Victoria V. Romanova
Sechenov First Moscow State Medical University
On the basis of archival documents, the formation process and activities of the local branches of the Russian Red Cross Society (RRCS) in Manchuria are examined. The branches were created in the late 19th to early 20th centuries during a period when the Russian Empire, as well as other countries, pursued an expansionist policy toward China. The first organizations emerged in Port Arthur and Dalian after Russia received a lease on the Kwantung Peninsula in 1898. They were engaged in collecting funds, opening hospitals and organizing nursing societies. In connection with the beginning of the Boxer Rebellion in China, which Russia participated in suppressing, and the unpreparedness of the RRCS leadership to quickly expand its activities in this regard, the work of local organizations was very important. After the Russian-Japanese War and the resulting loss of Kwantung, they ceased to exist.
In this regard, the role of the Harbin branch grew. It was established in 1901 in this city which had become the center of the Chinese Eastern Railway (CER) under construction. Founded during the Boxer Rebellion, the Harbin branch of the RRCS was considered to be provisional by the society – it existed for about 20 years. For most of its history, it was headed by Camille Horvath, the wife of CER’s head, D.L. Horvath, and daughter of the famous Russian artist and architect A.N. Benois.
The local Red Cross organizations in Manchuria were quite active – both during the periods of military operations in which Russia participated and in peacetime. This can be explained, first of all, due to a sense of ethnic and religious solidarity among the Russian population living in a foreign civilization and cultural sphere. In addition, the financial means of the local Russian officials, military members, railway workers, and a large number of representatives of the business class was much higher than in European Russia.
Keywords: Russian Red Cross Society, local organizations, Manchuria, donations, nurse