• Patrick

A Russian colonel inherits 1954 the Glarus Alp Oberblegi



Many Glarus citizens moved to Russia around the middle of the 19th century. Among these was Johann Jakob Blumer (1749-1822) from Schwanden. Born in 1749, he lost his father, Fridolin Blumer (1715-1771) at an early age. He had been a farmer and had also been involved in so-called Welsch trade (Welschhandel), as the trade with foreigners mainly in Italy and France was called. However, he made bad business. For many people from Glarus, the Welsh trade proved to be a kind of lottery, because depending on the conditions that the traders found in Italy, sometimes the livestock prices were enormously high and thus earned the traders high profits, but other times they were so low that if they did not want to drive their livestock back to their homeland, they had to sell the animals in Italy for a much lower price than they had paid at home. In such a case, not only did they have to pay all the high transport costs themselves, but they also had to pay a part of the purchase price out of their own pockets. Through such unfortunate speculations, Johann Jakob Blumer's father had lost most of his fortune. After the early death of his father, Blumer had to support his mother energetically. Already as a 13-year-old boy Johann Jakob Blumer moved to Russia for the first time by joining merchants from Glarus who went to St. Petersburg. The main export product of Glarus, the sapsago cheese, was also Blumer's main article on this first expedition. He had also carried dried fruit. It is no longer known with what success he sold his goods on this first trading expedition, but in any case, Russia must have promised him. For when he returned from his first trading voyage to Russia and learned the blacksmith's trade at home, he was drawn back to Russia, where he initially worked for a porcelain dealer. But then he brought back from Glarus sapsago cheese and dry fruit and soon expanded his business to other products. His acquaintance with a ship's captain helped him to successfully launch a trade in canvas. His honesty earned him the trust of his customers and very soon he made a considerable fortune. After his marriage to the German Maria Margaretha Treisen (1782-1845), he bought a house in Moscow, which was destroyed by fire during the big fire of Moscow in September 1812, but was rebuilt all the more beautifully afterwards.


The fact that his ventures were highly successful is probably evidenced by his appointment to the Russian Council of Commerce (Kommerzienrat). As much as his ventures were fortunate and he found a second home in Russia, where he settled permanently (he died in Moscow in 1822), he has never forgotten his old home in Glarus. He gave his mother such generous support that she was able to buy one of the most beautiful houses in Schwanden. He also gave so much to his five sisters that each could buy her own house without interest. He brought his younger brother Kaspar (1754-1825) to Russia to support him in building up his own business. He did the same for his nephews, the sons of his sisters.


His generosity is also demonstrated by the establishment of the “Family Foundation Kommerzienrat J.H. Blumer”. For his family who remained in Glarus, he acquired the Oberblegi alp and the upper part of the Protestant parsonage in Schwanden. In his will of 1818, he bequeathed this property to his relatives living in Glarus, from which the Family Foundation was established. According to the foundation statutes, the income from the Oberblegi alp and the parsonage may be distributed to Blumer's relatives in Glarus as long as Johann Jakob Blumer's direct descendants do not become needy in Russia. It was precisely the latter that was the subject of a declaratory action in the 1950s. The Glarus civil court awarded the Alp Oberblegi to a great-grandson of Johann Jakob Blumer, who died in Moscow. This descendant was Nikolaus von Golubitzki, once a colonel in the tsarist army and deputy chief of the tsarist counter-espionage service. Golubitzki had already applied for the use of the alp in 1939. After more detailed investigations, the Supreme Court of the Canton of Glarus ruled that the tsarist colonel was a direct descendant of the testator. This finding was important because the Oberblegi alp was a legacy of Blumer to his sisters living in the Glarus region and the alp was administered by the descendants as a family foundation after their death. At the time of the finding, 36 family members were sharing in the surplus of the alp's income. The legacy from 1818, however, stipulated that only close relatives living in Glarus were entitled to use the annual income as long as no direct descendants from Russia became destitute due to force majeure and had to return to Switzerland.


After the outbreak of the Russian Revolution, Nikolaus von Golubitzki managed to flee to Poland, where he was estate manager, president of the local dairy association and a credit bank for small farmers from 1918 to 1938. After the outbreak of the Second World War Golubitzki reached Austria via Lithuania and East Prussia and from there finally reached Switzerland in 1951.


After the above-mentioned 1939 high court decision, Colonel Nikolaus von Golubitzki was ordered to take up residence in the canton of Glarus. However, the outbreak of the Second World War made it impossible for the refugee of the Russian Revolution to come to Switzerland. The Swiss authorities did not grant him the necessary entry permit. It was not until 1951, twelve years after the clear court decision in his favour, that Golubitzki arrived in Switzerland with the support of International Refugee Aid. Three more years passed before his identity was officially verified again. In 1954, a new court decision finally confirmed the great-grandson's right to usufruct and the former Russian colonel was finally granted his rights.


Niklaus von Golubitzki was the son of Sergei von Golubitzki and Maria Dowotschikoff, who in turn was the daughter of Vasiliev Dowotschikoff and Anna Blumer. Anna Blumer, born on 7.7.1813 in Moscow was the daughter and sole heir of Johann Jakob Blumer (1749-1822) and Maria Margaretha Theisen (1782-1845). Niklaus von Golubitzki had a daughter Marianna (1923-1983), who married Vladimir Penkov in 1950 and lived and died in Los Angeles, California.



Sources:

Magazin "Sie und Er", Nr. 52, 23.12.1954

Historisches Jahrbuch, 26, 90ff.


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