Sunday, October 27, 2013

Petaluma's Siberian connection explained

IAN FRAZIER'S excellent book, "TRAVELS IN SIBERIA," is full of surprises, and I was surprised to see a mention of PETALUMA, a Sonoma County, Calif., city of which I am closely familiar.
Frazier details a cross-country drive across the remote expanse of Sibera, and one of his stops is the eastern village of VOLOCHAEVKA.
Volochaevka served as the final battle site of the RUSSIAN CIVIL WAR and the last time the Soviets faced a credible, internal opposition to their rule.
The losing general was WHITE RUSSIAN leader VICTORIN MOLCHANOV.
Frazier relates Molchanov's exploits after losing the decisive battle:
"He withdrew into China, then sought asylum in the United States, and eventually wound up with other White Russian refugees in Petaluma, California, where he became a chicken farmer."
While the battle's victorious general, VASILY BLYUKHER, lost his life to a subsequent Stalin purge, Molchanov lived to the ripe old age of 87.
I have passed through Petaluma -- literally -- hundreds of times. Although I knew it as the egg capital of northern California, I had no idea of its connection to Russian civil strife.


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