Business of white emigration.
About how terrible the material and moral condition was the vast majority of refugees who left Russia in 1920, a lot has been written.
Much less information about those who managed to adapt in a foreign country, open their own business, do business.
Someone G. Fedorov, a former soldier of the Wrangel Army, wrote in his diary:
"What I just was not already ... I firmly cling to everything that can be caught so as not to perish from hunger." People of such a warehouse took up the most difficult physical work. For example, in Constantinople port, coal, firewood, flour and other cargoes were loaded, crushed stones, and paved roads. And the weakest, morally and physically, they gradually fell, turning to elementary begging. The terrible process of such people falling into apathy, a graphic example of their rapid degradation - all this served as an additional incentive for the most active, vigorous and enterprising part of the emigrants in search of a better share. This was often prompted by the consciousness of their social superiority over ordinary workers, their striving to regain their lost social status at any cost.
Arrival of Russian immigrants to Constantinople.
To open own business, to become real masters - for this purpose having accumulated at least some money or received them in some other, legal or illegal way, the more active ones tried to study some craft, to engage in small business activities, hoping to expand its scale in the long term. For example, in January 1921 in Constantinople at a meeting of officers of the General Staff, its participants seriously and thoroughly discussed the issues of opening various types of private establishments focused on servicing, especially emigrants: laundries, canteens, hostels, etc.
"The need is terrible, everyone goes to some business: the general in the laundry, the old colonel sells flowers on the streets, etc.", & # 8212; wrote present at the meeting, General AA. von Lampe, & # 8212; "I'm going to Serbia. On the way, I stayed in Prague for a month or two to study in practice some sort of thing like soap making, brick or tile production, drying fruits and vegetables, etc., to get back on my feet and start a new life in Serbia, Turkey, America or somewhere else in this nice world ". This was the reasoning of people who had never been engaged in any business before, but served in the army and, at best, only came into contact with intelligent work.
The main social environment of small business in a foreign country is those who have ever had their business, or knew the technology and the economy of specific industries, trade or services.
Many medium-traders left the territory of the white south of Russia even before the mass evacuation. The most successful of them, who made profit from export-import operations with Russian raw materials, could afford visas, tickets, set fees, bribes, so they immediately went to France and Germany. Less fortunate ones had the means, sufficient only to settle in Constantinople, the cities of Serbia and Bulgaria. There, and the first thing started to open trade establishments, cafes, restaurants and other service enterprises, designed for the clientele of an ever-increasing mass of refugees.
Daughters of white officers.
The most rapidly developing in 1920-1921. In Constantinople and the Balkan countries, the form of small and medium-sized businesses was commissioning. Those who fled from Russia, at least with some money, hastened to open commission stores for the purchase and resale of the property of the refugee masses. Refugees who did not have another opportunity to provide themselves food and lodging for the night, besides selling personal belongings and exported property, sometimes very valuable, became a source of huge profits for the commissioners. The first thing that struck the eye in Constantinople, Sofia and Belgrade - a huge number of commission shops and shops that grew like mushrooms after the rain.
Usually a group of refugees from several people, in the past - lawyers, merchants, doctors and officials - added a capital of 100-200 Turkish liras and opened such a store. The entire refugee population became the client-sellers, the allied army and sailors from the military courts became buyers. All refugee baggage, taken from Russia, starting with diamonds and gold, old paintings and things of Russian art - everything was brought here and sold for nothing.
The Russian Orthodox Church in Paris.
Simultaneously with commissioning, this type of emigrant business, such as foreign exchange, also developed. Refugees brought with them to Turkey and the Balkan countries Russian money of various kinds: the Tsarist, Duma, Kerensky, rubles of white and Cossack governments, seeking to exchange all this for local currency. As in foreign markets the ruble rate of various issues fluctuated constantly, it gave good opportunities for earning currency speculators. For example, in May 1920, on the markets of Constantinople and the exchanges, one thousand Don rubles were exchanged for 80 piasters, and a banknote worth.
in 5 thousand Denikin's rubles went for only 68 piastres. Above all, quoted "kerenki" & # 8212; 1 lira per thousand. And, with a stable Turkish lira, Russian rubles almost every day rose in price, then fell, what the money-changers used for it.
Favorable type of business in the cities where the refugees settled, were restaurants and cafes with Russian cuisine. In the summer of 1920, even before the Wrangel evacuation from the Crimea, visiting Sofia, already mentioned by us AA. von Lampe noted "the abundance of Russian restaurants." They worked well-known in Russia, the � vara, the old experienced waiters.
As for the emigrant industrial establishments, the first enterprises producing wine and vodka products started working. In Constantinople, Tarl-Bashi Street produced its products, which were in great demand among Russians and local residents, and the distilleries of Kramskoy, Smirny, and Romanenko. In many places, Russian bakeries opened.
Generals F.F. Abramov and E.K. Miller in Bulgaria. 1923 year.
The original form of entrepreneurship among emigrants was women's work at home. In particular, home cooking has become widespread. Produced at home, the food was sold on the streets with trays and enjoyed considerable demand because of the cheapness. The same A.A. von Lampe mentions in his diary that in Constantinople the wife of a Russian general contains the whole family that "prepares dumplings and sells them." The wife of the already mentioned Melnitsky, talking about the evils of evacuation and refuge, that she had to try all sorts of activities, observes: "Now we do not torture anything by any means, we have passed through much." In Norway, she eventually turned into a tailor and a milliner.
This kind of activity became quite common among officers' wives, who differed in their ability to sew. And in the mid-20's. in all the European cities where Russian emigres lived, it was possible to meet many sewing workshops and fashionable salons, founded by Russian women. Even the wife of General PN. Wrangel in Brussels opened a fashion department in the workshop of hats of his sister Trepova, where she worked together with her eldest daughter.
The usual occupation among the refugee masses was small-scale trade, which spontaneously grew out of the sale of its property. According to an eyewitness, at the beginning of 1921 in Constantinople there were Russian refugees everywhere, selling everything that could be on the corners. "There are too many sellers and too few buyers, and that's why the Russian refugee is empty in the stomach", # 8212; concluded the observer.
Trading offices, warehouses and shops owned by Russians soon filled the streets where refugees lived or often went. Traded almost everything: food (especially there were meat and sausage shops), clothes, shoes, household utensils, books and newspapers. And the owners of small and medium-sized trading establishments were not only professional traders, but also former officers, officials, Cossacks, people of intelligent professions, who in one way or another managed to get money and goods to start trading.
Arrival of white units to Constantinople.
A very specific form of entrepreneurship (especially in Constantinople) among emigrants was the gambling business. The owners of gambling establishments, as a rule, were already very wealthy people, who correctly perceived the psychological state of their compatriots - readiness for the most desperate risk for the sake of an illusory opportunity to break out of poverty and hunger.
When the Entente occupation authorities in Constantinople closed all the gambling houses "Russian Lotto", which were very popular, the emigrants started cockroach races. According to the reminiscences of the emigrant N.N. Chebyshev, "on numbers, i.e. on cockroaches put, as on horses & # 8230; The Rostov race society, which had brought its horses to Constantinople, was burned out because of the high cost of feed. Cockroaches feed more cheaply, and they immediately took hold of the sympathies of the public ... The issuance of the tote reached up to one hundred thousand lire (thousands of francs). "
In addition to the above-mentioned methods of entrepreneurship, Russian refugees practiced and those in which the adventurous criminal moment prevailed over the usual commercial. The Berlin newspaper Nakanune described the fraudulent practices of Russian businessmen in Constantinople: "The declared" basic capital "existed only in the ambitious dreams of the founders, the abundant" warehouses "sold, etc., sometimes to" sellers " and did not belong to profitable contracts with foreign firms, demonstrated credulous counterparts, fabricated in bundles in a neighboring cafe own "accountant", plump checkbooks did not correspond to any current accounts. " Thus, the above testifies to the main characteristic feature of the business of Russian emigrants - instability, which, in turn, created new problems that the modern reader can understand, I hope.
Business of white emigration.