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, and Two Princes,
the story of his own life.
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!'
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
Russians In Exile
The History Of A Diaspora
`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.'
Valerian Sergeevich Obolensky
Anatoliy Sobchak, Mayor of St. Petersburg
and Chairman of the Movement for Democratic Reforms in Russia.
PART I: Russians, their history, their
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
7. Flight abroad
8. Have a good cry and start all over
9. The Last of the Mohicans
Appendix A: Russian freemasons who
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 Ä
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
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,