Moussia 35: 1927 (1): Moussia looks for her brother in Lubyanka Prison, a stopover in Poland.

From left to right, three successive Heads of the Russian State Security organisation: Felix Dzierzynski (head of the Cheka, later called OGPU, 1917-1926), his deputy and successor: Wiaczeslaw Mezynski (OGPU, 1926-1934) and Genrikh Yagoda (OGPU/NKVD, 1934 -1936). Due to  Wiaczeslaw Mezynski ’s chronic ill health, Yagoda, in effect, ran the OGPU since 1924 when Dzierzynski took on the additional job of Chairman of the Supreme Council of National Economy. I refer my readers to the Internet for further details on these gentlemen.

Sergey and Lina Prokofiev left Paris for a Russian tour of two months on January 13, 1927, seen off by the Borovskys and the Samoilenkos. They left Moscow  to return to France on  March 23, the day that Alexander Borovsky arrived there. Prokofiev: “Borovsky looked slightly stunned; arriving back in Russia had had a powerful effect on him and he was obviously worried whether he was about to face success or failure, not to mention what the Bolshevik’s attitude to him would be: might they arrest him? Although it was difficult to imagine how they could: he had taken the precaution of becoming a Latvian citizen.”… “We had lunch with Borovsky in the Prechistenki restaurant, where he consumed the Russian dishes with evident relish.”

Early in April 1927, Alexander urged Moussia to join him and indeed she went, to the amazement of Prokofiev because until then, she had not shown much enthusiasm to go back to the USSR. I think that her change of mind had something to do with her search for her brother Julian (see article 8). Borovsky may have told her that someone managed to arrange an appointment for her. Once again, Moussia demonstrated her personal courage: in Moscow, she went to see the acting head of the OGPU, Genrikh Yagoda, demanding that she should see her brother who, she thought, was held in Lubyanka prison.

Her network of relatives and friends must have made this appointment possible.  Two of her uncles by marriage were brothers of  the Polish Felix Dzierzynski, the renegade of his family (article 5) and “Iron Felix” was still a magic name in Russia (as he has until today, in 2013). Wiaczeslaw Mezynski was a Russian hereditary nobleman of Polish descent like Vladimir Baranovsky. But when she entered Lubyanka Prison, she was confronted by the feared Yagoda.

Yagoda received her with courtesy, he told her that in preparation for her visit he had asked his people to look through all the files, but that Julian was not found on any of their lists. A very worried Moussia left Lubyanka, built adjacent to a Roman Catholic church, Saints Peter and Paul,  where two of her Nowicki relatives had once served as priests.

Alexander’s tour also took him to Leningrad. There, Moussia went straight to the apartment which had belonged, maybe still belonged, to Vladimir and his parents and where she had lived prior to her departure from Russia in 1917: Apartment 10 at 59, Bolshaya Puskarshkaya Street (see article 9, text and photo). She must have been ‘accompanied’by an Intourist ‘guide’.

To her amazement, she found the linens, which she had bought prior to her marriage with Vladimir Baranovsky, still in her dresser. “But,” said Fern (Scull) Barstow, Vladimir’s wife from 1924 onwards, during her 1990 taped interview, “Moussia was not  even allowed to take back one of her towels”.

On the way back to Paris, in May 1927, the Borovskys made a stopover in Poland, where the pictures below were taken.  There, they picked up Natasha, whom Moussia had left with a relative when she was on the way to Moscow. On June 9, 1927, Prokofiev wrote in his Diary: The Borovskys have returned from Moscow, Maria Viktorovna full of complaints. Borovsky played thirty-two concerts.

Moussia, almost three year old Natasha, and Moussia’s distant cousin Wieslaw Oledzki, May 1927. Natasha wears a hat like her mother’s and – as we shall see in photos to come – a walking stick like her father’s.

Natasha, May 1927

Natasha, May 1927. Russian inscription on the left: “To my American dearest uncle Yurik [diminutive of George) from Natasha” and on the other one: “Do not cry, dearest auntie, I’ll come to New York, Natasha.” I think that these photos were sent to George and Goldie Romanovsky in New York and that Moussia got them back, “address unknown” (see article 23).

Natasha in Poland, 1927, in wintercoat bought ‘on the growth’

(to be continued)

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Comments are closed.