Katya Knyazeva (avezink) wrote,
Katya Knyazeva

Russian stories from Arolsen records

There are 159,750 pages in the Arolsen Archive's section pertaining to refugees from China, mostly Russians; the relevant category is - Files of UNHCR Hongkong. Each person's case contains between 6 and 12 pages, so the estimate number of personal cases is about 20,000, but each case usually contains several names of family members traveling together, so the number of persons who left China via Hong Kong as refugees is easily triple that, or 60,000 (there is probably a precise number somewhere but I've not found it).

The case of Elizaveta Artsibasheff (Елизавета Арцыбашева) is a characteristic story of someone stuck in Communist Shanghai. A stenotypist in her 50s, left in charge of the Russian Emigrants' Committee and, by extension, of some crates of medical equipment of the Russian Hospital, she spent several years between arrests and court hearings, extorted by the authorities and denied the permit to leave. It was after much negotiating and intervention, documented in her file, that Mrs. Artsibasheff was able to escape China and go to Brazil in 1954.

[Every time I am going to court I fear to be arrested again... my situation is hopeless]
"[IRO] told us that there will be one or perhaps even two more ships to take the remaining emigrants to Samar [island in Philippines], on which I would certainly go. But unfortunately, the Liberation Army took Shanghai by the end of May 1949 and the evacuation to Samar was stopped."

"On the 25th of January 1950 the police ordered me to pay the US$8,000 [of the money presumably received by the Emigrants' Committee before Mrs. Artsibasheff's time], and threatened to arrest me if I do not pay said amount. I sent several cables to Samar to Mr G. Bologoff, our Chairman, but did not receive any reply. [...] The police ordered me to come once a week to their office and give them news about the case. This continued until May 1950, when the police notified me that the case will be sent to court."

"On the 12th of October the case came again before the court, and I was ordered to get a guarantor for a sum of US$10,000, and as I could not find any guarantor I was sent to jail on the same evening. [...] On the 6th November 1950 I was brought from jail to court. The judge ordered to find a guarantor, and as soon as will furnish such guarantee I will be released. Friends of mine found a Chinese, owner of a garage, who signed the necessary papers and on the 7th of November 1950 I was released from jail."

"I immediately started to write to everybody I knew, especially to Mr. Bologoff and Mr. V. Fedoulenko, Archbishop John in the States and to Mr. V. A. Reyer in Brazil, asking them to save me and send the necessary amount, praying them to collect among the Russians, former Shanghai residents, by 1, 2, 3 dollars. I received answer only from Mr. Reyer, who assured me that everything will be arranged. The case came before the court several times, but all I could show were the letters."

"On the 26th of May 1951 the judge declared that the [claims against me were] cancelled, but I have to pay the aforementioned US$8,000 to the Chinese government as a fine for illegal transaction. [Over the course of 1951] I have been summoned 2-3 times every month; the judge at the execution court was pressing me to pay the amount. On the 30th of November 1951, I was again sent to jail where I remained until the 7th of December 1951..."

"In all, I have paid to the Court the equivalent of US$250, thus the remaining amount due, according to the judgment, is at present US$7,750. The next hearing is set for the 30th of April, 1952. I am at present working as governess looking after two children of a Russian stateless family, Mr. Jacob Kolberg. I receive full board and a sum that represents approximately US$20. I am certainly not in a position to pay such a big amount as I have no means besides my salary. If my employers leave Shanghai in a few months' time, as they hope, it will be nearly impossible for me to find any other employment as all the foreigners are leaving China."

"Every time I am going to court I fear to be arrested again, and in Shanghai I am unable to raise any money, as my friends are even poorer than I am, living only on the rations given to them monthly by the IRO. [...] An entry visa for me to go to Brazil is at the Brazilian Consulate in Hong Kong – Mr. Reyer has made the necessary arrangements – but if I do not settle my case, I will never obtain an exit visa from the local Chinese authorities, and therefore my situation is very hopeless."

Tags: 1949, 1950s, arolsen, church, hong kong, hospitals, orthodox, route maresca, russians, shanghai

Posts from This Journal “russians” Tag

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