“Russian Berlin” in the Memoirs of Cyril Arnstam
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Abstract: The main purpose of the article is a new coverage of the issues related to the reasons for the emigration of the creative intelligentsia to Germany in the early 1920s, the position of the Russian colony in Berlin, the preservation of national identity and adaptation processes. Despite a huge corpus of various kinds of texts by Russian emigrants of the first wave, which depict Berlin realities, the analysis of the memoirs of the youngest generation is not yet a well-studied topic. The value of the stories of children of emigrants lies in a different vision of German life, which throws new light on seemingly well-known phenomena. And therefore, in the center of the article are the late memoirs of Cyril Arnstam, a famous French graphic artist, about his childhood spent in the capital of Germany. The line of the illustrator’s personal fate, several times torn out of his familiar, native environment, and therefore involved in three different cultures at once, correlates with significant processes in Russian and European history. Arnstam, called “the last artist of the first wave of emigration”, arrived in Berlin in the early 1920s as a young child and spent more than ten years there. His arrival coincided with the time of the largest influx of Russian refugees to the German capital and the formation of the so-called “Russian Berlin” – a unique cultural and historical phenomenon. In the early 1930s, due to the rapid rise of the National Socialists, the stay in the German Empire became more and more dangerous, so the Arnstam family moved to Paris in 1933. The stay in Berlin bore fruit in the form of observing both the life of the German capital and the Russian creative intelligentsia living there. The artist’s memoirs, filled with details of the life of emigrants and remarks about the changing German realities, are distinguished by an unusual approach to the phenomenon of “Russian Berlin”. For such issues as the formation of a respectful attitude towards Russian culture and traditions among the youngest generation and the adaptation processes or meetings with Nazism are shown through the prism of children’s perception.
Key words: Cyril Arnstam; first wave of emigration; Russian Berlin; memoirs; childhood; foreign culture; preservation of national identity; adaptation processes.
Bielniak, N. (2020). “Russian Berlin” in the Memoirs of Cyril Arnstam. In Philological Class. 2020. Vol. 25 ⋅ №4. P. 34–42. DOI 10.26170/FK20-04-03.