A true story about White Russians in China
The year 2017 has marked the hundredth anniversary of the world-changing Russian February and October Revolutions, during which the Bolsheviks came to power and many Russians were driven out of Imperial Russia, creating a White Russian emigre' diaspora. The Manchurian city of Harbin, China, was where many of these displaced Russians eventually settled.
Dimitry ("Mitya") Nikolayevich Zissermann and his family were members of this large population of historically anti-Communist White Russians who had managed to build new lives outside of Russia, despite the Bolshevik Revolution. They had established many dynamic and sophisticated Russian institutions and also had established friendly relationships with many Chinese people in their Russian "colony." However, in the late 1950s, after conflicts, Japanese occupation, a brief Soviet invasion of Manchuria in 1945, threats of deportation to the Soviets' gulags, and the fierce Chinese Communist Revolution of 1949, conditions had changed. The Soviet Union was pressuring the Russians in Harbin to return to their "Mother Russia." But that country had become a nation with its own often unpleasant ways of dealing with old political enemies.
Thus, The Manchurian settlement of Harbin had grown into a sophisticated multicultural city with an unmistakable Russian identity by the early 1900s. Although Czar Nicholas and his immediate family were executed in 1918, the Russian Orthodox church and many other religions still flourished there, and the Chinese Eastern Railway and the strategic Sungari River which flowed through Harbin guaranteed her survival as a center of commerce. The annual Harbin Ice and Snow Festival now celebrates the city's cold weather, but her origins were a combination of the Chinese culture and the Russian culture. And the city's inevitable growth and transformation from an obscure rural settlement into a strategic Chinese manufacturing center exhibiting increasing animosity toward foreigners impacted her Russians in countless ways.
The Russians had to leave, but where would they go, and how would they get there? This is just one of the many true stories of Harbin's Russians -- Mitya's story. It also is a unique description of Harbin's development and of a little-known episode in Russian and Soviet history. Now Harbin is not only an industrial city, but also a world-famous tourist attraction. Her colorful, magnificent ice sculptures attract people from all over the world, but few of these visitors are aware of her earlier Russian legacy and convoluted politics. This book chronicles Harbin's complicated history as a railway city, and it currently is available for sale on Amazon.com, on Amazon.co.uk, at Baker and Taylor, and on other sites.