at Selbilar that his attitude was very sickening. 
I was very, very sorry for his older daughter, whose nick 
name was "Baby" even though she was in her late teens. She 
had also some brothers, four young boys who were promissing 
to be as disgusting as the father. So all this means that 
in those days Nadejda in Yalta had practically no competition. 
In 1920, everybody's hero was Commander- in-Chief , General 
Wrangell. I was one of the officers of his bodyguard. Some 
waves of hero worship could also be reflected on my modest 
person as a junior officer. Also, what eighteen year old 
girl would not be somehow flattered by an obvious courtship 
by an officer five years older? Nadejda accepted courtship 
slightly ironically, as any girl her age would. When rumors 
reached Yalta that a Stenbock was killed in battle on the 
front lines - three of us were on the front fighting line - 
nobody knew which of the three Stenbock cousins was killed. 
When I arrived in Yalta with the coffin of my cousin Andre, 
Nadejda suddenly told me of her feeling of relief that it 
was not me who was killed. That was all she mentioned, but 
I immediately concluded that she cared for me, that she was 
in love with me. For a boy of twenty-three, it is such a 
nice conclusion that a girl is in love with him. But on my 
part this was wishful thinking, and such wishful thinking of 
mine went on and on for almost ten years before and after 
our marriage in 1921. Nadejda never hid her feelings, and 



- 459 - 

it was obvious to all that she was not in love as a fiancee 
nor as my wife. As I said before, I was a member of the 
family anyhow. The fact of my name, the same as her grand 
mother's, had a lot of meaning for her and her late grand 
mother and brothers and sisters. They are all my cousins and 
good friends, in spite of our divorce and separtation, up 
to this day, being close relatives as we are, having the same 
background and childhood, later being kind and deeply sorry 
for us when we were penniless immigrants - as hundreds of 
thousands of others - and later when I was working at a barely 
subsistant salary. But this was certainly a rickety basis 
for a marriage. 

As I said, all through those unhappy years of my life 
I got a nickname from my friends, when we were living in 
Beograd, Yugoslavia, and later in Budapest. They gave me the 
nickname, the "Yellow Martyr" - that was me. I was blind, 
I was stubborn and would not admit that our marriage was on 
the rocks, to use a modern expression. And on the rocks it 
stayed and lasted as long as it did only because fate put us 
in a golden cage. I mean the estate of Count Louie Karolyi. 
We were like in a railroad car that was put on some distant 
side track of a big railroad junction. There was no contact 
with life that was going on in big centers like Berlin or 
Paris, where thousands and thousands of Russian immigrants 
were. And there was no comparison. Physically, we had every 
thing we needed, even more so. Life in Hungary was like a 



- 460 - 

fairytale from this point of view. We were isolated from 
reality. Such isolation could be understood by reading my 
chapter, "Life in Hungary." 

Our very young age and forces of nature made us parents 
of two boys. The years of isolation and latent unhappiness 
for both of us were worth my suffering through, because now, 
divorced long ago and having had stormy years, both of us 
are happy and proud, thanks to the two boys and our five 
grandchildren. 

I have to return to my unit 

As mentioned before, on the day of our betrothal, I had 
to leave Nadejda to report back to my unit. Getting to 
Sebastopol was a great problem. Sebastopol was connected by 
a road from Yalta, but that road was very dangerous. In the 
mountains through which that road went, there were small 
pockets of Reds, and especially at night they were likely to 
attack small groups and of course a single officer. But just 
by chance a British destroyer was standing in the port. I 
had friends among the British officers where in the evenings 
I had supper with them in Yalta. And I walked up to one of 
the officers and asked him, "When are you leaving for Sebasto 
pol?" And he said, "Oh, we are leaving in half an hour." 
"Will you take me back to Sebastopol? I have orders to report 
to the Commander- in-Chief ." And of course the captain said, 
"Of course, come aboard." That was a great coincidence. I 
barely had time to telephone to my fiancee that I was leaving. 



- 461 - 

And the sea in autumn sometimes is very, very rough and I 
was always a very poor sailor. So, when the destroyer went 
out to sea, the waves were very, very huge and they came 
right over the sides of the destroyer. I became quite sea 
sick and I suppose I was standing on that deck as they say 
"feeding the fish" in the Black Sea and there came a minute 
where I did not quite realize where I was. I was up to my 
waist in water. I did not realize whether it was waves 
coming over the edge of the destroyer or whether I had been 
washed overboard. At that instant I felt a very strong hand 
on the back of my neck and a sturdy British sailor was hold 
ing me up in the air like a newborn puppy, and putting me 
back on my feet on deck. And then he pushed and dragged me 
below to the cabins of the destroyer. Well, finally we did 
reach Sebastopol. The captain said to me, "You are in no 
condition to report to the Commander- in-Chief right away. 
But you will undergo a cure." This cure of his consisted of 
I do not know how many drinks of whiskey. After having di 
gested the captain's cure, I reported to our Commander-in- 
Chief. And I found that our squadron was called back from 
the front lines to join the Commander-in-Chief 's personal 
bodyguard. Some of them were in the city of Sebastopol, not 
in the fighting units anymore. And we were one of the units 
in the personal bodyguard of General Wrangell. And that 
lasted about two months. When the general, total evacuation 
of the Crimea was ordered by General Wrangell, we realized 



- 462 - 

the situation was untenable. Whole remnants of the Whites 
and the population had to be saved from the bloodbath and 
leave the last little spot of Russian territory to the 
advancing Reds. About that evacuation I will speak later. 

My squadron joins the personal bodyguard of General Wrangell 

So, on September 17, 1920, I was back in Sebastopol, 
coming from Yalta on a British destroyer, and I had a reunion 
with my fellow officers, with our fighting squadron that were 
just ordered back to Sebastopol from the front lines to join 
the personal bodyguard of General Wrangell. It was a happy 
reunion. Of course, everyone of us, including most of the 
enlisted men, at the bottom of their hearts, realized that 
the situation of the Whites on the Crimea was hopeless. It 
was the beginning of the end. Ant it was a great relief for 
everyone to be back in Sebastopol and not anymore on the 
fighting lines north of the Crimea, where the situation was 
hopeless and everybody understood it, but nobody ever spoke 
of it or even mentioned it. 

But being back in the city of Sebastopol had also its 
shady, uncomfortable results. Being in a city, there was 
still some semblance of social life, and that demanded cash 
in every officer's pocket. And that was just not there. The 
official wages that we received could cover maybe one outing, 
a very little one, at one of the restaurants that still 
existed in Sebastopol. We realized rapidly that officers, 
as long as they were still on the front fighting lines, were 



- 463 - 

heros. We, back at the rear, were penniless, undesirable 
paupers. The situation was really tragic, even more so 
because back in the rear there were men, in civilian clothes - 
God knows who they were, they were obviously of the age to be 
drafted - and those fellows had any amount of money in their 
pockets, and could give parties, entertain many girls; and 
we were occasionally invited to such parties as, so-to-say, 
very poor relatives. And poor relatives are always distant 
relatives. 

Now, our squadron was located in barracks outside the 
outskirts of the city of Sebastopol. For the first time, our 
unit was being sent on duty to guard the Governor's Palace, 
occupied by the commander-in-chief , General Wrangell. I was 
assigned to be the first one to lead that unit to the Palace 
and take over the guard duties for twenty-four hours. 

General Wrangell invited to his lunch table the officer 
of the guard every day. This time, it happened to be me. 
I sat at the far end of the table, presided over by General 
Wrangell. The commander of all his bodyguard, composed 
mostly of Cossack units, was Colonel Upornikov. Upornikov 
had just reported our safe arrival to Sebastopol, our 
location in those barracks, and in the words of the report 
from Upornikov to General Wrangell, everything was fine, 
completely in order and nothing but roses and high spirit. 
And at the table during lunch, Wrangell addressed me across 
the table in a rather fatherly way - because he was a senior 



- 464 - 

officer of the Horse Guards years ago - and he said to me, 
"Well, now, how are you, and how do you feel in Sebastopol?" 
And I started with the words, "Your Excellency, the beds in 
the barracks have no mattresses, not even straw. The soldiers 
are sitting or lying on naked boards. The windows, most of 
them, have no glass in them, and the wind whistles through 
our barracks." 

Colonel Drisen, attached to Wrangell - and he knew me 
since my childhood - was looking with terrible eyes at me. 
Upornikov was shaking his beard, not knowing where to look. 
At that moment, Wrangell stood up, hit the table with his 
fist, and yelled, "Bring up a car, bring up my car! I will 
investigate the situation in person right now." That was 
typical of General Wrangell. And he did; and he came, unexpect 
ed, to the barracks, and he found out that what I was saying 
in my young ignorance of policies and diplomacy, that I was 
right. That very same evening, all men had mattresses; and 
glass was found somewhere, and everything was put in order. 
But, of course, Upornikov hated me with all his might. 

Wrangell had a bodyguard of Cossacks since the days he 
was commanding the cavalry army on the Volga that consisted 
mostly of Cossacks and units of the Caucasus Moslem mountaineers. 
They were always envious about any units of the Imperial Guard 
regiments. But they decided to be diplomatic, and they 
arranged a bang party - officers only - and invited all of 
us officers to that party. One of my fellow officers, 



- 465 - 

nicknamed Jo jo, was once ago attached to those Moslem 
mountaineer units, and they had the habit, when the party 
progressed and much vodka was consumed, to enliven the party 
by drawing their pistols and starting to shoot into the 
ceiling. That replaced music for them. Of course, this 
could eventually be a disaster, somebody shooting not in the 
ceiling but hitting one of his fellow officers. It had 
happened before, and it was strictly forbidden by General 
Wrangell - and when he forbid something, he really meant it. 
I knew the habit of my good friend Jo jo, to imitate those 
Moslem mountaineers. And in the progress of the party, I 
noticed that Jojo was already in the mood of imitating the 
Moslem mountaineers. That would be a scandal, a disaster. 
It would get reported to Wrangell, and Wrangell might even 
demote him from his officer's rank, if not worse. So, I 
stood up, and I wiggled back to the chair of my friend Jojo, 
who had his heavy Colt in his scabbard. From the Colt there 
was a leather string to the belt, so that all officers could 
not drop eventually during hand to hand fighting their 
revolver and loose it. So I took a sharp knife and I cut that 
leather, and very gingerly I removed the Colt from the scab 
bard of Jojo, and hid it in an adjacent room. Minutes later, 
Jojo was completely in the mood and grabbed his Colt to start 
shooting at the ceiling, and the Colt was not there. He was 
furious. Who had dared be a saboteur and remove the pistol 
from an officer's scabbard? But it was gone, and that was that 



- 466 - 

Then, the party continued, and the spirits became very, very 
high. I was then a few days ago declared officially as being 
fiance of Nadejda Scherbatov who lived in Yalta with her 
parents, and I was in the mood of being a very good boy. So, 
I did not want to continue that rough party, and I slipped 
away to one of the adjacent rooms, where officers' cots stood 
and where all officers of my squadron slept. I lay down 
without undressing on my cot, and I almost fell asleep. But 
my absence was suddenly noticed in the big dining room where 
the party became more and more loud. Everybody was indignant 
that I left the party, and they went in search of me. They 
found me on my cot, and they demanded that I immediately re 
join the party. I did not want to. They insisted, and then 
I got mad, as I rarely, rarely do. Just over my cot, there 
was my Cossack whip. I grabbed my Cossack whip, I pretended 
to be completely drunk, not knowing what I was doing, I 
closed my eyes, and I started hitting with my Cossack whip, 
right and left, regardless of who I was hitting. All the 
officers of the Wrangell bodyguard fled from me and left me 
alone. 

Now, as in all armies, every day there is a new password, 
and a counter-password that is given to those who are supposed 
to enter the Palace occupied by the commander-in-chief of the 
headquarters. I was the officer on duty one day when one of 
my men came up to me and reported that outside at the gates 
of the Palace in the street there is a figure dressed up as 



- 467 - 

a general in the Cossack uniform. He does not know the pass 
word, and our sentinels will not let him pass, and he is 
there in the street swearing and completely furious. What 
should be done? So I went to the gates, and I recognized in 
that person General Artifeksoff , head quartermaster of 
Wrangell's general staff. I knew him personally, so of course 
I recognized who he was. So I ordered my sentinels to let 
him pass. According to regulations, a sentinel could accept 
orders only from the commanding officer on duty - that was 
me - or from General Wrangell in person. No other officer, 
or general, had the right to give orders to a sentinel. So, 
this general passed. And at lunch, where I was also present, 
he complained to Wrangell about that sentinel not letting him 
pass. Wrangell had a good laugh, and said to his general, 
who was a personal friend of his, "Serves you right. Who 
has to know that password, if it is not the General of the 
headquarters? That sentinel and young Captain Stenbock were 
completely right. You got what you deserve." So, I was very 
happy to hear that. 

We were getting some supplies, food and ammunition, from 
the French, not any more from the British. And it became 
known that a French Navy squadron would be visiting Sebastopol. 
It so happened that that day when that squadron was expected, 
I was again on duty. It was signaled that a squadron was close 
and approaching. A Navy squadron, according to international 
tradition, salutes a squadron of another nation by so-and-so 



- 468 - 

many shots, blanks, of its cannons. A squadron salutes a 
fortress, if it visits a fortress of another nation; and it 
salutes the Head-of-State - in the old days, the Tsar - with 
101 shots from a cannon. Now the squadron was out at sea, 
we could see it on the horizon. It was led by a French heavy 
dreadnaught of the French Admiral, the Admiral's flag was 
waving, and approaching, and then the salute started. It was 
very typical of Wrangell to want to see the squadron as soon 

\ 

as possible, so he did not stay on the balcony of his head 
quarters, but he climbed up on the roof of the palace. And 
he stood there next to the chimney, and I stood right next 
to him. The squadron started, boom, boom, the salute one 
after the other; and Wrangell was counting the salutes. Would 
there be the salute to the Russian Navy, to the fortress of 
Sebastopol, or would there be a salute to the Head-of-State? 
This was very, very important. It was not just for the ego 
of General Wrangell. If there were the 101 salute for the 
Head-of-State, that meant that France was recognizing him, 
and all of us on the Crimea, as a sovereign state, and there 
fore supplies would flow, and all questions of finances and 
so on would be handled accordingly. Wrangell was counting 
the salutes; and when he heard the one-hundred-and-f irst, 
and last, salute, he beamed - not because he was so proud of 
himself, but because that meant so much for all of us on the 
Crimea. 

That French squadron, led by that heavy French cruiser, 



- 469 - 

called also dreadnaught, was under the command of the French 
Admiral Dumesnil. He was married to a much younger woman, 
and her maiden name was Fermor. She was a distant relative 
of the Stenbock-Fermor family, and when the Admiral des 
cended in Sebastopol from the ship, to pay his official 
visit to Wrangell, his wife, Vera, wanted to know whether 
a cousin of hers with the name of Fermor was there. There 
was such a cousin among the officers of the White Army. And 
of course, Wrangell immediately ordered some research to find 
where that officer was, and some officers mixed up the names, 
Fermor and Stenbock-Fermor, and I was found out and was told 
that the. French Admiral of the fleet wants to see me. I was 
mighty astonished, and I could not guess what it was all about. 
Well, later I found out that there was a mixup of the names. 
In Russia, there was a family of the Count Stenbock. Then, 
there was a family of the Count Stenbock-Fermor. And in 
addition to this there was the name of Fermor only. Of 
course, there was a distant relationship between all those 
families, and some of the members did not even know each other. 
But once, while Rostov, the city, was still in the White Army's 
hands, it happened that there was a lunch in one of the 
restaurants of Rostov, and at that lunch there were present: 
one Stenbock, two Stenbock-Fermor, and one Fermor. That was 
quite an historical event, with all those names being re 
presented at the same table. 

As I mentioned, being in the bodyguard of Wrangell in 



- 470 - 

Sebastopol was a blessing, because we realized that we were 
completely safe, for the moment at least; but it was a mixed 
blessing, because city life was going on, more or less, and 
we had no finances to participate in that city life. 
Everybody realized that that would not last very long. Winter 
was upon us, and it so happened that winter came very early, 
and with a big bang of icy winds and severe frost. Clothing 
supplied to us by France, and before that also by England, 
was intended for use by the French colonial troops in Africa 
or the British in India. It was quite unsuitable for fighting 
in the severe Russian winter. 

The fighting line defending the Crimea ran along a narrow 
strip of land. Then, to the east of that land, about twenty 
miles long, there were marshes or swamps; and east of those 
marshes there was a dam, the railroad tracks, and then a very 
shallow Sea of Azov. Those marshes were supposed to be 
impassable, but that was evidently not quite so. After a very 
dry summer, the water in those marshes was low. There were 
sandbanks, with a few bushes on them. Local people knew very 
well the situation of the sandbanks, and it was possible to 
wade, zig-zagging through those marshes from one sandbank to 
another, eventually sometimes in water up to your shoulders; 
but actually, they were passable for very small units. The 
local people led Red scouting units, sometimes armed even 
with machine guns that they were carrying in water-tight bags, 
and they appeared unexpectedly on the Crimea and created a lot 



- 471 - 

of trouble. That was the situation of those marshes in the 
late fall of 1920. And when the sudden frost hit, that low 
water in the marshes froze very rapidly, sometimes right to 
the bottom of the marshes. The marshes became passable, 
not only for infantry, but also for cavalry and even light 
artillery. And so, the defense line of the Crimea, instead 
of being twenty miles, became four or five times longer. It 
was, so-to-say, fortified. I saw those fortifications. They 
were very impressive along that little strip of land. But 
otherwise, along the south border of those marshes, they were 
rickety posts. There was barbed wire strung on those posts. 
In places, the posts were simply lying on the ground. Anybody 
could step over that barbed wire. By no stretch of the imagin 
ation could that be called a fortified line of resistance. 
Cossack cavalry units were patrolling the border of those 
marshes, and they were rather negligent. By early November, 
Red Army units were concentrated along our front lines, out 
numbering us by more than twenty to one. They had the support 
of all they could find to mobilize and bring down against the 
Crimea; and they had the back supply possibilities all over 
the Soviet Union. They could mobilize any amount of man 
power and .have any amount of reserve units. We had no 
reserve units whatsoever. Our fighting men numbered roughly 
40,000. That would be in peacetime one infantry division. 

So, it was realized by Wrangell - actually it was 
realized long before, already in April when he took over the 
command from General Denikin, and he mentioned already then 



- 472 - 

that there was no chance for victory, but he could only 
promise to save the honor of the Russian national flag and 
all those who fled into the Crimea, help them escape from 
Red terror. And long ahead of time, his plans were made. 
All boats of the Russian Navy, and merchant boats, were order 
ed and had a code to come immediately to all the ports of the 
Crimea where that coded order would be given, so that the 
troops could be embarked, and every civilian person who 
wanted to leave with the troops could also be embarked. And 
from the moment of the embarkation, Wrangell put in his order, 
"I promise you absolutely nothing. We have no money, and we 
go out to sea. We do not know which country, which port, will 
accept us to land, and where that will be. We are leaving 
into emptiness, just for the sake of saving lives of the last 
White fighting units and of the population." 

At Wrangell 's headquarters in Sebastopol, there were 
regular meetings of the High Command, Wrangell 's assistant 
generals, staff officers, and so on; and that happened about 
once a week or even more often. I happened to be again officer 
on duty that day at the palace with my men of the Horse Guard 
squadron, and I knew that there had to be a meeting at 
Wrangell 's headquarters, as so often happened before. Then, 
to my great astonishment, I saw the two Archbishops living in 
Sebastopol were invited to that meeting, and they arrived. 
My sentinels saluted with their swords according to the 
regulations of the Russian Imperial Army, that generals and 



- 473 - 

high ranking people, including the clergy, had to be saluted. 
But in my mind I had a thought. It was most unusual to 
invite to a military council Archbishops, so the fact that 
both Archbishops were invited meant something. I realized 
that this was the beginning of the end. Archbishops had 
also to have some instructions about evacuating themselves 
and all the church believers, and maybe even some valuable 
church belongings. 

That was the last meeting at general headquarters of 
Wrangell. The order of evacuation was being written down 
and had to be published the next day. When I was relieved 
of duty by another officer, I immediately went to the central 
telephone-telegraph station of Sebastopol. Of course, I was 
excited. I was surpassing my authority, but the situation 
was such that I did not care. I came to the telephone 
station, and bursting inside I said to the astonished people 
there that I was an officer of Wrangell 's personal bodyguard. 
And of course, they were scared. They sensed that some 
thing very unusual was going to happen in the city. I demanded 
that I be immediately given the direct telephone lines to 
Yalta, and I got them. It was completely against all regulat 
ions. And having the direct telephone lines of Yalta, I 
demanded the telephone of the Scherbatov house, Selbilar. 
I got it. On the other end of the telephone line, there was 
my future father-in-law, Prince Paul Scherbatov. Of course, 
I could not tell him directly, "Tomorrow all the Crimea will 



- 474 - 

be evacuated." The official order was not yet published. 
But I hinted at it very broadly. And, as was typical of him, 
he did not want to understand what I was telling him. He 
refused to grasp the tragedy of the moment. Fortunately, 
his eldest daughter, my fiancee, understood perfectly well 
what I was talking about. 

At the time of this conversation, the commandant of 
Yalta was Colonel Kolotinsky. Many years later, I met this 
colonel in New York, where we were both emigres, and we 
reminisced about the days in Yalta; and he confessed to me 
that he was listening in to all the telephone conversations 
between Sebastopol and Yalta. Well, that might have been in 
the line of duty. And when he heard me, he knew who I was. 



He knew I was in the bodyguard of Wrangell, he knew Paul 
Scherbatov very well; and from my conversation with Selbilar 
with my fiancee, he gathered that the Crimea was to be evacuated. 
And he immediately started taking appropriate measures for the 
evacuation. The official order of evacuation from headquarters 
came to him only 48 hours later, but measures were being taken 
on the basis of my conversation with my fiancee. 

The troops had orders to retreat, fighting back as much 
as possible to delay the advance of the Reds. Some regiments 
were ordered to Sebastopol to be shipped out; other units were 
ordered to other ports. About two days later, the troops were 
in Sebastopol. Of course, I could not go to Yalta to help to 
evacuate the Scherbatov family. I was on duty those days almost 



- 475 - 

around the clock, with everybody else. When the units in 
Sebastopol started boarding ships for evacuation, the French 
Navy squadron under Admiral Dumesnil opened fire with all 
the heavy guns of the French fleet anchored just outside 
Sebastopol, and it was a sort of fire curtain protecting our 
evacuation. White troops boarding ships ceased to be fighting 
units, and the powerful fire of the French Navy made a kind 
of a screen to prevent the Red hoards from rushing into Sebasto 
pol, so-to-say, right on our heels. So, that was a. great help. 



Tragedy at Selbilar 

Serge Maltzov, second son-in-law of Princess Bariatinsky, 
was a retired navy officer, the most handsome gentleman that 
I ever met, and the nicest person ever. Unfortunately, he 
was a hen-pecked husband and he could not talk back to his 
wife. This fact produced a great drama when Yalta was being 
evacuated. His wife had once been evacuated to Malta but she 
did not like it there. She was abroad all right, but her means 
were very restricted and maybe some British authorities did 
not handle her as she was accustomed to, so the family came 
back to the Crimea. When Yalta was being evacuated, she 
decided to stay, not realizing the danger. She was very 
idealistic and she said, "Well, the Communists and Bolsheviks 
are also Russians. They would not harm us and our children." 
At the moment of the evacuation, all the Scherbatov family 
left, the Apraksin family left, but the Maltzov family stayed. 
Therefore, the grandmother, my father's cousin, said "If one 



- 476 - 

of my daughters stays, I will also stay." And because she 
stayed, all the jewels belonging to her also remained with 
her. When Yalta was overrun by the Reds, Maltzov and his 
wife and old Princess Bariatinsky were shot point blank on 
the balcony of their big home at Selbilar. Old Princess 
Nadejda Bariatinsky was in a wheel chair, and she was bless 
ing - that is, making the sign of the cross - in the direction 
of her executioners. They decided that she had lost her mind 
and was just senile. That was just- plain murder. 

The house was looted, all the jewels seized, mostly 
by the local prostitutes that accompanied the Communists. 
They strutted around the streets of Yalta. The nurse that I 
mentioned, stayed also and saved the three older Maltzov 
children by hiding them and pretending that they were the 
children of local servants, and then she managed to get them 
out of Soviet Russia. I met her later and she told me that 
it made her sick to see those prostitutes strutting around 
the streets of Yalta wearing all those priceless jewels, 
not even realizing the value of what they were wearing. 
But probably somebody did realize, and those jewels vanished 
forever. 

One of the granddaughters of Princess Bariatinsky, 
Helen, married many years later a very wealthy sugar industri 
alist in Belgium. They travelled to many places and they 
also went to Yalta. She asked to visit a house that used to 
be called Selbilar. The agent of Intourist asked why she 



- 477 - 

was interested in this particular house, which is now a home 
for minor children. She said, "Because that house used to 
belong to my grandmother and I grew up there." She got the 
permission and she had a nice reception by the young doctor 
and the nurses. They were all very much interested in the 
past of this house. Stepping out on the balcony, Helen said, 
"Here my grandmother, my uncle, and his wife were shot." 
The doctor exclaimed, "What a tragedy! We heard about it. 
Who shot them, the Whites or the Reds?" Helen's husband was 
attempting to pull her skirt to hint that she should not be 
too talkative for it might endanger them, but Helen was never 
a girl to be stopped. She said, "Doctor, I am surprised at 
your poor knowledge of the history of the Soviet Union. " 
Naturally, the doctor jumped at such an accusation. He said, 
"What do you mean?" To that, Helen said, "You should have 
known that in the year 1921 there were no more Whites in all 
of the Crimea." The doctor understood and changed the topic 
of their conversation. 

There was in Yalta a beautiful cathedral. The cathedral 
was open and church services went on as before the Revolution, 
in spite of the official anti-religion propaganda. Helen 
went to this church, told the young priest who she was, and 
asked if there could be a memorial service for her grand 
mother and her aunt and uncle. The priest said, "Of course. 
After the liturgy tomorrow there will be a memorial service 
as you ask." There was a service, and during that service 



- 478 - 

the deacon of the church proclaimed in a thunderous voice, 
"Let us pray for the peace of the souls of the assassinated 
martyrs, Princess Nadejda and her relatives." That was the 
official text used during a memorial service, but that it was 
used in a cathedral in Yalta, now in the Soviet Union, was 
rather unusual and remarkable, definitely an anti-party 
line. Nothing happened to that priest. 

We leave Russia 

There was in the port of Sebastopol a Greek large merchant 
ship, under a Greek flag; and the purpose of that ship was to 
load barley for a Greek merchant, because the Crimea had a 
great surplus of barley and the Reds would take it anyhow. 
So, that merchant bought that barley for a song, and wanted 
to put it on his ship. And he refused bluntly to take any 
soldiers , refugees, that wanted to be evacuated, because he 
realized that coming into Constantinople with refugees aboard, 
he would have to go into quarantine. Under quarantine, the 
ships have yellow flags, and nobody can leave the ships for 
reasons of health security. That would take a long time, and 
that Greek merchant would be loosing money. Wrangell very 
politely invited that Greek merchant to lunch, with his wife. 
Aboard that Greek ship were also the children of that Greek 
merchant. And after lunch, Wrangell said to the Greek 
merchant, "You are now under arrest, in my headquarters." 
The fellow tried to wave his Greek flag, and tried to have 
consideration taken that he was a foreigner under a sovereign 



- 479 - 

flag of Greece. Wrangell said, "I do not care about any 
flag now, I care only about the evacuation of the remnants 
of my army and all the refugees. You are going to stay here 
with your wife - and your children are aboard - and you 
will not return until all Russian refugees and army men are 
taken aboard your ship. You will be the last man to return 
to your Greek ship." That was typically Wrangell. For being 
such a leader, and such a father to everybody, in spite of 
the evacuation, he was greeted by cheering crowds, cheering 
soldiers, wherever he appeared. He went aboard the one and 
only Russian cruiser that remained from the large Russian 
Black Sea fleet, and he went from port to port. There were 
five ports of evacuation, Sebastopol, Yalta, and three others; 
and every single unit knew the ship it had to board. It was 
a great difference from the chaotic and traumatic evacuation 
of Novorssisk. 

At the time of the evacuation, part of Wrangell 's body 
guard was mounted and detached to chase big units of deserters 
and to chase Red army units that were in the mountains of the 
Crimea. And so, at the moment of the evacuation, Wrangell 1 s 
bodyguard had only just our Horse Guard squadron. As I said, 
Wrangell was aboard the cruiser, and he was cruising from 
port to port to supervise the evacuation. In one of the ports, 
there was some confusion. Some units got panicky and un 
ruly and attempted to board the ships out of turn. It was a 
dangerous situation, and it reminded many of the tragedy of 



- 480 - 

the evacuation of Novorossisk. But the cruiser entered the 
port and Wrangell was standing in all his height, in his 
Cossack uniform, at the prow of the ship with a bull-horn. 
He addressed the crowd in the port. Probably very few in 
the crowd could hear him or understand his words. But just 
his appearance there quieted everybody down, and order was 
restored. 

Half of our squadron was with General Wrangell on that 
cruiser. The other half was still in the palace under my 
command. I was the last one to leave the palace. The day 
before, I was in the palace at night. Of course, I was all 
dressed for any eventual happening. Quiet reigned in the 
palace. Then I heard upstairs some terrible crashing and 
terrible noise. So, I rushed upstairs. The noise came from 
the once-upon-a-time ballroom of the palace. I wondered, 
what could be happening now, at night, in the ballroom? Well, 
all the floor of the ballroom was covered by a relief map 
of the Crimea which had been made by some engineers in the 
Wrangell units. On all that floor was just that relief map, 
with lines of resistance, where the units were located, and 
so forth. And what did I see? The ballroom was empty 
except for one person, and that person was Wrangell. He was 
walking on the relief map, and with his feet trampling that 
map to pieces. So, that was the noise; and again, a very 
typical gesture from such a personality as Wrangell. 

Next day, I left the palace with about sixty men and three 



- 481 - 

officers. Our orders were to go to the port and to board a 
transport ship that was waiting, not just for us, but for a 
mass of other units. On my way to the port, I was marching 
along the street along a supply depot that was being abandoned, 
and looting of the supply depot had already started by city 
rabble of Sebastopol. Well, anyhow, we could not take that 
depot with us; but somehow, the fact of the looting angered 
me. And I stopped there with my men and drove away the looters 
It was a supply of mostly cigarettes. And of course, all my 
men, having driven the looters away, stuffed as many cigarettes 
in their pockets as they could. That lasted for at least a 
half-hour, or a whole hour - I do not remember - and when we 
came to the port, all ships were gone, including the one that 
we had to board. There was not a single ship in the port 
left, and the Red Army was moving into the city of Sebastopol. 
So, we were in a rather uncomfortable situation. We had to 
leave, to go to sea. So, revolver in hand, we requisitioned 
six fisherman boats that could hold about fifteen men each. 
With us we had two heavy machine guns. And we went out to 
sea in those row-boats. We heard rumors that to the east of 
Sebastopol, at a little seaside resort, called Balaklava, some 
ships were still anchored. I became seasick. And I vaguely 
saw a British destroyer going full speed out to sea; and I 
thought, "Well, if the British destroyers are leaving full- 
speed, probably we will find the shores of Balaklava empty." 
But, when we finally reached that place, I saw a British 



- 482 - 



destroyer still anchored at the shores of Balaklava; and with 
our requisitioned rowboats we rowed up to that destroyer. 



- 483 - 



CHAPTER V 
LEAVING RUSSIA 



- 484 - 

Last retreat - the war comes to an end for me 

Now my memory brings me back to the moment when the 
Whites were abandoning their last foothold on the Crimea. 
We went out to sea in rowboats and our rowboats were lying 
alongside the British destroyer "Seraph". When I reported 
to the Captain, whom I had met before in Yalta, and I had 
had many nice evenings with him during which he had learned 
to appreciate Gypsy songs, the Captain recognized me 
immediately and told me, my three officers, and all of our 
men to get aboard with all the arms we had. The deck of 
"Seraph" represented a most unusual sight: there were crowds 
of civilians, men, women, and children, and laidies ' elegant 
handbags were hanging on all the guns. Captain McNab invited 
me to his cabin and showed me the text of the orders from 
the British Admirality, ordering him to take aboard exclusive 
ly British subjects. Showing me these orders, he said, 
"Now look at my deck," and he added, "I would like to find 
a single officer in all the British Navy who would accuse me 
for doing what I have done." He was just saving everybody 
he could save. Then he told me that my half-squadron had to 
be disarmed. Naturally you cannot keep a Russian cavalry 
squadron armed aboard a British destroyer, but Captain McNab 
was a gentleman if there ever was one, a chivalrous officer. 
He told me, "All your men's arms will be put in a certain 
place on the deck of my destroyer and there will be one of my 
sailors to guard them and there will be one of your men, in 



- 485 - 

full uniform and armed, to guard your arms together with my 
British sailor." That was a really grand gesture of Captain 
McNab. The destroyer then left for Constantinople, crossing 
the Black Sea at full speed. Captain McNab attempted some 
consolation; he said he realized how he would be feeling if 
he were leaving the last shores of his homeland, headed for 
nowhere. He tried to comfort me with large amounts of whiskey 
and gin, or whatever it was. However, I was in such a 
strained nervous condition that no amount of alcohol could 
affect me, I remained absolutely sober. 

In the early hours of dawn, when we were approaching 
the Straits of Bosporus, Captain McNab told me that it was 
a beautiful sight, especially at the break of dawn. He invited 
me up to his command bridge and there we stood together. As 
I have said, the destroyer was going full speed and lots of 
water was churning at its prow. The land was quite close and 
all of a sudden the destroyer began to tremble, like a man 
in a high fever, because there had been given the command, 
"Full speed back." It was no wonder that with such a change 
the destroyer was trembling all over. What had happened? 
Well, the navigating officer had made a mistake. He took 
one of the bays of the shore for the entrance to the Bosporus 
and he almost landed his destroyer on the rocks near that 
entrance. Well, full speed back, then return, and we were 
really entering the Bosporus at a careful low speed. 

At the entrance there was a French gunboat. We were 



- 486 - 

passing quite close to it and the French Navy officer called 
out in French, "Where are you going?" Captain McNab, from 
his command post, called back in English that he was going 
to his Admiral to report. The French officer called out again, 
"Go to the Bay of Moda." This was a large bay in the Straits 
where all ships carrying refugees had to drop anchor, a 
measure to prevent disease from spreading to the port and the 
city. This was quite normal and natural in peacetime, but 
McNab repeated, "I am going to report to my Admiral." And 
the commander of the little French gunboat yelled back, 
"Go to Moda or I am going to sink you." It was like a little 
pup barking at a great dane. Captain McNab did not answer 
but he took his pipe out of his mouth and he spat overboard 
in the direction of the French gunboat. I was quite amazed 
at such friendly relations between allies. So we went right 
up into the harbor and the destroyer anchored in the civilian 
part of it. Enormous British battleships were at anchor in 
the Straits of Bosporus under the flag of a British Admiral 
whose name I have forgotten. But that can be very easily 
established by research. I am not a historian and I am not 
doing any research, I am just recounting what I remember. 

Having come back from reporting to the Admiral, Captain 
McNab declared that I could go ashore with all my men and all 
our arms. We were the first unit of the Wrangell army to 
reach Constantinople. The fleet of refugees, a great many 
ships, was moving very slowly because they were overloaded 



- 487 - 

and therefore very low in the water. Fortunately, I would 
say miraculously for that time of the year, the Black Sea 
was as calm as a lake. If there had been a storm all those 
ships would have gone down. Wrangell's cruiser was 
accompanying the ships, also at very low speed. They 
arrived in Constantinople about two days later. 

So I was the first from that army to land in Constantin 
ople. In my naivete I was thinking that we Russians, represent 
ing, as it were, Imperial Russia, were allies and had equal 
rights with the French and the British. That was my mistake. 
Anyhow, the moment we landed I called out into the crowd 
in Russian, "Who is there who can speak Russian?" An elederly 
Greek came forward and I asked him, "Do you know the way to 
the Russian Embassy through all these crooked streets?" And 
he said, "Yes, Sir, of course." So I said, "Well, then lead 
us to the Embassy." My men were in formation, dragging be 
hind them two heavy machine guns , and at the head of the 
formation there were a couple of singers (most Russian 
soldiers were wonderful singers) , and they began singing 
Russian songs. And so we started marching through the streeets 
of Constantinople. 

We had gone for about two blocks or so when I saw a 
column of French covered trucks coming in our direction. On 
the runningboard of the front truck stood a Russian general, 
the military attache of the Russian Embassy, waving his hands 
excitedly and from far ahead yelling to me, "Captain, Captain, 



- 488 - 

what are you doing?" Well, I came up to him, keeping cool, 
saluted according to regulation, and I said to him, "Your 
Excellency, I am leading to the Embassy the half -squadron 
of the personal bodyguard of General Wrangell." He kept 
yelling excitedly that the French occupation authorities, 
the Italian occupation authorities, the Greeks, and anyone 
who represented occupation authorities, were officially 
protesting against the fact that a Russian armed unit was 
marching through Constantinople. I realized then that we 
were no longer considered allies with equal rights. Not 
everyone had the mind and the traditions of Captain McNab. 
We were then pushed into those French covered trucks and 
driven through the city up to the Embassy. 

The Russian Embassy represented a whole complex of very 
large buildings. There was the main building of the Embassy; 
the ballroom in that building had been converted into a 
hospital and it was overcrowded; there was a cast-iron fence 
all around that complex. The yard and gardens of the Embassy 
were filled with an indescribable crowd of refugees: civilians, 
officers, and soldiers, and God only knows who might have been 
among them. Quite recently, after General Denikin had left 
the Crimea and handed over the command to Wrangell, he had 
lodged at the Embassy with his chief of staff, who was very 
unpopular and had been accused of being the main culprit of 
the disaster of the White Armies. It was even rumored that 
he had contcts with the Reds, but that was never proven. 



- 489 - 

Anyhow, there was a very excited officer, probably more or 
less out of his mind, who, on the grounds of the Embassy shot 
this general, the head of Denikin's headquarters, point blank. 
After that the British authorities moved Denikin and his 
family away aboard one of the British battleships anchored 
in Constantinople in order to avoid further murders and 
political unrest. 

The first thing I did with my sixty men was to post guards at 
the entrance of the Embassy and to clear the yard and the 
garden of that nondescript crowd, letting in only people who 
had some real business. Two days later Wrangell disembarked 
in Constantinople with the other half of his Horse Guards 
and came to the Embassy. The Ambassador offered him part of 
his own apartment but Wrangell, with his wife and three small 
children, preferred to live aboard a small yacht that in the 
old days had been the yacht of the Port Commander of Sevasto 
pol and was never intended to cross the Black Sea. Anything 
that could swim had been used to get people out. There was 
also a contraption used to clear the bottom of the port (I 
think it was called a dredge) and even that, overloaded with 
civilian refugees and troops managed to cross all of the Black 
Sea. 

I do not know the exact figures. They can be found in 
many libraries including, of course, the Hoover Library, but 
as well as I remember the number of refugees was roughly 
300,000 people and among that number there was a so-called 



- 490 - 

army of 40,000 men who still had small arms and machine guns. 
Of course horses and heavy arms had been left behind. The 
time it took all those ships to cross the Black Sea was ex 
tremely trying. The rest rooms were in use all the time, 
day and night. People stood in long lines to get a chance 
to use them and quite often the time for them was too long. 
So you can imagine the conditions and despair on board all 
those ships. There was a shortage of drinking water and 
people had no water to drink for two days. This was the worst 
and most difficult to bear. The first thing the French and 
British boats did was to come alongside the refugee ships 
anchored in Moda and supply them with drinking water. There 
were many old people and many children among these refugees. 

Well, I was one of the officers guarding the Embassy with 
my squadron. We were considered extremely lucky by all the 
rest because we were in the center of the city, we were 
supplied with food, and each of us officers got one Turkish 
pound per day in cash because we had sometimes to go out into 
the city. One Turkish pound in those days, to us refugees, 
was probably worth more than a million dollars to Rockefeller 
today. Nobody had any cash whatsoever. The infantry troops 
of the White Army were brought to a small peninsula along 
the Dardanelles, called Gallipoli. It was a large sandbank 
with a half-ruined little Turkish city in the middle of it. 
There the camp of what remained of the White Army was established. 
That camp and the time spent there have been described in many 
memoirs of both Russians and foreigners. I am not going to 



- 491 - 

describe it and besides, I was never in Gallipoli myself. 
I was one of the lucky ones stationed at the Embassy in 
Constantinople. 

All the Cossack troops were disembarked on an island in 
the Aegean Sea, Lemnos. Disembarking the Cossacks on an 
island was a wise measure of precaution because it made it 
impossible for them to leave singly or in groups. All of 
these men were in despair; they had no future. They got 
rations, sometimes only half -rations, from the supplies of 
the French Army and the French considered all these men, 
including the civilian refugees, a great nuisance and a pain 
in the neck. What to do with them and where to send them? 
They could not keep on feeding them there forever. Opposition 
toward them grew in the French Parliament. Why was French 
tax money wasted on those refugees and remnants of the White 
Army? Now, from the French point of view they were completely 
useless. Great pressure was exerted, especially on the Cossacks 
to make them return to their home country. None of them knew 
any foreign language of course and what would they do, where 
would they gain a living in the future? Why not go back? 
Many agitators were paid to talk them into going back. 

Several hundreds of those Cossacks did decide to go back. 
The French were very happy and gave them extra rations for 
the journey. They boarded an Italian freighter and the 
freighter started moving northward through the Straits of 
Bosporus. But General Wrangell's yacht was lying in the 



- 492 - 

Straits and the Italian freighter passed very close to it. 
Wrangell stood on the command bridge of the yacht and 
through a bullhorn he addressed the Cossacks, telling them 
that they were making the mistake of their lives. Hundreds 
of those Cossacks jumped overboard to get off the freighter 
and swam ashore in spite of the strong current of the 
Bosporus, only because they had seen Wrangell and heard his 
voice. That made a terrific impression on the British High 
Command. Even the French scratched their heads and said, 
"We wish we had a general in France like him." It also made 
a great impression on the American Red Cross, which was 
supplying us at that time with food and medicine in large 
amounts . 

Among the troops camping on that empty, barren Gallipoli 
sandbank in tents, there were some hotheads who planned to 
storm and sack Constantinople. There were only a few of them 
but they could have provoked a catastrophy. 40,000 desperate 
men with only small arms could march in less than a day to 
the city of Constantinople and the French black African troops 
that the French still had in the city would have been no 
match for those desperate 40,000 Russians. And what could 
the British Navy's heavy guns do? Of course they could fire 
point blank into Constantinople and make rubble out of the 
whole city in no time, but that would not be a wise measure. 
In fact, the French and British realized that they were power 
less to stop the eventual danger of 40,000 men getting 



- 493 - 

completely out of hand and going berserk. 

Fortunately, there was General Wrangell, who managed to 
be as popular as ever, and at his right hand was another 
general who was with the troops at Gallipoli and handled them 
exactly as if this camp were somewhere on the outskirts of 
St. Petersburg in the days of the Russian Empire: exercises, 
drills, even parades were going on all the time. This general's 
name was Kutepov and he had a personality not less than 
Wrangell himself. Later, when he was in Paris, the Soviet 
secret police kidnapped him. 

All ships of the Russian flag that left the Crimea, were 
directed to a French port in the Mediterranean, and they 
represented a certain value. The French took them over, and 
instead of paying for them, they just fed that White army. 

Personally, General Wrangell was in Constantinople in 
the Russian Embassy, where I was one of the officers of the 
squadron of the Horse Guards that protected the territory of 
the embassy that was considered sovereign Russian territory. 
The French went into all kinds of tricks to prevent General 
Wrangell from joining the troops in Gallipoli, because they 
knew his popularity and what might have happened. 

Then, one day, they decided to undermine the prestige 
of General Wrangell, and to disarm the guard, our Horse Guard 
squadron, and to disarm, maybe physically, Wrangell himself. 
But they did not reckon with the personality and the character 
of General Peter Wrangell. I was officer of the day when 



- 494 - 

French troops appeared on the streets outside the gates of 
the embassy. Wrangell gave me personal orders: "If the 
French troops break in and enter the territory of the embassy, 
I order fire." All we had was about sixty men armed with 
rifles and four heavy machine guns. Two machine guns were 
positioned at the main entry of the embassy, and two on the 
other side near where there was the embassy garden, just in 
case. I was in the court of that embassy, ready to execute 
the orders of General Wrangell. It was quite a strenuous 
moment, a moment that lasted maybe four hours. Finally, the 
French troops on the other side of the gate of the embassy 
yard left, quiet was restored, and our machine guns were 
removed. The French understood. - 

As to my arrival in Constantinople aboard the destroyer 
"Seraph", it had repercussions in the British Parliament. 
The opposition of His Majesty's government questioned the 
First Lord of the Admiralty, then Winston Churchill, as to 
how it was that a British destroyer had brought to Constan 
tinople an armed unit that was not British and so many 
refugees besides? Winston Churchill replied with a speech, 
saying that indeed Captain McNab, the commander of that 
destroyer, had grossly exceeded his authority and had not 
followed the orders of the Admiralty and therefore he was now 
demoted from the command of the destroyer "Seraph". The 
opposition accepted this and was satisfied. A week later 
Captain McNab was promoted to the rank of Admiral and given 



- 495 - 
command of a heavy cruiser. That was very typical of Winston 

i 

Churchill. 

Istambul (Turkey) 1920-21 

Embassies (usually big buildings) and the grounds they 
occupy were considered as the territory of the country they 
represented. The diplomatic word was "exterritorial". So 
the large building with all its annexes, gardens, front yard, 
the church in the embassy building was considered as being 
Russian territory. This idea was applied in all countries 
to all embassies of other countries. I have described in 
another chapter that upon disembarking in Istambul from 
the British destroyer "Seraph" under the command of Captain 
McNab, I led about 60 men and 3 officers, armed with rifles and 
heavy machine guns to the Russian Embassy, directed through 
the streets of Istambul by a local Greek man that volunteered 
to show us the way. We were met by a column of French army 
trucks and standing in one of them was General Chertkoff , 
senior military attache to the embassy. He was nervously 
gesticulating and yelling at me, "What are you doing, 
Captain, what are you doing?!" I duly reported that I was 
leading part of General Wrangell's bodyguard to the embassy. 
All other White Army units and General Wrangell himself were 
still aboard ships. I was the first to land in Istambul, 
thanks to the rapid voyage of the destroyer "Seraph". 

Upon orders of General Chertkoff my small unit was 
tucked away in the French trucks, tarpaulin covers drawn 



- 496 - 

tight so that nobody could see that a Russian armed unit 
was in Istambul. I was surprised at all this nervousness 
of Gneral Chertkoff. I was very naive and considered 
that a Russian unit had every same right as our allies, the 
French, the British and the Italians. 

Well, we got out of the French trucks in the yard of 
our embassy. Here we did have the right to be. It was 
"de jure" exteritorial, that is, in theory Russian ground 
and all diplomatic qualms of General Chertkoff calmed down. 
My soldiers were lodged in half underground cellars , hastily 
arranged for habitation and a field kitchen started working 
and food was brought, which was bought with money advanced 
by the embassy. It was all most unusual and the embassador 
never expected to have a "garrison" i n the embassy. But he 
was very soon realizing that the embassy grounds needed 
armed protection from more and more growing crowds of refugees. 
General Wrangell arrived and lived on a small yacht, anchored 
in the Bosporus. This yacht was "accidentally" rammed and 
sunk by an Italian freighter. A young navy officer in command 
of this yacht remained at his command post and sank with his 
ship, according to old imperial Russian navy tradition. His 
young wife became the widow of a hero although she was in a 
process of divorce to marry a very rich American businessman. 
Black suited her very well and she soon left for the U.S.A. ! 
General Wrangell lost all his personal belongings and files 
of his headquarters of commander of the White Army. Fortunately 



- 497 - 

when "the accident" took place, General Wrangell and his 
family happened to be at the embassy. That is where he now 
remained in part of the large apartment of the embassador. 
The huge ballroom of the embassy was converted into a ward 
for wounded soldiers. Many wounded found excellent care, 
thanks to the American Red Cross. 

In Paris a change of the government came about and the 
new French government decided to disperse the remnants of 
the White Army by all means. They considered it a nuisance 
and even a danger. Disarming this "Army" of roughly 40,000 
men was planned, also disarming the bodyguard of Wrangell 
at the embassy. General Wrangell refused and added that he 
considers any attempt at disarming his bodyguard as a 
personal insult! The day came when French colonial troops - 
Algerians - commanded by French officers stood on the main 
street "Pera" just outside the huge iron double gates to the 
embassy. 

I was officer of the day and Wrangell ordered: "If the 
French pass or break down the gates, I order - fire!" We had 
our machine guns, protected by sandbags, positioned at the 
front door to the embassy and my gunmen had a finger on the 
trigger. The distance from us to the French was about 100 
yards. We would have mowed them down. But they were many 
and would have overrun us and a short hand to hand battle 
would have occurred. But the French remained outside for 
some time and then returned to their barracks. 



- 498 - 

Two or three months later most of the White Army left 
for Serbia and Bulgaria with their arms and became border 
guards in Serbia. General Wrangell also left. 

We are refugees in Constantinople 

Constantinople was overflowing with refugees, all of 
them absolutely penniless, and finding a job was completely 
hopeless. Fortunately the American Red Cross had organized 
feeding points where anyone who had a document certifying 
that he was a Russian refugee, either civilian or military, 
could get a hearty meal once a day. One meal a day kept them 
from dying of starvation. And the Turkish population, to the 
great surprise of everybody, felt great sympathy for the 
Russians, but I cannot say the same about most of the Greek 
population. They could have been expected to be kind because 
Russians and Greeks had the same religion but the Greeks were 
often extremely greedy. On the first day, boatloads of 
Greeks came up to the ships in Moda Bay and the food they 
brought was raised on board with strings. They demanded 
jewels in exchange for bread. If one had no jewels they 
even took gold wedding rings for loaves of bread. 

I knew somewhere in Moda Bay there would be ships which 
had come from Yalta and that on one of those ships there would 
be my fiancee's family, the Scherbatovs. I finally found them 
on one of those ships. 

When Yalta was evacuated, Prince Paul evacuated in grand 
style. I think that among the millions who left Russia in 



- 499 - 

those days he was the only one who left with his wife, eight 
children, an English governess, three maids, a butler, and a 
huge amount of heavy trunks, not to mention small handbags. 
This was indeed a princely evacuation, in princely style. 
I had a motorboat, belonging to the Embassy; how I managed 
to get it I do not remember. It was just my luck, or my 
energy, or my desire to find that family. Aboard that 
motorboat I was going from one ship to another seeking the 
Scherbatov family. Finally I came alongside a ship and right 
at the edge of the deck I saw the second brother of my 
fiancee, who was then a boy of about thirteen. He was lying 
there, probably very hungry, and without even moving he said 
in a very calm voice, "Oh, and so Vanya has arrived," as if 
it were the most natural thing, my arriving alongside that 
refugee ship in the Embassy's motorboat. He would have said 
the same thing if I had entered any day his parents' house. 
But it produced a sensation. 

As I had decided to find them and take them off the ship, 
I had to have some place for them to live. All the houses 
were overcrowded and there was no room, no house, nothing at 
all in the whole city for rent, so I went to the Moslem part 
of Istanbul. There, by chance, I found a house that belonged 
to a Turkish doctor. He was a young man who had studied in 
Paris and could speak some broken French. I explained to him 
who I was. Probably the name, the title, and the fact that 
I was an officer coming from the Russian Embassy to look for 



- 500 - 

a house for the family of a Russian Princess impressed that 
young doctor. He agreed to rent his whole house. It was a 
three-story house and the rent was quite reasonable. "Only," 
the doctor said, "I will rent my house on one condition. I 
know that many of these Russian families have very large 
trunks and the trunks of a prince are probably extremely 
large. The trunks have to stay on the ground floor because 
the house cannot stand such heavy trunks being carried up 
stairs." So you can imagine what kind of a house it was. 
In America I would call it a shack, a three-story shack of 
boards , but there was no choice and I accepted the condition 
about the trunks . 

Then I went back in the motorboat to take the family off 
the ship, but the ships were under quarantine and leaving 
the ship could be done only by persuasion, which meant a bribe. 
The captain of the ship was very happy to receive a bribe and 
get rid of some passengers from his overloaded vessel. The 
more of those undesirable passengers he got off the ship the 
better for him. 

But how to board my boat? It was dancing on the waves 
of the Bosporus and the only way to get off the ship was by 
a rope ladder. The children, including my fiancee, came 
down that rope ladder like monkeys and even their old English 
governess made it. She was over eighty, but being English 
and seeing all the British fleet there, she was so overjoyed 
that she did not hesitate to climb down the ladder in spite 



- 501 - 

of her age. Only the prince and his wife remained on board 
the ship. She was holding in her arms their youngest daughter, 
barely one year old. Obviously, being a lady of around 
forty, she could not descend that ladder holding the baby in 
her arms, she would have surely fallen down into the water 
and the child with her. There was a moment of hesitation and 
all of a sudden one of the Turkish sailors on that ship 
dashed up to my future mother-in-law and literally tore the 
baby away from her and, holding the baby, he jumped overboard. 
He did it like a cat, and landed straight in my boat. Those 
Turkish sailors had their own ways and skills at handling 
any situation involving boats and ships; he was absolutely 
sure of what he was doing. I had seen such landings done 
in the Caucasus. Fortunately, my future mother-in-law did 
not faint. Seeing her baby down there in the boat gave her 
courage to go down that ladder herself. Then the Prince came 
down and we started for Constantinople. 

The whole family settled in the house I had rented for 
them. There were four rooms on each of the three floors and 
in the middle was a so-called hall. From that hall there 
was a discreet door leading to a place indispensable for 
mankind but that place was a Turkish one. There was just a 
hole in the floor and next to that hole there stood a big 
jug of water that you could use to wash down everything that 
needed washing down. It was not very comfortable and of 
course rather unusual for people not accustomed to Turkish 



- 502 - 

houses. Besides, we discovered the same evening that the 
house was infested with vermin, bedbugs. Every house in 
Constantinople was infested with these bugs, there were 
crowds of them. When you went to bed and the light was out, 
they started to attack you. There were so many that you could 
kill any amount of them and still more came. Finally all of 
us got used to falling asleep with those bugs prowling and 
biting all over us. The poor one year old baby suffered 
most because her delicate skin was . very much appreciated by 
those bugs. The poor child looked like one big bite. At that 
time there were no disinfecting sprays available and even if 
the house were somehow disinfected, the bugs would immediately 
reappear from the neighboring houses. How much DDT, if it 
had existed then, would have been required to rid all of 
Constantinople from bedbugs? Even the American Red Cross 
could not manage that situation. 

. 

The job-situation is hopeless 

In the years 1920-1921, Constantinople was overcrowded 
with refugees after the White Army had left the Crimea and 
many, many thousands of civilians had flooded the city. It 
was nearly impossible to find a job. One of my cousins, 
who knew English very well, found a job with the British 
military police. These policemen went around hunting mostly 
for drug pushers and this was a very dangerous job because, 
of course, they were in permanent contact with the worst and 
lowest kind of people. This cousin was very clever at finding 



- 503 - 

drugs hidden anywhere. He had a kind of instinct like a good 
hunting dog which smells a pheasant or partridge somewhere 
in the bushes. Wherever some drugs were hidden, he almost 
could smell the stuff at a distance. When the drug was 
confiscated, of course, he was rewarded by a certain percent 
age in cash, British or Turkish pounds, but alas also in some 
amount of those drugs. That was his undoing because he 
became an addict himself to such an extent that he had to be 
relieved of his duties. Later I lost sight of him but I 
heard that he finished his life in North Africa, being killed 
in some kind of a drug raid. 

Therefore, my future mother-in-law was dead set against 
my accepting any kind of a job with the British military 
police in Constantinople. I think it was my new friend, the 
Greek, who had first led me through the city and who had 
kept in touch with me and been very helpful, who told me 
eventually that he had a job for me in a night club. It was 
a place where all kinds of people gathered and spent their 
time eating and playing bingo. Some of these people were 
probably very disreputable. I was to lead the bingo and I 
was very happy to be one of the very few people who had any 
job at all. Bingo was not as it is now with all those 
electric gadgets. I stood up in that club from eight in the 
evening until two at night, with a little break of half an 
hour for a free meal. In front of me I had a stack of big 
cards with numbers on them and I had to pick one of those 



- 504 - 

cards, hold it high to show the number, and call out the 
number in Russian, English, French, Greek, and Turkish. I 
can still remember some numbers in all those languages. For 
that job I was paid one Turkish pound each night, the 
equivalent of one American dollar, but my job did not last 
very long because that night club, like most night clubs, 
went broke. 

There were other kinds of so-called self employment. 
Two officers of the Russian General Staff went into that kind 
of business. They were good psychologists and realized 
that many people, Russians, Turks, even French, English, and 
Americans, would want to hear, out of curiosity what their 
fate would be in the nearest future. So one of those 
colonels obtained somehow and from soemwhere a coffin. They 
rented a sleazy room in the European part of Constantinople, 
and one of the officers lay down inside the coffin. He made 
a small breathing hole and the coffin was closed. Three 
candles were burning at the head of the coffin. The other 
colonel sat at the door of the room and sold tickets for small 
change in Turkish money. Hundreds and hundreds of customers 
bought tickets to enter that room and to listen to a deep 
voice out of the coffin telling them their futures. The 
colonel in the coffin got quite hoarse and completely 
exhausted by having to use his imagination all the time, 
but they made money . 



- 505 - 

Pirofessor Whitimore helps young students 

I have had the good fortune throughout my life to meet 
several great humans, professors from different countries. 
One of them was the American, Professor Whitimore, from Boston. 
His field was archeology and he came to the city of 
Constantinople, which centuries ago was Byzantium, to study 
archeology. One of the greatest miracles of construction was 
the cathedral built in the sixth century. The cathedral was 
huge. I was in it many times and how, in the sixth century, 
the builders managed to erect that one big dome, covering all 
of the cathedral, was a miracle maybe even for today. In the 
sixth century they did not have all the heavy equipment that 
we use now, ladders, cranes, and what not to lift things up 
into the air. How they succeeded nobody knows. Legend from 
the sixth century says that angels came flying down from the 
heavens carrying the big dome, the cupola, and put it down 
on the building of that church. That is, of course, a legend 
but by the grace of God Almighty the builders succeeded in 
building that cathedral and it has stood for ages and ages. 

In those days the inside of that cathedral was decorated 
by little pieces of all colors, mosaic, and a copy of that 
kind of design exists today in the Stanford University Chapel. 
It was copied from the mosaics of the Cathedral of Saint 
Sophie, which had once been the center of Christianity. When 
the Turks stormed Constantinople, the last defenders, led by 
the emperor of Byzantium, took refuge in that cathedral, and 



- 506 - 

they all were slaughtered by the invaders. I, myself, have 
seen the imprint of a hand high up on one of the white columns. 
The legend is that the leader of the Turks rode into that 
cathedral, his horse walking on a thick layer of slaughtered 
people, and he put his hand on that white column and his hand 
was bloody from slaughtering; the imprint of the Turk's bloody 
hand has remained for centuries. The Moslem religion does 
not allow the representation of human features so something 
had to be done about those beautiful mosaic works with all 
the saints and angels and Jesus Christ. When the Turks turned 
the cathedral into a mosque, they covered all that mosaic work 
with a layer of white plaster, and thus inadvertently preserv 
ed them for future generations. 

When in 1920 Constantinople was under occupation by the 
British, the French, and the Italians, this Professor Whiti- 
more came from Boston to study those mosaics. The mosque had 
been turned into a museum of sorts and though the Moslems 
were allowed inside to worship just as they used to, all 
members of the occupation forces could go into that cathedral 
any day. In front of the door of that mosque there was a 
guard which consisted of Moslem soldiers, two of them, who 
belonged to the personal bodyguard of the Sultan. The Sultan 
in those days had nothing to say because of the occupation 
forces, so that was the only place where two armed Moslem 
soldiers stood and they just saluted as men in uniform went 
in. If somebody in civilian clothes wanted to go in, they 



- 507 - 

checked their documents and those with Russian documents 
received kind smiles from the Turks and were allowed to pass, 
but those two Moslem soldiers took great care not to let 
into that place any Greek. The animosity, essentially 
old animosity, between the Christian Greeks and the Moslem 
Turks remained in spite of all the events throughout so many 
centuries. The Greeks did not even attempt to enter that 
mosque because they knew they would not be allowed in. 

Professor Whitimore started his scientific work. He 
carefully removed the plaster to find the beautiful mosaics 
of the sixth century. He had, of course, many helpers and 
workers, and while working there of course he noticed a 
multitude of Russian refugees whose lives were in a hopeless 
situation. He also realized that most of them belonged to 
the upper, educated class of Russia, and that those between 
the years of eighteen and thirty had no chance whatsoever of 
continuing their studies. Their only chance was to go to 
Bulgaria or Yugoslavia for manual work, maybe in the coal 
mines. He decided that this intellectual elite should be 
saved and educated for intellectual work and then their 
skills and their knowledge would belong to all countries, so 
he started raising money in Boston. 

America in those days was very, very wealthy because 
she had supplied all countries that were in fighting Europe. 
Nothing had been burned or destroyed; on the contrary, many 
factories flourished and money was rolling all over in America, 



- 508 - 

Many Americans were eager to help ruined Europe and so 
Professor Whitimore gathered very large sums of money, and 
he used that money for paying tuition for those Russians who 
could go to school in Europe. In those days Yugoslavia and 
Germany were considered suitable for such educational purposes 
because they were inexpensive to live in. 

It so happened that Professor Whitimore 's chief 
secretary was my aunt, Nadja Somov. All her life she had 
been, as we call it now, a social worker. She had had 
great experience in handling all the red tape of such an 
action. She was then quite an elderly spinster and she knew 
perfect English, and she was known by many, many persons for 
her work when she was working in the city hall in Odessa. 
Now Professor Whitimore in those days was an elderly man. 
All his upbringing and studies had taken place in the nine 
teenth century and in those days the idea of a student being 
married, a student being the father of a young family, was 
unthinkable, totally unthinkable and impossible, so when 
he started helping the Russians, it was only the bachelors 
or bachelorettes who were enabled to go on studying. 
Educating a married couple was out because he thought they 
would be too busy with each other and eventually with children 
to concentrate their time and efforts on study. Since then, 
as we all know today, that concept has changed. In the past 
ten years at Stanford, the university has constructed huge 
buildings for married couples both studying at Stanford. 



- 509 - 

And the conclusion is that those married students are usually 
better students, more serious about their studies than other 
students who are spending some of their time running after 
each other instead of studying. But every rule has an 
exception and there was one exception made through the 
request of my aunt, and that concerned a niece of hers, Mary 
Stenbock-Fermor, who had actually been brought up by Aunt 
Nadja Somov. She was the daughter of my Uncle Nicholas and 
she had just married a Russian officer who had dropped out 
of the univeristy to join the war, and of course under 
pressure of my aunt the Professor made an exception and they 
got the necessary aid to continue their studies in Berlin. 
If at that time Aunt Nadja had asked one more exception for 
me probably he would not have refused her, but she did not 
like exceptions anyhow and the exception that she has asked 
for her niece was understandable because Mary was to her like 
a daughter. 

I had been married to Nadejda Scherbatov quite recently 
and in all the years before in Russia, my Aunt Nadja had been 
very idealistic politically, a left-leaning person, and the 
Scherbatov family were on a different pole from Aunt Nadja 
and she was not happy with my marriage, and of course in those 
days I did not realize that she was actually right. Anyhow, 
I had no chance to obtain any kind of financial aid for my 
studies. We were married and Professor Whitimore would not 
hear of any married couple going back to school as students. 



- 510 - 

Well those events or mishaps were in 1921 but life goes 
on and on for decades and decades taking sometimes quite 
unexpected and trange twists. And very many years later 
I met my Aunt Nadja Somov in Paris and she was the one, 
thanks to whom I met the family of my present wife. I do 
not want to jump back and forth, so that will come later. 
Now back to those students. With the help of Professor 
Whitimore many of them became students, some in Berlin and 
very many of them at the university of Prague. 

Unexpected help from a kind American officer 

As I mentioned earlier, I had an accident when I was a 
teenager, about fourteen. The accident occurred in the 
apartment when I lived there with my parents. I was exercis 
ing on rings which were hanging down from two heavy iron bolts 
screwed into the ceiling between the large double doors. I 
was exercising on those rings, and those big iron bolts 
somehow got loose, little by little. Finally, they got 
completely loose, and of course, I fell smack on the ground. 
And those bolts, very heavy ones, fell right on my face, on my 
mouth. There was a lot of yelling and crying, and my mouth 
was full of plaster, and a little piece of one of my teeth 
was broken off. Of course, Mother was scared, and I was 
immediately taken to a dentist, the most famous dentist in 
St. Petersburg. I believed that he was a great dentist, because 
at the entry of his luxurious apartment, going upstairs, on 
each side of those wide stairs, there were three big bears 



- 511 - 

standing upright. Those were the bears that the dentist had 
shot in the north Russian forests. So, if he could shoot 
bears, obviously he must be a great man and a great dentist. 
The dentist had one look, and he disregarded the little piece 
of my broken tooth, and he said that at my age then absolutely 
nothing could be done, but that the roots of my teeth were 
badly shaken. Some years later I would lose my teeth one by 
one, and then I would have to come back to him. He was a 
prophet, and I started losing my upper teeth, one by one, in 
the year 1919. The accident happened some six years before. 
In that year I just mentioned, 1919, I was in civil war 
in south Russia, moving almost daily with my squadron from . 
one place to another, and there was no dentist for one 
hundred miles around. So I lost my upper teeth. And when 
the civil war was over and I was an immigrant in Constantinople 
and a fiance to my first wife, I was toothless, which is a 
very bad situation for a young officer of the Horse Guards 
and in addition a fiance. I lived there with one of my 
fellow comrades who was married for a short time, and his 
wife Marusa was employed by the American Red Cross because 
she knew English fluently. And one of the top officers of 
the American Red Cross became very friendly with all that 
family, and he was leaving for the United States. At the 
home of my comrade, there was a party of farewell for him. 
There was a lot of singing, quite a lot of vodka which that 
American Red Cross officer liked very much. Then he left. 



- 512 - 

And in the morning, Marusa brought me an envelope, a letter 
for me from that gentleman, whose name unfortunately I have 
forgotten. I was very amazed, and said, "Well, we said good 
bye yesterday evening. We embraced, we kissed and so forth 
and so on, in quite the Russian manner, and what could he 
want to write to me?" I opened that letter, and there were 
some very nice words: "My dear young friend, I have noticed 
the condition of your teeth. I know it was an accident when 
you were a teenager. That should be now repaired. Here is 
my card. Go to that dentist - he is an American Red Cross 
dentist in Constantinople - and he will do everything that 
is necessary. And whatever he will do is paid for in advance." 

He was not the only American to do anything of that kind. 
The endless American empathy - and I must use that word I 
heard over and over yesterday on the television, when the 
future president was making his speech - the word compassion. 
Compassion - he repeated it I do not know haw many times. 
Probably it is a favorite word with Americans, and very many 

i 

of them showed that compassion, so many decades ago. So, 
I went to that American dentist, and he said that my roots 
of the teeth I lost have to be all removed, and then I will 
have a bridge. Removing those teeth was of course very pain 
ful, but he injected some kind of a stuff so that I did not 
feel any pain whatsoever. But the aftereffects of that stuff 
were very strong. I barely came back to the home of the 
Scherbatov family, to my fiancee, and I immediately needed 



- 513 - 

to stretch out; and they cured me with real strong coffee. 
Then all the thing was over, and I told the dentist, "I feel 
there is still a splinter of something in my mouth after you 
have removed all the teeth." He even got angry and said, 
"Everything is absolutely OK, and I know what I am doing. 
It is your imagination." But my mother-in-law insisted very 
much that I go and see another dentist. 

In Constantinople there was a Russian dentist. This 
Russian dentist was a dentist of a very small south Russian 
provincial city, located on the railroad line from Sebastopol 
to St. Petersburg. And it so happened that all of a sudden, 
travelling on that road in his car, Tsar Nicholas the Second 
had an acute toothache. Of course, on that train there was 
no doctor-dentist. There was a doctor-sergeant who always 
accompanied the Tsar, but he was not a dentist. The Tsar 
ordered the train to be stopped and to look around for the 
nearest dentist available. So this dentist was brought into 
the Tsar's car, and he did whatever necessary to alleviate 
the toothache of Tsar Nicholas the Second. He had a very 
gentle touch to the hand; and whatever he did, the Tsar liked 
it so much that he told the dentist, "Why don't you come 
and establish your practice in Tsarskoe Selo?" That was a sub 
urb of St. Petersburg and the permanent residence of the Tsar's 
family. So this obscure dentist all of a sudden became the 
personal dentist of Tsar Nicholas the Second. So you can 
imagine how many people after that decided that he was a real 



- 514 - 

good dentist, and he really was. He had then clients from 
all over the high society of St. Petersburg and became very 
famous. Then he emigrated to Constantinople and he worked 
there as a dentist; so my mother-in-law insisted that I go 
and see him. That is what I did. And he said that I was 
quite right, that I have a splinter, overlooked by the 
American dentist. "And besides," he said to me, "if we 
were now still in Imperial Russia in the years before the 
revolution, I would have accused that American dentist, and 
his license for being a dentist would be taken away from him, 
because if you would have come to me two days later, you 
would have had a blood infection in the mouth, and probably 
you would have died." So, that was the story of my teeth, 
the kindness of that officer of the American Red Cross, and 
that American dentist. 

Carrying on the traditions 

In 1921, we were as refugees in Constantinople. By "we" 
I mean about a dozen officers of the late Horse Guard 
Regiment. March 25th was a big church holiday of the 
Annunciation; and on this holiday was our regimental day, 
because in St. Petersburg the church of our regiment was 
consecrated on that holiday of Annunciation. It was custom 
ary in the old days that on that day the whole regiment in 
full dress uniforms rode twenty-five kilometers from St. 
Petersburg to the residence of the Tsar to parade and attend 



- 515 - 

a luxury dinner. All officers were invited to dine with the 
Tsar and his family. So this was a great day for all of us 
who have ever served in the Horse Guards. In Constantinople 
we decided to have a little feast. Some of us somehow had 
some Turkish pounds, but very little. We went, all of us, 
to a reataurant; and we had a very ample dinner. Of course 
we had hors d'oeuvres and vodka - not too much of it - and 
after dessert and coffee there came the bill. And all of a 
sudden, we realized that the total of the bill was more than 
all of us together had in our pockets. So, according to 
tradition of the regiment, if the regiment is surrounded by 
enemy, Swedes or Turks, or Germans, the command is: "Charge!" 
and "break through!" So charge we did. We ordered immediate 
ly more wine, and one of us - it was my cousin Herman - stood 
up and pretended that he had to go to the restroom. Instead, 
he rushed to the Russian Embassy and told about that situation. 
Of course, to avoid a scandal, some secret sums, - it might 
have been five or ten Turkish pounds - were found somewhere. 
Herman returned and the whole business was quietly settled 
without any kind of a row. 

There was another custom in the old days. Many crowned 
monarchs, like the King of Spain or the King of Sweden or any 
German Prince, were so to say declared honorary colonels of 
this or that regiment. This meant that on the day of the 
regiment, that honorary colonel would send a present, sometimes 
a dinner set, sometimes a horse or something of that kind, 



- 516 - 

some luxury present. And the regiment would respond with a 
luxury present to their honorary colonel. One of the 
cavalry line regiments had for an honorary colonel the King 
of Spain, Alfonso XIII. Now the regimental day of that 
particular regiment came around. There were seven officers 
of that regiment in Constantinople, two of them in their 
thirties, the other five older. One of them had just managed 
to sell his golden cigarette case; therefore they had some 
money in their pockets for a feast. At that feast they had 
hors d'oeuvres, vodka, wine. They started discussing what 
to do next. They were penniless, there was no hope of 
getting any job. Their situation was desperate and they 
knew it. And under the influence of desperation plus vodka 
and wine, one of them came up with a suggestion: "Let us 
send a telegram to our colonel, the King of Spain, not to 
ask him for anything that was not honorable, but just to 
congratulate the King of Spain on the holiday of the regiment 
to which he belongs as an honorary colonel." And immediately 
in very high spirits, - spirits can be also alcohol spirits - 
they composed a telegram using very high, fine expressions 
to their honorary colonel; and they called a waiter and gave 
him some money and the text. Some five minutes later they 
forgot all about it. And when the next morning they were 
all sober, none of them remembered the fact of sending any 
kind of telegram. 

To their great amazement, about two weeks later the 



- 517 - 

eldest of those officers, who signed the telegram for all of 
them, was asked to come to the Spanish Consulate in Constantin 
ople. And he was almost swept off his feet by the Consul, 
who told them that by order of the King all of them had 
received visas for Spain. Also, very tactfully he suggested 
that they probably needed some pocket money for the trip from 
Constantinople to Spain. Well, they needed it indeed. And 
they boarded that ship, and when that ship approached a port 
in the Mediterranean, a very large port, they stood in their 
tattered moufti aboard that ship and looked at the port and 
saw a very unusual crowd and a lot of movement in that port. 
When they were allowed to descend from that boat, they saw 
a cavalry regiment with a brass band, and the regiment was 
under the command of King Alfonse in person. The brass band 
played the Russian National Anthem, then their Russian 
regimental march. That was, of course, a great honor. Not 
one of them could keep back his tears. And after that, by 
order of the King, they all got officers' rank in the Spanish 
Army, and officers' wages. They did not know a word of 
Spanish, but they learned Spanish as fast as they could. 
Years later, there was a revolution in Spain. Franco was 
fighting against the Communists. Of course, all seven 
joined the Franco movement. Two of them were killed in that 
movement. The other five were retired because of their 
advanced age and they lived in Spain on their officers' 
pension. This, of course, reminds one of what officers were 



- 518 - 

in those days. And King Alfonse XIII was a knight like those 
in the Middle Ages. 

Nadejda and I get married 

I mentioned before that our wedding day was in April 
1921. The church ceremony took place in the chapel of the 
Russian Embassy in Constantinople. The Russian Embassy is 
like all embassies in all countries; wherever an embassy is, 
it is considered to be the territory of the country it 
represents. The expression is that embassies are ex 
territorial; that means that they are under the laws of the 
country that, they represent. And this turned out many years 
later to be of the greatest importance for us, at the time 
of all the proceedings of our divorce that I will speak about 
later. It was customary that after the church ceremony 
there would be a reception for all the friends, offered by 
the bride's parents. And at this moment the father of 
Nadejda, Prince Paul Scherbatov, all of a sudden seemed to 
have forgotten his status as an immigrant. They had some 
jewels, some of which belonged to Nadejda. They sold them 
and gave a big reception and many friends or so to say friends 
just enjoyed it. Nadejda 1 s sister, Helen, (I will mention 
her a lot later) was then only fourteen or fifteen, but she 
was conscious of being an immigrant. She studied in school 
there, in a sort of gymnasium (senior high school) where there 

were boys and girls, a situation unheard of before the 

. 

revolution; and being in contact with many boys and girls of 



- 519 - 

the immigrants, she knew better than her parents what the 
immigration really meant and the many difficulties every 
body had. She mentioned that her father should not have 
given such a reception, because the money it all cost would 
have come in very, very handy very soon for her sister and 
Vania. And of course she was right. 

Well, after our wedding we went to live in a sultan's 
palace. That sounds very, very grand, but the Sultan of 
Constantinople had many palaces and he had no money to keep 
them all up. They were in great disrepair. 

The Shah of Persia, Iran nowadays, was forced to leave 
his country because of an uprising. He was practically remov 
ed by the grandfather of the present Shah of Iran, who was 
one of his body guards, just a stable boy. He founded the 
new dynasty that strives to prove that they are the most 
ancient dynasty in the world nowadays. But anyhow, the then 
old Shah of Iran was forced to leave, but there was practical 
ly no bloodshed, and the deposed old Shah got a pension from 
the new government, a pension of two hundred thousand 
British pounds per year. That was a very, very sizeable sum. 
But, of course, he left with a retinue; and he had to help 
all those who left with him, who were still faithful to him. 
The condition was that he would get that penison if he did 
not get mixed up in the new politics of Iran. And so, not 
to lose the pension, he was very careful to stay out of 
politics. But the sizeable penison he got was not enough. 



- 520 - 

So he asked for some help from the Sultan of Turkey. They 
were both leading Moslems. The Sultan of Turkey allegedly 
said to him, "My dear friend, I am in money trouble myself. 
Constantinople is now occupied by joint forces of Great 
Britain, France and Italy, and I can barely make ends meet. 
I cannot give you any money. But I can give you as a living 
place one of my palaces." Which he did. The palace was 
huge, and so the deposed Shah suggested to one of his guards, 
who was also a Moslem in the service of the Russian Army, 
with the rank of general, to occupy part of the palace and 
to do. .with it whatever he pleased. 

That Moslem Russian general was very sly and practical 
and a great gentleman. He found a Russian immigrant engineer, 
and they somehow repaired his part of the Shah's palace and 
opened up there a hotel, mostly of course for Russians who 
had some money to pay. So that is where we moved into after 
our wedding. That palace stood at the shore of the straits. 
The gardens went up, up, up into the hills and were partitioned 
all the length by a very, very high wall. One side of the 
wall belonged to the newly established hotel, and the other 
side belonged to the Shah. When we lived upstairs in that 
palace, we and our guests always tried to look across that 
wall, imagining to see the harem of the Shah. Harem was a 
magic word. And we did see the harem. It consisted of three 
very old, doubled up, bent women, all in black. Their only 
job was to look after about three or four dozen cats of all 



- 521 - 

f 

descriptions that were roaming in the Shah's garden.' So, 
looking for the harem was a total frustration. 

Living up there became for us very difficult for many 
reasons. So we moved into some kind of a smaller house some 
where up in the garden, where in the old days the servants 
of the Shah probably lived. Selling jewelry was not always 
that easy and there were moments when we had to wait and 
those times were penniless moments. There was no possibility 
of us paying every week for the rooms we occupied and the food 
we enjoyed in that place, and that Russian engineer started 
to become quite nasty and rude towards us. Fortunately his 
companion, the Moslem general, took our defense. He said to 
that nasty Russian engineer in front of everybody, "I under 
stand that it is very disagreable for you not to be paid on 
the day you expect, but believe me, that young couple is 
even more upset at not being able to pay on the dot than you 
are at not receiving it." The general was really a great 
and gallant gentleman. 

A narrow escape 

As I have mentioned before, Nadejda and I moved into 
our own living quarters after our wedding. In order to 
visit my parents-in-law and the rest of Nadejda 's family 
we had to use public transportation. All along the streets 
ran an electric tram up to a certain hour, I think it was 
midnight or maybe one o'clock. We often visited the parents 
of my wife, had supper and spent the evening with them. 



- 522 - 

Somehow it happened that we did not notice how time passed 
and we just very barely got the last tram. 



We took the tram to get to the place where we lived - 
about half an hour. The tram was empty, and on its way it 
stopped at one of the stations. The conductor went off 
(probably to have a cup of coffee) and some youngsters got 
into his place and started pushing buttons and gadgets - and 
the tram moved. The youngsters, panicking, jumped off that 
moving tram, and the tram went on with nobody in front at the 
controls - we were the only ones on it. The tram moved 
faster and faster and finally so fast I was afraid the tram 
would jump out of its tracks on a curve. Nadejda was also 
panicky and rushed to the door to jump out. At that speed 
she would have been lucky to stay alive, maybe with a broken 
leg or arm, if not worse. So I forcibly prevented her from 
jumping out and calmed her down. Then I moved to the front 
place where the conductor should have been. At random I just 
started manipulating one gadget after another. At first it 
did not help, the speed even accelerated. But finally one 
of the last gadgets I pulled (and I pulled as hard as I could) 
were probably the brakes, and finally the tram stopped. We 
got out of it and we were maybe ten minutes walking from the 
place where we lived. So all is well that ends well. That 
makes me say to my future readers or grandchildren - never 
get panicky, never react as the crowd does. 



- 523 - 

There was another similar occasion when I was a boy with 
my parents in Switzerland. It was not a real railroad, but 
it was something similar to the cars that go up-hill in 
San Francisco. There were about five or six cars rather full 
of people. When they were going uphill, the end car in 
which were my mother, father, my tutor and myself somehow got 
loose from the rest of the train. It started backwards down 
hill. We expected another train coming uphill and there would 
be a terrible crash. The passengers on that car were panicky, 
they rushed to the doors to jump. My father forcibly pre 
vented my mother from following the crowd. Finally, we stayed 
in the car alone going the wrong direction. Then for some 
reason, the electricity wires disconnected or whatever 
happened and the car stopped. We calmly got off. Well that 
was a very long time ago; I was then only fourteen. It was 
my last journey abroad to Switzerland. 

From a place in Switzerland that was very famous, it 
was called St. Moritz, we went down the valley to another 
place that could be reached only by a horse-drawn coach 
(that was in the days of British Queen Victoria) . The coach 
was about as big as today's city buses, and three pairs of 
horses - two, two, and two - in front of it. On the high box 
there was a coachman with a very long whip and his helper with 
a horn. Of course, I managed to climb on the box and squeeze 
between the coachman and the horn blower. The whole run with 
a few stops lasted for about six hours. It was the last 



- 524 - 

horse-drawn connection in Switzerland. A few years later, 
I read in the papers that now an electric tram replaced it 
and that now all the charm of the old place was gone. 



Some refugees move to Yugoslavia 

The problem of the Russian refugees lasted for months 
until finally a solution was found. The government of King 
Alexander of Yugoslavia declared itself ready to accept the 
bulk of the Russian refugees and troops, disarmed, of course, 
and employ them as workers or as frontier guards in Yugo 
slavia. 

Yugoslavia was at that time a new country. It was a 
combination born out of the Versailles treaty and consisted 
of many parts, diverse as to culture, religion, and traditions 
There was Serbia, a Slavic country, with all the population 
of Greek Orthodox faith; in the west, in the mountains, the 
population was mostly Moslem; and the northern territory had 
before the war belonged to Austria and Hungary. The people 
there were Roman Catholics. The ex-Austrian part was 
strongly Germanized; the language of the upper class and 
their culture were German but the peasant population was of 
Slavic descent - Croatian. All these different ethnic 
groups, not to mention the Moslems, hated each other like 
hell, yet they had been suddenly united politically in what 
was called the Kingdom of Yugoslavia. This situation was 
created by the well-meaning fools at Versailles, the greatest 
of them President Wilson of the United States, who was 



- 525 - 

absolutely sure that he was representing our Lord in Heaven 
and that he, Wilson, was His omnipotent deputy to create 
peace in Europe, while he had not the faintest idea of all 
the intricacies of Europe and its history. Because of this 
that treaty laid all the foundations for the Second World 
War. 

In Yugoslavia, King Alexander was really a knight in 
shining armor. He was beloved by the Serbians and even by 
others. He had been brought up in Russia and spoke Russian 
fluently. He had graduated from law school and also from 
the Corps des Pages from which I had graduated. He was the 
greatest gentleman ever, and he understood the situation. 
It was said that at a reception for the diplomatic corps at 
his palace he asked one of the foreign ambassadors, "Your 
Excellency, do you know how many Yugoslavs there are in my 
kingdom?" The ambassador was quite confused and said, "Your 
Majesty, I will ask my first secretary and tomorrow you will 
have his report." Alexander smiled and said, "Don't go to 
all that trouble. I will tell you how many there are: there 
is just one, and that is myself." King Alexander was murdered 
in the port of Marseilles by a Croatian terrorist. 

Russian emigres, who came to Yugoslavia, were very lucky 
because that country lacked well educated civil servants. 
One did not trust- the intellectuals of Croatian and Hungarian 
origin who had been forcibly annexed to Yugoslavia and hated 
it. Russian intellectuals were needed and among the refugees 



- 526 - 

in Yugoslavia there was an elderly and very famous Russian 
doctor who specialized in gynaecology and obstetrics. He 
was just one of the refugees in the city. When King Alexander 
got married and his young wife was expecting a child, she 
did not trust the Yugoslav doctors, so this Russian professor 
was asked to come to the palace for a consultation. He 
refused, saying, "I am very sorry but I cannot come. I have 
no license to practice medicine in the Kingdom of Yugoslavia." 
The next day, a general attached to the person of King 
Alexander came to see the professor, bringing with him a license 
for the professor to practice medicine in Yugoslavia. The 
professor said, "I am very sorry but my Russian license is 
just as good as any other Russian license, held by many 
other Russian doctors, yet they have no right to practice in 
Yugoslavia. If my license is good enough then the other 
licenses are just as good as mine." There was a meeting of 
Parliament at night, and after that meeting all Russian Imperial 
licenses were declared good for practicing in Yugoslavia. 

Our regimental doctor was assigned by the authorities 
to a large, very prosperous Yugoslav village. There he rented 
a hut and made a sign in Russian and in Serbo-Croatian that 
this was the headquarters of the Russian doctor. Then he 
locked himself in that hut from the inside and he sent out 
a paper saying that anyone who wanted a consultation with him 
had to push through the slot in the door 100 dinars. This 
was quite a sizeable amount of money at that time. (I believe 



-. 527 - 

that nowadays, as of my writing, it would amount to about 
$50.-). Even for wealthy Serbian peasants that was a lot 
of money. They had it but they were very stringy. When 
they read the doctor's notice, they decided that he must be 
a very great physician and scholar because he dared to put 
out a notice that he would not even open his door to a 
patient unless he got 100 dinars in advance. It is true that 
our regimental doctor was an excellent physician and he 
turned out to be a great psychologist besides. 



- 528 






CHAPTER VI 



REFUGE IN YUGOSLAVIA 






















- 529 - 

We move to Yugoslavia 

By the end of 1920 and 1921, Constantinople, otherwise 
Istanbul, was full of refugees. Now they call them displaced 
persons. Official figures given were three hundred thousand, 
but maybe there were more. Of course, all that crowd was 
absolutely penniless. Very many of them were military, 
without any special training or skill in anything. All the 
papers they had were of the most varied kinds, some of them 
real, some of them fake, and all of them issued a long time 
before and invalid at that time. This had to be put in some 
kind of order. 

In Europe there existed a so-called League of Nations. 
It was a forerunner of the present day United Nations, and 
this League of Nations was based in Holland. The government 
of Holland did not recognize the Soviet government in Moscow 
as being the legal government of Russia. The League of 
Nations was headed by a Norwegian scientist by the name of 
Nansen. His seal and signature was fixed on new passports. 
The passports were issued on blanks of the Netherlands. The 
Netherlands spread their diplomatic protection over all the 
refugees. That big sheet of paper, the blank of the Nether 
lands, looked very impressive, but it was almost totally use 
less for any practical purpose because in those days, Europe 
was scrambling back on its feet, economically speaking, after 
the first World War, which had barely ended. Every country 
had crowds of refugees and displaced persons and unemployed 



- 530 - 

persons. Under such conditions, nobody wanted to have more 
unemployed people, more refugees from Russia. In order to 
travel anywhere, you had to have on that Nansen passport an 
entry visa from the country where you were going, and on top 
of that, all the visas from all the countries you would be 
travelling through. Obtaining such an entry visa to some 
country was a dream of the hungry, jobless refugees in 
Constantinople. 

Little by little, things did get settled. Especially 
countries on the Balkan Peninsula, particularly Serbia and 
Bulgaria, accepted and received the remnants of the White 
Army - displaced, unskilled workers - mostly in the coal 
mines of Bulgaria or Serbia. Serbia before the first World 
War was a small country, mostly agricultural. The specialty 
of the small farmers was raising pigs and cows, and they 
supplied Germany. Then that market was lost because of the 
war. Serbia was completely occupied by German forces. Rem 
nants of the Serbian army had been taken over to the island 
of Korfu by British and French navy, and when Germany 
collapsed, those forces came back to Serbia. Some units of 
the French army were in Serbia and Serbian territory. And 
Serbia got a new name: it was called Yugoslavia. 

Big chunks of territory formerly belonging to Austria 
or Hungary were added now to Serbia. Those regions had a 
very different culture and religion, and of course that made 
lots of trouble. The Serbian government did not have much 



- 531 - 

faith in the loyalty of the former civil servants of the 
annexed territories, so there were openings for civil servants 
that were Russians in the army and in all other branches of 
service in Yugoslavia. The aim of most Russians, including 
me, was to get a visa to leave Constantinople, where the 
situation was completely hopeless as far as jobs were con 
cerned, and to get to Yugoslavia. We made our proper applicat 
ion with hundreds and hundreds of others. Those applications 
had to be processed in Serbia, and that was a very, very slow 
process.' 

Meanwhile, when Easter came in 1921, my Uncle George, 
whom I described when describing my days of infancy and child 
hood, came to Constantinople from Serbia. How he managed to 
get with his family to Serbia, I do not remember. But all 
during the war Uncle George was a leading figure in the 
Russian Red Cross, where he was very well known by high 
ranking Serbian officials. He had some influence among them, 
and even some close personal friends. So, when he left 
Constantinople to go back to Serbia, he said the proper words 
to the proper people and all of a sudden, the Serbian 
consulate in Constantinople notified me that I had a visa to 
go to Serbia. That was about two or three months after my 
marriage in 1921. 

So now, my nineteen year old wife and I had to leave. 
But of course, people who had obtained visas to travel, just 
as we, had no money to do so, just as we. To buy tickets 



- 532 - 



normally and to leave was beyond the dreams of anybody in 
Constantinople. Well, the American Red Cross in Constantin 
ople found a solution. Under their influence, a freight car, 
an empty freight car, would be attached twice a week to the 
luxury Orient Express that again started moving all through 
Europe as far as Paris. This freight car would be attached 
to the train and detached in Beograd. In this car, thirty 
refugees could find a place to travel without paying anything, 
just sitting in that car on their luggage. And that was the 
solution. There was a waiting list and finally the day came 
when it was our turn to board that freight car. The freight 
car was full of people we did not know. But when a difficult 
situation arises with people that do not know each other, 
some kind of friendship immediately develops among the 
Russian people, and everybody helps everybody else as best 
they can. There was a very nice, friendly spirit among the 
strangers in that car. We managed to get into the corner of 
the car, sitting on our not-too-large suitcases. 

Just before that train began to start, we saw six men 
coming up to the freight car, carrying, with some difficulty, 
a huge wicker basket. That was the luggage of one of the 
men who had a visa to go to Serbia. That basket was pushed 
into the freight car, the doors were closed, and the train 
started. The owner of that wicker basket sat on it. Then 
he opened a little bag of his and spread a napkin on that 
basket, put on the napkin sandwiches, produced bottles of 



- 533 - 

wine, and very nicely invited us to have some lunch. Every 
body had something to eat for the journey, which was supposed 
to last thirtysix hours, maybe forty-eight, I do not remember . 
The express was an express train by name only. It could not 
travel at the normal speed of an express train, because the 
rail tracks in Turkey and Bulgaria that we had to cross, and 
in Serbia itself after the war, were in no shape to carry a 
big, fast express train. Well, we had some wine and sand 
wiches, the surface of the basket was cleared, and the basket 
was opened. Out of the basket came a gentleman. He was close 
to forty, very well dressed, very jolly, and he introduced 
himself to all present as a Mr. Tarasevitch, one of the senior 
officers in the Russian Imperial Secret Police. Now he was 
travelling to Yugoslavia, where he hoped to get a job in his 
specialty. He had no visa, so he used methods of the secret 
police. He said he represented in his person his own baggage. 
He entertained us with all kinds of stories about his activi 
ties in those days when he was still serving in Russia. When 
the train was rolling, everything was alright. When the 
train stopped at a station, down he went into the basket, 
sandwiches and bottles were put on top of the basket itself, 
and it looked like a dining table. When we came as far as 
the territory of Serbia, at the very last station, he got 
out of the basket; and when the train started slowly moving 
again, he jumped outright onto the tracks without hurting 
himself and he vanished into the bushes surrounding the tracks, 



- 534 - 

A week or so later, I had to visit the city administration 
of the capitol city of Yugoslavia, Beograd, and there was 
Mr. Tarasevitch, occupying a very important official 
function. Because the sister of my father in the prior 
generation was married to a professor at Moscow University 
by the name of Tarasevitch, this Tarasevitch considered me 
as being a kind of distant cousin of his; and that was very 
helpful, because later I did have some troubles because of 
the loss of a passport. And that was the way for some people 
to get to Yugoslavia. 

We came to Yugoslavia in June - I think it was on June 
tenth - and that particular day has a national meaning for 
that country the same way the fourth of July has a meaning 
for the United States. Everybody was extremely festive and 
they congratulated us for arriving on such a lucky day. 

Finally we find employment 

But now, there was the problem of finding a job in 
Yugoslavia. There were many, many people in Beograd who 
were Russian and looking for a job. There was a population 
census being taken by the government of Yugoslavia, and there 
were heaps and heaps of questionaires and papers that had to 
be processed about the local population all over the country. 
Most of those jobs were given to Russians. They were old 
ladies, generals some of them, corps commanders, youngsters 
as I was in those days, and it was barely paid. But anyhow, 
that kind of a job allowed one not to go hungry. My wife, 



- 535 - 

who spoke English very fluently and could type, got a job in 
a bank as one of their foreign correspondents. That was the 
best-paid job available in those days, because there were 
practically no Serbians who could type in a foreign language; 
and this particular bank did business with France and England. 
So, my wife very quickly learned all the technical bank 
expressions, not only in English and French, because she had 
no idea of them, but also in Serbian. 

The Serbian language, a Slavic language, had the same 
script as the Russian language, and many roots of words were 
the same as in Russian. But sometimes the meaning of those 
words changed very, very drastically. Sometimes the Russians, 
wanting to use the Serbian language to say what they would 
have said in Russian, put themselves in the most awkward, 
embarrassing situations. Well, all this was usually covered 
by jolly laughter by everyone. 

My work in that census business was, of course, very, 
very dull. But I remember once a document on the table in 
front of me about a Serbian man. The name was completely 
meaningless. Then came a column for "occupation," and that 
column was filled in with "robber, highwayman," because that 
was his official occupation. Then came "address," and it was 
filled in with "in the mountains, in the woods." That was 
very typical of Yugoslavia in those days. Many, many years 
later, I mentioned that story to a Yugoslav gentleman, now 
a professor at the Hoover Institution, and he had a good laugh 



- 536 - 

and said, "When you were taking that census, I was only two 
years old." When he was two years old, his father was 
Minister of the Interior of Yugoslavia and was murdered by 
Bolsheviks and communists that were then in Yugoslavia. 

Land distribution in Yugoslavia 

The territory annexed to Yugoslavia, originally Austrian 
or Hungarian territory, had huge estates which belonged to 
the Austrian or Hungarian aristocracy. Of course, those 
lands were confiscated by the Serbian government. The main 
house and a small piece of land, the orchard, and the garden 
and park were left to the owners; and all the rest of the 
land, the inventory, the cattle, everything, was requisitioned. 
They got some kind of bonds that would be someday, eventually, 
paid by the Yugoslavian government. That was very close to 
what was happening in Russia when the Bolsheviks took over 
the land in Russia. The big land owners were just murdered 
on their estates. Very few of them managed to get away with 
their lives and whatever they were wearing the day they fled. 
So, the difference was still very, very great. 

On those confiscated estates, the land and cattle were 
distributed among Serbian veterans. Serbian peasants that 
had served in the war in the army now gained their reward. 
At most, it was a political move. The Serbian government 
had to supervise it; and as supervisors, they sent some 
Russian refugees. But the refugees were hand-picked and had 
to be in the former days in Russia at least a governor of a 



- 537 - 

region or a very high-ranking official. That was just the 
Serbian way to give to those people, to whom Serbia owed so 
much, its very being: they wanted to reward those people. 
Those people got per month one thousand dinars, that was 
normal pay for a minor Serbian official employee. Besides 
that, they got the use of that big house of the estate and 
the use of the orchard, the vegetable garden which they could 
work whenever, if and how they wanted. People with large 
families, for them it was a blessing to live in a beautiful 
house. The furniture was still there. They had to oversee 
the proceedings but had no power at all and could give no 
orders. Among the Serbian veterans, there was somebody who 
ran the show. Those Serbian veterans were supposed to get 
land, and they got it. But the idea was that they would 
settle on that land, so that the population of the annexed 
land would have an authentic Serbian population, at least in 
part. Well, actually, the population was Hungarian or 
Germanized Croatian who were really Slavic but completely 
Germanized Roman Catholics, and their attitude toward the 
Serbians was not friendly at all. The Serbians coming from 
the so to say "real" Serbia had no intention of settling in 
a new land. They just leased or sold the parcels of land 
that they got to the local Jewish population, because they 
were the only ones who had cash, as usual. They sold to them 
the cattle which was sometimes priceless meat or milk cattle. 
The cattle were slaughtered and the Serbian settlers, veterans, 



- 538 - 

feasted and drank and filled up and spent their money. They 
had never dreamt of having so much cash in their hands. When 
they had spent all the cash they had, they demanded to be 
returned to their native Serbian villages. They had no money 
left to go there. So, the Serbian government had to give out 
funds to transport the repatriated Serbian veterans back to 
where they came from. The whole thing was a total flop. 

One of those so-called commissars - the Russian governors 
were called commissars, and in the Russian mind in those 
days, a commissar had to be both a Bolshevik and a communist, 
so the ex-Imperial governors and high ranking officials did 
not like to be called commissars - one of them was an uncle 
of my wife and we visited him. We never addressed him 
otherwise than "Mr. Commissar," just for the sake of teasing 
him. He occupied a beautiful mansion, half empty, with 
remnants of furniture. 

For some Paris offered an alternative 

Another friend of mine, also a relative, was a bachelor. 
He also became a commissar on one of those aristocratic 
estates of a Hungarian family. The family had stayed on 
what was left to them of that estate, not wanting to go to 
Hungary for many reasons. Hungary was defeated, almost 
partitioned, and overfilled with Hungarian refugees that fled 
from the land that was being given to neighbors. They were 
very nice, very educated people. They spoke many languages - 
so did my cousin - and very soon my cousin discovered how 



- 539 - 

nice those Hungarian aristocrats were and they discovered 
that the dreaded Serbian commissar was a great Russian 
gentleman of the Russian titled nobility. The Hungarian 
aristocrats and the Serbian commissars actually belonged to 
the same class of people. The Serbian settlers, so to say, 
belonged to a very different class. My cousin became a friend 
of the family. They furnished his almost empty rooms with 
very nice furniture, a carpet, and even a big piano, because 
my cousin was a great musician. This did not pass unnoticed 
by the Serbian settlers, and they took it very badly. They 
wrote all sorts of nasty notes that the so-called commissar 
was taking sides with the remaining Hungarians. And to get 
him out of trouble, my cousin was recalled to Beograd. He 
was given some kind of a job somewhere, but he was so dis 
gusted with Yugoslavia that he managed to leave for Paris. 

In Paris, getting a job was almost impossible. Only 
the lucky ones who could become taxi drivers in Paris were 
happy and earned sizeable amounts of money. France lacked 
manpower because so many French were killed in the first 
World War. The French wanted manpower, yes, but they 
wanted it on the decaying farms and in the coal mines and in 
the plants. France had no need at all for the people belong 
ing to the intellectual workers. They had enough French 
intellectuals that were jobless. 

So, my cousin had a very hard time to exist in Paris. 
He was then over forty and rather stout, and taxi driving was 



- 540 - 

not for him. One day he was crossing one of the boulevards 
of Paris, probably absent-minded, thinking about what the 
next day would bring to him, and he was over-run, hit by a 
car or a truck - fortunately, nothing too serious. Anyhow, 
he went to a French lawyer, and the lawyer said that he 
would take the case. But my cousin said, "I have no money 
whatsoever to pay you." The lawyer said that it could be 
arranged. "You sign that paper," he said, "and I will re 
present you without pay. I will win for such and such 
a sum, and the more the sum, the better for both of us. I 
will take fifty percent of the sum, and you will take fifty 
percent of the sum." He must have been a very smart lawyer, 
because he won in court. My cousin got his share, and that 
was forty thousand francs. In those days, a dollar was worth 
twenty francs, so forty thousand francs was quite a sum of 
money. He took a vacation, and then he married a French 
woman. It was rumored that that French woman - she was not 
so young anymore, neither was he - belonged in her younger 
days to the oldest profession in the world. She had saved 
some money also. To our great astonishment, it was not only 
a happy marriage, but it also cured my cousin, who was on 
the way to becoming an alcoholic. Under the influence of his 
French wife, he was completely cured and lived out his life 
normally; and she took great care of him until he died. It 
was a legend in France - it sounded funny to us - but French 
men tried to tell us that they knew of very many happy 



- 541 - 

marriages of men who were not so young anymore to women who 
had belonged to the above mentioned profession. Of course, 
those girls knew how to handle a man in any situation. And 
they themselves were sick and tired of that old profession 
and just wanted to live somewhere in a small French village 
or town in peace and quiet. Some of those marriages produced 
children that became quite well-educated and well-mannered. 

Our daily life in Yugoslavia 

Now back to Yugoslavia. My job barely, barely covered 
the rent of the room. The earnings of my wife at the bank 
had to cover all food and the other necessities of life such 
as clothing and going out occasionally. We could not go out 
in the circles of the diplomatic corps in Beograd and those 
few Serbians that were on the level of the so to say high- 
ranking social life. We had neither the money nor the means 
nor the clothing. Financially we were almoust on the lowest 
step of Serbian society. And that Serbian society with all 
its ways and manners and interests was absolutely alien to 
us. So, the only society that we met that we sometimes 
joined were Russian refugees. In Beograd, Russian refugees 
actually lived in a kind of closed circle, not to say the 
word "ghetto." The reason for it was mostly financial and 
the very different upbringing and interests that we had from 
the Serbians: they were very primitive in many respects. 

The problem was of having our home close to the place 
where we worked. Climate in Beograd in the winter was just 



- 542 - 

as bad as in Russia - severe cold and snow and torrential 
rains in the summer. So we rented a room in the apartment 
of an officer of the general staff. It was an apartment 
building just across the street from the palace of the King. 
The King was then very aged, King Peter, but he was merely 
a figurehead; his son Alexander actually ruled the country. 
King Peter was a very popular grandf atherly figure. He 
walked around Beograd on foot. Every passerby knew who he 
was, of course, and saluted him. He was quite paternalistic, 
almost as out of the Middle Ages. Now, this old King Peter 
crossed the street, came to the apartment of that officer of 
the general staff that we rented a room from, just to have 
a cup of coffee. So, that colonel was really a high-ranking 
colonel on the general staff. He was honored by a visit 
from the old King. And he was very civilized, in the 
European sense of the word civilized, a gentleman, which 
was quite rare among the Serbians. 

One day, early in the morning, he met me, and he said 
to me that he would prefer that we found another room. Well, 
I kept my cool and said, "Very well, Sir, you want us to leave, 
And of course, we will do our best as soon as we can, but 
I would like to ask you a question: why?" Then he blurted 
out, "Because you have a degrading influence on my wife." 
I was so to say newly married, and I met that lady just by 
accident a few times and scarcely remember even talking to 
her. I was amazed at such an assertion, and I asked the 



- 543 - 

colonel, "Whatever do you mean?" Well, he was very confused, 
almost ashamed of himself, and he said to me, "I know you 
Russians have a different attitude toward your wives than 
we Serbs. My wife notices that in the morning you get up 
before your wife does; and you make coffee, you prepare 
breakfast, and you polish the shoes of your wife. And she 
starts nagging me, 'See, you see how Russian husbands are!' 
And that upsets our marriage." I tried to explain, "You 
know I work, so does my wife. So I find it only fair to do 
something to ease her work at home, because we both work. 
You are on the general staff, you have somebody who comes to 
help in the daytime, and your wife does not work, she stays 
home." "Well, yes, I know all that," he said, "but ..." 
So there was nothing else for us to do but look for another 
room. 

We found another room. It was cheaper, it was a bit 
further away, and it was unfurnished. We got the idea of buy 
ing little by little the necessary furniture and then finally 
find an unfurnished apartment. The first thing we had to buy 
were some chairs, a table, and a bed. The bed was for one 
person only, and it was very warm. We were much too hot with 
two persons in that bed. So I took the mattress of the bed 
off and put it on the floor. My wife slept on that mattress, 
and I slept on the springs covered with blankets. Turning 
round and round, I felt the springs, but that was not so 
very bad. Two days later, the bed collapsed. But then we 



- 544 - 

discovered that the wooden frame was infested with bugs. 
All houses in Constantinople and Istanbul were infested 
with bugs, and we lived there almost eight months, so we 
knew the ways of bugs. They are almost indestructible, 
no matter what. 

Besides, the old Serbian woman protested to us that we 
had spent last Sunday in our room. I said, "What do you mean?" 
She said, "I rented you the bedroom, and the bedroom is 
supposed to be slept in. You are not to spend Sundays in 
your room. It is a bedroom to spend the night in." I asked 
her, "Where are we supposed to go to pass our time on Sundays?" 
And she immediately responded, "In the cafana." Well, cafana 
meant coffee house. Beograd was full of huge coffee houses; 
and actually, the Serbians and their wives spent Sundays 
sitting in those cafanas, sipping their coffee. Buying 
a small black cup of coffee, the Serbians could sit and sip 
one cup all day long, because they did not want to spend money 
on a second cup. Well, that was very typical of the Serbians. 

Many Russian refugees were spread all over Serbia. Some 
were lucky to serve in the Russian border guard or even in 
some army or administration units of provincial Serbia. Those 
provincial Russians who knew no foreign languages became very 
close to the provincial Serbians. They found some kind of 
common language and a common way of life. But in the city 
of Beograd, the people used in the old days to big cities, 
who had a kind of social life in society - we could not get 



- 545 - 

into those Serbian circles, for many reasons mentioned above. 

After serving in that census bureau, I was presented to 
a very, very active Russian lady who was rather aged, and her 
husband in the nineteenth century had served in the Horse 
Guards regiment. Because of that, this old lady - she was 
a widow; her husband had occupied a very prominent position 
in Russian government - was known to very many high-ranking 
people in the Serbian government. She had some influence 
there, and she was full of energy and wanted to help Russians. 
Finally she talked somebody into giving me a job in an 
insurance company. 

This insurance company was called the Insurance Company 
of Rossia, which means Russia, and had offices all over 
Russia and abroad. One of the offices of this huge insur 
ance company, that was practically a Russian insurance company, 
had an office also in Beograd. Now that Russia was out, 
this insurance office in Beograd became an insurance company 
in its own right; and the head of that company was an elderly 
Serb. As a young man, he had started his career as an 
insurance specialist in Russia. There were several Russians 
employed in that company. Since my childhood, I hated any 
kind of figures and handling figures. I loved history and 
languages, but figures were my arch enemies since my days in 
junior high school. And here I was very unhappy, having 
nothing but columns and columns of figures; and somehow, I 
managed to get the wrong figures in the wrong columns most 



- 546 - 

of the time . 

After having sold that bed at a loss, after cleaning the 
bugs out of it, I went looking for another room, and I 
happened to find one that was just around the corner from the 
insurance company where I worked. It was a very nice room. 
The owner of that house was an elderly Greek lady, and she 
spoke some Russian. Somehow she took a real liking to us, 
probably because the room was very expensive. My earnings 
at the insurance company were barely enough to cover that 
room. But anyhow, we could spend in that room any time we 
wished, whether it was Sunday or not. And we could cook in 
that room on a gadget, called primus that I have already 
described, and that was much less expensive than getting our 
meals in a restaurant. 

There was a very popular restaurant across the main 
street from the company where I worked. The restaurant was 
called "The Family" - it was, of course, called "Family" in 
Russian. There were many Russians who had their meals there 
occasionally. It was not overly expensive, it was not a 
fancy place, but nevertheless, it was expensive. It was out 
of the question for us to go there, the two of us. It was 
customary there to have a break at noontime that lasted two 
hours, to have dinner. Right at noontime, I went to that 
restaurant and I took out meals and brought them home. They 
were warmed up and the portions in that place were so big 
that I usually took one portion of this and one portion of 



- 547 - 

that, and then we split them while warming them up in our 
room. That was plenty, and besides, while picking up that 
food, I could buy a shot of peppered vodka that I loved and 
that gave me courage and energy. I was doing work I hated, 
and our relationship was not very happy. There was a 
certain strain growing and growing. 

There was a big and amazing party at one of the greatest 
hotels in Beograd. Going there, the two of us, was out of the 
question, because I had no money to pay for the entrance fee 
or the supper that would be served or the tuxedo which would 
have to be worn for such an occasion. I could not even 
visualize a tuxedo for me in my dreams. Somehow it was summer 
time and my wife managed - she was very clever at it always - 
to make a dress for herself, a summer dress to dance in. 
Material does not cost much. She and her friends were very 
clever at it and she had the dress. Some friend who was in 
the Russian embassy volunteered to escort her because she 
was just dying to go to a dance. What young woman of barely 
twenty would not be dying to go dancing? So they went. That 
huge hotel had windows, and the curtains were not drawn, and 
I was outside with my nose against the window. There was 
quite a crowd of people who wanted to see the dance through 
the window. I stood there looking at my wife enjoying her 
self, dancing with many people, because she was a very good 
dancer and could be very charming when she wanted to be. And 
I was outside, and it was barely over a year that we were 



- 548 - 

married. So, I can leave to anybody's imagination the feel 
ings that I had. I was feeling, of course, that she did not 
care at all and did not even think about how the situation 
was affecting me. My ego was damaged. Well, I do not 
remember when she came back and I came back, but a little 
crack was now in the wall. I came to the conclusion over the 
many years that I lived later, that no matter how small a 
crack, it can very, very rarely be plastered over, and 
any next little jolt can widen the crack. 

Now vacation time came, and the bank gave my wife a 
vacation. Taking a vacation for both of us at the same time 
was impossible financially. So my wife decided to take a 
vacation and go to Bulgaria. That was a nice journey. I 
think her vacation was about one month, and she went to 
Bulgaria and I stayed in Beograd. I did not want to go on 
paying that expensive room, so I moved out and I was 
offered a little room in an apartment of a very aged colonel 
in the Horse Guards whose son would have been my age, but 
he was killed in the civil war. The colonel and his wife 
offered to share their apartment with me - they had a little 
spare room - for free. So I set aside some money. After that, 
my wife came back from Bulgaria, and I noticed quite a change 
in her attitude, probably due to her mother who had a great 
influence on her. Probably her mother had noticed a strain 
and had talked to her eldest daughter. Now her mother was 
an extremely religious woman, and her upbringing was extremely 



- 549 - 

Victorian, nineteenth century; and certainly under that 
influence, I noticed a different attitude toward me. 

We rented a very small room, and we were expecting the 
arrival of my mother. She had managed to escape Soviet 
Russia - how she escaped is a chapter in itself which will 
follow shortly. She was due to arrive; and I found a room 
for her in the neighboring apartment where we were renting 
a room, so she would be very close. A month or so before 
the arrival of my mother, we found out that my wife was 
expecting a child. 

My mother arrived, and she brought with her some small 
jewels. She had nice jewels in the old days. When the 
revolution started, she put them all in a vault in a bank. 
Nobody could imagine in those days that the vaults in a bank 
would not be a safe place. When the Bolsheviks arrived, all 
the vaults were requisitioned and emptied into the pockets 
of the new rulers of Russia, Lenin and company. They 
declared that this belonged to "the People." And who are 
the people in the first place? Lenin and his henchmen. But 
my mother had some little jewels at home. She was in Kiev, 
where all throughout the civil war there were searches day 
and night; and my mother stuck the small jewels in a wet 
sponge. That wet sponge was always lying on her toilet table 
and not even the experienced henchmen of the Soviet secret 
police got the idea of looking for jewels in a wet sponge on 
the toilet table. That is how my mother saved those jewels. 



- 550 - 

So, she came and she brought with her her toilet bag, and in 
that toilet bag was the famous wet sponge. In case of a 
search, no one thought to look inside her wet sponge. My 
mother was smart. 

Then those jewels were sold. My mother wanted to help 
us find an apartment and to arrange our life better. Anyhow, 
it was obvious that in a few months my wife would not be 
working any more at the bank. I did find an apartment in one 
of the newest ho.uses, European style houses, that were 
sprouting up in Beograd like mushrooms. It consisted of three 
bedrooms and a hall. Next to the hall was a small room 
barely big enough for a person, and it was designed by the 
engineers for a servant room. No person in the Balkans 
could imagine a family living in an apartment like that and 
not having a servant. Of course, there was a European style 
bathroom and kitchen. So we moved into this apartment and 
bought some furniture, beginning with what was necessary. 
My mother lived in the so-called servant's room. We had a 
bedroom for us. The hall was used for the dining room. 
There were two other rooms we intended to rent, because there 
was always a big demand for rooms to rent, especially in a 
new house where there would be no bugs. The renting of those 
two rooms was supposed to cover the rent I had to pay for the 
apartment. 

By that time, my wife had to drop out of her job. One 
of the major jewels was bought by the director of that bank, 



- 551 - 

who was a cultured Serbian. He appreciated very much the 
work of his foreign correspondent; and he had heard our story 
and knew about our situation and wanted to be helpful in a 
very tactful way. So he bought Mother's jewel for a very hand 
some sum of money. No jeweler would have ever given us that 
amount. It was his very gallant, tactful way of helping us. 
At the same time, he was not giving us the feeling that we 
were beggars. He was invited a couple of times to share our 
meals. And I went on working in that hated insurance 
company. It was absolutely clear to us that that could not 
go on, that our apartment was much too expensive whether the 
rooms were rented or not. So, we had to find some kind of 
drastic solution. 

Before I continue, however, let me go back and relate 
the story of how my mother was able to leave Russia and join 
us in Yugoslavia. 

Mother applies for a passport to leave Russia 

When my mother returned to St. Petersburg in 1922, she 
found the two ex-generals and their families living crowded 
into her apartment and two of the rooms still sealed with 
the seal of the dreaded Tcheka. But in 1922 a different 
political climate prevailed in St. Petersburg. Lenin had 
found himself forced to proclaim the "NEP" - new economic 
policy. This he was forced to do to save the whole of the 
country from starvation, especially in the big cities of 



- 552 - 

St. Petersburg and Moscow. The reason was a total break 
down of the railroads and any and all means of supply of food 
products and all other necessities of everyday life. This 
catastrophic situation was blamed upon the years of World War I 
and the Civil War that anti-Communist elements had waged in 
many parts of Russia against Lenin's terror rule. Now 
Lenin was forced to declare the temporary right of citizens 
to show private initiative, even to acquire private property 
and to work for private profit. Of course this was heresy 
according to the gospel of pure Communism, but Lenin had to 
resort to heresy in order to avoid the extinction of the 
cities ' populations as a result of hunger and thus to avoid 
losing his own precious hide. Some grumbling super- 
orthodox Communists were discretely reminded that Lenin's 
word was law, and the Tcheka was still around to enforce the 
law although with far more discrete methods of terror than 
in 1918. 

So the seals on the doors of the two rooms were simply 
removed without any formality and Mother was allowed to live 
in these two rooms and be the lawful owner of her own 
belongings left behind almost five years earlier. 

Laws of the period allowed citizens of the Soviet Union 
above the age of 50 to apply for passports for the purpose 
of leaving the Soviet Union. Allegedly, Lenin's words were 
"building a new society, we have no need for old trash". 
Mother was very happy to find herself in the category of old 






- 553 - 

trash. By that time, she already knew that I had not been 
killed nor had I lost both legs from frostbite as a persist 
ent rumor would have it. This rumor appeared in one of the 
newspapers and Mother kept this clipping in her prayerbook, 
and many times it helped her to silence Communist Commissars 
when they tried to accuse her of having a son, an officer in 
the White Army. 

In 1922 in St. Petersburg, the Soviet money had no value 
and bartering assumed huge proportions. Mother applied for 
a passport but she knew that it would be months before she 
got one, if ever. Through old friends experienced in the new 
ways of life, she was put in touch with some shady people, 
NEP-men - the new political enconomy businessmen. These men 
were crooks of every shade and color and knew how to pull the 
right strings at the right time. Their pockets were stuffed 
with money, real money, United States of America dollars, 
British pounds, Dutch and Swedish kroners. 

Any and all new transactions in foreign currency were 
strictly illegal, but in those days only one thing was legal - 
it was dying of starvation or freezing to death. When the 
cupboards in Mother's two rooms were opened, the first objects 
that struck awe and surprise on all present, were the gala 
dress uniforms of the court that had belonged to Father. They 
seemed to be the very symbol of counter-revolution. To this 
day I do not know what use the sharks of the black market 
of 1922 could have had for such merchandise, but they paid 



- 554 - 

for Father's court uniforms in foreign currency. Next came 
all of Father's decorations. For Father's decorations 
these NEP-men handed Mother a much larger sum than s.he had 
expected. Actually, they could have offered whatever they 
fancied, but they were "honest" black market sharks. When 
my mother voiced her surprise at the sum of money for 
Father's decorations, one of the buyers said, "Countess, you 
are probably unaware that the late Count had been decorated 
by the Shah of Persia with the Star of the Seventailed Lion. 
This Star is of pure gold." I remember my childish glee when 
Father got that Persian Star on the occasion of the Shah's 
state visit to Imperial Russia. 

This visit was not without some exciting moments. 
Russian government structure was explained to the Shah and 
he was taken to a session of the Duma. It was impressed 
upon him that in spite of the Duma, the Tsar was the 
absolute ruler of Russia. In the evening the Shah was enter 
tained at a gala performance of a ballet in the Imperial 
Marinsky Theatre. Sitting in the Tsar's lodge, the Shah 
spotted one of the ballerinas on the stage and took a fancy 
to the girl. He demanded that the Tsar sell that girl to 
him. The Minister of the Court and the Minister for Foreign 
Affairs did their best to convince the Shah that this was 
impssible but the Shah remained unconvinced and said, "What 
were you telling me about the Russian Tsar being an autocrat 
if he cannot even sell one of the dancing girls?" 



- 555 - 

The next day there was a review of the cavalry guards. 
The Tsar and the Shah, on horseback and accompanied by members 
of the Tsar's family, rode along the line of the assembled 
troops. It was customary that the Tsar should ride at a 
very short gallop. The Shah's horse took up the same short 
gallop. At home, in Persia, the Shah had never been on a 
galloping horse. His horse was usually led at a walk and he 
just sat in the saddle as if on a couch. Fortunately, the 
Tsar's attention was drawn to the plight of the Shah gallop 
ing desperately in his saddle. The Tsar put his horse to a 
walk and a disastrous incident was avoided, for had the Shah 
fallen from his horse in front of the Russian Guard Troops 
it would have been construed as an ill omen for diplomatic 
relations between Russia and Persia; it would have delighted 
only the British ambassador, who would not have failed to 
insinuate that such an incident was deliberately planned 
and provoked by Russia. 

Among other things Mother was selling in St. Petersburg 
in 1922 was all of my father's wardrobe. One of the buyers 
tried on Father's civilian wardrobe and strutted around the 
room, saying that the late Count had exactly his figure. 
Mother had to muster all her self-control to keep her face 
straight and continue to be polite to these individuals. The 
two NEP-men were always respectful and polite to Mother. Who 
they were, where they came from and later vanished to, will 
remain an unsolved mystery. But they definitely knew a lady 



- 556 - 

when they met one and felt honored by a lady's treating them 
as gentlemen of her own class. 

One day the doorbell rang and Mother opened the door to 
a young, elegant, or should I say over-dressed, woman. This 
girl entered and immediately kissed Mother's hand as devoted 
peasants used to do a generation before. Mother was not only 
taken aback, she was outright frightened by such an unexpected 
gesture from the young woman. And the woman was saying, 
"Your ladyship does not seem to recognize me. I am Dunka, 
the daughter of your former kitchen-maid. Now I am the civil 
wife of the District Commissar. I have been told that your 
ladyship is selling things and I would like to buy the sofa 
and the mirror-cupboard." And she bought them, paying in 
British pounds and again kissing Mother's hand when she left. 

Some of Mother's own wardrobe, unused for almost five 
years, was in need of alteration and adjustment. In the 
telephone book Mother found the name of the French seamstress 
who used to work for her before the Revolution. When Mother 
came to that seamstress, the lady rushed and embraced Mother 
as if she were the closest of relatives. She refused to 
charge anything for the alterations she was asked to make 
and told Mother that she now had a lot of work but alas, 
dear Countess, it is not any more among our society. 

Mother leaves Russia 

The day came when Mother received her passport to go 
abroad and with dismay she saw that the exit permit was valid 



- 557 - 

for three days only. Although for a month she had been pre 
paring herself to go, this short notice upset her and she 
went to the passport office to ask that the day of departure 
be reset for a later date. Mother filled out the request 
form for this purpose and handed it and her passport to 
an employee through a small opening in the partition 
separating employees from the public. The woman on the other 
side of the small window gently pushed Mother's request and 
passport back to Mother and without .raising her eyes, mumbled, 
"Take it, but take it - I thought they would never allow you 
to leave." Mother grabbed her passport and rushed home\ 

The only way to leave St. Petersburg for the closest 
border was by train. The then free Republic of Estonia and 
its capitol, the city of Reval, were just a night's journey 
from St. Petersburg but a great problem was how to get to 
the rail station and on the train. Any kind of transportation 
in the city of St. Petersburg in 1922 was non-existent. If 
some streetcars did occasionally run, a lady of 55 with 
several suitcases had not the slightest chance of boarding 
a streetcar. Among Mother's younger friends was a young 
employee of the State Museum, the famous Hermitage. As a 
student he used to tutor me in Latin. He and some of his 
friends packed Mother's suitcases on a toboggan and dragged 
it through most of the city, Mother walking behind them in 
the slush. This Baltic rail station I well remember from 
my childhood. It took more than half an hour to drive from 



- 558 - 

this station to our house and we drove in a closed carriage, 
drawn by huge black horses, and I never understood why I was 
not allowed to sit next to the coachman as I used to do when 
driving in the country. Now Mother walked all this distance 
and finally arrived at the Baltic station, but getting on 
the train was a problem that can hardly be imagined. 

The repairing of railroad cars and locomotives had been 
neglected throughout the war years and few cars were still 
in condition to roll. A schedule of train departures was 
hanging in the station but actually trains departed when 
they were ready to do so. The convoy of cars was formed 
on some distant track and when the train pulled up to the 
passenger loading platform, the cars were almost full of 
people that had illegally boarded the train on the outlying 
tracks. So when the train pulled up, it was stormed by a 
crowd of would-be passengers, a crowd much larger than the 
train could take. It was a question of brute force as to who 
would manage to get on the train. One of Mother's young 
escorts plowed through the crowd like an ice-breaker in 
half-frozen water, two other escorts grabbed Mother under her 
arms and dragged her along, and two others dragged her suit 
cases. After such a free-for-all struggle, Mother found her 
self inside a railroad car. Her suitcases were there and 
the brave escorts had wished her a lucky journey and departed. 
After the first bewilderment had passed, Mother realized 
that she was alone in this car. It was dimly lit by a candle, 



- 559 - 

which was normal for railroad cars in those days. Other cars 
were overfilled and passengers were clinging to car bumpers 
and car steps and even lying on the roofs of cars. 

As the train started moving, an elderly well-dressed 
man in an overcoat with a fur collar and an astrakan fur cap 
appeared in Mother's car and said, "How did you get here?" 
Mother explained how she had been dragged through the crowd 
and thrust into this car, adding that she could move out 
but could not move her luggage. Magnanimously, the man 
declared, "All right, once you are here, stay here." The 
train was gently floating along through the winter night and 
then suddenly the man asked Mother, "Are you not afraid?" 
Mother responded that she was not afraid and had nothing to 
be afraid of, having lived so long. "Well, you know I am 
straight from hard labor in Siberia." "Probably you have been 
a political deportee," said Mother. This seemed to flatter 
the man and he started telling of his work to bring about the 
Revolution and how he was a terrorist and how many Tsarist 
governors and police officers he had murdered, and Mother 
argued with him that he should not have murdered people who 
were exercising their duty to the Tsar. And so they argued 
through the night until the train stopped at the border of 
Soviet Russia and Estonia. 

Lots of hair-raising horror tales were whispered around 
in St. Petersburg about the severeness of the border custom 
guards when they physically searched people leaving Soviet 



- 560 - 

Russia. The search was for valuables, foreign currency, and 
books. Knowing this, my mother had nothing in her luggage. 
A pearl and a diamond were sewn into a sponge and the moist 
sponge was in a rubber bag on the very top of a handbag 
with other toilet objects. Nobody came into the car to open 
Mother's luggage. She was not even asked to remove her gloves 
and could have had precious rings on each finger up to her 
nails. 

Finally the train stopped on the Estonian side of the 
border at the main railroad station of the city of Reval. 
Stairs covered with red carpet were pushed up to Mother's 
car, and on both sides of the stairs stood an armed honor 
guard of Estonian and Soviet border guards. Soviet custom 
guards carried Mother's luggage out of the car and put it 
down inside the station. Mother's traveling companion left 
the car and Mother followed, assisted on the steps by a 
gallant Soviet Secret Police officer. At a distance a crowd 
of Estonians was watching and was held back by a cordon of 
Estonian police. Then Mother's traveling companion wished 
her luck, thanked her for an interesting conversation, and 
walked to his car and drove away and with him went all the 
official persons. The cordon of Estonian police left also 
and out of the crowd of watchers rushed Mother's brother 
Serge, screaming, "Masha, how did you travel? Did you know 
with whom you travelled?" "Well," said Mother, "the main 
thing is that I am here and I am happy to see you." Uncle 



- 561 - 

Serge explained to her that she had been travelling in a 
reserved car and in the company of the newly appointed 
Soviet Ambassador to the Republic of Estonia. That was 
how Mother left the Soviet Union. 

After staying a few weeks with her brother's family, 
Mother left for Berlin. Germany had recognized the Soviet 
Union and Mother's Soviet passport was valid in Germany. 
Mother's intention was to go on to the city of Beograd in 
Yugoslavia, where she knew that she would find me, but the 
Kingdom of Yugoslavia did not recognize the Soviet Union 
and a Yugoslav entry visa could not be stamped on a Soviet 
passport. Mother had to change her status of a Soviet 
citizen to that of an immigrant, which required much red 
tape and time. Fortunately, the old Russian Tsarist embassy 
was still functioning, located in a private apartment of the 
former ambassador, Mr. Botkin, who was very popular and 
greatly respected by German officialdom. With his help, 
Mother received a so-called Nanson passport, which was given 
to all immigrants by the Royal Government of the Netherlands. 
After obtaining transit visas to travel through Czechoslovakia 
and Hungary, Mother arrived in July 1922 and found me in 
Beograd; we had last seen each other almost three years 
earlier in Kiev. 



- 562 - 






CHAPTER VII 



CZECHOSLOVAKIA - THE OCCUPIED KINGDOM OF HUNGARY 






- 563 - 

We move to Hungary 

In early spring, 1923, we were in Beograd and my wife 
could not go on working at the bank, as I have explained 
earlier, because she was expecting a baby. My work at the 
insurance company was not enough to make a living. Mother 
had recently arrived and had sold her small jewels that 
she had brought out of Soviet Russia and this money permitted 
us to move and to rearrange our lives. 

I was trying to get a visa to travel to Hungary and I 
visited the Hungarian Embassy many times. During one visit, 
when I asked if there was a visa for so-and-so Stenbock- 
Fermor they looked and then politely said, "No." I said, 
"Are you sure? Will you please look again?" They looked 
again and then they said, "Oh, we have a visa for a Mr. 
Stenbock-Ferenc. " I jumped up and said, "That is my visa." 
and they replied, "We are very sorry but you are Ivan Stenbock 
and in Hungarian you should be Stenbock, Ivan, and this visa 
is for Stenbock-Ferenc." I replied, "Well, there is no such 
man and I believe that that visa is for me." Finally I 
convinced them that there was some kind of clerical mistake 
and they assured me that they would request an explanation 
from Budapest. 

In those days Hungary was the only country that had 
experienced Communist Bolshevism. In 1918 there had been 
a Communist Bolshevik uprising all over Hungary and many 
members of the Hungarian aristocracy were arrested and tried 



- 564 - 

in some kind of a kangaroo court. Some of them were shot. 
But Hungary was, as territory goes, a very small country, 
and the victorious Allies, the British, French, Italians, and 
the departing Americans, were scared about the takeover of 
little Hungary by Bolshevik Communists. That happening in 
Russia a year ago - well, Moscow was far away. In those 
days the Allies did not realize the danger of letting such 
a huge country as Russia, with all its resources, fall into 
the hands of the Marxist Communists. But having them right 
in the geographical center of Europe, in Budapest, was 
frightening, even though it was a very minor scale model 
of what had gone on in Russia. All of Hungary was in chaos, 
with deserters all over the country. This was changed by 
Hungary's neighbors. 

Czechoslovakia had been just barely created by the 
disasterous Treaty of Versailles which ended the first World 
War and laid all the future reasons and milestones for the 
next war that occurred twenty years later. The Czechs in 
the north had been formerly under Austrian rule; the Slovaks 
in the south had been formerly under Hungarian rule. The 
Czechs and the Slovaks are ethnically Slavs but for many 
centuries those two Slav groups had developed their ways 
under very different influences. Some of the Czechs were 
Roman Catholics but mostly they had belonged for centuries 
to some kind of a Protestant sect that mixed up national 
aspirations with religious ideas, but most of the Slovaks 



- 565 - 

were dedicated Roman Catholics, and that was really a great 
difference. Besides, the Czechs were mostly industrialists 
and the Slovaks were mostly farmers. There was also a great 
difference between those two Slavic languages. When I came 
to Slovakia I could open up a Slovak paper and read it with 
out a dictionary. I could understand the general meaning. 
If I picked up a Czech newspaper I could not understand a 
single line. 

That new country, Czechoslovakia, was very happy to 
annex portions of Hungary that were populated by Slovaks and 
Hungarians. Drawing any kind of geographical border was 
absolutely impossible. For reasons that go back centuries 
the population was so mixed, Hungarians and Slovaks, that 
one village would be populated by Slovaks and the next would 
be all Hungarians. In Slovakia under Hungarian rule, of 
course the official language had been Hungarian, but the 
Slovak peasants spoke Slovak amongst themselves. As soon as 
a Slovak peasant received some kind of schooling, not to 
mention university study, he would speak only Hungarian, the 
language of the ruling class. Slovak was the language of 
the lowest peasant class. 

During my stay in Czechoslovakia I befriended a Slovak 
gentleman who had a very Slovak-sounding name. He was a mem 
ber of Parliament and he was a very famous lawyer and a great 
friend of all Russians. When once I asked this gentleman 
"How many cultured Slovaks are there in Czechoslovakia?" 



- 566 - 

(by cultured I meant people who had graduated from a university) 
he said, shrugging his shoulders, "Well, probably a little 
less than a dozen." Well, he was right, so you can see the 
level in that coutry. 

The Czechs moved into Slovakia and they took over a part 
of that country that had been part of Hungary. The Hungarians 
never mentioned it as Czechoslovakia by name, they spoke of 
the occupied Kingdom of Hungary. The neighbors of Hungary 
on the south were Rumanians. About the Rumanians - I think 
I have talked about what kind of people they were, and it 
was a common joke that Rumania is not a country, it is a 
profession. Those Rumanians were all too happy to move into 
Hungary and grab as much Hungarian land as they could. What 
they took was very valuable forest land. In order to stop 
the Bolsheviks, the French moved some French army troops into 
what was left of Hungary and the British moved some British 
gunboats all the way up the Danube River as far as the city 
of Budapest. 

Hungarian money went down, down, down, and was worth 
almost nothing. It was common knowledge that a sailor on 
one of those British gunboats was paid in British pounds and 
his pay, if converted into Hungarian money, would equal 
the pay of the Hungarian Minister of War. The Hungarian 
situation was very desperate. Austria-Hungary had some big 
navy ships on the Adriatic Sea but of course they were no 
match for the British navy plus the French navy and the 



- 567 - 

Italian navy. They had stayed in port most of the time 
during the first World War. Then there came mutiny aboard 
those ships. They were all under the command of Admiral 
Horthy, and Admiral Horthy was a very resolute man so when 
the mutiny broke out on his ships at anchor he ordered coast 
artillery to open their heavy guns on his own ships. Some 
of the ships went down and the others surrendered, and the 
mutiny was stopped right away. He had energy and guts, that 
Admiral Horthy. Then he headed a Hungarian volunteer army 
in a small Hungarian village, and all the officers of this 
so-called army of maybe three thousand men were Hungarians. 
They would save the Hungarian national flag, the Hungarian 
honor, and that national honor meant a great deal to any 
Hungarian no matter what his social standing. Well, that 
volunteer army could never have conquered the Bolshevik 
forces, but the Rumanians who occupied part of Hungary were 
against Bolshevism and Communism and so were the Czechs. 
Therefore, the Bolshevik leaders fled to Soviet Russia, where 
they were greeted with open arms and placed in responsible 
positions. Bolshevism and Communism were over in Hungary. 
At about this same time the Hungarian nobility realized very 
well the essence of their short experience with Communism 
and they made up a new slogan, "Victims of Communism Unite!" 
and they started inviting Russian refugee families to their 
country homes for a stay as guests, and the Hungarians were 
the only people who made that gesture in all of Europe. Of 



- 568 - 

course this Hungarian movement and the Russians' acceptance 
of it were based on wishful thinking. We all imagined that 
Europe would intervene to throw out Lenin and his henchmen 
and help Russia become again a country as it had been when 
the old order was accepted all over Europe. Being guests in 
a Hungarian home for a year, maybe two years, would be a 
great help and well, why not? But then it turned out that 
there would be no way to return to Russia for it became 
recognized by all of Western Europe except Holland, and far 
away overseas the United States would also not recognize 
the Communist government of Russia for many years. 

We meet old friends and_make new ones 

Now in that part of Hungary which was occupied by the 
Czechs there was the estate of Count Ludwig Karolyi, and this 
estate had a very good manager, a Mr. Hegedush. He was a very 
nice man; I knew him very well later on. He was terribly 
short-sighted but that refers only to his eyes - in every 
other respect he was just the opposite. While the owner and 
his family were still in hiding, Mr. Hegedush learned that 
rabble from the surrounding villages was ready to loot the 
estate. This rabble was composed of Slovak and Hungarian 
deserters who had come back from Russia, and Mr. Hegedush 
knew every single man of that group and he also knew the 
psychology of the rabble. He invited them all into his 
office and he appointed those cut-throats as guards on the 



- 569 - 

estate and the castle with its ninety-six rooms full of 
priceless antiques and priceless paintings. He put all those 
men into some kind of fancy uniforms with monograms of the 
owners of the estate on those uniforms and buttons, and he 
gave them hats with plumes and armed them all. Nobody dared 
touch that estate throughout all the time of that turmoil. 
Well, of course, that was a brilliant move. When the 
turmoil was over the family came back. New regulations came 
from Prague, which was full of Socialists. They introduced 
new labor laws and the day of labor was to last eight hours. 
Eight hours of labor per day in offices and in plants, that is 
possible, but you have to take in the sugar beet roots when 
they are ripe and weather conditions allow. You cannot stop 
at five o'clock in the afternoon because your labor day is 
finished. Cows have to be milked on Sundays, on Christmas, 
and on New Year's Day, and paying overtime for those hours 
would make the financial situation totally impossible. Count 
Karolyi could not continue farming those estates so he 
rented them out to the local sugar factory, which was run by 
an anonymous Jewish company. The whole country produced 
sugar, which they called "white gold," and therefore the 
labor rules were amended so that the plants could be run 
reasonably and with some kind of profit. Many of Count 
Karolyi 's estates were rented to that sugar factory but not 
his mansion of ninety-six rooms nor the stables nor the big 
park, and the renters had to supply him with fodder for his 



- 570 - 

horses and everything that was needed to provide for the big 
retinue that took care of that castle. 

In Budapest I had a very good friend. She had been a 
member of my Yuki sporting club and we were great, great 
friends. Her father had begun his career in the Horse Guards 
so she also belonged to the family of Horse Guards. She wrote 
us a letter and invited us to come over to Budapest to share 
her house on the outskirts of the city. The place was called 
Allag. Her husband was Mr. Ivanenko and he had graduated 
from the same military school as I had but six years earlier, 
and he had become a world famous gentleman rider. In Budapest 
he became an instructor at the Hungarian Officers' Riding 
Academy. That was very unusual because Hungarians were 
excellent cavalrymen and some did not like a Russian instructor 
of cavalry in their school in Budapest. Anyhow, we were 
delighted to accept the invitation and went to Budapest where 
we shared the house with my friend Vera Trepov Ivanenko for 
a very short time. 

My dear friend Vera was a great beauty and she was very 
popular in Budapest high society. She was, so to say, under 
the protection of a very elderly gentleman, Count Laszlo 
Karolyi, and she was a friend of Count Laszlo 's daughters. 
They lived some fifty kilometers from the center of the 
city of Budapest on a beautiful estate, called Fogt. While 
we were sharing the house with Vera, she told many of her 
Hungarian friends about us and they were all very eager to 



- 571 - 

help, especially because they all knew that my wife was ex 
pecting a baby very soon. 

Finally, when the birth was expected almost any time, 
old Count Laszlo Karolyi suggested that my wife go to the 
hospital. The hospital was on Count Karolyi 's territory, as 
were many many plants and factories; as many people jokingly 
said, almost half of Budapest was on his land. His fortune 
was limitless in spite of all the losses after the first 
World War. A room was assigned in that hospital for my wife 
and then something happened that was very typical for the 
Hungarian mentality: Count Laszlo Karolyi decided that that 
room harboring my wife, Russian Countess so-and-so, born 
Princess so-and-so and therefore of the same class as old 
Count Laszlo himself, was to be all furnished with furniture tha 
was brought from Count Laszlo 's castle. That sounds like a 
real fairy tale 1 Besides, of course, the food at the hospital 
was intended for the working class and was not suitable for 
somebody from the topmost class, so Count Laszlo ordered one 
of his servants to bring food from his own kitchen every day, 
a ride of about 15 kilometers but fortunately there was an 
electric railroad running from his estate to the hospital. 

Our son Ivan finally arrives 

The expected birth was already overdue. My mother was 
also at the hospital. Through some friends she had been 
offered a job as a French teacher for two boys on a Hungarian 
estate. But this Hungarian estate was now located outside 



- 572 - 

of the borders of Hungary, on territory occupied and annexed 
by the northern neighbors, Czechoslovakia. My mother postponed 
her departure, expecting her grandchild any day, but after 
all she could not wait forever, so she left. The surgeon who 
headed that hospital was not a specialist for aiding in child 
birth and he became quite worried about the situation, about 
the child being so late, so he reported his worries to Count 
Karolyi and he asked for a very great Hungarian specialist 
in this field. Count Karolyi got into his car, drove over 
to Budapest to the apartment of this great Hungarian professor, 
and asked him if he could come for a consultation. The very 
fact that Count Karolyi had come to ask that professor for 
help and consultation was an event that all Budapest was 
talking about. The professor immediately stepped into the 
car with Count Karolyi and both of them went to the hospital. 
While Count Karolyi was waiting downstairs, the professor 
came into the room and so did my son, Ivan. The professor 
merely stepped into the room when he was most necessary, at 
the most psychological moment. He took the newborn baby by 
one leg and held the baby up. That was a doctors' trick 
because a newborn baby has to start breathing air, and the 
fact that he held that baby up made the baby breathe. Then 
he declared, "That one is going to be a great general in 
Russia." 

On the very same day of my son's birth I had a good tip 
from a British trainer of racing horses. Allag was next to 
the great racing tracks of Budapest and many British trainers 



- 573 - 

lived in Allag. They were delighted to talk with me in 
English and I became friendly with those trainers. One of 
the elderly trainers said, "If, that particular day, it is 
going to rain heavily, then in the very last race you bet on 
such and such a horse." That is what I had intended to do, 
but I was summoned by phone to the hospital to get acquainted 
with my son and of course I rushed to the hospital. Earlier 
that day I had spent some time there and then the nurses 
and the doctor had said I was of no use there and that I had 
better leave. It had been raining heavily all day. Of 
course, with the emotion of meeting my son and rushing to the 
hospital and so forth and so on, I was tired. It was still 
raining slightly. I looked at my watch and I calculated that 
I still had time to catch the last race, and then I thought, 
oh, the hell with it. Maybe the trainer was wrong and I am 
really tired and it is again raining, so I went home. The 
next day I read in the paper that that horse had won the last 
race and that the odds were one to eighty. Since then I have 
always teased my son that I lost a lot of money because of 
him. He never repaid me. 

A nurse for our son 

Meanwhile, all the Scherbatov family had moved from 
Constantinople to Bulgaria. Bulgaria accepted many Russian 
refugees, and life there was much cheaper. 

So, my mother-in-law arrived. She could not stay in 
Budapest for any length of time, but she brought along the 



- 574 - 

nurse that I mentioned before, that was called the Maltzoff 
family nurse. She had managed to leave Soviet Russia with 
the two Maltzoff girls, with the help of the International 
Red Cross. In those years it was possible, for money, for 
women or children to be allowed to leave the Soviet Union 
to rejoin their relatives who were immigrants abroad. So, 
this nurse came to help Nadejda, to nurse the newborn child. 
Then my mother-in-law left; and then, about three weeks 
later, this nurse unexpectedly declared that she was also 
leaving, going back to Bulgaria. When I asked her why she 
had to leave, she bluntly said that she could not stand the 
attitude that Nadejda had toward her husband - that was me. 
The old nurse's conception of a husband was as the head of 
the family, and that he had to be treated accordingly. When 
she realized the everyday situation between us, she just 
firmly declared that she could not tolerate it, and that she 
was leaving. 

I find employment 

Through Count Karolyi I became acquainted with one of 
his younger cousins, who must have been a gentleman of about 
fifty. He had his palace in Budapest and he had an enormous 
estate also, beyond the border, now in Czechoslovakia. He 
offered his hospitality to us and the newborn baby but I 
told him that I felt too young to just enjoy his hospitality 
and be doing nothing. Besides hospitality, board and living 



- 575 - 

quarters, every person needs at least some money for minor 
expenses, even stamps, and the baby needs baby food and the 
baby would need clothing, and so forth and so on. Then Count 
Ludwig Karolyi said, "Oh, that is perfect, because my estate 
is rented to a company, a sugar factory, and of course if I 
ask them to give you a job there as a minor clerk or something 
they cannot possibly refuse. They will pay you wages and 
you will live and be our guests in our castle. Besides, we 
do not live in that castle ourselves. We spend there a short 
time in the summer and then a week in November and a week in 
December for hunting. We live in another castle which is 
much closer to Vienna." I was very happy to accept that 
hospitality. 

But now came the problem of crossing the border between 
Budapest and Czechoslovakia. Czechoslovakia was a republic 
run by a government that was very socialistic and very left- 
leaning and they disliked the idea of giving permanent visas 
of residence to somebody coming from Budapest, sponsored by 
a Hungarian aristocrat, his name utterly un-Slavic like mine, 
and besides also a titled one. That went completely against 
the grain. My request for a visa was pushed aside somewhere. 
They did not refuse, but they did not give it either. And 
this went on and on. Our situation in Hungary became more 
and more difficult. Money was running out and I had to have 
a job. 

There was a big depot in Budapest that sold everything 



- 576 - 

that was necessary in a Hungarian peasant household. It was 
quite a concern, and the majority of it of course belonged 
to Count Laszlo Karolyi. I got a job as packer in the perfume 
department. That perfume department sent out every day huge 
boxes of perfume made up to the taste of the Hungarian 
peasantry. The first day of my work there ended up with my 
having a terrible headache from that perfume. I was paid then, 
per week 250,000 krones. The krone normally is a unit, the 
same as the dollar is a unit. A ticket for the city electric 
railroad car to get there from the main station cost 
20,000 krones one way. That was inflation! When I think 
of inflation now in 1978 I really cannot complain too much: 
a ticket on the Muni bus in San Francisco does not cost, at 
least not yet, 20,000 dollars one way. Besides that heap of 
money, I received a box of dried herring and a small bag of 
flour. This flour and that box of dried herring were 
actually more valuable than the money I received in those 
days. 

The head of my department, a Hungarian of course, could 
speak a little German. Once he called me into his office 
and he asked me, "It has come to my notice - is it right? - 
that downstairs in the loading department there are two 
Russians working as loaders and that they are officers of the 
Russian Imperial Guard." I said, "Yes, that is quite true. 
I know them personally. They are two brothers Maximov. They 
are about my age." At this minute the head of the perfume 



- 577 - 

department banged his fist on the table and started yelling, 
"Why didn't you tell me that before? That is no place for 
Russian Guard officers to work, down there in that dirty 
yard. I should have known this before." "Well," I said, 
"I did not think about it before. We now take any work that 
we can get." The very next day both brothers were transferred 
to my perfume department only because they were officers of 
the Russian Imperial Guard. That was only two or three years 
after the war between Russia and Hungary was over. Every , 
Saturday we were paid and one Saturday the teller stuck his 
head out of the window and said in broken German, "Will you 
workers, who are foreigners, please stay here after every 
body else has left?" We had just received our pay, so we 
looked at each other, the two brothers Maximov and I, and said, 
"Well, this is it. We are going to be fired because we are 
foreigners." The labor problem was very, very difficult, and 
Budapest was full of refugees from territories that had been 
taken away from Hungary by all their neighbors, Rumania, 
Czechoslovakia, and Yugoslavia. The natives had fled to 
Budapest and were unemployed. 

After all the other workers had left I went up to that 
teller's window because I was the only one who could speak 
German. Without a word the teller paid us wages, the same 
amount that we had received half an hour earlier. I was so 
surprised that I told him, "We just received our wages and 
this second payment must be a mistake." He smiled back at 



- 578 - 

me and said, "No mistake at all. We know perfectly well that 
the standard of life for ex-Russian Guard officers cannot be 
the same as that of our Hungarian unskilled workers." Well, 
I was so surprised that I hardly knew what to say. Later, 
many, many years later when I was in Paris and many of my 
friends were working in car-building plants (Citroen and 
Renault) there were thousands of Russians employed there and 
I suggested to the French that they adopt the same attitude 
towards ex-Russian officers and double the wages that the 
French got. Well, my suggestions were not successful. 

In that store where I was employed, packing perfume 
with my friends, one day we received a sudden procession: 
the head of the entire plant, a very outstanding Hungarian 
gentleman, followed by his assistants, his aides, and his 
secretaries, all proper and ceremonial, and next to him walked 
a Russian gentleman, Prince Obolensky, a very elderly general 
and the father of the younger Obolensky who was killed at 
the beginning of the Civil War. The head of the department 
was holding a chair and he put the chair in the hall exit 
that was used only in case of fire. But there was a suspicion 
that some of the workers might use that fire escape to carry 
away on the sly some of the perfume. As the head of the 
department put the chair at the exit he turned to Prince 
Obolensky, bowed, and said, "Prince, Your Lordship, please 
sit in that chair and for goodness sake do not do anything. 
That is your job." This old Prince Obolensky was living with 



- 579 - 

his second wife and little boy on one of the estates in 
Hungary. It was a very fine living on that estate with room 
and board, but everybody needs a little cash also. 



We dine with Archduke Joseph, the caretaker of 
the royal palace 

I came to Budapest, as I have said, in early 1923 and I 
left in November of the same year, so I was actually in 
Hungary for about six or seven months. At that time there 
was no King and what little of Hungary there was left after 
the disasterous Treaty of Versailles, was being ruled by a 
dictator, an Admiral Hoarty. He was, so to say, the care 
taker of the kingdom. Theoretically he represented the King; 
theoretically it was the Kingdom of Hungary. All those regions 
that had been grabbed by the neighbors were always spoken of 
as the occupied regions of the Kingdom of Hungary. While I 
was there I was present at a Russian Red Cross fund raising 
event that took place in the King's Palace in the city of 
Budapest. In this palace there lived a Field Marshall, 
Archduke Joseph, a member of the previously reigning dynasty 
of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Archduke Joseph was a man 
of about fifty. He had commanded the armies of Austria- 
Hungary but he had been a rather unsuccessful commander. His 
many regiments of Slovak origin had surrendered to the 
Russians. Hungarians were excellent soldiers and the Archduke 
was very, very popular among not only the upper classes but 
among the crowd and the peasantry. He did not look as an 



- 580 - 

Archduke should. He was short, stout, ugly in his features, 
and as a Hungarian landlady once told me, if he were in 
civilian clothes anybody could mistake him for the owner of 
a small Jewish shop in a Jewish ghetto. But that saved his 
life. When he was on one of his big estates and the estate 
was being looted by the local rabble he went to the stables 
and took a pitchfork and started cleaning out the manure in 
the stables, pretending to be one of the old stableboys. 
Of course all his staff and all the grooms of his stable knew 
who that old stableboy was but none of them gave him away. 
If he had been discovered, he would have been killed there 
and then but he was very popular among all the people. 

When I went to that palace it was used by invitation by an old 
Russian poet and writer named Prince Galitsen. His appearance 
was very impressive, he really looked like a prince; nobody 
would ever overlook him or would not know that he was a 
one-hundred percent aristocrat. His French was somewhat 
antiquated but very beautiful and very fluent and he knew 
what he was talking about. On my arrival I was very astonish 
ed: downstairs in the hall I saw Archduke Joseph in full 
dress uniform of a Field Marshall, with all his decorations, 
and attended by some generals of his staff and his aides. 
They were standing there in the hall and they were awaiting 
Admiral Hoarty, not as a person, but as Caretaker of the 
Kingdom. They stood there for about half an hour before 
Admiral Hoarty arrived. Then Prince Galitsen 1 s speech about 



- 581 - 

Pushkin started and he spoke for more than an hour. Re 
freshments were served afterwards, a light Hungarian wine 
and biscuits, carried around by servants in court uniform. 
It was quite an impressive event. 

Finally it was all over and my two friends, the brothers 
Maximov, and I descended the great stairs of the palace to 
leave. Suddenly a voice came from above and a Hungarian 
general called to us in German, "Are you officers of the 
Russian Imperial Guard?" The Maximovs did not speak German 
so I said to him, "Yes, we are." "Oh, I am glad I caught you 
because the Archduke has given orders to invite you to have 
supper with him." We were very surprised. We went with him 
upstairs and were ushered into a diningroom and seated. 
Because I could speak German I was seated to the right of 
the Archduke, who presided over the table. We were not 
numerous; there were not more than fifteen men, all of them 
in officers' uniforms, and we in our barely tidy mufti, but 
everybody overlooked that as gentlemen would. Five minutes 
later I felt as comfortable and at home as if I were in the 
officers' mess in my own regiment of the Horse Guards. We 
spoke in the most friendly way about all kinds of events and 
compared notes about the war between us that had ended barely 
five years earlier. We spoke about military situations and 
finally the Archduke spoke also about the political situation 
of yesteryear. 

Almost one hundred years ago there had been formed a 



- 582 - 

so-called Union of the Three Emperors: the Emperor of Russia 
(in those days Nicholas I) , the Emperor of Austria-Hungary, 
and the Emperor of Germany. This Union decided never to wage 
war, and this bloc of three countries was, of course, 
invincible. But unfortunately the Union did not last very 
long. The French got panicky when they realized that this 
Union freed Germany to handle France as they cared. The 
British would be uncomfortable because Germany was safe on 
the east and in the south and could start concentrating on 
building a great navy that might one day equal the British 
navy. The attitude of the British toward their navy reminds 
me of an incident from my childhood. My Uncle Vladimir gave 
a party for children and movies were something new but it 
was out of the question to take children to a movie so the 
movie had to be shown in Uncle Vladimir's house. Something 
went wrong and the specialists , sent to show that movie, 
could not get it started and it was beginning to get late. 
All the children were there with their governesses and most 
of the governesses, and there were at least seven or eight 
of them, were British and they were all saying that it was 
time to leave. We were all very upset. Then the movie 
man had the idea of a genius and finally was able to get the 
movie started. It was supposed to be about a dog saving the 
life of someone somewhere in the Alps. Instead, that genius 
of a movie man put on a reel of the British Home Fleet and 
of course all the governesses stayed! Maybe two or three 



- 583 - 

years later when we were teenagers and times were changing, 
my aunt took all of us to a movie. This movie was about 
the work of the Russian Red Cross. The work of preparing 
gas masks was being done by ladies of the society in the 
halls of the Winter Palace and all those ladies of high 
society were grandmothers. The movie man made a mistake 
and he made the reel go too fast and all those ladies 
looked as if they had cast off their dignity because they 
rushed from one place to another up and down the staircase 
of the Palace as if they were schoolgirls. We laughed till 
tears rolled down. Then that reel was over and a new movie 
started. It was called "The Hotel of Mr. Dumbell" and this 
Mr. Dumbell was a young man and he kept making the worst 
mistakes and once he went into the wrong room at the wrong 
time and all of a sudden my aunt stood up and we were all 
escorted out of the movie. 

We move to Czechoslovakia 

Several times I visited the Embassy of the Republic of 
Czechoslovakia in Budapest and could not get further than 
the entrance hall and the doorman, who was always saying that 
the Embassy was too busy and no one could receive me. Then 
I found out through some Hungarian friends, that the French 
Ambassador in Budapest in those days was Count Derobien, who 
had been second or third secretary of the French Embassy years 
ago in Russia. I remembered his name because Father had 



- 584 - 

spoken about him since he loved the Russian ballet just as 
Father did, so I decided to pay a visit to Count Derrobien. 
I sent up my card and he received me and told me that he 
remembered my late father very well and that he was glad to 
see me. Then he asked if there was any way that he could be 
helpful. So I told my story about wanting to get to Czecho 
slovakia as fast as possible. Right in front of me he 
picked up the phone standing on his desk and called up the 
Czech Embassy. I remember his words to the Czech Ambassador: 
"My friend" - and he mentioned me - "will be in your office 
in about half an hour. My car will drive him up. My friend 
desires to get a visa to Czechoslovakia. Good bye, Sir." 
That was the French Ambassador. Of course then Czechoslovakia 
had been barely created by France during the disasterous 
peace treaty of Versailles. Anyhow, I came driving up to the 
Czech Embassy in the French Ambassador's car, with the French 
tricolor flying on the car. The doorman bowed low and I was 
ushered in, and ten minutes later a girl brought me my pass 
port and a visa. It is quite true, the saying that it does 
not matter what you know, it matters who you know. 

We were planning to leave Budapest in a few days. I went 
to say good-bye to the representative of the Russian Red Cross 
in Budapest, Prince Wolkonsky, and he said to me, "I am sorry 
you are leaving but I know that you have to. The representative 
of the Russian Red Cross in Prague is a close friend of mine. 
Will you please take my letter to him and deliver it to him 



- 585 - 

in person?" That letter was on the letterhead of the diplom 
atic corps of the International Red Cross. 

We boarded the train for Czechoslovakia - it was in 
those days a ride of barely four or five hours - and of course 
our documents were checked when we crossed the border. I 
showed my passport and also Wolkonsky's letter and everybody 
started saluting me and taking me for an official diplomatic 
courier. That helped a lot. Then our baggage had to be 
checked and the man checking the baggage was a Czechoslovak 
official who had spent most of the first World War in Siberia 
as a POW and he could speak Russian, and when he discovered 
that I was a diplomatic courier for the Russian Red Cross, 
he just stamped our luggage without opening it. 

Life on the estate of Count Louie 

Thus we came to Czechoslovakia. We left the train at 
a station called Nove Zamky, a small city some ten kilometers 
away from the estate of Count Louie, where we were expected. 
It was November. I was quite surprised and shocked by the 
carriage that was awaiting us at the station. It was some 
kind of a very antique carriage that obviously had not been 
used in many, many years. Some ugly working horses were 
harnessed and the driver of this contraption was just a plain 
working man in rather dirty clothes. This was not at all the 
style that I had expected from the estate of the Count Karolyi 
that I knew. I knew that the house we were supposed to live 
in had 96 rooms and I was surprised by that carriage because 



- 586 - 

since the days of Russia, and also in Hungary, the kind of 
carriage usually corresponded more or less with the kind of 
guests that were expected. I had expected a four-in-hand 
with a liveried coachman with plumes on his hat, and instead 
there was that ugly carriage. But it was roomy for the 
three of us and all our luggage and we drove on quite leisure 
ly through muddy or sandy roads and finally we came to the 
castle. Later, in order to explain that strange carriage, 
Count Louie told me that he was sorry to have had to send 
that one but it was just the week of the hunting season for 
hares and the castle was full of his friends. Usually there 
were twelve gentlemen of about his age, his personal friends, 
and their wives and servants. They had to drive out to the 
fields every day and all the carriages, of course, were very 
busy - there were not enough for all the guests. 

That was the most famous hunt in Europe. About 2,000 
beaters were hired from the nearby villages and they surrounded 
a huge area of the estate. They were young men and young boys 
and old women and young girls, and sometimes they were gypsies. 
Everybody had in his hands something to make as much noise 
as possible. The circle narrowed and narrowed and narrowed, 
and in one part of that circle were posted the gentlemen 
hunters. Finally, all the hares were in that narrow circle. 
I was invited to participate, not as a hunter but just to 
look on with all the ladies who always went there at lunch- 
time and I said that I did not think of it as a sport, much 



- 587 - 

to their chagrin. I stood next to one of those Hungarian 
gentlemen who long ago had been a secretary of the Hungarian 
Embassy in Petersburg, and it was quite unbelievable. The 
hares were just rushing around him. He had a gun in his hands 
that he fired at the hares and then he literally dropped the 
gun. At that moment his servant, standing on his left, 
threww up another gun that he caught up in the air and he 
fired again and dropped it, and another servant standing on 
his right threw up another gun which he again caught in the 
air and fired. He shot from three guns because he had no 
time to reload. Finally, while he was firing almost point 
balnk at all those hares rushing around him, one of the hares 
escaped by running away between his spread legs. 

I could never understand that kind of hunting and how 
the Hungarians, great gentlemen that they were, could enjoy 
that kind of slaughter, but it was a tradition of many, many 
generations, and sacrosanct. In late December the same sort 
of shooting took place again, but this time of pheasants. 
They were so plentiful that they were just flying over the 
heads of the hunters. In shooting pheasants they had to 
walk from early morning until dark, walk through fields and 
brush, and because of that those gentlemen had to be quite 
sturdy and good sportsmen and had to be used to that kind of 
hunting. One year, for political reasons, the Italian 
Ambassador from Budapest was there. But he was an Italian 
hunter, not a Hungarian one. After the hunt was supposedly 



- 588 - 

over a bugle was sounded, and all the hunters had to come to 
the place where carriages and ladies were waiting for them. 
They knew where to go by the sound of the bugle. Nobody was 
supposed to shoot after the bugle had sounded. They were all 
coming close to the carriages - the bugle had sounded maybe 
ten or fifteen minutes earler - when everybody heard BOOM! 
A shot. Everybody was quite frightened. An accident? What 
had happened? Well, the Italian Ambassador had shot very few 
pheasants. Then, coming back, he saw a scared pheasant perched 
on the branch of a tree. Of course shooting a sitting pheasant 
was a crime, but he was an Italian so what could be expected? 
He shot that sitting pheasant and scared everybody. All the 
ladies and Hungarian gentlemen made terrible diplomatic efforts 
not to laugh. When they finally came home, into the great 
hall of the castle, that Italian sportsman was totally exhausted. 
He just made it into the hall, and inside the hall he collapsed 
and was carried to his room. That was a diplomatic disaster 
for the honor of the Kingdom of Italy! 

After the hunt - it ended roughly at four o'clock and it 
was getting dark - everybody changed rapidly into something 
else and tea was served. That tea did not last too long 
because everybody had to get ready for the big dinner, and 
between five and eight those twelve gentlemen and their wives 
all wanted hot baths before changing into their gala dinner 
clothes. Although the castle had 96 rooms, it had only two 
bathrooms. The bath water had to be heated with wood and a 



- 589 - 

hot tub could be ready roughly every two hours. So how could 
about 25 people have hot baths? That was very hard to explain 
in later years to Americans when talking about conditions of 
life and the luxury of Hungary. Luxury has many aspects. 

Speaking about luxury, I have to mention the great dinner 
after the hunt. The two of us, my wife and I, were invited 
to most of those dinners and at the first dinner that we 
took part in I had no tuxedo. Having a tuxedo was beyond any 
dream on account of my financial situation. I was a minor 
clerk on that estate which was leased to a sugar factory that 
was run by Jewish people. They gave me half -pay, reasoning 
that I had other benefits as a guest of the Karolyis. So I 
had to do 100% of the work for 50% of the normal pay. There 
was no choice. All of those Hungarian gentlemen and their 
wives were very nice, very cultured people. All of them of 
course spoke German and I could speak German very well. Many 
of them could also speak English and French and did so because 
my wife did not know German. They were gentlemen in the 
highest and best sense of this word. They understood very 
well that because of Communism and Bolshevism the Russians 
had lost their estates and their fortunes and owned practical 
ly nothing, but they just could not understand that a Russian 
refugee had no tuxedo. That was beyond them. 

Now this dinner was really an event, something from a 
fairy tale. There was a big diningroom with a table that 
could seat forty to fifty people. On one of the walls of the 



- 590 - 

diningroom was one huge window and behind that window was a 
palm garden, full of the most exotic plants and trees. There 
was electritcity in all the castle except the big diningroom 
and it was lit by candelabras with wax candles, just as 100 
or more years ago. Behind every lady's chair there stood a 
manservant dressed in national Hungarian dress, just to move 
the lady's chair. All those persons sitting at that huge 
table were served by I do not know how many footmen under the 
command of a butler who was an Austrian from Vienna. When 
he served he looked like some ancient Egyptian priest, he was 
so grand in every move he made. Those dinners were a fairy 
tale, but for us a very mixed blessing. I understood our 
hosts and their guests wanted to be and really were as nice 
to us as they could be, but conversation with each year 
became more and more difficult. We discussed, the first 
year, our flight from Russia, particularly the last years of 
the Russian Empire. Soon that was exhausted. Discussing the 
businesses of that farm was not suitable. We could speak 
about children. But the conversations were very very difficult 
as the years went on and on. Besides, finally I had a tuxedo. 

The mother of Count Louie was an aged beauty. Her hus 
band had been the head of the diplomatic corps in Berlin back 
in the year 1877. He had been very much older than she and 
he was by age and rank the oldest in the diplomatic corps in 
Berlin in those days. She, very much younger and a beauty 
in her time, sat as first lady of the diplomatic corps at 



- 591 - 

official dinners between Bismark and the Chief of Staff, 
General Moltke. Now she was very old and infirm, always in 
a wheelchair, but she had a very, very clear mind and talking 
to her was sometimes more interesting than talking to the 
younger generation. She spent all summer on that estate and 
she wanted us very often to have lunch with her. One time, 
using all her almost age-old diplomacy and tact, for the 
grand lady that she was , she mentioned that her brother had 
passed away a year ago. Of course he left very good suits 
behind and he was exactly my size, my figure. Very diplomat 
ically and kindly she suggested, asked, whether I would be so 
kind as to accept some of his wardrobe. That was a very, very 
kind idea, and a great blessing for me. So now I had nice 
suits and I finally had a tuxedo. It was sort of old 
fashioned but it fit me very well without necessitating any 
alterations. 

In later years when the situation of the family started 
slipping because huge estates in Romania were being confiscated 
without any pay at all - and there were forests, lumber, and 
all that was lost - Count Karolyi decided to rent his partridge 
hunt. He would sooner have shot himself than rent his hare 
and pheasant hunts, but partridge, all right. He rented it 
to a very wealthy group consisting partly of British and 
parly of Americans. The Americans arrived two days before 
the British came and the Count received them on the threshold 
of the castle and left, asking me to help out because I was 



- 592 - 

the only person around that could speak English. When they 
arrived they were very nice to me and that very same evening 
I was invited to have dinner. At the dinner I got panicky 
because I could not understand those Americans. I had known 
English since my childhood - that was the Queen's English. 
Those Americans were very, very nice, and tried to switch to 
French with me but I knew well that that would make things 
worse. Two days later the British arrived and I could under 
stand them immediately. That first night at dinner of course 
all the servants were there, the table was loaded with antique 
family silver and decorated with flowers, and the wax candles 
were burning. My neighbor at the table was a very good look 
ing young American lady and when she saw all that and the 
Hungarian servant in Hungarian dress, there just to push her 
chair, she got quite excited. She told me in a most excited 
voice, "It is a fairy tale, it is simply wonderful. It is 
just like Hollywood!" That was the greatest thing that an 
American girl could say. 

On those big Hungarian estates all the servants were 
so-to-say members of the family; they represented an 
aristocracy of sorts. There was one servant who came back 
from the war in Russia. He was young and clever and could 
manage any small job, repairing electricity and what-not. 
Once when this estate was rented to a group of Americans and 
British who had come to hunt the best partridge in all of 
Europe, one of those American gentlemen came to me and said 



- 593 - 

that he had noticed that manservant and how clever he was. 
He said, "Probably you do not know how difficult the question 
of servants is in our United States. Upon seeing that very 
good servant I will offer him a job as my servant." I do not 
remember his name but he said to me, and I was quite young 
then, "I am the King of Electricity in New York." I do not 
know whether he meant it or not, but anyhow, he was a 
millionaire, a really big millionaire. "And besides," he 
said, "if you ever come to the United States just walk into 
my office and you have a job." In those days I was not 
even thinking of going to the United States. Well, I related 
to that manservant what the wealthy gentleman had told me and 
he said, "That is very nice of him. I have to talk it over 
with my wife." He had a little boy the same age as my boy 
was then, five years old. The next day he came and said, 
"Well, we talked it over. Please tell that American gentle 
man that I cannot come." The offer of the American had been 
fantastic. He was ready to pay, of course, for the journey, 
and to take over the education of that little five-year-old 
boy. He had said, "I am going to make a gentleman out of 
that boy." Anyhow, when the servant said that he could not 
accept the offer I said to him, "Well, that is up to you, 
but if that American gentleman asks me why, what do you want 
me to tell him?" The servant got quite excited and he said 
to me, "Sir, I have been serving in this house now for the 
past ten years. My father served the Count and his father 



- 594 - 

and my grandfather worked here all his life for the grandfather 
of the present owner." So there were several generations of 
servants in that castle, and it was a kind of aristocracy of 
servants. It was very, very hard to explain that to an 
American gentleman. 

My work assignment 

My employment and my work for that society that was 
renting Count Louie's estate was by no means a bed of roses. 
I was assigned to supervise their dairy farm. They had lots 
of cattle and milk cows, and they also produced mainly sugar 
beets on that farm. Now I do not want to talk much about 
farming methods, but I was quite involved in it, and I learned 
that producing sugar beets was the only reason for farming 
because sugar was the main staple of export for Czechoslovakia. 
Also there was a plant in northern Czechoslovakia that produced 
arms and it was almost as large and as important as the famous 
German production of arms by Krupp. So the Czechs sold sugar 
and they sold arms. Well, we had to do with sugar. In 
order to produce sugar beets you had to put a lot of dung on 
the field every year; in order to produce dung you have to 
have cattle and you have to have straw. Therefore the wheat 
and rye fields were cultivated not for the grain - of course 
that was sold but it was a minor product - but the straw was 
very important in producing dung. The cows were milked and 
young steers were fattened and sold for meat, but the income 



- 595 - 

from all this was just the dung, that was the most important 
income . 

I was assigned to supervise that cattle business. When 
the steers were heavy enough they had to be weighed, usually 
every winter when the roads were either frozen or very muddy. 
There was a weighing platform and the steer were lead onto 
that weighing platform, and of course on the feet of those 
steers there was a lot of mud. Now there was a buyer and a 
seller of those steer and I was in between, just taking notes 
on the weight of every steer. But the weight of the steer 
had to be guessed by the buyer or the seller and I had nothing 
to do with that but I was present, and I enjoyed myself, 
because the buyer was Jewish and the seller was Jewish. They 
discussed the weight of the mud and of course they quarreled, 
and they insulted each other (they spoke German so I could 
understand them) in a way that I had never heard before. I 
will now have to use words that are unprintable. The mildest 
thing that one of those two fellows could say to the other 
one was, "I am going to shit on your head." And things worse. 
Finally they did agree and after it was all over, having 
insulted each other with the most impossible expressions, the 
two of them went arm in arm to the closest little village 
inn and enjoyed beer together as the best of friends. That 
was very funny to me. 

The cow business was more complicated. There I worked 
alone. The milkman, having milked a cow, had to pour the milk 



- 596 - 

out into a huge measuring glass in front of me and I had to 
keep a record of how much milk every cow had given every 
particular day. The cows that produced more milk got more 
corn and other "strong food," as it was called, than the cows 
that had less milk. Then the cows were periodically weighed 
and when a cow was giving less than a certain amount of milk, 
it was transferred to the fattening stables and was fattened 
up for the butcher. So every cow was individually milked 
and every cow was registered by me, and the total amount of 
milk given every day, of course, had to be equal to the sum of 
the amounts registered for the individual cows. There were 
columns of figures, and as I always hated figures, the end 
figure on the bottom right corner of my big sheet, never 
balanced. So I had to rearrange a cow or two for more milk 
or less milk each particular day. Then, when the milking 
was over, there was a line of the families, employed on the 
estate permanently, and their wives or their children were 
waiting outside in that line for their portion of the milk, 
and I had to measure it out. All those barns and the office 
of the estate were at least twenty minutes' walking from the 
castle where I lived. The milking of the cows was done three 
times in 24 hours. It began at six o'clock in the morning. 
Every day, including Sundays and Holidays, at six o'clock in 
the morning I had to be in that barn checking the milking of 
the cows and I had to go there in any kind of weather, rain, 
snow, frozen ground, or bottomless mud. Going back and forth 



- 597 - 

at least six times, in the morning to the barn, back for 
breakfast at the castle, back to the farm, back for lunch, 
back there in the evening, and again back to the castle. 
That was a lot of walking. Fortunately I was very young. 

Now again, the Hungarian host of ours was all the time 
as nice as could be. A special maid was assigned permanently 
to do our rooms. Usually that castle was empty most of the 
year, but a housekeeper, an elderly spinster, lived in one 
of the wings of the castle. She had her apartment there and 
she had a cook and she had a maid to serve her alone. And 
that cook was supposed to do the cooking for us under the 
supervision of that housekeeper and a special maid was 
assigned to serve the food to us and to make up our rooms. 
After making the rooms, she drove out a perambulator with my 
young baby into the 360-acre park. We lived in the opposite 
wing of that castle so that our windows were facing the 
housekeeper's windows and in between lay the inner court of 
the two-story castle. It had a huge hall and on the other 
side of the hall a large double door led to a big livingroom 
and that was the livingroom that was usually used when the 
owners were there. All the length of that huge castle there 
was a very large corridor and on the right and left were the 
rooms. Then stairs went up to the upper story where there 
were numerous other bedrooms and a small diningroom for when 
the family lived alone in the house. And all these numerous 
rooms, of course, necessitated a numerous staff of servants. 



- 598 - 

My wife had nothing to do in that house. She did not 
have to bother with cooking or buying food as everything was 
served to us on a platter. Day after day, month after month, 
year after year we were there in physically the best con 
ditions imagineable but with scarcely any cash worth speaking 
of. We could not move anywhere. It was a golden cage, but 
a cage it was, and the longer we stayed, the more we felt it. 
Of course my wife, being in those days in her early twenties, 
was absolutely bored. What could she do? We could not buy 
books. There was a library in the castle but the latest 
book in that library was a naughty French book of fifty years 
ago. Most of the other books in the castle library were bound 
in heavy leather and the texts were in Latin. That was not 
much entertainment. The hunts were entertainment of sorts 
but of course I had a tuxedo, and for a woman there was the 
problem of dress. Naturally she wanted to be dressed more 
or less as the other ladies, but how could she afford it? 
Throughout the eight years we lived in that castle, making 
up a dress that looked new from something that was old, was 
a great problem but somehow my wife managed. But my wife was 
never conscious of time; that was a hereditary defect in her 
family. In the old days many jokes were made about it. When 
the dinner was for eight o'clock, she was never ready, and 
of course all those Hungarian gentlemen and ladies would not 
sit down at the table if one of them was missing. She was 
not late five or ten minutes, somehow she managed to be half 



- 599 - 

an hour or even more. Her excuse always was that she had 
to do something for the baby, but there was the maid who 
would take care of the baby. That put me each time in a 
very awkward, difficult position, and I appreciated very 
much the spirit of my host and his guests, very great, grand 
gentlemen and ladies, always managing, pretending not to 
notice her perennial lateness. 

I become a Czech citizen 

Throughout the roughly eight years that I spent in 
Hungary, which politically in those days was occupied by Czechs 
and belonged to the new country of Czechoslovakia, the 
closest big city on the Danube had four names: in Slovak it 
was called Bratislava, in Hungarian it was called Pojony and 
centuries ago had been the capital city of the Kingdom of 
Hungary because Budapest was in Turkish hands, in German it 
was called Pressburg, and in Czech the same city was called 
Preshporek. Every village, every smaller town in that 
region had four names because of the ethnic groups that were 
mixed up in that region, so you could not by any stretch of 
the imagination draw any kind of a border line and say this 
belongs to this country and that belongs to that coutry. One 
village would be one hundred percent Hungarian, the next one 
hundred percent Slavic, and the third would be a city of 
Germans, and every nook and corner was full of Jewish people. 
When Count Karolyi's estate was rented to a group of American 
gentlemen for hunting partridge (I have already told about 



- 600 - 

that event) one of those gentlemen came up to me. He was 
interested in the economic situation of Central Europe, and 
he said to me quite seriously, "I cannot understand how the 
post office can work in this country where every little 
village has four names." But the post office worked really 
well. You could put as the address on your letter any of 
those four names and it would reach its destination. Every 
person whose culture was above the junior high school level 
in those days could speak three and write at least two of 
those languages, and quite often more. The general language 
in which everybody did business was German because all the 
businesses and banks were in the hands of the Jewish populat 
ion. They spoke German and their culture was really Germanized. 
They had their own culture based on their religious beliefs 
and in the synagogues classes were taught in the classic 
Jewish language, Hebrew, but otherwise they spoke German and 
Slovak and most of them also spoke Hungarian. Every village 
had an elected group of villagers, a village council, but the 
secretary of each village council was a Czech employee sent 
by the government in Prague or sometimes a Slovak coming 
from Bratislava. The policy was, of course, to get more and 
more control over the country and take away the influence 
of the landowners, who were mostly Hungarians. 

The secretary of the village that adjoined the estate 
of Count Karolyi was quite a young man and he was an enthusi 
ast and a Slavophile. For him as a Slav, his feelings were 



- 601 - 

anti-German and even more anti-Hungarian, and the great 
Slavic Empire of Russia of the old days had grown in his 
imagination as being a paradise for Slavs and one day the 
Russians would move and annex all Slavic countries and then 
he would make a great career in his life. Of course that 
was a phantasy dream of his, but that served me very, very 
well. He became a close friend of mine and he started 
telling me that I should become a citizen of the Czechoslovak 
Republic and not remain all my life an emigre with an unusual 
passport. The Nansen passports, named for a great Norwegian 
scientist who presided over an international organization, 
based in Holland, were issued to all refugees, and those 
passports were practically worthless. Travelling with them 
and getting a visa was almost impossible. I knew from my 
own experience that there had been months and months of waiting 
before I could travel from Yugoslavia to Hungary and from 
there to Czechoslovakia. 

In order to become a Czech citizen the local village 
council had to elect me and acknowledge me as belonging to 
their village, and I had to be a member of the village 
population by being elected by the villagers. The villagers 
were mostly Slovaks but some were Hungarians. The Slovaks 
had sympathy for me as a Russian and the Hungarians had great 
respect for me because I was living in the castle of Count 
Karolyi and there I was treated by a Hungarian Count as being 
his equal. So the villagers did elect me to become a villager 



- 602 - 

of that little place and from then on there was a lot of red 
tape and going through channels before my application 
reached Prague. There, a friend of my mother's whom I 
mentioned before and who was still close to President 
Masaryk, put her good word of recommendation on my applicat 
ion which stated that from now on I would be a dedicated 
Czechoslovak. So it was settled in Prague and I expected a 
new passport to come any day. That was in the late fall of 
1925. 

Our marital relationship deteriorates 

That same fall Nadejda was expecting a second child and 
she was not happy about it. Actually she was furious, but 
I insisted that she never do again what she had once done 
when she was expecting a child. She had done it on the 
advice of the elderly wife of a retired estate manager, and 
of course it had been a great moral and physical shock. She 
had done it with the help of that woman and behind my back. 
Of course I had been very upset at not having been consulted 
and that created more of a crack than was already there in 
our relationship. And now she was expecting again and she 
was furious but did not want to repeat her previous actions. 
She was so nervous that everybody realized it. My host and 
his wife, Countess Karolyi, said that Nadejda should have a 
trip to Bulgaria to visit her family and her mother, that it 
would be good for her nerves and spare both of us a very 
difficult situation. Going to Bulgaria was of course a question 



- 603 - 

of money, but Nadejda still possessed a beautiful bracelet 
that had belonged to her grandmother. It was a wide gold 
bracelet that consisted of small pieces of gold and had been 
made by a famous jeweler of the 19th century. On that 
bracelet, in small diamonds, there was an inscription that 
I translate into English with the words, "God Bless You." 
It was a very fine piece of jewelry and we thought of pawning 
it for the money which she would use for her trip to Bulgaria, 
but Count Karolyi intervened. He said, "Do not take it to 
a pawn shop. It might get lost or you might not be able 
to retrieve it in time. We will act as a pawn shop. We will 
put away the bracelet and give you the cash." That was done 
in a most nice, friendly but delicate manner and it just shows 
the mentality of the Karolyi family and what great gentlemen 
they were. And so going to Bulgaria was taken care of, but 
the passport had to come from Prague and that seemed to 
take forever. 

Travelling with a Czechoslovak passport was very, very 
easy. Those countries recognized each other politically and 
no visas were required to go with a Czechoslovak passport, 
not even to Great Britain. One could travel to Yugoslavia 
or Bulgaria or wherever you wanted, but you had to have that 
passport. The days dragged on and the situation was getting 
more and more nervous. Finally I got a letter from the 
authorities stating that a passport had arrived and was being 
held by the governor of a nearby town. I had just to go there 



- 604 - 

and fetch it. I decided to go immediately and I told the old 
coachman that I wanted to go to the city to fetch my passport, 
Well, the coachman was quite a good friend of mine. He was 
quite a character. He was the only person in all that 
estate who could talk back to Count Karolyi and when they 
were choosing the horses for the carriages and the Count 
decided to take this or that horse, the coachman would yell 
back at him a different choice, and it was always the coach 
man's choice over the Count's. So this coachman was always 
very nice and friendly to me and he said to me that to his 
great regret, under orders from the company which was now 
leasing the estate, he was not allowed to give rides to any 
one without orders from the manager of the estate. He would 
be very happy to drive me but he was under orders. And that 
made me so mad - probably I was on the verge of a nervous 
breakdown myself - that I said, "Damn the carriage, damn 
everything," and I just went out and walked. And I walked 
the ten kilometers. I did not go to the railway station 
that was only three kilometers away because I knew that the 
next train would not be there for five or six hours, so I 
just walked all the way, ten kilometers, and of course this 
walk was very, very good for calming my nervous system. And 
I came to the governor of the place and I got the passport, 
and then I came back by train. It was only a half hour's 
ride by train, and I arrived at the castle, passport in hand. 
A few days later Nadejda departed, leaving me in that 



- 605 - 

castle with our little boy Ivan and a maid who was attached 
to our service. Nadejda stayed in Bulgaria for quite a while 
and then she came back much calmer, probably under the 
influence of her mother, who was adored by all her children 
and thus had great influence on all of them. 

Our son Ivan is very ill 

Before the birth of Andre, two-year-old Ivan had some 
kind of intestinal trouble. He could not digest his food 
and he had some kind of permanent diarrhea. He was getting 
weak. The local doctor, a very young man from Prague, was 
inexperienced and Jewish and his official business was to 
take care of the local population. Well, that young doctor 
could not help my son because he had secret orders from the 
health authorities and was not allowed to prescribe anything 
but aspirin or castor oil. We knew that in the city, about 
three hours' distance by train, the city on the Danube with 
four names, there was a children's hospital at the head of 
which was a very famous Czech professor who specialized in 
the care of small children. He had a reputation of being 
almost a miracle worker with small children. I could not take 
the child that far by train, it was too dangerous, but I just 
took some of the linen that had been dirtied by that little 
boy and asked the professor if he could not analyze it and 
find some kind of microbe or whatever and then prescribe 
some kind of medicine. I went to Bratislava, I saw that 
doctor, and he inspected the linens and he said, "I will see 



- 606 - 

what I can do." I took the train back again and I arrived 
at the castle very tired and I went to sleep. And I slept 
late. It was after nine when I woke up to the sound of an 
auto car horn blowing under the window. Now I knew very well 
that there were only two cars on the estate. The car of 
Count Karolyi, who was absent, and the car of the manager of 
the estate, who had no business under our windows. So 
rapidly I ran out, half dressed, and there was that professor 
from Bratislava himself. He had come down the very next day 
in his car in the early morning about 80 or 90 kilometers. 
Well, he was ushered in, he saw my boy, and immediately his 
arrival caused an earthquake- like sensation and the local 
doctor came running, breathless, for this great occasion. 
The professor prescribed an entirely different treatment and 
medicines, some of which he had brought with him. When he 
was leaving I went up to him and said, "It is absolutely 
ridiculous to ask you what I owe you for tending my sick 
child. Such a visit has never happened in the history of the 
country." He smiled and said to me, "My dear young friend, 
you owe me absolutely nothing. I studied medicine in Imperial 
Russia and all the expenses of my studies were covered by the 
personal fortune of the Russian Tsar, Nicholas II. I repay 
now my debts to Imperial Russia." He was not only a great 
professor, he was a great human being and a rare one. 

One of the directors of the company that ran the estate 
had a girl of about ten and she was sick. He asked the 



- 607 - 

professor to come down and see his daughter, and the professor 
came and he looked over that girl. She was rapidly recover 
ing and the director of the estate got a bill for that visit. 
The bill was twenty thousand crowns. It is hard to say how 
much those crowns would represent nowadays but in those days 
the normal pay of an employee in a bank was one thousand 
crowns per month. The professor knew very well that the 
director of that sugar factory was a very, very wealthy man 
and that he could pay a bill of twenty thousand crowns more 
easily than I could pay one hundred crowns. 

Andre', our second son is born 

In early spring, 1926, my second child was being expected 
quite soon. Our hosts, the family of Count Karolyi, decided 
that we had to have help and a nurse for the coming baby. 
In spite of the fact that all of our meals were being taken 
care of and served on a platter to us by a maid, they decided 
that taking care of a second child would be too much of a 
burden for my wife. She had no problems pertaining to cooking, 
she had no problems pertaining to keeping in shape the three 
rooms that we were occupying, she had no problems pertaining 
to taking care of the older boy, who was at this time three 
years old. Of course, nowadays this might seem strange for 
any young American mother but it was considered in those days 
to be too much, so we had to have a nurse for that newborn 
child. 



- 608 - 

A_young Russian girl is hired as nurse for Andre 

We looked for that nurse in Prague among girl students 
who were studying medicine. Those girls and boys of Russian 
origin studied in Prague thanks to the help of the American 
organization of Professor Whittmore. They received every 
month a small amount of money and free tuition. This money 
helped them to barely survive and go on with their studies, 
but when summer came around this financial help was stopped 
and they had to find some kind of a job to survive until the 
next semester started. So one of those girls was very happy 
when she was asked to come down and be a nurse, and she was 
fully qualified to be one. But when our hostess, Countess 
Karolyi, learned that this nurse was the daughter of a late 
Cossack colonel, poor Countess Anna was scared and asked 
almost seriously, "But wouldn't that girl devour the newborn 
child?" That was of course a great exaggeration, but I mention 
it just for the sake of mentioning the reputation that Cossack 
troops had in Austria and Hungary after the first World War. 
During that war, when no Cossacks were on the horizon, just 
somebody yelling in the trenches of the Austrian troops, 
"Cossacks are coming!" - that was enough for the Austrian 
troops to jump out of their trenches, drop their arms, take 
off their boots to run faster. 

Anyhow, that girl came, and she was really quite a fine 
and charming personality. Somehow, the relationship between 
her and my wife was and always remained purely official, and 



- 609 - 

no feeling of friendliness developed between her and my 
wife, who were both Russian but of very, very different 
backgrounds and social class. 

Russian students find ways of supporting themselves 

This makes me think about other students who were looking 
for jobs during the summer. A group of those boys got in 
touch with a very wealthy Czech farmer who loaned, or maybe 
sold on credit, horses to those boys. The boys were a group 
of about twelve or fifteen and all were the sons of Cossacks. 
It is a mystery to me how they managed to feed those horses 
and to train them the way Cossack horses were trained. Any 
how, when summer vacation started they formed a group of 
riders. They made for themselves, strictly following the 
regulations, Cossack uniforms. They got hold of some 
Cossack saddles and a Russian national banner, white, blue, 
and red, was on one of their lances. They travelled on horse 
back from place to place through all the country. On week 
days they came to some farmers and it was harvest time, and 
at harvest time any farmer is glad to have help and addition 
al horses to work all his machines. For their help on those 
farms those young boys were very well fed and the horses got 
all the fodder they needed. Travelling from place to place, 
they finally came down to the little city that was ten kilo 
meters from the estate where I worked. That little city was 
basically Hungarian and all the shops and banks were under 



- 610 - 

the control of the local Jewish merchants. My mother lived 
there, renting a room and giving some French lessons to some 
Jewish girls. One day, walking through the city, my mother 
thought that she was having hallucinations. In the middle 
of that Hungarian city she saw a group of mounted Cossacks 
with the Russian national flag, a picture of the distant and 
different past. So she came up to one of them and spoke 
Russian to him and asked who they were. They explained their 
situation and that evening when my mother had barely finished 
her lonely supper, one of them knocked on her door and said, 
"Tomorrow we are giving a performance and we hope to see you 
watching us." My mother of course said, "I will be very happy 
to. How much is the ticket?" And the Cossack straightened 
up and said, "Countess, here is your honor ticket. It will 
be a great honor for us if you come." 

The next day, on a big football field, there was a crowd 
of people in the grandstands and the Cossacks on horseback 
were lined up at the other end of the field. The performance 
had to start. All of a sudden, the head of that Cossack 
group put his horse from a standing position to a dashing 
gallop and he dashed up to the place where my mother was 
sitting, stopping his horse barely a few feet in front of 
her place, saluted, and loudly reported to my mother, "Your 
Ladyship, will you permit the performance to start?" Well, 
my mother laughed and answered, "What are you thinking? Do 
you imagine that I am the Empress?" But of course this tactic 



- 611 - 

had a huge impact on the crowd present and the very next day 
the number of girls wanting to learn French or Russian from 
my mother more than doubled. 

Those performances consisted of age-old riding tricks. 
I will mention two. A coin was thrown on the ground and a 
Cossack, dashing at full gallop, had to bend down from his 
horse and pick up that coin, never missing it. That is 
what they did. Then two of those young men rode on one horse. 
One was sitting on the horse's neck and the other was 
sitting behind the saddle. The saddle served them as a card 
table, and at full gallop they were playing cards without 
ever dropping or losing a single card. Many other tricks 
impressed the population immensely. 

After that Russian girl nurse had to go back to Prague 
to continue her studies there was a local Hungarian girl, the 
daughter of a local carpenter, who replaced her to take care 
of my young son, Andre". She was there when those Cossacks 
came riding and showing their performance. They came 
visiting us at the estate and that girl put my elder boy, 
then three years old, on horseback. He started yelling and 
crying and had to be taken off the horse immediately. Then 
that girl put on the horse my second boy, who was by that time 
a little over one year old, and he enjoyed it. This girl 
belonged to a young local group that engaged in all kinds of 
performances of physical training and she was quite sturdy 
and very sure of herself. She used to throw that one-year-old 



- 612 - 



boy up in the air as high as she could throw him and then 
catch him back, never failing to catch him. He enjoyed this 
performance immensely and it developed in the boy a total 
lack of fear. Fearing something was for him something unknown. 
He never had any kind of knowledge of fear and this was so 
strong that it lasted all his life. This boy I am talking 
about has just become fifty, and he spent four of his years 
as a volunteer GI in the United States Army. The sense of 
fear was totally alien to him for all his life, and it 
continues to be so. 

To get back to those Russian students, I like to mention 
still another way for them to earn money during the summer. 
One group of them formed a travelling theatre. The head of 
that theatre was an elderly gentleman, an actor in a private 
theatre in the days of Imperial Russia in the city of Peters 
burg, and so was his wife. They had a grown up daughter, a 
girl maybe a bit over twenty. Besides, they had seven or eight 
young men, students that had been trained by that professional 
artist. They played little comic sketches. They came down 
to the city, and they heard about the estate where I worked 
and heard that I was Russian, so they came down to that estate. 
That village had a rather large building and part of that 
building was a theatre. It had been built in the days when 
the mother of the present owner was running that estate 
because her son was a minor. She had that building made for 
the villagers, and also an artesian well because other wells 



- 613 - 

supplied only ground water and they were not at all deep, 
and the water was not so healthy. This little group of 
travelling artists, as fate would have it, came to that 
estatet just at the right time. It was the week of the 
great hunt for hares. The castle was filled with guests, 
friends of Count Karolyi, a top group of the Hungarian 
aristocracy with their wives and some daughters. Actually, 
evenings they had nothing to do and they were bored. On 
hearing about that Russian theatrical group they decided to 
go and see it. Count Karolyi bought up the first two rows 
of the theatre for his guests for a handsome amount of money 
because that was his way of helping Russian emigres. Of 
course that little theatre, meant for peasants, had never 
before been visited by Count Karolyi, much less by his friends, 
and news that the guests of that estate would be there spread 
all over the countryside like fire. All the managers of the 
different farms and their families, and anybody that was 
somebody, considered that it was his duty to be there if the 
so-called Counts themselves would be attending the performance. 
So the little theatre had, as Americans say, standing room 
only. 

In this village there was the usual secretary of the 
village council, appointed by the government in Prague. This 
man was a great Slavophile. He was the one who had helped 
me initially to become later a citizen of Czechoslovakia. 
Now this young, enthusiastic Slavophile opened that memorable 



- 614 - 

evening by making a speech. He spoke, fortunately, in Slovak, 
which most of Count Karolyi's guests did not understand, but 
I was sitting there trembling and perspiring because his 
speech was a great patriotic speech praising Russia for her 
help in liberating them from the yoke of the Hungarians, and 
Hungarians were making up all the first two rows. Then, the 
head of that group, the professional artist, came out and 
responded with another speech. He spoke in German. He was 
a good comedian and on purpose he spoke in a very funny broken 
German, praising the friendship of the people who had come 
for his show. Of course the first two rows understood the 
German and laughed about his broken German, and he practically 
saved the situation and wiped out anything that might have 
been understood from the other speech of that enthusiastic 
but tactless fellow. The performance was very good. They 
did those sketches, mostly funny ones, and then the daughter 
of the two professional artists came out. She was a dancer. 
She was dressed in an imitation of a Russian national court 
dress. In that court dress, the ancient Russian dancing was 
almost motionless, the dancer had to slide along the floor 
and all her movements were in her shoulders. But to my horror, 
this girl in her very long and elaborate robe drew up her 
skirts well above her knees and started to dance the French 
Cancan and the Russian dance for boys only, almost sitting on 
the floor and kicking in all directions. Right next to me 
was sitting a girl in her late teens, the daughter of our hosts, 



- 615 - 

and I hurried to explain to her that this was just a 
caricature of Russian dancing. She agreed with me and I 
kind of wiped out the false impression that she might have 
had. 

That reminds me of a writer, an American writer, who 
wrote about life in the old days in Russia. He probably had 
never been in Russia himself. He described a very great 
ball in high Russian society in the days before the Revolution. 
He hinted indirectly that this ball was in the presence of 
the Imperial Family. He described the house where that ball 
took place - it was a very famous house and it belonged to 
the family of an officer of my own regiment, the Horse Guards, 
who is now living in the vicinity of Boston. Anyhow, the 
description of the ball by that American writer told about 
how at midnight the menservants of the house, holding bottles 
of champagne in their hands, danced that Russian national 
dance almost sitting on the floor and kicking in all directions, 
That was the way that American writer chose to represent 
Russian high society in Petersburg. I went to my friend and 
I asked him without blinking, "Is it true that in your father's 
house your menservants at midnight danced that way?" And he 
really became very disturbed and angry and said, "Are you 
crazy? What are you trying to tell me?" I said, "Well, I 
am just telling you what I have read in a book by an American 
who describes life in the old days in Russia." 

Now everybody knows what a cranberry bush is, and many 



- 616 - 

people nowadays in America know what the classical Russian 
big brass teapot is. It was invented in order to have water 
simmering all the time because the Russians love to drink 
tea all evening and the tea has to be hot, so that water has 
to be held simmering, not boiling, but simmering. That 
gadget in Russian is called "samovar." Here comes a descript 
ion of Russian life by a French writer: He writes that he 
was enjoying his stay in Russia, sitting in the shade of a 
century-old cranberry bush, eating succulent slices of samovar. 
And this nonsense has become a classical example of the 
nonsense which foreigners can sometimes write about life in 
a country that they have no idea about whatsoever. 

In Prague there lived an outstanding Czech industrialist, 
Dr. Kramarz. He was one of the richest persons in Czechoslov 
akia. He was then quite old. Before the first World War he 
had been a member of the Austro-Hungarian Parliament, represent 
ing the population of the big city of Prague. As a member of 
the Parliament he made speeches in favor of the Slavic part 
of the population of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and when the 
war started he remained a Slavophile and spoke out for a 
separate peace with Russia. He was accused of high treason 
by a court of Austria-Hungary during the war and was condemned 
to death, but he was a very, very outstanding man in every 
respect so neutral countries intervened on his behalf and 
saved his life. He was put in prison for the duration of 

the first World War. 

' 



- 617 - 

Years later I met Dr. Karel Kramarz in Prague, where he 
had a city home that could be called a castle right in the 
middle of the city. His wife was Russian - she had been 
married before in Russia and then he fell in love with her 
and they eloped, and afterwards they got married. They had 
no children and when I met them they were both quite elderly 
and it was obvious that both of them were in love as they 
had been the day they met. That was quite touching and 
quite rare. As I have said, when Russian students came 
finally to Prague they could join the university without any 
exams if they had some documents that showed that they had 
been students in Russia before the war started. Of course 
they were practically in rags. I went to Dr. Kramarz 's quite 
often because he was very close also to my mother's friend 
who lived in Prague. 

One Christmas eve I went to visit Dr. Kramarz and his 
wife was so used to being asked for some favor that she asked 
me when I came in, "What do you want?" I was angered but I 
kept my cool and said, "All I want is to have tea with you 
today." After that I could have asked for almost anything. 
They were making up huge parcels, all the rooms were full of 
parcels, and I asked her secretary, "What is that?" And she 
said, "Well, that is going under the Christmas tree. On 
Christmas day we are having a Christinas party and Dr. Kramarz 
has invited all four-hundred students who have come to study 
in Prague." Well, that was quite a party and each of those 



- 618 - 

students got a huge parcel and in each parcel were outfits, 
an appropriate working dress for the girls or a civilian out 
fit for the boys. Three pairs of linen, even pocket hand 
kerchiefs were not forgotten, and in an envelope there was 
a sum of money. After it was all distributed all those 
students were speechless. How could they thank Dr. Kramarz 
for giving presents of this magnitude to four-hundred of 
them? They stuttered, thanking him, and he said to them, 
"Do not drink vodka with the money you find in the envelope, 
only buy shoes, promise me to buy shoes. I could not put 
shoes in your parcels because I do not know the size of the 
feet of each of you." After that everybody laughed. 

Recuperating in the Carpathian Mountains 

During that summer I got seriously sick with jaundice, a 
disease of the liver. People say that sometimes they get 
jaundice because they are having a hard time or are very much 
disturbed or because they cannot "stomach" something. Well, 
probably the last reason I mentioned was why I got jaundice. 
The local doctor explained to me that he was under the rules 
of the country's medicare, established by the government in 
Prague, and this medicare was by no means meant to help sick 
people. It was meant to police all the population on the 
pretext of giving them some medical help. Deductions were 
made from all the income from everybody for the supposed 
medicare and of course amounted to millions and millions, and 



- 619 - 

what happened to all those millions? They went into the till 
of the Czech socialist party. 

The head of the Czech socialist party was Mr. Benes. He 
later became the president of the country, the second and last 
president before the country was gobbled up by Hitler. Anyhow, 
this fellow Benes, before the war of 1914, was a nobody, 
living in Paris in exile, political exile. He was a junior 
employee in a French bank, but besides that he was a secret 
agent of the French military intelligence service. Of course 
that was well-paid. Now, at the time I am speaking of, Benes 
was in Prague. He was Minister of Foreign Affairs of 
Czechoslovakia, second ranking after the President himself. 
Now all this medicare money amounted to many millions, as I 
mentioned. In big cities, Prague first of all, and then other 
large cities, modern apartment houses were built with that 
money and those apartments were rented at a rather low price, 
but only to those who belonged to the Czech socialist party. 

So, when I got sick with that jaundice, something had 
to be done. I had the right to be sent to a sanatorium in 
the Carpathian Mountains, a resort in the high mountains, for 
recuperation and rest, but the local doctor was afraid to 
prescribe for me that kind of a cure because it was contrary 
to the secret directives that he had. In order to get out 
of that impass, he sent me for a checkup to a hospital in the 
city of Bratislava, and that hospital reminded me of the 
famous classical work of centuries ago, Dante's "Inferno". 



- 620 - 

Because I had been recommended by another very important 
doctor in that city, I was a lucky fellow and was in bed 
alone. The hall where the bed stood was crammed and very 
many beds had two occupants. There were beds also in the 
corridors of the hospital. After the doctors made their 
rounds in the evening, only nurses remained, and then more 
nurses came in the night only for the purpose of entertaining 
the sick who were not that sick, not so sick that they did 
not need some kind of entertainment. What kind of enter 
tainment it was I leave to the imagination of my readers. 
Besides that, my bed stood right against a double door. The 
door was closed but not absolutely hermetically, and on the 
other side of the door was a special hall for all those who 
were sick with tuberculosis. The coughing never stopped, day 
or night, on the other side of that door against which my bed 
stood. So the situation was really nightmarish. 

I asked one of the nurses for paper and pencil and then 
I wrote a letter to that very famous surgeon who had recommended 
me. I told him about the conditions of the so-called hospital 
and what I thought of it. I used very strong expressions in 
my letter and was not bashful in telling him what I really 
thought, and the letter produced the effect of a bomb. The 
situation could not be ignored any longer and to get out of 
it they promptly established that I needed immediate transfer 
to that sanatorium in the mountains. After about twelve hours' 
travel by train I arrived there and it was very nice there, 



- 621 - 

a very beautiful place. I had some kind of a supper in a 
big hall with the other people who were convalescent. Then 
I was shown my bed, again in a big hall with about thirty or 
forty beds. Being very tired, I retired to my bed and fell 
asleep. It must have been about ten in the evening when I 
woke up because of many voices and lots of laughter and 
giggling, little screams. Those same waitresses that had 
served dinner down in the restaurant were entertaining - 
again, the same story of what you call "entertainment." I 
had a letter to the director of that sanatorium on a subject 
that had nothing to do with health. 

One of the retired managers of the estate of Count 
Karolyi had a little property up there in the Carpathian 
Mountains and he wanted to sell that property. He had given 
me a letter to the director of that sanatorium, mentioning 
the question, and asking whether he was interested in buying 
it. That letter was written in Hungarian and I had no idea 
exactly what the manager said to the director, but the next 
morning that director of the sanatorium came almost running 
to the building where I was, letter in hand, and invited me 
to come to his private villa. When we got there, he introduced 
me to his young wife and her sister who was in her late teens. 
The introduction was made in German and with great excitement 
he said, "My dear, can you imagine, we have here a patient in 
our sanatorium and he is a Count incognito." 

I have spoken before of "the Counts" and of the great 



- 622 - 

reverence toward them of the Hungarian middle class. They 
were considered to be beings somewhere between the plain 
people, so to say, and the gods - I use gods in the plural 
as the ancient heathens used to. That went back almost to 
prehistoric times. But that feeling was still very much 
in the mind of Hungarians, and as I said before, in those 
days Hungary was kind of a little splinter that somehow 
remained in its thinking and feeling as if it belonged in 
the Middle Ages. The situation was funny and there was 
also some good in it. But anyhow, there I was, a "Count 
incognito." Therefore I was invited by the director of 
the sanatorium to move immediately to his private villa, where 
he had a spare room for me. That was all very fine but after 
a few days I had the uncomfortable feeling that not only his 
wife but also her teen-age sister were becoming interested 
in the Count incognito. I do not pretend to be saintly, but 
I was a married man and I had two small children. And 
although it was not a happy marriage and there was a great 
strain, nevertheless this lady and her sister had no success. 
Probably they just did not appeal to me. Fortunately they 
had planned beforehand a trip to Paris, so they left for about 
three weeks and I recuperated in peace and quiet. When my 
time was over I left for the Karolyi castle and returned to 
my family. 

I become a landowner aga.in 

After the Czechs occupied the northern part of Hungary 



- 623 - 

in accordance with terms of the Treaty of Versailles, they 
adopted a government policy of land reform. In that way they 
hoped to ruin the landed gentry that was Hungarian and to 
distribute the land to the Czechs. As a first move, they 
assessed for very, very large sums of money the land belong 
ing to the nobility and to the gentry. This was supposed to 
be a one-time tax. With a few exceptions, none of them had 
that much cash. One of the exceptions was Count Karolyi. 
After having assessed that land at a very high price, one or 
two years later they made a new assessment at a ridiculously 
low price and started conficating that land from the owners. 
They were paying for that requisitioned land but at the new 
assessed low value. The land was confiscated and paid for, 
if you please! - they were not Bolsheviks or Communists, at 
least they pretended not to be. They paid for it but the 
owners still owed them money because of the high assessment 
in the first place. That was plain robbery but, as I called 
it, robbery in velvet gloves. It was made to look nice and 
legal for the eyes of the western world. In Russia the 
Bolsheviks and Communists had done things in a simpler way: 
the land was confiscated and if the owners were still there 
they were simply shot. That was rapid and simple. The Czechs 
took great pains to do the same thing but to make it look 
legal, and this gave Count Karolyi an opportunity to protest, 
to go to court. First in Prague, and of course that had no 
results, and then in an International Court in The Hague, in 



- 624 - 

Holland. Count Karolyi had the means to have an army of 
lawyers seeking loopholes and numerous meetings took place 
all over Czechoslovakia, and even in Holland. All this 
lasted year after year, after year, for almost eight years. 
Once when I asked him why he was going to all that trouble 
and why he was letting the lawyers make fortunes for them 
selves, he said, "It is still worthwhile. As long as the 
land is not confiscated I am getting the income from it, and 
I do not have to spend- it all on the lawyers and courts. I 
know that it will not last forever but I want it to last as 
long as possible." 

Well, as I have said, for nearly eight years this 
argument went back and forth, but then the day came when 
surveyors arrived to cut to pieces that land of Count Karolyi. 
It was not only just an estate like so many people of the 
minor gentry had. Besides the castle of 96 rooms and the 
adjoining park of 360 acres, there were nine farms. Each 
farm had about 300 milking cows and about as many steers for 
fattening. Each farm had a manager and an assistant. It was 
almost like a little kingdom. When the surveyors came from 
Prague, to my amazement there were thirteen of them and twelve 
out of the thirteen were Russian. They were emigre boys that 
in those years had had an opportunity to study and become 
professionals, and now they were surveyors. That one Czech 
boy among them was outnumbered and they made him run for 
newspapers and cigarettes. The head of this group was also 



- 625 - 

Russian. 

This estate was on the eve of being dismembered and all 
employees and all workers would be thrown out of their jobs. 
The permanent all-year-round workers had earned a small amount 
of pay but they had houses for their families and each had 
an acre or two that he could cultivate on Sundays . They 
received milk and all other products from the farm so that 
each could raise a pig. Anyhow, from a peasant point of view 
they had had total security at their jobs from generation to 
generation. As one of my friends remarked, they were 
practically slaves but it was a mild slavery. They never 
intended to leave to go anywhere. Theoretically they could 
go wherever they pleased, but they realized that nowhere would 
they find that security that they had working on those farms. 
The other employees were in a different situation, they were 
pensioned off in cash in accordance with the number of years 
they had worked. Of course that cash was not enough to put 
into the bank and then live on the income. I was caught in 
the middle. I had six or seven years of service but I was a 
minor employee and the cash sum that I would have received 
was very, very small, so I had the choice of accepting the 
cash or demanding a slice of the land and a building. A slice 
of land and a building on part of one of those many farms 
was called a rest estate. To have a rest estate, a piece of 
land of 150 acres, of course one had to be a Czech and 
reliable politically from the Czech point of view. 



- 626 - 

When my request came it created amazement among the 
Czech ruling people in Prague. Here was somebody allegedly 
Russian, but the name was not Russian and it was hyphenated, 
and besides that, to make things worse from the Czech point 
of view, that hyphenated name of mine had also the title of 
Count. That was anathema to the socialist Czechs. Besides, 
everybody knew that I had lived there for eight years as a 
permanent guest of Count Karolyi. The Czechs did not believe 
that I would make a good Czech socialist settler and of- 
course they were right, but just my asking it was so unusual 
that it created quite an uproar on the highest governmental 
levels in Prague. I was summoned to Prague to explain the 
situation. 

There in Prague I met an old lady. She was a Russian 
aristocrat. She had gone to school long long ago with my 
mother and they had been friends all their lives. This lady 
had lost her only son, assassinated by the Bolsheviks in Kiev, 
when she was one of the leading ladies of Kiev society before 
the first World War started. At that same time there lived 
in Kiev a Czech, an emigre, a runaway professor of politics 
by the name of Doctor Masaryk. Now, after so many world 
events, this Doctor Masaryk was the President of the new 
Czechoslovak Republic. He was one of the rare, very decent 
Czechs. He had said to my mother's friend, "Whenever you want 
anything just walk into my office unannounced." That is what 
she did, and she told him about my situation, about my family, 



- 627 - 

and about my request to create a new living as a kind of a 
dirt farmer on that small parcel of land and building that 
I was asking for. Massryk smiled and said, "Well, all rules 
have exceptions and no rule is a really good rule if it 
does not have some kind of an exception." So Massryk exercised 
some kind of pressure on the offices which were empowered 
in that land reform. At one of the meetings the Minister of 
Agriculture asked me - it was, incidentally, quite unusual 
that I was summoned to attend a meeting of the top leaders - 
"Well, you are asking for that piece of land here. But I am 
curious, - could you please tell me how many acres of land 
your family possessed in Russia before the Revolution?" 
I promptly answered him, "Sir Minister, in Russia we did not 
count acres. As far as I can remember the estate of my 
grandfather was twelve kilometers wide and thirty-six kilo 
meters long." Of course they raised their hands to the 
ceiling and everybody started laughing. The result of it all 
was that I did get that parcel of land that I had been asking 
for. 

I took possession of my land in 1929, and besides the 
land I got a cow barn that could hold 350 or 400 cows. Next 
to the cow barn there was a deep well, and on the top of the 
cow barn there was a huge container for water that was pumped 
from the well by a horse going around and around. Having that 
container up on the building gave me the possibility of having 
water under pressure. There was a Czech building company, 



- 628 - 

subsidized by the government, which was created for building 
houses for the settlers. The engineer, a Germanized Jew 
from Prague, was a very nice, decent man, and he said, 
"Instead of building a house I will just modify for you part 
of that barn. It is only a question of making partitions 
inside. The walls are so sturdy and so thick that even heavy 
artillery could not have upset those ancient thick walls of 
the barn. 

But being a dirt farmer was quite a difficult job, 
especially with a total lack of funds in cash. I was supposed, 
as every other person obtaining that land, to pay it off in 
so-and-so many years. All those calculations had been made 
by bureaucrats in Prague, and on paper it looked fine, but 
none of them had ever worked on that land, none of them 
realized that sometimes the yield of the land is excellent 
and another year it might be zero. The first year, while 
that barn was still being changed, I continued to live in 
the castle. 

All of the workers on the estate had been deprived of 
their security of course, but they had been given independence, 
houses, and some land. But many of those people were not 
really farmers. Some of them were smiths, some were carpenters, 
some had worked at the repair plant for all the agricultural 
instruments that were used on that huge estate. They had no 
idea of tilling the land and had not even the equipment to 
do so, and when they moved into those brand new houses they 



- 629 - 

could not even keep a cow. They were not able to raise enough 
food for themselves or to keep a pig or chickens. They were 
on the verge of starvation and then I witnessed a very un 
usual occurrence. A crowd came to the castle, having heard 
that Count Karolyi had come back for a very short time. The 
castle and the surrounding park and one of the farms had 
been left in his possession. All those people came to him 
seeking work. There was a long-standing tradition that 
when those people were in trouble, the estate owner was 
responsible for their well-being. And now I witnessed and 
heard the speech that Count Karolyi made to those people. 
He could speak quite fluently in Slovak and Hungarian of 
course, and that crowd understood both languages. Count 
Karolyi said, "Well, you have been asking for it. You have 
been voting now on this new free plan and you have sent your 
representatives to the Parliament in Prague and they have put 
in this situation, and now you come and you complain to me, 
to me from whom the land was taken, and I have been almost 
ruined. You come for help to me. My advice to you is that 
you go to Prague and find the representatives that you voted 
for and tell them about the result of their efforts to intro 
duce freedom by making you independent from me. If the 
Parliament changes the rules back to what they used to be and 
if they give back all my estates, I promise and I guarantee 
that you and all your children will have the same security 
that you had before." 



- 630 - 

, 
My wife and I separate 

It was out of the question for my wife to be the wife 
of a dirt farmer, by no stretch of the imagination could any 
one imagine her in so unusual and difficult a role. Besides, 
the two of us, in spite of having those two young boys, were 
not happy. Some kind of solution had to be found because we 
had the feeling, and we were not the only ones, that we were 
outliving our welcome on that estate. We were young and 
obviously we could not continue living there indefinitely. 
Anyhow, the question or problem of future schools for the boys 
came up. So my wife decided to leave for Paris and to get a 
job there, but leaving for Paris and looking for a job just 
when I was becoming that farmer were insurmountable difficult 
ies because of the total absence of cash. One day Count 
Karolyi, who was then fifty or over (I was thirty two) in a 
fatherly way said to me, "We have known you now for so many 
years and all of us realize that you are an unhappy couple. 
Besides, the children are growing and they have to go to some 
kind of school. I do not quite visualize your children going 
to the village school of Tothmegyer. I was acting Godfather 
for your younger boy Andre when he was christened. He was 
born under the roof of my castle. I replaced your old Uncle 
Vladimir who could not come on account of his age, so I con 
sider myself as kind of a Godfather of Andre', and in my will 
I have made arrangements for him to receive a certain sum of 
money. But I have no intention whatsoever of dying soon, so 



- 631 - 

why should you expect or hope that I die as soon as pssible? 
I suggest that I hand over that sum to you during my life, 
and that will enable you to rearrange your young life in a 
new way, and so long as you are still young enough to re 
arrange and start a new life I hope it will bring some 
happiness to both of you. Why continue to drag on and on 
when both are unhappy?" Well, that shows how kind that man 
was and how very wise, and a real friend. So I accepted that 
because practically I had no choice whatsoever. That gave 
me the possibility of moving, attempting to start to be a 
dirt farmer, for which role I later found that I had neither . 
the experience nor the stamina, nor enough just plain 
physical strength. 

I become a dirt- farmer 

My first year as a farmer was successful. The piece of 
land that I received was lying right next to the railroad 
tracks running from Budapest to Prague. All express trains 
went along those lines, and anybody looking out through the 
window of the car could see my land. Part of it was sandy 
and the other part of it was low- lying and muddy, and 
underground water in all that area was only a few feet below 
the surface. In certain years after much snow or rain the 
ground water rose and flooded the land. In such years that 
was a disaster, as it killed all the vegetation on the 
flooded surface. But the other part was high and sandy, and 
as I said, anybody could see it out of a railroad car. 



- 632 - 

Having no money to hire any help, I made an arrangement 
that was rather common in those days , to work the land half 
and half. That meant that a local peasant would come and 
he would raise tobacco. He would work the field. I had to 
give him living quarters. Then, half of the tobacco was his 
in late autumn and half was mine. That was the only 
arrangement I could make, having no working capital. So I 
made arrangements with a local Hungarian peasant for the 
high part of the sandy land I possessed, and instead of 
tobacco he raised there watermelons , a whole field of 
watermelons. That was very unusual and everybody was scared 
about what we were doing. It turned out to be a move of 
genius because one day an enterprising merchant of fruit 
was travelling from Budapest to Prague, and through the 
window he saw my field of melons and he grasped that those 
melons were now ripe, long before any ripe melons would be 
sold in Prague. He came out from the railroad station - it 
was only two kilometers distant from my new home - and he 
said to me, "I am buying your whole field of melons for cash, 
You must order railroad cars at the station and you must 
deliver those melons and put them in the cars. The cars 
full of melons will be weighed at the station officially, 
and at so-and-so much per net weight I am going to pay you 
cash." So I had to hire some carts, with their men, and 
they took those melons and took them to the railroad cars. 
Three or four men formed a chain from the cart to the 



- 633 - 

railroad car and threw the melons to each other and finally 
into the car. Then the carload of melons was weighed and I 
got the cash. So that was a saver for the moment. 

A memorable reunion^in Paris 

The next year there was a very unusual event in Paris, 
where there were very many ex-Horse Guard officers. One of 
them was the Russian Grand Duke Dmitri, who was married to a 
very wealthy, very beautiful young American girl. That was 
the year of the bicentennial of the founding of our regiment 
and Grand Duke Dmitri decided to have a grand feast in the 
Imperial style. He had all the dollars needed for sponsoring 
such an event. He invited all the officers of the Horse 
Guards who were scattered all over the world and he really 
tactfully said that if any could not come to Paris for financ 
ial reasons, transportation and the stay in Paris to celebrate 
with him would be all covered by him. I have right in this 
room a picture of our celebration. Of course there were 
people there of all ages. At my age then of thirty-three I 
was one of the juniors. There was one gentleman there who 
had been adjutant of my regiment in the year that I was born. 
I accepted the invitation and the financial help of the Grand 
Duke and it was a great reunion. That was, as much as I can 
remember, April, 1931. That festive dinner was in one of the 
biggest, most fashionable restaurants in Paris. Black ties 
for everybody, and an orchestra. Of course that restaurant 



- 634 - 

had everything except the small tumblers for one gulp of vodka 
that were usually used by the Russians. That restaurant had 
small glasses for desert wine, the smallest they had but in 
size equal to two Russian tumblers. All the festivities were 
arranged by one of my fellow officers who lived there 
permanently and we got everything except those small tumblers. 
Now the old Horse Guard regiment officers, and some of them 
were over 80 or close to it, decided that upon such an occasion 
they could allow themselves to have a tumbler, or maybe two 
of vodka. And when the Grand Duke opened that festive dinner 
with an appropriate speech -.and drank his glass of vodka, every 
body did the same. That meant that everybody had the equiva 
lent of two tumblers of vodka. The orchestra played the 
regimental march, as instructed by my fellow officer, the 
Master of Ceremonies. Then the last regiment commander stood 
up, according to protocol, and made his speech, but the Master 
of Ceremonies had omitted telling the orchestra what to play 
after the speech of the last regiment commander, so the orchestra 
all of a sudden started some kind of a tune of tralala or 
tootootoo and the regiment commander roared as if he were 
commanding a cavalry corps, "The Regimental March!" The 
orchestra - it was French - repeated the regimental march and 
after that they were so scared that during the whole evening 
they played nothing but the regimental march, for hours and 
hours. But after the speech of the regimental commander, of 
course, he toasted the Grand Duke with a tumbler of vodka and 



- 635 - 

everybody had a tumbler of vodka. And that meant that the 
elderly gentlemen had the equivalent of four tumblers of 
vodka, and on some of them it became noticeable. 

Anyhow, that was a great occasion for me to have a look 
at Paris and to see some of my relatives there and to see my 
boys, who were then with their mother living in Paris. Of 
course finding work in Paris was almost impossible. First of 
all, France now had a regulation that any foreigner had to have 
a document of identity, -and that document of identity exluded 
him from any paid work because there were many unemployed among 
the French. There were other cards of identity that allowed 
foreigners to work as hired hands on French farms or down in 
the French coal mines, and at that time those were the only 
kinds of work that a Russian could obtain. That was 1931. 
Ten years earlier there had been in Paris a lack of manpower 
because of the French losses during the war, and those who 
came to Paris early enough all became taxi drivers. There 
was an army general taxi driver, there was a corps commander 
taxi driver, and those two while they were still in the 
Russian Imperial Army had received, for diplomatic and politic 
al reasons, the great French Cross of the Legion of Honor, a 
decoration since the days of Napoleon. When they came to the 
city hall of Paris, speaking good French and helping those 
taxi drivers who knew no French at all, they wore their uni 
form of brown overalls and they wore their Crosses of the 
Legion of Honor around their necks. The employees of the 



- 636 - 

city hall did not know whether they should jump up and stand 
at attention or not. But anyhow, they were very impressed 
and it was very helpful for all those taxi drivers who 
could not speak French. 

My financial situation did not allow me to use taxis, but 
I was in a great hurry once and I could not afford to be late. 
The distance was not so very far but it was too far for walk 
ing, and it would have been too complicated to go there by 
the underground railway for I would have had to change stations, 
so I just signalled with my hand to a passing taxi, jumped into 
it, gave the address, and I knew that it would cost me six 
francs, plus a tip of one franc, seven francs altogether. 
And leaving the taxi without looking around I just stretched 
my hand backwards and gave the driver my seven francs. As I 
left the car I heard a thunderous voice, "Captain Ivan Stenbock- 
Fermor, you do not recognize your division commander?" That 
taxi driver who got a tip of one franc was my division 
commander. Well, speaking about Parisian taxi drivers, or 
writing about them, could fill out a whole volume. Maybe 
someday I will do it. 

I was shocked and amazed to find out that my wife - I 
have to call her my wife although we had been separated for 
quite a length of time but were not yet divorced - was almost 
penniless. She was most inexperienced in handling money. 
Spending money is easy, but handling money wisely is very 
difficult. After spending so many years all alone in 



- 637 - 

Tothmegyer, cut off from the rest of the world and all the 
friends that she knew, when she came to Paris with a size 
able amount of money she kind of lost her balance and did 
not realize prices and the value of money. Besides, being 
very popular among the Russian colony in Paris, she met some 
friends that turned out to be false friends. They gave her 
bad advice and she put some of her money into some businesses 
that were unsafe but had promised to double the money in 
three months or less. Believing that advice resulted in 'her 
losing some of her money. Also, she lived on a footing as 
if she had a lot of capital. With the money she had it would 
have been possible for her to live modestly even without a 
job for more than one year, but within a short time after 
coming to Paris she was already almost out of money. She 
had rented a whole villa. She had in that villa a manservant. 
When I came, that manservant, realizing her money situation 
and not having been paid probably for the last month, became 
quite rude, maybe even dangerous for her and the children in 
that very old house, so I found out that this fellow had a 
criminal record and was sought by the French police. In the 
few days that I could stay in Paris, at least I did one thing, 
I called that man and I told him bluntly that I knew he was 
being sought and that he had a criminal record. I advised 
him to go that very same day and join as a volunteer the 
French Foreign Legion. That fellow was scared. First he 
tried to be quite fresh with me, trying to tell me that it 



- 638 - 

was no business of mine, but finally he found out that I 
meant business. Two days later he showed me some documents 
that said the next day he was departing for the Foreign 
Legion. And I went back to Czechoslovakia to continue my job 
as a dirt farmer. 

I give up farming and plan to move to Paris 

That summer of 1931 was disasterous because of the rainy 
weather and the flooding of more than half of my land. The 
tobacco on the other half was now ripe and had to be delivered 
to a representative of the government who bought up all the 
tobacco since that was a monopoly for the state. Delivering 
the tobacco was quite a job. The tobacco was packed in big 
squares and he had to look at the squares , stick his hand into 
them, and say whether it was first, second, or third class 
tobacco. The price was accordingly high or low or almost 
nothing. But that Czech who had to appraise my tobacco had 
been almost all during the first World War a POW somewhere in 
Siberia. All Czechs had surrendered to the Russian troops, 
since they did not want to fight Russia, and in Siberia they 
had a good time. There they formed a Czech national military 
legion and in one of the cities on the Volga that Czech legion 
got ahold of part of the Russian gold treasure. There were 
many railroad cars loaded with gold bricks and the Czechs grabbed 
those cars and they brought them from the Volga all through 
Siberia. When they came to Prague, having all that gold with 



- 639 - 

them and having had good treatment in Russia, they were very 
much pro-Russian and kind to all Russian emigres who happened 
to be in Czechoslovakia. When this appraiser realized that 
I was a Russian, and we talked together in Russian, he 
appraised all of my tobacco as being first class, to the 
amazement of my Hungarian peasant companion, who knew very 
well what class our tobacco was. How that appraiser managed 
later I do not know, but anyhow I was paid in cash for my 
exclusively first class tobacco. 

Half of that cash of course belonged to my Hungarian 
companion, and I quickly realized that my share was by very, 
very far not enough to live on for a whole year on that dirt 
farm that I owned, not enough to pay taxes and buy food and 
support my mother, who had come to live with me. That money 
would not last until the next year and then who knew what 
kind of weather we would have. In fact, I realized that I was 
100% broke and could not continue my job as a dirt farmer. 
I did not want to just leave everything and run, so I contacted 
in the city of Bratislava a lawyer who was at the same time 
a member of the Czech Parliament and a very great gentleman 
and a very great friend of all Russians. I said to him, 
"Here is the situation. Now I want to return to the government 
the piece of land, the dirt farm, that I got, because I cannot 
manage it financially. I have debts on it. This requires a 
lot of red tape and will you take care of it, because I am 
leaving Czechoslovakia and I am going to Paris." He was very 



- 640 - 

kind and very understanding. He said, "Well, that will take 
a lot of paper, but I will do it all for you and I am not 
going to charge you a penny for doing it. I think the best 
thing for you would be to abandon that enterprise which is 
beyond your financial and your physical means and try to 
start a new life in Paris where your sons are." So he took 
over and I left for Paris. My mother left to stay temporarily 
on an estate with her Hungarian friends where she had spent 
many years as a French governess. 

I liquidated everything I had in Czechoslovakia and when 
I arrived in Paris I had a small amount of cash that nowadays 
would roughly equal $500. That was all my fortune. Ten 
years earlier I had left the Crimea with less than that, so 
ten years of my efforts at creating a family and some modest 
way of life were practically wiped out. The French authorities 
gave me a card of identity stamped "No right to work." 

SOME INTERESTING PEOPLE I MET IN CZECHOSLOVAKIA 

Prince Windishgraetz 

During the years I was in Czechoslovakia I had occasion 
to meet Prince Windishgraetz. He was the very classical type 
of aristocrat and was then about thirty and very much used to 
spending a lot of money for his own pleasure. Hungary had 
been torn apart and many Hungarians had lost their fortunes, 
and he was one of them. He found a new way to live the life 



- 641 - 

he was used to by making false French francs. Because of 
his relationships he had access to the Hungarian money 
printing presses. Hungarian money was very elaborate. It 
had watermarks and was very difficult to imitate, but Hungary 
had all the machines and all the proper colors and all the 
proper engraving plates. Somehow he got hold of the engraving 
plate of French 1,000 franc notes. French francs stood very 
high then, so he began printing those papers of 1,000 francs 
each. 

Then there came the problem of spending those false 
French francs, so he had agents all over Europe, even in 
France. But one of his agents in Belgium was clumsy. He 
lived in grand style in Brussels. He was very popular and 
one time he invited many friends of all nationalities to 
a party in one of the most expensive restaurants, and he paid 
for all of them with a French 1,000 francs note. It was 
accepted and change in Belgian francs was given to him. 
His entertainment continued and he paid again 1,000 French 
francs, and a third time in the same evening he paid 1,000 
French francs. The waiter was quite astonished that that 
fellow, having obviously a lot of change in Belgian francs, 
was all the time pulling out brand new bills of 1,000 French 
francs. The next morning the cashier brought those bills to 
the Belgian bank, where they were very closely examined, even 
through a microscope, and it was established that they were 
false. 



- 642 - 

Prince Windishgraetz heard about it in due time and fled 
back to Budapest, but according to international law this kind 
of procedure was illegal and in Budapest the authorities had 
to arrest him. He was convicted of making false money and 
was imprisoned. But society in Hungary and Budapest never 
considered him a criminal but more as a national hero. Food 
from the best restaurants was brought to his prison. Hungarian 
women brought flowers to him. He was really a hero who had 
taken revenge against those so-and-so French who had crippled 
Hungary by the Treaty of Versailles. Well, what a strange 
way to become a national hero. I do not know what he did later 
after he was released from prison. 

Princess Mizzi Baltatzy 

In those days I also met Princess Mizzi Baltatzy. Here, 
for the sake of historians, I must say that the title of 
Prince was non-existent in the Hungarian aristocracy. The 
Hungarian aristocracy had the title of Count. The title of 
Baron had become rather degraded because the Hapsburg imperial 
dynasty in Vienna had given that title to many people of Jewish 
origin if they were wealthy enough to have helped out financi 
ally, for the Austrian financial ministry was in constant need 
of money. However, the title of Prince was given by the Pope 
of Rome. The Pope of Rome had theoretically his territory, 
the Vatican, no matter how many acres or how few acres; he was 
considered to be a reigning prince or a reigning monarch, and 
he had the right to give titles of nobility. Mostly it was 



- 643 - 

sufficient to buy some kind of a small estate in Italy and 
supply the Vatican with great funds for charity, and then the 
Pope of Rome would declare the donor Prince of some place in 
Italy. Anyhow, it gave some income to the Pope in Rome. 

Now this Mizzi Baltatzy whom I met was elderly, at 
least in those days she seemed elderly to me. Her very dis 
respectful grand-nephews loved her very much but they said 
of her that looking from behind she is a college girl 
because she is so slim and rapid in her movements but looking 
at the front, she is a museum. And she was another one who 
had lost a lot of her fortune because of the first World War 
and just continued to live as before. 

She made in her life one mistake. When she had all of 
her fortune before the first World War and she was married, 
she invited a destitute cousin of hers, much younger, to be 
her lady companion because she was childless. The result was 
that her elderly husband eloped with her lady companion. 
Well, for the Roman Catholics there is no divorce, but from 
that day on Mizzi Baltatzy was single and tried to comfort 
herself by spending money by the bushel. Because she was a 
single lady, according to Hungarian law, she had to have a 
guardian and her guardian was a cousin of hers, Count Louis 
Karolyi. He told me a story, that one day he told his cousin 
Mizzi, "My dear, you cannot go on living the way you do." 
Before the war she had had racing stables, a stud of thorough 
bred horses, and a yacht on the Mediterranean. "But now," 



- 644 - 

said her cousin, "you must live in a different way because 
you are living on the capital. You must live on the income 
of the capital." And she retorted, "Dear Louie, do not bother 
me with your calculations. When there is no more capital 
any more then I will start living on the income." Well, 
that was a reasoning that went against any financial 
calculation, but she just despised any financial calculations. 
When I left Hungary I lost sight of her. She must have been 
dead for many years now. 

An ex-cossack officer now in Komarno, Hungary 

About fifty kilometers from Count Karolyi's estate, on 
the border of the Danube there was a city called Komarno. When 
I knew it, it was almost a ghost town, but about one hundred 
years earlier it had been a place where there was a bridge, 
one of the few bridges across the Danube, and Komarno had 
been the location of the Hungarian army corps. There were many 
barracks and there was a palace for the corps commander. In 
my days Komarno was very different. One hundred years ago 
Komarno was inhabited by Serbs and Slavs, just as many other 
parts of Hungary. Officially they were Hungarian subjects, 
but they were not Roman Catholics. Those Serbs belonged to 
the Greek Orthodox Russian Church, and in those days they 
built a very elaborate church. Now it was closed because, for 
many political and economic reasons, the population of 
Komarno had changed. As I said, Komarno became a ghost town. 



- 645 - 

But the church of Komarno was still there and so was the 
palace of the corps commander of the first half of the 19th 
cnetury or earlier. 

This palace of the corps commander had been remodeled to 
house officers of the Czech army. The Czech army had to be 
and was very much democratic, so that palace was changed into 
numerous apartments for officers. An officer was entitled 
to two bedrooms, a livingroom, and of course a bathroom, and 
that was it. An ex-Cossack officer who was now serving with 
the Czech army and a great friend of mine had such an apart 
ment, cut out of that corps commander's palace, and it so 
happened that his apartment was cut out of the ex-ballroom 
of the palace. Therefore, he had beautiful parquet floors 
and they were very slippery. He had a parquet floor even in 
the bathroom. Besides the parquet floors, the ceilings were 
sculptured with all kinds of legendary subjects and angels 
and saints and all very nicely colored. He also had a colored, 
sculptured ceiling in his bathroom. He was very proud of it 
and showed me around. Of course it was the most unusual 
bathroom I ever saw or used. 

An old Gentleman who had outlived his time 

Besides such unusual situations and unusual people, there 
was a neighbor of that estate of Karolyi's. This neighbor was 
a very old gentleman. His estate was small and he lived very 
modestly with his sister and a nephew, who actually ran the 
estate. This old gentleman invited me to visit him and to 



- 646 - 

bring my son with me. My son was then about six or seven years 
old. We went there by horse-drawn carriage from the stables 
of Count Carolyi and when we came up to that estate I saw a 
rather large hut, almost dug into the ground and covered with 
straw as in the ancient times. Other farm buildings stood 
around and those buildings were modern and very beautiful, 
but that hut covered with straw was the house of the owner 

* 

of the estate and it dated from days immemorial. Inside, 
the rooms were very small, but each object in each of those 
rooms was a museum piece. Well, his cousin, the old lady, 
took care of my boy and he took me around his home, and he 
took me to his study, the master's room. It was almost empty. 
There was a big desk and above the desk there were heavy 
chains, handcuffs and shackles, as in the old days. He 
showed them to me, pointed at them with his finger, and said, 
"Those are the chains in which you Russians put my grand 
father." That had been back in 1848, when there was an up 
rising of the Hungarians against the Austrians, and Russian 
troops intervened and the uprising of the Hungarians was 
crushed. It was one of the silliest things the Russian Tsar 
Nicholas I ever did, because having as neighbors two divided 
countries, Austria and Hungary, was much safer for Russia 
than a united Austro-Hungarian empire. Well, that is history, 
and it has been described many times. But when that gentleman 
pointed at those chains I was at a loss. What should I do? 
Should I express my condolences? Should I make the sign of 



- 647 - 

the cross and go and kiss those chains? So I was just frozen 
on the ground. But he was so very nice, and then we left. 
He took us through the farm, and the first place my boy wanted 
to go to was the stables, exactly as I would have at his age 
spent all the time I could in the stable. They were really 
very beautiful and very modern. Going through the stables, 
all of a sudden my boy, who spoke Hungarian fluently, 
addressed the old gentleman and said, "Why is that horse 
bridle lying on the ground?" Well, of course it should not 
have been lying on the ground, so immediately the old gentle 
man himself bent down, picked the bridle up, and hung it on 
a nail where it should have been. But that was not enough for 
my seven-year-old boy, so he looked at that bridle hanging 
on the nail and said to the gentleman in perfect Hungarian, 
"And why is there some dust left on that bridle?" The old 
gentleman was absolutely delighted and he said, "Congratulat 
ions my dear friend. Your young boy in later years will be 
the perfect commander of a cavalry squadron." Then we left 
that place. Later I heard from another Hungarian that those 
old people had to flee from the invading Soviet Russian 
armies some years later and they just died somewhere on the 
road - a very tragic end for those nice old people who 
unfortunately had outlived their times. 

Count Karolyi's daughter marries 

I think it was in 1927 or 1928 that the wedding of the 
daughter of Count Karolyi was celebrated in Budapest. She 



- 648 - 

married a very nice Austrian aristocrat and the only trouble 
with him was that he could not speak Hungarian. But all 
Hungarians spoke German and English so that was no obstacle 
and anyhow, it was a love marriage in every sense and the 
two of them really were a beautiful couple. The wedding took 
place in Budapest in great pomp and after that, in the palace 
of Count Karolyi in Budapest there was a great dinner. Two 
hundred fifty guests were seated at that dinner, flowers at 
all the tables, and I leave it to your imagination how much 
family silver was there and how many servants went around to 
serve all those guests. That was, as many people said, the 
last gasp of the Middle Ages in Hungary. Nowhere in the world 
could such dinners be served except maybe in Hollywood. 

I kept on corresponding with Count Karolyi even after 
I was in America many years later. I still have somewhere 
his last letter. We corresponded in German. He wrote to 
me that when I was living in their home and I was telling them 
about our flight from the Bolshevik gang, the Maruska gang, 
they had listened with great interest, politely, but thinking 
all the time, "Well, we believe what young Ivan Stenbock is 
telling us but, well, in Russia anything can happen. So we 
believed him, and then what happened? We fled from our estate 
on the border of the Danube to Vienna exactly, absolutely 
exactly, the way you told us you had fled so many years 
earlier. The Soviet armies were invading Hungary. All the 
gas for the cars had been requisitioned and our cars had 



- 649 - 

been requisitioned. We had nothing but our carriages, our 
horses, and our dedicated coachman, just as you had your 
dedicated coachman to haul you away in the nick of time. 
And our coachman drove us eighty miles across the border of 
Austria. Vienna had been partly occupied by British and 
American troops, so in Vienna we were safe. We abandoned 
everything we had. We became refugees." Then he wrote 
"When you became refugees, right after the first World War, 
Europe was still more or less standing on its feet in spite 
of its heavy losses. But still, we could help and we were 
happy to help some destitute Russians like you. But after 
the second World War, Europe, all of it, was totally -and 
absolutely ruined." And then he added, "I am now completely 
and totally ruined. I have only one million Swiss francs 
left in a Swiss bank." 

Dr. Bartha,-the dentist 

Dr. Bartha was a dentist. I knew him in the small 
privincial town of Nove Zamky (in Slovak) otherwise 
Erzekyivar (in Hungarian) during the years 1925 to 1929. 
That town was about ten kilometers from Count Karolyi's 
estate. Dr. Bartha had just completed his studies at a 
school of dentistry in early 1914 when, one month later, the 
first World War broke out. As a dentist, Bartha was attached 
to the headquarters of an Austro-Hungarian division and in 
late 1914 this division was encircled by Russian troops, it 



- 650 - 

surrendered, and Bartha became a prisoner of war in a huge 
POW camp in eastern Siberia. 

Bartha took care, as best he could, of the needs of 
many POWs and his fame as a clever dentist spread beyond 
the barbed wire of the POW camp. This camp was located in 
the vicinity of a rather large city in eastern Siberia. This 
city was a center of fur trade and gold mining and many very 
rich people of the merchant class lived there. The only 
Russian dentist had been drafted into the Russian army. 
Imagine a city of about 100,000 inhabitants without a dentist. 

Well, that was Siberia, 1914. When the fame of a POW dentist 


reached this city, Dr. Bartha was allowed to come and go from 

POW barracks to the city as he pleased. His status as a POW 
promptly changed to that of a very popular man and he could 
charge his clients whatever he wanted - cash, furs, or gold 
nuggets. In three years he managed to become a very wealthy 
POW indeed! Then came 1917-1918 and the repatriation of all 
POWs back to Austria-Hungary. Dr. Bartha could not avoid 
repatriation, so in the port of Vladivostok he had to board 
a transport ship that was sailing for Europe. On one of its 
stops in an Indian port, Dr. Bartha decided to leave the 
ship. He resolved to try his luck in India instead of 
returning to Austria-Hungary, a ruined country in the throes 
of revolution and chaos. 

Dr. Bartha 's English was quite good and he had enough 
money to start a dentistry practice. Rapidly he became known 



- 651 - 

and one day he was visited by three Hindu officials. They 
told him that his reputation as a European doctor had reached 
the palace of their Maharaja, who was very sick. They 
demanded that Dr. Bartha follow them immediately. Dr. Bartha 
realized that this was an order - or else! When he was 
ushered to the bedside of the sick Maharaja he was told that 
if the man should die, according to local custom the doctor 
would be beheaded, and if the cure were successful the doctor 
would receive gold rupees, many times over his weight in 
kilograms. Dr. Bartha had no choice and he also had nothing 
but a sharp knife, tweezers, a small bottle of iodine, and 
a sewing needle with some twine. He examined the sick 
Maharaja and found that he had an acute inflamation of the 
appendix and was on the verge of peritonitis, but he was 
only thirty years old and looked very sturdy. 

Dr. Bartha had never performed any operation of this sort, 
but during his studies he had learned the general theory 
and structure of the human body. Bartha was up against a wall 
do or die - in the most literal meaning of the words. He 
rubbed the belly of his patient with iodine and then, using 
his razor, he cut open his patient's belly, found the 
appendix, and cut it off. He sewed up the inner wound and 
then emptied all of the remaining iodine into the belly of 
the patient and sewed him up. No anesthetics were at hand 
but eight strong Hindus held the Maharaja motionless and he 
yelled so loudly that the palace windows rattled. 



- 652 - 

The Maharaja recovered rapidly and kept his promise. He 
rewarded his famous European surgeon royally. Dr. Bartha 
boarded a British luxury liner as a first class passenger. 
This was a very nice change from his voyage from Vladivostok 
to India in the hold of a navy transport ship as one of many 
thousands of Austrian POWs being repatriated to Austria. He 
landed in Trieste, travelled by train in a Pullman sleeping 
car to his native city of Nove Zamky, and met the sweetheart 
of his school days. They were married and had a daughter 
and Dr. Bartha bought the estate of a ruined Hungarian 
aristocrat. A castle stood on the grounds and was furnished 
with 18th century antiques. I met Dr. Bartha as he sat on 
the veranda of his chateau and grumbled. It was 1926. He was 
saying, "Those so-and-so Hungarian aristocrats have nothing 
but debts which they will never be able to repay but they 
just go on enjoying life. I have everything that money can 
buy and I am bored to death just sitting here on the veranda 
of this chateau and staring into the deer park. This bore 
dom will drive me insane." 

Very soon Dr. Bartha sold his land to local farmers and 
auctioned off all that was in the chateau. He went on a trip 
to Germany and bought all of the most modern dentistry 
equipment, brought it back to Nove Zamky and started a practice 
again. He did not have to work for a living but he needed an 
occupation to save himself from boredom. 



- 653 - 

Of course his dentistry practice flourished. His 
reputation spread far beyond the town of Nove Zamky, and at 
last Dr. Bartha was active in his field and very happy. 
Some Russian emigres lived in Nove Zamky and were employed 
in the town administration or on military duty. Dr. Bartha 
treated those Russians (including me) and never charged a 
cent. He told me it was his way of thanking those who 
showered him with kindness when he was a POW dentist in 
Siberia. It was a treat for me to have met such a fine 
gentleman. 

Count Laszlo Hunyadyi 

Hungary was unique in Europe. The basic idea for many 
Haungarian families accepting so to say as permanent guests 
in their homes, to help certain Russian families, was based 
on the idea that in a year or two the Bolsheviks and 
Communists in Moscow would crumble, that the western powers 
Great Britain and France would not tolerate what was going on 
in Russia and would help Russia to become what it used to be. 
That was very wishful thinking, very noble thinking, childish 
ly naive; but it helped many Russians to survive a difficult 
period. On the other hand, as I mentioned before, it 
was like living in a golden cage or a luxury railroad car 
somewhere, forgotten on the side tracks. And as the years 
went on, I lived a double life so to say, as a minor clerk and 
as a Russian aristocrat that the Hungarian aristocrats were 
helping because of a class feeling. 



- 654 - 

* 

This class feeling in Hungary was quite medieval. There 
were the topmost aristocratic Hungarian families, maybe two 
dozen and probably less, and each of those families had the 
title of count. So the lower class always thought about 
them as "the counts". In prior times the counts would be 
diplomats. The father of Count Louis was for many, many 
years the head of the diplomatic corps in London. Count 
Louis' upbringing was practically British, because he spent 
his youth in Great Britain being the son of the ambassador 
of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. He spoke English as an 
Englishman would. And the counts, as I will repeatedly 
refer to this group, were regarded by the gentry who were a 
step lower, not to mention all the peasantry and intellectuals, 
as some kind of super beings. They were supposed to serve 
in the military, but the small little Hungary after the 
Versailles Peace Treaty had practically no army. And they 
were supposed to serve in the diplomatic corps. They were 
supposed to hunt all year round in the mountains, on the plains 
or in the forests - this was supposed to be their main 
occupation, so to say. They were not supposed to serve in 
any kind of commercial enterprise, or God forbid, as clerks 
in a bank, because that was mostly the place for the Jewish 
population of Hungary. 

The Jewish population had a very, very privileged situ 
ation in Hungary. They were accepted by society. Very often 
a Jewish girl became Protestant on paper and then she married 



- 655 - 

a Hungarian aristocrat and some sharp tongues coined the 
expression "regilding the coat of arms of the family." 

The Karolyi estate had neighbors, Hungarian aristocrats, 
Count Nemesh. Old Count Nemesh looked not like a Hungarian 
aristocrat; one could not find in his features a trace of a 
so-to-say thoroughbred aristocrat. He looked exactly like a 
rabbi and for good reasons. His mother was Jewish. She was 
an elderly, very kind, very nice lady; but the sons of that 
couple from a certain point of view were a disaster because 
of their looks. They looked as if they were right out of a 
magazine that printed caricatures of Jewish boys. But they 
had the title of Count Nemesh; and that was not the only case 
in Hungary in those days. 

I was leading, as I said, a double life. There was a 
little wicker gate between the park surrounding the castle 
and the farms and the employers of that company who were 
running the estate. And through that wicker gate back and 
forth I went at least six times a day, stepping from one world 
into a very different kind of world. I realized that this 
could not go on for ever and ever. Besides, I had half pay, 
because that Jewish company said that I had board and room; 
so they cut my wages in half. Of course they did not need 
me at all. They accepted me only because Count Karolyi wanted 
it and they could not refuse him. But the little money I had, 
barely covered all our daily needs. A child has to be clad, 
one has to have stamps, and occasionally one has to dress up. 



- 656 - 

The worst were those big dinners where everybody was in 
evening dress. My wife could not think of wearing the same 
evening dress year after year and making a new evening dress 
was a problem in spite of ray wife being very clever at 
arranging dresses. Later that became her career. 

Besides beet root fields, that estate had vineyards, and 
those vineyards and the little farm next to them were about 
thirty miles away from the estate. When the season came, a 
company in Prague bought up all the produce from the vineyards. 
The grapes were crushed by a special machine, and they did not 
buy the grape juice by the gallon or the bucket but by a 
certain percentage of sugar in that grape juice. That was a 
kind of technique that I know nothing about. There was a 
kind of a gadget that everyday measured the contents and the 
percentage of sugar. I was sent to those vineyards to 
supervise that machine that measured and took down the sugar 
contents every day. The company that bought it sent their 
representative, a very nice Jewish gentleman from Prague. He 
could speak a little bit of German, so could I, and I very 
happily became friends with him. We exchanged many adventures 
that both of us had had. The fact that I was in the vine 
yards was for me a very, very welcome vacation from being so- 
to-say "at home" and under the "Alp-druck" , the pressure of 
mountains, so-to-speak, of everyday worries and frictions. 
I was delighted to go out there and to spend roughly a month. 



- 657 - 

The day we arrived we went all around the vineyards, we 
ate our fill of grapes, as much as we could, and they were 
delicious. And so did the other workers. Then in the 
evening - it was late October and so it was dark early - 
we talked, and we had some books that we were reading, and 
all of a sudden out of the dark I heared Russian gypsy 
music. I thought I was dreaming. But there were gypsies 
in Hungary, actually two kinds of gypsies. There were 
civilized gypsies and there were gypsies that were absolutely 
uncivilized and who lived almost like wild animals in the 
swamps or in the forests. But those were civilized gypsies, 
whom I heard playing that night. All of them were violin 
players and through their imigration back and forth they 
knew everything that was going on. Of course, they knew that 
I was supervising that vineyard. And they knew that I was 
Russian, and they came at night under the windows and started 
playing gypsy music. So of course they were invited in. 
There were buckets and buckets of fermenting grape juice that 
tasted like lemonade but was very potent. All those harvest 
ing boys and girls came to hear the music, and that dancing 
party lasted all night. So that was a really fine occasion. 

Then, a few days later, I was walking through the vineyarc 
and all of a sudden I saw a picture of the distant past. I 
thought I had a hallucination. The picture was a beautiful 
girl on horse back, side riding of course, followed by a 
liveried groom like back in the days of Victoria. That young 



- 658 - 

girl waved to me and said to me in English, "I presume that 
you are Count Ivan Stenbock-Fermor . " I said, "Yes, I am." 
And she said, "My parents would be very, very happy to invite 
you to supper this evening at our castle two kilometers away. 
Please come." I said to her, "I would be delighted. But I 
have a gentleman who works with me - he is Jewish - and we 
have become good friends. I would just hate to leave him 
behind all by himself." Immediately the girl said, "My 
parents would be delighted if he came too." I conveyed that 
invitation to my Jewish friend, and he very tactfully refused. 
He said, "Count, you must realize that the two of us are very 
friendly, but actually we belong to two different worlds. 
My presence in that castle would make me feel uncomfortable, 
and I am sure that feeling uncomfortable would also be 
reflected in the attitudes of others in that castle." Well, 
I thought that he was really wise and clever and tactful. 
I just said, "Well, I am very, very sorry not to be with you 
this evening. But I will go." 

I went, and when I arrived, they were very, very nice. 
They were sitting in their living room. All the walls were 
decorated with the heads of all kinds of wild animals. Of 
course, the owner was a great hunter, as most aristocrats in 
Hungary, and he travelled all over the world to hunt. The 
girl had two younger sisters. Then came from somewhere a 
very old lady that everybody called Mademoiselle. She was, 
since time immemorial, a French governess. She was their 



- 659 - 

governess. In her younger days she had been a French governess 
in St. Petersburg. Of course, she knew of our name, Stenbock- 
Fermor, and probably the descendants of Alexander, the "right" 
Stenbocks with their background of gold mines in the Urals 
and immeasurable forests. You can imagine the life they 
led in St. Petersburg, and what that old lady could have told 
my hosts about the Stenbock-Fermors , I do not know! But 
anyhow, we all went to dinner, the Count, the Countess, the 
three girls, Mademoiselle and me. There were four liveried 
servants there serving us, and all the plates were silver. 
Then, on a silver platter, the servant served something covered 
with a big napkin. He served the Countess first, of course, 
and I looked and there were baked potatoes in a big silver 
dish. Well, I love baked potatoes, it is fine with dinner, 
so why not have baked potatoes? But the potatoes looked quite 
strange to me; they were kind of very bumpy, they were not 
smooth potatoes. When he served me, I took two or three of 
those potatoes. They were not very large, about half the size 
of my fist. All of a sudden it dawned on me that they were 
not potatoes, they were truffles, a big dish of baked truffles 
almost the size of half my fist. Of course, there was 
marvellous wine. After that supper we went back to the 
sitting room. The host talked about his hunting. Of course, 
we talked about wine, and I had the misfortune of telling 
him that a very popular wine in Russia was Hungarian Tokai. 
But in those days in St. Petersburg I was too young to have 



- 660 - 

any Tokai so I knew it only by name. At that the host stood 
up - there was no electricity in the whole castle - and took 
a chandelier, and he said, "I will be back in a few minutes." 
He personally descended into the cellar of the castle and 
brought back two bottles covered with moss and dust - and 
that was old Tokai. It was a kind of dessert wine, sweet, 
delicious and it had a very unusual effect on people. You 
could drink a glass or two of Tokai and your head would be 
perfectly clear; only you could not get out of your chair. 
Your feet were like butter. 

After having spent all the evening in the company of 
Count Laszlo Hunyadyi at his castle with his wife and 
daughter, the two younger daughters who were just teenagers 
were sent to bed early, and we enjoyed the Hungarian Tokai 
that he had brought from his cellar, I had kind of a feeling 
that my head was quite clear but I should better not try to 
get out of my armchair and stand on my own two feet. I 
listened with the greatest interest to all the hunting stories 
that my host was telling me. He went hunting mostly in 
India and Africa and it was for big game. That was of course 
a hobby for a very wealthy man but Count Laszlo Hunyadyi had 
nothing but debts and everybody knew it. His estate was 
rented to a sugar producing factory run by a firm, a Jewish 
company. But the Count was a man of such unusual charm. 
He was an aristocrat to the marrow of his bones. And every 
body loved and respected him, even the company that had rented 



- 661 - 

the estate and lands for producing sugar beet root. They 
advanced him money for future crops of beet root. People 
never received payment for debts , but they gave him new 
credit, and this was only because of his personality and 
his quite unusual charm. After having had some Tokai he 
ordered his butler to bring us a bottle of Rhine wine. I 
declined having that wine on top of what I had already had. 
And sitting across from me in his armchair by the fire, 
Count Hunyadyi emptied the whole bottle by himself. And it 
was absolutely unnoticeable that he had had perhaps a bit 
too much to drink. Menawhile his wife and older daughter 
wished us goodnight and retired. It was getting very late, 
and my host suggested that I stay overnight at his castle. 
At first I said, "Oh no, thank you very much anyhow. I have 
to return to the vineyards where I have to be at dawn tomorrow 
when work begins." But the Count insisted and said, "You 
know on those small little paths in the dark in the hillocks 
and vineyards your foot might slip and you might get hurt. 
So you should better stay." I said, "Thank you very much for 
your kind hospitality. I accept. But please give orders that 
I will be awakened tomorrow at six in the morning. And please 
no breakfast, no fuss; I will just leave quietly. I am so 
happy to have spent this charming evening in your company." 
So the Count said, "All right, all right. All proper orders 
will be given. Goodnight my young friend." I went upstairs, 
he followed me carrying a candle because as I said, there 



- 662 - 

was no electricity in that castle. I was ushered into a 
huge bedroom, a huge postered bed was awaiting me. We said 
goodnight to eachother and I rapidly fell asleep and I slept 
soundly. Then I heard knocking at the door so I woke up. 
And I realized it was six o'clock. Two elederly liveried men, 
two servants entered into the room carrying together a huge 
object covered with a big thick towel. Well I was just half 
awake and did not realize what that might be. The two 
servants left but returned immediately carrying a very large 
high object also covered with thick towels. Then the two men 
left. So I jumped out of bed and took the towels off and I 
saw that it was a tub, a big tub made entirely of sterling 
silver. Under the towels were two high jugs, also of silver, 
one filled with very hot water and the other with cold water. 
So once in my life I had the opportunity of taking a bath in 
a silver tub. That never happened to me again. But that 
shows you the style of that castle. 

In the morning I found my way back to the vineyards again. 
Very soon after that my vacation so-to-say in the vineyards 
was over. I returned to the big castle and to my everyday 
duties and my young family. Now I must tell you about the 
fate of Count Laszlo Hunyadyi. When I knew him he was a 
gentleman of about fifty. In his castle was a picture gallery 
of his ancestors throughout centuries when the Hungarian 
aristocrats led their men against the invading Turks. And he 



- 663 - 

looked exactly like one of his great great grandfathers in 
one of those portraits. I met him once again visiting the 
estate where I worked. It was on the eve of leaving for his 
every year trip to Africa to hunt lions. He said that it 
was very exciting hunting in the marshes and the reeds on both 
sides of the Nile. He had some kind of a barge with a few 
local Egyptian dark servants that handled that barge. He 
was alone, a white gentleman hunting lions and he said he 
never knew who was hunting whom, whether you were hunting the 
lion or the lion was just behind you following in your steps 
stalking you. Then he said that lions were really very sly, 
nasty animals. A wounded lion somehow realizes that he is 
mortally wounded and he pretends to be dead. When somebody 
comes too close the so-to-say dead lion would jump up and 
attack and then fall dead for good. Well, Count Laszlo 
seemed to be a very, very experienced hunter. And the last 
parting words of Count Karolyi to Count Laszlo were, "Now 
look out friend, and do not let yourself be gobbled up by 
a lion." And Count Laszlo just laughed and said, "I know 
those beasts well." Some two weeks later a telegram came 
from Cairo that said, while hunting lions, Count Laszlo was 
killed by one of those lions. Well anyhow it was a gentle 
man's and a hunter's death and a blessing in disguise for 
Count Laszlo. It was a drama for his family, his daughters 
and the widow, but for Count Laszlo it was a blessing in 
disguise. I just simply cannot imagine Count Laszlo living 



- 664 - 

through the years that were to come so soon, and him being 
finally completely and totally ruined and deprived of his 
castle and living somewhere as a pauper. The Lord in heaven 
was kind to Count Laszlo by sending him a gentleman's and a 
hunter's death. And then it came out how it all happened. 
He did shoot and did kill, or so he thought, a lion somewhere 
on the borders of the Nile River. He had told me that when 
the lion lies there dead you have to come up - not too close - 
and shoot the dead lion in the head. For some reason he 
did not follow his own rules. He came too close and the 
supposedly dead lion jumped up and hit with his paw Count 
Laszlow's shoulder. And the blow was so strong that the gun 
in his hand was twisted. The twisted gun was then brought 
back to Cairo. Count Laszlo was not killed outright. He was 
scratched and the clothes were torn off his shoulder and the 
shoulder was badly scratched. And probably that lion had 
been eating some kind of a dead animal and an infection was 
on those claws. Count Laszlo was infected by the worst kind 
of poison that exists. He was unconscious and was brought back 
to Cairo. But it was too late to do anything for him and in 
that American hospital in Cairo he died a few days later of 
blood poisoning. Well that was the end of a grand gentleman. 

Professor Kalitinsky 

During the years of my stay at Count Karolyi's great 
estate, I had to go many times to the city of Prague, which 
could be reached by overnight train that arrived at six in 



- 665 - 

the morning. Of course that was much too early to bother 
my friends who were so kind as to receive me and have me 
stay in their home, so I had to sit in the Prague railroad 
station drinking beer until a more appropriate hour. One 
such early morning I opened the newspaper and there in great 
headlines was the news that the famous Professor Kalitinsky 
had been arrested for immoral conduct the evening before. 
Professor Kalitinsky was a professor of Byzantology and he 
had been a friend of my family since my childhood. He was 
a great admirer of the Russian Church and a practising 
Christian who went to Holy Mass every Sunday. He was working 
on a very scholarly book, the history of the images of icons 
of the Holy Virgin since the first days of Christianity. He 
was married and his wife was a very famous Russian actress, 
playing in Paris in those days. They had a teenaged boy 
studying in Switzerland who later became a very famous 
chemist and a specialist in atomic energy and earned a lot 
of money of course. 

And here were those headlines about that man being 
arrested for immoral conduct in a public place. Then there 
followed in smaller print what had happened. In a restaurant 
he had openly made advances to a young boy, and so he had been 
arrested. At the police station he lectured and explained 
why he had done it. He said that he was convinced that 
humanity nowadays was in the clutches of the evil one and he 
had to fight the evil one in order to save humanity. To fight 



- 666 - 

the evil one, one must gain his friendship and his trust, and 
to do this one must sell him one's soul, and in order to sell 
one's soul to the evil one, one must commit a henious sin. 
So he had gone out and attempted to commit this sin. 

When the police officers heard that lecture they 
immediately transferred Kalitinsky from the police station 
to a sanatorium. A telegram was sent to his wife, and as 
she had great connections all over Europe she and friends 
came by car to Prague and drove her husband to Paris. 

In Paris there lived a very famous professor of psychology 
and brain surgery, Agadjenian, of Armanian origin, and he was 
famous for performing miracles. Agadjenian established that 
Kalitinsky had a growth on the inside of his skull. (I had 
a uncle who, when I was a boy, had no hair on his head and 
he had a kind of growth the size of my finger sticking out 
and we found it very funny. We said, "Uncle Andrew is growing 
a horn!" Now, "growing a horn" meant that the man's wife was 
unfaithful to him. There is the same saying in France.) 
Anyhow, Kalitinsky's growth was not on the outside of his 
skull but it was on the inside, and therefore it exerted 
pressure on his brain. As a result his brain did not function 
normally. Somehow, by massage, Agadjenian managed little by 
little to make that growth dissolve completely and vanish. 
The pressure on his brain ceased and he recovered. He never 
remembered any details about this experience with the Czech 
police, he had only an impression that he had had a nightmare. 



- 667 - 

When he was back to normal he became an assistant to a member 
of the Russian Imperial Family who was writing a history of 
Imperial Russia, so that shows that Kalitinsky's brain again 
worked absolutely normally for many, many years. 

City gypsies and nomad gypsies 

While I was living in Hungary there were two very differ 
ent kinds of gypsies. There were the "city gypsies" and the 
"nomad gypsies". They despised and hated eachother and they 
were very, very different in 'their ways of life. City 
gypsies had through generations adapted to city life and some 
sort of culture, although in small cities they had a block of 
the city set aside just for them. They were very famous 
horse traders and they knew all the tricks of selling a horse 
worth nothing for a good price to a buyer who was unaware. 
They used to soak oats in alcohol and feed it to the horse, 
then that horse was led out prancing on its hind legs and 
barely two men could hold it. The buyer was elated to have 
such a steed for that very small price, but when the next day 
he looked at his steed it could hardly stand on its four legs. 

Now those nomad gypsies were something very different. 
They really looked like creatures from centuries and 
centuries ago. They lived in tents or shacks made of branches 
and reeds and they camped in the most remote places. Then, 
in the evening they would raid small villages and small cattle 
and mostly chickens or small pigs would vanish. There was a 
new law and a census of the whole population was ordered and 



- 668 - 

every person in Czechoslovakia had to have his identity card. 
So some ex-veterans of the army, now gendarmes, armed with 
rifles and revolvers, went out to check a small gypsy camp 
that was somewhere outside the village and near the estate 
of Count Karolyi. Later one of them told me what had 
happened. Of course the gypsies knew what was going on 
everywhere around their camp for miles and miles and they 
knew that the gendarmes were coming. They did not want to 
have identity cards, so when the gendarmes came the camp 
was absolutely empty except for old women, very small 
children, and just one gypsy girl, rather a beautiful girl. 
Now those gendarmes, finding the camp empty, tried to become 
a little fresh with that beautiful gypsy girl. She just 
laughed and then she said in her gypsy language some words 
that the gendarmes did not understand, and she addressed a 
thin, skinny old horse grazing next to the shack. All of a 
sudden that horse raised itself on its hind legs and went 
right at the gendarmes like a big dog, hitting them with its 
front hoofs and trying to bite them. The gendarmes had to 
defend themselves using their rifle butts, and finally they 
fled. So the gypsies had their own ways of talking to animals 
and making them do what they wanted them to do. 

One of Count Karolyi 's big farms specialized in raising 
pigs. I believe there were close to a thousand pigs on that 
farm, and they were mostly fed with remnants of beet root and 
whatever remained after the sugar plant was processed. Now, 



- 669 - 

an epidemic broke out on that farm. That was a catastrophe. 
Pigs died every day by the hundreds. There was a deep ravine 
not far from the farm and there a huge ditch was hastily 
made by workers and those dead pigs were thrown into that 
deep ditch and then a layer of quicklime was put on top 
of those dead pigs for disinfectant. Two days later more 
dead pigs were brought to that place and to everybody's 
surprise it was discovered that the quicklime had been 
removed and some dead pigs had been taken out by those roaming 
gypsies. That was, of course, a very unusual situation, and 
a very dangerous one, because that disease could spread all 
over the country through the gypsies, even to humans. So the 
next dead pigs were again thrown into that ravine and more 
quicklime was poured over them, and for about ten days a post 
of several armed gendarmes stood over that ravine day and 
night to prevent the gypsies from taking out pigs and using 
them for food. But not a single gypsy died. 

In winter, driving close to that gypsy encampment - snow 
was lying on the ground and the frost was rather severe - I 
saw a boy about three years old, completely naked, sitting 
in that snow and playing with some sticks or whatever he 
had in his hand. This gypsy boy was actually a representative 
of health, the best of health that you could imagine. His 
cheeks were like apples. He was a very beautiful boy of three, 
and completely naked in that snow. Of course that was the 
reason why only the sturdiest of all gypsies, the sturdiest 



- 670 - 

of gypsy kids, survived. It was survival of the fittest. 
Any sickly kid, even a gypsy kid, would have died of 
pneumonia. 



- 671 - 



CHAPTER VIII 



MOVE TO FRANCE (1931) 



- 672 - 

Hoping for a new start in Paris 

When I arrived in Paris shortly before Christinas, 1931, 
my cousin, Alexander Tolstoy, a very, very distant nameskae 
of the famous Russian writer, asked me to stay with him. We 
had been friendly when we were boys back in Russia and now he 
had been living in Paris for many years and he was a minor 
clerk in one of the most famous banks there. His mother, 
Aunt Nadya was at that time absent because in the winter she 
went to southern France, so he had a spare room for me and 
he told me that I could occupy that room and if there were 
enough food for one there would always be enough food for two. 
That was of course very, very kind and very typical of him. 
I felt that in Paris there was on one hand all the glitter 
and the beauty and the luxury that surprised anybody who comes 
as a tourist, but there was also a side of the city that 
could be very cruel to mankind. And I saw it. It was in 
early spring and there was a thunder shower and in the very 
center of Paris, in the most fashionable part, water was 
rushing around the gutters carrying with it papers and there 
were many horse-drawn carriages in those days and the water 
was polluted. I saw coming towards me a handsome, tall man 
in rags. It was humid and very, very warm, and that man was 
probably very thirsty because right in front of me he went down 
on all fours and started lapping up that water as if he were 
a dog. He probably did not have a single centime and he did 
not dare ask at any restaurant for a glass of plain water 



- 673 - 

because he would have to pay for it. 

In spite of living with my cousin and sharing his meals 
(he was a very good cook) , looking for some kind of a job 
and seeing friends was a problem that was becoming quite 
acute. I had to buy tickets for the underground, the metro, 
and that was some cash outlay, and the money that I still 
had was dwindling. If I did not use the underground and had 
nothing to do, I could walk for many blocks because I was 
barely thirty-five. But there arose a problem: if I walked 
too much, I would use up the soles of my shoes. What would 
be wiser, using up my shoes, knowing that I had no money to 
replace them or buying a ticket for the underground? This 
problem was acute and very characteristic of the situation I 
was in at that time. 

There was a kind of promised land for immigrants seeking 
jobs and that promised land was in northern Africa: Morocco 
or the Belgian Congo. But that had been the promised land 
ten years earlier and I had come to Paris ten years too late. 
Very many of my relatives and friends had moved to Morocco 
or moved to the Belgian Congo or had used all those years 
that I was holed up in Hungary to get some kind of diploma 
specializing in construction or agricultural engineering. 
Some of them served as bank clerks because they knew several 
languages. But for me getting to Africa was a question of 
travel money, and my only hope of getting a very minimal loan 
was from my regimental officer, the Grand Duke Dmitri. 



- 674 - 

I had never served in the regiment at the same time as this 
Grand Duke. He was only a few years older than I but when 
I came to the regiment he had been sent away as an officer 
attache to the headquarters of a corps of the army in order 
to get him out of the actual firing lines. He had been sent 
to the army fighting the Turks in the Caucasus and that was 
a blessing for him as he was not present in Moscow or 
St. Petersburg when the Revolution started. When the army 
collapsed in the Caucasus he had managed to get to England 
and from there to France. So, as I said, there was absolutely 
no personal relationship between him and myself and when 
some of my older comrades mentioned tq him my situation and 
suggested that he help me, their suggestions fell on deaf 
ears. Besides, he was in the same social circles of Russians 
in Paris as my wife. He knew about the situation between us 
and all he knew about me was very much one-sided. There is 
an old saying that anybody absent is almost always wrong. A 
person who is absent cannot defend himself, cannot represent 
the situation from his own point of view, so all the so- 
called Russian Parisians, a very large group of Russian society, 
knew only one side of the story. They were very sorry for a 
young woman in the process of divorce from an absentee husband 
who was struggling as a dirt farmer, which sounded absolutely 
ridiculous. Her situation was not that bad from any point of 
view but her own. She had one of the best paid jobs as a 
mannequin. She was very popular among many Russian and French 



- 675 - 

friends. Her great problem was that she had not the faintest 
idea of how to handle money. She was the greatest spend 
thrift of all. She wanted only the best of the best and the 
most expensive of the best. Sometimes our little children 
were overloaded with luxury toys and they were dressed in the 
best clothes from the most expensive shops. But as I have 
said, she was very popular and she always found friends who 
were rich and eager to help out a young woman with two 
children. For them it was easy to spend very large sums of 
money for charity purposes, especially if it were given to the 
most popular, most beautiful mannequin in Paris. Naturally 
such a situation could not last forever. 

My wife is a famous high society fashion model 

Paris was the world center of fashion and dressmaking and 
many dressmakers had a world-wide reputation. One of those 
ladies, a French woman, was "Koko" Chanel. She had a dress 
making business and she was considered to be the best and 
most important dressmaker and the most expensive one. These 
elaborate and expensive dresses had to be made and had to be 
shown, and showing those dresses became a profession. In Frenc 
the word was "mannequin" , and add to that "high society 
mannequin" . Chanel did not want to use French girls that 
were uneducated and had no proper lady-like manners and con 
versations, so she gave the job of showing off her dresses 
to Russian ladies of society. Those ladies looked like ladies 



- 676 - 

in anything that they were wearing. They were very, very 
well paid, but the job of being a high society mannequin was 
not a 100% blessing. Their big pay had to be used to main 
tain a fashionable style of life: fashionable hairdressers, 
makeup, taxis, and above all being seen in the most fashion 
able places. And of course wherever they went they had to be 
escorted. Most of them were divorced but many were married 
and of those their poor Russian emigre husbands were quite 
unable to foot all the bills in the places where those ladies 
had to appear to show off their dresses. 

Well, there was no lack of escorts. Every elderly gentle 
man is always happy to appear in public and is very flattered 
to be there with a very young, very good-looking, and very 
well-dressed lady. Most of them were bachelors, and an 
American expression not known in those days can be applied 
to them, that expression is "playboy". If a playboy escorted 
a certain lady again and again, naturally there started 
gossip all over Paris. Sometimes there was a grain of truth 
in that gossip and it created frictions if that lady was 
married. If she was only in the process of being divorced, 
that was most comfortable, and such ladies were searched for 
by the so-called playboys, because a lady in the process of 
being divorced is still theoretically a married lady and can 
not expect that her escort should ask her to marry him. The 
escorts felt very safe when they escorted a high society 
mannequin who was neither a widow nor a divorced lady but in 



- 677 - 

the process of being divorced. That was a kind of safety 
valve, and the playboys were by no means eager that the divorce 
would be implemented and made official too soon. 

I knew of one high society Russian girl who was an out 
standing beauty and she was married to a handsome young 
Russian who worked for the only Russian language newspaper in 
Paris, and they were deeply in love with each other all the 
time. The funny thing was that this girl was the daughter of 
a Colonel in my regiment who looked just like a bum even on 
great days when he was in the full dress uniform of the Horse 
Guard regiment. He was married to a Russian lady who was far 
from beautifyl, in fact there were jokes about her figure: 
it was said that it was one big ball and that was her body, 
and there was a small tennis ball put on the top and that was 
her head. Those two ugly people had a daughter who was an 
outstanding beauty, and besides being a beauty she had brains. 
She was a high society mannequin but she understood very 
rapidly that there was no long-term sort of future in that 
business, so she studied the business and she became a seller 
and a very successful seller. A drama occurred in the days 
of the second World War, the German occupation of Paris, and 
then the liberation. Her husband, working in the Russian 
newspaper, was an idealist. He did not actually realize the 
political situation in Europe and he sincerely believed that 
all that movement of Hitler into Russia was a kind of crusade 
to liberate Russia from the yoke of Communism. Therefore he 



- 678 - 

praised that action of Germany in Russia. When the Germans 
were defeated and fled from Paris, the French authorities 
questioned him about his writings during the occupation and 
he died under their questioning. Well, that was one of the 
many dramas in that terrible time. But his widow continued 
to live in Paris and established a little dressmaking 
business of her own. I lost sight of her when I came over 
to the United States. 

Beginning in late 1930 my wife became one of the most 
famous high society mannequins in Paris, as I mentioned before, 
and she was working for the establishment of Koko Chanel. 
Then there came a young gentleman, one of the very well known 
playboys around Paris, a French aristocrat about two years 
younger than my wife. Both of them fell in love, but our 
divorce was not yet final and that finalization dragged on 
for quite a long time. The family of that young gentleman 
was of course dead set against the idea of their son 
marrying a Russian girl, a high society mannequin, a divorced 
woman, the mother of two boys. They did everything they could 
to dissuade their son from marrying. The two of them had a 
daughter and the father recognized that illegitimate child as 
his own and gave the child his name, which had the title of 
French Count. But after the birth of the child he did not 
want to marry the mother of his child, who by that time was 
a divorced woman. One reason might have been the difficult 
and capricious character of my first wife, inherited from her 






- 679 - 

great grandmother Jakovlev: she did want to marry that man 
but quite often she treated him quite roughly and finally 
he could not stand her caprices. The situation finally came 
to the French court. The decision of the court was that 
the father had to take care of the child financially and in 
accordance with his very great fortune, and that this money 
for taking care of the child would be at the disposal of the 
child's mother. That child was brought up by her mother. 
She was actually a half-sister to my boys and in later years 
they all became very friendly. 

Zoya Ottovna cares for my sons 

Now I have to go back many, many years to 1914, when the 
first World War started. German armies invaded Russian 
territory in the west provinces and all the population, 
especially all the local authorities , were ordered to move 
eastward to avoid being taken by the Germans. One of them 
was a local judge and his family. They were not young when 
that happened. They had a son and a daughter, both in their 
late teens. In all the excitement of their sudden flight 
the elderly judge passed away and the widow with those two 
children was helpless and homeless. She was invited by the 
parents of my first wife, the Scherbatov family, to live on 
one of their estates until times could change for the better. 
Her role was something between housekeeper and governess 
and of course she was very grateful for that help. Her young 
daughter and my wife, roughly the same age, became quite close 



- 680 - 

friends and the friendship between those two girls lasted 
many, many years. 

This lady's name was Zoya and her father's name had been 
Otto, so in Russian she was Zoya Ottovna. That is what she 
was called by everybody, and I cannot remember her last name. 
Last names in Russia are sometimes quite unimportant. Now 
this lady escaped from Soviet Russia, when and how I do not 
know, and she turned up in Paris. Her son had joined the 
White, anti-Bolshevik, armies and then was reported missing, 
as thousands of others, and he has been "missing" for the past 
more than fifty years. That was a great tragedy for the mother 
and it took years and years for her to realize and accept the 
fact that her son was not any more among the living. But she 
came to Paris with her daughter. The daughter eventually 
married a French scientist, and Zoya, at a very advanced age, 
met my first wife and became her helper, her cook, her house 
keeper, her maid, her everything, just out of a feeling of 
gratitude for what the family had done for her years back in 
1914. She had known my wife for so long that she took upon 
herself the role of grandmother and scolded her for spending 
money unwisely, and when my two boys were in Paris in the care 
of their mother, Zoya Ottovna was practically for them not 
only a great-grandmother but a guardian angel, and when I was 
in Paris, unemployed and homeless and worried to death about 
my boys, it was a great comfort to know that Zoya Ottovna was 
around. No matter what, she would always take proper care of 



- 681 - 

them. I kept in touch with her and when I knew that I would 
not meet my wife I visited Zoya Ottovna just to see my boys. 

Staying with Aunt Nadya 

Well, those were psychologically and physically very 
difficult days for me, living with my cousin Alexander and 
hoping beyond reason that maybe I would find some way of 
getting to northern Africa and that I might find even ten 
years too late some kind of a new way of life. I spent my 
time just walking around in Paris. I found 'an office of the 
Christian Science Church and I walked in and found interesting 
papers. All the rooms were very comfortable and of course a 
lady walked up to me because she saw that my face was new to 
her and we talked about Christian Science, and she told me 
some stories about it and introduced me to a Russian lady there 
who told me how Christian Science had helped her to leave the 
Soviet Union. Well, money can do anything, even in the Soviet 
Union, but when this lady told me that she had had a broken 
leg that had been healed not by any doctor but just by 
Christian Science and concentrating and wishing that the leg 
would mend, I doubted it. But they were very nice and it 
was comfortable and warm in there and there was interesting 
reading and it was a nice place to spend the hours that I 
had plenty of on my hands. Then one day two cousins, the 
sisters of my cousin Serge who had been killed while in the 
White Armies, came to me and said that their aunt, Miss 



- 682 - 

Nadya Soraov, the sister of my Aunt Pasha, and who was earlier 
the secretary of Professor Whittimore in Constantinople, now 
had a little pension . She had rented a little old-fashioned 
home on a very respected and fashionable block in Paris and 
she was trying to make it into a kind of home for girls, 
especially for American girls whose parents did not want them 
to stay in a hotel or rent a room from people that nobody knew, 
They went to live with Miss Somov, who knew many American 
ladies because of her work with Professor Whittimore. My 
cousins told me that Aunt Nadya was sick and they were afraid 
that she had an ailing heart and that she could die at any 
time, at any moment. They did not think she should be living 
all by herself in that house and they thought I should go 
and live there instead of living with my cousin Alexander. 
I might be useful and I could call a doctor if something 
happened. My two cousins, being married and having children, 
could not move in with her and they were happy when I agreed. 
It did not matter to me where I lived and of course Aunt 
Nadya had always been very, very kind to me. She realized 
my difficult situation and she knew how to encourage me not 
to lose hope for better days. 

One day Aunt Nadya said to me, "Vanya, today I am 
feeling much better. I would like to pay a visit to an old 
lady friend of mine that I have known for many years, since 
we both lived in Odessa. This lady lives just a few blocks 
from here. We could walk over but I am afraid of walking 



- 683 - 

alone. Will you please escort me?" Well, I had no reason to 
refuse her but at the bottom of my heart I felt, Oh dear, 
od hear, what a nuisance to escort my old aunt visiting some 
kind of an old friend of hers. But we went and when we came 
up to the door of the apartment we rang the bell. There was 
no response, nobody was at home. How lucky I was! I was 
just delighted at having gotten off so easy, but Aunt Nadya 
said to me, "Probably, Vanya, you still have an old Russian 
visiting card." I had one and my aunt wrote a short note 
saying that she was sorry to have missed her old friend. Two 
days later I received a letter from that old lady and she 
addressed me quite officially, "Dear Count Ivan, I am very 
sorry to have missed you two visitors. I knew so many 
Stenbock-Fermors and I have heard, of course, so much about 
you. I would like to meet you and would you please come and 
have dinner with us?" She lived with her daughter, who was 
working as a private secretary to a lady who was running a 
finishing school for girls and directing a very important 
charity organization for Russian refugees. Well, having 
received that invitation for dinner from an old lady 
acquainted with my relatives , why should I not accept? So 
I wrote back saying I would be delighted to have dinner with 
them. 

A dinner invitation and love at first sight 

Well, I came, but not at the appointed time. For some 
reason I had not calculated the distance that I had to walk 



- 684 - 

and I arrived at half past six although I had been invited 
for seven o'clock. The lady was at home all by herself and 
it was no problem finding some kind of conversation. She 
was quite talkative and I listened about the Stenbocks she 
used to know and all I had to do was listen and sometimes 
interject a word or so out of politeness. Then I heard 
somebody come into the outer room. There was an open door 
and I had a glimpse of a figure rapidly crossing into the 
other room. It was the daughter of that lady and she had 
just come back from work. She was perfectly mad at this 
intruder that had come half an hour earlier than he had been 
expected. She was furious. She went into her room to 
freshen up a little since she had just come back from work. 
Well, I must say that this family, the lady and her daughter 
had a very unusual friend. He was a Spanish nobleman by 
his father and American by his mother. He was not so young 
anymore. He was an opera singer and had a beautiful voice, 
and in his younger days he had sung in the most famous 
European theater, the La Scala in Italy. He had a manservant 
that had become deaf during the first World War due to an 
explosion. And this friend whom they always called the 
Marquis was ruined because he had married an American lady 
who had squandered the last money he had and then had asked 
for a divorce even though they had a little boy. So the poor 
Marquis was very miserable. And of course he could not pay 
his deaf manservant. But in French apartment houses there 



- 685 - 

was usually in the attic a servant's room and since nobody 
was using it, this deaf manservant was given that room up 
stairs and sometimes he came down to cook dinner. He 
happened to be an excellent cook and when he went buying in 
the open market of Paris, he would usually take vegetables, 
or a hen, or whatever, and turn it back and forth to see if 
it was really something good, and of course the French 
women of the market yelled at him and cursed him and got mad 
at him but that did not bother him since he could not hear. 
So he always could choose the very best and cheapest food. 
He had been asked to prepare the dinner that I was invited to. 

And then the daughter of the lady came into the living- 
room and at that instant something snapped in me. I could 
not remember her from Odessa although she remembered that when 
she was a teenager in Odessa, and I was an officer very much ii 
love with Dina (and everybody knew it, of course, that I was 
in love with Dina) , we had been at a party together. She knew 
that I was one of the Stenbock boys but I do not remember 
having seen her at that party in 1918. Now we were at the 
beginning of the year 1932, so that makes it roughly fourteen 
years that had passed since then. 

At this point I would like to blend back and briefly 
mention that after 1918, all through 1919 and 1920 I searched 
for Dina and never found her. But in 1932 accidentally I 
met her on a bridge in Paris. She never got married and she 
is still in France, living in a home for old destitute 



- 686 - 

Russians, as I found out from mutual friends. 

As I stated earlier, something snapped when I saw the 
daughter of my hostess that evening. I noticed her - more 
than that! There is an expression "love at first sight". 
This expression has been often used and misused but I will 
mention it just because it exists. Anyhow, at dinner there 
were the four of us, the Marquis, Ely, Ely's mother and myself. 
The Marquis was as entertaining as usual and everybody spoke 
about this and that as usually happens at such dinners. No 
matter what kind of nice tasting dinner, no matter how much 
I had eaten, I always had the habit of taking a little piece 
of bread crust and finishing off the meal with a little 
bit of bread. Twenty years later I discovered that my 
second son has the same habit - probably he observed Papa many 
times. At dinner that day, before we left the dining table 
I picked up a crust and ate it. Many months later my second 
wife said that she had been amazed and upset. She had ordered 
such a good, abundant dinner and this man, this guest, was 
still hungry! And this has been a joke between us ever since. 
Now, as I mentioned, this family was living just a few 
blocks from the house where I was living with my aunt. I read 
many books, killing time, and Aunt Nadya's old lady friend 
also had many books and so I visited them often to get new 
books and to return the books that I had read, and then once 
Aunt Nadya remarked, "Well, it is very strange. I know Ely 
is very busy working and I have not seen her often, but lately 



- 687 - 

she comes rather often bringing books or taking books back." 
Once Ely came for dinner at Aunt Nadya's and after dinner of 
course we did not want to leave all the dishes to my old aunt 
and so Ely took the dishes into the kitchen and placed them 
into the sink to wash them, a very usual thing. Of course I 
stood next to the sink wiping the dishes dry as she washed 
them, and for some reason which I cannot explain, I still 
know exactly the kind of blouse that she was wearing that 
day while washing dishes. And washing dishes and wiping them 
dry does not sound very romantic, but in spite of this again 
something clicked. Then I invited her to a lecture. There 
was some kind of French professor lecturing about the works 
of the great German poet, Goethe. I wanted to impress her 
with my outstanding knowledge of literature and show her that 
I was a seriously minded young gentleman. We went to that 
lecture on Goethe and discussed it and I found out that she 
was very, very well read and knew everything about all kinds 
of literature, much better than I did. I barely, barely 
managed not to go under water so to speak. 

During that time I had befriended a Russian gentleman who 
was an agronomic engineer, an engineer of agriculture. He 
could speak French and he helped very many Russian peasants 
and Cossacks who hated any kind of a job in the big city. 
They were used to working land. Many French farms were 
decaying because the French younger generation did not want 
to stay on the farm; they wanted to go to the city and have 



- 688 - 

their work finished at five or six o'clock and then they 
could go to the movies and enjoy city life. The old people 
on the farms were not strong enough any more to do the heavy 
work and it was quite a problem. Sometimes the farms were 
rented out half-and-half to some working couple who would 
work not for money but for half what the farm produced. The 
problem was in the contracts, which had to be set up in proper 
French so that everything would be legal, and those Cossacks 
and peasants did not know French and could not judge the 
legality of the contracts. So my friend, who knew French 
and was an agricultural engineer himself, went out from farm 
to farm in his rickety car and helped farmers and Russians 
form a relationship. He joked that he felt like an Archbishop 
in his Diocese. One day he told me, "I got two letters from 
the same place and those letters upset me. One from the old 
French farmer who thanked me very elaborately in the wildest 
expressions of delight for the Cossack farmer that I had 
arranged to have work on his farm." He said his farm had 
never be