Author Topic: 800 Children sent to the Urals in 1918 - The Story of the Children's Ark  (Read 20998 times)

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Offline Mari

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Has anyone heard this Story?

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For 800 children sent on summer vacation to the Urals in 1918, it was meant to be a three-month escape from war-torn St. Petersburg. Known as Petrograd at the time, the city was suffering chronic food shortages.

But as the Russian Civil War raged, it became impossible for the children to return. They began an incredible three-year-long Odyssey around the globe — eventually returning to St. Petersburg the long way around the world via the Russian Far East, Asia, the U.S. and Europe.

The existence of the journey was kept hidden to the Soviet public for a simple reason: the children were rescued by officers from the American Red Cross.

With the arrival of “The Unbelievable Story or The Children’s Ark,” Vladimir Lipovetsky’s novel about these adventures, the story is for the first time reaching a mass audience in Russia. St. Petersburg sailor and journalist Lipovetsky came across the subject by sheer accident on a trip to the U.S. in 1978.

http://www.sptimes.ru/index.php?action_id=2&story_id=16221800
« Last Edit: April 12, 2009, 08:40:31 AM by Alixz »

Offline Mari

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Re: 800 Children sent on Summer Vacation to the Urals in 1918
« Reply #1 on: October 03, 2007, 04:10:37 AM »
continued:
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“Everybody turned this fascinating story down for the same reason: it would look like pro-American propaganda and will be sure to cause a sour reaction from the Russian government,” the author said.

From Vladivostok the boat, a Japanese cargo boat rented by the Red Cross for the rescue, docked at San Francisco, the Panama Canal, New York, Brest andHelsinki.

The children who made the journey kept their travels a secret. That famous St. Petersburg choreographer Leonid Yakobson was one of them, only came to light after he died, during Lipovetsky’s research.

“They were afraid to mention it and many of these children eventually suffered in some way or another,” said Lyubov Krokhalyova, daughter of Leonid Danilov, who made the journey. “Some of them just weren’t trusted because of this exposure to Western life, some were denied the right to get higher education.”

Lipovetsky said the Russian ballerina Maya Plisetskaya, a friend of Yakobson, was astonished to hear that he had been one of the wandering children.

“She just didn’t believe it at first,” he said. “She said Yakobson would have told her. But we received a written confirmation from Yakobson’s widow that he was there. And it was then already that he demonstrated an ability for dancing: one of my heroes recalls an episode “Everybody turned this fascinating story down for the same reason: it would look like pro-American propaganda and will be sure to cause a sour reaction from the Russian government,” the author said.

From Vladivostok the boat, a Japanese cargo boat rented by the Red Cross for the rescue, docked at San Francisco, the Panama Canal, New York, Brest andHelsinki.

The children who made the journey kept their travels a secret. That famous St. Petersburg choreographer Leonid Yakobson was one of them, only came to light after he died, during Lipovetsky’s research.

“They were afraid to mention it and many of these children eventually suffered in some way or another,” said Lyubov Krokhalyova, daughter of Leonid Danilov, who made the journey. “Some of them just weren’t trusted because of this exposure to Western life, some were denied the right to get higher education.”

The story began in the spring of 1918, when Petrograd authorities decided to send children from the starving city to safer and warmer places. Eight hundred children, aged between 7 and 15 years old, left for the Urals.

However, by the time they were to return home, White general Alexander Kolchak’s troops blocked the railway in Siberia, making the trip impossible. The children faced a hungry and cold winter.

American Red Cross volunteers working in Siberia found out about the plight of the children, and started plotting a rescue plan. After they discovered that taking the train to St. Petersburg was not an option, they took the bold decision of arranging a detour by sea.

Lipovetsky compares the story to the Arabian Nights.

“You can tell a new episode every night, and there will be no end to the story,” he said.

Lipovetsky wrote his book as a semi-fictional account.

“The writer chose the most difficult genre for his novel,” said Alexei Gordin, head of Azbuka publishing house, which has published the book. “In a documentary you simply list the facts. Writing fiction is more entertaining but fiction is a rather ‘irresponsible’ genre. But in semi-fiction you not only have to stick to historical truth, you need to reconstruct people’s feelings without insulting anybody’s memory.”

Several children died during the journey.

“The first two children, a little brother and sister, died while on the train in Siberia,” Lipovetsky said. “It is difficult to watch over 800 kids, and during a train stop they ran away, ate some poisonous berries and died.”

A girl died after she was bitten by a tropical fly when the boat was crossing the Panama canal. A boy was killed during an accident with a U.S. soldier’s gun.

“There were several deaths but children were dying by hundreds in starvation-stricken Petrograd,” Lipovetsky said.

Upon arrival in Petrograd in 1921, the children and their parents had trouble recognizing each other. One mother looked for a specific birthmark to recognize her son. One girl refused to accept that an emaciated woman was her mother, Lipovetsky said.

Vladimir Pozner, head of the Russian Television Academy, called the book a literary and historical epic of heroism.


The question I would have is Could some of the Stories about Russian Emigrants passed down in families... of Children coming across the Sea be from this amazing piece of reality. I posted this in Russian History because it is actual History.
« Last Edit: October 03, 2007, 04:18:47 AM by Mari »

Offline lexi4

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Re: 800 Children sent on Summer Vacation to the Urals in 1918
« Reply #2 on: October 04, 2007, 04:09:13 PM »
Interesting. Thank you for sharing it. I would like to read the book.
Lexi
Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely, in a pretty and well preserved body; but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming, "Wow ---- What a ride!!!"

Offline Tania+

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Re: 800 Children sent on Summer Vacation to the Urals in 1918
« Reply #3 on: October 27, 2007, 11:55:06 AM »
There were many stories I am sure due the history of the revolution, and the brutality of it all. Children did not fare well either, and even during that time for the killers there was no one to be spared. These beasts were building a new order of life. Most emigre's and children who escaped with their lives, kept a rather low profile, and kept for the most part any understanding that they either had survived, or that they still were alive. Once a target and or actually escaping the maddness, no one at any age was willing to  make any notice. This behavior  was pretty consistent from 1918 by most people and children who escaped from Russia. Nothing really unusual by those who eventually escaped and lived abroad. They got any job they could, but for the most part were deathly afraid of expressing anything to do with their past life in Russia. My father and the friends he escaped from Russia, from the revolution from,  rarely if ever spoke of those days. The pain of it all never left them, for so many had left loved ones behind, never even if their loved ones did survive, to hear from them again.

Another note of understanding. Although the Red Cross existed during those days, not many social  networks if any, and very little precious were available to offer much to emigrees. Those who arrived really had nothing to fall back on. They had to learn a new language, and fend for themselves pretty much. There were no places for emigrees to go to, or to really be offered safety from their nightmares, etc. For the most part, these emigrees stayed to themselves, and to their russian communities they chose to build on and live in. For the most part they held on to their old world customs, building new Christian orthodox churches, as well as new Jewish synogogues. They had escaped but they were not prepared to give up their traditional ways of living. For many children to elderly, faith is the main thing they clung to, just to survive to continue to live. Some prospered, some barely, nevertheless, most were thankful just to be alive.

Tatiana+


Tatiana+
TatianaA


Offline svetlana

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Re: 800 Children sent on Summer Vacation to the Urals in 1918
« Reply #4 on: March 27, 2009, 05:02:53 PM »
My gradmother Maria Alexandrovna Monfred was one of the children... Oh my God... she told me this amazing story... One of my daughter's name is Alexandra Maria. God bless the Americans who saved my grandma and other children.
Svetlana Strain
Atlanta USA

Offline svetlana

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Re: 800 Children sent on Summer Vacation to the Urals in 1918
« Reply #5 on: March 27, 2009, 08:58:13 PM »
There were many stories I am sure due the history of the revolution, and the brutality of it all. Children did not fare well either, and even during that time for the killers there was no one to be spared. These beasts were building a new order of life. Most emigre's and children who escaped with their lives, kept a rather low profile, and kept for the most part any understanding that they either had survived, or that they still were alive. Once a target and or actually escaping the maddness, no one at any age was willing to  make any notice. This behavior  was pretty consistent from 1918 by most people and children who escaped from Russia. Nothing really unusual by those who eventually escaped and lived abroad. They got any job they could, but for the most part were deathly afraid of expressing anything to do with their past life in Russia. My father and the friends he escaped from Russia, from the revolution from,  rarely if ever spoke of those days. The pain of it all never left them, for so many had left loved ones behind, never even if their loved ones did survive, to hear from them again.

Another note of understanding. Although the Red Cross existed during those days, not many social  networks if any, and very little precious were available to offer much to emigrees. Those who arrived really had nothing to fall back on. They had to learn a new language, and fend for themselves pretty much. There were no places for emigrees to go to, or to really be offered safety from their nightmares, etc. For the most part, these emigrees stayed to themselves, and to their russian communities they chose to build on and live in. For the most part they held on to their old world customs, building new Christian orthodox churches, as well as new Jewish synogogues. They had escaped but they were not prepared to give up their traditional ways of living. For many children to elderly, faith is the main thing they clung to, just to survive to continue to live. Some prospered, some barely, nevertheless, most were thankful just to be alive.

Tatiana+


Tatiana+
how true... just thankful to be alive...

RomanovsFan4Ever

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Re: 800 Children sent on Summer Vacation to the Urals in 1918
« Reply #6 on: March 31, 2009, 08:48:41 AM »
My gradmother Maria Alexandrovna Monfred was one of the children... Oh my God... she told me this amazing story... One of my daughter's name is Alexandra Maria. God bless the Americans who saved my grandma and other children.
Svetlana Strain
Atlanta USA

Oh really?...this is amazing!  :)

Offline Phil_tomaselli

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Re: 800 Children sent on Summer Vacation to the Urals in 1918
« Reply #7 on: March 31, 2009, 03:30:49 PM »
You could try reading: The wild children of the Urals. by Floyd Miller Published in 1966, Hodder and Stoughton which I believe covers the story.

There is nothing new in all the world.

Phil Tomaselli

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Re: 800 Children sent on Summer Vacation to the Urals in 1918
« Reply #8 on: March 31, 2009, 04:48:46 PM »
Thank you very much!, I will try to find this book.

Offline Mari

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Re: 800 Children sent on Summer Vacation to the Urals in 1918
« Reply #9 on: April 01, 2009, 12:07:11 AM »
Svetlana:

Would you share the story of your Grandmother if you feel comfortable with it. After all it is not just a family history it is also Russian History.  :)

RomanovsFan4Ever

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Re: 800 Children sent on Summer Vacation to the Urals in 1918
« Reply #10 on: April 01, 2009, 03:59:23 AM »
Svetlana:

Would you share the story of your Grandmother if you feel comfortable with it. After all it is not just a family history it is also Russian History.  :)

I'm agree with you...

My gradmother Maria Alexandrovna Monfred was one of the children... Oh my God... she told me this amazing story... One of my daughter's name is Alexandra Maria. God bless the Americans who saved my grandma and other children.
Svetlana Strain
Atlanta USA

Svetlana, for me it would be a great pleasure to hear the story of your grandmother...if you want...

Offline svetlana

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Re: 800 Children sent on Summer Vacation to the Urals in 1918
« Reply #11 on: April 01, 2009, 10:45:02 PM »
My pleasure, of course... What happened is that I recently found out about the book Children's Ark by Vladimir Lipovetsky.  The book documents the unbelievable journey of 800 Russian children around the world in the wake of the Russian Civil War in 1918.  What was amazing to me is that I heard this story before many years ago when I was a child.  I heard it from my Grandma Maria Alexandrovna Monfred who was one of the children.  She was about 7 years old at the beginning of her odyssey.  She and other kids were saved by the American Red Cross in the Ural mountains and they made it around the globe in spite of everything.  My Grandma told me that her parents had left for Paris in 1917, leaving her and her two siblings in the care of relatives, probably because traveling by train was extremely dangerous or they planned to have them sent later... it is a mystery. Unfortunately her parents were never able to return to Russia or have the children sent to them.  What happened to my Grandma was a miracle. She remembered how they left St. Petersburg to the Urals accompanied by their teachers.  Then the teachers disappeared, kids were dying, and the American Red Cross took them and shipped them to America.  The buses were riding them through the streets of the San Francisco and crowds of people were along the streets, waving little flags, greeting the children from Soviet Russia. The children lived there somewhere and some of them were adopted. A couple came to talk to my Grandma about if she'd like to live with them staying in the US, she said no, she wanted to go home back to Russia.  She hoped her parents would be back, everything would be over and things would be like before... she was just a kid. The Americans returned all kids back to Petrograd (St. Petersburg), traveling around the world... my Grandma was not met at the port when the ship arrived to Petrograd, no address, no names, she was taken by a sailor to an orphanage... on their way through the streets of Vasilievski ostrov (island) she suddenly recognized a blue mail box on the side of the building she believed she lived in before.  She asked the sailor to stop by to inquire.  Fortunately she was right.  She was accepted by her old aunt. My Grandma lived in Leningrad until her death in 1986. She rarely talked about her amazing adventure, she never told the story to anybody else or published it for fear of admitting contact with the West during Soviet times.  But she told me somebody could be looking for her.  My grandma gave birth to 3 children, and went on to have 4 grandchildren and 7 great grandchildren. 6 of them live in America now.

To my astonishment I happened to find 2 articles at sptimes.ru concerning absolutely the same story and learned that the book Children's Ark  by V.Lipovetsky exists. Once again I descended into the past with so many memories rushing back to me. 

Finding out that the story of these children, and my grandmother, had been written down and told to the world meant so much to me!  For years when I'd told the story to my friends I'd never felt they believed the story.   It must have seemed too fantastic to them.  How much the heart of a 7 year old girl could bear.

If anybody else knows more about the Children's Ark or knows of other survivors or their descendants, I would love to hear your stories!

RomanovsFan4Ever

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Re: 800 Children sent on Summer Vacation to the Urals in 1918
« Reply #12 on: April 02, 2009, 06:14:21 AM »
Thank you very much! :), I'm so happy to know the story of your grandmother!, it's amazing!

Offline svetlana

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Re: 800 Children sent on Summer Vacation to the Urals in 1918
« Reply #13 on: April 02, 2009, 08:55:33 AM »
Thank you so much! I'm so happy to share. Hopefully will hear more on this topic from real witnesses or their descenders... Thank you for your attension to the story of my Grandmother. Its a part of the Russian history. Absolutely.

RomanovsFan4Ever

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Re: 800 Children sent on Summer Vacation to the Urals in 1918
« Reply #14 on: April 02, 2009, 09:39:13 AM »
You're welcome!  :)...Oh yes!, I read very carefully the testimony of your grandmother, I'm a student of history (and archeology) and I love to hear these things.