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Inventorying Undisclosed Archives: The Italian Consulate in Jerusalem

Antonella Di Domenico*

The analysis of the holdings of the Italian consulate in Jerusalem collected in the Historical Archives of the Foreign Ministry in Rome is among the work pursued by Open Jerusalem in order to narrate an entangled history of citadinité – including the history of institutions, actors and practice, with a special attention devoted to unlocking archives – of a global city like Jerusalem from 1840 to 1940. immagine_post_deposito
These records haven’t been inventoried yet and they are currently not available to researchers. The holding consists of 200 files divided into 4 deposits: 1936 (concerning records from 1863 to 1925); 1974 (concerning records from 1878 to 1951); 1976 (this memorandum of deposit has been recently discovered); 1995 (concerning records from 1936 to 1977).
The holding is located in the Foreign Ministry Archives, ‘Archivio storico consolati’ section (F1, F2), covering 22 linear meters.
The history documented by these records begins in 1872, the year of the establishment of the Royal Italian Consulate in Jerusalem. This holding contributes important information not only about the activities and the institutional life of the Consulate itself but also of the complex dynamics between the Consulate and the city of Jerusalem, its inhabitants and structures.
In order to retrace the history of these archives and how they are now organized in the Archives, you cannot skip the figure of Count Quinto Mazzolini, emblematic politician of the Fascist period. Brother of the more well-known Diplomat Serafino, Quinto Mazzolini was Consul General of Jerusalem from 16 September 1936 to 20 June 1940. He was the first person to deposit the records of the Italian consulate in the Foreign Ministry Archives.
During his stay in Jerusalem, especially in the troubled years of the outbreak of the Second World War, Mazzolini actively worked to organise the papers of his office. He deposited the first part of the records in 1936, when he identified the records of what he called ‘the old archive’, depositing these records at the Foreign Ministry in Rome where they constituted the first part of the archives of the Italian consulate in Jerusalem. In 1940, after leaving Palestine, Mazzolini deposited other papers to the Foreign Ministry. Being forced to leave the Consulate for security reasons, he tried to keep at least a part of the records safe.
As attested by a cable dated 8 February 1951 with the object ‘L’archivio del Consolato in Gerusalemme trasferito a Roma‘ (The Consulate archive moved to Rome) the history of the records further became more complicated during the war. A part of the records were burnt, while another part was delivered to the Italian consulate of Spain that had assumed the protection of Italian interests in Palestine. Other records were moved to Rome. In 1945, Mazzolini probably sent the missing part of the records of the ‘Ufficio stralcio’ (the Removal Office, responsible for closing the work of a suppressed institution) to the Foreign Ministry Archives.

telespresso-1951
The records from 1872 to 1977 cover a wide spectrum of topics: educational institutions, cultural institutes, commercial, financial and political relations, issues of privileges and protectorates, protection of religious orders, conflicts among different rites. The subjects and the history of these records are of large interest for the scope of Open Jerusalem.
This new fond is rich of important sources for reconstructing the relations between Jerusalem’s inhabitants and the institutions at that time.
In order to inventory the records and make them accessible to scholars, Open Jerusalem and the Historical Archives of the Foreign Ministry (particularly thanks to Stefania Ruggeri) have established a partnership that has already led to some archival interventions: overview of the files; preliminary analysis of the holding; first arrangement and reallocation of the files, the reconstruction of a filing plan and the drafting of a list of deposits which is becoming more and more analytical as the archival work proceeds. These interventions will conclude with the publication of the inventory of the fond of the Italian consulate in Jerusalem in 2017 that will be published by Open Jerusalem and the Italian Foreign Ministry Historical Archives.

* An extended version of this article was presented by Stéphane Ancel, Antonella Di Domenico, Roberto Mazza and Maria Chiara Rioli at the French School in Rome in the workshop about “The Italian Consular services and the long Risorgimento” (September 29-30).

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Lucia Rostagno, La diplomazia italiana e il nazionalismo palestinese (1861-1939), Roma: Bardi, 1996

Nir Arielli, Fascist Italy and the Middle East, 193340, Basingstoke, UK: Palgrave Macmillan, 2010

Gianni Scipione Rossi, Serafino Mazzolini – Mussolini e il diplomatico. La vita e i diari di Serafino Mazzolini, un monarchico a Salò, Catanzaro: Rubbettino, 2005

Ambasciate, legazioni e consolati italiani all’estero del Ministero degli affari esteri, Rome: Tipografia riservata del Ministero degli affari esteri, 1950-1957

Antonella Di Domenico, Il fondo del Consolato generale di Gerusalemme nell’Archivio storico del Ministero degli affari esteri. Strutture originarie e versamenti, BA dissertation, University of Rome – La Sapienza, 2015

Antonella Di Domenico, Elenco del I versamento del fondo del Consolato Generale di Gerusalemme (1843 – 1925)

Jérusalem 1900 – New revised edition

L’histoire de Jérusalem à la fin de l’Empire ottoman a longtemps été oubliée et mérite d’être racontée. On y croise un maire arabe polyglotte, un député ottoman franc-maçon, des Juifs levantins, mais aussi des archéologues occidentaux occupés à creuser le sous-sol pour faire ressurgir les lieux saints de la « Jérusalem biblique »…

La ville n’a pas toujours été un champ de bataille. À l’orée du XXe siècle, une autre histoire s’est esquissée, portée par l’émergence d’une identité citadine partagée entre musulmans, juifs et chrétiens.

Alors que la ville sainte est aujourd’hui à un nouveau tournant de son histoire et que la question de son partage se pose une fois encore, il faut se souvenir de cet « âge des possibles » qui peut livrer quelques clés pour mieux comprendre le présent et envisager l’avenir.

VINCENT LEMIRE est maître de conférences à l’université Paris-Est Marne-la-Vallée. Spécialiste d’histoire urbaine, il dirige actuellement le projet européen Open-Jerusalem, qui vise à rassembler toute la documentation disponible dans toutes les langues sur l’histoire de Jérusalem.

See the book web page or buy it online

Digging Jerusalem History in Russia

by Yann Potin

Jerusalem is now become a central point of interest to France and Russia. It is no doubt the object of Russia to subjugate the primitive church of the countries.”
Letter from William Tanner Young, British Vice Consul in Jerusalem to Stratford Canning, ambassador of the United Kingdom in Constantinople, January 8, 1844.

image-de-saint-petersbourg

Since the early surveys, the question of the documentation of the Russian presence in Jerusalem from 1840 constitutes a major challenge for the Opening Jerusalem Archives project. The recently increased and strategic presence of Russia in the Middle East, the presence of the archives both inside Jerusalem and abroad, undoubtedly requires patient investigation, specially because the records are not immediately accessible. Guided by previous research conducted by Elena Astafieva, we decided to identify in the Russian archives some relevant fonds in order to explore the intimate relations between the Russian Orthodox Church, the Russian imperial patronage and the city of Jerusalem.


Between espionage and messianism: the Russian presence in Jerusalem


The pilgrimage to Jerusalem has been indeed of decisive importance for Russian Christianity since the 19
th century, when the mystical value of the pilgrimage as an element of messianic tendencies within the Russian Orthodoxy got more interest. The number of Russian pilgrims to Jerusalem each year is then at least five times as numerous as the Catholic or Protestant pilgrims from Western Europe. Historians have noted and underlined this feature, indicating what strategic role it played in the Eastern policy of the Tsarist Empire (see for example the recent book of Lorraine de Meaux, La Russie et la tentation de l’Orient, Paris, Fayard, 2010, pp. 278-291). Marking its presence in Jerusalem, was for the Empire of the Tsars a way to penetrate the heart of its biggest rival, the Ottoman Empire, which he continuously persisted on eroding the boundaries since the eighteenth century. While until 1917 the Tsars continued to claim their right on Constantinople, sending missionaries to Jerusalem constituted also a form of diplomatic espionage. In parallel, a latent conflict or competition between the Greeks and the Russians took place, following ancient divisions within Orthodox Christianity. That is the reason why it is necessary to investigate the Greek archives (in Jerusalem, Athens or Istanbul) in order to have a better understanding of the Russian presence in Jerusalem. This presence was constantly growing and that’s why, in the 1880s, outside the walls of the Old City, near the hospital Notre-Dame-de-France, a wide hospice, known since then as the “Russian Compound“, was built. It could simultaneously accommodate more than 1,000 patients and pilgrims. It became quickly the first core of a real Russian neighborhood, nowadays integrated in the old part of West Jerusalem, making it not only a pavement in the history of diplomacy, but also a matter of urban development. This complexity raises the question of the scattering of archives regarding the relations between Russia, the Russians and the city of Jerusalem. The situation became even more complicated after 1917 when the Soviet Union seemed to lose interest for the Russian presence in the ‘Holy Land’ and until the pots-1948 concession of the Russian compound to the state of Israel. The eventual location, preservation and the very presence of the Archives in the building are still to be verified. A major Russian emigration to Palestine, also after internal schisms within the Russian Orthodox church, has never stopped during the interwar period, increased by the growing issue of Russian Jews, which formed a decisive part of aliyot to Israel and particularly Jerusalem.

The Russian missionaries and their records

An initial investigation about the first Russian missionaries was prepared during a meeting with Elena Astafieva on March 17 in Paris. Elena Astafieva has already published about the Imperial Palestine Society founded in 1881. Therefore she contributed to identify many records and archives. The first prospecting mission in Saint Petersburg archives conducted by Angelos Dalachanis, Vincent Lemire and Yann Potin took place in April 2016 (18-21).

Image 0. On the Neva, the Old Building of the Russian Academy of Sciences, founded by Peter the Great © Yann Potin
Image 0. On the Neva, the Old Building of the Russian Academy of Science, founded by Peter the Great © Yann Potin
Image 1. Building of the National Archives in Saint Petersburg © Yann Potin
Image 1. Building of the National Archives in Saint Petersburg © Yann Potin
Image 2. Cover of the edition of the correspondence between Antonin Kapustin and the earl Ignatiev, Moscow, Indrik, 2014. © Yann Potin
Image 2. Cover of the edition of the correspondence between Antonin Kapustin and the earl Ignatiev, Moscow, Indrik, 2014. © Yann Potin

One of the cultural activities of the Company until 1917 consisted in publishing sources and archival documents about the early years of the “Russian presence” in Jerusalem, as Derek Hopwood names it (The Russian Presence in Syria and Palestine, 1843-1914, Oxford, 1969). Historiography retains indeed 1843 as a founding date: this date corresponds to the secret mission held between December 1843 and August 1844 by the Archimandrite Porphyry Uspenski in Jerusalem, followed by a second mission between 1847 and 1854. However, the Russian ecclesiastical Mission in Jerusalem was officially recognized only in 1858, after the Crimean War. In 1865, the arrival of Antonin Kapustin at the head of this Mission opened a long period of activity and sustainable investments, until the death of Kapustin in 1894 (see the article by Lucien J. Frary ). Elena Astafieva indicated several possible accesses to the dispersed fonds of Antonin Kapustin: the Academy of Sciences (see image 0) whose archives collect part of the fonds Dimitrievski (fond 214), former secretary of the Imperial Society; the Historical Archives (RGIA) (see image 1) that gather a relevant part of Kapustin’s diary, including several volumes that are to be edited by the publishing house Indrik (see image 2), and finally the Russian National Library.

Archival oasis: the Archive of the Academy of Sciences of Saint Petersburg

Science Academy archives have been the main place of investigation during this mission (see image 3 and 4). Apart for the fond 214 (Dimitrievski, former secretary of the Imperial Society), we analysed the richness of the archives of Porphyry Uspenski – Fond 118 – following the suggestion of the director of the Academy archives, Irini Tunkina (see image 5), who warmly welcomed us and offered the Open Jerusalem project a guide to these archives (see image 6).

Image 3. Entrance of the Archive of the Saint Petersburg Academy of Science. © Yann Potin
Image 3. Entrance of the Archive of the Saint Petersburg Academy of Science. © Yann Potin
Image 4. Reading room of the Archive of the Saint Petersburg Academy of Sciences. © Yann Potin
Image 4. Reading room of the Archive of the Saint Petersburg Academy of Sciences. © Yann Potin
Image 5. Staff and directory of the Archive of the Saint Petersburg Academy of Sciences. © Yann Potin
Image 5. Staff and directory of the Archive of the Saint Petersburg Academy of Sciences. © Yann Potin
Image 6. Inventory of the fonds of the Archive of the Saint Petersburg Academy of Sciences. © Yann Potin
Image 6. Inventory of the fonds of the Archive of the Saint Petersburg Academy of Sciences. © Yann Potin

The fond 214 contains some correspondence of Antonin Kapustin (see image 7) in 1865-1874. Most of the letters received were in Russian, but an important part of them are in Greek. Decrypted by Angelos Dalachanis (see image 8), they show a close and complex relationship with the Greek or Arab Orthodox communities. Several letters in French or Italian testify the extension of Kapustin relations with the local society. In total, this correspondence represents nearly 4000 pages. It requires a detailed analysis, and an inventory describing each document would not help us find our way. We should therefore find another way to give value to the historical richness of these records.

Image 7. Portrait of Antunin Kapustin © All rights reserved
Image 7. Portrait of Antunin Kapustin © All rights reserved
Image 8. Angelos Dalachanis and Yann Potin at work in the Archives of the Saint Petersburg Academy of Sciences
Image 8. Angelos Dalachanis and Yann Potin at work in the Archives of the Saint Petersburg Academy of Sciences

The fond 118 is very complete. It is described by a printed inventory from 1891, six years after the assassination of Uspenski in 1885 by Sirku (see image 10). Numerous papers have been published from this fond, starting with the diary, extremely rich, by Archimandrite Porphyry Uspenski (Knyga Bytia moevo, 8 volumes from 1894 to 1910 see image 11 and 12) or several original reports and memoirs (the first in 1844) especially one by Bezobrazov in 1910. However, many biographical material, including official documents relating to its mission, the passport or the original firman (inventory 1, No. 30-31) remained unpublished. Furthermore, the materials on the two missions of Jerusalem are grouped into five registers (inventory 1, No. 32-36), which represent almost one thousand pages.

Image 9. Printed inventory of The Uspenski Papers (Fond 118) in the the Archives of the Saint Petersburg Academy of Sciences © Vincent Lemire
Image 9. Printed inventory of The Uspenski Papers (Fond 118) in the the Archives of the Saint Petersburg Academy of Sciences © Vincent Lemire
Image 10. Portrait of Porphyr Uspenski. © All rights reserved
Image 10. Portrait of Porphyr Uspenski. © All rights reserved
Image 11. «Le livre de ma vie [knyga bytia moievo]», by Porphy Uspenski. © All rights reserved
Image 11. «Le livre de ma vie [knyga bytia moievo]», by Porphy Uspenski. © All rights reserved

There are many account (otchets), memories (zapiska), drafts minutes and accounts (tetrad) mostly unpublished, which at least deserve a new investigation. They document mostly the period 1848-1854, corresponding to the second mission of Uspensky funded up to 10,000 rubles a year by the Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs Charles Nesselrode. There are glimpses of the many “gifts” made to the Greek Patriarchate, the attempts to purchase or rent some buildings in Jerusalem (including a development plan), but also the episode of 1854 that shows Uspensky convincing the Greek Patriarchate Orthodox to establish an Arab printing press and the implementation of a seminary. These records require deep analysis, to distinguish what has already been published. Certainly this fond will be of considerable interest from the Open Jerusalem research program.

Image 12. Vincent Lemire and Yann Potin at work in the Archives of the Saint Petersburg Academy of Sciences
Image 12. Vincent Lemire and Yann Potin at work in the Archives of the Saint Petersburg Academy of Sciences

After this first survey in the Russian archives (see image 13), the team, guided by Lora Gerd, professor at the Historical Institute in Saint Petersburg, will continue the work in the archives of Moscow and Saint Petersburg. A second OJ mission is therefore organised from Sept. 11 to Sept. 16, 2016.