David Meiselmann was the station superintendent on the Siberian tract. Alexander Meiselmann was the youngest of his nine children. He was four years old when his father died. Relatives living in Irkutsk took care of the boy. At the age of 7, Alexander entered the gymnasium, where he began to learn Japanese and Chinese languages: in the cities of Eastern Siberia and the Far East, they were part of the curriculum.
After graduating from high school, in 1918, Alexander entered the law faculty of Irkutsk University. In 1919, he was drafted into military service – he ended up in the ranks of the Russian army of Kolchak and managed to study at the courses of company paramedics. After the fall of the Kolchak regime and until September 1920, Alexander helped the wounded and sick soldiers as a “Lekpom”(paramedic) of the medical office of the Clinical Hospital in Irkutsk.
Demobilized, Meiselmann transferred to the eastern department of the university. In addition to studying oriental languages, Alexander was fond of poetry and participated in the literary society “Barca of Poets”.
After graduating from his studies in 1924, Alexander moved to Leningrad. Here he was appointed, but without a salary, as a scientific and technical employee of the Theater Department of the State Institute of Art History, and he earned his living by teaching literature and oriental theater history.
In 1929, Alexander decided to go on an adventure and was hired as a translator of the Japanese language for the fishing schooner of the State Trust “Kamchatka Joint Stock Company”. Alexander perfected conversational Japanese with Japanese sailors serving the fields, writing down all his observations in a notebook.
Based on the impressions of this trip, he published the book “Lam” in 1931. The book captivatingly describes not only the work of the fishery, the harsh nature and inhabitants of the region, but also episodes of the history of the Far East.
Alexander was enrolled in graduate school at the State Institute of Art History. In his recommendation, the famous Japanese scholar Professor Nikolai Konrad called Alexander the only specialist in the history and theory of theater in the Far East in the Soviet Union. Meiselmann's essays began to appear in the Leningrad press.
In 1935, Alexander was admitted to the Union of Soviet Writers and got a job as a teacher of theater history at the Academy of Arts. Meiselmann took up a collection of stories. The manuscript was handed over to Maxim Gorky and received a positive review. However, already in the printing house the set was scattered - the author was arrested.
On October 14, 1937, in the middle of the night, officers from the third (counterintelligence) department of the NKVD of the Leningrad Region came to the Meiselmann's apartment with a search.
On October 15, Professor Meiselmann was expelled from the All-Russian Academy of Arts “due to absenteeism”.
In the NKVD, Alexander was accused of being an agent of Japanese intelligence and was engaged in espionage and sabotage activities.
During interrogation on November 20, 1937, the KGB asked Meiselmann for details about his acquaintances with Japanese citizens. In 1925, Alexander accidentally met in the courtyard of the Chita cinema with the Japanese correspondent of the newspaper “Asahi” Muruyama. Muruyama was in the city on the instructions of the editorial office - he covered the flight made by the Japanese pilots on the Tokyo-Moscow route. The student, of course, needed practice, so he met with Muruyama for a language exchange for a month. The correspondent introduced Meiselmann to the pilots who made the flight and several Japanese industrialists who were traveling to Moscow on a business trip.
Soon, Alexander received an offer to become his secretary, but Muruyama was unexpectedly recalled back to Tokyo, and the plans were not destined to come true. Meiselmann maintained friendly relations with the Japanese for many years and subsequently met several times. The case also mentioned Meiselmann's acquaintance with the embassy employee Nakagawa, as well as the Japanese Ikeda and Nazaki who lived in Leningrad, and a trip with the geologist Kobayashi across the Caucasus as an interpreter.
He did not deny his acquaintance with the Japanese. But the scientist answered all the absurd accusations categorically: I am not a Japanese agent and have never been engaged in espionage. Having received no confessions, the investigation went the traditional way for 1937. Two other arrested “spies”, some Sokolov and Novik, testified against Meiselmann. Allegedly, he received from Sokolov secret drawings and diagrams of disguised gas storage facilities of the Red Army in the Leningrad region for transferring them to Japanese intelligence officers.
In January 1938, Alexander Meiselmann was convicted under Article 58-1a of the RSFSR Criminal Code for treason, on January 18 he was shot. Most likely, he was buried in the Levashovo Wasteland – a tract near the Levashovo railway station (now it is within the city limits of St. Petersburg).
The wife was informed that Alexander was imprisoned for 10 years without the right to correspond. Soon, Ekaterina Tenner-Meiselmann herself, as “the wife of the Motherland’s traitor”, was exiled to the Arkhangelsk region, to the village of Shangaly, 120 kilometers from the railway. Perhaps she could have avoided exile, but refused to admit her husband's guilt and disown him.
In 1956, relatives received a certificate that Alexander died in 1944 from toxic dysentery. The evidence that he was actually shot in 1938 was received by his relatives many years later.
And only in the 21st century, the family learned that Alexander was shot on the so-called “Harbin” list No. 15, that is, in connection with the “Harbin operation” of the Great Terror, which began after the sale of the Chinese Eastern Railway and the remigration of its former employees to the Soviet Union.
Yezhov's order No. 00593 was aimed at former employees of the Chinese Eastern Railway, re-emigrants from China, Chinese, Koreans, Uyghurs, Japanese, “Far Easterners”, employees of diplomatic missions of China, Korea and Manchukuo, as well as “former”. The lowered plan – 25,000 “Harbiners”, “settled on the railway transport and in the industry of the Union” – was at least doubled. The lists also included “Japanese spies” who had never been to Harbin, including A. D. Meiselmann.
Since the beginning of the new century, the poems of Alexander Meiselmann began to be reprinted, in 2020 a selection of them was published in the scientific journal “Plotology and Plotography”.
1900 – 1938