Family Album

Sergei Witte’s family chronic from the Memoirs:


“I was one of five children, three boys and two girls. The eldest was Alexander (b. 1844). He studied at the Moscow Cadet Corps and spent almost all of his career with the Nizhegorodskii Dragoons, who still sing songs about the brave Major Witte, whose eyes radiated kindness.

My other brother, Boris (my elder by a year), did not distinguish himself. He graduated from the faculty of jurisprudence of Novorosiisk University and was chairman of the Odessa Superior Court at the time of his death.”


“My two sisters, Olga and Sophia, were younger than I. They were very close and lived most of their years together, in Odessa. Sophie the younger sister who contracted tuberculosis, stayed alive but was very ill. Olga, who nursed her, contracted the disease and died of it.”

Family relations:

“I was my grandfather’s favorite and Alexander my grandmother’s. The family treated me kindly but, on the whole, with indifference. Boris was my parents’ favorite and was more spoiled then the rest of us. Olga, too, was favored by my parents, being their first daughter after three sons. Sophia, although treated affectionately by everyone, was not spoiled.”

“I clearly remember a few events from my early childhood. I remember when I was a few months old and there was an epidemic in Tiflis my father took me in the arms and mounted his horse, on which we rode to a place outside the city. My mother and my sisters would laugh at me when I spoke of this recollection, saying that I could not possibly have remembered this incident, but my old wet nurse (...) thinks that I am not imagining it.” (Professor Sidney Harvace pp,4-7)

Wives and daughters:

The first marrage:

“Mme. Spiridonova, nee Ivanenko. She had married Spiridonov, the son of military doctor, when the two of them had been very young. She had a young daughter Sonia. She left her husband and came to Odessa where I met her. After my repeated pleadings, she sued her husband for divorce, to which he agreed, in return for a rather small sum of money. We were married at the Vladimir Church”. (Professor Sidney Harcave, pp. 52-53).

The second marriage:

“About a year after death of my first wife, while attending the theatre, a saw a lady who made a very powerful impression on me. After I became acquainted with the Lisaneviches and visited their home; I noticed that her husband treated her abominably and theirs was an unhappy marriage. I decided to persuade Mme. Lisanevich to divorce her husband and marry me. Given her husband’s behavior, a divorce would be easy to obtain. (...) I was married in the church of the Institute of Ways and Communications”. (Professor Sidney Harcave, pp.131-132)

Countess M.I. Witte in their residence on Kamenoostrovsii pr. St Petersburg

“My second wife had a baby daughter, Vera, whom I grew to love as my own. I adopted her, conferring on her all the rights of an only daughter. I raised her and had her with me until she married. Thus, she considers me as her father because she virtually did not know her own father” (Professor Sidney Harcave, pp. 132-133)

Elena Petrovna Blavatskaia (Madame Blavatsky)

“My cousin established a new Theosophical society in England. In order to provide the society with a firm (dogmatic) basis she went to India to study her secrets.(...) It was her stay in India that provided her with the theme for “In the Jungle of Hinduism”, which she obviously wrote to make money. By the time she returned from India she had already attracted followers for her teachings. She then settled down in Paris, as the leader of all Theosophists, but she did not have long to live. She died in 1891. Even after her death Theosophical belief continued to flourish in many parts of the world. Theosophical societies are to be found in many places. And not long ago, a Theosophical journal was established in Petersburg. (...) Blavatskaia serves as a proof, if proof is required that man is not an animal created out of matter. There can be no question that she possessed a soul that was independent of matter. The only question is what kind of a soul? If one accepts that view that life hereafter is divided among heaven, hell, and purgatory, then the question arises from which of these did this soul, which inhabited Blavatskaia during her earthly sojourn, come?” (Professor Sidney Harcave, p. 11)

“...I was mature enough to look at Blavatskaia with a critical eye to form an objective conception of this remarkable and, to a degree, demonical person (...) I was struck by the extraordinary facility with which she learned. Never having studied music, she taught herself to play the pianoforte and gave concerts, in Paris and London. Without having studied musical theory she became the conductor of the choir of Prince Milan of Serbia. Although she never seriously studied foreign languages, she was able to speak French, German, and other European languages as well as she could speak Russian (...) Never in my life have I seen such large, blue eyes as hers, they sparkled wondrously when she began to tell a tale, particularly if it were fantasy. (...) she exercised considerable influence over those who were inclined toward crude mysticism, toward the extraordinary; that is, over those who find life on this earth a burden and who, in seeking the meaning of life beyond the grave and begin unable to find a true understanding of it, are taken in by a false image of the after-life.” (Professor Sidney Harcave, p. 10)

“Belyj Dom” The White Hourse - residence of Count S.J. Witte

Count S.J. Witte at his residence

Count S.J. Witte at his residence

Inside the Count S.J. Witte’s residence

Inside the Count S.J. Witte’s residence