This website will contain as much information as possible regarding my family ….

my paternal ancestors, the Pio-Ulskis

as well as my maternal side, the Nozadzes










Since both sets of grandparents fled Russia during the Revolution, family research is very sketchy but I wanted to leave something
for my children and their children so that *IF* they wanted to, they could see where their maternal roots came from.



The journey starts HERE

Me with my big sister, Lindy, and my parents George and Lila (Click to enlarge)



I have started a Facebook Group called
«White Russian Émigrés From China»
for people  who are in my position – trying to find out more about their past.
If you’d like to join, please do!
  Would love to “meet” you and hear your stories 😀


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Home — 44 Comments

  1. Thanks for all your hard work. I was impressed by the entire effort, but especially your work on Russians in China. I’m slowly gathering data to write an article on White Russians serving in Chinese armies during the 1920s/30s, and would love to have met Lev. You really have set a high standard for historians/ genealogists to emulate. Sincerely, John Dunn

  2. John, I was really blown away by your comment! Thank you so much, and I hope you managed to get some leads for your article from the information I found 🙂

    Having virtually no solid information on either of my parents’ time in China, I’ve had to resort to scouring the internet. Thank God for Google Translate!

    I hope my information is correct – it’s difficult to sort the wheat from the chaff sometimes – but my main concern is to write as interesting a background of my family so that it would captivate my great/grandchildren’s imagination about life in those days rather than sound like a dreary list of their accomplishments 😀

    I would really appreciate it if you could let me know if & when your article is on the internet so that I can read it.

    Thanks again for your kind words.



  3. Hi Nova,

    My interest on war time Hong Kong (my home town) brought me here, and I found you family story to be amazing, in particular, your parents piano solo performance at the now Peninsula hotel.

    Your story reminds me of two books that I have read, the first one is written by a Russian Jews who followed very similar route to yours , the book mostly covered his family life in China between 192x to 1952 , from Harbin to Shanghai. They went thought the concentration camp life under Japanese rule, and also briefly lived under communist China, making it a unique account on Chinese history from a “foreigners” perspective. He moved to Australia in 1952 from Shanghai, and revisit the Chinese city in 199x , and found his dad’s working table still intact at a warehouse, which was once their family owns factory in Shanghai.

    The second book is written by a Shanghaiese , a few chapters covered his adventure with the Russian stationed in Shanghai, it was mostly based on a Russian cafe that he visited frequently in the 30s, where he found the Russian violist and the waitress background mysterious, until the girl agreed to take he to a wedding party held in the orthodox Church in Shanghai. Where he amazingly found many humble Russian people he met, were once Noble class and landowners in Tsar Russian, including the waitress.

    Both books are in Chinese , but I am quite sure the first one has to be written in English by the author . If you are interested, I can dig it up and see if I can find the title in English.

    Keep up the good work, it is your precious family history, Russian history, as well as an important part of the human history.


    John So

  4. Today only few Russian buildings left , along with Polish factory 100 years ago, telling the unusual past. — Evkeni.

  5. Hi John

    Thank you so much for your comment and I’m really sorry that it’s taken a while to reply but I had to go into hospital for an operation so my mind was not focused on my site! 🙁

    If it’s not too much trouble, I would be extremely interested to know the English title of that book. I find it so fascinating to learn about the past, even though my parents never wanted to talk about the war years. It’s important for me to make that time as interesting and as factual as possible for my grandchildren, and their future children, so that they have a good idea of what their ancestors went through during those years 🙂

    Thank you again so much for writing – I really appreciate it and I hope to hear back from you 🙂

    Kindest regards


  6. Thank you for your comment 🙂 I’ve never been to Harbin so I think it’s wonderful that you’re there!! I’m jealous 😀

  7. I’m looking forward to having a good read of this blog as my grand parents (Savitskys) when through a similar process – left Russia via Vladivostock (Grandfather was a midshipmen in the Imperial Navy), met my grandmother and married in Shanghai, and later moved to Hong Kong.

    They were naturalised as British so he was interned in Stanley Camp while Grandmother, my dad and uncle were evacuated to Australia.


  8. I should also add that my mum’s family also were in Harbin as well and came to Australia in the 1950s.


  9. The Russian Revolution ruined so many lives, didn’t it, and at that time there were upheavals in so many countries that it makes me wonderful how both sets of grandparents and how my mother and father got through those years! I think my folks thought they were safe in HK and then the Japanese invaded 🙁

    Thankfully my parents and sister survived and we ended up having a fabulous life in HK! My folks came down to Australia in 1974 and I joined them the following year. It was great to bring up a family here in Oz 😀

    David of Gwulo asked me if I knew your family but obviously if our folks knew each other pre-war, I wouldn’t have known.

    I’ve seen your grandfather’s pictures which he drew in Stanley – what a gifted artist! You must be very proud of him 🙂

  10. Thanks! I’m very proud of him. Though the paintings and drawings were only possible because of his mother in law. She remained Russian (grandparents became naturalised British) and lived in Kowloon while grand dad was in Stanley Camp. The Japanese commandant found out he was an artist and wanted his portrait drawn/painted so he sent some men to get grand dad’s art supplies from my great grand mother who was in Kowloon. Hence, why he was able to do so many drawings and paintings in Stanley.

    I’m also quite stoked at reading your blog – the similarities between what your family experienced and mine are quite amazing.

    I’ll ask Dad if he had any knowledge of your family. He was a boy in HK and was about 11 or 12 when he was evacuated to Brisbane.

    My grand dad also was in the HK Police Reserve and dad told me a few years ago that he also survived a Japanese bayonet rampage through one of the hospitals. He was lightly wounded by Japanese artillery during the fighting and was able to walk. All the bed ridden wounded were bayoneted by the Japanese and killed.

    The were tough times! I’m sure both sides of my family are glad to have moved to Australia.

  11. I am doing some research on 1920s-’30s Shanghai and ran across your very interesting website. I have heard of a place called St George’s Night Garden which was located on Rue Doumer. Would you happen to know if this is the same place where your George played piano? Thanks. Kate

  12. Hi Kate, thanks so much for writing 🙂

    Actually the only reference I found to St George’s was in a book called “Shanghai’s Dancing World: Cabaret Culture and Urban Politics, 1919-1954” by Andrew David Field and in it, St George’s Café was said to be on Bubbling Well Road. I assumed that was the same one where my father played but it might not have been. I haven’t come across anything about St George’s Night Garden on Rue Doumer, I’m afraid.

    I wish I’d asked my parents more about their lives in China but I wasn’t interested in their past when they were still living and now it’s too late 🙁


  13. Dear Nona,
    Thanks for sharing such an interesting family story worth to be a novel!
    My interest to White Russian Emigration and to Russians in China and Hong Kong brought me here and I couldn’t stop reading nevertheless it was over 2 am! 😉
    I am Russian born in Baku and living in Hong Kong for more than a decade. I was so amazed finding out that your grandmother grew up in Baku where my paternal ancestors lived! And it was so interesting to follow your ancestors path through Russia and China to Hong Kong!
    Thanks again for your effort!
    Kind regards,

  14. Thank you so much for your very kind words, Kira! I am so glad you enjoyed reading about my family 🙂
    How fabulous to hear that you come from Baku … I hope you’ll tell me if you found any mistakes on my page about that city!
    Are you on Facebook? If you are, I hope you’ll join my group …


    There are a few others there whose parents fled to Harbin then Shanghai so you might find it of interest. I also share articles I find while researching things about my parents’ time in Shanghai and other parts of China, as well as about Russia pre-Revolution 😀
    At the moment I’m just trying to finish off my page about Shanghai and once that’s done, I’ll start writing about our time in Hong Kong so I hope you keep an eye out for those when they’re ready. I think you’ll find that the HK you live in is completely different to the one I was in! It’s such a shame that so many historic buildings have been torn down, relocated or replaced, but I guess that’s what they call progress!
    Again, thanks so much for taking the time to write that comment. I really appreciated it 🙂

  15. Dear Nona

    My mother want to know about a Russian , he went to the hospital on operation in 1956 in Nenjiang County of Manchuria , later he went away from China . My mother was a nurse at that time, she want to know his later life and fate. More possible he went to Austrlia, Please . P.S .My email can’t be used now. i like your story very much.

  16. Hi John
    Thanks so much for writing.
    I wish I could help you with your query about the person your mother met but I’m afraid I don’t have any information about Russians in China during that time 🙁
    If I do happen to stumble across anything that might help you during my research I will add it to this comment 🙂
    I’m very glad you enjoyed my story – thank you for saying so 🙂
    Best wishes

  17. Dear Nona

    Thanks for your reply . If you do happen to stumble … it will be a wonder. He was a delegate of Russians who lived in Nenjiang county in 1956 , his home came here during 1918-1920 . My mother said he had a long-shaped face , very tall and beautiful , his mother very kind . Later my mother went to his home, but nobody was in. More possiblily to Australia, may be to South America.

    God bless you

  18. Dear Nona

    During your research, if you meet with any Russians who lived in Nenjiang during 1935-1956 and any Russians lived in Qiqihar city of Manchuria during 1945-1950 , please tell me here . Hope wonder happen . Hope everyday of your life full of happyness and glad !

    God bless you

  19. I will definitely post a comment for you here, John, if I do find something which I think I might help but it might take a long, long time, and I cannot promise I will have any success 🙂
    Best wishes

  20. Dear Nona

    Thanks for reply. I’ll wait for a long long time . My home ever lived in Qiqihar from 1945-1960 , in 1960 the Korea wars broke out , my uncles joined the army and went to Korea , at the same time , we returned Nenjiang . At that time my mohter worked at Army hospital as a nurse for the wounded from the front.

    God bless you

  21. Sorry , a wrong here “from 1945-1960” should be “from 1945-1950 , in 1950 the Korea wars broke out … “

  22. Hi John
    I’m not having much luck with finding out anything about the man your mother met but I did find this article entitled : How it lost 1.5 million. Russian diaspora in Harbin. The latter in 1954 was exiled to Kazakhstan


    The article is in Russian but I hope Google Translate will help you get the gist of the story 🙂
    And this is another good site to go through – hopefully it will lead you down to somewhere where you’ll find answers 😀


    I will put more information here as and when I find sites which might help you with your search 🙂

  23. Dear Nona

    Thanks for your reply and I’m very glad for it . You are right ,majority were exiled .

    Here a man in Manchuria , he was a surgeon in Tsar’ army . He lived on the hills by the Nenjiang river, lived a very hard life ,hunted and caught fish, no family with him. One time a child was hurt by oiling hot water, he cured him , no scars left , every men shocked by this former surgeon . It occured by 1945 , later he left there forever, nobody knows his fate. Maybe his heart broken . Here upstream are mountains, downstream are grasslands.In winter was very cold,some did business, some taught at school, some hunted in the mountains, roe deers ,fox, boar ,otter …

    I hope you have a nice day every day , gladness, happiness, healthy always be with you !

  24. All has gone, along with happiness and sadness, joys and tears … It disappeared like the wind, like the dream. However , He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more night.

    God bless you !

  25. Dear Nona,
    I am very impressed by the thorough documentation of your family and what a treasure trove you have shared with us.
    I am writing from Hong Kong and I was just in the Peninsula Hotel this Sunday afternoon. I am quite sure your dear father would have been much surprised by the number of mainland Chinese tourists in the coffee shop. Music was still played by a trio (piano/sax/bass), and I thought of Maestro Pio.
    Recently I have been working on a book about music in Hong Kong 1930-1960, and came across quite a number of references about the Peninsula/Repulse Bay band before the war, and your father’s name appeared quite a number of times. I would like to share with you to reciprocate what you have shared with us. It certainly belongs to you in a special way.
    God bless!

  26. Thank you so much for your lovely comment, Oliver 🙂
    I’m glad that you enjoyed what I shared about my father and his orchestra and if there is anything else I can help you with, please let me know!
    I also would be thrilled to see what you want to share with me – that is so kind of you 🙂
    Very best wishes

  27. Oliver, sorry but I forgot to mention … my father initiated the “George Parks Trophy” for the Hong Kong Schools Music and Speech Association and it was for school orchestra.
    I thought I had scans of this on file but I don’t 🙁 I will try and find the original documents and then post them here.
    If you want to email me anything, please send it to …


    I hope you understand why I posted my email in this fashion … I really don’t want to be swamped with spam 🙂
    All the best

  28. Dear Nona,

    A very good book that evokes the Russian emigre community in China between the wars is: https://www.amazon.com/Russian-Fascists-Tragedy-Farce-1925-1945/dp/0060140992

    I read many parts of it with your father when I was visiting in the late 80s and he confirmed it completely squared with his experiences in the 20s and 30s.

    The story of the Russian Fascists is of course more ominous in view of current political developments in Russia and around the world, but that’s another story.

    Best from Brussels,


  29. Many thanks for the heads up, Willem! Much appreciated 😀
    I’ve ordered the book and look forward to reading it.
    I have several books about the Revolution and the Imperial Family and found that I got so upset as I read them that I gave up before finishing the various books! Hope I won’t do that with your suggestion 😛
    ATM I’m reading “Wall Street and the Bolshevik Revolution” … am in hospital right now and I’ve noticed that when they take my BP while I’m reading that book, my BP is always too high as it makes me so ANGRY to know Wall Street caused all the horror and terror of those days >:(


    Hope all is well in your neck of the woods and that you all have a very Merry Christmas and best ever New Year 🙂

  30. Grew up in hk. When I was young during the early 60s I saw many White Russians resided at the Prince hotel near the kai tak airport.
    Then I really have no idea as why they hang around there whenever we passed by.
    Many yrs later living in Vancouver. I met some white Russian folks. Their name is similar Petrof ( not their real name ) they told me about her late Mom and parents’ horrible ordeal after the revolution. Peace on earth and God bless.

  31. Thanks so much for your comment, Will 🙂
    I must say I had no idea there were so many White Russians coming to HK during the ’60s and even early ’70s! I just remember so many of my parents’ friends leaving HK at the end of the 1950s!
    Awful history and I am so glad that the communists are no longer in charge of Russia!
    Take care 😀

  32. I think the internet is such an amazing thing because people who would not normally run into each other can and sometimes do. It may be that we had occasion to be “friends” at KV5 in the 50’s I was a student there too until 1958. Loved seeing your photos….so many things there when we were growing up are gone now, as is the lifestyle. Sundays after church my parents would meet other friends in the lobby of the Penninsula and we kids would sit at our own table nearby and drink rootbeer floats and eat curry puffs. A sweet memories.

  33. Lovely to hear from you, Katherine!
    Yes, the internet has certainly opened up the world and I’ve made new friends through meeting people here and also on Facebook 🙂
    I have a mountain of photos of HK still to put up here so please keep checking back! My father’s slides have not weathered time well so I’m trying to fix them before posting them and that takes a lot of time too!
    I only got to KGV in 1958 so unfortunately would not have met you there, but you might have known of my sister, Lindy? She would have gone there around 1950 and would have graduated in 1957.
    Again, thanks so much for your comment! It was lovely to hear from you 😀
    Kindest regards

  34. Hi Nona,

    Kudos to your grand efforts to creating this website! Not a Russian in any way or association unfortunately, but I’m quite sure I was one in my past life! 😏

    I’ve always been fascinated by anything Russian, and it was by pure chance that I’ve stumbled upon your website. I haven’t gone through all the contents yet, but I’m going to take my time here so I can savour every bit of it.

    Anyway, the main comment I wanted to leave was that the comment section here is as info rich as any other article, it might as well deserve its own page! That’s how much I enjoyed reading all your comments.

    Keep up the great work!

    Venus Park

  35. Oh my! Thank you SO much for your very kind comment, Venus!
    I hope you enjoy wandering through my site and reading about my relatives and my family! I am enormously proud of my parents and I wanted to leave my grandchildren an idea of what life was like in Hong Kong in its “golden years” 😀 It really has to be recorded as those days were so special and so incredible 😮
    With very best wishes

  36. Just stating the facts, is all Nona! Thank you for your very kind response – I was rather touched. Isn’t it funny how memories are so different and subjective to each person? Of course I’ve never lived in HK during your period but when I was growing up – the late 80s to late 90s – those were the the “golden years” for me. I look/think back with a pang of sadness now, seeing how much has changed, and find myself muttering or outright telling my friends about the “good ol’ days” and end up feeling like an old lady. 🤣 Ah, those carefree days shall never come back!

    Anyhow, please keep up with your great work! I’ll drop by from time to time to check out on new articles! 👍

    Kindest regards,

  37. So clever you are !
    My English is very very limited.
    The eldest brother of my grandma, a pilot , fought on the Leningrad front.
    In the dead lists no names of three brothers. I am satisefied at it.
    Thank you, dear Nona !

  38. My grandma had a half-brother, he went to the front and survived.
    her half-sister had three husbands ,died one by one in wars.Her stepmother’s son , died on the front in 1941.

  39. What a terrible toll for your grandmother 🙁 No one seems to learn from the past not to go to war!!!

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