The Education of a Russian Statesman: The Memoirs of Nicholas Karlovich Giers

The Education of a Russian Statesman: The Memoirs of Nicholas Karlovich Giers

The Education of a Russian Statesman: The Memoirs of Nicholas Karlovich Giers

The Education of a Russian Statesman: The Memoirs of Nicholas Karlovich Giers

Excerpt

The following pages present the unfinished memoirs of Nicholas Karlovich Giers, the Russian foreign minister from 1882 to 1895.

The work is divided into two parts, the first covering the author's childhood, his education in St. Petersburg, and his first appointment in the Asiatic Department of the Foreign Ministry, the second his experiences in Moldavia where he was sent in 1841 as second dragoman at the consulate in Jassy. These memoirs were written while Giers was minister in Stockholm from 1873 to 1875. When he was called back to St. Petersburg in 1875 to assume the more responsible position of assistant foreign minister and head of the Asiatic Department, he was unable to find time to complete this work.

The memoirs are published in their entirety with the exception of the first pages which contain a detailed chronology of the Giers family and the fate of its various members. Here Giers traces his ancestry back to a companion of Gustavus Adolphus, a colonel in the artillery who died in the Thirty Years' War. The first direct relative whom Giers can name, however, was a certain Lorenz Giers who likewise served in the Swedish army. One of his sons, also named Lorenz, was with Charles XII and was made prisoner at the battle of Poltava. His son, the third in the direct line with the name of Lorenz, was born in 1718 and migrated to Russia about 1750. His son, Karl Lavrent'evich Giers, served under the Polish king Stanislaus Poniatowski, then returned to Russia where he joined the Ministry of Finance, and became the director of the customs of the district of Grodno. He married a German, Sofia Ulf, and had five children. His second son, Karl Karlovich, the father of Nicholas Karlovich, in 1810 married Anna Petrovna Litke (Lütke) whose ancestors had come to Russia from Germany during the reign of Empress Elizabeth and who distinguished themselves in the Russian administration.

Giers's background was thus typical of that of the many families . . .

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