Who were they?

an old photograph

Six women and three men looks down upon us from a distant past. Only the foreign and somewhat stunning, long beards of the two men in uniform, gives away a hint to their origin. The Life-Cossacks from Imperial Russia surrounded by a stout and proud man in black and women dressed in summergarb, the wonderfull white summerdresses from the period around the 1900´s. This photograph was part of the private album of the Imperial Life-Cossack Timofei Yaschik. The photograph is taken in front of the small greenhouse in the grounds of Hvidøre palace, north of Copenhagen, probably in the summer of 1920

The longing for “home” was naturally a great part of the story-telling and identity among visitiors and diplomats outposted in Denmark in the pre-revolutionary imperial days and refugees, migrants and prisoners in Denmark after 1917.

I first saw the photograph in 2006, the year the Danish princess Dagmar, empress Maria Feodorovna of Russia, was interred at Peter and Paul Cathedral i Skt. Petersburg thus marking the end of a long exile. Her coffin having stood in a mausoleum in one of the royal chapels at Roskilde Cathedral since 1928. The year 2005 marked the beginning of my collecting anything having to do with the refugees and exiles from old imperial Russia in Denmark, naturally centered around the late Dowager Empress. It was through great public interest, that my small exhibition “The Courtiers of Empress Dagmar” caused many interesting meetings with kind people, who told me their stories and showed me their hidden trophies. Many had actually as children met some of the historic caracters, some were even related, they all had wonderfull stories to tell. Real-life history on an often tragic background, now revealing itself through every-day life scenes, a little song, a tea-party, a childrens book, a pair of shoes, family photographs, a small letter or trinckets. Thus, the historic and somewhat distant people became very living, showing that somewhere and somehow, these refugees had managed to get by i Denmark, making new families and making friends. They all had made a great and lasting impression.