|Translation of Ann Kusmina from Omsk.|
Kolchak’s final love was filmed by Gaidai and Bondarchuk
In “Admiral” movie Lisa Boyarskaya performed the part of Kniper-Timireva and Konstantin Khabensky played a part of Kolchack.
“KP” found out what the life of Anna Timireva was like after Admiral Kolchack had been sentenced to death.
Maxim Chizhikov, Olga Romanova (“KP” – Irkutsk”), Maria Mishkina (“KP” – Krasnoyarsk”), Natalia Bazhenova, Natalia Bulakh (“KP” – Yaroslavl”) – October , 16, 2008.
As final credits of ‘Admiral’ movie says ‘Anna Vasilyevna Timireva died in Moscow 31, January, 1975.’ She outlived her Admiral by 55 years. But how did Admiral’s final love spend all these years and managed to survive in Stalin’s prison camp? “KP” reporters discovered many facts that have been restricted.
7 arrests for 30 years
After Kolchak’s death Anna Timireva was let out under an amnesty. But in June, 1920 she was sent to Omsk concentration camp to do forced labour. After being released, Timireva appealed to local authorities for her departure to Harbin (at that time her first husband– Sergey Timirev was there. – editor’s note) The answer she got for her request was ‘Denied’ and she got one more year of prison sentence. The third imprisonment followed in 1922, the fourth one – in 1925. Official accusation sounded as “accused of undesirable connections with foreigners and former White officer” She was sentenced to 3 years’ imprisonment.
After she was set free, Anna Vasilyevna married railway engeneer Vladimir Kniper. But her purgatories continued. In spring 1935 she was arrested again for “concealment of the past”, sent to prison camp which later was changed to supervised residence in Vyshny Volochek and Maloyaroslavets. She earned her living by sewing, knitting and sweeping the streets. In 1938 the sixth arrest followed.
She was released after the end of WW2. She had nobody: her 24 year son, Volodia Timirev – talented artist – was shot May, 17, 1938. Her husband Vladimir Kniper died from heart attack in 1942, he didn’t survive persecution of his wife. She was still not allowed to settle in Moscow, and she moved to Scherbakov (present Rybinsk) in Yaroslavskaya Oblast, where she was offered a position of property-manager in local drama theatre.
By the way, at the same very time when Anna Timireva lived in Rybinsk, there also lived Kolchak’s niece, Olga. Several times Timireva made attempts to meet her, but Olga refused. According to one version she didn’t want to meet the woman who destroyed her uncle’s family. According to another – she was afraid of security officers.
It turned out that she had reasons for this… In the end of 1949 Anna was sentenced to 9 months imprisonment in Yaroslavl and as deported convict she was sent to Yeniseisk. Anna was said to be betrayed by her workmates – actors of local drama theatre. As it was said she was spreading Anti-Soviet propaganda.
‘Surgical scar on the right leg.’
Special archives of Krasnoyarsky Krai still keep her dossier. It is original: all papers, certificates enclosed, examination records are yellowed in these years, but quite readable. In archive we are allowed to read her dossier, but last names of people who were involved are thoroughly hidden – under the law their names are not to be seen.
‘On the basis of mentioned above the accusation is made against Kniper-Timireva Anna Vasilyevna, who in 1918-1920 was Admiral Kolchak’s wife’ as Anna Kniper dossier says. ‘She accompanied him to Harbin and Japan, took part in Kolchak’s campaign against Soviet government. She was arrested and accused of Anti-Soviet activity December, 20, 1949. The inquest proved that Kniper-Timireva spread Anti-Soviet propaganda, defamed All-Union Communist Party Bolsheviks and Soviet government policy and living conditions of working people in the Soviet Union’.
This is a picture made in 1954 just before civil wife of Kolchak, Anna Vasilyevna was set free, she is 57 here. (When Anna was arrested for the first time she was 27) On the picture we see still beautiful dignified woman with a scarcely perceptible smile on her lips.
These hands embraced Admiral Kolchak an hour before he was shot. (Fingertips of Anna Vasilyevna Kniper-Timireva, from the dossier)
‘Bring me a box of make-up…’
After she was released Anna Vasilyevna came back to the Rybinsk theatre. She was in her 70s, but she kept working.
Anna Vasilyevna could turn her hand to anything. She was a woman of considerable talent, when she was young she drew and painted in private studio, being in exile she worked as toy-painting instructor and graphic designer.
She made beautifully carved gilded frames from paste impregnated papers covered with painter’s gold. The frames looked as if they were real. At a performance there was a huge vase on the stage. In the footlights it shone as a diamond. Actually, as theatre veterans say, Anna Vasilyevna made the vase from wire and pieces of cans.
Often, during the performance Anna Vasilyevna set among the audience to note how everything looked on the stage.
‘Look! How nice this wooden gun!’ – she said to her nephew who stayed with her on holidays.
Sometimes she even took part in performance, playing small parts, such as princess Myagkaya in “Anna Karenina”. In her letters to the loved ones she admitted ‘I don’t like the stage and I’m bored in make-up room. I feel as a property-manager, not as an actress, but it seems to me that I’m not out of the picture (it does no honour to the perfoming style) Please bring me a box of make-up, I can’t find it here and I don’t like to beg somebody for it.’
She was neat, well-mannered old lady with short grey hair and bright lively eyes. Nobody in the theatre knew about her, about her and Kolchak tragic love story. But to the surprise of others every time when director, respectable man of noble birth saw Anna Vasilyevna he kissed her hand. People talked in corners about such attention devoted to the property manager.
‘ I’m 65 and I’m in exile. Everything that happened 35 years ago is gone down in history
I have no idea who and why want that the last days of my life passed in such unbearable conditions. I ask to put an end to it/ do away with it and let me breath and live that time which is left for me.’ she wrote to prime minister Grigory Malenkov in 1954. But Anna Vasilyevna was rehabilitated only in 1960.
She got a small room of communal flat in Pluschikha, Moscow.
After long efforts Shostakovich and Oystrakh obtained small pension for her (45 rubles) thanks to her father’ services (Vasiliy Iliych Saphonov was a prominent musician). You could have seen Anna Vasilyevna in crowd scene of Gaidai’s ‘Diamond hand’ playing a part of charwoman and in Bondarchuk’s ‘War and Peace’ playing a part of noble old lady at Natasha Rostova’s first ball. In 1970, just 5 years before she died, she wrote a poem devoted to the love of her life – Aleksander Kolchak:
Half of the century has passed
And nothing could be changed
You left into that stormy night
But I was doomed to stay.
Along the road of sorrows
Until the point in time
I’m searching my way back to you
I know one day I’ll find,
In spite of all the hardships
I know no matter what
I live only by your love
And memory of yours.
Anna Vasilyevna Kniper was buried at Vagankovskoe Cemetry next to her relatives…
|‘…February, 7, in Irkutsk national leader – admiral Kolchak was shot without trial before the completion of examination. Admiral faced his death with courage showing utter contempt for his murderers’. |
For the whole year his name was regarded with reverence in Russia. He was believed to be a liberator. His name embodied the movement and age of Russian Revolution.
Admiral Kolchak is one of the most striking personalities in our military history. He was well-known abroad during World War 1, he gained an excellent reputation as one of the most brave and smart naval officers and won immense prestige. During the war against Germany Kolchak distinguished himself in actions on the Baltic Sea, where small Russian Navy stood up for sea coast from large naval forces of Germany. Then as Commander-in-Chief of Black Sea Fleet Kolchak maintained command of Russia at the Black Sea.
People close to Admiral told real-life stories which revealed his character. One of the most well-known stories happened when Admiral, holding a review of Black Sea Fleet ordered to ship out just upon his arrival to Sevastopol.
Another spectacular scene happened when Admiral threw his St.George sabre overboard not to give it to sailors-Bolsheviks.
Admiral attended All-Russian Government meetings under Kerensky chairmanship who sent a note to General Kornilov which said not to be too frank due to some people (he ment Chernov). Later Admiral preferred to leave Russia because he thought Russian military forces were destroyed, he went to the United States to repay official visit to American sailors.
Till the very end the thing Admiral hated the most was the regime of Kerensky and perhaps this was the reason why he ran to another extreme – excessive military regime.
As a person, Admiral was sincere, honest and outspoken. He was pure-minded and this found expression in his disarming smile which made his usually ascetic face childish.
Admiral’s personality was lack of absoluteness qualities. He told the troops who wanted to see their leader ‘You are fighting not for me but for your Motherland, as for me, I’m a soldier just like you’.
Admiral was reserved and unsociable his favourite leisure activity was reading. Often he turned sulky and taciturn, but when he talked he became uneven, quick-tempered and lost his temper. But he became easily attached to people who were constantly around him, talked to them cheerfully and frankly. Being smart and well-educated he scintillated with wit and knowledge during heart-to-heart talk. He could make his companion delighted unintentionally.
Those who knew all the hardships and intrigues pursuing Admiral could only compassionate and sympathize with him. But those who had no idea about the atmosphere the Supreme Ruler had to work in were deeply disappointed and even irritated at Admiral’s lack of restraint and instability of temper.
A deep tragedy was in appearance and character of the man whom fate placed on the forefront in Anti-Bolshevik Russia. But however interesting his personality was, at present moment his description couldn’t be just separated from the description of political movement the leader of which he was but it should be included into it.
It was not thanks to Admiral’s personal qualities when he gained victories during first part of his activity and when he was defeated during the second. At the same very moment when Siberian front was defeated South-Russian front under command of General Denikin gave up.
Obviously there was a drawback in the base of Anti-Bolshevik Government, the principles were not quite strong, the plan was impractical.
Admiral did his best and went his way of sorrows till the end. History will keep his name and progenies will pay tribute to his memory.
We, his contemporaries or people who took part in those events have no right to make judgment, but we can and even must give our impression of the things that other civilized nations haven’t noticed yet…
Admiral made his name part and parcel of the idea in the name of which the Civil War was waged – the idea of great united Russia.
His untarnished reputation guaranteed the integrity of the movement and all the opponents of Bolshevism joined his standard. Was it the idea of Bolshevism opponents’ consolidation that caused the fall of the movement? But the majority supported this idea, it was met with enthusiasm and as everybody thought there were only two people who could put it into action – Admiral Kolchak and General Denikin.
It made no difference who of the two was Supreme Ruler. They acted unanimously but there was something more powerful. Admiral Kolshak was a spokesman of those political movements which were core of ally understanding. Was this understanding defeated? Was this understanding wrong for the movement? Admiral couldn’t betray because of his views and almost all Bolshevism opponents in Russia were on his side regarding this war as a continuation of WW1. Admiral stood for Constituent Assembly, he obviously would have summoned and passed the power to it.
Could it have been a mistake to postpone the decision-making of such acute issues till the indefinite period of time when agricultural Russia demanded immediate solution? In this situation Admiral expressed everybody’s opinion that provisional government had no authority to decide the state structure. It was time, not Admiral which conditioned main ideas, slogans and even actions. Nobody has the right to judge him for this, the implementation didn’t depend on the leader.
Universally recognized Napoleon’s genius didn’t save his army either in Russia or in battle of Waterloo, a genius falls to the ground when general conditions make the victory impossible. Calling to mind rapid and stormy history of Civil War against Bolshevism in Siberia, we will find many mistakes that Admiral made in his choice of people and actions, but we also should know the situation and conditions to judge whether or not he could have made other decisions.
In the southern part of Russia there were more people and benefits of culture and even in spite of this Anti-Bolshevik’s forces were heavily defeated. It’s obvious that the reasons of the defeat are deeply hidden, and superficial observation will not reveal them.
Future generations will appreciate Admiral’s nobility and express their gratitude to him, but we – contemporaries – should be ashamed if we didn’t do justice to the courage and selflessness of the Supreme Ruler. We should protect his name from unfair and slanderous accusations. He was not ‘public enemy’, but it’s servant, and it is not his fault that he was fated never to fulfill that Russian government honestly and persistently was aspiring to. He wanted to improve well-being of the people, but this turned to be impossible due to protracted war and destroyed transport system.
Admiral Kolchak died for the sins of other people and civilized nations must understand that the betrayal of Admiral is a horrible atrocity not only against Russia which was deprived of one of its worthiest citizens, but against dignity of nations, which flags adorned the capital of Anti-Bolshevism movement - Omsk – nations which gave Admiral its protection, and after all it was an atrocity against history, because there too many unknown facts and thoughts which only Admiral could have revealed. The smallest part is written down in interesting testimony given by Kolchak in Irkutsk.
Distressful image of Admiral with his keen sad eyes and features full of suffering for a long time will be engraved in our memory.
As a constant reproach it will pursue those who betrayed him and whose fault was that the war ended so sorrowfully.
Those who love Russia will bow their head and feeling pain they will remember what deep disasters our state endured.