YMCA activities in Paris
By 1925, Paris had become the center of the YMCA’s activities among Russian émigrés, which were overseen by Anderson, who was stationed there until 1941 Contemporaries were well aware of Anderson’s role in preserving Russian Orthodoxy in exile. According to Michael Bourdeaux, “By inspiring others and creating opportunities for them to publish, [Anderson] perhaps achieved more for the Russian Church outside its borders than any other non-Orthodox throughout history.”¹⁷¹
Anderson’s papers at the University of Illinois Russian & East European Center, encompassing 127 boxes of material accumulated during this career, show that, throughout his life, Anderson was deeply entrenched in Russian Orthodox exile affairs, while at the same time playing a key role in interfaith discussions and the bourgeoning Ecumenical Movement.¹⁷
However, Anderson did not shy away from collaborating with obviously fascist forces. According to Mireille Massip, in 1924, Anderson was first acquainted with Alexandr Kazem-Bek of the Mladorossy (“Young Russians”), whom he possibly met through Kazem-Bek’s flat mate Alexandra Shydlovskaia, who taught English classes for Russian émigrés. Anderson recalled his acquaintance with Kazem-Bek, which Massip describes as “cordial and sincerely friendly over the years,” as follows:¹⁷
There was also a neo-fascist organization of the so-called “Young Russians” who pinned their hopes on a recreated, disciplined and modernized, but not communist, nation ... Thanks to the occasion, I developed excellent personal relations with the leaders of most Russian groups: with Pavel Miliukov from the Cadet Party, with Alexandr Kazem-Bek from the Young Russians, with Professor N. N. Alekseev from the Eurasianists ….
After having moved their operational center to Paris in the mid-1920s, the YMCA-Press, the RSCM, as well as other YMCA-supported infrastructures were initially all located in the YMCA headquarters on Boulevard Montparnasse in Paris. According to the memoirs of RSCM member S. S. Kulomzina (1903–2000):¹⁷⁴In building Nr. 10 on Boulevard Montparnasse, which housed our organization, life was in full swing. On the first floor of this building, which belonged to the YMCA, there was the YMCA-Press and correspondence courses. Other floors were occupied by the Russian Student Christian Movement, the Religious-Philosophical Academy, the Religious-Pedagogical Study of Archpriest Father Vasilii Zenkovskii, student groups, the Sunday – Thursday School that I directed, the “Vityazi” boys organization led by N. F. Fedorov, and the “Druzhinnitsa” girls organization founded by A. F. Shumkina, as well as correspondence courses in the Law of God and the Russian language for numerous Russian families scattered in different parts of Europe and North Africa.
A church was set up in the courtyard of the house, in a former garage, where Father Sergius Chetverikov, the spiritual director of the RSCM, conducted daily services. It was also where preparations for our summer camps were made. The house on Boulevard Montparnasse was also the center of the French Orthodox movement that began at that time. On Sundays, there were worship services in French in the hall, where lectures or school classes were usually held.YMCA-Press in Paris
After its move from Berlin, the YMCA-Press (YP) opened shops in Paris in 1925, first at the YMCA headquarters at Boulevard Montparnasse, then later at 11, Montagne Sainte Geneviève. Anderson, assisted by Kullmann, continued as director of YP, while Nikolai A. Berdyaev and his closest assistant, Boris P. Vysheslavtsev (1877–1954), served as senior editors. According to W.H.G. Armytage, “The American Y.M.C.A. virtually kept him [Berdiaev] alive for most of his years in exile by employing him as editor-in-chief of their publications.”¹⁷⁵
Berdyaev had moved to Paris in 1924 and that same year, reopened his Religious-Philosophical Academy,¹⁷⁶
which “was almost entirely supported by the Y[MCA], which provided 96 percent of the need; only 4 percent was covered by lecture entrance fees,” according to Miller.¹⁷⁷
Upon becoming YP’s senior editor the following year, Berdiaev was in a seminal position to decide what YP would publish in the upcoming decades. According to Miller, “The Press published virtually all of the Russian editions of Berdyaev’s books,”¹⁷⁸
as well as those of fellow staunchly Orthodox Whites, such as Sergey Bulgakov, Semyon Frank, Anton Kartashev, Boris Vysheslavtsev, Ivan Ilyin, Georges Florovskii, Vasilii Zenkovskii, Nikolai Losskii, Vladimir Ilyin and others. One of the first books that the Paris YP published was by the White ideologue Ivan Ilyin.¹⁷⁹
However, Berdiaev and Ilyin were quickly estranged, not least because of the latter’s antagonistic and belligerent character.¹⁸⁰
In addition to books, the YP published several periodicals: notably Put (“Path,” 1925–1940), a vehicle for the Religious-Philosophical Academy edited by Berdiaev; Vestnik (1923–present), the mouthpiece of the RSCM; as well as Novyi Grad (1936–1939).¹⁸¹
In Paris, Berdyaev was also embedded in the circles of the reestablished Brotherhood of St. Sophia and became one of the main ideologists of the RSCM. He grew particularly close to the Catholic writer Jacques Maritain, and through him became a name in Renouveau Catholique circles. In the late 1920s, Berdyaev ran a salon together with Maritain, which was frequented by many Whites.¹⁸²
Although Maritain and Berdyaev did not consider themselves fascists, their reactionary, anti-democratic and anti-communist line certainly had considerable overlaps with the bourgeoning French fascist movement.¹⁸³
According to John Hellman, “The fascists, like the Catholics, sought to lay the foundations of a new communal and anti-individualist civilization in which all classes of society would be perfectly integrated as in that ‘New Middle Ages’ prophesied by Maritain’s friend, the Russian Berdiaev.”¹⁸⁴
Combining nationalism and religious fanaticism, Berdiaev’s neo-medievalist “Russian Messianism” certainly can be considered a form of clerical fascism in its own right, rather than pertaining to the realm of “Christian existentialism” as widely stated. According to Hellman, Maritain sympathized with Berdiaev’s “mystical vision of the Soviet Union’s world-historical role, and his prophetic announcement of its eventual mass re-conversion to purified, newly ‘medieval,’ Christianity.”¹⁸⁵
As YP director, Anderson managed to gain unique insight and influence on the Russian-language publishing scene in Paris. In 1925, he became chairman of a society that brought together several Russian publishers in Paris, with the aim of not competing but collaborating with each other. Out of this collaboration, in 1931, Les Editeurs Reunis
(LER), was formed—a joint-stock company intended to control the joint depository as well as run a bookstore for Russian books published abroad, including by YP.¹⁸⁶
LER, which still exists as a Russian-language publishing house and bookshop, served as an important hub for the Russian emigration in France and beyond. Whereas YP was confined to publish books with a religious outlook, LER did not have such restrictions and established extensive contacts with Russian book dealers throughout Eastern Europe and Manchzuria.
When the Nazi Party threatened firms with Jewish administrations in the early 1930s, the YP received a portion of the stock of other booksellers in Paris on commission. During WWII, the YP in Paris suspends its publishing activities. However, between 1942–1944, in coordination with the Allies, the POWs Assistance Department of the YMCA in Geneva published Russian literature (Pushkin, Chekhov, Gogol, Dostoyevskii, Lermontov, Tolstoi, etc.) intended for prisoners of war free of charge.¹⁸⁷
At the end of 1944, the YP in Paris resumed its work under the direction of Donald Lowrie and Paul B. Anderson.¹⁸⁸Metropolitan Eulogius
The YMCA-supported Russian émigré activities had their blessing from Metropolitan Eulogius (Georgievskii)
(1868–1946, Paris), who was accepted as a religious head by parts of the Paris-based Russian Orthodox congregation. A former member of the Russian Duma, after the February Revolution, Eulogius relocated to the newly founded Ukrainian People’s Republic under Hetman Pavel Skoropadskii; however, when Symon Petliura took power, he was shortly detained and received French aid to safely join Denikin’s army. In the face of defeat, Eulogius subsequently left for Constantinople and then to the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes, where many Russian Orthodox clergymen had exiled to reorganize. In 1921, Eulogius was tasked by the Patriarch of Moscow, Tikhon, to lead the “Provisional administration of the Russian parishes in Western Europe,”¹⁸⁹
and in the following year, was appointed Western European representative of the Patriarchate of Moscow.¹⁹⁰
In 1921, Eulogius spent some time in Germany, where he attended the monarchist congress in Bad Reichenhall, Bavaria, convened to unite the White monarchists in exile. Upon his return to Sremski Karlovci, when in 1922 the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad (ROCOR) was formed, he initially supported its creation. At the end of 1922, Metropolitan Eulogius transferred his administration to Paris, where he took over several Orthodox parishes and opened new ones, including the Sergievskii Compound. However, his initial affiliation with the Moscow Patriarchate put him more and more at odds with many of his fellows, who favored breaking all ties with the Patriarchate. The ROCOR increasingly aligned with Germany and the bourgeoning Nazi movement, while Eulogius retained favorable relations with his Allied supporters. He eventually broke off from the ROCOR in 1927, and in 1930 was stripped of his leadership role over Western European parishes by the Moscow Patriarchate. In 1931, he was accepted as a temporary Exarch by the ecumenical Patriarch in Constantinople and, from then on, led the newly created Archdiocese of Russian Orthodox Churches in Western Europe.¹⁹¹St. Sergius Theological Institute
Metropolitan Eulogius’ Paris activities included the creation of a theological academy, the still existing St. Sergius Theological Institute
(STTI), “the only Russian Orthodox educational program of its kind at that time,”¹⁹²
which was open to laymen as well as aspiring clergymen. Besides the training of priests, the SSTI played a vital role in keeping the Orthodox church in exile alive.
Once more, if not for the support and initiative of the YMCA and WSCF leader John Mott, the SSTI would never have been established. In the summer of 1922, RSCM secretary Alexandr Nikitin and Lev Liperovskii organized a meeting between Mott and Russian religious leaders, notably Anton Kartashev and Vasilii Zenkovskii, to discuss the creation of a theological seminary for the Russian emigration. Initially, Prague was proposed as a possible location. Following his move to Paris, Metropolitan Eulogius decided to further the plan there, and with substantial startup capital provided by Mott, the Institute’s foundation was finally announced at a RSCM conference in June 1924 in Argeronne.¹⁹³
Besides funds from the YMCA, the WSCF and the Anglican Committee for Aid to the Russian Church, financial support also came from Emanuel Ludvig Nobel, heir of the Nobel family’s oil business, and from the philanthropist Moissei Akimovitch Ginsburg.¹⁹⁴
Mott was also able to secure support from John Rockefeller, who pledged to fund scholarships for prospective students.¹⁹⁵
In 1924, a fitting estate at 93 Rue de Crimée was founded by Mikhail Osorgin and Grigorii Trubetskoi, and, in April 1925, the Institute celebrated its inauguration.¹⁹⁶
Metropolitan Eulogius stayed on as rector of the Institute from 1925 until his death in 1946.
Immediately after the Theological Institute opened at the Sergievsky Compound, candidates began to flock from all over the diaspora. The faculty staff of the Institute included Anton Kartashev, who was a professor until his death in 1960. Sergei Bulgakov was also a long-term professor and later became the Dean at the Institute, where he tried to establish the subject of Sophiology, his speculations about the attainment of divine wisdom. Other prominent figures from the circle of the YMCA-Press, the SSTI, and the RSCM also taught there: Vasilii Zenkovskii, Boris Vysheslavtsev, Vladimir Ilyin, Georges Florovskii, Lev Zander, among others.¹⁹⁷
The SSTI continued to train priests throughout WWII. A listing of the 1936 graduates reveals that the SSTI trained priests and laymen from France, Bulgaria, Poland, Finland, Lithuania, Yugoslavia, Estonia, Romania, the U.S., Czechoslovakia, Latvia and Germany.¹⁹⁸
The SSTI was also instrumental in the participation of the Orthodox diaspora in the surging ecumenical movement. Luminaries from the Institute were involved in all of the major international conferences that led to the establishment of the World Council of Churches in 1948, notably Bulgakov and Metropolitan Eulogius.¹⁹⁹
Paul B. Anderson, who wrote the Metropolitan’s obituary, stated that Eulogius’ “support of the Russian Student Christian Movement and the Russian undertakings of the Young Men’s Christian Association, together with the work of the Institute, brought him into the swing of the ecumenic movement.”²⁰⁰Vasilii Zenkovskii & RSCM in exile
The French RSCM branch, the Action Chrétienne Des Étudiants Russes
(ACER, 1923–present), survives until today. The White émigré figure Vasilii Vasilyevich Zenkovskii
(1881–1962, Paris) is emblematic of the activities of the RSCM and several other Russian Orthodox and ecumenical groupings in exile. Although initially not the most important ideologue of the RSCM, he would come to have the most long-lasting influence on the organization, reaching from the end of the Russian Civil War until the post-WWII period.
Zenkovsky had been an active supporter of a religious renewal movement associated with Vladimir Solovyov
(1853–1900) and Sergei Bulgakov from 1905 onwards.²⁰¹
He was personally acquainted with Bulgakov, the professor and future Orthodox priest, and the two closely collaborated in the decades to come. Together with Bulgakov, Zenkovskii
was a founder and, from 1908, a chairman of the Kiev Religious and Philosophical Society. He also became involved in church activities in Ukraine.²⁰²
In the aftermath of the Russian Revolution, Zenkovsky sided with the German-backed regime in Ukraine, when from May until October 1918 he served as Minister of Confessions in Hetman Pavel Skoropadsky’s Ukrainian government.²⁰³
In this position, Zenkovsky pushed for the Ukrainization of worship, including the translation of the Bible and liturgical books into Ukrainian. In 1919, he emigrated to the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes, where the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad (ROCOR) was forming, and, from 1920 to 1923, he taught intermittently at the philosophical and the theological faculty of the University of Belgrade.²⁰⁴
In the summer of 1921 and again in 1922, Zenkovsky traveled to Berlin, where, according to Robert Chadwell Williams, in 1922, he established a Russian Philosophical Society and became acquainted with the YMCA leader Paul Anderson.²⁰⁵
But he soon left for “Prague to devote himself to the Russian Student Christian Movement, also under YMCA auspices,”²⁰⁶
in whose reestablishment he was instrumental, and whose president he was elected at the 1923 Přerov Congress, a position which he kept until the end of his life.²⁰⁷
While in Czechoslovakia, Zenkovskii also became a member, and later secretary, of the Brotherhood of St. Sophia.
Around 1924–1925, Zenkovskii went on a short trip to the U.S. on the pretext of studying the pedagogical system there, and, in 1925, he moved to Paris.²⁰⁸
There he resumed his leadership role in the RSCM/ACER and other religious institutions. That the RSCM under Zenkovskii’s leadership took a certain Pentecostal direction can be deducted from contemporary accounts. Although details are lacking, it may be presumed that this evangelical imprimatur of the RSCM was connected to what Zenkovskii, a staunch Russian Orthodox, had learned during his time in the U.S. According to Nikolai Struve, the grandson of the known White figure Pyotr Struve:²⁰⁹
Soon, encouraged by Metropolitan Eulogius, the activities of ACER moved to France. Circles were formed in various cities …. Lev Gillet, a Benedictine monk from the Unionist monastery of Amay, who had just entered the communion of the Orthodox Church, described the July 1928 ACER Congress in Clermont-en-Argonne in these terms:“I returned from Clermont-en-Argonne in the state of a man who has lived a dream more beautiful than one can imagine. There were about one hundred and fifty young men and women there... The very first days, the atmosphere was good, but without anything extraordinary... Then, all of a sudden, the unexpected happened, what I would call Pentecost. What exactly happened? Certainly, there was a divine breath. One evening and all the night that followed, a kind of torrent of tears and heartbreak... The great seduction of this religious movement is that there is no formalism, no convention; everything is fresh, rising sap, spontaneity. The Russian youth of Paris helps me to understand the nascent Church of Jerusalem, as described in the Book of Acts.”
The activities of the Movement were multiform: study circles, summer camps, parish schools, traveling secretaries who visited remote places where there could be no permanent presence of the Church, active participation in various Orthodox or ecumenical events, publication of a periodical, Vestnik (The Messenger), open to the problems of the world and particularly attentive to the religious situation in the USSR, etc. Nevertheless, after about ten years, the pentecostal character of the Movement, weakened by jurisdictional divisions and internal dissensions, faded.
The cluster of religious organizations that emerged under the auspices of the YMCA in Paris during the interwar period, including the YMCA-Press, the RSCM and the SSTI, all remained active until the outbreak of WWII, some even continuing their activities into the war. Anderson remained in Paris until the summer of 1941 when he returned to the U.S. to continue his YMCA work in New York. The postwar history of some of these organizations, all of which were revived after WWII and continue to exist until today, will be discussed later.Resumption of diplomatic relations (1933–1945)
During the interwar period, U.S. intelligence interventions geared at Russia were mainly
organized by the State Department. After DeWitt Clinton Poole had helped to establish a Russian Division (1919–1923), from 1923 to 1937 Russian affairs were handled by the Division of Eastern European Affairs. For the first years, the division was headed by Evan E. Young, who in mid-1918 had established the diplomatic mission in Riga. Then, from 1920 to 1922, Young was the U.S. commissioner to the secessionist Baltic provinces. Upon the independence of Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia, from 1922 to 1923, he then became minister to the new Baltic nations.²¹⁰
Young was followed by Robert F. Kelley
(1894–1976), who had joined the State Department in the early 1920s, and from 1926 to 1937 became head of the Division of Eastern European Affairs. Throughout the 1920s, the Division backed a nonrecognition policy towards Soviet Russia, while at the same time fostering its collapse.²¹¹
Kelley became a long-standing adversary of the U.S.S.R. For his entire career, he was involved in anti-Soviet intelligence operations, first in the State Department and, after the war, in the CIA, when he found an ideological home in the American Committee for the Liberation of the Peoples of Russia (AMCOMLIB), a CIA front that eventually sponsored the anti-Soviet broadcasting service Radio Liberty.²¹²
In 1933, when the Nazis seized power, Kelley headed the “Russian desk” at the State
Department. The U.S. finally resumed its diplomatic relations with Russia after a series of negotiations between Franklin D. Roosevelt, who had become president in March 1933, and the Soviet Commissar for Foreign Affairs, Maxim Litvinov. The rapprochement was bound to several conditions, such as the Soviets’ repayment of outstanding debts, as well as the granting of certain religious and legal rights to American citizens in the Soviet Union.
Despite Kelley being a vociferous adversary of normalizing diplomatic relations, the State Department had to take an active role in U.S-Soviet relations again. Thus, he dispatched several of his most trusted disciples—and staunch anti-communists—to the diplomatic mission in Moscow, among them Charles Bohlen, George F. Kennan and Loy Henderson. It should be noted that, while diplomatic exchange with Russia had been interrupted for a long time, relations with the Germans had been ongoing for over a decade, which did not change when the Nazis took power in 1933 Accounts of the American “diplomatic colony” in Russia note that relations with the German diplomats stationed there during the Nazi era were rather cordial. In the eight years (1933–1941) during which both the Nazi German and the U.S. embassy were operating in Moscow, German embassy employees became well-acquainted with Kennan, Bohlen and Co., and some of them would build on these contacts after WWII and found employment in anti-Soviet Cold War intelligence projects. Hans-Heinrich Herwarth von Bittenfeld, the attaché and legation secretary in the German embassy in Moscow from 1931 to 1939, and the representative of the Wehrmacht in the founding of Committee for the Liberation of the Peoples of Russia found immediate employment with U.S. intelligence in 1945 through his acquaintance with the former U.S. embassy secretary Charles W. Thayer
Ernst-August Köstring, who between 1931 and 1941 had worked in Moscow as a military adviser and later as a military attache, and then helped create Andrei Vlasov’s collaborationist Russian Liberation Army, was spirited away to the U.S. in 1945 to work for intelligence. Gustav Hilger, whose diplomatic career in Moscow spanned from 1923 to 1941, when he became a chief political advisor for Eastern affairs under Joachim von Ribbentrop, was also flown out of Germany in 1945 to assist Reinhard Gehlen in the planning of the Gehlen Org.
The first U.S. ambassador sent to Moscow was William C. Bullitt
(1891–1967), who was among Roosevelt’s closest advisors and who held that post from November 1933 until May 1936.²¹⁴
By the end of his tenure, Bullitt was openly hostile to the Soviet government and remained an outspoken anti-communist for the rest of his life. Bullitt was accompanied by the young George F. Kennan
(1904–2005), who, after WWII, became one of the architects of the post-WWII policy of containment. In 1934, at age 30, Charles E. Bohlen
(1904–1974) also joined the staff of the US embassy under Bullitt where he stayed until the beginning of WWII. Bohlen eventually became head of the State Department’s “Russian desk” in the war years. In May 1936, Bullitt was recalled as ambassador after the U.S. journalist Donald Day disclosed that Bullitt had been involved in the illegal exchange of and trading with black market rubles.²¹⁵
Bullitt left the Moscow embassy under the temporary supervision of Loy W. Henderson
until in November 1936, Joseph E. Davies
was appointed U.S. ambassador in Moscow, who remained in office until June 1938 Davies stood at odds with most of the anti-communist staff in Moscow. He had attended the Trial of the Twenty-One, one of the Stalinist trials against coup plotters of the late 1930s, and felt that the accused were guilty.²¹⁶
He was convinced that “Communism holds no serious threat to the United States” and “Friendly relations in the future may be of great general value.”²¹⁷
Davies’s urge to embrace the Soviet Union was likely the reason for his dismissal in 1938, and from July 1938 through August 1939, the U.S. did not have an ambassador in Moscow.
It was during Davies’s tenure that in 1937, the Division of Eastern European Affairs, which handled Russian affairs in the State Department, was disbanded and integrated into a section (Eastern European and Soviet Affairs) under a newly created Division of European Affairs (1937–1944). Kelley was no longer in charge of Soviet affairs, however, Bohlen and Kennan continued working there, with Bohlen eventually becoming section head from 1942 to 1944 When the reorganization of the section back into a division in 1944 was initiated, Bohlen initially also headed the re-emerged Division of Eastern European Affairs.
Davies’s successor as U.S. ambassador to the Soviet Union, Laurence A. Steinhardt
, was presented on August 11, 1939, Shortly afterward, when the German-Soviet Credit Agreement and the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact came to pass “after the British and French rejected Soviet offers to establish a military alliance against Germany,”²¹⁸
U.S.-Russian relations quickly turned icy. In his memoirs, Witness to History (1973), Charles Bohlen reveals how, on the morning of August 24, 1939, he visited Hans-Heinrich Herwarth von Bittenfeld at the German embassy and received the full content of the secret protocol of the pact, signed the day before.²¹⁹
President Franklin D. Roosevelt was urgently informed, but the U.S. did not pass this information on to any concerned governments in Europe. A week later, the plan was realized with the German invasion of Poland and the Second World War began.
After the German invasion of the Soviet Union in 1941, the U.S. and Soviet Russia found some common ground again. However, the éminences grises of Soviet affairs in the U.S. continued to work with Whites, since, despite temporarily sharing the same enemy, the U.S.’s ultimate goal was still the dissolution of the Soviet Union in the long run. For that matter, U.S. wartime intelligence relied on the help of those who had worked with the Whites during WWI and in the interwar period, such as DeWitt Clinton Poole and Paul Anderson. Under President Roosevelt, in July 1941, the Office of the Coordinator of Information (COI)
With William Donovan at its head, the COI was supposed to collect and assess information from the existing intelligence branches and create contacts to pro-axis groups to attract agents from among them. According to Donovan’s view, it was possible for “reasons of expediency and practicality” to copy “Nazi subversive tactics” to defend his vision of democracy.²²⁰
Within the COI, Poole established a Foreign Nationalities Branch, which resorted to anti-communist immigrants from ethnic minorities for psychological warfare operations. According to Lorraine Lees, “Poole’s appreciation of the role that America’s ethnic groups could play in psychological warfare also served as a harbinger of the rhetoric that would mark much of the West’s postwar anti-Soviet propaganda.”²²¹
Among the goals of the COI was to identify possible saboteurs among ethnic minorities, communities in exile, trade unions, and communists in the U.S. Against this backdrop, Poole enlisted Alexandr Kazem-Bek to work for the COI, once he arrived in the U.S., with the help of Paul Anderson, who then produced reports about the Russian diaspora.²²²
According to Mireille Massip:²²³Wishing to reach not only Russian but all Slavic audiences in the United States, Kasem-Beg prepared a series of lectures in parallel with his reporting. At a time when the RedThe army was going on the offensive, breaking its encirclement at Moscow, and Rooseveltand Churchill was signing the act establishing the United Nations in Washington, hewanted to establish himself as the leader of the Pan-Slavic movement for an American-Russian Union. … These meetings provided fundraising for the Russian Relief Society,and encouraged Slavs, even those with anti-Bolshevik views, to support American aid tothe Soviet Union.
Although the COI only existed for approximately one year before the Office of Strategic
Services took over, almost all of its former divisions, including the Foreign Nationalities Branch, were maintained, which, according to Lees, “obtained much of that intelligence from European immigrants and exiles and distributed its findings to a variety of military, diplomatic and civilian agencies.”²²⁴Tolstoi Foundation (1939–present)
From 1939 onwards, several figures were previously discussed, including John Mott, Paul B. Anderson, Ethan T. Colton, and Boris Bakhmeteff became involved in one of the most important intelligence fronts on American ground regarding Russian émigrés: the still-existing Tolstoi Foundation
(TF). The TF was responsible for the resettlement of tens of thousands of anti-communist Russian émigrés to the U.S, Canada, Australia and other countries. The TF was established as a non-profit organization in April 1933 by Alexandra Tolstoi (1884–1979), the youngest daughter of the Russian writer Leo Tolstoi, and her old friend Tatiana Schaufuss.
Although the TF’s official history tries to convey the image of an altruistic duo who established a farm in the American hinterlands for aiding Russian refugees, the TF should be understood as a one-stop supplier for the resettlement and reception of handpicked Whites and other staunchly anti-communist émigrés. At all points, the TF was working hand in hand with U.S. authorities in their repatriation efforts, to a degree that the TF became an intelligence unit. In the postwar years, funds for its efforts were largely funneled via the Ford Foundation.²²⁵
The Tolstoy Foundation brought together descendants of some of the highest Russian aristocratic families: Prince Paul Chavchavadze, Prince Serge Platonovich Obolenskii, Princess Alexandra Kropotkina, Prince Sergei Belosselskii-Belozerskii and Countess Sofia Panina.²²⁶
In resorting to anti-communist White aristocratic networks during and after WWII, U.S. intelligence followed the trodden path of the revolutionary years in Russia and the interwar period. Alexandra Tolstaia, herself a countess, was a staunch monarchist, and, according to Tromly, had “close connections to far-right political circles in Europe and New York.”²²⁷
But beyond that, the intelligence service had taken an interest in the oeuvre of Leo Tolstoi as a perfect fit for its anti-Soviet propaganda. According to Frances Stonor Saunders:²²⁸American intelligence had long had an interest in Tolstoi as a symbol of “the concept of individual freedom.” It's connection went back to OSS days, when Ilia Tolstoy, émigrégrandson of the famous novelist was an OSS officer. Other members of the Tolstoyfamily were in regular contact with the Psychological Strategy Board in the early 1950sand received funds from the CIA for their Munich-based Tolstoy Foundation. In 1953,C. D. Jackson [of the CIA-funded Congress for Cultural Freedom] noted in his logfilethat he had promised one supplicant that he would telephone Frank Lindsay (Wisner’sformer deputy who had moved on to the Ford Foundation) regarding funds for theTolstoy Foundation.
The organization brought together some of the key figures hitherto identified: Boris Bakhmeteff and Igor Sikorsky served as Directors; former liaison to Patriarch Tikhon of Moscow; Ethan T. Colton, served as vice president; John R. Mott appeared as an honorary sponsor and Paul Anderson became Secretary of the Executive Committee.²²⁹
The son of General Pyotr Wrangel, Alexis Wrangel, also worked intermittently for the CIA and the TF.²³⁰
Former U.S. President Herbert Hoover was elected the first honorary chairman of the Foundation and served in that position until his death in 1964.
The foundation was, from the start, affiliated with the Nazi-sympathizing ROCOR. Benjamin Tromly offered an apt description of its “nationalist and Orthodox mission, which treated welfare for refugees as an exercise in saving Christian souls and restoring historic Russia.”²³¹
Alexandra Tolstaia and Tatiana Schaufuss met in 1918 when they both served as nurses during the Russian Civil War. Schaufuss subsequently moved to Czechoslovakia, where she collaborated with Alice Masaryk, the daughter of Czechoslovakia’s first president, Thomas Masaryk, who already at the beginning of the century had sparked the interest of U.S. President Wilson’s Russia advisor Charles Crane. Both women worked for the Committee for Aid to Refugees, designated to aid the emigration of Russian refugees abroad. The lore goes that Schaufuss turned to her friend in 1938, proposing that they create a committee to help Russian refugees in France and Czechoslovakia emigrate to the United States.²³²
The initial funding came from Bakhmeteff and Boris Sergievskii, while the Episcopalian Church of New York provided the premises. Its first large operation was during the Winter War between Russia and Finland, of which Prince Paul Chavchavadze was in charge. Besides food and clothing, the TF sent “Bibles, and metal baptismal crosses worn in the Russian Orthodox tradition to the POWs.”²³³
In 1941, Alexandra Tolstoi sought to establish a farm, which would serve as a reception center for those Russian refugees whose resettlement the TF had facilitated.
The land for the farm was provided by the Harkness family, bought for a symbolic dollar by Tolstoy, last but not least because Mrs. Harkness had developed strong sympathies for the White cause following WWI.²³⁴
The TF received help from a Russian émigré scout organization to rebuild the buildings on the estate, which was directed by Vladimir Petrov, an active member of the Federation of Russian Orthodox Clubs.
Little is known regarding how many refugees went through the reception center during the war, only afterward. Scott Moss reported:²³⁵
One of the Tolstoi Foundation’s major successes occurred after World War Two which
left a countless number of Displaced Persons scattered in camps all over Europe. Among them were thousands of Russians who were able to escape Stalin’s reach and
subsequently refused to be repatriated to the Soviet Union at the close of the war. Tatiana Schaufuss and the small Foundation staff worked in assisting such refugees through processing and ultimate immigration to the United States. Between six thousand and six thousand five hundred DPs came to stay on the farm, and this number represents approximately one-third of all those brought to this country with the direct help of the Foundation, during the early years. … They arrived by boat or plane and their expenses were initially paid by the International Relief Organization (IRO). They were then met by Tolstoi Foundation representatives and driven to the farm.
In the subsequent postwar years, the Tolstoi Foundation had a unique position in deciding which of the Russian refugees still in Europe would be eligible for immigration to the U.S. From the cast of the TF and from the known resettlement cases they handled, it may be deducted that only staunch anti-communists and Whites passed the interrogations that the organization conducted among Soviet POWs. For example, in 1952 the TF received permission to resettle a collaborationist military unit, the Russian Protection Corps of Yugoslavia, allied with the Nazis.²³⁶
Another notable case that the TF processed was that of the former NTS head, Constantine Boldyreff.²³⁷
A Russian émigré recruiter and Vlasov Army veteran, Alexandr Albov, who looked for instructors at an Army Language School via the Tolstoy Foundation, describes how many of the people resettled by the TF were immediately recruited to work for intelligence and the army.²³⁸
According to Moss:
Over the next two years, thousands were interviewed in Germany, Italy, Trieste, Austria,
and later in Arab countries of the Middle East, to ascertain who should be processed for emigration. The Tolstoy Foundation was one of the first agencies to assist Russian
refugees who escaped to Trieste from Yugoslavia, for the government suddenly decided to repatriate them to the Soviet Union. The Allied Military Forces of Trieste guaranteed them political asylum until the Tolstoy Foundation successfully processed one thousand six hundred people for emigration or placement in old age homes in France.
In 1948, the TF opened offices in fascist Argentina and Chile—both safe havens for fugitive Nazi war criminals and their collaborators—where it facilitated the moving of Russian émigrés to other countries.²³⁹
By 1954, the TF had established a headquarters in Munich, Germany, and had a staggering 17 operational offices in Western Europe.²⁴⁰
According to Tromly, “The foundation’s European representative was Bolko Freiherr von Richthofen, an archeologist who had penned anti-Semitic and anti-Slavic works in Nazi Germany.”²⁴¹
On American ground, the TF was in touch with all relevant Russian émigré organizations, who then took on the sponsorship and care of some of the refugees. The TF even organized the resettlement of particular ethnic or religious groups to the U.S., such as a group of 550 Kalmuks, or a group of Russian Old Believers who arrived in the U.S. in 1952.²⁴²
In 1953, the TF broke away from the World Council of Churches, but continued to pursue its former activities, for example, in 1956, helping 200,000 anti-communist Hungarian émigrés that fled to Austria in the course of the Hungarian Revolution. According to Moss, “These refugees were brought to the United States, settling in Camp Kilmer, New Jersey, and ultimately around the country.”²⁴³
In 1959, the TF helped with the resettlement of the Dalai Lama and his consorts, who had been a friend of Colonel Ilya Tolstoi.
Prince Serge Platonovich Obolenskii had an unusual story to tell about how he used to collect money for the organization:²⁴⁴… I performed a Russian dagger dance. I do this every Russian New Year’s Eve. I firstdo a dance with five flaming daggers, well known in Russia. At the end of the dance, Istand on a table, and below me on the floor people put dollar bills down on a bread board (to save the parquet). I have to hit the bills with my daggers, which I throw, one at a time, from my mouth. I guarantee to hit the bills with three out of the five daggers. If I succeed, then all the money that was placed on the board goes to the Tolstoi Foundation. If I lose, the money is returned.