Author Topic: Exiled Russians in Europe and the White Russian Community in Britain  (Read 77859 times)

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Offline NoirFemme

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After reading Eva Ibbotson's A Countess Below Stairs and am curious about the status of the aristocrats who were able to escape Russia during the 1918 Revolution. After the French Revolution, aristos fled to England and were mostly taken into English aristocratic homes--and since there was a fair bit of socializing and intermarriage between the aristocrats of both countries, a fair number were taken in by friends. Granted, the French aristocrats were able to return and reclaim their property in France when Napoleon took control, but why did Russian aristocrats take positions? Based on memoirs I've read, many English aristocrats visited the Russian empire and vice versa, but did aristocratic families take in Russian emigres the way they did the French back in the 18th C?

Did significant portions of emigres take up work? How did they feel about becoming chauffeurs and waiters and domestic servants? Does anyone have any personal histories of emigres who took up positions very beneath their status?
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Offline Annie

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Re: Exiled Russians in Europe and the White Russian Community in Britain
« Reply #1 on: October 09, 2007, 01:06:40 PM »
There are many memoir books right here on this site by many of those who escaped. Among them Felix Yussoupov, Sophie Buxhoevedon,Anna Vyrubova,Lili Dehn and Alexei Volkov. Also check out "Education of A Princess" by Maria Pavlovna (the younger) and the book "Flight of the Romanovs" for more on their escapes and post revolution lives.

Offline Annie

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Re: Exiled Russians in Europe and the White Russian Community in Britain
« Reply #2 on: October 09, 2007, 01:25:17 PM »
I have been looking all over for this, but only found the ending. It's the memoirs of the wife of Paul Vornov, ex 'love interest' of GD Olga  N. It describes the final days in Russia and what a relief it was to be out, and know she would not have to worry about being killed anymore.

EPILOGUE
 
   
We stayed on deck until the Russian coast had been replaced on the horizon by an endlessness of tossing gray water. Dan­ger was left behind on that vanished coast for us —and yet, for me, this new strange security was constantly to be invaded by the ghosts of the dan­gers we had survived. For long months the noise of an automobile stopping in front of the house would set my pulse to hammering and I would have to conquer an impulse to rush to the window and see who approached so that I might prepare for the worst!
While the danger had been present I had usually succeeded in holding to my self-possession and calm; but my nerves had all the time been storing up an alarm that had eventually to be released. Not until we finally were within the hospitable boun­daries of the United States of America did I find myself able to think back over the years of my youth and the following years when I had to see so much suffering and cruelty around me. Then I thought that I would try to write of my experi­ences—they would interest my daughter, Tatiana, who was born in exile while Paul and I were still in France.
Tatiana will never see Russia as it was. I hope that my story will help to give her a more complete and familiar picture of Russia than perhaps she could get by general reading—since most of the recent books on Russia seem to me to be very one­sided. I have been many times shocked by the false parallels often drawn between the Tsarist regime and the bolshevik tyranny. It seems to me that most such books are written by individuals who seek to bulwark preconceived social or political theories or who do not know the country, and I have thought that the story of a woman who offers no viewpoint but the personal and human one might perhaps give a more complete and truthful pic­ture of Russia to others as well as to my daughter, Tatiana.
I am one of the most fortunate of all the fugi­tive victims—I think we may be called that—of the Russian revolution, for not only did my hus­band miraculously survive it but so did my mother and all three of my sisters, though I have my brother to mourn.
Clair, my eldest sister, escaped to Bulgaria, though her children caught the influenza on the way there from the Crimea, and died. Clair's hus­band did not learn of this cruel misfortune until much later; he joined Clair safely in Bulgaria after the Crimea had been left by the Army, and several years later he followed his children into the grave. Ella and my mother and stepfather were safely with us in Paris before we sailed to Amer­ica.
My mother contrived to bring with her a few photographs, and these are the only tangible re­minders of the old days that I possess. Tata is still living in Paris. She has not changed at all in her character; she is as cheerful and reliable in a crisis as ever and as stubbornly tied to whatever place she may be in. She very sweetly but firmly refused to come and live with us here, giving as her reason the mere fact that she did not feel like leaving
Paris yet.
Before we left Paris we learned the fates of many of our friends. Madame Charitonenko got successfully to France, though she died a few years ago. My maid, Katia, did not come with her, but sent me a touching letter telling me how much she missed us. Unfortunately Katia gave no ad­dress so I could not answer her letter and have now, I am sorry to say, lost track of her. Mr. T——, the manager of our sanatorium in N—— had left his place while we were still in Russia; he and his wife escaped to France a few months later. In Paris I met the pretty young divorcee of the sanatorium in N——. Her brother whom she so courageously saved from the bolsheviks had died from typhoid fever while in the White Army. I had also the surprise—a rather disagreeable one—of meeting the brother of our treacherous escort, Nitikin. He told us that Nitikin, with whom he corresponded, was occupying a high position in Soviet Russia, which made us wonder what he was doing abroad. My cousin, Peter Kleinmichel, brother of the Nicholas who was killed at N——, had met his death at the hands of the "Greens"; they took him from his farm in the Caucasus and killed him in the woods. A neighbor found his body—it had only one large wound, a deep cross cut in his breast.
The last we heard of our socialist friend, Mr. 2——, who had sheltered us so loyally in his home, was that he had enlisted in the White Army and had been wounded in one of the battles. What happened to him or to his family after that we never have learned; nor have we heard anything .further of Peter, the adventurous little boy who spent several days with us in Novorossisk, except that he did succeed in joining his family.

to be cont...

Offline Annie

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Re: Exiled Russians in Europe and the White Russian Community in Britain
« Reply #3 on: October 09, 2007, 01:26:02 PM »
It was not until some time after we had left Russia that we heard the details of the Tsar's and his family's life in captivity and of the circum­stances of their death. We met the coroner, Mr. SokolofF, who, upon the occupation of Ekaterin­burg, was appointed by Admiral Koltchak to hold an inquest into the circumstances of the murder. And later I met Mr. Gilliard, the Tsarevitch's tutor, who had remained with the Imperial fam­ily through all the tragic days until a forced part­ing shortly before the massacre.
The dignity, the Christian humility and the deep faith with which all the members of the Im­perial family bore their crosses had impressed every soul near them. After the first midnight Easter service, following the arrest in Tsarskoe Selo, the Emperor gave the kisses of brotherhood to all the men present, including his jailers, caus­ing them an emotion they were unable to hide. The kindly interest and attention, as well as the simplicity and sincerity in their relations with every person who came into contact with them, awed their guards, so that even they were won over. In Tobolsk the guards tried to show the fam­ily their sympathy and respect in many ways; they brought flowers to the young girls and played games with the Tsarevitch. As soon as this friend­liness of attitude was noticed by the bolshevik chiefs, however, these guards were replaced by others—but these in their turn were changed from insulting brutes into respectful and devoted men. Each day of captivity, alas, brought new restric­tions and severities upon the unhappy family. After their removal to Ekaterinburg the vilest kind of men were assigned to them as jailers. The doors leading to their rooms were taken off the hinges so that the prisoners could be watched in­cessantly, day and night; they were forbidden to go near the windows, and, later, the window-panes were covered with paint, so that they were de­prived even of the sunlight. One day the little gold­en chain and cross that the Tsarevitch kept at­tached to the head of his bed was taken from him. The faithful sailor, Nagorny, and the footman Sedniefr, both formerly of the Navy Guards, who had followed the family into prison, having been unable to repress their indignation over this un­necessary act of brigandage toward a child, were taken away at once and shot.
Two days before the murder of the Imperial family, and after a long period during which they had been deprived of such consolation, a priest was allowed to hold a service for them in their prison. He told later how deeply he had been impressed by the spiritual height the family had reached. He said that he felt they already did not belong to this world.
It is upon the image of those, whom I have lost in those tragic years and who have shown me how to live, suffer and die with unwavering faith in God, courage and forgiveness, that my thoughts are dwelling as I close my story.
Their memory will forever help me along the path that I still have to tread.

The End

If anyone has the rest of this piece, please let me know where to find it.
« Last Edit: October 09, 2007, 01:29:29 PM by Annie »

Offline ashdean

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Re: Exiled Russians in Europe and the White Russian Community in Britain
« Reply #4 on: October 09, 2007, 01:32:12 PM »
After reading Eva Ibbotson's A Countess Below Stairs and am curious about the status of the aristocrats who were able to escape Russia during the 1918 Revolution. After the French Revolution, aristos fled to England and were mostly taken into English aristocratic homes--and since there was a fair bit of socializing and intermarriage between the aristocrats of both countries, a fair number were taken in by friends. Granted, the French aristocrats were able to return and reclaim their property in France when Napoleon took control, but why did Russian aristocrats take positions? Based on memoirs I've read, many English aristocrats visited the Russian empire and vice versa, but did aristocratic families take in Russian emigres the way they did the French back in the 18th C?

Did significant portions of emigres take up work? How did they feel about becoming chauffeurs and waiters and domestic servants? Does anyone have any personal histories of emigres who took up positions very beneath their status?
Read Sofka Skipwith's "Sofka" Hart Davis London 1960's to hear of how her mother Princess Peter Volkonsky nee Countess Bobrinsky drove a taxi or the jobs taken by other relatives.

Offline Imperial.Opal

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Re: Exiled Russians in Europe and the White Russian Community in Britain
« Reply #5 on: October 24, 2007, 04:14:42 PM »
 In Hollywood in the 1920's there was a colony of emigrees who played Tsarist officers, nobility, servants, ect in the movies, there is a thread on this subject  - Films, documentaries,tv shows, plays on the Romanovs on the Forum

Offline NAOTMAA Fan

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Re: Exiled Russians in Europe and the White Russian Community in Britain
« Reply #6 on: October 24, 2007, 05:56:39 PM »
I've read a particularly interesting book by the former Princess Ekaterina Meshcherskaya. It's called Russian Princess Remembers : The Journey from Tsars to Glasnost. Like the other memoirs of these times she gives her, at times, heart-pounding and slightly adventurous tale of trying to survive in Bolshevik Russia. Her mother had to become a cleaning lady or factory worker in a little Russian village at some point I think. At one point they even have to sleep in the giant stove in the kitchen of the apartment they were forced to give to the government.

Most have probably heard or read this, but I found it of interest. I didn't read till the end so I never found out what happened to her. Maybe a look into this book would give you some answers on the upper English classes accepting Russian aristocrats.
"...I am in Tatiana's room...Olga and Tatiana are here. I am sitting and digging in my nose with my left hand... Olga wanted to slap me but I ran away from her swinish hand..."
-Anastasia Nicholaievna Romanova, May 8th, 1913

Offline Phil_tomaselli

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Re: Exiled Russians in Europe and the White Russian Community in Britain
« Reply #7 on: October 29, 2008, 03:53:09 PM »
The British took care not to allow very many White Russians (or Russians of any persuasion) into Britain post 1917.  Yet there was a Russian community here into WW2 - I have an abiding interest in these people and would be delighted to hear from anyone connected to, or interested in, these people.

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Offline Elisabeth

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Re: Exiled Russians in Europe and the White Russian Community in Britain
« Reply #8 on: October 31, 2008, 11:09:08 AM »
The British took care not to allow very many White Russians (or Russians of any persuasion) into Britain post 1917.  Yet there was a Russian community here into WW2 - I have an abiding interest in these people and would be delighted to hear from anyone connected to, or interested in, these people.

Phil Tomaselli

Phil, I am definitely most interested in this topic, and if you want to learn more about it, a good starting place (although it is certainly not comprehensive) is Michael Glenny and Norman Stone's The Other Russia (London: Faber and Faber, 1990), about Russian emigration to the West from the time of the Bolshevik Revolution up until the collapse of the Soviet Union. This book is composed almost entirely of personal accounts by Russian émigrés about their experiences escaping the Soviet Union, and once having escaped, how they fared in the unfamiliar West.

I should mention here that you are correct, in so far as you say that White Russian emigration to Great Britain was rather limited; indeed, it seems that the vast majority of Russian émigrés after the October Revolution went to France or Germany or certain countries of Eastern Europe like Czechoslovakia. Be that as it may, there are personal memoirs by Russian émigrés to Britain included in this book. And so on that and on many other levels this collection of memoirs really is a treasure, not only intellectually and historically speaking, but also simply in terms of sheer emotionally gripping, page-turning suspense. I confess I read the entire thing in one sitting.
« Last Edit: October 31, 2008, 11:12:22 AM by Elisabeth »
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Offline wilski

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Re: Exiled Russians in Europe and the White Russian Community in Britain
« Reply #9 on: November 03, 2008, 12:00:52 PM »
I also think that some did not arrive till later. in my families case my great grand mother and my grand mother married  people who were working in turkey during the war. Grand father was mi6 liaison officer with the Turkish secret service who worked with a man called Harrold Gibson who him self was from Russia. But there was several white Russians in my family tree who did not arrive here till after 1945
wilski.

Offline Carisbrooke

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Re: Exiled Russians in Europe and the White Russian Community in Britain
« Reply #10 on: June 11, 2012, 06:58:48 AM »
No 32 Welbeck Street, the old tsarist embassy London



Apparently this modest house (by London standards) was the tsarist embassy in London. Below is a link featuring the author Andrew Williams. In it we see very little, though it does give us a brief glimpse of the chapel inside.

http://www.andrewwilliams.tv/pages/books/to-kill-a-tsar/video.asp  a 5 minute video.   


Offline Carisbrooke

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Re: Exiled Russians in Europe and the White Russian Community in Britain
« Reply #11 on: June 15, 2015, 01:43:31 AM »

The Embassy Chapel at the rear of No 32 Welbeck St.

30/31 Chesham Place. The former building of the Russian Imperial Embassy.

www.rusemb.org.uk/rusplaces/ Link by the Embassy of the Russian Federation.
This link seems to indicate the Imperial Embassy was located at Chesham Place, not Welbeck St.