White Russians in Shanghai

Dec 14, 2010
*Special to asia!

Fleeing from the Bolsheviks, thousands of White Russians made Old Shanghai their home away from home. Maria Maximova searches for remnants of the enclave.

A statue of the great Russian poet Alexander Pushkin which has been restored and placed in a small park in the middle of the former French concession is now a gathering spot for Russian literature fans. Russian soup, which, by the way, tastes nothing like Russian food, can be found in every local restaurant. Russian emigrés have had a huge influence on the history and culture of this port city, even though most of the modern Shanghainese don’t realise it.

In the 1930s and '40s, Shanghai, along with Paris, Berlin and Harbin made it into the history books as one of the centres of Russian emigration. That time is long gone, but there is one amazing book that keeps all the memories of those days. It’s called The Album of VD Zhiganov: Russians in Shanghai. It’s a virtual encyclopedia of the life of Russian emigrés. On more than 300 pages, it describes in detail the life of the Russian community, the school, churches, shops and the hotel. It includes over 1,600 photographs of “Russian Shanghainese.”


maria maximova

Maria Maximova was born in Russia, but spent her teen years in China earning a degree in Chinese literature and culture. Having decided that her educational background lacked business know-how, she moved back to Russia and studied marketing and finance, and then worked in Moscow for several years. An experienced expatriate, she lived in Taiwan from 2001 to 2006 and since then has been pursuing her passion as a researcher, freelance writer and translator, traveling between Russia and China.