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Kunst and Albers - the legend of Priamurye-2

Leonid Blyakher's essay on the history of the Far Eastern merchants: "Life is tragedy! Hurray!"

Far East Atlantis - a region that once emerged from the dark waters of a beautiful and mysterious land, and sunk into them. The end of the XIX - the beginning of the XX century became not just the time of economic prosperity of the Amur region and Primorye. It was a time of bright and strong people, bright deeds. I wanted to tell me about such people (continuation of the essay, beginning - "Kunst and Albers - the legend of Priamurye")

Kunst and Albers - the legend of Priamurye-2

Leonid Blyakher

Professor, Head of the Department of Philosophy and Culturology of the Pacific State University, Doctor of Philosophy
So, what is the supertask of Duttan? Let's try to fantasize. A person comes from a comfortable and well-maintained Germany to the far outskirts of the Russian Empire. To the place where life only becomes. Yes. Vladivostok, as well as other cities in the region are growing. But they grow not so much a wonderful architecture, as the Chinese "shankaychikami", the future "millionaire" and workers' villages, dirty streets with several stone buildings of official "offices". Dattan starts CREATING A CITY, reformatting the space for himself. 

The beginning was laid with the construction of a unique store (now GUM) in Vladivostok. There were no such supermarkets at that time, not only in European Russia, but also in Europe. The point is not only in the size of the store, which exceeds the famous Eliseevsky, but in the assortment, in the technique of trade, in the appearance of the counters. Loans for purchases, bonus programs, a system of discounts - all this is in the Kunst and Albers store at the end of the XNUMXth century, on the farthest and most undeveloped edge of the world. And what about the assortment? According to the recollections of the residents of the city of those years, it was possible to buy EVERYTHING in the Kunst and Albers store: from a car of the latest brand to an Ussuri tiger, from products of the latest fashion exhibition from Paris to exotic fruits of Oceania. If the goods were suddenly not found, then the order was accepted and executed within a month.

And maybe just a store. Dattan builds a hostel for workers, churches, public buildings, his efforts open hospitals and educational institutions, including the Oriental Institute - the first higher educational institution in the region, the embryo of the future FENU and FEFU. The scale is gradually growing. The activity of "Kunst and Albers" spills out beyond the borders of Vladivostok. Thanks to the efforts of the architect Junghendahl, not just shops, but centers of culture, higher in quality than those that surrounded the inhabitants of the region, appear.
In Nikolsk-Ussuriisk and Khabarovsk, in Blagoveshchensk and Nikolayevsk-on-Amur, in dozens of cities of the governor-general there are institutions of the company that are not just trade missions, but cultural centers that have gradually expanded into quarters. An important feature was the constant concern of the owner and the manager about the company's employees. Work on it should not just be profitable, but honorable, convenient, prestigious. For workers, dormitories were built with canteens, courses for boys-messengers were organized. Training for employees was paid.

Unusual kulturtregererskaya and charitable activities of the "most famous German" in the governor-general receive a well-deserved reward. Adolf Duttan becomes a commerce adviser to the Russian Empire. On the representation of the emperor receives the German order, reduces acquaintance with the supreme light of Germany and Russia, becomes a hereditary Russian nobleman and a real state councilor. Exhibitions of products of the company receive the highest awards at prestigious exhibitions in Odessa and Nizhny Novgorod, outside of Russia. It seemed that life only promises roses. A loving wife, a successful company, children grow up. Son, Alexander - one of the best students of the gymnasium, daughters thrive in music. Honor and respect, and sincere, not to the show, on the part of the most diverse strata of the population. But ... it was 1914 a year.

Many years before the fateful 1914, the already co-owner of the trading house and millionaire Adolf Dattan decided to visit his distant homeland. The journey lasted almost a year. In many cities of Russia, long stops were made, contacts were made. The visit to his hometown was not particularly long, but triumphant. He receives an offer to become a sales agent and later consul of the German Empire. The main thing that Dattan brought back was his wife Maria Fendler - a woman who became his faithful companion for life, who bore him 4 sons and 3 daughters.

And just before the war, his wife and her younger children were visiting Germany, while Adolf Vasilyevich himself and his sons remained in Vladivostok. With the outbreak of war, a front line was laid between parts of the family, on both sides of which spy hysteria began. First of all, Germans in Russia and Russian subjects in Germany fell under it. Despite the orders that Dattan's distant homeland showered with and the title of German consul, he, like his wife, were Russian subjects. The children of the Far Eastern merchant were also Russian subjects. The wife, who lives in Germany, wrote to Vladivostok about the constant attacks on her from the neighbors, about the arrest of her son Pavel on suspicion of spying for Russia.

A loving father takes action. He writes letters to Germany, to familiar ministers. members of the reigning house, their "good friends", asking for protection for their family. Protection has been received. There is a document signed by the Prince of the House of Hohenzollern confirming the "complete trustworthiness of Frau Dattan and her children." But by protecting the family, the head of the trading house exposed himself to harm. Spy mania also spread on the other side of the front. A German businessman, and even a German consul, although a hereditary nobleman of Russia, could not help but be under suspicion.

I have already read several materials about the disreputable role in further tragic events of Dattan's main competitors, the company Churin and Co, headed by A.V. Kasyanov. Although Kunst and Albers was based in Vladivostok, and Churin and Co in Blagoveshchensk, their interests constantly overlapped. Although there were joint actions, especially in the field of public charity. Despite the fact that these enterprises cannot be called friendly, the accusations against them seem somewhat far-fetched. Their essence is that it was Kasyanov, who was living in the capital by that time, who hired the journalist A.F. Ossendowski, whom he met in Harbin, to attack Adolph Dattan. The consequence of this was the arrest and exile of "the most famous German."

The fact is that, after a short and unsuccessful "revolutionary activity", enrichment with the help of Ostap Bender's method, vulgar blackmail, according to rumors, became an important financial aid to the future associate of Baron Ungern and the famous Polish writer. Dattan himself mentioned Ossendovsky's “urgent request” to transfer 200 rubles to his name so as not to publish materials incriminating him. The role of Kasyanov in this situation seems superfluous. There is a novice writer who is not opposed to making money on spy mania, there is a rich German, treated kindly not only by the Russian court, but also by the German one, there is social hysteria. Under these conditions, correspondence with prominent dignitaries in Germany could well be interpreted as espionage. Moreover, Dattan increasingly spoke of his desire to retire and leave for neutral Switzerland.

Be that as it may, in October 1914, despite huge donations, despite the fact that his son, Alexander from the first days was at the front, and stories about his heroism were regularly published in local newspapers, Adolf Duttan was arrested. The company's activities were terminated (most of it, indeed, passed under the control of Kasyanov), and Dattan's companion, young Alfred Albers, heir to Gustav, went private to the front. 

They stood up for Dattan, there were no facts exposing his espionage activities. But after getting out of arrest, the nobleman and the former honorary citizen went not to his home, but to exile, to the village of Kolpashevo, Tomsk province "under police supervision." The former first entrepreneur, a hereditary nobleman and a real state councilor spent many years there. Of the several thousand employees of the company, of the hundreds of friends of the disgraced millionaire, only a Chinese servant and a governess remained with him. Cold and disorder broke him. In 1919, a sick old man returned to Vladivostok. Of the entire trading empire over the years, only branches in Ussuriysk and Khabarovsk have survived. But, even in his seventh decade, having received two "funerals" from the front, he struggles for two long years, trying to restore his former financial situation and partially succeeds. Finally, completely crushed, he returned to Germany in 1921, where he soon died.

The firm remains on Alfred Albers, who escaped from the front and broke through Vladivostok through roaring Russia. Probably, something special was in these people. They fought to the end. In 1922, Alfred, like his competitor Kasyanov, is transferring his activities to North China, the KVZhD area. But already in 2 year is making an attempt to return to Russia. Again, although on a smaller scale, trade boils in the cities of the region. After all, despite the liquidation of the Far Eastern Republic, the Bolsheviks behaved much more modestly, and private enterprises and the free peasantry prevailed until the middle of the 30-ies. True, "elite goods" no longer reach the dying "trading palaces." More and more consumer goods are coming. But the centers of universal trade flourish in Harbin and Shanghai.

Only in 1934 year, due to the nationalization of all trade enterprises in the region, did Kunst and Albers finally leave the Russian land. Chinese branches existed longer. Until the very second world war. After the war, and Alfred Albers returned to Germany. The company continues to exist in Hamburg. It seems the story is over, closed. 

Probably so. 

But there were unique houses, decorating and today the cities of the Far East. They are building cities today, too. It is not by chance that one of the guests of Khabarovsk spoke about the "fashionable European city" in an incredible distance from Europe. Remained the experience and memory of the failed, but such a possible flowering of the Far Eastern lands, the Far East, once superior to the development rate of the "Far West". There remained the experience of unique, strong and beautiful people who invested in this land work, talent, strength. Remained a memory. We are left! Because - the sequel follows!
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