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White emigration in Egypt.
As a result of the Civil War, lost by the White Army, a mass outflow of intellectuals and their families from Russia began in the early 1920s. This phenomenon historiographers will later be called the Emigration of the first wave. Where did these people go? Emigrants were sent not only to Europe, the USA and Chinese Harbin, but also to the countries of the Near and Middle East, which for a long time domestic history lovers knew only by hearsay. About their fate & mdash; by diletant. media Vladimir Sokolov.
The largest colony of white emigrants in North Africa was formed in Egypt. As early as 1917, the British conducted a census in the country and found that 4225 Russians live on the territory of the country. However, the main flow of emigrants to Egyptian cities falls on the beginning of the 1920s, when the defeat of the White Guard no longer aroused doubts. By the mid-1920s, the number of refugees from Russia to Egypt increased to several tens of thousands.
Russian emigrants sought mainly in large cities.
Refugees boarded boats in Novorossiysk, but they had no idea where they would have to go ashore. Passengers of the steamer “Saratov”, for example, because of the onset of the epidemic were not accepted in Constantinople and Cyprus Famagusta, and proceeded to the Egyptian city of El-Tel-el-Kebir. Many emigrants traveled to their destination alone, tragically losing their families on the road.
Landing on the ship in Novorossiysk.
It was not necessary to count on decent conditions for refugees. At first they settled in barracks for prisoners, and sometimes simply in tents on the outskirts of Cairo and Alexandria. In the collection of articles “Emigration Children” & raquo; there are a few lines about the first impressions of people from what they encountered away from home: & laquo; There we lived in tents among thorns and stones; nowhere did not even have trees & mdash; and only the sea, stones and thorns surrounded us & raquo ;. Indeed, unlike the emigrant who came to Egypt, in Europe, a Russian man did not encounter such an unusual climate and exotic landscape. Russian emigrants literally survived both physically and morally. It was difficult for them to adapt in a linguistic, cultural and professional way. One of them remembers: & laquo; I did not eat sometimes and walked through the desert and remembered my house & hellip; spring evenings at home & hellip; field with horses, and all this was sweet and expensive for me & raquo ;.
“There we lived in tents among thorns and stones & hellip; & raquo; & mdash; Russians in Egypt.
Intellectuals were forced to work as taxi drivers, machine operators, mechanics and electricians. In the emigre environment, cultivation of asceticism, simplicity and unwillingness to imitate the guest culture. In general, we can say that extreme conditions have revealed the survival of Russians. Severe conditions in the beginning of stay in a foreign country caused in the Russian community a sense of mutual assistance and the desire to preserve national traditions. The roots of this psychological isolation were probably hidden in the hope of the rapid fall of the Bolshevik regime and the possibility of returning to their homeland.
The core of the Russian community in Egypt was the first department of the Russian All-Military Union, in particular responsible for the support of compatriots in Egypt. Under his aegis in Cairo was created a society of disabled people, the Russian Club and the Russian Charitable Society. A well-known lawyer Tikhonov helped emigrants in legal proceedings. The charitable society regularly held charity bazaars and balls. The money was used to build a hospice for the elderly emigrants, who was known as the “Russian House” & raquo ;.
As for the level of education of emigrants arriving in Egypt, the percentage of people with higher education among them was quite high. Every eighth had a university degree, there were almost no illiterates.
Every eighth white emigrant had a university degree.
Local authorities actively attracted emigrants with medical education to medical activities, and this subsequently seriously influenced the development of Egyptian medicine. Professor Karl Edmundovich Wagner, who headed the medical clinic of Moscow University before the revolution, in 1920 founded in Cairo a “Polyclinic of Russian doctors-specialists”. Later, the Egyptian Medical Society was founded, under the auspices of which lectures were given and hygiene and sanitation courses were taught, which were not widely known in the Middle Eastern countries.
Russian doctors acquainted the local population with the basics of hygiene.
Some Russian emigrants left a notable mark in the Egyptian culture. So, the artist Vladimir Strekalovsky with his sons made many of their canvases in Egypt. Today their paintings can be found in the Cairo Museum of the History of Agriculture and the Military Museum.
About the close connection of the artist Bilibin with Egypt says his famous canvas “The Pyramid”, written in 1924.
Another artist Ivan Yakovlevich Bilibin, who lived in Egypt from 1920 to 1925, created a number of works in foreign lands, in which one can see the influence of another culture. The most important of them, perhaps, is & mdash; iconostasis for the Syrian Orthodox Church in Alexandria. In one of his letters to a friend in Europe, Bilibin draws modern Egypt with such colors: “The Muslim antiquity, if you will, is still alive today, but life is almost the same.” The Muslim quarters of Cairo are very specific, the architecture is magnificent, there are a lot of antiquities, and then there are bazaars, shops, traders, beggars, bedouins, negroes, camels, decorated donkeys, carpets, sweets, fruits & mdash; in a word, sit down and paint an oriental fairy tale & raquo ;.
Bilibin created an iconostasis for the Orthodox church in Alexandria.
In addition, from the white emigration came a whole galaxy of Egyptologists, who in the study of Egyptian history almost surpassed the Egyptians themselves. Vladimir Semenovich Golenishchev, one of the founders of the world scientific schools of Egyptology and Assyriology, headed one of the chairs at the University of Cairo, and also systematized the collection of papyri in the Egyptian Museum.
Vladimir Semenovich Golenishchev in Egypt. Photos & mdash; from the archive of the Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts.
Graduate of the Moscow University Vladimir Mikhailovich Vikentiev in Egypt began to teach Egyptian philology and the ancient history of the Middle East in Cairo University. Vikentiev’s interesting reflections on the civilizational affiliation of Russia, evidently inspired by work with Eastern culture, are preserved: “Russian identity is closer to the East than the West, both in substance and historically. But till now the East is perceived by us almost exclusively through the prism of feeling and in the form of the Muslim Middle Ages & raquo ;.
Until the end of the 1920s, the imperial diplomatic representations of the Russian Empire remained in Egypt. After the international recognition of the USSR, they were transformed into Russian bureaus, which lasted until 1963.
The royal representations were preserved in Egypt until the end of the 1920s.
Not the most pleasant page in this story was probably the fact that many Russian emigrants and their descendants surrendered to the commander of German troops at the North African theater Erwin Rommel. And his Russian presence was unprecedented & mdash; from 15 to 20 thousand people (more, probably, only had a general Vlasov in the ROA). Later in the USSR they will be called the “slaves of Rommel”.
After the Second World War, many Red Army soldiers came to North Africa, who were captured by the Germans. They were afraid of Order No. 270, according to which the Red Army soldiers and CSIR (members of the family of traitors to the homeland) were being surrendered.
In general, by the end of the Second World War the emigrants of the first wave were greatly exhausted, as many of them were not indifferent to the fate of the motherland and the outcome of the war. They carefully followed the situation on the fronts, sympathized with the defeat and rejoiced in the victories of the Red Army. Learning about the victory of the USSR over fascism, many emigrants were imbued with sympathy for the Soviet authorities and seriously thought about returning to their homeland. Emigrant Fedor Maklakov, receiving a Soviet passport, said: “We stopped the war, and from those who lead it, we separated”. By the end of the 1950s, the Russian diaspora had almost disappeared from Egypt, and today almost nothing resembles its stay.
From the Russian emigration of the first wave in Egypt there were only small Christian cemeteries in the vicinity of large cities.