Adam Grzegorz Dąbrowski


0. Introduction

Polish ties with Siberia date as far back as the 16th century when first groups of prisoners of Polish-Muscovite wars took part in expeditions crossing the Ural Mountains. They were followed by Polish POWs of the 17th century wars, convicted participants of the Bar conspiracy in Podolya (the so-called konfederacja barska ‘Confederation of Bar’, 1768-1772) and consecutive national anti-Russian uprisings of 1794 (Kosciuszko Insurrection), 1830-1831 (November Uprising), 1863 (January Uprising) and POWs from Napoleon armies (altogether some 18,000), and victims of the tsarist repressions taking place towards the end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th centuries (some 2,000). For many of them Siberia was not only the land of suffering but became also the land of self-realization: exploiting their high qualifications Poles pioneered in many domains of life in Siberia laying the foundations for anthropological and ethnographical research on numerous indigenous peoples of the vast territory of Siberia and actively exploring its geography as well as geological, botanical and zoological resources. Worth adding is the fact that at the end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th centuries many Poles (up to 50,000) migrated to Siberia on their own will in pursuit of better conditions of existence. Polish settlements were quite numerous across the West-Siberian Lowland, the Central Siberian Plateau, and the Maritime Region, in the basins of the Yana, Indigirka, and Kolyma rivers, in the Baikal and Trans-Baikal Regions.

   Among the migrants to Siberia, apart from peasants and workers there were also the intelligentsia and qualified specialists like engineers, physicians, clerks, merchants, entrepreneurs, and teachers, who could count on well-paid jobs there, and many of them indeed made considerable fortunes. Many from among ex-convicts and exiles having served their sentences chose to settle in Siberia for good [1]. Poles settled also along the Pacific Coast, and in China, Korea, and Japan.

First “academic” contacts of Polish exiles  with the aboriginal population resulted from very practical needs like the necessity to communicate with them forcing the acquisition of their languages (the command of Russian among the natives was rather poor) and the prime aim of accumulating information from the aborigines was to use it planning escape (hence focus on local geography). Later came attempts at overcoming the overwhelming idleness and organizing personal lives which turned into systematic and planned research activity. This activity was marred with various difficulties like the shortage of paper, lack of ink, restrictions of contacts with other exiles or with academic institutions, problems with access to publishers with completed manuscripts, etc. Problems with contacts with academic institutions were usually solved by these institutions themselves interested in research results, hence eager to facilitate research by supplying necessary instruments and materials and publishing obtained data. They also kept supplying exile researchers with recent scholarly publications, both Russian and foreign, enabling the latter thus to get familiar with the newest developments and theories in anthropology and ethnography. The prime role among such institutions was played by the Russian Geographical Society founded in St.Petersburg in 1845 and its East-Siberian Branch in Irkutsk and Amur-Region Branch in Khabarovsk. Worth mentioning are also the Vladivostok-based Society for the Study of the Amur Region and the Russian Committee for the Study of Central and Eastern Asia [2].

   Contributions of Polish exile researchers to the ethnography of the Siberian peoples and the study of their languages are particularly significant. Studied were especially Buryats, Ewenkis, Nanais (formerly known as Golds), Itelmens (~ Kamchadals), Yakuts, Nivhgu (formerly known under the ethnonym Gilyaks), Ulchas (~ Manguns), Uiltas (~ Oroks), and Ainu. Among prominent contributors to the study of the Ainu, the aboriginal population of the islands of Hokkaido and Sakhalin, were the Poles Bronisław Piłsudski and Wacław Sieroszewski.

1. Biographies

Wacław Kajetan Sieroszewski (born August 24, 1858, in the Wólka Kozłowska estate as the third child and the only son of Leopold and Waleria née Ciemniewska), accused of resisting Russian policemen was sentenced in 1879 to eight years imprisonment but the sentence was replaced with the forcible settlement in Eastern Siberia and Verkhoyansk was appointed as the place of exile. There he earned his living running a locksmith workshop and hunting. For an escape attempt his exile sentence was prolonged and he was to settle permanently in the remote village of Yengzha located in the Alazey river valley. His family’s efforts to obtain for Sieroszewski permission to move to an area with a milder climate proved successful and he was permitted to move first to the Bayagantay Ulus on the Aldan river and later to the Nam Ulus not far from Irkutsk. It was at that time that Sieroszewski started his literary career writing novels and short stories [3], and since 1890 also academic works in the domain of ethnography – mainly concerning the Yakuts.

Serving out his time Sieroszewski was allowed to move freely on the territory of Eastern Siberia and settled in Irkutsk continuing his study of the Yakuts and other Siberian peoples. In 1898 he regained the right to stay on the territory of the Kingdom of Poland [4] (he settled in Warsaw) but soon, to avoid a consecutive arrest and exile to Irkutsk, he succeeded in begging the Russian Geographical Society to send him on an expedition to the Ainu of Northern Japan. He conducted his research there from July to September 1903 and had to discontinue it because of the intensifying hostilities between Japan and Russia. Having come back on the Polish soil he became active in independence movements, continuing this activity throughout World War I and, after Poland regained its independence, he became one of the most prominent figures in the country’s literary life serving as a member of the Polish Pen Club, Head of the Polish Writers’ Union, and President of the Polish Academy of Literature; as a Senate Member in 1935-1938 he was active also in politics. Wacław Sieroszewski died of pneumonia in the hospital in Piaseczno near Warsaw on April 20, 1945, and was buried there but in 1949 his remains were moved to the Powązki Cemetery in Warsaw [5].

Bronisław Piotr Piłsudski (born November 2, 1866, in Zułów (present-day Zalavas in western Lithuania), as the oldest child of Józefa Wincenty and Maria née Billewicz), in 1887 received capital punishment for participation in an attempt at the life of Tsar Alexander the Third but the sentence was changed to fifteen years of forced labor (katorga) on the island of Sakhalin. He lived in the village of Rykovskoye (present-day Kirovskoye) of the Tym River Region. Because of the shortage of educated people there he was employed part-time in the local authority office and received the position of a full-time teacher. In 1894-1896 he conducted weather surveys in the local meteorological station and collected flora specimens for a Khabarovsk museum. Soon, however, his principal preoccupation became studies on the Nivhgu and their folklore the results of which were published in 1898. Shortly after his sentence had been reduced due to an amnesty, he left Sakhalin (in 1899) for Vladivostok to be employed there as a museum custodian there and earning additional income in the local Statistical Office and in the editorial board of a local newspaper.  In  1902 his civil rights were in part restored and he was granted official financial support for his research; he started them immediately and continued them on the Japanese island of Hokkaido. At that time the principal object of his interest were the Ainu and, to a smaller degree, also the Oroks (Uilta).  Involved in 1905 revolution movements in Russia he had to flee to Japan where he spent several months before leaving, via the USA and France, for Galicia on the Polish soil to settle there (he stayed in Cracow, Lemberg, today’s Lviv in the Ukraine, and in Zakopane, now in southern Poland.  Unable to obtain any permanent job, he kept selling his collections, and in 1907 started publishing results of his research in various academic journals. During his stay in Zakopane he became involved in the activities of the Tatra(-Mountains) Society (Towarzystwo Tatrzańskie), organizing, among other, its Ethnographical Section (Sekcja Ludoznawcza) for studying the culture of the highlanders (górale) of the Podhale, Spisz (Spiš~Zips~Szepes) and Orawa (Orava) regions. After the outbreak of World War I Piłsudski lived in Switzerland where he served as member of the Comité Général de Secours pour les Victimes de la Guerre en Lithuanie based in Fribourg (Freibumr im Üchtland). Next, he moved to France and worked in the offices of the Polish National Committee in Paris. He met his tragic end drowning in the Seine on May 17, 1918, and was buried on the Polish cemetery in Montmorency near Paris (Armon 1981).

It was Wacław Sieroszewski who arrived in Hakodate on Hokkaido first – in mid May of 1903. Waiting for Piłsudski he kept sending Bronisław letters and cables and, hoping to facilitate and speed up his arrival, also money, and started inspecting Ainu villages that could be reached from Hakodate. Piłsudski arrived in mid June in company of an Ainu interpreter and they started their field research together trying to establish deviations (in comparison with Sakhalin Ainu) in the folklore, beliefs, and physical features of the local Ainu caused by contacts with the incoming Japanese; they also took extensively anthropological measurements of individual Ainu. Unfortunately, on request from the Russian consulate in Hakodate they had to discontinue their studies in connection with the grooving tensions between Russia and Japan. Sieroszewski returned to his native country via Korea, China, Ceylon, Egypt, and Italy, while Piłsudski went back to Sakhalin [6].

The documents presented here are related to the preparations of the expedition of both explorers to the Ainu of Hokkaido and come from a special Bronisław Piłsudski file-collection concerning the period 1893-1918 preserved in the Archives of Modern History Documentation (Archiwum Akt Nowych – AAN) in Warsaw. The collection embraces 142 archival units (teczki ‘folders’), in their majority transferred in 1956-1957 from the Archives of the Department of Party History affiliated with the Central Committee of the Polish United Workers’ Party (Archiwum Zakładu Historii Partii przy Komitecie Centralnym Polskiej Zjednoczonej Partii Robotniczej, the communist ruler of Poland between 1948 and 1989); the remaining part of the collection was acquired in  1964 from the USSR. The archive material of the core of the collection is divided into three categories: letters (116 folders), notes (two folders), and  photographs (103 photos arranged thematically in 16 folders). The collection is complemented with a set of six folders still unregistered and containing materials dated 1915-1917. The documents presented here basically retain all the features of the original; very minor syntactic and punctuation amendments are not indicated while clarification glosses appear in square brackets. Explanations concerning events and persons mentioned and identified are provided in footnotes.

2. Source material

1. Wacław Sieroszewski’s letter to Bronisław Piłsudski dated May 18, 1903, Hakodate, concerning the course of preparations of the Hokkaido expedition.

 [original in manuscript]

Call number: AAN, Akta Bronisława Piłsudskiego, sygn. 74, s. 1-3


         Szanowny Panie!

Oczekuję Pana z pożądaniem już od dni kilku. Nic nie wiem: czy Pan odebrał moje listy i pieniądze? Wysłałem je co prawda dość późno, gdyż w drodze na pewno powstało przysłowie: chłop strzela a Pan Bóg kule nosi. Lecz przypuszczam, że choć pieniądze doszły [do] Pana, gdyż wysłałem je z Irkucka jeszcze w marcu. Na wypadek, gdyby pieniądze nie doszły i nie miał Pan na drogę, poproszę p[ana] Dembi, aby wydał panu potrzebną sumę. Przypuszczam, iż zgodzi się, gdyż mają w Banku moje pieniądze. Ponieważ środki nie pozwolą mi zostać na zimę, skróciłem mój pobyt do trzech miesięcy. W te trzy miesiące postaramy się zrobić, co można. Jako kwaterę główną naszego pobytu wybrałem [miejscowość] Piratori, stare ognisko życia Ajnosów. Stamtąd będziemy robili wycieczki – o ile się da – i tam będziemy zbierali kolekcję. Mam [jeden] aparat fotograficzny [o formacie negatywu] 9x12 i [drugi] mały [firmy] Kodak. Ale jeżeli Pan ma aparat większy lub lepszy, niech Pan go zabierze. Niech Pan zabierze fonograf i wszelkie przybory meteorologiczne, gdyż za wyjątkiem kiepskiego termometru i dwóch małych kompasów, przyrządów żadnych nie wziąłem. Usłuchałem rady sekretarza [Rosyjskiego] Tow[arzystwa] Geogr[aficznego], który upewnił mię, że wszelkie badania fizykogeograficzne są tu przez japończyków przeprowadzone. Zdaje się, że się omylił. Mam przybory antropometryczne i kinematograf. Ten ostatni nie działa i trzeba go będzie dopiero do tego zmusić, co wszystko już zrobimy na miejscu. Jeżeli Szan[owny] Pan zebrał trochę chrząszczy, to proszę zabrać ze sobą. Już zacząłem zbierać kolekcję dla [Piotra] Siemionowa i może Pan zgodzi się przyłączyć też swoje. Było by b[ardzo] dobrze, tym bardziej, że na północ nie pojedziemy, a prosił mię bardzo [P.] Siemionow o zebranie mu zbiorów na północy. Głównie niech Pan co rychlej przyjeżdża lub przynajmniej co rychlej odpowie. Przywiozłem Panu pewne wiadomości od rodziny i ukłony od [Tadeusza] Rechniewskiego. Do widzenia! Niech Pan się śpieszy. Z przyjemnością myślę o spotkaniu się z Nim. Serdecznie pozdrawiam raz jeszcze.
Wacław Sieroszewski

[Postscriptum:] Mieszkam w konsula [rosyjskiego]. Po przybyciu [parostatku] „Kotsumaru” wyjadę pewnie zara[z] do Piratori – razem z Panem lub bez niego – gdyby więc jaki[ś] wypadek nie pozwolił Panu wyjechać na tym parostatku, niech Pan niezwłocznie telegrafuje, gdyż list już mię nie zastanie. Bardzo dla mnie ważną jest rzeczą, abym mógł załatwić tu produkta i rzeczy potrzebne razem z Panem. Dlatego właśnie proszę o pośpiech. Do widzenia.
W[acław] S[ieroszewski]

Respected Mr. [Piłsudski] !

I have been impatiently waiting for you for several days already. I do not know anything: have you received my letters and money? I dispatched them, frankly, relatively late but it could be on the way as in the proverb: man proposes, God disposes. I presume, however, that at least the money reached you as I had sent them off from Irkutsk as early as March. In the case the money missed you and you do not have means for the journey, I shall ask Mr. Denbigh [7] to hand over to you the sum needed. I assume that he will agree because they have my money in their Bank. Since my financial resources will not allow me to winter, I decided to shorten my stay to three months. In the course of these three months we shall do our best to accomplish what is possible. I selected Piratori [8], an old concentration of the Ainu, as our headquarters. From there we shall make excursions – if it turns out to be possible – and we shall be completing our collections there. I have one still camera 9x12 and one smaller Kodak camera but if you have a bigger or better camera, please take it along. Please, take also the phonograph and all possible meteorological instruments because I did not take with me any such instruments apart from one thermometer of inferior quality and two small compasses. I followed the advice from the secretary of the Russian Geographical Society who had ensured me that the Japanese conducted there all observations and research pertaining to physical geography. It seems that he was mistaken. I have with me anthropometric instruments and a cinematograph but the latter does not work and we will have to force it to work and we will do it already at the destination. If you collected any beetles, please take them with you. I already started collecting them for Pyotr Semyonov [9] and perhaps you will agree to add also yours. It would be very good all the more that we will not go to the north and Syemyonov asked me very much to make a collection for him in the north. First-of-all, however, do your best to come as quickly as possible or at least quickly answer my letter. I brought with me some information from your family and regards from Tadeusz Rechniewski [10]. Goodbye and see you! Hurry up. I am thinking with pleasure about meeting you and reiterate my cordial greeting.

Wacław Sieroszewski

[Post-script:] I am staying with the Russian consul. After the arrival of S/S. Kotsumaru I will probably immediately go to Piratori, either with or without you, so if anything happens that would prevent you from boarding this steamship, please cable immediately as a letter will already miss me. It is important for me that we can together organize provisions and all necessary equipment here. Hence I beg you to hurry. Goodbye.


2. Wacław Sieroszewski’s letter to Bronisław Piłsudski undated, perhaps of June  1903, from Hakodate, concerning the course of preparations of the Hokkaido expedition and lifting Piłsudski’s spirits in the moment of breakdown caused by his long separation from Motherland.

[original in manuscript]

Call number: AAN, Akta Bronisława Piłsudskiego, sygn. 74, s. 4-11.

         Drogi Panie i Towarzyszu!

         Zgadzam się z pierwszym punktem tego coście napisali, ale stanowczo nie zgadzam się z drugim. Jest on rezultatem zrozumiałego znękania, lecz należy pamiętać, że znękanie mija, wspomnienie zaś postępku, przeciwko któremu protestuję. Wasz instynkt wewnętrzny będzie szło zawsze za Wami, jak przykry cień. Mówicie o sobie jako o inwalidzie – znane uczucie. I ono minie! Nie inwalidem jest Pan, co umie myśleć o innych i pracować. Myśl o pozostaniu na zawsze w Syberii musicie sobie wybić z głowy. Uprzedzam Was, że tylko w kraju będziecie się czuli znowu człowiekiem. Ojczyzna nasza nauczyła się przygarniać swe schorowane dzieci. Gdzie indziej zawsze czuć będziecie, zawsze Wam dadzą poczuć plamę Waszej przeszłości. Dla nas to nie plama, lecz cześć. W dodatku kto Was wykarmił i wychował, jeżeli nie polska kultura, to tem bardziej nie inna. Aby uniknąć wyzysku narodu przez naród musimy trzymać się praw historycznych. Przez lud swój dla ludzkości! Piszecie, że nie umiecie robić notatek po polsku, gdyż zapomnieliście języka. Będzie Wam trudno. Piszcie źle, potem się poprawi. Naukowe nazwy piszcie sobie polskimi literami. Wyślę Wam z kraju Tayllora [11], to się szybko obędziecie z polską terminologią. Uprzedzam Was, że wysłać książkę po rusku będzie równie trudno, jak po polsku. O wynagrodzeniu nie marzcie. Po wielu błaganiach i zachodach, po długim czekaniu dostaniecie 600-700 rub[li] za gruby tom. Taki los spotkał Barteniewa, [Lwa] Lewentala oraz innych... Nawet [Władimir] Bogoraz [-Tan] i [Władimir] Jochelson  nic nie dostali za swe prace... Po polsku obiecuję wystarać się o nakładcę i sam będę robił korektę. Tablice dla pomiarów antropometrycznych wraz z instrumentami wyślę Wam po powrocie z Piratori (we wrześniu). Ale jeżeli nie mierzyliście nigdy ludzi, to będziecie musieli albo sami tutaj przyjechać, albo ja do Was przyjadę, gdyż aby pomiary miały wartość i dopełniały się wzajem (moje i Pana) muszą być robione według tegoż systemu. Tablice moje i Pana zostaną następnie opracowane przez teoretyka-antropologa. Być może, sam się tem zajmę, jeżeli będę miał czas i następnie ogłoszone w rocznikach Akademii Krakowskiej z wyszczególnieniem źródeł i osób, które robiły pomiary. Nie uwierzy Pan, jak mi źle, że nie pracujemy razem. Jestem przekonany, że udało by się nam zebrać niezwykle ciekawe wiadomości o Ajnosach. Ale, ale, jeżeli Pan ma wałki z pieśniami i bajkami ajnoskimi, to niech Pan wszystkich nie oddaje do Akademii, gdzie będą czekały sądnego dnia. Część niech Pan prześle na moje ręce do Warszawy, albo tutaj i ja oddam do opracowania profesorowi [Iganacemu] Radlińskiemu , znanemu lingwiście. Niech Pan pamięta, że zapis na fonografie nic nie znaczy bez tekstu, że on jest jedynie sprawdzianem fonetycznym. Niech Pan zwróci szczególną, z łaski swej, uwagę na bajki o lisie i na wszelkie o lisie przesądy. To już proszę dla mnie, gdyż kult lisa bardzo mię interesuje. Rozumie się, że uszanuję własność pańską, jako zbieracza. Wolał bym nawet, aby wszystko co Pan zbierze ukazało się przedtem w książce, co mam nadzieję... będzie. Ale po polsku, po polsku... Koniecznie! Czyż Panu nie żal tej ojczyzny, którą wszyscy dziobią?! Pani Eugenia mówiła mi, że za 2 lata kończy się termin wygnania dla Pana. Niech mi Pan wszystko dokładnie opisze: kiedy pan był aresztowany, za co i jak skazany. Pewny jestem, że się uda przez [P.] Siemionowa wyrobić Panu powrót jeśli nie na Litwę, to do Warszawy. Tylko w kraju, tylko wśród swoich ucieknie ból, który Pana obecnie żre...! Znam go...! Niech Pan pamięta, że 15 lat spędziłem w Syberii, a 20 wśród obcych... Nie darowali mi ani jednego roku... Choć obdarzyli zaszczytami... Cały „pełniak” musiałem odbyć... Nie czuję się inwalidem a tym mniej Pan ma na to prawo. Umie i może Pan pracować, umie i chce pan współczuć – przedwcześnie mówić więc o śmierci ducha... Już niedługo! Męstwa...! Przyzwyczaił się Pan do otoczenia? Potrzebny Pan ludziom... Lecz i w kraju są tacy, którym pan potrzebny, będą cierpieli dowiedziawszy się, żeś się ich Pan wyrzekł... W żadnym razie zostać Pan na Sachalinie nie powinien i nie może... Chwila rozłąki i zerwania ciężka, ale zalecza się, tęsknota nigdy nie ustaje. Cierpiałem na nią nawet w Petersburgu w chwilach największego powodzenia i wśród doborowego, przyjaźnie usposobionego ku mnie towarzystwa... Powinien Pan sobie stanowczo raz na zawsze powiedzieć: wracam do kraju. A tymczasem skrzętnie zbierać wiadomości, notować (po polsku – złą polszczyzną, ale po polsku, to co Pan zapisał po rusku, niech zostanie, przy układaniu książki przetłumaczy się). Pokażę Panu moje notesy z Syberii... zobaczy Pan, że niewiele lepsze od Pańskich... Wieża Babel języków... Głównie aby duch ocalał zdrowo i czysto... Niech Pan te 150 rub[li] uważa za swoje, będzie Pan co mógł wysłać do mnie do Warszawy dobrze a nie – to nic. Aby ułatwić katalogowanie wysyłam Panu formę blankietu. Nie mogę przesłać gotowych, gdyż mam ich mało. Niech Pan każe napisać. To bardzo dogodna rzecz, takie blankiety – nie trzeba nic przepisywać. Stawi się numer na przedmiocie, zapisuje się nazwę obrazu na blankiet i uwagi... Blankiety wraz z rzeczami oddaje się do Muzeum. Ponieważ Pan nie przyjedzie, będę tu tylko do września, we wrześniu jadę do Chin południowych. Chciałbym odwiedzić brata i z Panem się zobaczyć, ale nie wiem czy się uda. Nie mam paszportu, jeno „popisy” z [Rosyjskiego] Towarzy[stwa] Geogr[aficznego] i Akademii [Krakowskiej], więc głupie władze Sachalińskie mogły by mi narobić przykrości. Zanim bym kwestię przez Petersburg wyjaśnił, dużo by upłynęło wody. Żal mi będzie odjeżdżać nie zobaczywszy się z Adamem. On równie jak Pan chory jest na lęk życia... Och, ten Sachalin! Ale, ale, mam kinematograf i też go Panu zostawię... Zrobi Pan zdjęcia niedźwiedziego festynu w ruchu... Czy dobrze? Niech Pan napisze...! Niech Pan nie gniewa się na ostry ton listu... Serce mię boli... Cierpię, za wszystkich was cierpię... Męstwa...! Męstwa...! Cierpliwość i czas – duże potęgi przed którymi nic się nie ostoi. Niech Pan sobie też wybije z głowy, że jest pan inwalidem. Adres [Benedykta] Dybowskiego: Австрия, Галиця, Львов, Университет, Професору Бенедикту Дыбовскому, na dole należy napisać adres po polsku. Do widzenia. Ściskam serdecznie! Zobaczymy się jeśli nie tu, to w Warszawie.
W[acław Sieroszewski]

[Postscriptum:] Niech Pan się niczym nie wiąże, to więzy z wygnania dopiero robią człowieka... inwelidem. Serdeczny przy[jaciel.]

[Postscriptum 2:] Papieru mam mało tego formatu, a dużo piszę, proszę wybaczyć, że piszę na skrawkach.

Dear Sir and Comrade !

I do agree with the first point of what you have written but I categorically oppose the second point. It understandably results from your depression but you have to remember that depression passes and I strongly object your brooding over your act [12]. You consider yourself an invalid – the feeling well-known. But it will fade ! You, who is able to think about others and who is able to work, you are not at all an invalid. You have to put the idea of staying in Siberia forever out of your head. I assure you that you will feel that you are again a human being only back in your country. Our Motherland has learnt to re-accept and offer protection to its sickly and suffering children. Anywhere else you will always feel, you will be forced to feel the stain on your past. For us it is not a stain but honor. Besides – who has brought you up and fed: if it was not the Polish culture, then surely none other. To avoid exploitation of one nation by another we have to stick to the laws of history. Through one’s own people to humanity !  You write that you cannot take notes in Polish because you have forgotten the language. It will be difficult for you. Write even incorrectly, it will be corrected later. Write scholarly terminology with Polish letters. I shall send you Tylor [13] from the motherland, so you will be able to get quickly acquainted with Polish terminology. I warn you that to send you the book in Russian will be as difficult as to send it in Polish. As for royalties, do not even dream about it. After many humble requests and endeavors, and after long waiting, you will get six to seven hundred rubles for a thick volume. Such was the lot of Bartenyev [14], Levental [15], and others. Even Bogoraz [16] and Iokhelson [17] received nothing for their works… I shall do my best to find a publisher for your works in Polish and shall do the proofreading myself. Immediately after return from Piratori (in September) I shall send you tables for anthropological measurements together with the instruments. If you, however, never took such measurements on people, it will be necessary that either you come here yourself or I will go to you – because for the results to be valuable and complement each the other (yours and mine) it is necessary that they are taken according to the same system. Then my and your tables will be elaborated by a theoretician-anthropologist. Perhaps I shall do it myself if I have time. Next, they will be published in the annals of the Cracow Academy with the indication of sources and persons who took the measurements. You won’t believe me how badly I feel that we are not working together. I am convinced that we would succeed in collecting extremely interesting facts about the Ainu. But, but – if you have cylinders with Ainu songs and fables [18], do not give them all to the Academy for there they will be waiting for the doomsday. Please, send a part of them onto my hands in Warsaw, or here, and I shall pass them for elaboration to professor Radliński [19], a renowned linguist. Please, remember that a phonographic record does not mean anything without the written text, that it serves only as data for phonetic checking. Please, pay particular attention to fables about the fox and to superstitions connected with the fox. This I am asking for myself because I am very much interested in the fox cult. It is obvious that I shall respect your ownership as the collector. I would even prefer that everything that you have collected appeared first in a book form – and I hope it will be so. But, in Polish, in Polish… Absolutely !  Don’t you sympathize with that motherland pecked to bits by everybody ?!  Mrs. Eugenia told me that your exile sentence ends in two years. Please, describe for me precisely: when were you arrested, what for and how were you sentenced. I am sure that I will succeed with the help of Semyonov [20] in obtaining for you permition to return, even if not to Lithuania, then at least to Warsaw. Only in our country, only among compatriots the pain will fade which now gnaws at your self. I know it…!  Remember that I spent fifteen years in Siberia, and twenty among aliens… They did not shorten my sentence even by one year… Although honored [21]… I had to serve the full sentence… I do not feel myself invalid and you are even less entitled to feel like that. You are able to and you can work, you are able to and you can feel sympathy – it is too early to speak about the spiritual death… Soon all this will end !  Be courageous…!  You’ve got accustomed to the surroundings ?  You are needed to the people… but in your motherland there are also people who need you, they will suffer learning that you renounced them… Under any circumstances you cannot and should not stay on Sakhalin… The moment of parting and leaving somebody behind forever is difficult but it will be cured while longing for what was left behind will stay – also forever. I suffered from this feeling even in Petersburg in moments of the greatest success and among select wonderful company very friendly disposed toward me...  You should firmly and irrevocably decide: I am going back to my country. And in the meantime assiduously accumulate data, write them down (in Polish – even in bad Polish, but in Polish; what has been already written in Russian let remain in Russian, it will be translated during the composition of the book). I will show you my notebooks from Siberia… you will see that they are not much better than yours… the Babel of languages…  It is important that the spirit remains healthy and clear…  Please, consider these 150 rubles as yours, it will be good if you can send me something to Warsaw – but it will be good also if you cannot send anything. To facilitate cataloging I am sending you a sketch of a specially designed form. I cannot send you the forms themselves as I do not have many of them with me. Please, have it copied as such forms are very convenient – you do not have to write again and again too much of the same information. You put a consecutive number on it, you write down the name of the object in question on it and remarks… Filled-in forms together with the objects are handed over to the Museum. Since I realize that you won’t come, I shall stay here till September and in September I am to go to southern China [22]. I would like to see my brother Adam and you on Sakhalin but I do not know if I’ll succeed. I do not possess any passport but only letters of reference from the Russian Geographical Society

and from the [Cracow ?] Academy so the ignorant Sakhalin authorities could cause me plenty of trouble and it would take much time to clear up my situation through Petersburg. I shall feel sorry to depart not seeing Adam [23] Similarly to you, he is also sick with the fear of life…  Ooh, this bloody Sakhalin !   But, hold on, I have a cinematograph with me and I shall also leave it for you… You will take moving pictures of the bear festival… Won’t it be good ?   Please, write to me !…  And, please, do not be angry with the emphatic tone of this letter… My heart is breaking… I am suffering, I suffer for the sake of you all… Have courage !…  Have courage !…  Patience and time – great powers none other withstands. And, please, hammer out of your head that you are an invalid. Dybowski’s address is as follows in Russian: Австрия, Галиця, Львов, Университет, Професору Бенедикту Дыбовскому [24], and below it you should write the address in Polish. Goodbye. I embrass you cordially !  If we cannot see each other here, then let it be in Warsaw.


[postscript:] Do not engage yourself into a permanent relationship with anybody, it is only such ties from exile which make a man… an invalid [25]. Cordially yours

[postscript 2:] There is a shortage of paper sheets of this size and I write a lot, hence please forgive me my writing to you on such scraps.

3. Facsimile

ARMON, Witold 1977. Polscy badacze kultury Jakutów [Polish research on the Yakuts]. Wrocław-Warszawa-Kraków-Gdańsk: Ossolineum.
ARMON¸ Witold 1981. „Piłsudski [...] Bronisław Piotr", Polski słownik biogrаficzny [Polish biographical dictionary], vol. 26, 305-308. Wrocław-Warszawa-Kraków-Gdańsk-Łódź Ossolineum.
CZACHOWSKI, Kazimierz 1947. Wacław Sieroszewski. Życie i twórczość. [W. Sieroszewski's biography literary output]. Łódź: Wydawnictwo „Poligrafika".
KEMPF, Zdzisław 1982. Orientalizm Wacława Sieroszewskiego. Wątki japońskie [W. Sieroszewski's Orientalism, Japanese motifs]. Warszawa-Wrocław: Państwowe Wydawnictwo Naukowe.
KUCZYŃSKI, Antoni 1993. Syberia. Czterysta lat polskiej diaspory [Four hundred years of the Polish diaspora in Siberia]. Wrocław-Warszawa-Kraków; Ossolineum.
KUCZYŃSKI, Antoni (ed.) 1998. Syberia w historii i kulturze narodu polskiego [Siberia in the history and culture of the Polish nation]. Wrocław: Silesia.
LAM, Andrzej 1997. „Sieroszewski, Wacław Kajetan". Polski Słownik Biograficzny [Polish biographical dictionary) vol. 37, 345-351. Wrocław-Warszawa-Kraków: Ossolineum.
MAJEWICZ, Alfred F. 2004. The Collected Works of Bronisław Piłsudski, Volume 3, Materials for the Study of the Ainu Language ond Folklore 2, reconstructed, translated, and edited by Alfred F. Majewicz with the assistance of Elżbieta Majewicz. Berlin-New York: Mouton de Gruyter.
MAŁGOWSKA, Hanna Maria 1973. Sieroszewski i Syberia [Sieroszewski and Siberia]. Toruń: Uniwersytet Mikołaja Kopernika.
SIEROSZWSKI, Wacław 1926. Wśród kosmatych ludzi [Among hairy people]. For English translation see Majewicz 2004:647-699.

Translated and edited by Alfred F. Majewicz

Adam Dąbrowski
Archiwum Akt Nowych

ul. Hankiewicza 1
02-103 Warszawa

[1] Issues related to the ties of Poles with Siberia has recently been treated in detail among others in  Kuczynski 1993 and Kuczynski 1998.

[2] On conditions of research activity among Polish exiles in Siberia see e.g. Armon 1977:58-69.

[3] On Sieroszewski’s literary output see e.g. Czachowski 1947, Małgowska 1973, Kempf 1983.

[4] Królestwo Polskie or Królestwo Kongresowe, Congress (Kingdom of) Poland established 1815 at the Congress in Vienna.

ARMON¸ Witold 1981. „Piłsudski [...] Bronisław Piotr", Polski Słownik Biograficzny [Polish biographical dictionary], t. XXXVII / 3, z. 154, Warszawa – Kraków 1997, s. 345-351.

[6] The expedition was later described in a belletristic form by Sieroszewski (1926, with numerous consecutive republications, in 1927, 1934, 1935, 1938, 1957, 1961; for an English translation see Majewicz 2004:647-699).

[7] Georg Phillips Denbigh, in Russian Гeopгий Филип(п)oвич Демби , a Scotsman, since 1876 a Russian subject, a Vladivostok merchant and co-owner of the Semyonov & Dembi maritime enterprises. The Company supported Bronisław Piłsudski’s research on Sakhalin.

[8] On the Saru river in the Hidaka region of Hokkaido.

[9] Pyotr Pyotrovich Semyonov-Tyan-Shanskiy (1827-1914), geographer, botanist, and entomologist, explorer of Central Asia, since 1873 Vice-President of the Russian Geographical Society of which Sieroszewski was a member, between  1864-1897 headed the Central Statistical Committee under the auspices of which the first population census took place.

[10] Tadeusz Rechniewski (1862-1916), activist in workers’ movements, one of the leaders of Polish groups of socialists in St.Petersburg; sionce 1882 member of the Central Committee of the party labeled Proletaryat I, a Siberian katorga convict in 1886-1890, since 1906 one of the leaders of the Polish Socialist Party – the Left (Polska Partia Socjalistyczna – Lewica).

[11]Correctly Tylor; cf note  13.

[12] I.e. involvement in the 1887 attempt at the life of Tsar Alexander the Third.

[13] Sir Edward Burnett Tylor (1832-1919), English anthropologist and ethnologist, professor at Oxford, leading representative of evolutionism in ethnography and studies of religions; the book in question presumably is the Polish 1896-1898 edition of his Primitive Culture 1871 as his 1881 Anthropology appeared in Polish first only in 1910.

[14] The only person that comes to mind is Pyotr Ivanovich Bartenyev (1829-1912), bibliographer and editor of the journal Pyccкий apxив.

[15] Lev Grigoryevich Levental (1856-1910), katorga convict, explorer of Yakutia and Yakut culture, participant in Sibiryakov expedition; his principal work on taxes and land among the Yakuts was published, however, posthumously, in 1929.

[16] Vladimir (Tan-) Bogoraz (1865-1936), exile to Siberia, ethnographer and researcher of Siberian languages and religions, participated in Sibiryakov and Jesup expeditions, author of fundamental works on the Chukchi And Asiatic Eskimos.

[17] Veniamin (~Vladimir) Ilyich Iokhelson (~Jochelson) (1855-1943), exile to Yakutia, ethnographer, participant in Sibiryakov, Jesup, and other expeditions, author of fundamental works concerning Yakutia and Yukaghirs, Koryaks and Aleuts and their languages. Since 1922 in the USA, working on his collections in the National Museum of Natural History in New York.

[18] Edison-system phonographic wax-cylinder records made by Piłsudski in 1902-1903 (cf. Majewicz 2004:575-645, also 504-517.

[19] Ignacy Radliński (1843-1920), specialist in religion, Oriental and Classical studies, author of several works on the Ainu (based on Benedykt Dybowski’s collections), a dictionary of the Ainu dialect of the northernmost Kuril islands included.

[20] Cf. note 9.

[21] Most probably Sieroszewski has in mind awards received for his works on the Yakuts from the Irkutsk Branch of the Russian Geographical Society in 1893 and from the Society headquarters in St.Petersburg in 1896. Sieroszewski’s extensive monograph on the Yakuts (Якуmы- onыm эmнoгpaфuчecкoгo uccлeдoвaнuя, vol. 1) published in 1896 in St.Petersburg was awarded the golden medal of the Russian Geographical Society and won for him the right to return to his Polish motherland. The book considered till today as the best work on the people was republished in modern orthography in Moscow in 1993 and its Yakut-language translation is in press.

[22] Sieroszewski did visit China prior to the Hokkaido Ainu expedition (he arrived in Japan from Port Arthur (today Lüshun) on Lioadong Penninsula) and having left Japan he went, via Korea, to China where he went upstream the Yangtze River (Changjiang) on November 23-27 to Hankou in Hubei Province where he stayed ten days. Later he write several stories and a novel based on this experience.

[23] Adam Sieroszewski (1862-1943) was Wacław’s first cousin; active in socialist movement, he was arrested in 1884 and sentenced to sixteen years of katorga on Sakhalin (he worked chiefly as a joiner and carpenter, but also as clerk). In 1895 he was permitted to settle in Aleksandrovsk on Sakhalin and in 1904 to move to the Amur region where he ran a timber mill together with other exiles. After his return to the motherland he remained politically inactive. According to wacław Sieroszewski’s own testimony he did manage to visit Sakhalin  - on board of a small Japanese fishing steamship he reached Post Aleksandrovskiy to meet his “brother” and “sister” (as he referred to them) serving their exile term there; the meeting has been described in Sieroszewski’s essay entitled “Sakhalin” (first published under the title “An excursion” (Wycieczka) in the Warsaw paper Prawda №№ 43-44/1903).  

[24] ‘Austria, Galicia, Lvov, University, to Professor Benedikt Dybovskiy’. Benedykt Dybowski (1833-1930) was a physician and noted zoologist, studied medical sciences at Dorpat, Breslau, and Berlin. Arrested for involvement in underground Polish independence movements in 1864 and sentenced to Siberian katorga, he was involved in the study of the fauna of Eastern Siberia, particularly the unique fauna of Lake Baikal. With the end of his sentence in 1877 he returned to his motherland only to accept the position of the superior (and only) physician in Kamchatka where he studied the local flora and fauna but also the culture and languages of the aboriginal population of the region: the Itelmens, Koryaks, and Kuril Ainu, but above all the Aleuts; he also collected anthropological material (bones and skulls) pertaining to the Ainu on Sakhalin; his linguistic collections and notes on the aboriginal culture was published by Ignacy Radliński (see note 19) and his anthropological material was investigated and measured by the anthropologist Izydor Kopernicki (1825-1891) and results of these studies published in two extensive works in Polish in 1882 and 1886.

[25] Sieroszewski was evidently unaware of the existence of Piłsudski’s Ainu wife and their son (at that time his Ainu wife Cuhsamma was pregnant with their daughter to be born in December 1903).