When debt is red with blood. 150 years since the birth of Savva Morozov

13:49 16.02.2012 • Armen Oganesyan , Editor-in-Chief, International Affairs

150 years ago, on the 3rd of February 1862, in the old style calendar, or 15th of February in the new calendar *Savva Timofeyevich Morozov was born in the Bogorosky district of Moscow.

 I always wondered how small Gorky’s characters, such as Clim Samgin and Bulychov stand next to a boulder such as Savva Morozov. But, would it not seem to be just as easy to draw from real life, especially for someone like Maxim Gorky, who knew Morozov very well. But such is the property of denunciation of socially charged literature from all times - the living image ruthlessly bent under the stilted idea. However, the truth of life always takes its toll, and often fails to sound the trumpet in triumphant hymn, but in evidence of bitter loss and devastation.

"T he factories and plants stand like monoliths.

All eras are as old ghosts; instead of being used they are closed.

They nailed up the signs "Real Estate", "Tourism".

Working people protest in the street, but the slogan is only "Stay strong!"

And striking will not help, those days are gone.

And someone gets rich, but for the majority, there is only misfortune. "

So, though not very fluently, an unknown modern poet, wrote about his hometown Orekhovo-Zuyevo, a former industrial barony of the Morozov family. By the end of the XIX century Orekhovo-Zuyevo ranked third in Russia in terms of industrial development. Morozov textile production successfully brushed aside English and other imports in the domestic Russian market. This incredibly rich industrialist became famous during his life for his charitable works and as a generous philanthropist. He built hospitals, kindergartens, parks and an open-air theater for the workers, built a new Moscow Arts Theatre and supported the creative endeavors of Konstantin Stanislavsky, and at the same time also significantly provided essential help to the revolutionary movement in Russia.

According to Sergei Witte, the industrialist fed the "revolution with his millions." Morozov hid the famous revolutionaries - Leonid Krasin and Nicholai Bauman. Bolshevik publications and the newspapers "Iskra", "Fight" and "New Life" were published at his expense. The well known actress from the Moscow Arts Theater, Maria Andreeva, due to her connection to the latter publication, became literally a “femme fatale" for Morozov. He was carried away by her, and it was she who introduced Savva to a circle of famous revolutionaries.

The leaders of the party, of course, were aware that the industrialist was caught in a honey trap. Andreeva’s party nickname was "Comrade Phenomenon" about whom Lenin used to say: "We need to persuade Maria Feodorovna Andreeva to take a more active role, and do more things than the heavy to move Alexei Maximovich (Maxim Gorky)."

However the passion Andreeva developed in Morozov did not become an ardent love for the Bolsheviks. Nor did he care for Lenin, about whom he said: "All of his writings can be entitled" The course of political scuffle "or" the philosophy and technique of fighting. "

For all his democratic tendencies, Savva Morozov still valued the title of merchant. After another argument with Maxim Gorky, Savva said with all his heart: "Why does he show himself barefoot, when all around are well aware that his grandfather was a wealthy merchant of the second guild and left a large family inheritance?"

Morozov sympathy towards the working class common people was deep and sincere. The Morozov protests in 1885 made a deep impression on the young Savva. The brutal system of fines for the smallest infraction, and permanent savings made in workers' wages caused such anger in the factory workers that the troops that arrived were not soon able to quell the rebellion.

The police immediately arrested the ringleaders, but the authorities demanded a detailed investigation, which quickly turned Sava’s father - Timofey Savich Morozov – from the victim to the accused. His father’s humiliation was etched for life in his son’s memory, which he later recalled as, "they look at him through binoculars as if in a circus. Shouting:" Monster, bloodsucker! "

Soon the son became the Head of the Morozov textile mills and did much for the health, welfare and education of the workers. At the World Exhibition in Paris in 1900, the Orekhovo-Zuyevo dwellings for workers were awarded a silver medal.

Besides taking care of the common man there was another feature that distinguished Savva from the nouveau riche. In his private life he was very modest, often wearing well worn clothes, but generously spent money on publishing and donations to the Red Cross, and hospitals for the mentally ill and the elderly.

He was a sensitive man, and it was not Andreeva that awakened in him a craving for the arts. On one occasion he called in at the Moscow Art Theater, during the play "Tsar Fyodor Ivanovich" by Alexei Tolstoy which was being staged at the time, and since then, he truly loved the theater, and he also gave the Moscow Art Theater financial assistance.

However alongside this he introduced his own requirements for the operation of the theater: it must be accessible, the administration should not raise ticket prices, and the productions should be of public interest.

Savva Morozov's death was very mysterious. It was preceded by at least one strange decision by Sava in arranging an insurance policy for a huge amount of money in the event of his death, and the recipient was anonymous.

On 13th of May 1905 in the old style calendar, or on 26th of May in the new one, in Morozov’s apartment in Cannes, a shot rang out. He lay with a bullet through the heart, eyes closed and hands folded on his stomach, and the doctor expressed doubt that in the case of suicide, the deceased could have done this without help.

Immediately after the shot, his wife Zinaida Morozova said she saw a man running away from their home. But most puzzling of all were the two notes found near the body. The first said: "The debt is paid - Krasin." The second note, written by hand, in Krasin’s style, requested on behalf of Savva that no one be blamed for his death. The anonymous recipient was the very same, Ms. Andreeva.

Shortly before the revolution in 1905 Morozov refused to replenish the coffers of the Bolsheviks. Leonid Krasin, as is known, was responsible for the replenishment of the party funds. He was a hardened criminal and robbed banks in the interests of the revolution.

Morozov not only hid him from the persecution of the authorities, but appointed him to lead the construction of power plants in Orekhovo-Zuyevo. The same Krasin "thanked" his benefactor, for expanding the protest movement in the Morozov factory.

This is an ominous lesson to those who flirt with revolution - when the debt was indeed red with blood.


* The difference between the calendars in the XX and XXI centuries, is 13 days, in the XIX century, it was 12 days, in the XVIII - 11 days. On March 1st, 2100 the difference between the old and the new style of calendar will reach 14 days.


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