January 01, 2005

1905: The New Year's Blizzard

“Whiteness, whiteness across the land, to the furthest corners...”

This famous Boris Pasternak line immediately comes to mind when one thinks of the last days of 1904. At that time, all across Russia it was cold and snowing heavily. On the 20th of December, all the trains arriving at Moscow’s Kursk Station (trains from the South) and Kiev Station (from the Southwest) arrived a full day late; trains coming from the West, into Brest Station, were 15 hours late. At some places in the steppes of Belorussia, the trains simply stood still, unable to get through the snowdrifts.

The city of Zhitomir – far from the northernmost point in the Russian Empire – was completely cut off from the outside world by drifting snow. And then there was Vladivostok: it was not enough that the city was located on the edge of the theater of military operations in the Russo-Japanese War; it was also miserably cold. “It is not the Japanese who are killing us,” wrote a journalist from the Far East, “but the prices and the cold.”

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