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Wednesday 13 August 2014

Origins and Destinations 3: Ekaterinburg to France

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A week or so after the 1918 execution of ex-Tsar Nicholas and his family in the Ipatiev House, Ekaterinburg, that town was captured by the White armies of Admiral Kolchak. Investigations were opened into the fate of the Romanovs and the representatives of Allied intervention forces,especially the French, took an active interest in the enquiries led by the investigating judge Sokolov. The Whites held Ekaterinburg into the summer of 1919.

From the cover shown above, it can be seen that during the White period, France opened (or re-opened) a Vice-Consulate in Ekaterinburg. The ordinary letter is franked to 1 rouble and cancelled EKATERINBURG  21 6 19. It was routed to Kharbin (Manuscript endorsement on the front), by the Trans-Siberian for sure, and picked up a transit cancel there on 5 7 19 (see back of envelope). It was promptly passed on to the Imperial Japanese Post Office at Changchun where it picked up another transit cancel on 6 7 19 (see top right of front of cover). Japan at this time was another of the Intervention powers in Siberia. The cover would have travelled by sea (from Dairien?)  to reach Alais in the Gard in France on what looks like 19 8 19, a fairly rapid journey. The GARD cancel can be seen on the back of the cover on the consular seal. From there, it was re-directed to England.

When the Bolsheviks established their own postal services as they moved east through Siberia, those services routed mail westwards to Moscow and Petrograd. If a transit cancel shows the routing, then that is an easy way to tell if a place was under White or Red control at the time. Of course, the Bolsheviks were not able to offer any mail service to foreign destinations during 1919. Mail going abroad in 1919 is always White mail. 

1 comment:

  1. Interesting that the Kharbin transit mark on the back (dated 5 7 19) is clearly in New Style dating. The letter does seem to be overfranked - the correct rate was 70k, but perhaps the sender only had 50k stamps available.
    Mail from Ekaterinburg during the White occupation is very scarce! The further West, the scarcer the mail...