The idle ramblings of a Jack of some trades, Master of none

May 5, 2012

A Fight

There's a lovely site called where people have been posting old photographs of Moscow - their families, cityscapes, histories, memories. An occasional browse through it reveals hidden depths, heart-tugging tales, a sense of wonder. I came across this photograph of a bunch of kids fighting in the snow. 

Children fighting in the snow. c. 1912.
At first glance it might appear violent, sadistic even. But a commentator reveals that all these kids are family - brothers and cousins. They are posing for the camera. What do they know of their eventual fate?

Two of the kids are the sons of the chief of prisons in the Department of the Interior. The fellow with the broom is George Ksavelevich Velichko. He will become a railwayman, and will live out his life in Irkutsk. He will die in 1986, leaving behind five children and 17 grandchildren. The fellow with the snowball is Samuel Ksavelevich Velichko. He will leave for India in 1921, then to Bari in Italy. He will become a cargo man, a newsman, and then will marry and become a proprietor of a cafe. He will reestablish connections with his relatives who remained in the USSR in 1990 through the Red Cross. 

The chap with his hands apart is Viktor Viktorovich Velichko, son of an architect. He will graduate from Saratov University and become a chemist. He will perish in 1944, before being able to set up a family. The fellow with the log is Pavel Kirillovich Velichko, son of an army man. He will graduate from the MIIT, and become a father of three sons, and serve in the armed forces during World War II. He will drown in the Oka river in 1963. 

The chap on the ground is Johan-Anton Stanislavovich Velichko. He will emigrate in 1919 to Poland, and serve in the border guard. He will be captured by the Red Army in 1939. Two years later, he will be executed in Tver. His great-grandson will post the picture and reveal the story.


Anonymous said...

That's really fascinating. And sad too. It could be a photo from any time except for their great coats.

Fëanor said...

There's something poignant about telescoping entire lives into something as compact as a book, let alone a paragraph or two. It's all the more heartbreaking when one sees those lives at childhood and knows what will happen to them (when the kids themselves have no idea). This is why I find it difficult to read biographies, especially of people I think I would have liked!

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