Sainte-Geneviève-des-Bois Russian Cemetery
The Cimetière de Liers was created as the second communal cemetery on February 8, 1879. To house the burials of the White Russians some of the land was bought in 1927 by an English benefactress, Dorothy Paget, at the request of Princess Vera Meshchersky (who had set up a retirement home for Russian émigrés nearby, after a group of White émigrés had settled in the Château de la Cossonnerie in 1926). This part of the cemetery is since known as the Russian Cemetery.
In 1938-1939 Albert Benois designed the Dormition Church (Église de la Dormition-de-la-Mère-de-Dieu) which serves the cemetery. The church is regarded as an important historic monument and is built in the style of Novgorod Churches of the 15th and 16th century.
Since the 1960s, the municipal authorities have periodically attempted to close the cemetery, claiming that the grounds are needed for public services. There have been reports that some of the graves will be opened and the exhumed remains cremated. The cemetery is not officially considered a landmark and has no legal protection, although the French Ministry of Culture and Communication recognises the cemetery as an important historical monument (the most important necropolis of Russian emigrants in the world) and has an entry in the Base Mérimée.
As its future remains precarious, several notable Russians-including Ivan Ilyin and Ivan Shmelev-were exhumed and reburied in Moscow. The cemetery is closed to new burials. It was only after pressure from the central government that the burial of Rudolf Nureyev was sanctioned there. His tomb is covered with a mosaic decoration to represent a traditional kilim blanket.
In November 2000 Russian president Vladimir Putin visited the cemetery to pay homage to the fallen children of mother Russia. Sergei Sergevich Solomko, a notable Russian artist and book illustrator, is also buried in the old part of this cemetery (Grave No 7.) He originally painted for Faberge. Much of his work can still be found in postcards printed during the early part of the twentieth century.See Reference 9.
Many trees have been planted to create an authentic Russian feel to the cemetery. It is estimated that there are more than 5,000 graves. There is one mausoleum.
It is estimated that between 10,000 and 15,000 Russian emigrants or French people of Russian origin have been buried here. Among those are Nobel Prize winner Ivan Bunin (with his wife) and other authors including Andrei Amalrik, Gaito Gazdanov, Zinaida Gippius, Dmitry Merezhkovsky, Viktor Nekrasov, Aleksey Remizov, Ivan Shmelyov, Nadezhda Teffi and Boris Zaytsev; ballerina Olga Preobrajenska; chemist Aleksei Chichibabin ; composer Nikolai Tcherepnin; dancers Serge Lifar and Rudolf Nureyev; journalist Anton Kartashev; painters Konstantin Korovin, André Lanskoy, Serge Poliakoff, Konstantin Somov and Zinaida Serebriakova; philosophers Sergei Bulgakov and Nikolai Lossky; poets Georgy Ivanov and Alexander Galich ; politicians Vladimir Kokovtsov, Georgy Lvov and Petr Struve; sculptor Antoine Pevsner; filmmaker Andrei Tarkovsky; actresses Natalya Lisenko and Odile Versois; film actors Pierre Batcheff and Ivan Mozzhukhin; photographer Sergey Prokudin-Gorsky; theologian Vladimir Lossky; generals Abram Dragomirov, Alexander Kaulbars, Nicholas Lokhvitsky, Viktor Taranovsky and Zinovy Peshkov and aristocrats Grand Duke Andrei Vladimirovich of Russia and his wife Mathilde Kschessinska, Prince Gabriel Constantinovich of Russia, Prince Felix Yusupov and his wife Princess Irina of Russia, Princess Vera Meshchersky. Sergey Sergevich Solomko Artist & Book Illustrator; Selected others: Tatiana Botkina, Nikolai Kolomeitsev, Nikolai Pavlovich Sablin, Patrick Topaloff and Eugene Znosko-Borovsky.
There are memorials for Alexander Kutepov and for Russians who died in the War effort (among whom Princess Véra "Vicky" Obolensky (1911-1944), member of the OCM, daughter of Apollon Apollonovich Makarov and wife of Prince Nicolas Alexandrovich Obolensky).
There are military divisions (on the map indicated with CM, which is an abbreviation of carrés militaires) such as for the Alekseyev Division (a division of the White Army founded by Mikhail Alekseyev), the Drozdovsky Division (another division of the White Army founded by Mikhail Drozdovsky) and for the Don Cossacks.
There is also a section for the Cadet Corps.
Ivan Bunin's grave
The graves of White Émigres.
Rudolf Nureyev's grave
The division for the Don Cossacks
Cenotaph memorial for Alexander Kutepov
Vladimir Putin in the Memorial for fallen Russians
Église de la Dormition-de-la-Mère-de-Dieu
The cemetery is located on Rue Léo Lagrange in Sainte-Geneviève-des-Bois. There are two entrances both on Rue Léo Lagrange.
There is a bus station (Piscine) opposite the intersection with Rue Léo Lagrange leading to the cemetery. The nearest train stations are at Sainte-Geneviève-des-Bois and St. Michel-sur-Orge. But they are not very close.
- The history of la Cossonnerie in the Magazine Municipal Sainte-Geneviëve-des-Bois, No 239, 2007
- The cemetery on the Find a Grave website
- Archdiocese of Russian Orthodox Churches in Western Europe
- The church in the Base Mérimée
- (Russian)Article on the Pravoslavie website
- (French)Cimetière de Liers on the http://www.culture.gouv.fr website
- Article in Day, a Ukraïnian newspaper based in Kiev
- (French)The Putin visit in Le Parisien
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Sainte-Geneviève-des-Bois Russian Cemetery.|
9 ʌ Picture Postcard Monthly No 418 February 2014 Article: 'Russia's Romantic Artist' by Beryl Williams Pages 46-49
- (French) The cemetery at russie.net
- (French) The cemetery in the Base Mérimée
- Cimetière de Sainte Genevieve Des Bois at Find A Grave.
- Guide to finding Andrei Tarkovsky's grave at the cemetery
- Guide to finding Rudolf Nureyev's grave at the cemetery