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Scouts from the island of Russian

How the Americans cared about the children of revolutionary Petrograd

Scouts from the island of Russian

In 1918, Russia was starving, and citizens who wanted to "feed" their children could send them to the so-called "nutritional colony" for the summer. It cost decent money for those times, 75–90 rubles. So the colony ended up with children from families that were considered "prosperous".

In total, according to various sources, there were 700 to 800 children and about two hundred adults - educators, teachers, doctors, cooks ... From Petrograd on trains they were sent to the "inner provinces" that were not yet ravaged by the revolution and the flaring up civil war.

The journey began on 18 in May on 1918, when the first train, about 101 people, departed from the Finnish railway station Petrograd on the train No. XXUMX to the city of Miass in the Urals. The second echelon went 400 May to the city of Petropavlovsk in Kazakhstan. 

And only when the first train arrived in Miass and the children were placed in the soldiers' barracks on the outskirts of the city, the educators were surprised to learn that they rented the barracks for them ... American Red Cross (ACC). 

This organization appeared in Russia in August 1917 of the year, established contacts with the Kerensky government and first of all undertook the "rescue of the hungry". 

At first, the life of the Petrograd colonists in the Urals and in the Kazakh steppes was satisfying and comfortable. Everyone was sure that by the autumn they would return home. But it turned out quite differently. The fronts of the Civil War cut off the path back. The American Red Cross managed to unite the children of both colonies and send them away from the front line, across Siberia to Vladivostok. There, the children spent almost a whole year as part of a single Petrograd colony under the tutelage of the Red Cross, which fully funded their maintenance, training and treatment. 

Since November, Red Cross Major Riley Allen, a journalist from the Hawaiian Islands, has become the head of the ACC mission to save Petrograd children from November 1919. 

One of the Americans then published a book in the USA called Wild Children of the Urals and Siberia. For marketing purposes, this name is justified. But in fact, it was about children from an educated and wealthy class who wore the names that were the pride of the country: the Lopukhins, the Orlovs, the Demidovs, the Khabarovs, the Makarevich ... Some of them later left their memories, which, in turn, other books were written. 

Here are eyewitness accounts of this incredible odyssey: “The train stopped at the Second River station, in the suburbs of Vladivostok, on the shores of the Amur Bay. At first, they continued to live in wagons. Then the Americans took down nearby barracks. But there was not enough room for them all. After some time, it was cheaper to rent new premises on the Russian island. There and went most of the colonists. Six hundred fifty girls and twenty one boys. Of the smallest. 

On the Russian island, the children were placed in powder warehouses near the Pospelovo marina. Around were the hills, ledges descending to the sea. The warehouses were dirty and cold single-story buildings, glass in many places were broken. The girls, led by Russian educators, began to master these buildings, launder kerosene and bring warehouses to barracks. 

Order Americans have established hard. Introduced a system of self-service and duty ... Karl Ivanovich Kolles, who quickly mastered the Russian language, held a general meeting of children in the colony. He shamed everybody for his poor studies, for uncleaned rooms. And if before the meeting almost no one followed the cleanliness and order in the bedrooms, relying on nurses on the Russian habit, then in front of a stranger, an American, everyone was ashamed. 

"How old is the nanny to clean your bed?" What a great shame! In America there is no nanny. I myself have my nurse! "- said Karl Ivanovich.
While it was warm, the children were catching crabs in the gulf. Whole buckets. They walked through shallow water in the warm water of the bay and looked out for crabs. And crabs looked out for them and sometimes they hurt painfully by the legs. 

The school was located on the highest tier of the hill. Over the school and over the entire Russian island, the American flag roared. Here began to learn the younger colonists. Older girls, gymnasium students, had to go to classes in the city. 

The dining room was located in a separate house downstairs, almost by the sea. In the dining room, in the evenings, as in a club, they arranged to show films and dances. 

There was a hospital in the same house. Nurses, young American women, walked in starched caps and aprons. A set of their drugs very well characterizes the then American medicine: castorca, iodine and cough syrup, apparently, the root of Althea, the so-called “drops of the Danish king”. And that's all. 

The staff of the colony on the Russian island now consisted entirely of former Austrian prisoners who had been hired by the Americans in Omsk. They helped in the kitchen, heated barracks in the winter, inserted glass. They were intelligent, educated people, officers. They guessed that through Vladivostok, with the help of Americans, they would get home, if not faster, then more reliably and comfortably. Here they were dressed and fed, and still paid a salary in yens. 

Almost in all memoirs it is emphasized that the colonists were fed in an American way abundantly. Every day for dinner served stewed beans, red fish chum, pork stew. For breakfast, semolina porridge with apples, cocoa or coffee, cookies, canned pineapples and pears. 

When the cold began, the Americans put the children in uniform: a plaid coat, and on their feet - black Japanese wadded quilted boots with a hard sole and yellow lining, the so-called "walk." On the head - wadded helmets. The girls went to homemade gray sweaters with a black bow on the chest and homemade blue skirts of the most incredible cut, who had enough imagination. All employees and volunteers of ACC were wearing khaki suits and caps. 

The colony decided to create a scout squad. But the ideas of the movement did not satisfy everyone. Still, the colonists were the children of “red Petrograd”, and the brutal civil war unfolded before their eyes. The “Faithful Guys Group”, led by Valentina Caune 18 in May 1920, organized an uprising. Here is the appeal of the revolutionaries: 

“Scouts! The old foundations of scouting are out. Scoutism in the colony threatens to disappear, pouring out in pursuit of signs of differences, stripes, etc. tinsel scouts monarchical and Kolchak system. Remembering that the true goal of scouting is to foster the independence of future citizens of free Russia, we, scouts of the Second River, raise the banner of new scouting, which is based on the first law: the scout obeys his conscience. 

Long live the red scouts! Be ready!" 

This episode surfaced when the USSR celebrated the 50 anniversary of the creation of the pioneer organization. But, since it turned out that the pioneers in Vladivostok appeared before the Komsomol members earlier than in Moscow, this episode was quickly forgotten. 

It cannot be said that the Soviet authorities knew nothing about the “Petrograd children” or forgot about them. The People's Commissar for Foreign Affairs Chicherin sent a telegram to the Soviet representative in Vladivostok Vilensky requesting allegedly mistreatment of the colonists, but Vilensky certified that the children were in good conditions. 

In the Petrograd "Krasnaya Gazeta" from 27 March 1920, on the first page under the heading "The Return of St. Petersburg children" was printed:

“Comrade. The following telegram was received from Vladivostok from the Commissioner in the Far East by Zinoviev: “Yesterday the mission of the American Red Cross visited me, announcing its desire to hand over to the Soviet power the children of the Petrograd proletariat now on Russky Island. For the departure of children organized a special train of the Red Cross. Children send greetings. ” 

The 3 April 1920 was published in the Izvestia newspaper, a formidable article by Commissar for Education Lunacharsky entitled “All is not well that ends well”: “At one time we reported an outrageous act committed by the American Red Cross against the many children of Petrograd. The Americans took all these children with them on an infinitely long Siberian journey, and we were fully informed of a number of facts testifying to the haste of this departure, bordering on cruelty towards children, and the painful woes that the kids had to go through. It was more outrageous than all that was the motivation of this cruel measure: it is impossible to leave children in the hands of the Bolsheviks, who will corrupt them. 

After that, even more bad rumors, but more likely a figment of fantasy, began to spread. These rumors were agonizing for the parents of the children, and the whole “feat” of the American Red Cross in combination is a combination of inhuman torture of many hundreds of human beings. ... The Red Cross cannot atone for all the frivolity and all the heartlessness of the operation performed on the children's and parental hearts. ” 

Memoirists with admiration note the exceptional education and innate intelligence of these children. Russian educators for all the time never had to resort to punishment. Despite the hunger and all the difficulties that they had to endure, none of them became a thief or a criminal. 

Vladivostok authorities helped the colonies in any way they could. But at the start of 1920, the Japanese forces took control of the city. Attitudes toward the Americans and the American Red Cross were wary, if not hostile. 

The whole colony: both Russian children and the remaining Americans were captured in Japanese. After much effort, Riley Allen managed to get permission from the Japanese to take out the children, but only by sea. A Japanese cargo ship was hired and re-equipped into a passenger vessel. 

13 July 1920 sailed from Vladivostok, at 4 in the morning. On the ship there were children from 3 to 20 years - Russians, Ukrainians, Belarusians, Jews, Poles, Latvians, Estonians, two Frenchmen, an Englishman, a Swede, an Iranian and a Finn. The Americans themselves called the ship Noah's Ark. 

The return trip was planned through San Francisco. Then, through the Panama Canal, the children came to New York and, finally, to Helsingfors. From there to the native Petrograd was within reach. In December 1920, the first group of children returned home. And the Soviet government appeared in Vladivostok in 1922 year. 

This whole story for many years fell out of the attention of historians. The USSR and the USA were enemies, and until the “detente” in the 70s, they preferred not to recall examples of cooperation. 

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