— The Nozadzes in Shanghai ~ 1923-1945



Joseph was in Vladivostok in 1917 when he cabled Anya and told her to get out of Baku and join him immediately. What was he doing there?

You can see what a huge journey it would have been from Baku (A) to Vladivostok (B)!  😮

The journey Anya took from Baku to Vladivostok in 1917

The journey Anya took from Baku to Vladivostok in 1917

His first child, (my mother) Melitza, was born on the train heading to Vladivostok in February 1917 and his second child, Evgeniya, was born in Vladivostok in October 1922.

According to Lindy, Balia’s father organised for her to travel to Shanghai with the kids and probably with her step-sister, Lydia, and her step-mother, Maria, as well.

He also arranged for his son-in-law to leave Vladivostok by sea. Joseph was hiding in the captain’s cabin at the back of a cupboard, standing on a upturned bucket, as they were searching for (him?) illegal escapees.

However my nephew says he entered Tsingtao by ship in 1923 (was that where he was going when the ship was searched?) and then went to Harbin.

He thinks that Joseph worked as a steward on ships and that he was perhaps Chairman of the Russian Society of War Invalids in Shanghai.

When I checked, I found that the society was called «Union of Russian Military Invalids in Shanghai» (Союз Русских военных инвалидов в Шанхае) and the Chairman was a Colonel Yakovleff.

They produced a yearly magazine called «The Invalid’s Friend», which was edited by Lt Col L V Seyfullin, and I saw one from 1934 up for auction going for 8000 roubles (approx $A201.50 at the time of writing this in November 2014).

The cover of "The Invalid's Friend"

The cover of “The Invalid’s Friend”

The Nozadzes’ time in Shanghai was not easy. Joseph’s gambling habit was hurting his wife and kids.

I remember my mother telling me that there were weeks when they struggled to find money to pay for food but when Joseph won, he would come home with rickshaws filled with fruit, meat, wine and other treats – more than they needed!

Balia taught the piano and also started a catering business to supply the kiosks in the parks with food.

According to mom’s cousin, Sasha, Joseph really tried to make a go of various business ventures but they usually came to naught.

Finally he, together with Goga Chegogidze and A Kuzmin, partnered together to start up a restaurant serving Georgian and Russian food which they called «Alla Verdy».


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The word «Alaverdi» in Georgian is used during festive celebrations. The «Tamada» – the toastmaster – proposes a toast and he drains the wineglass or the horn then, as a token of respect, he passes Alaverdi to a member of the festive table, thus giving that person the right to continue the proposed toast. Every person who accepts Alaverdi adds something of his own to the toast.

The idea of Alaverdi implies friendship, confidence and cordiality.

Initially things went extremely well and the restaurant was a great success but unfortunately his partner wasn’t an honourable man and he did some dirty and crooked deals which involved surety on the restaurant so when they all fell apart, poor Joseph lost the lot.

I found an article about Alla Verdy in Shanghai written by Katya Knyazeva


Alla Verdy was a popular restaurant in the 1920s. The name comes from Caucasus and means “passing the toast to the next person.” I haven’t yet found the restaurant’s location. The restaurant was run by the Russian Armenian emigrant Enoch Sarkissian and the Georgian expatriate Joseph Nozadze (thanks to Nona for this update). Alla Verdy is mentioned in Mikhail Tscherbakoff’s short fiction story The European Man, published in 1926:

[the White Russian girl] Lola tried to hide her tension and shook her curls: “Not now, Marcel. Let’s go to Alla Verdy. It’s cozy there. I want to get drunk.”

[…]They saw two expensive cars already parked outside the small unkempt bulding occupied by the restaurant. The wasp-waisted host in a traditional Armenian long coat appeared from the smoke-filled entrance. His thin moustache seemed sketched on his face with a piece of charcoal.

The guests were taken to the best room. There was nothing there except a table, a wide bench covered with a thick Bukhara carpet hanging from the wall, and an old broken piano. But the memory of the maze of filthy streets leading to the place made this arrangement seem cozy.

Marcel ordered: “Bring Russian zakousski and champagne.” Lola added: “And please send your musician here.”

This bar, despite its shabbiness, somehow resembled old Petersburg – not its solemn palaces and embankments, but its small subterranean grill-bars. The cover of the tattered score book on the piano had a Russian family crest and a monogram.

AllahVerdiThere was a knock on the door, and the pianist walked in. He was unshaven and looked pathetic and consumptive. One of his dirty white socks has gathered at his ankle and was resting on his shoe. His jacket was too short and its gaping collar revealed the absence of a shirt. He exclaimed: “Bonjour, s’il vous plait!” bowed and dragged his foot.”

Sasha said he was never the same after that, he seemed to give up on life and that caused a lot of stress between him and Balia.

I’m sure that Balia missed her privileged life, just as Joseph did, but instead of letting the situation get to her, she just knuckled down and got on with doing what she had to do to look after the family.

Joseph, Balia and Jenny stayed in Shanghai when mom joined my father in Hong Kong in 1937/38 and so lived through the Japanese Occupation. On top of everything else my grandparents had to go through beforehand, it must have been a very stressful time.


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I have photos of mom with her father after Lindy was born, so they must have gone to Shanghai in late 1939 or perhaps even early 1940. It was his first grandchild and the only one he’d ever see 🙁

Sasha said that Dedushka died in 1945 but I don’t have any evidence to confirm that. Lindy told me that he died of sprue but again, nothing to corroborate this. I know that my parents organised for Balia and Jenny to come to Hong Kong in 1947.


The addresses that I have showing where the Nozadzes stayed at in Shanghai …

1934 – 2 Haskell Road(Named after Fred Haskell, a prominent American merchant. In 1889 the Eurasian School and a newly founded Children’s Home had been amalgamated as the Thomas Hanbury School and Children’s Home. Several of the major Hongs also maintained quarters and mess halls for their single male employees on Haskell Road. Part of the road extended out of the formal International Settlement.)
1936 – 157 Avenue Haig(This was originally called Siccawei Road but was changed to honour Field Marshal Haig during WWI. The road became known for some splendid homes of the wealthy as the rich migrated away from the ever more crowded Bubbling Well Road into the French Concession and out in the External Roads Area.)
1939 – 125/17 Route de Grouchy(Named in 1921 after a French resident of Shanghai, Jacques Adrien de Grouchy (1884-1916) who died at the Battle of the Somme in WWI. Agnes Smedley lived in an apartment on the road for some time while the famous Russian band leader, Oleg Lundstrem, lived at No 10 Columbia Apartments.)
1943 230 Route Vallon(Named after the pioneer French aviator, René Vallon, who made several successful flights over China, and the 1st flight to China. However unfortunately he crashed and was killed on the Race Course in May 1911. A monument to Vallon was erected in French Park. The St Andrew’s Russian Orthodox Church was located at 230. I can only assume the Church was helping to house them 🙁 )
1944 – 1136 Broadway(Forming the north foreshore road of Soochow Creek. The road was first laid out in the American Concession, though everything north of Soochow Creek was fairly wild. Broadway was initially a narrow path, on which it was possible to walk only when the tide was not too high. Broadway eventually became a concentration of impressive buildings including the Church of St Andrew (Missions to Seamen) at 171, the Head Post Office, and the General Hospital, amongst others. Broadway East was an extension and home to the Windsor Café at 1170-1174. Nearby was the Café Imperial at 1162-1164.)
[Source: The Old Shanghai A-Z by Paul French

Incredibly, I was recently (2017) contacted by Vera Moore, the granddaughter of Piotr Stefanovich Annenkov who told me that Joseph and Anya befriended her grandfather, Piotr, and that their friendship continued after Piotr left Shanghai for New Zealand.

Vera found many letters which her grandfather had kept and after his death, she had them translated. She wondered who Joseph Nozadze and Anna Akimovna were and when she Googled their names, she found me!! Talk about serendipity!

Vera very kindly sent me a scan of one of Joseph’s letters plus its translation, as well as a translation of another letter he’d written, which I am pleased to share here  😀

1927, Aug. 14 — Letter from Joseph to Peter Annenkoff

1927, Aug. 14 — Translation of Letter from Joseph to Peter Annenkoff

1928, Jan. 14 — Translation of Letter from Joseph to Peter Annenkoff




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The Nozadzes in Shanghai

Photos of Joseph and his family, and some people I would imagine were close friends, if not relatives, during their time in Shanghai, plus other photos of the city :)

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