3 February 2021
What follows is a short introduction to my book, Как квакеры спасали Россию – ‘How the Quakers Tried to Save Russia’ – published in 2020 by Novoe Literaturnoe obozrenie. I have also added a link below to a video in which I talk about the book.
The terrible famine of 1921 confronted the Soviet authorities with an inevitable decision: to recognize the reality of the disaster and accept foreign aid. Within a short time, more than twenty treaties were signed with international organizations willing to help Soviet Russia. Third on that list was a treaty between the People’s Commissariat and the Quakers. The Quakers, or Religious Society of Friends, is a Protestant Christian church whose history of interaction with Russia goes back to the 17th century. From 1916 to 1931 Quakers were able to cooperate quite peacefully and fruitfully with the authorities in Russia: with the officials of the Tsarist Russia, with the Czechoslovak Legionnaires and the Bolsheviks. This cooperation contributed to the saving of hundreds of thousands of lives – people who survived thanks to Quaker rations, doctors, tractors and horses. In Russia almost nothing is known about this help, the names of the saviours are forgotten, the good deeds are consigned to oblivion. My book seeks to restore historical justice. It includes an introductory article by Vladislav Aksenov, senior researcher at the Institute of Russian History of the Russian Academy of Sciences and a member of the Free Historical Society, introducing Quaker initiatives in the social and political context of the era.
‘How the Quakers Tried to Save Russia,’ The Russian Reader, 11 September 2020
Peter Dyson, ‘How Quakers Saved Russia,’ Friends House Moscow, 24 Sepember 2020