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“The Mad Monk of Russia” –RUSSIAN RARITY INSCRIBED TO IGOR SIKORSKI

Essay contributed by Dan Bowen. [ Book has sold.]

Илиодор.  Великая Сталинградская Марфа.  Нью Иорк, 1943.

Iliodor.   The Great Stalingrad Martha.  New York: Colonial Printing and Publishing Co., 1943.

Printed red wrapper, some rubbing to edges, sunning to spine, and some fading and soiling. Handwritten note in Russian from Iliodor to Igor Sikorsky tipped in on front blank. The note translates: “To my kindhearted and dear Igor Ivanovich Sikorsky to remember the sinful and humble Iliodor. New York.” Sikorsky, 1889-1972, a legendary Russian–​American aviation pioneer, businessman, and inventor largely credited with the invention of the helicopter, maintained close ties to the White Russian communities in and around NYC.

Rare Russian language reminiscence written by Sergei Michailovich Trufanov (formerly Hieromonk Iliodor, 1880-1952) , a lapsed hieromonk (a monk who is also an ordained priest) of the Russian Orthodox Church, a charismatic preacher, a panslavist, an actor and author of one of the first books on Gregory Rasputin. He was ordained in 1903 at the St. Petersburg Theological Academy. As described below, Iliodor is credited with orchestrating the assassination attempt which left Rasputin wounded and forced him and many of his followers into exile.

At the Academy, he met Father Georgy Apollonovich Gapon, founder of the Assembly of Russian Factory and Mill Workers of St. Petersburg, (which was financially supported by the Russian Secret Police). Fr. Gapon would organize and lead the procession to present a petition to Tsar Nicholas II on January 9, 1905. This procession, initially authorized by the police, was attacked by them in what became known as Bloody Sunday; hundreds of people were shot or trampled by the Cossacks. This incident gave impetus to the 1905 Revolution. Little more than a year after Bloody Sunday, Gapon would be garroted on the streets of Petrograd.

Through Gapon, Iliodor met Rasputin and through him was invited to preach to Nicholas and Alexandra at Peterhof Palace. There he caused a scandal by preaching in favor of land reform, a policy at odds with the Tsar and his government. The Holy Synod banned Iliodor from preaching, but he was supported by Rasputin and the Tsar himself. Instead, he was assigned to the region of Volhynia on the northern border of Ukraine. There he became part of the Panslavic movement. He was quickly again forbidden to preach, but the ban was overturned through the intercession of his bishop and he was assigned to the city of Tsaritsyn, where he established the Monastery of the Holy Spirit. For a third time, he was banned from preaching and this time exiled to the city of Minsk. He was then invited to Tsarskoye Selo, where he met with the Tsarina. A year later, after again being exiled, he was invited back to Tsarskoye Selo; this time to meet the Tsar. Five days after this meeting, he was raised to the rank of archimandrite.

In 1912, Iliodor began a campaign to blacken Rasputin’s reputation. His campaign was supposedly based on letters from the Tsarina to Rasputin; letters implying she was his lover. Iliodor had somehow gotten hold of these letters and presented them to the Tsar, after first leaking them to the press. After this incident he renounced the Russian Orthodox Church and was defrocked.

In the summer of 1914, he encouraged a once beautiful woman whose nose had been eaten away by syphilis named Khioniya Kozmishna Guseva to kill Rasputin. While she succeeded in stabbing Rasputin, he survived, and the former Iliodor fled the country, dressed as a woman, with help from Maxim Gorky, taking his voluminous set of papers on Rasputin with him.

In 1916, he published The Mad Monk of Russia, Iliodor: Memoirs and Confessions of Sergei Michailovich Trufanoff which dealt in large part with Rasputin. The book formed much of the basis for the, now lost, silent film The Fall of the Romanoffs. It was released in September 1917 (just 6 months after Nicholas abdicated). In this film, Iliodor played himself.

(That’s Iliodor playing Iliodor)

He would return to what had become the Soviet Union in 1918 and live again in Tsaritsyn until 1922, when he moved his family to New York City. He would live in that city for the remainder of his life. There he became a Baptist and, divorced and broke, worked as a janitor for the Metropolitan Life Company.

The Russian biographer and historian Edvard Radzinsky could only find a copy of this “most rare” book in the New York Public Library when he was researching his book The Rasputin File. The book, Martha of Stalingrad, is a memoir of Iliodore’s years in the city that, at the time it was written, was known as Stalingrad, the site of Germany’s greatest defeat in World War II. Before being named for the “Man of Steel,” the city had been known by the name Tsaritsyn, and today is known as Volgagrad.


In the book”, Radzinsky writes, “Iliodor says that it was he who decided to take Rasputin’s life. At [the monastery he had founded] ‘New Galilee’, he gathered his flock by the banks of the river. Around four hundred people came. ‘The congregation chose the three most beautiful young women … Those three beauties,’ Iliodor writes, ‘were supposed to lure Rasputin and kill him.’ But Khionia Guseva, who was present, said, ‘Why ruin beautiful women whose lives are ahead of them? I am a wretched woman and of no use to any one…I alone shall bring about his execution. Father, give me your blessing to stab him as the ancient prophet stabbed the false prophets.’ Iliodor gave her his blessing for the murder.”


Iliodor titled his memoirs The Great Martha of Stalingrad after a woman, known to him and to Rasputin, named Marfa Semenovna Medvenskaiya. She is better known as Blessed Martha of Tsaritsyn. During her lifetime, she was known for her prophesies; predicting the Russo-Japanese War, The First World War, The Russian Revolution, The Death of the Romanovs, and The Great Patriotic War. This book has what is believed to be the only photographic image of the prophetess (facing p. 8).

Biography of Nicholas II, in Russian,By a White Russian Author Who Turned RedAnd Was Later Executed by Stalin

И. М. Василевский (Нe-Буква). Николай II. Петроград, Москва: Издательство “Петроград,”1923.

I. M. Vasilevsky (No-Letter). Nicholas II. Petrograd, Moscow: Petrograd Publishing House, 1923.

Printed wrapper, covers foxed, front cover detached, edgeworn, with “Printed in Russia” stamped on front. 144 pp. Cover design signed lower right. From the Igor Sikorsky estate (unmarked).

Ilya Markovich Vasilevsky (1883-1938) was a Russian author and journalist. Many of his works were published under the pseudonym Нe-Буква (No Letter); a name he took in homage to another writer, a writer of Fairy Tales, who also went by the name Vasilevskyand the pseudonym Буква (Letter). Like many White Russians, he floated on the tides of the Civil War to the Crimea. From there, he immigrated to Constantinople, in 1920, and thence to Paris and Berlin. While he started off as an opponent of the Bolsheviks, he quickly saw the Specter of Communism glowing brightly and became a supporter of the Soviet government. In 1923, in the company of fellow writer Alexander N. Tolstoy (a distant relative of Leo Tolstoy, who became known by the sobriquet “Comrade Count”), he returned to Petrograd, where he published White Memoirs, a negative assessment of the memoirs of various figures on the losing side of the Civil War. Through the same publishing house, he also released his study of Nicholas II.

According to the Foreword to Nicholas II by L. Nezhdankov, this book is not a work of history, but a psychological sketch. However, Vasilevsky “managed to collect a lot of facts; small everyday touches that allow one to focus on the last Russian Autocrat. His book is not devoid of interest.”

Nezhdankov also says that Vasilevsky makes the case that Nicholas II always followed “badadvice,” not because he was weak-willed, but because he was the … instrument of a certain class worldview…. [The Tsar] only had the support of the reactionary nobility and the union oflandowners who opposed the peasantry and the working class.”

Vasilevsky was arrested on November 1, 1937 and charged with participation in a counter-revolutionary terrorist organization. He was later executed on the orders of Stalin.

Post contributed by Dan Bowen. Sources: Russian Wikipedia.

Igor Sikorsky’s Father–Child Psychologist, Educator..& white supremacist

A Book of Psychological Readings In Russian By the Father of Igor Sikorsky

 

Проф. И. А.  Сикорский.  Книга Жизни: Психологическая Христоматия. Southbury, CT: Alatas, 1931.

 

Prof. I. A. Sikorsky.  The Book of Life: A Psychological Reader. Southbury, CT: Alatas, 1931.

Post contributed by Dan Bowen.

 Ivan Alekseevich Sikorsky (1842-1919), a Russian psychiatrist and professor at the University of St. Vladimir in Kiev, was the founder of the journal Questions of Neuropsychic Medicine and Psychology, the Medical Institute for Mentally Retarded Childres and the Institute for Child Psychopathology.  He was also the father of the Russian-American aircraft designer Igor I. Sikorsky.  He rose to the rank of Active State Counselor, a position that carried with it inclusion in the hereditary nobility of the Russian Empire.

 

A supporter of White Supremacy, he put forth his ideas in a paper on the Russian poet Alexander Pushkin, whose great-grandfather had been born in Africa.  However, his main work was in the field of child psychology, especially children with learning disabilities.  He was a Russian nationalist who considered language, poetry, artistic creation, school, press, religion as attributes of the national soul.  During his lifetime he acquired a large library of technical literature which he bequeathed to the University of Kiev.

 

In 1913, Sikorsky appeared as an expert witness testifying for the prosecution in the infamous Beilis case in which a middle-aged Jewish clerk, named Mendel Beilis, who worked in a local factory, was accused in Kiev of the “ritual murder” of a 13 year old Christian boy.

According to a reporter at the time, “Professor Sikorsky, instead of a psychiatric examination, began to read from his notebook a collection of savage stories that had nothing to do with science.”  The citizens of Kiev were so incensed by Sikorsky’s testimony that there was a fear of physical reprisals against the Jewish community in the area.  He also testified that the crime “does not seem to me to be an accidental or simple” delusion, but “a complex, qualified crime, which was carefully thought out and systematically executed.”  The Journal of Neuropathology and Psychiatry asserted that “the venerable Russian scientist compromised Russian science and covered his gray head with shame.”  A fellow psychiatrist noted at the time that “never have psychiatrists been so unanimous and principled in manifesting their disgust for the use of psychiatry for political purposes.”  One of the lawyers for the defense in the Beilis case was Alexander Kerensky, later to be Prime Minister of the Provisional Government in the days after the February Revolution in 1917.  In spite of the immense pressure from the Tsar, the Russian Orthodox Church and the civil authorities in Kiev to find Beilis guilty, he was acquitted by the jury.  This verdict did not stop the Synod of the Church from constructing a church to honor the victim.  The young boy’s death had nothing to do with religion.  He had simply seen a trove a stolen goods at the home of one of his school mates.  The mother of his friend, who was the leader of the gang of thieves, saw that the boy paid for his “crime” by stabbing him 47 times.  Sikorsky appealed to the police to get people to stop criticizing him, and a number of Russian medical societies were closed for this reason.  It was said the criticizing Sikorsky had almost risen to the level of a crime against the state.

 

Sikorsky was not deterred.  He offered an opinion on another case of Jewish ritual murder, the Fastov case.  But, there it turned out the victim was Jewish and the murderer a common Russian criminal.

 

The book contains 365 excerpts from psychological and literary texts.

 

Sources: Russian Wikipedia.  Orlando Figes. A People’s Tragedy: A History of the Russian Revolution.  New York: Viking 1996.  Richard Pipes.  The Russian Revolution.  New York: Alfred A. Knopt, 1990.  Photo of Mendel Beilis: United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, courtesy of Morris Rosen.