isbn 978-1456553876

Author: ally-hauptmann-gurski

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  • 8/7/2019 ISBN 978-1456553876


  • 8/7/2019 ISBN 978-1456553876




    A Gypsy Singers life

    in Tsarist Russia and in exile

    Ally Hauptmann-Gurski

  • 8/7/2019 ISBN 978-1456553876





    Part I, Roots............................................................................11

    Part II , Destinations ..................................................................231


    Relationships between historical personalities...........509


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    escape route. If she let on, they would no longer allow her tojoin the women walking into the towns. So she decided tohide her feelings. Feelings are for songs, are they not? Shouldan escape route open up, her disappearance was to come asa complete surprise. Yoskas smiling coal black eyes tried tocatch hers. Katya smiled back. Yoska is alright, maybe shewould stay with him, or maybe not? One step at a time. Peelfresh bark from the next birch tree.

    From now on, the Dimitrievich clan stopped at eachcrossing to place the twigs near the roadside to let the clans

    know of their wedding invitation. In the villages they leftpatrin on many fences. Outside, they would write it on trees.Only Gypsies could read these symbols and most gadje tookthem for childish doodles. It did not take long for the repliesto appear. Tarafs clan was coming, Matteos clan left a mes-sage. Baros clan would also be delighted to celebrate the bigwedding just before the next summer solstice in 1900.

    The weeks went by, and life kept rolling on as it alwayshad. Katya gradually took her place in the younger adultgroup, teaching the little girls. One afternoon while Yoskaand Arpad trained the bear cubs to walk on their hind legs,Katya and Valya sat near the campfire. Their bare feet undertheir ankle length panelled skirts were muddy. Katya drewpatrin symbols in the ash to check if Valya remembered themproperly.

    All of a sudden, Valya looked towards her big sister andasked. You didnt mean that about the dogs, did you?

    Dont even know if theyve got dogs!So youre not going to run away like Anna?Not blinking an eyelid Katya lied. No! But Ill sing in

    the Tsars palaces one day!Valya was only eight years old. She did not sense the

    lie. After all, wasnt Katya trained to lie convincingly for thefortune-telling?

    So you didnt mean it, then? Valya asked innocently.

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    No, we have to go back, their leader said lookingdown from his high horse back. We just needed to checkwhat you are up to. A group of revolutionaries and terroristshas been seen in the area last week. They plan to assassinateFather Tsar!

    Orhan shook his head, shrugged his shoulders. Througha slight opening between the tilts on her cart, Katyas oldaunt Alekha watched the Russians and listened. As soon asshe heard the word assassination, she gasped for air and fellto one side. One of the other women in the cart quickly

    brought a vodka bottle and held it under her nose whisper-ing. Auntie, auntie, wake up.

    The Russians had not noticed, save for an examininglook at Orhan. No, the policeman thought, this Gypsy tellsthe truth. He really has no idea what I am talking about.

    Revolutionaries? Orhan repeated slowly. Whichuniform do they wear, barin?

    No uniform, Tzigane. They talk about justice, repre-sentative government, and strikes. Then they kill. Blood ontheir hands, thats their uniform.

    He raised his right index finger. Stay away from thesetroublemakers, or face trouble yourselves!

    The Russian turned his horse around, whistled to callhis men and all galloped back to the track from where theyhad come. Orhan looked into the distance. What made these

    people think the Gypsies had anything to do with, what wasit? Revolutionaries, terrorists? What exactly did that mean?

    Go and check Alekha, Orhan now told Raya. After awhile she returned from the cart.

    Its nothing, Orhan, just a moment of weakness. Thesight of the soldiers frightened her. Then she heard assassi-nation. She remembers the upheaval of Alexanders assassi-nation so vividly, although it must be nearly 20 years. I thinkAlekhas losing it. She said, when police come to us Gypsiesand have no bigger sorrow than chasing us away, God help

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    Next morning, the men got together. They sat in a circle ontheir blankets. Only the married men with children had asay in their council, and for Yoska it was the first time that hewas eligible to participate. He liked the sound of finding anew source of income. The bears were not as profitable asbefore, so maybe this would compensate for the shortfall.

    What do we know then about these messages? Yoska

    asked.The men shook their heads.It has something to do with the young men in the

    squares, but thats all we know, Erno answered. I did notfully understand what they asked. I did not want to ask anyquestions for fear they would be more angry than they al-ready were.

    So nobody has heard exactly whats involved? Orhanasked.

    The men remained silent, then shook their heads.Alright then. Well talk again when we know more. Ill

    ask the next clan we see on the road, Orhan concluded.That was quick, Katya said when Yoska came back.Dont say things like that, Katya. You know, I cannot

    tell you about the mens council.

    Alright, alright. I wouldnt get you into trouble, youshould know that!

    Still, rules are rules. I dont want to be tempted ortricked. Please respect that. The puri dai will tell you, whenshe thinks you need to know. Havent you learned that?Yoska asked irritated.

    Alright, alright. Forget it, Katya appeased.Yes, you do that. It was inappropriate.Now Katya bit her tongue to remain silent because if

    she had not, Yoska would have continued. It came naturally

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    No, its not far, but you cant go now.Why not?Its gone dark, but besides, police and soldiers are eve-

    rywhere. You could get caught up in a riot. They might shootlike they did in Petersburg.

    What? Katya asked completely bewildered.Tell you what, the young man said, I know some

    people close by where you are safe for the night. In the morn-ing you go to your music hall. The streets will be safe be-cause they will all be in church. I am Yigor Borisovich, stick

    with me. Whats your name?I am, Katya said slowly, casting her eyes downward.

    I am Nadezhda.Not far from her feet she saw pieces of broken glass, a

    broken frame, and a torn picture.Who is this? she asked Yigor.Thats the Tsar. Dont you know what the autocrat looks

    like? Well, maybe you wont need to know for much longer.Then he kicked the frame and stepped on the picture.Its all his fault. The lost war, the workers sufferings,

    the peasants ignorance. Hes got to go and then his palaceswill be ours, Yigor said triumphantly.

    Has he got many palaces, has he?Of course, ten, twenty, I dont know. Some are huge,

    others just big, and they are all empty most of the time. When

    he lives in his trains or on his yacht all of them are empty!What a waste. Hes got to go!

    Go where? she asked.I dont care. Anywhere, as long as it is far from his

    throne.Katya did not say anything. She was exhausted, and

    the Tsar was not her concern. She had heard of singers andmusicians performing in the Tsars palaces. They were wellrewarded and had spoken about magnificent chandeliers,sparkling mirrors in gold plated frames, and huge ballrooms.

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    She had always thought of these places as something to bepart of, not something to fight. Katya was overwhelmed. Shelooked around if she could sit down but there was no spaceon the floor that was not covered with papers, glass, andtorn pictures.

    What are you looking for, Nadezhda?Katya did not answer.Nadezhda? Are you alright? Yigor asked concerned.Oh, yes, yes, Katya said. I need to sit down, and there

    is no room on the floor.

    One of the young women got up from a chair and nowoffered it to Katya. Shutting herself off from the action aroundher, Katya conditioned herself to become responsive to thenew name which she had given herself so spontaneously.Time and time again she had considered which name toadopt. She had never been able to reach a decision that lastedmore than a day.

    But now it had happened. She was Nadezhda.

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    I discovered a pair of shoes at the Oppenheimer stall.Theyve put it aside for me, in your name. Give me 15 Roubelsand dont put them on the statement, will you?

    Simyonov nodded. Ill send Gavril to pick them up.You need to talk to Leo Vitalyevich now.

    When Nadezhda turned around, the elegant lookinggentleman greeted her with open arms and Simyonov intro-duced his business friend.

    Nadezhda Vassilievna, meet my friend LeonidVitalyevich Sobinov. Im sure you have heard of Russias

    greatest tenor. He sings in the opera houses of London andParis.Sobinov spoke in the voice that opera singers carry

    away with them from the big stage. Nadezhda, Dyoshka,your parents must have made you under a golden star, pro-ducing such a beautiful and gifted singer! Trust Simyonovto discover the finest talent in the Empire!

    He embraced Nadezhda and kissed her on both

    cheeks. I am so glad I stayed another day to hear you. Wemust get together for one of my concerts that I arrange forthe orphanage.

    Simyonov nodded demonstrably, signalling toNadezhda to agree.

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    shinsky yelled.The more agitated Dshershinsky became, the more

    calmly Nadezhda spoke. You are not well informed, Com-rade, Nadezhda countered. His noble birth was not wortha Kopeck. He worked for a living all those years because hisfather had squandered their assets. Rakhmaninoffs motherwas left to care for a gaggle of children, five or six, cant re-member. As a youngster Rakhmaninoff nearly became ahomeless drifter in Petersburg, where he hung out with therailway workers. Then they put him in a kind of foster home

    in Moscow where they trained boys on the piano. And youknow what they made him do? In the middle of the night amessenger boy came, and took him to a party where he hadto show off for Rubinstein, Tchaikovsky, and their mates.They dragged him out of bed, as if he was their valet. Theywere all accomplished pianists themselves, who could haveplayed everything, Seryosha told me. His famous, poundingsense of rhythm developed from his anger of having to per-form there, in the middle of the night, and half asleep!

    But he commanded huge fees in America, and you callhim Seryosha! He must make more than 500 Roubels a month,which makes him part of the capitalist conspiracy! Dsher-shinskys assistant shouted from a dark corner of the office.Nadezhda had not even noticed he was there.

    Comrade Voroshilov, please, Dshershinskys blue eyes

    narrowed, and his face twitched again. As long as ComradeNadezhda is cooperative, no need to get tough, he said.

    Turning to Nadezhda, Dshershinsky explained. Theissue is, that Rakhmaninoff is part of the Ruling Class, whichmakes him guilty by definition. Secondly, he is guilty by as-sociation, because he socialized with Guchkov, Siloti, thePasternaks, and that clique.

    Come off it, Nadezhda laughed. You dont know aperformers life! Rakhmaninoff had no intention to performin America. He could not say that, of course. So he demanded

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    would have been there by myself. Levitskys soldiers hadways to procure bread, too. After three weeks, Levitskyscommander called us into his office. He told us to get mar-ried or I would have to leave. He said, I had used up mycredit as a famous singer. His men threatened to bring theirgirlfriends to stay. We got married and are very happy to-gether.

    Nadezhda paused. I need some tea, Captain, or a glassof water.

    Skoblin got up, unlocked the door and ordered tea from

    the guard.Then he sat down again. Coming up, Madame, tea for

    two. In the meantime, go on, I want to hear about Levitskyspolitical position. When we capture a Red Army unit likethe one you were in, captives need to be investigated. Ivegot to justify to the commander that we are not feedingmoles.

    Nadezhda sighed. Come off it, you must know how itwas. You attend Cadet School when youre ten, learn the sol-diers craft, plus French and German. You become a soldier no less but also no more. Your oath is for the Tsar and itnever even enters your head you could one day not fight forFather Tsar and Mother Russia.

    Who would have ever thought, the whole family ofour beloved Nicholas could be murdered? It was the Tsar

    who fed you, so you fought for him keep the Polish in theEmpire and the Turks out as Levitsky once said. ThenKerenski turned up and the common soldiers shot the offic-ers or tore their epaulets from the uniforms. You are still alive,but you walk around dishonored because a soldier does nothave anything else to wear than the colors of his trade. Be-fore you know what to do next, Trotzky comes along andorders the officers, including Levitsky, back into the forces.Why? Because Trotzkys common people and the Red Guardsneed a cavalry but never learned how to ride a horse. Does

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    close they really had been, but she let it go. Pleased to meetyou. Ill bring the tea to the veranda.

    Nadezhda and Serguey sat down in large cane arm-chairs on the patio behind the house. Natalia wheeled in atray with a small samovar teapot, a large carafe of hot waterand three bowls of jam.

    I ordered good honey but it has not arrived. Im sorry,Nadezhda Vassilievna, Natalia said.

    Jam is fine, Nadezhda answered. I only take honeyin winter.

    After Natalia was gone, Seryosha and Nadezhda sat si-lently for a moment and looked into the quaint little Frenchgarden. Its apple tree showed fruit buds on all branches. Rosebushes were full of yellow and pink blooms.

    Can you smell the earth, the flowers, and the grass?Rakhmaninoff finally broke the ice. Raspberry or red-cur-rant jam, Nadezhda? Rakhmaninoff asked pointing to thetray.

    Raspberry is better with the tea they have here inFrance, thank you.

    They sipped their teas with jam Russian style andwatched the sparrows that looked like dancing on the greypavers only a few feet away.

    Nadezhda smiled. I thought, I might never, ever seeyou again.

    Could have easily happened, Rakhmaninoff an-swered. We were so lucky that Chalyapins children warnedus in time. I had a tour to Stockholm stitched up long before,but I was in two minds if I should go or stay in Moscow.Then Fedyas children knocked on our door. I finalized thetour and we packed that evening.

    Only days later, Rakhmaninoff continued pensively,they established that new secret service under Dshershinskyofficially. He would have destroyed us. How did you get out,Nadezhda? he asked.

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    Nadezhda looked at the sparrows. Now was the timeto tell Rakhmaninoff she had put Fedyas children up to it.Would it not sound corny now? Would it not look as if shewanted reward or gratitude? If she had to prove it, Fedyawould remember. But did it serve a purpose to have it out inthe open?

    Nadezhda? Rakhmaninoff asked and wonderedwhere Nadezhdas mind was travelling. You dont have totell me how you got out, if it was too dreadful.

    No, no, its not that at all. I just remembered some-

    thing else, Nadezhda said.Then she told her story, how she found herself in Red

    ruled Kursk. Kutepovs Whites came and took her to Orel.She fell in love with her interrogator who was a captain then.Now he was a general. He was a leader in the veterans move-ment. Rakhmaninoff nodded as Nadezhda told each episode.He made no comment and did not ask any questions. Rakh-maninoff had made up his mind, that he would stonewall allconversations about political activities of emigrs by not an-swering. Then nobody could quote or misquote him.

    They remembered their good times in Russia.The sound of a real balalaika orchestra, Rakhmaninoff

    said softly. As big as Andreyevs orchestra, when will wehear it again?

    When we go home, Nadezhda answered with a sigh.

    Yes, it is nearly eight years for us now. Losing our homehurts more every year, not less. Did you know I had to watchthe peasants torch Ivanovka? Rakhmaninoff paused andtook charge. While were alive, regardless of where we are,we need to attend to the business at hand.

    They talked business. Rakhmaninoff was certain thathe could persuade his agent to arrange a tour in America.

    I havent made up my mind yet, he said, but I thinkof investing in your tour. The more I think about it, the moreI like the idea of buying 20 or 30%. Now, please dont talk to

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    As soon as the World Expo opened in May, they went tohave a look, although the practicalities of abducting Millerand Denikin were mostly the domain of Lessners operatives.Still, they had to be familiar with the buildings entries andexits, laneways, driveways, and staff schedules. In disbeliefthe Skoblins stood in front of the Soviet pavilions bombasticstructure. They shook their heads when they looked at thehuge workers sculpture on top of massive concrete blocks

    reaching for the sky.Is this supposed to be art? Nadezhda asked perplexed.

    Its not ugly, but it has no beauty.Its what the peasants and workers understand, was

    Nikolays reply.Summer arrived, the month of June. With its long days

    and mild warm weather it was the most beautiful time of the

    year. As usual Nikolay brought home piles of newspapers. Ittook him hours and hours to go over the classified ads tocheck for coded messages. In between he read some articlesand burst out into sudden laughter.

    The Red Army a spy nest! The generals in the pay ofthe Germans! Which idiot concocted that! They have to befull of cheap vodka to think anyone is going to believe that!

    The outrageous accusations were said to have come

    from conspiracy documents hidden in Tukhachevkys office.Nikolay shook his head and laughed but all of a sudden herealized it was not a laughing matter.

    Then, bewildered, he turned to Nadezhda. That is thelist which we discussed with Miller. Someone has forged itup to a larger number of officers, with lists and letters that Ido not remember seeing at all! We had only a couple of dozen,

    now its hundreds. Must have been Heydrich, that bastard.Fancy that, pumping up a document that was probably aforgery in the first place!

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