He was called a strange name for the Russian ear Dyasa. He limped and walked with a stick. Dyasa’s chief assistant was a two-meter-tall child nicknamed Malkoto. They were surrounded by people with more understandable surnames – Benoit, for example. And there were also Valdman (Al), Bilevich (Boba), Yakovlev. They all lived in the “Box” and regularly helped cook Martha. Yes, all this happened in Murmansk in 1920-1921.
city of fear
This amazing story was told to recent graduates of the Feodoritovsky Readings by Tatiana Akulova, a leading member of the Department of the Russian State Naval Archives (RGAVMF). By the way, the conference was very informative. More than 60 reports were read – from the philosophical aspects of understanding history to archaeology, from the history of the village of Kovda to the evolution of the image of the Orthodox clergy, from the history of the Kola ultra-deep well to the construction of fishing villages.
Those who could not attend this celebration of history should not lose heart. The conference proceedings will soon be published as a separate book that can be purchased or borrowed from libraries.
A few years ago, the manuscript journal “Murmansky Mussels” was transferred to permanent storage at the RGAVMF. Its authors were the Chief of Staff of the Naval Defense of the Murmansk Coast (Naobmur) B.V. Bilevich, the Chief of the Operational Section of the Staff A.I. Sergievski, the Chief of the Administrative Section of the Staff N.F.N.M. Korintelli, etc. . The military lived in a commune at the address: Murmansk Base, house No. 48. They called this house “The Box”.
The immediate inspiration of the idea is Alexander Sergievski, also known as Dyasa. Why Dyasa? This is a shortened version from Uncle Sasha. Uncle Sergievski was named for his solid appearance, complemented by a cane, with which Alexander Ivanovich was forced to move due to the consequences of the injury.
Life in Murmansk in 1920-1923 was very unsweetened. The lack of food and basic necessities, compounded by domestic insecurity. Murmansk, like a premature baby, was not really needed by anyone. The royal power that conceived this child was no longer there, and the adopters in the form of Soviet power simply did not know what to do with him. The city is vegetating. The authorities requisitioned surplus food and posted squads at the Murmansk exit to prevent food exports (this did help to avoid starvation). Sofas and armchairs, tables and chairs were confiscated from the wealthy. In the winter of 1921-1922, an epidemic of typhus broke out due to overcrowding. Of the four thousand inhabitants of the city, more than one and a half thousand were sick with typhus and relapsing fever. And in the summer of 1922, such a wave of banditry passed through the railway and coastal settlements that, believe me, the Wild West rested (for more details about these events, see the materials “Once upon a time in the Wild North” in the issue of “VM” from December 9, 2018 and 20’s Night – January 19, 2018).
No whining and no country words
During this period, more precisely in the summer of 1920, Alexander Sergievski came up with the idea of publishing a manuscript magazine called Murmansk Mussels. Apparently, after discussing this with other residents of “The Box” and obtaining an excellent old-fashioned coated paper album somewhere, he set to work.
“Reading these lines! – writes Alexander Ivanovich in the introductory article. – We know that life outside the arctic circle does not bring you much joy, and you want to lighten up your vegetative life by heating the stove or going to work with your head. You don’t eat, you don’t sleep. But in the depths of your soul there is a spark of desire, at least for a minute to live a pure, spiritual life, at least for a minute to warm your hardened soul with beauty and grace. Although you deny it, hiding behind lofty ideals, loud phrases, thick blankets and fur coats, you still cannot hide from us your evening-hour aspirations to giggle, writhe in fits of laughter, and clap with heels on her belly wild delight. So know that we are always ready to help you.
Dyasa also prescribed the “Rules of life in the” box “: the inadmissibility of whining and rustic words, playing with cards, whispering, eating in his lair. And most importantly: “Everyone’s guest is everyone’s guest.”
“The magazine gave every member of the commune a cheerful laugh of life by the ocean, full of ice,” writes Tatiana Akulova in the annotation to her report. – Contains author’s texts (notes, humorous, jokes, lines in prose and verse, notes), drawings and cartoons, as a rule, with irony and humor, illustrating the life of sailors and their families, personal and social events from the life of military officers – from training to skiing, playing music, etc.”
The missing paintings
To create the magazine, Alexander Sergievski attracted the young artist Vladimir Golitsyn and the already famous architect and watercolorist Albert Nikolaevich Benoit. The latter ended up in Murmansk, actually escaping the famine that was then raging in Petrograd. In August 1920, the 68-year-old academician got a job as an artist as part of a geological expedition that studied the northern regions of the Kola Peninsula. The scientists settled in a freight car that was equipped with all possible comforts.
“Albert Nikolayevich worked continuously both at frequent stops and on the way, making sketches,” writes Elena Wittenburg, a researcher of his life and a relative of one of the members of this expedition. – He is given complete freedom in choosing topics and plots. In 1921, an exhibition of watercolors by Albert Nikolayevich was opened at the House of Arts in Petrograd, consisting of 76 works written during the expedition.
In 1924, Albert Benoit emigrated from the USSR. He lived in Paris, where he died in 1936.
“Wounded by the Sea”
This is the name of another illustrator of Murmansk shells – Prince Vladimir Golitsyn. He was 19 years old at the time. To avoid mobilization in the Red Army, with a false certificate that he was a former sailor of the cruiser “Askold”, he went to Lev Zenkevich’s polar expedition to the Kola Peninsula. Here, fate meets him with Dyasa, who gives Golitsyn the nickname Small because of his enormous height.
Vladimir Golitsyn was a talented artist. At the International Exhibition in Paris in 1925, Vladimir Golitsyn received a gold medal for painting wooden boxes. At that time, he worked as an illustrator in several magazines at once, traveled a lot around the USSR. Dreaming of the sea, Vladimir Mikhailovich invented several nautical board games for children, in which he showed all his knowledge of the history of the fleet and shipbuilding. One of them – “Pirates” – his friend, the artist Pavel Korin, showed in Moscow to Maxim Gorky, who volunteered to help print it. However, it was published much later. In total, Vladimir Golitsyn invented more than 20 games.
Surname and social background end up costing this extraordinary man his life. He was arrested several times in the 1930s, but his friends, including the famous academician Shchusev, got him out each time. In 1941, they didn’t skimp either. Golitsyn was sent to Sviyazhsk, where he died in 1943.
Alexander Sergievski himself was soon demobilized. At one time he sailed in the river fleet, but was then recalled to service. He served as a sea border guard, taught. During the Great Patriotic War, he fought near Leningrad, then on the Volga. He died of cancer in 1954. He kept “Murman Seashells” all his life and gave the magazine to his daughter Irina.
Pictures from open internet sources