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«People that have overcome several wars and participated in many bloody battles told me that no nightmare of the battle field could be compared to a terrific picture of endlessly leaving civilian population...»

V.I. Gurko, General of the Cavalry: description of the refugees moving
to the East together with a retreating Russian Army


100 years have passed from the beginning of the First World War which was especially tragic for the Russian Empire. This war was called the Great, the Sacred and the Second Patriotic War in Russia of those days. And it was Russia that played the decisive role in the victory of the Entente. During several years Russia was immobilizing the majority of the enemy force at the longest front line by inflicting a number of heavy defeats.

This war has brought numerous miseries: millions of killed and wounded, millions of imprisoned, mass desertion. As a result, «Russian state system collapsed, as well as all the benefits of evolution and military stability and hopes for a prosperous life» (А.I. Solgenitsyn).

But there is one more tragic page of that war: most probably, the least known – refugee movement of an unprecedented scale.

We wish to show a tragic fate of the citizens of the Russian Empire, most of them were forced to move to Nizhny Novgorod province from the Western provinces, such as the territories of the present Baltic countries, Poland, Republic of Belarus and Ukraine. People had to leave their native places, suffer privations during the road losing their family and friends to find themselves in a foreign place without documents, means of living, even sometimes without spare underwear. Absolute majority of them were entirely ruined, lost their property, fortune and a usual way of life.

According to official documentation, in December 1915 there were approximately 62 thous. of refugees in Nizhny Novgorod province. This data is probably not complete.

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About the problem.   This section specifies the process of arrival, registration and accommodation of the refugees. Assistance to refugees of state authorities, local government and national charity organizations representatives at the territory of Nizhny Novgorod province is also described.

Database.   Original and the most significant part of this site is the database of the refugees located at the territory of Nizhny Novgorod province.

The database contains personal data of migrated persons based on the documentation of Nizhny Novgorod Region State Archives. You can search a specific person in the database by a family name. As a result of the search, you will see the first name, patronymic name, family name, age at the moment of registration, place of birth and family members. For information about nationality, religion, social class and place of living in Nizhny Novgorod region, as well as information source, please contact site administration directly by sending a request from this site.

At present data on eight uyezds (districts) of the province is systemized and processed; information will be supplemented as per the work progress.

The evacuated.   In this part of the site you can find a list of industrial plants and governmental institutions evacuated from the territory of military actions to our province. Some plants and institutions have lists of employees and workers evacuated.

New environment.   Perhaps it may be interesting for you to get a general understanding of Nizhny Novgorod province before the First World War. There is a brief notice about settlements in our province: Nizhny Novgorod city, Gorodets rural settlement, Balahna town, Bogorodskoe rural settlement, Arzamas town and other settlements where the most significant number of refugees lived. The notice is illustrated with old photos courtesy of Nizhny Novgorod Audiovisual Documentation Archives.

Real life (petitions).   Here you can find copies of archival documents: petitions and complaints of the refugees reflecting their real life. The life of people deprived of everything, founded themselves “at the bottom” of society played a significant role in the development of the international tension having a resonance even now. Injustice and cruelty of measures in relation to the refugees contributed to the development of pro-Bolshevist frame of mind among them.

A.P. Shneider. «Help the refugees! The is help is urgent! Time is short!» Post card (between 1914 and 1917)

A.P. Shneider. «Help the refugees! The help is urgent! Time is short!» Post card (between 1914 and 1917)

Reevacuation.   The majority of the refugees left Nizhny Novgorod province as a result of reevacuation which lasted till 1922. However, a significant number of families remained at the territory of our province.

Perhaps visiting our site and studying the information in the database represented here you will find your family name.

Our site is for those who are interested in history: history of your land, history of the First World War.

We hope it will be useful for those who are trying to find his/her origins, restore the history of the family.

We are looking forward to cooperation with all individuals interested in the subject: we need your reminiscences,
documentary records and photos.

We would be glad to collaborate with volunteers.

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