~ Shop ~

Printing for the White Russian Refugees in Istanbul: Война [War]



An exceedingly rare Russian pamphlet on the Civil war, printed for the White Russian refugees arriving to Istanbul from Odessa, on how to find strength in faith.


12°, 12 pp., original wrappers, stapled (age-toned and with light foxing, tiny chips in the corners of the wrappers).




The text is on the Russian Civil War and is an epistle, written by archbishop Damian (Dimitry Grigorievich Govorov 1855- 1936) of Tsaritsyn to the White Russians, or more specific the people involved in the war and young men, who are going to fight the Bolsheviks, to gather the strength in the religion and go through the horrors of the war in the faith in the Orthodox church.

Archbishop Damian was an influential religious figure in Volgograd (Tsaritsyn), who he had to flee the approaching Red Army through Sebastopol to Istanbul in 1920. A year later he moved to Bulgaria.

This passionate speech is addressed mostly to young men, who are bound to die, fighting the Bolsheviks, and was possibly written somewhere on the way from Volgograd to Sebastopol.

The ephemeral pamphlet was printed on a cheap rough paper in Istanbul by a Russian émigré press in 1921 and was probably distributed among the refugees arriving by boats as an encouraging speech from the archbishop, who, same as them, fled the Red Army.

In the winter of 1919-1920, during the height of the Russian Civil War (1917-22), the Bolshevik forces, represented by the Red Army, were rapidly gaining ground on the czarist forces, represented by the White Russian army. Outside of Siberia and Artic European Russia, the only territories still under White control were enclaves in the western Ukraine, Crimea and the Caucuses (notably the Kuban), so-called “South Russia”.

The conflict was unusually savage, as the both the Red and White forces had a habit of slaughtering enemy soldiers and civilians in cold blood immediately upon conquering cities and towns.

The great port of Odessa, the fourth largest city in the Russian Empire, was by far and away the most important city still in White hands. However, by the beginning of February 1920, it was clear that it would imminently fall to the Reds. Thousands of its leading citizens were certain to become victims of the “Red Terror” should they remain in Odessa once the Bolsheviks entered the city.

From February 3-6, 1920, the British forces in Odessa organised a desperate last-minute evacuation effort, pressing all available vessels into service, in the hope of transporting White Russian officers, their families, as well as civil refugees identified with the czarist cause, to safety in Constantinople (which was then occupied by Britain and her WWI allies). The effort was rushed and clumsy and was not helped by the extreme winter weather. In the end only one-third of the as many as 50,000 people who needed to be evacuated managed to leave Odessa in time.

This pamphlet was printed by a Russian press for immigrants in Istanbul, and was handed to them int he refugee camps, built around the city.

We could not find any other institutional examples.

Additional information



Place and Year


There are no reviews yet.

Be the first to review “Printing for the White Russian Refugees in Istanbul: Война [War]”