It is 1918 and Russia is in the last stages of World War II. On the 3rd of March of that year the newly formed Russian government, under the leadership of Lenin, signed a peace treaty with Germany called the Brest-Litovsk treaty, ending Russia’s involvement in the war.
For the first few months of 1918 – perhaps up until August of that year – my maternal grandparents, Paul and Olga Woronoff, were staying around Kharkiv, which is in Ukraine. Previously my grandfather had managed to escape from the clutches of the Bolsheviks when they raided the accommodation my grandparents were staying in in Evapatoria, in the Crimea. He made his way to a village in the surrounds of Kharkiv, where my grandmother, after many adventures, was able to eventually join him.
Above is the image of a gun license my grandfather obtained sometime in 1918. I cannot read the month. I think it was issued from a place not far from Kharkiv, but I have to admit that it is very difficult for me to try to read and translate this document. But I can make educated guesses from what I know of my grandparents’ lives at the time.
I know that in July 1918 my grandparents were still in Ukraine – they had been invited to stay with friends who lived in Sumy, north west of Kharkiv. I also know that by early autumn my grandfather had made the decision to join the Volunteer Army (known also as the White Army). So that would perhaps be September 1918? I wonder if that was the reason for my grandfather obtaining a gun license.
From a basic Google search, it appears the Bolsheviks cracked down on gun ownership from 1918. I have very little knowledge of Ukrainian history, but it seems that in January 1918 Ukraine declared its independence from Russia. The Ukrainian People’s Republic existed as an independent state until 1922 when the Bolsheviks forcibly took it over.
I wonder if my grandparents went to Kharkiv in 1918 because it was no longer part of Russia? Perhaps because they were in Ukraine it was easier for my grandfather to obtain the gun license? I have so many questions which will most likely never be answered.
It is interesting though that the gun license was one of the documents my grandparents kept, even while my grandfather fought with the Volunteer Army and even after their escape from Russia. It is just one of the documents I have inherited. Even if it was important for my grandfather to keep the license while in Russia, why was it considered important enough for my grandmother to bring it to Australia? Or was it simply one of those things which was packed because it was amongst other documents? I will never know.