Diary of Ivan Goulevitch
B. 5 Jan 1901, Roudnia, Bellorussia
D. 1980. France

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Spelling Variations for Goulevitch Гулевич


Dear Reader

The following English version of the diary of IVAN GOULEVITCH was provided to our sons by Rebekah Goulevitch, a resident of Brisbane, Australia, in about 2003-04. Rebekah received it from relatives in France in about 1992, probably Serge and Nicole Churassy - (S)Chkouropat/dski/y in earlier times.

In preparing this digital copy from the paper copy supplied to us by Rebekah, we have avoided making any changes other than simple spelling errors. Even then some spelling errors have not been changed as they add to the character of the grammar and the record itself. This present digital edition appears to be at least the second transcription of the original diary of IVAN – question marks and inserts in the text suggest that the original translator was unsure of some of the meanings in the original diary.

The title page was missing from the copy supplied to us. We have applied the title on page 1 on the basis of IVAN’S comment on page 15 (Chapter III) – “… this diary that I have called “The annals of the family.”

Since we first put the diary on the web in 2004 we have identified the rightful inheritor of the diary as IVAN’S son, Paul Goulevitch, who lives with his wife, Andree, in Montelimar, France. Paul and Andree are happy that the diary is on the internet. Andree advised that the diary was translated from Russian to French by a Russian teacher in Brittany. Paul then distributed copies to various family members in France including his nephew, Victor Schkourospatski, who is Serge’s brother. Subsequently, the French version was translated into the English version which Serge passed onto Rebekah.

We are part of a Goulevitch chain (“Basil’s – Vasilliivanovitch - chain” – my grandfather Basil (Vasilij) b. 1897 in Roudnia, Belarus, married 13/05/18 in Serebrianka to Josephine (Juzefa) Katsuba, b. 1899 “7 verst from Kiev” Ukraine).

Basil and Josephine arrived in Australia in 1925 with Basil’s cousin Paul Goulevitch (b. ?1901, m. Agsna Schkouropatski, b. ?) and a Schemlovski family after escaping from Siberia across the frozen Amur River in the winter of 1918-1919 (ie. well before the 1922 migration describe by IVAN), and then spending much of the intervening period in Shanghai, possibly as refugees.

We built a tentative family chain from IVAN’s diary and added to this with details provided by Andree and other Goulevitch family members in France. We still cannot definitely tie Basil’s chain to the chain of IVAN through the Goulevitch name but can link them through marriages to Katsuba family members. According to the diary, IVAN’S sister Marija married Stepan Katsuba who was almost certainly Josephine’s brother.Marriage records supplied by Anatolij Marenchak (see below) show that Stepan Kaksuba and Marija Goulevitch and Vasilij Goulevitch and Juzefa Kaksuba were married in Serebrianka on the same day, 13 May, 1918.

Josephine was the youngest of 15 children of whom only 5 survived. Basil was the youngest of 17 children – number survived unknown.

We communicate with:-

We can possibly tie some of these chains together (through three Schkouropatsky sisters – daughters of Theodore S/Chkouropatski and Agnes (or Agsna/Jagna) Goulevitch. But we cannot tie them with any certainty to either IVAN’s chain (IVAN’S mother Praxeda Schkouropatski had no brothers or sisters but could be Theodore’s cousin) or Basil’s chain.

We would like to discover the connections, especially direct Goulevitch connections, if possible!

If you can assist, if you would like to see copies of the chains so far established, or if you can provide new chains please contact one of the following:-

Basil’s Chain (son of a different Ivan G)
    John Goulevitch, 23-25 Waterfall Close, EDMONTON, 4869, Australia
    Ph 61 8 4055 5138 –

    Peter Dunn, BRISBANE, Australia (see e-mail address at bottom of page)

Paul’s Chain (father’s name unknown; sister Anna Mikelevitch still living in France in 2001)
    John Goulevitch (see above)

Martin’s Chain (son of Kazimir G)
    Rebekah Goulevitch, 32 Susan Street, Red Hill, BRISBANE, 4059 Australia

Pierre/Piotre’s Chain (son of another Ivan G)
    Sylvie Guirguis-Goulevitch, France -
    Nicolas Moniez – last contact
    Sylvie Goulevitch -
Nikita Goulevitch -

Francois/Frants’ Chain (son of Theodore G)
    Stephane Goulevitch, France -

    Anatolij Marenchak, Vladivostok


John & Marilyn Goulevitch
8 July 2008


The following photos are from Anatolij Marinchak of Vladivostok,
Russia via John Goulevitch in Darwin, Australia.

Anatolij's ancestors were from the small village of Serebrianka near city Swobodnyj in the Amur area. His grand-grandfather Goulevitch Semen arrived in Serebrianka from village Rudnia in Mogilyov of Byelorussia in the beginning of the 20 century.

His grandmother was Marinchak (Goulevitch) Juli Semenovna. Also he knows of a  Skouropadskaya and has received a photo from Agneshi Konstantinovny in France who he has now lost contact with.

goulevitch01.jpg (36112 bytes) River Serebrianka in the village of Serebrianka
goulevitch02.jpg (29776 bytes) The main street of the village of Serebrianka
goulevitch03.jpg (35950 bytes) Alexander Goulevitch in Serebrianka
goulevitch04.jpg (42006 bytes) The road into the village of Rogachevka
goulevitch05.jpg (50700 bytes) The ancient family home of Voronovyh in the village of Rogachevka
goulevitch06.jpg (27343 bytes) The main street of the village of Rogachevka
goulevitch07.jpg (47249 bytes) The house of rest in Rogachevka, previously a Catholic Church
goulevitch08.jpg (32203 bytes) The main street of the village of Rogachevka
goulevitch09.jpg (68812 bytes) The grave of Pavla Nikolaevicha Goulevitch in a Cemetery in the village of Rogachevka
goulevitch10.jpg (72998 bytes) The grave of Alexandra Katuba (Katsuba) in a cemetery in the village of Rogachevka. He was born in 1916 and died in 1994. Photo 3 August 2004.
goulevitch11.jpg (81599 bytes) The grave of Goulevitch Ujzela Vasil'evna in a cemetery in the village of Rogachevka. Was born in 1903? Died in 1978. 
goulevitch12.jpg (74743 bytes) The grave of Kacuba (Katcuba) Aleksandra Evmenovny in a cemetery in the village of Rogachevka. Born 18 December 1918. Died 13 June 2003. 
goulevitch13.jpg (82092 bytes) Goulevitch's who lost their lives in WW2 are circled in green. This is a monument to the defence counsels of a native land in the city of Svobodnyj.

Goulevitch A.A.
Goulevitch A.I.
Goulevitch B.O.
Goulevitch B.P.
Goulevitch I.A.
Goulevitch K.I.
Goulevitch P.A.
Goulevitch C.C.
Goulevitch E.L.



B. 05/01/1901, Roudnia, Bellorussia
D. 1980. France



All my ancestors – as well as myself – are natives from Poland.  We have kept our catholic religion forever.  Our most distant ancestors remained in the Voline region.  According to the narration that have remained in the family, the three Goulevitch brothers met again one day in the Mogalev region and they build a house at the fringe of the forest, close to a large spring.  They saw there a layer of iron ore, which would enable them to develop trades of fabrication of this metal.

Later on, the place became a big village, where they stayed and it was called Roudnei, “Roudia”.  Nobody knows how many years it took to this village to grow.  How many centuries have they lived in the town of Roudnei?  We know only one thing: the majority of the inhabitants of that town have for name Goulevitch.

The land where they lived was owned by a grand landowner.  To live there our ancestors paid a tax, that is: all the family worked 3 days a week for the owner.  Their life was not easy.  My ancestors were not farmers, they worked the iron, that enabled them to have a place of residence and the local authorities let them live peacefully, which for that epoch in Russia, was a privilege of some craftsmen.  For the same reason these families were free, independants in relation to the owner, who was a count (G.B. earl).

These rights of our family had been registered and the documents were in the count’s possession.  When the count died, the countess became widow she transferred these to the administrative service of Mogalev's government.

After her death, having no children, this big property passed on to the hands of distant relatives, only for the reason that it would not come across the hands of farmers or the public treasury.  It’s in these circumstances that the new count took possession of the property and the fate of my ancestors.  To avoid the serfdom, the families struggled to retrieve the documents, which should have been in the administrative service of the governement, in Mogelev, but apparently they had disappeared.

Thus my ancestors families become the property of the young aristocrat.  Its was slavery, a real slavery that these families experienced.  For example, they choose among the women good nurses for the children of the “master”.  The didn’t hesitate to flog people at the fields.  Thus it went on until the end of slavery.

I can’t give more precisions about these peoples life, since there is very little witnesses.  After farmers liberation my ancestors received a few plots of land which were distributed by family and by man.

Nobody knows how long time life went on thus in that town called Roudia.  When the families of these three brothers became a real village, they started to lack accommodation.  The foundries had ceased to be profitable and on top of that, the quality of the cast iron had dropped because the secret of its production decreased by each generation.  The soil became sterile and sandy.  Life was more and more hard and miserable.

Happily, they knew a man who hold a important position by the count.  He listened to them and advised that they write to the government asking to replace this sterile land by an other.  They followed his advice.  Two government representatives came, did an investigation and left.  The governement passed an agreement, a convention, with the landowner for replacement of these fields.  An agricultural engineer came to Roudia and proposed them to choose new fields where they wished.  Finally they settled their choice on a very pretty valley, crossed by small springs and having as frontiers a beautiful river: Bessedia.  This engineer, being a generous and good man, and wanting to please them, offered them even large areas of land since he knew that the owner was not short of it.

But our men were scared, since they could have found themselves in prison, it they claimed to occupy much more land than what they had before.

The engineer laughed at their foolishness and their candour and registered them much less fields than they could have had.  In spite of that, the surface of this land was three times larger than what they had previously.

In Autumn 1879, the old Roudia burned down, except one house.  Thus all the wheat and everything they had disappeared.  It was easy to move out.  But while waiting to get through the winter, they dug holes into ground and settled down, in the new village of Roudia.  Thus the foundation of the new village date from autumn 1879.  On the land of the old village, a forest was planted that belonged henceforth to the count.  Thus the traces of our ancestor’s life disappeared.

The new village was just over 6.5 km from the old one.  I think, that even now, it is possible to find the locality of the old village, thanks to ruins of houses and traces of foundries.  I think that also a broken carcass of a crane of 25 pouds (1 poud = 16kg) that was set into motion by the lake water, can be found.  All these remains enables to find again the cemeteries where our ancestors are burieds.

My grand-father as well as my father told me that the first years of life on this new land, were marvellous and even rich.  They were never fearful of work and twenty years passed thus by.  The inhabitants of the village tripled and the soil that was sandy in the beginning, became sterile again, and they knew misery once more, hard life and lack of accomodation.

Nothing grew without manure, they strained themselves for nothing.  There was no machines in the village all was made manually.  The women share was also hard: they had to saw linseed, make fabric thereof and then sew.  They didn’t buy any clothes, everything was home made.  Obviously all day went by working hard.  The work was not interesting, it didn’t bring any money in.  It deprived them of freedom and did them feel that they were slaves of their own life.  I will talk more about my parents life later on.

I would have loved to describe my parents life as being joyous and filled with much splendour.  Unhappily, it was quite different.  My father Ivan, was only 6 months old when his parents died. (His fathers, and my grand-father was called Matwei).  He had three brothers and their father, that is my great grand-father, departed to military service, which at that time lasted 25 years.  He never came back.  Who departed to military service?  The government sent an inquiry to find out, among the farmers a number of recruits.  The master transmitted the number of recruits to the township and they designated those who had to leave the village for the military service.  Obviously, such a long service could not be easily accepted by young men.  They knew that one did rarely come back to his native village.  Most died far off from home, of pain or in battle.

The township choose those with small families usually, it is to say, those who had the least of votes.  Some young men, knowing they were at risk of being chosen, took to flight and preferred to hide themselves in forest, all the rest of their life. There was a number of these wanderers who lived in “deserts” like animals, always looking for food and clothes.  They became also dangerous carrying out rapes and plunder.  Some were caught, put in irons and sent to their place of service.  He who went to the military service lost his land at the same time.

My great grand-father having departed to military service, his three (?4, JG) children found themselves without land and lived in deep poverty.  They worked as day-labourers for farmers, but not one had any compassion for these miserables.  Nobody wanted to receive or feed them in their homes.  Such were the conditions of their life.  To escape thereof Matvei set up house with a widow who had four children and lived in the next village.  This widow was practising the orthodox religion, so Matvei changed religion.  This widow was very rich.  People narrate – and it has become a legend in our family – that her husband had taken advantage of the money of a treasure found by his grand-father.  It happen 50 years ago.  That grand-father was the poorest among the poor.  He was a shepherd.  During many years he was taking care of a flock.  One day, he had lead his flock close to a road where he found a purse of leather full of golden coins.  In the past they used to transport money in calf- or goat skins.  These coins belonged to public treasury had to be sent by road that went through three governments.  The civil servants – had they drunk too much or did they lack vigilance – didn’t notice that their calfskin purse had fallen from the cart.  The state services sent public notices to all villages with a reward promise – and even a medal – for those who found that money.  The old shepherd didn’t say anything: his best reward were the golden coins …. Had he been honest, the reward had been enough to allow him to live comfortably the rest of his life, even if he wasn’t very old yet (around fifty), but greediness prevented him from making himself known.

Having all that money at his disposal, he could not spend it because his family’s poverty was such that it would have given rise to suspicion immediately.  During two more years he remained shepherd.  He had no children, but he had as apprentice the future husband of that widow.  He took well care of his child’s education, giving him instructions as to how he could take advantage of that money.  After those two years went by, this old man gave up his shepherding work and started to buy hemp and to resale it in the neighbouring towns.  A few years later he had earned up a good captial.  He bought also horses and became propriater to fifty horses, which he used to transport linen and sand with, to resale them in Moscou, where he settled his business.  The young man knew well that he would inherit this business.  One day, while coming back from Moscou after a good sale, he told to grand-father, that he had been stolen of all the money.  The grand-father understood that it was a lie and started to scold him, but he swore that it was true.  May be because of that lie – or may be it was his fate – he died soon after, leaving a wife and four children.

The stolen money he left could not be kept at home, so she entrusted it to a relative.  She was illiterate and unaware of the amount thus entrusted.  She thought that each note wasn’t worth more than a ruble … and that relative, ‘conscientious’ returned her as many rubles as she had entrusted him banknotes, according to her requirement.  The difference was enormous: one ruble for a note of a hundred! In a few years she spent all that money and since the children were small, she decided to remarry before getting to real misery.  She accepted therefore my grand-father to her house.

Matvei was a intelligent man, endowed with business.  Although young, the hard fate taught him the value of money.  After the marriage, he settled down to work and everything he undertook, succeeded, so that in a few years his farm grew bigger and he became to richest farmer of the village.  He lived twenty years with this widow, but they had no children.  He married off his step-children, build to each a good house.  When two of them became parents, their mother became sick and died.  Matvei was 45 when he became a widower, and feeling lonely, he decided to remarry, which he did with a young girl of 18 years of age, Maria, from Roudia village.  She was also from the Goulevitch family.  She married Matvei according to her father’s will, because her parents were very poor and Matvei had helped them very much during many years.  For that reason her father felt compelled to give him his daughter.  Matvei and Maria lived peacefully, but since he was very rich, very coveted, he knew many business men, who visited him and with whom he feasted with them, which was very unpleasant to the young woman.  He lived 2 years with Maria and died, leaving a son of 6 months, Ivan, my father.

My father was born the 6th January 1873 in the village of Kobvka, government of Mogalev.  He father left neither Will nor other dispositions concerning his fortune.  Being a vigorous man and in good health, he had never thought about death.  He was sick only 1 week and 3 days.  Before dying he lost his faculty of speech.  Apparently he wanted to say something but it was too late.  Matvei had a friend in his village, who was also distant relative.  Together they were leasing land from the count and they had even a small business in common.  This relative kept Matvei’s money in his home, because Matvei didn’t trust one of his son-in-law.  Matvei esteeming to this relative for a honest man, thought that he would return the money to his son when he would come of age, since the mother beig still young could remarry.

The day Matvei died, this relative arrived to the house of the deceased asking for the papers that were in a wooden chest, under the pretext of their common business.  Maria, who was an illiterate woman gave him all the papers and nobody ever knew what they contained.

After Matvei’s death life continued on like normally.  The step-son’s knowing that their step-father had considerable amounts of money invested in all kinds of businesses, claimed the sharing of that money.  Maria tried to explain that she knew nothing about any money, which was true for sure.  She told them what happened with the papers she handed over to Matvei’s realative.  The step-sons went to see him asking for the money and papers, but obtained nothing.  This realative paid a high price for his lies:  soon after, he died, no-one knew how.

Had not my grand-father died so early, our destiny would have been quite different.  When my grand-mother with her baby, remained among strangers, her life became very hard and sad.  She decided to return to Roudia.  After the sharing with the step-sons of what was left, Maria was left with a house and horse.  She didn’t remain long time widow, soon after she remarried with Ivan also a Goulevitch.  Her new husband Ivan, was orphan and had known a great and misery during his childhood.  He returned to his village after millary service for which he departed for 25 years (but thanks to a decree of the Tsar, it was reduced to seven and half years) in Petrograd.  Maria had 5 more sons but one died while Frants, Piotre, Basile and Adam survived, as well as their sister Anna.

My father was a very endowed and religious child.  He was skillful with his hands.  Unfortunately he remained illiterated, since his step-father was not able to manage the affairs of the family.  When he came to age he decided to live his life seperately and became a cabinet-maker and stone-cutter.  When he was 21 years, he departed for one month and a half to millitary service.  When he was 24, he married Praxeda Schkouropatskaia.  My mother, Praxeda, had no siblings: her mother was called Victoria.  This Victoria was married with a man who departed to millitary service for 25 years, she received only one letter from her husband and as life was hard for single woman, she decided to remarry with another man.

They lived together two years when it was rumoured in the village, that her I husband was returning home.  Being scared of annoyance, she decided to quit her second husband and wait for the first one.  With her second husband husband she had a daughter, Praxeda.  Having suffered very much, she decided not to remarry a third time.  She lived in Roudia with her small daughter earning her daily bread with difficulty.  She followed us to Serebrianka, on Amour, where she died during the winter 1907.

When life in Roudia became impossible, because of the bad condition of the soil, all young ones left for America whereas our family decided to go to Siberia, towards Amour stream.

My father was chosen as scout to go to Siberia, with my grand-father, to select the land they would buy.  The first migrants, on Amour, lived there since thirty years.  Large territories were uninhabited and availables.

Obviously those who arrived first selected the most beautiful plots of land, especially the Cosaques.  Those eight scouts, representing Roudia village and 25 families, arrived to Blagovechensk, where the leadership of the Amour region was situated.  They received a list of available land and the prices.  My father with his comrades, went along the river Toma, in search of suitable land, during 2 weeks.  But nothing pleased them.  Sometimes the fields were too low in relation to the river, sometimes there was no forest.  Finally , he fixed his choice upon a territory, Petrovsky.  However before going back to Blagovechensk to sign the deed, they went to see a relative who had left Roudia five years earlier and was now living in Rogatchev.  They took advantage of this occasion to look for other territories and they found one that pleased them more than Petrovsky.

They sign the deeds in Blagovechensk, at the department of migration.  They sent immediately a telegram to Roudia to tell them their new address.  Thus was founded the Serebrianka village in September 1903.  They cleaned up the land and build some very simples isblas (wooden house), just tolive in through winter.  To arrive there, they took the trans-Siberian train through Mandchourie.  On the other hand, the railway didn’t exist yet in Amour rigion, therefore they had to travel by boat back to Blagovechensk.

Migrants paid only a third of the trip, the public treasury paid the rest.  Otherwise they were given a allowance of two to four hundreds rubles by family to enable them to build a house and buy some livestock.  The money had to be paid back once they were well settled down, but finally this degree (?decree, JG)  was granted amnesty.



Once they moved to Amour region, they build the village that we called Serebrianka.  In the beginning, as they had no livestock, neither money, they were obliged to look for work in the surrounding villages, all the adults did so.  Thus they worked two years to other people, until they could buld a good gouse and buy a cow.  Life in ‘taiga’ was very different from that in Roudia.  In the morning they heard wild animals close to their houses.  Those who were not lazy and had time could feed themselves exclusively from gifts from the Taiga.  North of Serebrianka, expanded virgin forests where wild boars, bears and wolves lived.  The migration department gave a gun and hundred cartridges to each family, because the game was so abundant.

 Nevertheless it was not possible to subsist on hunting only, they had to work hard to survive in those hard circumstances.  One way to make a living was to pick pine cones which they turned into resin and transported on raft to Blagovechensk for sale.  It’s price was very high: 1 ruble per poud and even more.

Later on when these families became better off, they bought livestock and cultivated fields.  Cottage industry thus disappeared because of lack of time.

The soil was virgin and the climate favourable for good harvests.  The cold dew in the morning was so abundant that it was impossible to walk, so humid was the grass.  The quality of the grass was excellent.  A few small lakes had very good water.  With time, when the population became larger, domestic animals became too many, the climate and living conditions changed, there was no more dew, the lakes dried up and the riverbanks were turned into mud and swamps (frogs kingdom) because of cattle.  The good grass that used to grow so abundantly in the fields, with strawberries, mulberries, hazelnuts, disappeared.  The harvests decreased every year, even though the quality of the soil was good.  All these changes took place only 20 years after the settlement in Siberia.

In the beginning, my parents lived with my grand-father, in the same house.  Two years after they moved to a “isba” build by my father.  In two more years my father had saved enough money to buy a mare, next a horse, and later on a cow.  The mare was excellent and gave many foals, which he sold even to their neighbours.

To improve our livelihood and to create better conditions for his family my father worked very hard, since I was still too small to help him. He had a excellent health, which none of his children inherited, but which he exhausted for his chldren and for the farm. Thanks to his dexterity and to his health, he succeeded to have a prosperous farm in a short time.

In the morning, my father worked in the fields or in the forest, and in the evening at home, he made barrels fore resin.  And every passing year the life of our family was easier and richer.

Now, I will talk about my own life in verse .. according to my abilities.

  My Childhood

How sad was my childhood, I knew joy only in adolescence.

How often didn’t I cry at dark corners and in my heart prevailed winter.

My friends, have you met such a misfortune?

Life deprived me of talent, the destiny hid joy from me.

I grew up listening to the noise of storms.

I didn’t experience the azure blue carelessness and my suffering was without limits.

Thus went by years, without a sunny day coming across.

The destiny deprived me of health, but such is God’s will, not mine.

  Ivan Goulevitch

I am born the 5th January 1901 in the village of Roudia, in Mogalev region.  I lived there only 2 years, with my parents and my elder sister, Maria, after that, as I said before, we moved to Siberia.  My childhood was very sad.  At the dawn of my young years, I received fate’s blows that deprived me of health and they prevented me of coming across with beauty.  All htat I suffered during the first 15 years of my existence, make me suffer still now, without talking about some small accidents and some adventures: 4 times I faced death, it smiled to me.  The first time, it was an accident in the field, when I was injured by a harvester:  while I was working with my uncle Frants on the machine. The horses got panicky and run away. I was hurled down underneath the machine, which lacerated my back, and it was a miracle that my kidneys were not injured.  Happily it was a very fresh day and I wore a coat and that saved me.

Two years later, at 10, while playing with other youngsters during a feast, I drunk much vodka that almost burned my stomach. An other day again, wanting to show my courage, I fell down from a swing and lost consciousness.  It was only many hours later that I regained it.  And finally, I received a fullet on the face that shattered my left jaw and disfigured me at the age of 14.

When I was 8, I begun to go to school in our village and only 6 months later knew the alphabet.  At the end of three years of school, I obtained the certificate from the primary school.  I could not carry on studying because of material and moral obstacles.  Until the age of fourteen, I was a playful child, agreeable and optimistic of character, although my encounters with the death.

Those 3 first blows of fate, even though dangerous to my health, were soon forgotten, but the last one striked me as a lightning, leaving trace of misfortune until the end of my life.  How many times didn’t I sob, alone without witnesses, feeling an intense pain in my soul.

It seemed to me that a happy life was not for me, and it was may be better to quit this world.  But the strong hand of the Lord diverted me of such thoughts and directed me toward a happier life. Thanks to these new and happier thoughts, I was able to overcome all the obstacles encountered during my adolescence.  I understood that we have to live and hope, whatever the difficulties.

When the first joyful days arrived, when the nature woke up after a cold and hostile winter, when birch leaves appeared, flowers flourished and various birds came back from far-off countries, I experienced a great joy. I was delighted while contemplating this awakening nature and proud because I was ploughing alone with three horses, for the first time in my life, like an adulte.

And that some day, dressed in a white shirt with small stars and black trousers, a hat on my head, I experienced a joy and pride quite new, but the last rays of the sunset, that marked the end of this joyful day, brought me the most terrible blow, when I returned home.

  A gunshot

I was plowing in Laglavna, passionate by the awakening of spring.

I did not see the clouds that were accumulating above my head …

And when the sun went down, I took the road to return home.

And what happened to me after tea?

Did I deserve it? I did not, my Lord.

I drunk 1 or 2 cups of tea and then wanted to take the horses to the river.

At that moment I felt an anguish in my heart …

I was afraid of a vicious dog that was barking far-off in my village,

But these thoughts of anguish were in vain,

Since it was not that vicious dog that was going to ruin my life.

A wicked man, more dangerous than the dog,

By whom evil thoughts awakened by the devil,

Dispatched onto me a discharge of lead …

The shot resounded, the echo answered from the mountains,

I was shaking, my face and my breast were covered with warm blood,

The horses became crazy like savage beasts…

My friends arrived to my assistance,

I heard their steps in the stillness of the forest,

I was taken home, the nurse arrived and told to take me to the hospital.

 Ivan Goulevitch

These verses were composed the dramatic day, when the merciless destiny pushed me to meet the man who, when shooting at me, nearly killed me in the prime of life, like a flower cut by a sickle. That fatal shot was perhaps the last one, but I never recovered. My destiny was not to die on a battlefield, but it deprived me of the most important thing: the health.  Thus, until the age of 15, I went through the blows of the destiny that took me even into blood and suffering, but from that age onward my life became quieter.

From my childhood I have worked hard life accustomed me to love it.  At 16, I was an adult already.  Without being concerned about my health, I worked from the morning to late evening.  I did not reject any work and no task seemed to me to be neither repugnant nor too difficult.  From 15 years onward, I was a full member of the family. (or complete member)

Around 1915, we were a wealthy family.  Two beautiful houses, a nice garden a splendid view, eight good horses and a dozen of cows.  Around 1912, our second house was built.  The same year, an appointment of a nurse into our village in Serebrianka, was authorized by the hospital of the town.

The nurse Kovalev moved to Serebrianka and he rented our house to serve as hospital and his living quarters.  He paid us 15 roubles a month for the house.  That nurse settled in, in November 1912.  In 1913, we enlarged our house where the hospital used to be and in 1915 we transformed our old houise and added an “isba” in the yard and we moved out.

Thus all the new buildings were given to the hospital, which had now one room for two patients and the nurse’s unit.  He rented also from us premises for livestock and equipment of the hospital.  We earned now 40 roubles of rent, a month, what was a substantial amount for that epoch.

In 1916, my father was conscript since the first world war was around the corner.  He was 42.  In the beginning he served in Blagovechensk and then in the middle of the winter, he was transferred to Irkoutsk.  I was only 15 and with my elder sister Maria, I was obliged to play the rold of the father in the family.

The war broke out at the end of July 1914.  The first mobilized soldiers were summoned up in September 1914.  Our horses were taken in November, the same year.  Thus we lost two horses that were worth 175 roubles each.  A that moment, all the men quit their families, their houses.  In our village, not one able-bodied man was left, only old people and children.

The conscription involved the most part of the males and the women, children, the mothers knew that those who went to fight would certainly be killed.  Numerous were those who fell asleep for eternity on the battlefields, leaving behind their widows and orphans.

Your are sleeping, my brothers, let your soul be in peace.

Your parents, your children, your wifes are mourning

And live in misery, suffering of hunger and of cold.

Who can know the depth of the grief

Of mothers who lost their sons on the battle-fields

During those terrible days that can’t be described …

You didn’t die by your own will,

Neither by God’s will, he would never be able to wish such misfortunes,

But because of proud men who had never suffered during their lifetime, like you.

You didn’t fight enemy, but your brothers who, alike you, were leading a life of labor to feed their families

And who remained, alike you, sleeping for eternity, close to you,

Having left their family alone and in the misery.

In February 1917 the Revolution broke out.  The shameful fight came to an end and in 1918 the military events eased.  Those who left their homes for the army and survived began to come back home little by little to set to peaceful and honest work again.  The young appeared in the villages and those who came back had their eyes full of joy in sight of their native country, of their parents and friends.  We were marked by this year 1918, after 4 years of confused and sad events.  But an other misfortune appeared in the horizon: the revolutionary flame started to set the country on fire, the fratricide war between 2 colours, the white and the black, begun.  I recall these two dark and nightmarish years that appeared like two shades in the night.

The tortures, screams of suffering, the yells of people being put to death still ring in my ears.  I would never be able to describe the horrors our people went through those years.  It will be said, in the history books, by future generations.  At that moment, there will be, perhaps, some honest and upright people, who will not be marked by egoism and hatred toward on these parties, as is the case now.  Only then one will be able, to describe fearlessly and make known all the bestiality of events, the terror and blood poured out, not being scared for all said truth.

During these days of tempest, when fires were burning, died, like a martyr, my dear uncle Frants Invanovitch.

In March 1918, he was arrested during the requisition of the revolutionary and Bolshevik government.  His innocent blood was poured out.  Nobody among us knows where his corpse was put, there is neither tomb nor cross.  He was killed by the Bolsheviks at 30 km from Serebrianka and his corpse was thrown down into a ravine (gully).  He was the second brother after my father.  He was very joyful and warmhearted.  He waged war against Japan at Port-Arthur.  He was wounded twice in the leg, but died on another battle-field, without glory, leaving five orphans, and his corpse was never buried.  Goodbye my dear uncle, you who drunk your own frozen blood, covered of wounds, sleep in peace.

All these events concerning the revolution, from 1917 until 1920 will be described in an other diary separately.  I want to relate what the situation was around us, what we say, what we knew during those terrible events.

   In remembrance of my uncle – these verses replace a wreathe

O my uncle, you met a cruel death.

Your life came to an end too early.

You sleep without glory, alone, not thinking anymore about the world and your family.

We can’t forget you.

Your image remains alive.

You are there in front of us, downcast, and wounded by wicked people.

You did not perish in the battle against Japan,

Your destiny was to fall on shameful field.

By dying of a horrible death that you met alone

And they, sneering, threw you corpse into an unknown valley.

You do not sleep in a tomb, you are not in a coffin

You are in a humid ground, you fel asleep for ever

In suffering and blood

Sleep! To your eternal remembrance.

  Ivan Goulevitch

Then in 1920, an event that took place at Serebrianka, has to be told.  It was the murder of a villager of 27 years, Stepan and his sister Maria of 14 years.  Stepan made his military service, that is three and half years.  Having done two years in the army, he was called to the front in 1914.  We thought he had been killed in 1915, but actually he was only wounded and was found, without regaining consciousness, by Germans. Only in April 1919, that prisoner got back home.  He lived one happy year within his family, but that happiness was of short duration, because in 1920, the Easter eve, he left with his sister to bring wheat to the city, when they were attacked by bandits, who made them leave the road and, at 50 meters from there, killed them.  You can imagine the grief of the family when they found those two corpses riddled with bullets, on the road-side.

Then, life resumed and was calm and peaceful all the remaining year.  Our family was living an easy and comfortable life, it was like a bunch of roses in July after rain.  This year was period of my life that remains in my memory as one of the best.  I begun to be an adult.  We made everything ourselves and without difficulties.  We did not make anything apart from agricultural work and life was pleasant and agreeable.  We had all: bread, livestock, poultry.  We were not lacking anything.  We were dwelling in the large beautiful house that had been occupied by the nurse formerly.  It was an agreeable and comfortable house.  I had my own room, furnished with a bed, a table, always flowers and a door leading to an other room.  It was a happy epoch, when the revolution storm was over.

The Whites and Japanese left, the power was taken by Bolsheviks and a period of calm settled in as well in life as in work.

People begun to breathe with relief.  Alas! It didn’t last long.  One year after, in this calm and joyful epoch, I decided to get rid of my iberty and get married with a young woman.  I was married at 21 with Agatha Theodorovna Roubanchenko.  The marriage took place the 15th May, but we celebrated it only the 12th June 1921.  At the same time my sister Julie was married with Ossipe Stepanovitch (son of Stephan Goulevitch, JG). Agatha’s parents are still alive, she has got six brothers and 2 sisters.  She belonged to an orthodoxe family, but changed her religion, as the interests of our family claimed and the law of the Lord.

The fatal destiny brought us together in nine months by close bond of friendship, made us friends and tied us up for life eternal.  She was born in Domontoro village of Poltava government. 

As I said already that our house was rented out formerly to serve as a infirmary.  After the coup d’etat of February, Kovalev was removed from his post for his bad character and moved out.  The village remained without nurse.  The representatives of power arrivent and took away all the medicines and drugs they found.

In April 1920, a new nurse was nominated, his name was Kondrate Roubanchenko and he again rented our house.  They were only three in the family: his wife, himself and a child.  He was the elder brother of my wife Agatha.  In August 1920, Gania (abbreviation for Agatha) arrived to Serebrianka with the wife of her brother Kondrate and helped her to move in.  She stayed a few days be her brother and she became acquainted with the very likable young people of our village, especially with my sister Julie.  They became very close friends.  She enjoyed so much her sojoun that she remained longer than anticipated and her brother, seeing budding friendship between her and myself, didn’t want to go against her.

Seeing that he was among good and friendly people, Agatha’s brother wished that his sister would marry me.  And I, like an ant passing through grassblades and leaves to attain it’s target, I followed my plan to reach her heart.  Several times I prayed God asking for is approval.

I was surrounded by good and generous people, who wished me well and happiness.  I felt that I was unworthy of what these people wished for me.  When my future marriage begun to be known, my own parents were not entirely satisfied about my decision, but seeing my determination, they accepted and it was me who was right.  My good character, my honesty, my respect for my wife, do not allow me to describe anything negativ in this life, to give a pretext to all suspicion.  I was very happy, very satisfied of my lot, very much loved by her.  We were never independants, to the contrary, we were always boung up for life eternal.

My wife was very authoritarian, had a strong willpower, more than I, although she was woman.  After some reisitance of short duration, it’s me who took over.

In 1921, life went on calm and peaceful like a ship on a waveless sea.  In 1921, I left for the military service to the city of Svobodni, but was recognized inept thanks to some friends who knew me and belonged to the military commission.  But that fatal destiny caught us up all the same, in the beginning of 1922.  Circumstances, irrelevants to our will, forced us to take the road and to travel in an unknown world.


Chapter III

Who could have said and foreseen that one month later we would leave this lovely country and everything that was dear and agreeable: the closest relatives, friends, fields, valleys, forests, and our dear village of Serebrianka where the detiny led us twenty years ago.

Who could have said that, by these hard times, we could reach countries far away?  And like leaves, lifted up by autumn winds that blow them far away from branches, we would be led on roads that were known only by the Lord

We were faced with these roads that would lead us toward life’s new events and these have enriched this diary that I have called “The annals of the family”. Many changes were waiting us and I will talk about them on the pages of this chronicle, if it is God’s will.

My soul suffer, my thoughts take flight toward the mysterous distance going beyond earth’s horizon; I am dreaming and what will happen after? Who can tell: it is here that my life will come to an end for ever? Or is it possible to say? We can make projects … but it is the Lord who decides.  In this pervert world, life is too short to build solid foundations for a life that is but a lightning … It will come, that grand last day after which there is only eternal rest underneath a tomb-stone.

Shaken by two years of revolution arrived the terrible year 1921, year of famine, because the crops were very insufficient. We ate old reserves. Or they were simply destroyed, plundered and we became familiar with the crises. It was an year where assasinations, bandits were daily events.

I am going to tell you one of these assasinations, it took place in 1922. It concerns Louka Grichhetchkov, who was leaving the mill after having brought some wheat, since his own ran out. He was surprised by bandits who grabbed him, took him to the roadside and shot him dead with a rifle, as well as his two horses. They sawed a tree and pushed on the horses that were crushed. When some hundred persons decided to look for his corpse, they followed the road, in fan formation, and they recovered the place of assasination, they were horrified by what they saw. He was covered by snow that the mildness of spring melted uncovering his face. The horses were a little bit further, crushed by the tree. One had been killed on the spot, the other had received a bullet.

By chance, my father and my uncle Piotre did not become victims of these bandits, whereas Louka was alone, and such was his destiny.

By these terrifying times, most atrocious rumors circulated on what was going on in the region and all those who did not even think about leaving, decided suddenly without knowing where to go…

A few had forseen the departure since some time, which allowed them tosell their livestock, but our family in one week and half, squandered all that had been created thanks to toilsome labor.  All that was dear to us, all what we loved, all that we had built, working day and night, in the hope of having a better life and to secure children’s future, was lost in a short time. We sold good horses for 50 roubles, cows for 25 roubles, prices that were incredible low. There was only wheat flour that was very dear, and reached 5 roubles a “poud”.

Thus our dream was ruined. Such was God’s will and our destiny. My father decided suddenly this departure and gathered together all the family. I had no desire to depart and separated myself of all that was dear with more difficulty than my father. I was especially afraid of the road that was awaiting us. It was hard to say goodbye to all I saw, to all I was surrounded by. The rapidity of this dicision annoyed me, since I could not get accustomed to that idea. Before the departure, my wife and I decided to see her parents who were living 80 km from our village. In those war years, the railway was almost destroyed. There was no wagons for passengers, neither timetables for the passage of the train. We waited for a whole day any train that could have taken us.

The next day arrived a train transporting timber and one wagon was only half full. We were able to get on, with three other persons. The way back was as hazardous. We passed one day and half in the village since we were worried about the return. It was my first and last encounter with the family of my wife. In one day and half I made ample acquaintance with them, although I saw them for the first time.  I liked them very much, especially her father by his fine presence, the luster in his eyes, the calm of his visage. These two old people, they were 60, were calm folk very healthy and they looked much younger than their age. They seemed to be very happy, it was understandable since they lived within a big family, made up of six handsome sons and three daughters, of whom, one was going to leave them forever. They accompanied us until the river Toma, saying calmly goodbye, without even suspecting what was awaiting us and that we would not see each others any more. But the mother wept and was very anxious … Her heart of mother predicted what we didn’t see. We saw her tears, they troubled us, but we forgot them rapidly. Finally the departure day arrived.

The last day at Serebrianka – the 24th May 1922.

The sunset lighted up the patio where I remained

I behold with eagerness the escape of the last beam

It was the last night at Serebrianka.

When I left it, my thoughts wheeled around like black ravens.

It was the last night that I deserted …

We had dinner together with all the family

All my relatives were there and it was especially my brother-in-law who talked.

All others listened attentively.

And the father reminded to all our relatives

That this was the last time we were around this table.

He greeted us rising his glass up filled of a mixer of joy.

Tears glittered in our eyes,

The house was bizarre, emptied of all objects …

The flame of the lampe illuminated the bare walls

And showed up the faces of those who were my relatives.

Their sadness deprived us of appetite,

And finally arrived time ... by this silent night similar to the last dream.

There was only me who walked like a watchman,

Making those hundred steps between the sinister walls, armed of a rifle.

At last, the dawn sended night’s shadow away, all became animated again.

But the morning signified us that we must occupy of the luggage and take up the life of nomads,

The silent crowd of friends approached of the house, the horses left first

Last kisses and sobs … thus the natal village disappeared.

At this moment last goodbyes,

I turned around to see the forest line,

Ridges of sad roofs that gazed us

And made us think of all those people who lived in them.

I Goulevitch.

Having sold all the poor leftovers of our farm, excepted the building and some utensils and agricultural tools that we hadn’t succeeded to sell and which are listed on following pages of my diary.

We made all the papers, it is to say; the passports and we took the road toward Blagovechensk that was the first stage toward Australia.

We left Serebrianka the 24th May 1922 to meet the inhabitants of Rogatchev who were more numerous than us, but had the same problem. There was a two and half days journey by horse until Blagovechensk. On the way I was thinking about all the people of Serebrianka to whom we said goodbye in weeping. We left without any rancour, without feeling any spite toward them and I hoped it was the same for them. We had a tranquil conscience. I wished happiness and peace to all those who stayed in Serebrianka.

I cast a last glance at our building that seemed docile during that departure. I left the country where I had pasted my childhood, where I had experienced joys and woes. The crowd of friends and relatives accompanied us until the end of the village and it is there we did our last goodbyes. Goodbye my brothers and friends. The horses moved forward and two minutes later disappeared my dear village.

Two hours later we arrived to Rogatchev. The next day, it was the 25th May and the Pentecost. All those were leaving got together in the church to have a last prayer, imploring God to give us his blessing. We had to stay three days in Rogatchev, delay provoked by a family, who also leaving. The 26th May arrived a detachment of soldiers looking for arms. Actually this family was suspected to help bandits to plunder surrounding villages. Happily, all took place in peace, they didn’t find any arms and departed, without arresting anybody.

We breathed a sigh of relief. The soldiers saw well that we were not bandits, neither enemies of the authorities, but people who departed openly with authorizations in order. Finally, when everything was ready, the 28th May, we harnessed the horses and left, all together 42 carts on the whole.

All who departed and those who stayed felt an anguish in the heart, not being able to imagine the future and the present being like a bad dream. It was a strange picture. The enormous crowd, coming from Serebrianka and Rogatchev, filled the streets of the village. The hubbub of talk, weeping, kissing and words of goodbye …

The first horses left pulling heavily loaded carts, filled with all that was necessary and the most precious. The horses departed slowly and the distance with the people who accompanied us increased, separating us from each others. What a day, memorable and sad! We were on the road all this long springday, and the evening, all the evening, all the convoy stopped for the night in the field, at 2 km from the village Natalino. We all had arms for the defence and a watch was formed to protect the camp. We resembled to a encampment of gypsies, in this beatiful, fresh springnight.

First night in the field – the 28th May 1922

We settled down for the night close to Natalino

The confines of mountains were watching us

The freshness nocturnal decended slowly on the banks

The last lights of trailers extinguished 

The silence established in that deep rest

We could not hear anything but ducks gliding on water

The watchman attentively watching in deep darkness

The mild and agreeable freahness made us breath fully the spring

Everything was peachful, one could not hear anything but dreams threading between the tents.


In the morning we took the road again, after having drunk tea. The convoy advanced slowly, the anguish that still yesterday filled our hearts and pressured the chest, disappeared little by little. The sad picture, we saw yesterday, disappeared. A feeling a joy and od vivacity took over. All the past remained behind and appeared thoughts about what may await us, about what we aspire to. The next day, we stopped at 15 km from the town of Blagovechensk, in a large valley, with good water for us and especially for the horses.

The 30th May, we arrived to Blagovechensk at 1 oclock p.m.. While approaching of Blagovechensk, we decided to divide us into two groups, and the first left half an hour earlier than the second group, so that we would not cause any panic in the town. Actually, the grand convoy of adults and children could frighten people in making them think about a danger that could threaten the inhabitants of the town. But we could not avoid it. When we appeared on the streets of Blagovechensk all the population was watching us, very much surprised because we formed such a big crowd of people. They threw themselves on us like flies, asking us questions: where are we coming from? why? where are we going? The crowd became bigger and bigger, frightened and dumbfounded. We answered that we were going toward the craftsmen village of Nicolaiev on Amour river. Some others didn’t answer any more, They were exhausted by all the questions. And that finished only when we passed the last house. We remained until the 9th June at Blagovechensk.

It was here we passed the festival of the Trinity. Our delay was caused by the public holidays. It was here, in a small hotelroom, that my wife Agatha, gave birth to a little daughter, so much awaited, Genia. She was born the 7th June 1922 at 10 o’clock. We baptised her the 18th June, after breakfast. It is here that we felt the first joys of being father and mother.

We sold our two last horses at Blagovechensk. We were delivered our passports with the right to pass the frontier. We were afraid that at the last moment the authorisation for the departure overseas would not be given us. Actually, they had the right not to let go the young men, not having done their military service. Happily, young people were not many in this convoy and we all had done our duty toward our country.

After having got rid of everything that was left, in Blagovechensk, we were given authorisation to cross the border, thanks to our Chinese passports.

The 9th June we rented a car that transported us into a port to cross the Amour. The customs, as well on the Russian side, as on the chinese side, were very severe. The passports were carefully examined, as well as our luggage. We put our luggage into a small patrol boat, that was crossing the river between the two banks. The distance was 1 km. from Blagovechensk and ten minutes later we gained the Chinese side.

Here, we got into a ship that should take us to Kharbin. The ticket was 6 roubles per person. All our money was in gold coins: I must mention that just about the moment of our departure, appeared gold coins on the market, that is; the ancient coins of Tsar Nicolas II. Bank notes of roubles, in that year 1921, had dropped so much that they had practically no value. Chinese money was also in circulation, the tajans.

The 9th June 1922 was our last day passed in Blagovechensk. The years of war and especially revolution had transformed this city. As I said before we needed 3 days to attain this city from Serebrianka. As we went through villages and fields, we recalled that only 6 or 7 years ago, the same ground trembled underneath of livestock and motion of agricultural machines. Even in winter, very beautiful horses were transporting wheat to towns, where it was sold to government or to enterprises. But now during the epoch of sowing, a silence mortal prevailed on these same fields. We didn’t see any plot of ground cultivated.  No trace of livestock. Desert fields.

On the other side of the frontier, we were surprised by the normality of life and the flourishing business. The shops were full of merchandise and of products that had completely disappeared from the Russian side. Hi! the life exist well on this earth.

It is not unique, there is of all sorts; and something invisible, that is called “the frontier” divides this life to many pieces. All what was needed was to cross the Amour River, in 3 minutes, and in coming on the other riverside, appeared, like by a miracle, another life, another people, other merchandise, etc.

The 10th June , at 1 oclock, the ship “To Vian” left the port, descended Amour and atteined Kharbin. Still two, three glances towards Blagovechensk side and then it disappeared. Three days of boat along the Russian ground, with it’s fields and villages.. Finally, the ship stopped in Soungara, at the Chinese side. A Russian ship came alongside to check the names of Russian passengers, The ships captian had all our papers. This ship was own by Russian merchants, whom the revolution obliged to make business with the Chinese.

The captain as well as two mechanics were Russians, but the crew was Chinese. The Russian customs were to check our passports. When they left, the ship pulled up the anchor and sailed along the River Soungara towards east. It was here, we saw the last time the Russian frontier, the Russian banks and villages.

The River Soungara is full to the brim and inundates very often the shores that resemble to a sea of grass. But on elevated land some villages and even towns can be seen. These large uninhabited surfaces give shelter to Kounkhuz, who are bandits attacking ships sailing along Soungara and neighbouring villages as well.

Soungara is very rich with fish, but it’s water is so turbid that we cant see the difference with it’s inundated banks.

After a three dys journey we arrived, the 16th June to the port of Kharbin. Here, in the port, stretched out the Chinese flotilla, to a very long distance, in other words every sort of barges and small boats that served as shops and which number appeared us as hallucinate. Our ship thread into a narrow channel, between sailing boats and came alongside the quay. A representative of every family decended and went to the city, looking for a flat. In such a short time it was difficult to find a flat to everybody and only five or six families succeeded to find an accomodation, at a fruitmarket, in a dirty shack. We paid ten cents each by night. The next day we found a better lodging.

Kharbin is a big city, relatively very stretched out, divided to 2 parts: one is called “the ol town of fouti-Dian”, with its narrow streets, it’s houses exclusively with two stories, inhabited exclusively by Chinese. Another part, the new city, founded apparently by Russian migrants, along the railway line, with a beautiful and modern station and large streets.

Kharbin is a very commercial city, where life is very cheap for those who find work in it. Kharbin has monopoly for production of vodka. The best vodka costs 10 kopeks a bottle. Kharbin, as well as all Mandchourie, is marked by Russian migrants. Russian is very widespread, the addresses as well as street names are indicated in this tongue. Practically, all Chinese speak Russian. What striked me in the first place, in Kharbin, were the rick-shaws.

List of Goulevitch among the 22 families (100 persons) who left Serebrianka:

Ivan Matvei

10 persons

























Uncle Adam arrived to Kharbin in September 1921, one year and half before us. Some thirty families (130 persons) arrived from Rogatchev. The next day, after our arrival, as soon as were settled in our flats, we learned where to get rationings of dark bread, one kg and half by person, free of charge during one month. This aid for migrants and for those in need was assured thanks to charity organisations.

Once a week, we had the right for one ticket of public baths, which were in very good condition. We lived in Kharbin from the 16th June until the 11th July, without working because it is very difficult for a European to find work in Asia. But we did try all the same, as a stone mason. I worked three days and earned 12 kopeks, that represents a bottle of kwas and a pound of bread.

While living in Kharbin, we were pursuing our efforts in order to attain another country. We had never thought to remain in Asia, there was no reason to quit our country to replace it by this one. Here was no guarantee of a peaceable and calm life for a European. Those who remained here, had a sad destiny. The majority of those who arrived here, especially those who had still some means, had just one idea: to quit China for Australia.

It was difficult to obtain information in Kharbin, since there was no Consulate of England. As soon as the authorisation came to resume the trip to Shangai, where was found a Consulate of England, we understood that our dream was on the point of being realised. We didn’t take the risk of leaving for Shangai by train, because of some events in South China were disturbing. We choose to depart to Dairen and, then take a ship until Shangai.

We bought the tickets for the train and the ship, as well as a transit visa, since the railway of Mandchourie was owned by Japanese.

The group that left for Shangai was compsed of 25 families, representing 132 people. The Japanese railway company advised us to divide our group into two groups, Because Japanese ships are small and could not receive more than half of us.

The first group departed three days before the second, that is the 9 July. Our second group was to depart the 11 July at midnight. We got into train saying goodbye to all those who remain in Kharbin and who came to accompany us to the railway station.

The 12 July, at one o’clock, the train left from the Kharbin station, taking us across the steppes of Mandchouria, towards South. We saw ploughed fields, maize and millet fields.  From time to time we saw some small village of shacks, fanza in Chinese, scatted here and there the train took us further and further from our cold country, across the mountains. The next day, at 9 o’clock, we left the town of Mouken and at 8 o’clock in the morning, the 14 July, we arived finally to the town of Dairen. It was raining and since we were not authorised to go into the ship, we stayed at the station. In the evening, the rain stopped, the sun began to shine. As we could not stay any more at the station, we found a flat for the night. The next morning, we were able to start putting our luggage into the ship. While we were waiting the departure of the ship, close to the station, a crowd of Japanese arrived, very interested in our group. They invited a group of children into their home, they gave them to eat, and made them to sing Russian songs. It was only in the evening that the children returned. The town of Dairen is big, beatiful and comfortable. Above the town is a mount, covered with trees and greenery. The streets are beautiful and large, with houses of six stories. A beautiful bay gives access to the sea.

At ten o’clock in the morning, we could go into the ship, “Sakiamaru”, and at one o’clock p.m. we left Dairen, and the 15th, at one o’clock in the morning, we arrived to the port of Tsindao. The 17 July, we arrived to Shangai. The port was enormous and there was hundreds of European ships, of all sizes. We put our luggage on the quay, where the custom begun to examine them, but very soon, the interest dissappeared and were able to depart.

We left the doors of the port  and remained on the street, close to two hours, hoping to meet with those who came 3 days before …

Soon we learned that the first group had been picked up by an Englishman into his home, and that he sent 2 trucks to take us, as well as our luggage to his courtyard. His house was in a suburb of Shangai and was composed of 2 wings, had a wide vegie garden, growing potatoes and other vegetables. He worked in a bank, was married and had a son of 13 who spoke perfectly Russian.

When we met again with our friends of the first group, we did not reconised some women and young girls (although only 6 days had passed) because they were dressed with dresses given by the French and English. These charming people helped us much and I don’t know how things would have been, if these people were not there.

When the first group arrived to Shangai, they didn’t know the city and spoke only Russian. They found the flats small and much to expensive. Two days after, it was Sunday. They decided to go to church to pray. The catholic church, in Shangai, was built by French or English. The Russians arrived much before the mass, but when it was time for the mass and the priest had made the sign of the cross, the church was immediately filled up by French and English people, who evidently were rich inhabitents of Shangai. They were very surprised to see, in their church, all these European people, bizarrely dressed, with young children in their arms. They didn’t stop staring at them to, the point that the Russians became indigant at them, feeling themselves being intensely observed.

When mass was over, they surrounded those Russians, asking questions about their origins. They were curious of minor details and they took women and children to that Englishman’s place. They brought food and a pot to make soup.And it is there that we met again at our arrival to Shangai. But we didn’t stay long in that house. One hour later, 5 trucks arrived to take us to an unknown direction. The host of the house was absent, the hostess begged us to stay, but others forced us to go. The trucks arrived to French barracks, where we were all lodged in the same premise. In the evening we were given a Chinese dinner: a soup, beans and rice.

The next day, the same trucks took us to a French school. There the lodging as big and confortable. We occupied the ground floor, composed of 5 class rooms. It is interesting to note that at every removal we were surrounded by a crowd of photografs who followed us. We remained here from the 18 July to 5 August. We were very well-fed. There was a chef to whom we were able to explain the way to prepare the soup and other meals we were used to. We had, twice a day, the soup a la russe, bread, etc. We were also given secondhand clothes; shirts, suits, shoes, hats. There was not any new clothes, only used ones, but the sharing of these old clothes provoked real quarrels. These quarrels remained like a spot of shame for all our group and towards those people who received us, and who helped us, but they saw well what happened between us and who ceased to feel sympthy and trust toward Russians.

Now, it is not any more worthwile to look for culprits and responsibles of that accurrence.

Three monks lived in this school, people very close to us, aswell as an interpreter. And we received visits of rich people of Shangai. In one of the classroom there was a table covered with clothes of every size, for men and women, collected from people of this city. Each family was convoked in turn, He or she went infront of the table and choose what she needed. Some clothes were still in very good condition, some other were pulled to pieces while fitting them, but there were large quantity of them, and most of them were not distrubuted because of our quarrels..


Shangai is s gigantic city, spread out in a grand and beautiful valley. The streets that lead toward the port are straight and form big quarters, while in some places of Shangai the streets are not in direct lines but resemble two serpents in grass. The population is in majority Chinese and the foreigners represent only 10%, and if, in Mandchouria numerous peoples speak Russian, many spoke rather English and a little French.

In this city, the population is so enormous, housing/accommodation/flats so minute, that the city smells like a Chinese kitchen, its spices, accentuated by steams of humidity of the very hot climate. This stench prevented us from strolling in this city.

It is interesting also to observe the “cochers” whose uniform is seen again in the images of newspapers. (?). They pull a cart with two wheels, for two people, the Chinese places himself between two stretchers and runs with his two passengers as quick as a cheval, and for a price of misery. The life of a poor Chinese is very sad. But apparently they are used to this life. Every lucid and humane person, who has had opportunity to be deeply acquainted with the life and suffering of this people, will speak with sadness about these exploited people.

This people is oppressed also by other people, especially by the English and French. The capitalist world, inhumane, has  taken advantage of their condition, making them work like livestock. How many times these oppressed people revolted against their lot and against their masters? But these attempts were not crowned of success.

The workers who work in the cities, at the ports, have miserables wages. They eat especially vegetables of all kinds and do not know bread. All their clothes they wear on themselves: a hat of straw, braid shoes that protect them from tar melted by sun; instead of pants, they have got a  kind of rag surrounding their kidneys. Some sleep in the street, it is there may be, they were born, it is there they will die.

As I said already, these people debased by their own destiny, but also exploited by other nations, because of their culture that is on a very low level in comparison with others. Technically they are as advanced as others, but lack moral sense, political and civic, their conscience cann’t be awakened, supressed by a mysterious and fatal lot. Maybe the principal reason of their misfortune is their profane and islamic religion that existed in Russia also, there is two thousand years. I was amazed that these people remain in faith now, and perhaps, still long time, in a kind of idol, about which I had never heard talking before. I think their religion is divided into several branches.

Unfortunately, to describe their religion in minute details, their rites, their customs, their prayers, there should be more interest that I had at the epoch and especially, it would need more time and attention. What I can describe, is the way parades in the streets, that seemed to be funeral rites. The first thing I saw, it was adoration of serpent, which is carried together with the deceased. There is a kind of altar on the cart (catafalque), in the inferior part: the coffin with the corpse of the departed one; an enormous serpent of paper or in copper is placed above that coffin. The altar is covered with fabric, so that only the tail and head of the serpent are visibles. We can see one metre of the tail behind and more than one metre of neck and head, which opens an anormous, red mouth, with a very long dart. A dozen Chinese carry the deceased.

The group is preceded by musicians, especilly trumpets, that play beautiful airs. A hundred, or more men (I never saw women)  follow the coffin. Each carrying a lantern, a flag and others objects, made of multicoloured paper. On the cart, next to the deceased, there is a mourner. I have seen other processions where, in place of serpent, there was a turtle or a crocodile. I saw even a crane on one foot on a coffin.

Let’s talk now about our voyage. After three days of nomad’s life, acrossShangai, we were asked questions on the choice of country. We confirmed our desire to leave for Australia. He asked us how much money we had left.  Later on, we learned that we were sent to France because we depended on French, who directed us there against our will. At Shangai, our Russian passports were exchanged against Polish passports,that frightened us, since we feared being obliged to go to Poland. We were not able to obtain any information from England’s Consulate. We were afraid also to lack money to go until Australia. And we dare not break off with those who were sending us to France. We put together all the remaining money and we learned that the destination chosen for us was France. We have reflected upon, debated this problem between us.  And decided that we must go there where they were sending us.

The destiny took an unexpected turn sending us to opposed direction of that which we hoped for. France appeared suddenly for us, without  that we had thought about it for a monent.  But what to do?. The departure day arrived, it was the 5 August 1922. In the morning, the trucks came to carry us to the port and we took the French ship “Andre Lebon” that happened to be very comfortable. We were lodged in the hold (cargo area), on the deck, and the women in the III class cabins. We said goodbye to friends and priests who lived with us at school. At noon, the ship left the port, but cast anchor at the way out of the bay and remained there for two days because the weather forecasts were not good. The sky was cloudy and dark, strong winds blew by gusts. We saw the surroundings of Shangai, house roofs and masts of ships anchored in the port. As long as the ship remained anchored we felt at ease, eating all that was supplied by kitchens.

We had to travel in the IV class and we received the dishes in the kitchen (one ratio for groups of 10 people), but we ate them where we lived. The food was good though unusual.

The 7 August 1922, in the morning, the ship heaved up the anchor, and took the road toward faraway France. Shangai disappeared. The wind was light, the sea little agitated. The boat heaves ? up, decend, tangent lightly. From the beginning of that voyage, we felt the sea-sickness. Les faces are pales, we breath with difficulty, we have nausea, we are not hungry any more. We forget even to get dishes from the kitchen, since the odours of food make us suffer even more. The 9 August, towards evening, we are approaching the city of Hangon, et le 12 we arrive to Haiphong, from where we leave again the 13. We arrived the 16 to Saigon, which is about 10 km from the sea, on the river Me-kong. The 18 we leave again and the 20 we arrive to Singapour. While passing along the coast of Indochina, we notice the beauty of its nature. Here, it’s not only the flowers that are remarkables but aussi trees that are covered with flowers. It is difficult to describe all tones of red, that we can observe in those trees. All that luxuriant nature of India, the trees, the plants, the lakes, form one of the most beautiful pictures that I have ever seen in my life.

We were able to see also that the population of Indochina is composed of some tribes. First, the Chinese who, in these tropical places, are tall, slim and pale. The Malaysians are more healthly, dumpy, broad shouldered, with rounder eyes and darker complexion. Here, the women work as hard as men. I saw, in one of the ports, twelve women carrying the longest and heaviest rails.. And finally, while decending toward South, I saw negroes.

In Singapor, we visited a fruit market, where we bought some pineapples and other fruits.. I saw also, that here the Chinese suffer toothache or perhaps it’s simply a custom or a form of religion, I don’t know, but their teeth are black and they are chewing something red as blood (betel nut – a mild narcotic, JG). The spits of that red product cover all the passages of the market, the streets, the walls of houses. We thought first, that it was blood, what provoked our repulsion and fear..

In the morning of the 21st August, we left Singapoor and the 22nd arrived to Penham (?Penang, JG), a very beautiful, little town. The same evening we set out to cross the Gulf of Bengale and the 27th we arrived to Colombo in Ceylon. That evening, we began the crossing of the Gulf of Arabia, it took us 8 days until the 4th September. It is here we lost all our tripes, because of a terrible tempest that surprised us in the open sea. The deck was covered with water, the wind whistled on the masts. We forgot to eat and those who were in the front part of the ship suffered more then those in the middle.

The 4th September, we caught sight of the port of Djibouti, on the African Coast. We saw from far away sand-dunes, no objects, no plants, no living being, only a sea of sand. At noon, a little while after, we were already on the Red Sea that was calm and beautiful, and the 8 September, at noon, we entered into Suez Channel, that is 162 km long. We needed 20 hours to cover that distance. It is interesting to describe this channel’s surroundings and the feeling while the ship was advancing slowly, almost touching its banks. The channel is so narrow that it seemed like the enormous ship would be opening up a way through sand and while it appeared like a small toy in the open sea, here it appeared mighty and proud, advancing majestically. We sail across a desert resembling the Sahara. In some areas, its banks are high up, sometimes it is large, where (sablage) machines are used. On the Red Sea side there is a steppe of sand without vegetation or inhabitants, but on the Mediterranean side we can see a few palm trees, banana trees and masures of Arabs, near them grazing camels. The 9th, we departed from Port-Said, we left the Suez Channel and we entered into Mediterranean. A small tempest tossed us lightly, but being accustomed, it didn’t bring about too much discomfort.

The 14th September 1922, we arrived to France and the last port: Marseille. Tedious years are waiting for us here, in other circumstances and work conditions. We left the ship that we took the 5th August and that became our real home.

At first we were lodged in barracks and there we had to wait for our first job. We went to the former General Consulate of Russia that was not official any more but supplied documents all the same and defended our rights by French Authorities. Here stood also the French employment agency. Single workers were very much on demand, but for the married people it was more difficult to find work, because of lack of housing, as we learn later on. In one month all had left. We were divided in six groups, in different parts of France, in farms, in factories and mines.

A landowner of Riotard village by Laghes (Vaucluse), M. Dervieux, offered work to our family, that composed my father, my two step-brothers (?brothers-in-law, JG), Josef (Ossipe Stepanovitch, JG) and Stephan (?Katsuba),and myself.

The 6th October, 1922, we left Marseille to get to the farm. We needed eight hours to arrive. A Russian worker came to the railway station to take us to the farm, sent by the boss. Four kilometres separated the station from the farm. We put all luggage on a cart with two wheels and , quite late we arrived to the lodging that was meant for us. It was a ancient house of 5 rooms with doors gnawed by mice. Next to it a door leading into stables. Tall poplars decorated the front of the house while some firtrees grew behind the house. After having eaten cooked potatoes given to us in the kitchen, where some agricole workers were eating, we left to go to bed. The beds were composed of some boxes filled with straw and covered with sheets. We laid ourselves on the straw, our mattresses and the most of our luggage having remained in the station. The candle extinguished, everything became calm but the freshness of the night prevented us of sleeping, since a goodcomfortable bed is indispensable for a good sleep.

The silver beams of the moon penetrated through poplar branches as trying to see and understand who were these new people who lived in the house. The next morning, we were shown what we had to do: cut the vine branches, plough grand fields and mound plants. Thus we passed our workdays, in the French farms that are far-away from each others and in which people live in solitude. We experienced sadness feeling the loneliness of this life in conditions that we found strange. While we worked, among other peoples, time passed faster and anguish didn’t stir up in our hearts. Actually, the work was our only joy, since Sundays and days off, notably when the sunset watered the nature of its last beams, our thoughts moved away towards other places and a point of grief penetrated us. Time went by and we got used to this way of life.

The salary, 250 Franks per month, was insufficient. In our family, there was two wage-earners, in other words we had 500 Fr. per month for a dozen people. We knew that some workers earned twice as much in the factories. On top of that, we had a argument with the boss and there was no reason to stay any longer. We had to look for another place. But where? And how?.

In March I left for Marseille, to the employment-agency to look for work and to ask for information I didn’t find any work, but I was told that we were free to choose any place of residence and work. We were even allowed to break the annual contract without any consequence. It was especially that I wanted to know. As we were in contact with other members of  the family in other regions of France, I worked one more week by the same boss after my return from Marseille and then I left to the coal mining regions, from where I received letters from Ivan Smikovsky. I didn’t take any member of our family with me, I went there alone, the 7th March 1923 and, in Martinet, in the Gard, I found work in a coalmine. My brother-in-law, Katsuba, left the farm soon after with all the rest of the family and began to work in a steelwork factory, in Chasse of Isere. My father couldn’t meet me because his son-in-law, Josef, was very sick and hospitalised at the Isle station (?). As soon as Josef got better, Katsuba transmitted my address to them and they left their former work the 26th March and departed to Chasse. My wife with our daughter Genia, met us in Martinet where I had found accommodation. My wife said goodbye to my parents at Isle, ……. they arrived together after having left the farm.The train brought my father to Chasse and my wife stayed for three hours at the railway station, waiting for the train that was going to take her to opposite direction, to Martinet.

The Mines

When I arrived at 8 o’clock in the morning, into a mining village, I saw that my ?parents had left to work already. I was frighten by this enviroment by the black mud, the coal dust and people’s faces that looked like Negros. My first thought was not to remain there. But I stood firm and by dint of willpower, I stayed there. What more is, I experienced a great curiosity I wanted to see how people weren working like ants in undeground tunnels, covered by a layer of soil. I was interested in all new work. Three days after, I had all necessary papers to obtain a job. At 6 o’clock in the morning, I showed myself up in my new job. I entered into a small office where my name was inscribed into miners list and I was given a bond to obtain a lamp. A few steps further two women, covered by coaldust, stretched out a lamp to me through a counter. I was chocked by the foul smelling odour of gas that escaped from the lighted lamps, hanged up each one in its palce. By the elevator’s hole, I saw two elevators going up and down wherein 14 people could stand or a horse.

Every pit was only 300 metres deep, divided in three stops whereby tunnels were set up in which one could see mysterious undergrounds. All this thick rock was crossed by tunnels that were a few hundreds of metres deep and (enormously long) very long. This made me think about ants living in a rotten tree. The coal in the rock was in layers from 1 to 8 metres thick and large of a few metres, and whole kilometres of long. Coal layers are disposed of different ways, some are easy to extract, other extremely hard. Once the coal has been extracted, it has to be replaced by stones (rocks).

In tunnels where rocks are not crumbly it is possible to do without, but where the rock is fragile, it has to be propped with wood. In the depths, we meet sometimes layers of water. In some places, water passes through clefts and pours into tunnels where passages have been made that lead the water into tanks having pumps that draw it up to the surface.

The village has got a few wells of six or seven metres deep and we are working under these sheets of water, but the village lacks water, excepted the places mentioned in my description.

The tunnels sometimes go upwards, sometimes downwards, and in these places, machines, functioning with compressed air, pull or push wagons along cables. Where tunnels are flat, horses are used, but in very narrow places, asses make the work,  since they pass everywhere like cats. There is no electric lights, it would be too dangerous. The petroleum lamps resemble to bombs, have a thick glass and are lighted automatically. A flame is a mortal menace.

It happens that firedamp and dust ignite and with a lightning’s speed the fire propagates into all tunnels, killing all those working in them. Air pass through elevator pits. The draught is so strong that the biggest tunnels are provided with doors to diminish its power. In cul-de-sac tunnels draught is lacking and air in them is often intolerable. The air passing through every hole fills all tunnels, even the deepest ones, follows the corridors and rises up to the surface, where it passes through a building with an opening in the roof to let it escape out, that makes possible the renewal of the air in the mine.

In the mines air is humid and all wood in them rot rapidl Every day, after work, we take a shower and change our clothes.

I follow Frants with whom I work and we enter, with 12 others, into elevator that decends us downward so quickly that we had a feeling as if we were (falling down) or dropping down. While leaving the lift, we are given a number of decent. We go along lengthy corridors, carrying a lamp that illuminates slightly our way and the picture that I have in front of my eyes is quite a different of the one I imagined before seeing mines. We follow the corridors, sometimes going upward, sometimes downwards passing by places that are narrow or dangerous. I was watching everything, cautiously and rapidly. There was a silence of death, darkness hardly illuminated by the lamps, dull noises. In ten steps further, we could not distinguish if it was a voice or a clash. The only way of signalling, is to strike on the metal tubes that transport compressed air and that could be heard until 300 metres from it. In some places, the rocks could fall down, being hardly hold back by rotten props.

When we had reached our work spot, in one of the cul-de-sac tunnels, the air appeared heavy and hardly breathable. I began to bring rocks on the donkeys and I piled them up in one of the narrow  holes that decended down and where others filled up empty spaces with them. I worked there for one month and half, until the day when I was moved into an other spot where I shared the work with a French. Here, I felt well. We worked in one of the centre tunnels and replaced rotten props by others We had two horses to shift the waggons. We were together with the Frenchman and we became good friends.

The work was easy and there was no lack of air. Working 8 hours, I earned 2 Francs an hour. Being married, with a child, I was paid 1.20 Fr. and 200 kg of coal a month. Thus I made friendship with the work in mines and instead of three days as I thought at arrival, I stayed there for over 6 months. But I wanted to rejoin my family and leave the mines and the 5th August 1923, in one beatiful Sunday, we put our luggages together, said good-bye to the neighbors and we got on the train that took us across vineyards, swamps, mountains, at a suprising speed. We arrived to Chasse, in Isere, where our parents and other members of our big family, live. The parents accomodated us in their apartment, where we had at our disposal 2 rooms. Two days after I began to work.

Blast-Furnaces of Chasse (Isere)

The Factory (steelworks)

In this factory, only cast-iron was produced. Two blast-furnaces sent up smoke day and night. These furnaces had a special recovery of bricks that made them withstand of very high temperatures. Below these furnaces, where the temperature is the highest, there is a layer of metal cooled down by running water. The superior brick rows are encircled by thin metal strips. Combustion in the furnace is kept up by compressed air. The thickness of the furnace is one metre below, on the top it is thinner. The foundations are two metres thick. The work in this factory is dirty and hard. It seems that people must be compelled to work there, even for a short time, but that is true about almost all factory work.

The work continues without let up, day and night, in three shifts. One does, not feel any joy in working there. To work at the top of the furnace, where the doors open automatically to receive the loads of ore, is impossible, because of the gas that it releases out and that only a few people can put up with. Down below, where the ore is received, the work is carrried out in the sand and the heat is such that the clothes and bodies smoke. The smoke blue and white escaping from cracks covers the workers that are exhausted already by heat and stuffiness. Then, we unload the ore waggons – it’s the red and dry sand that is pressed into bricks, then dried and with which we load the furnace. During the unloading, the dust that is released is such that we can’t see the people who are carrying out this work. I was observing the environment and that work and I felt that people who work in some places of this factory because of some crime they have committed… There are people who get accustomed to all that and spend their life in this poisonous enviroment.

But for us, after the miserables wages at the farms, that work appeared conveniant to us, as long as we were in good health and full of strength. That work appeared also tolerable because we thought it was only temporary.

All the same, all Russians inhabiting Chasse lived pleasantly and cheerfully. Altogether, we were about fifteen families who had arrived here from different regions in France. WE were composed of two groups, one in Chasse, the other in Pont de Cheruy (?). We were all neighbours in long stonehouses each family having 2 rooms and a vegetable garden. Little by little, the quarrels that burst out in Shangai ceased. During public holidays we made meals together, passing from one flat to another. Here, we were able to reconstitute the Russian customs and habits. When we found a little spare time, or Sunday, we got together to evoke heirlooms. The women saw each other very much, since they didn’t work at the factory.

We did not dream about Russia any more, which we left one year ago, and the weather appeared to us milder.

However, we were dreaming of leaving for Canada, which we were very interested in. We attempted to make inquiries for that purpose in Marseille and then in Paris, but without success. That dream failed.

The 19th April 1924, my father and some others were sacked, because they refused to work at Easter. After spending Easter with us, my father moved to Pont de Cheruy in Isere, to Gramon factory (?) where they manufactured electric wire and rubber objects. The wages there were low and it was far from the centre, far from shops. Here, more than in other places, the poverty of workers was visible: poor food, misery… Six months later, my father left that factory and found work in Decines, in a silk factory that they just finished building began the manufactoring. There my father was pleased, better than in Chasse and Pont de Cheruy.

We kept on working in Chasse. The 6th April 1925 at 10 oclock a.m. my son Paul was born, in flat nr 224 Contineman (?) close to Chasse. There we could share the joy of the birth with our friends and family.

Time went by. Few people stayed in Chasse. Almost everybody moved to Decine. In the Spring 1925, I felt some pain in my stomach. In July, the same year, I was admitted to Hotel-Dieu de Lyon, I stayed there 15 days among sick and dying; that enviroment weighed me down, I thought of my wife and 2 children left to God’s grace. I left hospital without feeling cured and kept on working, while taking care of my health. The 2nd September 1925 I moved to Decines where I began my new work.


The Serebrianka village, around 1920, numbered 80 houses and 500 people. At that epoch some new family names appeared in one village, As I said already in the beginning of my diary, three brothers Goulevitch founded Roudia and, from the beginning, two other families joined brothers Goulevitch, namely Schkouropatsky and Smikovsky. I don’t know if they were married or singles when they joined Goulevitch… I think, because they were few, that they were single. Maybe, they got married with the daughters of Goulevitch. These two names are very close to Goulevitch, as well as later on Katsuba. Then, from 1907 to 1910, some new families arrived to Serebrianka. Their names are Latichkevitcch, Medeltsov, Khomitch, Drobitch, Lisiak. As you can see, our relatives are very numerous. My father had 5 brothers and one sister, Anna. Each of these families counts from seven to twelve people. Uncle Frants was killed and his younger brother, Vassili, married his wife in 1921. Aunt Anna got married at 18, in 1918, with Maxime Botenok, manager of the Post Office that was in Serebrianka. Uncle Piotre and Vassili live in Serebrianka. L’uncle Adam, as I said before, departed for Kharbin earlier and stayed there. Later on, he followed us to Shangai and a few months later, arrived via France, to Poland where his children were able to catch up with him, coming from Kharbin in 1923.

The 4th April 1924, he arrived to Marseille and send a telegram to Chasse asking someone of us to visit him. My father left for Marseille and then came back with my uncle and his family to Chasse, the 6th April, since the way from Marseille to Lyon and Strasbourg passed by Chasse. They stayed a whole day and we escorted them to Poland where he was to join his children. He lived for some time in Varsova, but understood soon that it wasn’t worth to settle there because of lack of work and lodging. So he took his children and returned to Soviet Russia, to the Minsk government, in the village of his wife. There he settled down, but not for longtime. We have lost the habit to stay longtime in the same place because of our nomadic lifestyle. His wife lived in the country, had a house, a vegie-garden and a cow. My Uncle was capable to make many things and he was a good craftsman. The children went to school. His son Josef, studied at the gramma school and then at superior technical school ( or high-technology school). The old parents; the grand-father and the grand-mother died in Serebrianka. The grandfather in December 1930, and my grand-mother in March 1933.

Next, I will talk about an other branch of the family, Smikovsky, and about my other uncles. My grand-mother Maria and the mother of the Smikowsky, Agnecha, are sisters. The Smikovskys inhabited Rogatchev. Their father Josef died at 55 years of age at Rogatchev, in 1906. The family is composed by brothers Vikenti, Piotre, Adam, Frants, Ivan, Paul and sisters Loukacha and Maria, Barbara and Anna. When they left Roudia, they spent a few years travelling and moving. For the first time, they sold everything in Roudia (they were quite rich) and they went to Amour in 1900. But something obliged them to go back to Roudia. They undertook a second trip seven years later. In Rogatchev, they became rich quickly.

To find even more luck, they wanted to go to Bresil in 1911, a country that they knew after books that were circulating among people in purpose to attract them to that paradisiac country. One part of their family, that is Vikenti and Paul, as well as two other Goulevitch families, left the village, went to Vladivostok and found each other in Australia. The other part of their family, with four other families, took the train through (across) all the Russia, and then a ship for Bresil. They arrivent there but were taken by fright: the tropical and humid climate the sicknesses, the heat, forests full of all kinds of snakes… they narrowly escape dying of jaundice and malaria. The Australian climate is very hot but d…??? the families that went there, settled there. What more is, they earned well their livelihood. A letter was sent from Bresil to Australia to tell them to stay there and not to come to Bresil, but it was too late; Vikenti and Paul were already on the way to Bresil. The others stayed in Australia, but they went back to Rogatchev three years later. Those who found themselves in Bresil, stayed there one year and had difficulties to depart because of lack of money. All the same, they arrivent in London and work there in factories. Frants found work on a ship as a sailor and left for United States. In 1912, sometime after he wrote to Roudia telling them that he was married and had become American citizen. All the others went back to Rogatchev. Piotre, after his marrige, went back to Roudia. One year later, war started. Everybody came back from the army in good health, except Piotre, who got a bullet into his elbow, he lives still in Roudia. In 1922, all decided once more, to depart in search of fortune. They came with us, half of them, mother and Anna, stayed in Kharbin; Vikenti, Ivan and Paul arrivent in France four years later, that is to say in 1926.

Vikenti left Decines, alone, to go to his brother Frants in America. He lived a few years with his brother, while working in a factory, then he started to dream of Canada, because he was not pleased with America. He went to Canada, by Kouzma Goulevitch. Canada didn’t give him authorization to emigrate, he arrived as a guest, but when he wanted to make his family coming from France, he was expelled. He went then to Australia, by his brother, and returned again to France, to his family, in 1929. Ivan and Paul decided to join again their brother in Australia. They were hesitant about this decision, but their fancy for a change got the upper hand of them. They said goodbye to Decines. Their mother died in Australia in 1924.

Now the other branch: the family of Theodore Schouropatsky – my Mother Pradexa and Thedore’s wife, aunt Jagna, are cousins. Moreover, my sister Agatha married their son Anton in 1930.

Concerning Katsuba, my sister Maria maried Stepan in 1918. The son-in-law Katsuba and the son-in-law Josef came with us. The grand-parents Katsuba stayed in Serebrianka. The son-in-law Katsuba lived with us all in France until June 1928. His family was composed of four sons; Ivan, Victor, Maxime and Stanislav. At that moment, we all were still dreaming of going back to Serebrianka. But the circumstances prevented us of realising that dream. The parents of Katsuba begged him to come back to Russia, saying that they were very old and would love to have their youngest son around them. They wrote that life was better since our departure from Serebrianka. Katsuba obtained authorization from the Soviet Consulate in Paris and he departed immediately back home. The 25 June 1928, we said goodbye to my sisters Maria Katsuba’s family. We said quietly “au revoir” with out thinking that we would not see each others any more, may be. We were still thinking that tomorrow or soon we would follow them… But the Lord decided otherwise.

Today, while writing these lines, six years have gone bye since that day and only now we realise that it was good bye and separation forever, perhaps. The family of Alexandre Smikovsky departed with them. They departed via Marseille, Greece, Instanbul and then Novorossiisk to regain Siberia. In August, they arrived to Serebrianka, but unhappily, they could not see their father Maxine who died 5 months before they arrivent, that is in March 1928. Nobody had communicated them with this sad news in France. When they arrivent the mother was alone, but they were however pleased to regain home. During two years they wrote to us, so as to quicken our return. After that, life changed for the worst. Their letters became sad, they left Serebrianka, the correspondence was interrupted and now, we have no news from them, who knows where they are?.

The summer 1933 saw their home destroyed and nine other buildings in the centre of Serebrianka.

Sport and spare time activities

What were our entertainments in Roudia?. What we preferred, us young ones was especially dancing accompanied by accordion during public holidays. During big festivities, we invited some musicians, one or two violins and one drum. Other games: at Christmas, young people made a star of multi-coloured paper, go from house to house, sing a hymn, Christmas of Christ, collecting money and spend it during feast. After that, for the first of new year, they make a statue of goat. They get on, holding reins between hands, the face of the one who is sitting on the goat is covered with ribbons of all colours, so as to make it hard to recognise who he is. The goat is fixed by belts to the body of the one who is upon it. This is also done to collect money.A big feast takes place also the next day after Easter, towards night until very late in the morning. When the young people go under the windows of the houses they sing the following song: “The brave people magicians, the Christ is born, son of God”. In that song we mention the name of the owner of that house, what way he has to sow wheat, and so on.

If in a house there is a young girl or a young man, we sing another song, we say the names of the young man when we sing to a young girl, and the names of the young girls when we sing to young men. If the young man mentioned does not please the young girl, she does not give money. They collect the same way Easter eggs, money for the feast…

The games consisted also, on the streets, on a yard, to make roll hards eggs. We played also with balls on the street. For example, we formed 2 groups of men, one group is placed at what we call “the field”, the other group runs from one stroke to an other, for a distance made clear in advance. Each group has a chief called “mother”. The mother of the group situated in the field, casts the ball another hit the ball with a stick and must cast it two or three hundred metres. At that moment, the group who runs must attain the stroke in the field and return too. The group in the field tries to catch the ball to cast it on to attain some among those who run. If they succeed, the other group has lost and they change places.

In Serebrianka, on Amour, we forgot little by little these games and later on they disappeared completely and new ones were not invented.

The young single ones enjoyed themselves only in evening and Sunday by singing and dancing.

What did we leave behind us in Serebrianka?. The farm with very good building all that description is found in a list of possessions which we have always conserved. Two very beautiful houses with 4 rooms each, all in very good condition, clean with good stoves, big windows and beautiful verandas, (caves) or cellars. At the yard, among other things, some barns, a well, a forge, a cow shed, and all kinds of equipment, such as the sledges, barrels, machines, timber and other things. Many objects we distributed and had we known, at the moment, that we would never come back, we would have given all to our relatives.

We left 40 (pouds?) of wheat to our uncle Piotre. All remained on the name of uncle Piotre and Kouzma. Infirmary was still in our house when we left. Two years later, Kondrate left Serebrianka and another nurse superceded him. During three years nos uncles made use of our possessions, but then they were deprived of them and they became common, belonging to the State.

Now we come back to Decines and to its factory of artificial silk. For silk manufacturing they make use of paper and all kinds of acids which come from other factories. It is a special paper, white, thick, cotton-like. It is manufactured in Canada and Norwege.

103 kg of paper is put into a press where they pour some caustic soda, then the soda is poured out and paper pressed. The paper becomes humid and its weight increases until 310 kg. After that bulk (mass) is ground (moulue) and becomes downy. Then it is dried out during 5 days at 28º. After this paper is directed into a weir that resemble to barrels, that revolve around of two horizontal axles. Now they pour into it 22 litres of sulphide and this mass is kneaded for 2 to 3 hours. It is very important that the temperature does not exceed 17-18º. Then this stuff goes down to next story, into a blender, that is a container that moves vertically and it stirs up this liquid during 3 hours. Now they add to it 630 litres of water and 160 litres of soda. In other words, all that stuff 1000 kg is now composed of 103 kg of paper, 22 lt of sulphide, 160 lt of soda and 630 lt of water. Then this liquid called viscose, is filtered under pressure of compressed air. This viscose must rest for 5 days – 120 hours and passes then to the spinnnerie ? from which it comes out as thread of artificial silk.

The threads of silk are pulled out by a special machine. The viscose is pushed by compressed air from the container. It passes then by the spinning machine across of small glass tubes which extremity has got minutes holes, invisibles to eyes through which the viscose is streched out in a mixture of soda and magnesium heated up that fixes the threads. The threads go up on a bobbin. Threads thickness depends on the number of holes in the glasstubes.

After that they are washed to get rid of all acids and finally dried up.

After that the thread passes in the machine where only women work with. Finally the women select the threads and pack them up. All that work is very harmful for health: the gas, the acids cause burns.

Acids used for manufacturing of viscose:

Caustic soda


Sulphate of soda

For the fixing:

soda (magnesied)

sulphate of soda

sulphuric acid

For washing:

sulphide sudem (?)

chlorhydric acid (?)


Hupo soap (?)

carbonate of soda



When our first families arrived to Decines, in 1924, where now is the centre of the city, that is Avenue Jean Jaures, was still wheat, potatoes, etc fields. Five years later, the factoy was enlarged. Many houses were built as well as shops and restaurants. Some new streets going out from Av. Jean Jaures, appeared. Because of all this new modern and expensive enviroment the old Decines seems to be tiny and lost.

The proximity of Lyon has also contributed to the growth of this market-town, but it is above all the factory of artificial silk that caused the growth and boom. More than three thousand people worked in this factory, founded by a company from Lyon. The beginning of the construction of the factory started in 1923 and already in 1924 2 or 3 modern machines were created for the manufacturing of that fabric. In 1925, when the factory was half constructed, they produced almost 6 thousand kg of silk a day. Where before grew wheat and potatoes grow now is silk. The factory situates on the right hand side of Av. Jean Jaures; on the left hand side, there is the silk estate it is to say: the workers lodging and behind passes the great canal, the centre and the cite Vallon (?) in the middle of which is the school. On both sides: 2 buildings with 4 stories like watching over the school and behind the school a grand, round place, from which starts off and straight streets which all finish at one street that makes a half circle around the cite. Along of these streets, lined with beautiful buildings of varied architecture. Some ground floors are painted yellow or red and the first floor in white, grow maple-trees and acacias. Instead of sad fields five years ago, there is now houses, very nice gardens, full of flowers, vegetables gardens and greenery.

This new enviroment received us since some time. Ten years of our unsettled life have elapsed here already. Some families have left us to regain Russia or Australia. Other families have chosen this place where they were able to buy a block of land and build a house of a few rooms.

Among those are Vassili Goulevitch and Vassili Goulevitch (Monikov), Esperansa Route de Vaulx en Velin (Rhone) – Ivan Goulevitch (Evreitchikov) and Jakov Schkouropat-Robespierre, Decines.

Some, among the young generation belonging to Goulevitch families are married with Italians, French or Polish. Some have French nationality.

During this period of our life, in Decines, we have had some moments of joy and some of sadness. The custom so Russian to make all together during holidays, disappeared little by little. We have met loneliness and got used to it . Unhappily, some form of hostility, or simply distrust, have appeared within our community. Some have left us for the other world. I can evoke you the sad death of Schkouropatsky who at 36 years of age hurled himself into the canal in 1927, at 2 o’clock a.m. after having injured seriously his wife Alena, with a knife. He went mad and didn’t realise the seriousness of his acts. His corpse was found only 9 days later taken to Lyon and buried by his parents. His wife Alena recovered from her injuries, happily, otherwise 5 children had become orphans.

Also the death of my brother: it is with a great sadness that we have buried the son and the brother, Paul, who died the 16 October 1932 at 14. He lived close to ten years in Decines and at 14, seemed an adult. He finished primary school in 1932 at L.S.A. school. He recived a beautful gift from his teacher and from the director of the factory. His certificate was a great joy to his parents and to his teachers. After the summer holiday in September he began Ecole des Metiers (Trade School) in Lyon, that his teacher and school director had commanded him. He studied there only 1 month and half. Two days before his death he didn’t go to school because his cheek swelled up and above his lip appeared a small pimple. Nobody realised that the small pimple was fatal. He didn’t feel any pain and didn’t go to the doctor. The next day his upper lip swelled and the Saturday morning the doctor send him to the hospital in Lyon. Monday I left him in a hospital room and there my dear brother pressed my hand for the last time as a gesture of goodbye.

We were all calm and the idea of a possible death didn’t cross our minds. The Sunday morning, a telegram, informing us of the seriousness of his sickness was sent to us from the hospital de Lyon, it disquieted us deeply.

I arrived into the room where my brother was laying with a very high fever (41.5). To my call “Pacha, Pacha” he half-opened his eyes, and shut them again and at three oclock p.m. in front of his parents and sisters, he died quietly. This way his great enthusiasm in studying and choosing a interesting trade to become a fullgrown member of the family, was a short duration. That bright young man, with an enlighten face by hope, especially the last months of his life, extinguished in 5 days. I was thinking about that sunbeam in Autumn that disappears behind the clouds.

O my dear Brother, you went away forgetting the life on earth

The Lord prefered to recall your soul,

You departed so soon, you flew away

And you will not return among us

You didn’t have time to to us “aurevoir” and you disappeared forever, for eternity

O my dear brother, you departed with an unfulfilled dream by regaining the eternal rest

You lived only 14 years of this happy life on earth

Our tears have flown in torrents

You are resting in a white tomb that is like snow

You are sleeping in the humid and cold ground

You dozed off in full boyhood

Sleep well your remembrance will be eternal.

We transported the corpse from Lyon to Decines for burial the 18 October 1932 into the beautiful cemetery of the town. He passed almost all his childhood in Decines, where he was loved. He found many friends and now he sleeps quietly, in this ground, under a silverplated, cast-iron cross and wreaths of flowers. We have grieved long years for Paul, but life goes on and those living must survive.

His departure meant also calm and happy period in the life of our family. The parents grew old quickly, especially my father, because of all those painful works he had accomplished. When he arrived to France, at 50 years of age, he felt very fit, strong and energetic, but ten years of work from nine to ten hours a day have broken his strength and his health. He started to decline very fast, lost weight, became feeble these last years…and yet, life of my small sisters and brother – those who are not yet independants – can be happy, on condition being protected by their parents. And the parents are also happy in leading a calm and quiet life among their children, still unmarried, but little by little when these children got married, the joy, the happiness of the parents either grow or leave them, and sadness replaces them. The parents feel more responsible of success or failures of their children.

It happens often, that the parents, somehow justly or unjustly, throw back the responsible of family disagreements and it happens that love too strong toward one of the children, becomes stronger than the reason – and they do not even suspect that the weight of this responsibility desloves upon them alone. (?)

Later on and during all our life,our way of life depends of a mysterious and fatal destiny. These ten years of marvellous life are running out close to the silk factory. That time, that appears quite long, passed as a lightning and we didn’t even realise how time was running…. Although we found us in conditions where work is difficult in sultry workshop. The life and the work, in this environment full of gas, acids, dust, and the noise of the machines, are weighing me down more and more.

This factory life, so ordinary and monotonous, that resemble to the tic-tac of a watch, where days are alike, makes me thin to a noisy machine that runs until its mechanism is worn out. The morning hooter that calls, the evening hooter that makes the heavy gate to be closed, the workshops that eat up the workers.

The machines are set going and are shaking, the valves, the levers areset into motion and people are set to work with usuals, monotonous gestures, the same way as the machines. These people take always the same object, always from the same place, then put it back to the same place, leaning over a little…..raising up one-self, always the same movement, like a machine accomplishing the usuals gestures, today, tomorrow, during years and tens of years…

The hooter, the meals, again the hooter for return to workshop, the same way to go there, the same work, in winter as well as in summer, always the same thing! These same gestures tire out and are harmful to health.

In this factory, only 10% of the workers have a work that is not harmful to their health and that can be said to be interesting, and which they like and do not want to leave it. During these years, I have worked in every workshop and I have come to know all sorts of work. Currently, I work at fitting on the machines where the silk is coiled, that is the work of women. The rumbling of the machines, the dust that poisons the environment and, in summer, the unbearable heat of motors, make our life here very hard.

During the first three years, while the factory was still being built, these women earned their life very honourably, but eight years later, their salaries have gone down enormously, and are now insignificants, while the discipline became more and more strict.

In Decines, I have known sad and bitter years, sickness, anguish, but also sweet and happy moments. In the beginning, we lived together with my parents in the same flat, 15 Av. Reamur, but then we moved to our own unit, Av. Berna Palissy. All these years, lived in an environment poisoned by chemical products,have impaired my health and later on, which I regret most that I have not seen in myself, are the signs of whatever talent (apttude) that would have loved to have since my childhood.

No, I an not complaining and I keep working in these workshops where the dust burn in my eyes. Gana works since eight years in the outsorting workshop and times goes by… and we do not think any more to be able to change anything to our destiny and it seems that only some new events could push us to undertake some new choices.

What’s going to happen to us later on? And the question is asked:

Is it possible that under the sky of this France so far off, among the same catholic crosses, we will be buried forever in the cemeteries of this country?

We have known the life of nomads and keep on living as if all was temporary. All our things are in the boxes, photos are not in frames, and we continue to tink that the nomad life will resume one day or another. 

But we are dreaming that one day we will put everything in order, that we will empty all our boxes and then we will be occupied by household, we will build and finally we will say that we will not move any more from this place. But although years go by we are not doing it, we are not able to realise it. It is hard to abandon all that you have earned with hardship, the places of your childhood, but it is even more difficult to find a spot (place) where , finally we desire to remain.

Don’t think about it anymore! It is the Lord who will point out the way, better than we would be able and at last we will have a feeling which, in our grand family, in France where life is calm and peaceful, allows us to settle down definitively.

Gloomy clouds are gathering together over the world.

The world is roaring like a volcano in eruption and terribles forces are gathering together on earth and they are becoming more and more visible causing from time to time some small tremblings, and it is enough with some more gas and of steam for all to be released with power on the surface and destroying and wiping out all on his way. At present, newspapers are full of predictions more and more sinister and revealing menaces of war with its destructive power: bacteriologic armes and technical means, etc…

The lightning, grace to God, have not yet striked us, let us try to be happy and pick the fruits of calm and happy life.

I finish thus the first part of family annals. I thank again the Lord who have protected me and have ginen me back enough strength and memory for writing down these simple and poor words into this diary where misspellings are numerous

Ivan Goulevitch – May 1934.



May 1979.

After a long interruption and important events, I take up this diary again being disappointed haven’t been able to do it sooner. I will go back to a excerpt of the page 158 of this diary, where I asked a question: Is it possible…(p. 42).

Twenty years later, I answer to this question, we know now that future which has become our past and I will replace a line of that question: In the cemetery of Decines, they are shut in for centuries and centuries. We know where finishes their way on this earth. We know they are there: our parents, my brother, my sister and my wife, and we know exactly the spot where they are buried. My father died the 9 August 1955 at 83 years of age. My mother died the 15th August 1959 she was    82 y. My sister Lucia died the 1? November 1953 after a long sickness, she was 45 years. My wife died the fifth of March 1974 at the age of 72. My parents life was hard. They have moved three times, from Bielorussia to Roudia to Far-East in the Serebrianka village and finally a very long road to France, where they have worked very hard, but where they lived in peace, calmly, in security, without needing to fear for their life. The material side of their life was not too hard, what was difficult, is to be cut from ones country and language. But we do not feel regret, we do not know what would happen to us in our own country. After a hard and tormented life, our dear parents were happy to finish their days among their children and leave for eternity by falling gently asleep, knowing they would be buried into cemetery of Decines.

I must say all the same, that our generation have had a strange destiny. As I said in the beginning of my diary, we are certainly natives from Poland but we felt very Russian and we have forgot what was that linked us to our ancestors living in Poland.And then the circumstances pushed us to choose an other road, into a country which is even more strange to us, France which is a Latin country and which is very different of Slaves.

My parents, in the records of our family, are the pioneers of this road which took us to France.

Who, among us, could have thought that the destiny, that fatal destiny, and the circumstances would push us to choose this country and may be forever? Now while I am writing these words, France has become to us our dear second homeland. Our roots have grown deep in this country, we are part of its history and of its life. But we regret, that there will most certainly not be such circumstances which would push future generations to return to opposing direction, toward Russia, because they are more than us mixed with other nationalities by marriages.

Another language, encounter with other people, diverts us more and more from our past and the desire to return disappears, but our children can’t imagine the weighty burden of nostalgia, especially when we didn’t know the language. Our children started to speak French immediately, without knowing anything about the past, that is why they will never know the burden that weighed us down.


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