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German internee’s journals, 08.08.2017

Mr Hinrich Bruhn of Magdeburg, Germany, has presented to Tsarskoe Selo the journals of his grandfather Wilhelm.

Click pictures to enlarge them

Found in the attic of Hinrich’s Berlin house in the early 1990s, the grandfather’s steady handwritings in unfaded black ink seemed like some “old German gibberish” only worthy of burning. Thanks to his curious cousins, the journals were thoroughly looked through and revealed a whole lot of history.

In 19814, Wilhelm Bruhn (1870–1938), then a 44 year-old wood wholesale representative, was caught by the First World War in Odessa and sent to a camp for foreign internees in Tsaryovokokshaysk, now Yoshkar-Ola in the Mari El Republic, Russia.

His life in the camp until 1918 is described on 1,120 pages of his four journals, full of everyday life details, drawings, poems, and clippings from newspapers and magazines. The last pages are about Odessa “run by Bolsheviks in leather coats”, where he managed to return in 1918 and then leave for Germany. He was a financial officer in Berlin and finally in Magdeburg.

According to Dr Iraida K. Bott, Tsarskoe Selo deputy director for research and education, ‘The journals (with the donator’s other documents now called the Wilhelm Bruhn archive), are our source of information about the WWI time and an object of research. We will have them translated into Russian and published, so that these documentary – and therefore priceless – historical materials can be used by experts and others interested in how the country and people lived when an epoch collapsed’.

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