Poles as well as Russian subjects during several centuries "found themselves" in Siberia and the Baikal by well-known ways: for their freedom-loving activities for sovereignty of the homeland, in the 19th century tens, hundreds and thousands of them went to penal servitude and to exile. Many Poles were held in prisons since the period of the 1830's rebellion, and shared their fate with the Decembrists. Incidentally, the Decembrists were very sympathetic to the struggle of the Poles for their national independence in the uprising of 1830, and in Siberia they were supported both morally and physically. It is evidenced by the poem of L.Odojevsky "When the news of the Polish revolution came," written in the Trans-Baikal Petrovskaya jail in July 13th, 1831. Polish insurgents, in turn, had a rapturous attitude to the participants of the December uprising and honored the memory of its leaders. For participation in the Polish society which supported the Decembrists some of its members were exiled to Siberia in 1826 and 1827.
Exiled Polish insurgents, as well as the Decembrists, were delighted with the nature of the region, despite of the hardships of their own destiny. Thus, an exiled Polish artist L. Nemirovsky, who was already mentioned, drew a series of stunning landscapes of Lake Baikal.
One of the first voluminous narrations of harsh, but beautiful places was performed in Polish by Alexander Hiller that issued in 1867 the book "The description of the Trans-Baikal Region and Siberia." In the book a lot of attention is paid to Lake Baikal, which Beauty (in the author's opinion) attracted to it many talented people.
At the end of 1865 the number of Poles deported to Siberia, according to historian B. Girchenko, reached eighteen thousand. According to the testimony of a well-known revolutionary and scientist - a geographer P. Kropotkin, who was at that time with the expedition in our province, "in the only one Eastern Siberia were sent eleven thousand men and women, mostly students, artists, and former officers, landowners, and in particular, skilled artisans – the best representatives of the Warsaw proletariat. "
In the spring of 1866 the construction of the road around the lake was started, where more than seven hundred Poles convicted of the Warsaw uprising of 1863 served their penal servitude. That Circumbaikal "cartage" road, a way for carts and pedestrians, became another battlefield for the release from captivity for the former Polish insurgents.
On arrival to the place of work it was supposed to disarm the guards and then walk along the shore of Lake Baikal to Posolsk and then to Verkhneudinsk (at present, Ulan-Ude). In Verkhneudinsk, it was said, there were large stores of weapons and ammunition. Capturing them, it was possible to go to the release of prisoners in Nerchinsk mines. In case of failure they could go abroad.
During the first two weeks of the prisoners made thorough preparation for the uprising: they forged iron spearheads, dried up about 20 poods of crusts and made significant reserves of salt.
At the appointed time – 24th of June – the prisoners, located in Kultuk, disarmed an escort of seven soldiers. After that, seizing weapons, horses, wagons and supplies, the Kultuk party moved to the villages situated on the eastern shore of Lake Baikal – Murino and Mishikha, where was done the same as in Kultuk. On their way they were destroying telegraph lines and bridges. At the head of the rebels was Sharamovich.
When the authorities of Irkutsk learned about the rebels, from there in a big hurry a government team of 80 people was sent on the steamboat. The detachment landed in Posolsk ahead of the arrival of rebels here. After the first collision the insurgents, lost 30 killed and several people wounded, they scattered in forests. Some of them attempted to break out to the Mongolian border. But the Irkutsk authorities prudently closed the exits and the ways in which it was possible to get to the border. As a result, the rebels were surrounded on all sides and surrendered.
Lack of cohesion in the ranks of the insurgents, remoteness of area of action from the major settlements, the inconvenience to maneuver due to adverse geographical conditions, weakness of arms led to the defeat of the uprising.
The participants of the uprising were dealt shortly with. The four most prominent leaders – G. Sharamovich, N. Tselinsky, V. Katkovsky and J. Rayner – were publicly executed in Irkutsk. Others were sentenced to long terms of penal servitude and whip punishment.
Polish revolutionaries, Bronislaw Schwarze and Jozef Pilsudski, who were in the second half of the XX century in exile in Tunkinskaya Valley near Lake Baikal, were very upset by the tragedy of their fellows. In many of his poems, Schwartz raised the unforgettable episodes of movement in 1860 and its consequences. In the sonnet, dedicated to the heroes of the Circum-Baikal insurrection, he writes:
My wish is everybody to learn, that
in those faraway Baikal lands
A small and unarmed Polish army
Bravely went to die for its freedom.
Handful of prisoners with their shaved foreheads,
standing up against the stroke of fate,
spat the blood in the eyes of the tsar
to bring closer the dawn of freedom ...
But sacrifices of rebelled Poles and sufferings of their brethren were not in vain. Let’s appeal to P.A.Kropotkin’s evidence, who served at that time with his brother in Irkutsk: "I have often heard that the uprising was foolhardy, yet a handful of brave rebels achieved something. About the revolt became known abroad. Executions, cruelty of the two officers, which was disclosed in the trial, caused great excitement in Austria. The Austrian government intervened on behalf of the Galician, who took part in the revolution in 1863 and then were exiled to Siberia, and some of them were returned to their homeland. Generally speaking shortly after the rebellion of 1866 the state of all exiled Poles improved noticeably. And they were obliged to that rebellion, to those who took up arms, and to the five brave men who were shot in Irkutsk.
A great contribution to the study of Lake Baikal was brought by Benedict Dybovskiy, firstly an exile, then a Polish academician, a professor of Lviv University, a corresponding member of USSR Academy of Sciences, who died in 1930. B.I. Dybowski proved the groundlessness of previous opinions about the poverty of the Baikal fauna. It was he who had the honor of discovering the most remarkable features of the fauna of Lake Baikal. With V. Godlevsky he revealed the existence in the lake an extremely unique population and found out a diverse life of animals and fish in great depths. Convinced of the inexhaustible richness of the fauna, he believed that for its research it will require the work of many generations of scientists. Moreover, Dybovskiy fulfilled many other studies: on the results of measurements he made bathymetric map of the southern basin of Lake Baikal, described the main features of the temperature of the lake, explored the characteristics of ice cover the lake-sea, etc. Among the findings of the scientist, the scientific value still have the following ones:
a) fauna of Lake Baikal is mainly endemic;
b) saladas, rivers’ discharge space and other areas, which water masses are poorly mixed with the waters of the open part of Lake Baikal, have the animal world almost equal to the animal world of Pribaikal reservoirs;
c) interpenetration of forms of Baikal to Siberia water, and the Siberian to Baikal is slight;
d) the animals living in Lake Baikal are modified forms. Modification began in the Tertiary period, from the era when the water temperature in the northern seas matched the current water temperature of tropical waters. At that time, within Eurasia there were extensive basins both freshwater and brackish. There common forms lived whose remains are preserved today in Lake Baikal, the Caspian and Aral Seas, in some lakes in the Balkan and Scandinavian Peninsula, and others;
e) some similarities Baikal to marine species, can only be explained by the fact that their ancestors came into the lake from the sea,
After the exile from Siberia to Poland, B. Dybowski was soon longed again to the eastern regions. He conducted his research not only in the Baikal region, but also on the Amur River, Sea of Japan, in Kamchatka. Mentioning his love for these Siberian regions in the book "Kamchatka", he wrote: "There is no better place on the earth like Siberia. In our region, the very name of Siberia causes fear and is understood it as an open-air prison ... In fact, Siberia is a place that is a treasure trove for scientists. In Siberia, I saw the edge of life, health, awakening people to a strong and vibrant work. "
The name of the Polish scientist Ivan Dementievich Chersky repeatedly noted on the map of the Baikal shores. Near the mouth of the Angara, in Listvyanka there is a small hill with his name, on the north-west of the Baikal Ridge near Cape Kotelnikovsky towers the Chersky mountain, and on the south-east part of Hamar-Daban ridge rushes into the sky Chersky peak. Moreover, in various places of Baikal shore there are Chersky serifs, made by him in 1870 indicating the level of the surface of Lake Baikal (it should be added that at the Far North, where I. Chersky conducted further research is the Chersky range).
Two years of research conducted on Lake Baikal Chersky together with his friend, a professor of the Warsaw University Dybowski, which was awarded the Russian Geographical Society gold medal for the study of fauna of the lake. When the exiled professor had gone home, I. Chersky continued research of Lake Baikal, with his wife Mavra (incidentally, the daughter of the hostess of the house, a local laundress, in which he lived on the river Ushakovka in Irkutsk, and then she became not only a wife but an indispensable companion and assistant).
In 1876, they went to the north of Lake Baikal on a sailboat. During the trip they studied the different parameters of Baikal: measured its depth and height of the banks, climbed on the rocks, gathered collections, and defined geological age of rocks from the mouth of the Angara River to the delta of the Upper Angara. During the next two years Olkhon and the west coast of Lake Baikal were examined. In 1880, Ivan Dementievich completed the study of the shores of Lake Baikal, and it allowed him not only to describe the lake, but also to make a geological map, which was subsequently demonstrated at the International Congress of Geographers in Venice.
Representatives of the exiled Poles have left their mark not only in the scientific description of the lake, but in an artistic reflection of features of the harsh region. A well-known in Poland, an artist Jozef Berkman was sentenced to hard labor in Nerchinsk for participation in rebellion, 1863; in 1870 he settled in Irkutsk and along with Stanislaw Vronsky founded here the artistic workshop, which enjoyed the great popularity among the local residents. The artist has left to posterity a lot of pictures, telling of the tragic life of Poles, the exiles in Siberia. On one of these paintings “Mail of exiles on the Angara River” J. Berkman depicted the river during freezing, when it is not yet fully bound by the ice. Carried a dangerous journey through the turbulent river, three of them pull out of glade on the ice a little boat - dolblenka. Unwitting residents of the convicted region dressed in long fur coats and hats - fur caps. On the feet of one are felt boots, and the rest wear Buryat high fur boots. The harsh Siberian winter with the fierce frost, steaming angarsky fog creates an oppressive impression, emphasizing the awful conditions of exiles’ life.
In recent years, due to the coolness of relations between Russia and Poland, many historical facts of the humanistic and scientific interaction between Polish and Russian on the Siberian earth began to be forgotten or (especially in Poland) biased commented. But there is Chersky mountain peak and range on Lake Baikal, scientists remember the names of B. Dybowski, W. Godlewski and other Poles, and this store of knowledge, of course, will work for the understanding between peoples.
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