In the pages that follow I have described the fourteen months that I spent in Siberia from December 1917 to February 1919. I was not able to write much to my father, even in the beginning, and later on not at all, so that I got into the habit of noting down the events I withessed and my impressions of people and places. I hoped to be able to send these notes to him when postal communications should be regular again and letters no longer liable to be intercepted and a different construction put on even the most harmless epistle. I have now added some details to my notes and also some general information about my surroundings and companions.
The picture I have striven to give is that of life in abnormal times and under exceptional conditions. It is not the picture of a Siberia as it was just before the war, when it was beginning to realise the vasthess of its own resources, nor of the Siberia that I earnestly hope will come into being some day. Nor are the people I describe to be taken as typical of Siberians of every day in the big cities.
Siberia was, and probably will always be, a land of contrasts. There was advanced culture in some places, while in the distant towns the civilisation was that of at least eighty years ago. The country is so immense, the means of communication so inadequate, that new inventions as well as new ideas took time to penetrate into the backwoods.
I must note with deep gratitude that in these troublous times I met with the utmost kindness, shown, often at great personal danger to themselves, by people whom I had never seen before and will probably never meet again. I cannot say enough for the generosity and goodness of Siberians of every standing.
Danger and hardship and the fact of having led a real working life with all that this entails have made me richer by giving me a fuller understanding of my fellows and by helping me to appreciate the point of view of other classes of society. If I have seen humanity at its worst-cruelty, hatred, and murder all surging in a chaos of untrammelled passion - I have also seen it at its best-kindness, unselfishness, and real charity.
This I will always bear in mind when I remember my Siberian wanderings and my last year in my own country.
I tender my very best thanks to the kind friends who have lent me some of their photographs, as well as to L'Illustrastion, and to Madame Maria Bogdanova for permission to reproduce the group of the Imperial Family, which has appeared in her editions.
Sophie Buxhoeveden. Brussels, December 1928.
A special thank you to firstname.lastname@example.org for scanning the text for this online edition.
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Other books on Russian History from the Alexander Palace Association:
The Life and Tragedy of Alexandra Feodorovna by Sophie Buxhoeveden | Memories of the Russian Court by Anna Vyrubova | Thirteen Years at the Russian Court by Pierre Gilliard | Last Days at Tsarskoe Selo by Paul Beckendorff | St. Petersburg - Imperial City | Charles Cameron - Imperial Architect by Georges Loukomski | Tsarskoe Selo in 1910
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