Russian emigration in Greece- Athens, Thessaloniki, Pireas

I have a new book in my collection– ‘’Russian emigration in Greece. Lives. XX century’’ by Irina Zhalnina-Vasilcioti.

Russians in Greece 1920s

I read it in one breath, so interesting it is.  It tells the stories of Russians, who left the country during turbulent times after the Revolution and ended up in Greece in 1920s.

The Exodus

”At 16:45 hours on November 14, 1920 a British destroyer radioed that the Bolsheviks’ advance units had entered Sevastopol. On November 15, embarkation was completed in Yalta, where cavalry troops boarded the Krim, Tsesarevich Georgy, and Russ. No horses were allowed onboard. There were harrowing scenes as men were separated from their loyal friends. Evacuation from Kerch was completed on the sunny day of November 16. Between November 14 and 16, 1920, 126 merchant vessels and warships sailed from the Crimea to Turkey. General Wrangel and Vice Admiral Mikhail Kedrov, the Black Sea Fleet commander who directed the evacuation, managed to take 145,693 people, aside from the ship crews, out of the Crimea. Around 70,000 were army personnel, who lugged along their rifles and machine guns, and the remaining refugees were their families and civilians. The ships departing from the Crimea put out to sea crammed with people well above their carrying capacity. According to eyewitness accounts, “all holds, decks, passages, bridges, and gratings by the funnels were jam-packed with people sitting and lying.” It took hours to reach the lavatory, and a tin cup of drinking water was a rare blessing. Then followed five long days of physical suffering and mental torment on that sorrowful voyage to Constantinople.” [1]

Then….The placement of running soldiers was discussed with seven countries, who were ready to accept them.  Greece was one of them.

Russian ancestry research

During the research of the book, the author used the information from various archives.  The most interesting was from GARF- State Archive of Russian Federation.

Fund 4646 Russian Consulate in Pireas (1918-1922)

In this fund you will find copies of attested documents-powers of attorney, certificates, metrical extracts.

Fund 4651- Russian Society of the Red Cross in Greece, Athens (1922-1924)

Statements of salaries for employees of hospitals, infirmaries, camps and other institutions in Greece. Lists of patients and the wounded and Orders of a senior physician at the hospital in Athens.

Nearly 1000 soldiers (about 500 were invalids) were transferred on hospital ships “Tsessarevich Georgiy/ Цессаревич Георгий” and “Kherson/Херсон” during the Crimean evacuation and placed into Greek hospitals in Athens.

Fund 5778 Bureau of labor assistance to Russians at the Russian Mission in Athens (1921-1926)

You will find a correspondence with Russian emigrants with the statements of the latter about giving them work; lists of emigrants; ads, letters about granting them monetary loans for the opening of enterprises, workshops, etc.  One example is “The petition of D.N. Dolgovaya, the wife of the lieutenant of the fleet, about assisting her in purchasing a sewing machine”.

Among the documents are lists of workers, specialists, who wished to go to work in France and other countries, correspondence on sending Russian emigrants to work in France (1923-1924) and lists of children of Russian emigrants in need of clothing, clothes, linen, footwear (1925).

An amazing fund where you can learn many personal facts about the life of your ancestors in Greece, even if it was a temporary place of state for many.

Fund 5779 Bureau of labor assistance to Russians at the Russian Consulate in Thessaloniki (1921-1927)

Fund 5780 Representatives in Greece of the Russian Municipal Committee for assistance to Russian citizens abroad. Athens (1921-1935)

Fund 5781 Russian Gymnasium in Athens (1921-1935)

Fund 5826. The Russian All-Military Union (ROVS) (1921-1932)

Extracts from General Wrangel’s orders for the dismissal, demotion and reinstatement of officers of the White Army in the rank of officers and sentences, lists of convicted officers and other materials of the Courts of honor (1922-1924).

The book of registration of officers-gunners/ of technical units/ of the White Cossack units/ officials who served in the White Army and who fled after the defeat of the army abroad and in 1922 lived in Serbia, Turkey, Bulgaria and other countries.

Fund 7517 Commandant of the camp of Russian emigrants. Thessaloniki (1920-1927)

This is a great resource fund where your ancestors might have left the clues in the reports of emigrants about enrollment in the camp, the Inventories of things of deceased emigrants, the orders of the military agents in Greece, the papers of affairs of the Courts of honor of the camp of Russian refugees in Thessaloniki and in the lists of emigrants wishing to leave Greece for other countries.

The information in the above funds is not indexed and a field research is required to proceed.


Many attempts were made to record the Russian burials in Greece:


While reading the book my attention was drawn to the churches used by Russians –

  • церковь Святого Николая и Дмитрия/St Nicholas and Dmitriy church in Thessaloniki (camp Charilaou)
  • русская посольская церковь Святой Троицы/Russian Embassy church of Holy Trinity in Athens (active from 1833). Metrical church records are currently being held by the church.
  • Свято-Ольгинская церковь/Holy Olginskya church in Pireas

If your ancestor was somehow related to the events and places discussed in this article and you require any further information, please contact me.  Happy to assist.


[1],2809,2809 – The Crimea left behind in palls of smoke… By Kirill Alexandrov,  September 2006


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