Victor Karlovich Stember - Diary
Below are Victor's diary entries that he began writing in 1918 when he was 55 years old. The hand-written diary was translated from Russian into English by Olga A. Fuhrman. Click any of the Month names below to begin reading, or you can expand each Month name and click on specific dates. "October, 1918" is the start of the diary.

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The complete list of Victor Stember’s family mentioned in the diary.

Saturday, January 1, 1921 - Vladikavkaz - The City Hospital, Barrack #8

I am in the hospital, in bed, for the third day already! The barrack is a temporary one, because up to yesterday the illness had not been determined. By some symptoms, as well as by the logic of things, - it is spotted typhus. The temperature was 40.2 = 104.4 and the rash broke out heavily – all as it should be. And then the temperature fell suddenly and the head is clear. Now, it has been determined fully: inflammation of the right lung....Temperature is 38-39 = 100-102. Am feeling so far rather satisfactorily. There is strength. What is to come is uncertain. I have begun already to expect death....and this I am telling you, my friends, with enough calmness....

But to begin in order: Some move it was from Rostov to Vladikavkaz....a fine one indeed!!! At first everything adjusted itself rather well. Thanks to Muralov and the Military Staff-Commissar of the Staff of Caucasian Front, we were given a First Class coupe in the Staff train-car. There are four such coupes in the car. There is a Salon, servants, samovar, heat. There were in all 5 passengers and 5 servants. It would seem, one could wish for nothing better! Even in Nicholas’ (late Czar) times we did not travel in such style! But alas! – the sweet turned bitter. One reason – fate, the other of our own making.

We left Nahichevan on Saturday, December 18. The day was apparently not a propitious one. Stupidly we left in the evening, about 7 o’clock, figuring we would have enough time until the departure of the train (at 11 pm). It was dark, very cold. We started to walk behind the cart, loaded to capacity with our luggage, but could not endure it; took a cab and slowly rode behind the cart as if behind a hearse. The square in front of the station was dark and teamed with people. It was impossible to drive up to the station entrance. No porters. We were standing in the middle of the square and, like fools, were waiting for something.....Then after waiting for some time in vain, I left Mama with the cart-load and went to look for some helpers. I tried to find out about the hook-up of our train-car, but found out nothing, no one knew anything. For 20 times was I sent from one place to another but found out nothing, while Mama was freezing, staying with the baggage. It was finally established that the Staff-car was not going to be hooked up on Saturday, that day. That meant waiting until Monday (trains go only every other day). I went to look for the train car on the siding. I found it and explained to the conductor the situation and our intention to occupy the car. However, for that it was necessary to have a special permit........I had thought of checking our things, but in this I also did not succeed: only baggage of a certain size was being accepted, while ours proved to be too large....There was nothing left for us to do but to return the night and cold, worn out, into an empty and unheated apartment!...!!!! We walked behind the loaded cart in order to protect ourselves against the wind. It was a long walk. We froze. Arrived at the house late in the night. The iron gates were locked...No bell...No one heard our knocking...We knocked furiously for half an hour. The driver was swearing...At last I started to shake the gate and broke the lock...It caused a scandal, but we drove in with the cart. We unloaded, leaving the heavy baggage in the courtyard, carrying the smaller things into the apartment. Then we ate some of the food prepared for the trip and went to bed. Mama lay down as she was, in her fur coat, and I went to the landlord’s. On Monday we made it to the station after having reduced our baggage considerably. This time we succeeded in installing ourselves in the Staff’s railroad car with our hand baggage, regardless of its numerous quantity. The large baggage I placed at the counter for the evening inspection. We began to bless heaven, already thinking that the main trials were behind us, not knowing that they were still ahead of us.

Sunday, January 2, 1921 - Vladikavkaz - The City Hospital, Barrack #8

Last night and this morning my temperature went up some. I feel weaker. My head aches....Though, thanks to the cuppings and last night’s compress, I feel nothing abnormal in my lung....

Am continuing my tale of our move: - The issuing of tickets. The inspection and admittance of the baggage is done at the same time, different ends of the station! ... and in a nightmarish crush ... an hour, or hour and a half before the train’s departure!!! In order to be on time I joined the ticket line as early as 5 o’clock. That was, of course, fatal to my health.... I already had a cold and here, in a Dante-like hell, I experienced such a steam bath, like none in my whole life: the perspiration streamed from me in torrents when I ran out with the tickets into freezing cold in order to check the baggage. Here it was where I over-strained myself: the counter was high, the baggage heavy and no one to help! The inspection was merciless and I had hardly time to tie up again the trunks and throw them on the scales. I risked to be left behind, because the train had long ago been ready and the boarding had ended....I ran along the length of the train looking for our carriage, but in the darkness did not recognize nor found it. At last I realized that it had NOT yet been hooked-up, that it would be done so at the last moment! Then I ran along the rail-ties to the place where our carriage stood. With difficulty I found it and dropped heavily upon the couch in complete exhaustion.....THE TRAIN LEFT WITHOUT US! Then there began a fight between our high-ranking military fellow-travelers and the railroad management, regarding the failure of the hook-up. As a result, we stayed in the carriage for 4 days more, and left only on Friday.

Tuesday, January 4, 1921 - Vladikavkaz - The City Hospital, Barrack #8

Stubbornly and without let-up there creeps up to me something of a constantly rising temperature. Today already in the morning it’s 39 and a half....= 103 degrees. The rattling has spread to both lungs, and yesterday cupping has been placed all over and compresses around my whole body....I think it is time to take extreme measures: to lower the temperature and to sustain my heart, otherwise it would not have enough strength to keep up the struggle – it will burn out.

Day before yesterday Uncle Dodo visited me. I told him, among other things, that though I do not want to die, but if death comes, I shall accept it calmly, because I do not fear it, that I look at it as a moment of eternal development and in some sense – a liberation. He began to express his viewpoint on these things, and surprised me by exhibiting an extreme degree of materialism...

(Many pages are missing.)

Friday, January 14, 1921 - (Mama’s handwriting)

The diary has come to an end since the earthly life has come to an end. Seven days only have passed, and on January 11, at 10:30 o’clock in the evening, Papochka left this life for the eternity.

The heart did not hold out; it was exhausted from the struggle against the inflammation of the lungs and from the hardships of the move....The care was wonderful, but there was nothing that could have saved him....

A note to Mama from the Hospital, in Victor’s handwriting.

My dearest, my joy! One must bear and suffer ... at times, especially at night, it is hard, but I take courage. And do you know, it’s for you only....I have been thinking much, and without any details, but in general....and oh, God, how much sorrow I have caused you! .... But I loved you. Intensely and deeply.....but there are in my nature so many contradictions!

Bring me such medicine as the nurse will tell you....She ordered that the number of covers should be lessened and the yellow one removed....I am tired....

Thy Victor.
....Cognac or wine re .......


The members of Victor Stember’s family mentioned in the diary:
Mama, Mamulya Victor's wife; born 1861
Natasha, Natashenka His daughter; born 1890 and moved to America
Kolya, Nokolai His son; born 1891
Nadya, Nadichka, Nadinka His daughter; born 1893
Sonya, Sonichka, Sodechka His daughter; born 1895
Ksenichka, Ksenya His daughter; born 1888; died at 5 years old
Karlusha, Karl, Charles Natasha’s husband; Voinov, and later “Warren”
Sokolov Nadya’s first husband
Litvinov, Vladimir Feodorovich, Voldemar Nadya’s second husband
Yuri Tulin or Yura Sonya’s husband
Victor, Victorushka, Victorik Natasha’s son (Victor Warren); born 1913
Kyrill, Kyrillchik Nadya’s son; born 1916, died 1919
Ksenichka Nadya’s daughter; born 1920

Notes regarding the various names, terms, and locations mentioned by date:
Oct. 25, 1918 Petrograd: formerly Capital of Russia, later Leningrad, now St. Petersburg.
Verst: a verst is an obsolete Russian unit of length. It is equal to 1.0668 kilometres (0.6629 miles; 3,500 feet).
Oct. 26, 1918 Zabelins: Rich couple living at Plussy along Warsaw R.R. V. Stember painted their portraits.
Ukraine: a country south of Russia (capital is Kiev).
Dubrachok: summer residence of Stember family, 116 versts (350 miles) south of Moscow, on Kursky R.R.
Strahovo: a village 3 versts from Dubrachok.
Oct. 30, 1918 Krasnov and Kaledin: Generals of the White Army.
Pskov: a city south of Petrograd.
Toroshino: a R.R. station on Warsaw R.R. near Petrograd.
Poltava: a large city of Ukraine.
Oct. 31, 1918 Dimanis: next door neighbors in Petrograd.
Toosya: daughter of Mrs. Dimanis.
Nov. 4, 1918 Berezovsky: former factory owner.
Nov. 5, 1918 Luga: a town between Petrograd and Pskov.
Nov. 6, 1918 “Holiday:” Nov. 7 is the anniversary of the Revolution
Saiki: small buns with raisins.
Nov. 7, 1918 Smolny: formerly a school for nobility girls, now Bolshevik Headquarters.
Kadets: members of political party.
Beloostrov: a town north of Petrograd.
Nov. 9, 1918 Klavdia Petrovna: an old friend.
Nov. 17, 1918 Chernyshev Pereulck: name of the street where Stember’s apartment was located.
Rosetti: an Italian artist.
Darvin: writer, philosopher.
Olga Nikolaevna Reizenstein: school teacher.
Nov. 19, 1918 Odessa: a large southern city on the Black Sea.
Nov. 22, 1918 Vasili Nikiforovich: a local teacher.
Shchedrin and Leskov: Russian writers.
Nov. 27, 1918 “ami-cochon”: (French) liberties.
Nov. 28, 1918 Bulgakov: Russian writer.
Nov. 30, 1918 Djoyichka: diminishing from “Joy,” name of the dog.
Dec. 6, 1918 Kuindji: artist-painter.
Dec. 13, 1918 M-me Pimenova: a customer who ordered a portrait.
Dec. 18, 1918 Karl Loeve: painter, old friend of Mr. Stember.
Jan. 5, 1919 Kontan: formerly a fashionable restaurant.
Berin and Weber: confectionary and fancy bakery.
Tarusskaya: R.R. Station for Dubrachok Estate.
Jan. 11, 1919 Durnovo: Russian writer and philosopher.
Jan 13, 1919 Kerensky: paper money under Kerensky’s regime.
Zephyr: name of cigarettes.
Nevsky: main avenue of Petrograd.
Jan 21, 1919 Prospect: avenue.
Isvoschik: a coachman.
Serpuhov: a town, one hour’s travel to Tarusskaya station.
Jan 26, 1919 Babushka: Grandmother.
Perov: Artist. Painted a picture of a casket driven by a grieved couple on a sleigh.
Jan 30, 1919 Arbat: one of the busiest streets in Moscow.
Droshki: wheel-cart.
Feb 3, 1919 Anna Nikolaevna Ushakova: formerly owner of Koshkin, 2 versts from Dubrachok.
Velegovo: village 4 versts away.
Feb 5, 1919 Annikova and Delone: distant relatives on Mother’s side.
Zbrueva Evgenia Ivanovna: opera star; wife of Uncle Dodo.
Natasha Nikolaeva: daughter of V. Stember’s sister Sophie.
Feb 9, 1919 Babushka Agrafena: an old woman from the nearest village.
Feb 12, 1919 Dvoriki: the name of the nearest village.
Feb 14, 1919 Alexin: a small town on the Oka River, not far from Strahovo.
March 2, 1919 Tarussa: a town on the other side of the Oka River, 6 versts from Strahovo.
March 8, 1919 “fin-de-siecle”: end of the century (French).
March 18, 1919 pood: equal to 40 pounds.
Tsitovskaya: the Jews, Cecily Ilyinishna, “the Authority.”
March 23, 1919 Zhlobnin: town on the way to the South.
Bakhmych: town on the way to the South.
Apr 4, 1919 Paska: Easter delicacy, made of cottage cheese, butter, eggs, sugar and vanilla.
“si non a vero”: believe it or not.
Zoe or Zoya: cousin on Mother’s side.
Polenova: daughter of the artist, Polenov. Their estate adjoining Strahovo.
Apr 10, 1919 “Mein Schoner Stern”: My Beautiful Star! Name of Shumann song.
Apr 20, 1919 Passion Week: the week between Palm Sunday and Easter.
Apr 27, 1919 Mensheviki: political party, opposite to Bolsheviki.
Koshinko: village and former estate of Ushakovs, 2 versts from Dubrachok.
Lunacharsky: one of Bolsheviki leaders.
May 8, 1919 Vinogradovs: acquaintances residing at Tarussa.
Lydia Alexandrovna Zolotubhina: school teacher, res. Tarussa.
Molchanova: acquaintance, res. At Tarussa.
Miller: Family, had an estate near Tarussa.
May 14, 1919 Nikitins: a peasant family in Koshinko village.
Nina: cousin, daughter of Uncle Dodo and E.I. Zbrueva.
Alexei Petrovich: husband of Aunty Emily.
Sarafan: sort of a full skirt worn high above breasts and held by shoulder straps.
May 26, 1919 Gatchina: summer residence, near Petrograd.
May 27, 1919 Behovo: village near Tarusskaya Station.
May 28, 1919 Karl Petrovich Medtner: father of the famous composer Nikolai Medtner.
June 1, 1919 Arshin: a measure about ¾ of a yard.
June 2, 1919 Gneznikovsky Pereulok: a street in Moscow where Medtner’s lived.
Ivanovo: Post Office at the Tarusskaya Station.
Karasev, Kramer and Baranov’s: neighbors, about 7 versts from Dubrachok.
Chotny: Central Market in Moscow.
June 10, 1919 Kudrino and Devichye: sections of Moscow.
June 12, 1919 Andrey Bely: writer, critic, poet.
June 25, 1919 Soriabin: composer slightly “modernistic” at that time.

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