Dachas in the modern Russian Countryside


Pavel Danischewsky was the grandson of the original founders and the man who brought the soap company to England after leaving Berlin in the late 1930’s. During his life he witnessed many remarkable things. He was an inveterate story teller. I was lucky enough to hear a few and I remembered one the other day when the subject of ‘dacha’s came up. These were the summer houses that initially wealthy and subsequently ordinary Russians would have to escape from the city at the weekends in order to grow food and to breathe the country air.


The story is that while the family were escaping from Russia after losing their factory to the Bolsheviks, they spent some time in a dacha outside Moscow, before they could travel on to Berlin. Papa Danischewsky expressly forebade the young Pavel (who was a teenager at this time) from straying too far from the hideout as they were trying to keep a low profile.  In this time of uncertainty, many dachas lay empty or abandoned as their owners stayed away or had ‘disappeared’. Pavel, being adventurous, instantly started exploring these properties and seeing what he could find. It appears he found some quite useful stuff but how that made it’s way back into the household without his father getting wind of it, I’m not sure. Anyway, one of the items of contraband he uncovered was a stash of Turkish cigarettes, which obviously he started smoking, and probably contributed to his lifetime habit. He said he felt bad though, not because he was defying his father, but that he couldn’t offer him any, as his dad liked to smoke and was reduced to making his own homemade cigarettes using dried leaves and  cones of newspaper.

Just to put this era into context, one of the events Pavel witnessed was  a rally with speeches by Leon Trotsky and VI Lenin.
Photo of a Communist rally in winter in Moscow

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