Fascinating history.

My best friend in high school was related to Sergei Witte and his family still held him in high esteem.

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Here is another interesting anecdote I thought you might appreciate

Source: “Rasputin” by Douglas Smith

Chapter 11: Demons of the Silver Age

“The turn of the [20th] century was a period of intense spiritual searching in Russia [and elsewhere].


Emblematic of the age was the Religious-Philosophical Society founded by the writers Dmitry Merezhkovsky, Zinaida Gippius [Merezhkovsky‘s wife] and Dmitry Filospvoc in 1901 in St. Petersburg. They became known as the Bogioskateli – God-seekers. Merezhkovsky fashioned himself into a prophet and wanted to create a new religion based on the idea that the Second Coming of Christ was imminent and with it a new Third Testament.


“It was the age of Spiritualism, founded in Hydesville, New York in 1848 by the sisters Kate and Margaret Fox, that offered the possibility to communicate with the dead through the help of special “mediums”.

“Spiritualism swept across America, England (Queen Victoria and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle were believers), Germany and Russia, as people flocked to séances to try to make contact with their lost loved ones, their spirits manifesting themselves by rapping, spectral voices, automatic writing, and even ectoplasmic materialization.

So popular did these séances become that the Imperial University in St. Petersburg established the “Scientific Commission for the Study of Mediumistic Phenomena”, led by the chemist

[none other than …]

Dmitry Mendeleev, father of the periodic table.”

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