Saturday, July 09, 2011

Russians in Exile -- The History of A Diaspora

Publication Date: Jan 29 2016
ISBN/EAN13: 1523771712 / 9781523771714
Page Count: 230
Binding Type: US Trade Paper
Trim Size: 8″ x 10″
Language: English
Color: Black and White
Related Categories: History / Europe / Russia & the Former Soviet Union

Available at:
Amazon Europe
– CreateSpace


The author
Valerian S. Obolensky (1951-) was born in Paris. He is a descendant of Rurik, the Viking Chieftain who founded the state of Russia in the 9th century. His great-grandparents and his grandparents were killed by the bolsheviks before, during and after the October Revolution. In 1952 his father was killed by the communists, in a Moscow prison. The same year his mother died in Paris, in a car accident. He was raised by his uncle Nikolai Ivanov, a painter, and moved from Paris to Amsterdam when he was seven. However those who are privy to the Russian aristocracy address him as `Your Highness’ or `Your Excellency’, or `Prince Valerian Sergeevich’, he doesn’t like to be called that. `I’m a prince because father was a prince; it has nothing to do with my merits. Even if I would be a complete idiot, which I’m not, I would still be a prince. It’s a thing of the past, I’m just an ordinary guy.’ Valerian Obolensky is married, has three children, and lives in Amsterdam and Paris. At the moment he is working on his novel The Tolstikov Saga, a story about his family.

The book
Due to the fact that most publishers are biased and think that the market for this book is too small, an assumption which is purely based on their own unfamiliarity with the subject and the fact that hundreds of thousands of Russian exiles and their millions descendants have kept quiet for more than 75 years, the author was forced to get this book being published in Russia first. At the moment the Council of the Russian Unions of Nobility `Crown’ in Moscow is working on publishing the book on its own, since the Russian publishers that didn’t go bankrupt only seem to be interested in pornography. Some experts comments on the book: Prince Alexis S. Troubetzkoy, Executive Director of the Tolstoy Foundation in New York, is a relative of the author. He finds Russian in Exile – the History of a Diaspora an extremely interesting book. Mr. Alexei Triumfov, Head of Foreign Rights of Novosti Publishers in Moscow, is also Russian, but has a completely different background. Yet he addresses the author as `Your Excellency’, and he’s sure that the book will be in great demand in Russia. Mr. Daniel P. King, literary agent from Whitefish Bay, Wisconsin, told the author: `There is a great interest in this country in books on this subject.’ Mrs. Liz Knights, publisher at Victor Gollancz (Cassell Group) in London: `an extremely interesting typescript’. Another insider of the international publishing branch: Mr. Geoff Shandler (Random House, New York): `I am impressed with the sheer amount of effort that you have put into the book. I do think that it has improved greatly since the last time I read it (and the photos add a great deal to the reader’s enjoyment). Perhaps if you were better known (say, a professor in Russian history, or a reporter for a major magazine or newspaper) then we would feel more confident; as is, you are unknown to the American public, and marketing your book would be extremely difficult (for Random House that is; a huge house like Random has different notions of what is `commercial’ than a smaller or more academic press). I encourage you to keep trying. Someone will want to accept your book.’ Prince Vladimir Nikolaevich Obolensky, a cousin of the author, who is Chairman of the Council of Russian Unions of Nobility, writer, playwright and executive producer of Radio Ostankino I, said to the author: `I think your book is very interesting; I like your style.’ Mr. Anatoliy Sobchak, lawyer and politician, former professor and head of department of the Faculty of Law of the Leningrad State University; former People’s Deputy of the USSR; in 1989 member of the Committee on Legislation, Legality, Law and Order of the USSR Supreme Soviet; Mayor of Leningrad, later St. Petersburg, since May 1990; co-chairman of the Movement for Democratic Reforms since December 15, 1991, is my favorite new President of Russia. He read the book and said to the author: `I agree with everything you write about Russian politics in general. Attentive reading of your book Russians in Exile, the history of a diaspora is not just interesting, but also very adviseable, not only for Russians, but for everyone.’ `I agree with everything you write about Russian politics. Attentive reading of your book Russians in Exile, the history of a diaspora is not just interesting, but also very adviseable, not only for Russians, but for everyone.’ Anatoliy Sobchak, Mayor of St. Petersburg and Chairman of the Movement for Democratic Reforms in Russia.

PART I: Russians, their history, their culture
1. The genesis of Russia
2. The Russian-Orthodox Church
3. The Russian nobility
PART II: Before the Revolution
4. Decembrists and freemasons
5. Kerensky and the bolsheviks
PART III: After the Revolution
6. The October Revolution and the Russian Civil War
7. Flight abroad
8. Have a good cry and start all over again
9. The Last of the Mohicans
Appendix A: Russian freemasons who escaped abroad
Appendix B: Last resting places

This book started out as a search for my personal background. I knew very little about the history of my ancestors; for almost 40 years I didn’t actually go into my Russian identity – became a broad investigation on the weal and woe of an entire people in exile. Because I – like so many descendants of Russian aristocrats – wasn’t raised in Russian surroundings, I rather quickly discovered that I couldn’t write this book without the help of eye-witnesses and experts. That’s why I addressed the Russian community in Paris and New York.

Through some distant relatives I got in touch with children and grandchildren of the principal persons of this book. Thanks to their dedication and enthusiasm, and because they wanted this book being published, you’re now reading a rather unique document, because until now only one or two books about Russians in exile have been published. The hundreds of people who wrote me, called me, and received me in their homes, from Paris, Vienna, Berlin, London, New York, Moscow, Kiev, Novgorod and San Francisco, not just provided me with valuable information, but also gave me the courage to finish the project. Some, like Alexis B. Tatistcheff and my good friend Oleg Kerensky, both from New York, unfortunately passed away in the mean time. I particularly wish to thank Tatiana Chomcheff (Paris), Boris Delorme (Paris), Evgenia Demidova (New York), Irma Ivanova (New York), Tatiana Nikolaevna Masalitinov (Santa Barbara), my niece Princess Nina Obolensky (New York), my uncle Prince Serge Obolensky (Paris), my cousin Prince Vladimir Obolensky (Moscow), Christian Orlov (New York), Olga Roussanow (New York), Anatoliy Sobchak (St. Petersburg), and Alexei Triumfov (Moscow), and I’m forever in debt with Countess Maria and Count Alexander Buxhoeveden (New York), Paul Poustochkine (The Hague), and Grand Duke `Feodor’ Romanoff (New York), for the time they cleared for me, their search for missing data, their hospitality, their unique photographs and their unlimited confidence in me. Thank you very much, merci beaucoup, balshoe spasiba!

For uncle Nikolai. I hope for you there’s a liquor store in heaven.
Borders being shifted and disputed all the time, thousands of refugees having to leave their homes, former friends and neighbors who now hate each others guts; death, destruction, chaos… The newspapers are full of it, and it all sounds so familiar to the people who fled from Russia, after the October Revolution. One century ago there was a similar situation in Russia. More than a million people were on the run for their fellow countrymen. Without the chance to overcome the horrors of the World War I, they tried to escape the yoke of the Red Terror, the Reign of Terror of their communist compatriots. The Tsarist administration had come to an end, everything would become different and better, the Soviet-Union would be a shining example to the whole world. Ten years later a new Tsar stood up, a red Tsar, who oppressed the population for several decades, under whose Reign of Terror there would be more civilian victims than during the three centuries of Romanoff rule, World War I and II all together. It must become clear that on the one hand there were aristocrats in Russia who were in favour of oppression of the people by slavery and serfdom, but on the other hand there have always been Russian aristocrats who opposed it. There was no need to kill every aristocrat in the country, there was no need to put innocent children and even babies, like my cousin Vladimir Nikolaevich, in special concentration camps for descendants of the aristocrats, a practice that lasted until the 1960s, when only a few old people in Russia could remember the existence of the old Russian nobility.
Not so long ago the curtain fell for the Reign of Terror. Russia is relatively in a worse position than in 1917, while some (former) supporters of the communist regime cling convulsively but in vain to a couple of merits of this administration. Many Russians feel that the past seventy years should be forgotten as soon as possible. Emigré’s, refugees that is, are the residuaries of dictatorship. Due to the absence of real options they cannot be compared to emigrants. Should the Russian refugees have been filled with joy, because they could and the stragglers could not live in freedom? No, because freedom means that one can go to his motherland whenever one likes, just as one can leave his motherland whenever one feels like. This freedom was not the freedom of the Russian refugees. They were shut out, in the cold, while invaders had a warm at their fires. We all know the history of the Russian Revolution, but the story of the hundreds of thousands of refugees is only known by one or two. I have tried to make this black page in Russian history readable, and I hope that `my’ Russians, with al their good qualities and shortcomings, also will become your Russians.
Valerian Sergeevich Obolensky, Paris/Amsterdam, 1993

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