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An Account Of The November 1918 Visit By Czechoslovakia’s
Milan Rastislav Štefánik
by Lukáš Gajdoš

Slovak-born Milan Rastislav Štefánik (1880-1919) lived many lives
- as an astronomer, he was in charge of the Janssen Observatory on
Mont Blanc and participated in scientific expeditions to a number
of far-flung places including North Africa, Central Asia, Ecuador,
the Galapagos, and Tahiti. As an aviator and soldier, he fought with
the French Air Force and was responsible for the creation of the
Czecho-Slovak Legion. As a diplomat and leading member of the
Czecho-Slovak National Council, he was instrumental in winning
support among the Entente Powers, especially France, for the idea
of independent Czechoslovakia.1 As a politician, he was one of the
three co-founders of Czechoslovakia and became its first Minister of
War. It was in this capacity that following the outbreak of the Russian
Civil War, the involvement of Czecho-Slovak troops therein, and the
creation of Czechoslovakia on 28 October 1918, while en-route from
Japan to Siberia, Štefánik made a brief sojourn in China in November
This article explores Štefánik’s brief visit, drawing on a number
of sources from the Czechoslovak Foreign Ministry and military
archives, press, and various memoirs of first-hand witnesses to
provide a detailed account of his stay in Harbin and meetings with
Li Chia Ao (Li Jia’ao, 李家鏊, 1859-1926), the daoyin (道尹, often
translated as ‘intendant’) of the three north-eastern provinces and
Commissioner for Foreign Affairs for Harbin, who later became
Minister of the Embassy of the Republic of China in the Soviet Union.2
The historical significance of this meeting – the very first between a
high-ranking Czechoslovak and Chinese officials - has thus far largely
been overlooked and should be commemorated, especially in the year
of the 100th anniversary of Štefánik’s visit. The article concludes with
a brief overview of the aftermath of the visit, including the presence

Figure 1: Astronomer Štefánik (first right) during a scientific expedition in
Samarkand, 1907. Arnošt Bareš, Štefánikův memoriál (Štefánik’s Memorial)
(Praha: Památník odboje, 1929).

of Czechoslovak legionnaires, Czechoslovak Consulate, and the wider

Czechoslovak community in Harbin.

Many lives of milan rastislav štefánik and the run-up to the

china visit
Milan Rastislav Štefánik was born on 21 July 1880 in Košariská,
village in the then Austro-Hungarian Empire and present-day
western Slovakia. He attended primary school in his home village
and Šamorín and Lutheran high schools in Bratislava and Sopron,
graduating from yet another Lutheran school in Szarvas (the latter
two places are located in present-day Hungary). He abandoned his
studies of structural engineering at the Prague Polytechnical Institute
(in 1920 renamed to the Czech Technical University) after a mere two
years and started to pursue a degree in mathematics and astronomy at
the Charles University in Prague instead, obtaining his PhD in 1904.
Štefánik’s youth had a formative influence on the rest of his life –
his father was described as a ‘nationalist and Slavophil’ and while in
Prague, he attended lectures of Professor Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk,
who later became the first President of Czechoslovakia. Štefánik was
also active in the Slovak student society Detvan, which was then
headed by Vavro Šrobár, the future Czechoslovak Minister for Slovakia
and senator.
After graduation Štefánik moved to France, becoming an assistant

to the famous astronomer Jules Janssen, who discovered the solar
chromosphere and headed the prestigious Paris-Meudon Observatory.
In 1905, Štefánik conducted the first in a series of ascends of Mont Blanc
and an expedition in Spain. From 1905 to 1906, he served as the co-
director of the Mont Blanc observatory. He was subsequently awarded
the Prix Jules Janssen, the highest award of the Société Astronomique
de France. After Janssen’s death, Štefánik was relieved of his positions
but tasked by the French government to conduct astronomical and
meteorological observations in a wide variety of places, including
Turkistan (1906-1907 – while passing through Russia, he visited Leo
Tolstoy and his Slovak doctor Dušan Makovický), North Africa (1907,
1909 - Algeria, Morocco, Tunisia), the Pacific (1911 – Tahiti, Tonga,
Fiji, Australia, New Zealand), and South America (1912 – Panama,
Brazil, Ecuador, the Galapagos Islands). In 1912, Štefánik was granted
a French citizenship.
Following the outbreak of the First World War, Štefánik joined
the military aviation school in Pau, graduating as corporal and flying
as ensign MFS-54 planes for the 10th Army on the Western Front in
Artois. Given his scientific background, he was offered the position
of commander of the Air Force meteorological bureau. However, he
turned this down and asked for a transfer to the Serbian front instead,
which he joined in September
1915. Štefánik suffered from
lifelong ailments, which he
mentions in ‘The Ecuador
Diary’ that he kept during
one of his numerous scientific
expeditions, writing about
his ‘lost health’, i.e. stomach,
kidney, and liver pain.3
His chronic condition was
exacerbated while serving on
the Serbian front, especially
after the crash during the
evacuation of the Niš Airport.
Subsequently he became the
first-ever person in history Figure 2: Aviator Štefánik being decorated
with the Croix de Guerre, 1915. Arnošt Bareš,
to be ‘medi-vacked’ – this Štefánikův memoriál (Štefánik’s Memorial)
happened in November 1918, (Praha: Památník odboje, 1929).

Figure 3: Diplomat Štefánik (centre) in Washington, D.C., 1917. Arnošt Bareš,
Štefánikův memoriál (Štefánik’s Memorial)
(Praha: Památník odboje, 1929).
when he was evacuated by air by the French pilot Louis Paulhan (they
flew over 200 km through the ravine of the Beli Drim Valley, which is
only 200 metres wide) and Štefánik was then transported to Rome to
Štefánik began gradually taking advantage of his good connections
in the top echelons of the French society for diplomatic work, in
which he became fully immersed after his return from Serbia. He
met Edvard Beneš, who later became Prime Minister (and eventually
President) of Czechoslovakia, in December 1915, offering his services
and connections to the Czecho-Slovak cause (which was then in
its infancy). Using his connections, especially with Claire Boas de
Jouvenel, Štefánik was received by Aristide Briand, the Prime Minister
of France, who just over two months later, on 3 February 1916,
received Štefánik along with Masaryk. Masaryk, using the rhetoric of
self-determination, proposed the division of the Austro-Hungarian
Empire along national lines. Conseil national des Pays Tchèques (later
renamed to the Czecho-Slovak National Council) was created ten days
later, with Masaryk as its chair and Štefánik and Beneš as his deputies.5
Štefánik undertook further diplomatic missions to Italy, Russia, and
Romania with the goal of gaining support for the formation of the
Czecho-Slovak Legion – an armed force comprised of Czech and

Slovak prisoners of war and volunteers from the ranks of Czech and
Slovak migrants in the US. It was during his mission to Russia in August
1916 that Štefánik first met French General Maurice Janin, who was
at that time posted to the Russian Central Command. Janin described
Štefánik as ‘short, slim, with a very thin, shaven face with blue eyes,
bald head, short hair on the sides. He looks intelligent, passionate,
and nervous. His French is lightly accented. Even though he talks in a
slightly roundabout manner, he is always exact and precise.’6 It was a
successful meeting, as Janin ‘promised to wholeheartedly support the
Czecho-Slovak cause.’7 The two were to meet again.

First Czecho-Slovak units were formed in Russia in late 1916 and

early 1917, with the Czecho-Slovak Shooting Brigade earning much
respect during the Battle of Zborov in July 1917. Štefánik himself sailed
to the United States on 2 June 1917, promoting the Czecho-Slovak
cause and raising 3,000 volunteers to join the Legion on the Western
Front (with President Wilson’s approval) and was given the rank of
general in the French Army on 20 June 1917. Two entire divisions with
approximately 40,000 men were created in Russia in October 1917 and
the ‘Decree on the Creation of the Czecho-Slovak Army in France’
was signed by French President Raymond Poincaré on 19 December
1917.8 The Army answered to the Czecho-Slovak National Council
and from February 1918, headed by General Janin as its commander
and Štefánik as his deputy, who had by this time also been promoted
to the rank of general. Following successful diplomatic missions, the
Army was recognised by Entente powers, in France as part of the
Armée’s divisions, but in Italy as fully sovereign and autonomous. This
major diplomatic triumph had been proposed by Štefánik during his
first meeting with Italian Prime Minister Vittorio Emanuele Orlando
on 6 March 1918 and concluded several weeks later on 21 April 1918.
Military colours were presented to Czecho-Slovak troops in front of
the Altare della Patria in the centre of Rome on 24 May 1918.9
Events took an even more dramatic turn after the Russian
Revolution in November 1917 – Czecho-Slovak troops on the
Eastern Front became redundant once the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk
was concluded. The newly established Bolshevik regime demanded
that they hand in their heavy weapons and sizeable part of their
light weapons and become ‘travelling civilians.’ 10 This was accepted
by the Russian Branch of the Czecho-Slovak National Council in the

Figure 4: Armoured train of the Czecho-Slovak Legion, 1918. The Czechoslovak
Review, v. 3, no. 1, p. 14.
Penza Agreement, penned on 26 March 1918 (on the Soviet side by
Joseph Stalin). Their evacuation started one day later and was to be
carried out in 63 trains with 40 carriages each. Their progress towards
Vladivostok was, however, slow and tensions became more and more
frequent. The Chelyabinsk Incident of 14 May 1918 was the inevitable
spark – a group of Hungarian prisoners of war injured a Czecho-
Slovak legionnaire and the perpetrators were lynched. The local
Soviet reacted by arresting 10 legionnaires and was in turn attacked
by Czecho-Slovaks, who took over 2,800 rifles and several pieces of
artillery from the Red Guards. Lev Trotsky’s command to disarm the
Legion and the Red Guards’ unsuccessful attempts to enforce it turned
scuffles into open confrontation. A successful Czecho-Slovak offensive
resulted in the capture of the Tsarist gold reserves in Kazan in early
August and the Trans-Siberian railway in its entirety by the end of the
month. Czecho-Slovak troops effectively controlled the vicinity of the
railway from the right bank of river Volga to the shores of the Pacific
Ocean in Vladivostok. Their leaders were Bohdan Pavlů, Stanislav
Čeček, and Radola Gajda.11
It was within this context that Štefánik and Janin hurried to
Siberia. They had arrived in New York on 2 September 1918, meeting
Masaryk in Washington, D.C. on 6 September, leaving San Francisco
on 24 September aboard the Korea Maru and arriving to Yokohama
(after a brief stopover in Honolulu) on 12 October. The choice of

Figure 5: Štefánik (sitting, third left) and Janin (sitting, third right) in Japan shortly
before leaving for China and Siberia, 1918. Dušan Kováč, Štefánik a Janin – príbeh
priateľstva (Štefánik and Janin – Story of Friendship)
(Bratislava: Dilema, 2001), p. 122.
this destination was no coincidence, as Japanese Ambassador in
Paris Kenshiro Matsui wrote to his superiors, ‘following agreement
with the French government, he [Štefánik] is to travel to our Empire
to coordinate Japanese and Czechoslovak armies in Russia.’12 On
15 October, General Štefánik was received by the Japanese Deputy
Foreign Minister Kijūrō Shidehara, who later became Japan’s second
post-World War II Prime Minister. One day later, he was received by
Prime Minister Hara Takashi, and on 5 November by Emperor Taishō.
It should be noted that Czechoslovakia was established on 28 October
1918 and Štefánik was named its Minister of War.13 His debilitating
bouts of stomach pain made his stay in Japan much longer than
planned but still enjoyable. As General Janin wrote in his memoirs,
‘the friendly welcome [he received] in Japan and the days he spent
there seemed to him – and also to me – like a clear stretch of sky
amidst dark days.’14 The party boarded Taichu Maru in Moji and
left for Vladivostok on 13 November, where it disembarked on 16

Štefánik in harbin
Štefánik left Vladivostok for Harbin in the late hours of 18 November,
accompanied by Bohdan Pavlů, by now the Plenipotentiary of the
Czechoslovak Republic to Russia based in Omsk, and French military

Figure 6: Some of the characters described in the article, including General Syrový,
General Janin, and Plenipotentiary Pavlů. The Czechoslovak Review, v. 3, no. 2, p. 368.
escort. General Janin, the commander of the Czechoslovak Legion,
was due to follow one day later, but was forced to stay in Vladivostok
in the aftermath of Admiral Kolchak’s coup d’etat, which took place
in Omsk on the day of Štefánik’s departure from Vladivostok. Styling
himself ‘Supreme Ruler of Russia’, Kolchak demanded that the
commander of Czechoslovak forces in the Urals, General Jan Syrový,
gave commands in the name of Kolchak to Russian soldiers that were
in the Czechoslovak ranks. The acceptance of this demand would be
tantamount to breaking the order of Czechoslovak President Masaryk
of not intervening in Russian domestic affairs, and Janin had to stay
behind to deal with this delicate situation.15
Štefánik arrived to Harbin on 20 November 1918 at 8:00 am. He
was greeted at the local train station by a guard of honour of the
Harbin-based Czechoslovak Fifth Infantry Regiment, but ignored by
the local Russian officials, who left as soon as they learned that Štefánik
was not accompanied by Janin. This behaviour did not go unnoticed
by Czechoslovak officers and Štefánik himself.16 It is also important to
note that Štefánik was not the first high-ranking Czechoslovak to pass
through Harbin – Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk, arrived on 1 April 1918
while en-route to the USA for a meeting with President Woodrow
Wilson.17 The then head of the Czecho-Slovak National Council did
not, however, disembark from his railway carriage. Still, while on the
railway tracks in Harbin, he received Ferdinand Erml, Czech founder
of the local brewery, thus honouring his active support of the Czecho-
Slovak cause.18
General Štefánik then proceeded to the local telegraph office,
where he received a message from General Janin, informing him about
Kolchak’s demands and sending him the following draft of orders for

General Syrový, ‘As far as any interference in [Russian domestic] politics
is concerned, reply that President Masaryk ordered to refrain from any
such acts. The only persons these matters can be referred to are myself
and especially General Štefánik, the local political representative of
the [Czechoslovak] national government.’19 Štefánik failed to send
a message to General Syrový, whose telegraph connection was cut
by forces of Ataman Semenov, but his friendly demeanour towards
Czechoslovak rank and file made a favourable impression on Russian
employees of the telegraph bureau.20 In the afternoon, he paid a visit
to the French vice-consul M. Lépice21 and Japanese General Takeuchi
and at 4:00 pm approved Janin’s draft orders, which he received
earlier in the day.22 His evening automobile ride to Pristan (Russian
for quay), Harbin’s commercial district and most densely populated
area, and the subsequent telegraph exchange with Janin were both
cut short by Štefánik’s notoriously poor health.23 Štefánik insisted on
leaving Harbin at the earliest possible convenience, while Janin argued
that he stayed put, recovered and that they maintained telegraphic
connection in order to deal with the Kolchak crisis. This exchange was
cut abruptly – an unnamed third person concluded the conversation
by noting, ‘the General has left, he is having another seizure.’24
Štefánik’s health improved overnight and in the morning he paid
a visit to Li Chia Ao (Li Jia’ao, 李家鏊, 1859-1926), the daoyin (道尹,
often translated as ‘intendant’) 25 of the three north-eastern provinces
(東三省) of Heilongjiang, Kirin, and Mukden and concurrently
Commissioner for Foreign Affairs for Harbin and Director of the
Bureau of Foreign Affairs of the Kirin Railway.26
Intendant Li’s life was no less interesting than that of his counterpart
General Štefánik Born in Shanghai shortly before the end of the rule
of Xianfeng Emperor, Li received classical Confucian education and
went on to work in the famous Chiangnan (Jiangnan) Arsenal (江南
機器製造總局). The Arsenal which was established by Zeng Guofan,
the famous anti-Taiping general and the late-Qing era reformist
Li Hongzhang, was directly linked with the Self-Strengthening
Movement of the late nineteenth century.27 Young Li Chia Ao was
‘highly esteemed by his superiors for his activities in the reform of
the administration’ and in 1886, sent to study at a Russian military
high school in St Petersburg. After graduating, he joined the Chinese
Legation as attaché, spent a grand total of ten years in Russia (both in
St Petersburg and Vladivostok) and undertook an adventurous voyage

back to China, which lasted 109
days and which took him (by
carriage and by boat, as the Trans-
Siberian Railway had yet to be
constructed) through Western
and Eastern Siberia as well as
Russo-Chinese borderlands.
He published his ‘Memoirs on
the Travel in Siberia’ in two
volumes, reportedly impressing Li
Hongzhang himself and leading
Li Chia Ao to further promotions.
He was put in charge of Tianjin’s
foreign affairs, made the daoyin
Figure 7: Li Chia Ao, General Štefánik’s
Chinese counter-part. John Benjamin
of Binjiang, and then became the
Powell, Who’s Who in China (Shanghai: Commissioner for Foreign Affairs
The China Weekly Review, 1925), p. 452. for Harbin and Director of the

Bureau of Foreign Affairs of the Kirin Railway. He was twice decorated

by Emperor Nicolas II (the Second Class Order of Stanislaus and
the Order of St. Ann), retired due to health reasons (but continued
working as a businessman in the gold mining industry) and returned
to public administration in 1918.28

Given Li Chia Ao’s background, we may presume that the actual

meeting was conducted in Russian – one author claims that he ‘was
famous for his fluent Russian.’29 The only surviving account of the
meeting by the Czechoslovak side was recorded by František Kubka:

The conversation with Chinese general [daoyin] was of

political-diplomatic kind. It mainly concerned the deep
reservations of the Chinese side with certain blunders
by Major-General Gajda and Lieutenant Kadlec (at the
beginning of October). Štefánik used gentle diplomacy
to soften the stubbornness of the Chinese side. When
the conversation changed to private talk, Štefánik greatly
surprised well-educated general [daoyin] Li Chia Ao by
his ability to count in Mandarin and by his knowledge of
the Chinese zodiac. It was a magnificent sight – suddenly
one astronomer sat next to another one and the difference

of races and opinions disappeared. The Chinese general
[daoyin] was so impressed with the Czech[oslovak]
general’s knowledge of astronomy that he commemorated
the occasion by gifting him his photograph – a friendly
gesture that was reciprocated by Štefánik.30

Ivana Bakešová, a leading Czech sinologist, argued that Štefánik’s

attitude was deeply pragmatic – ‘differing from most of our soldiers
and politicians, Štefánik did not overlook the fact that Harbin
was despite its Russian feel, a Chinese city, and he realised that the
presence of [the Czechoslovak] army may lead to the beginning of
economic cooperation between Czechoslovakia and China.’ 31 She adds
he emphasised that ‘the companies, which were located, [following
the collapse of the Austro-Hungarian Empire] in 1918, on the
Czechoslovak territory, had significantly participated in commercial
contacts of the Austro-Hungarian monarchy (up to 70 per cent) with
north-eastern China and it was necessary to continue in these links.’32
The most vivid account of the meeting was recorded by Li Chia
Ao himself, who wrote the following dedication on the back of his
photograph, which was sent to the Czechoslovak Foreign Ministry by
the Czechoslovak Office in Harbin on 4 March 1919:

Mr. Štefánik is a great Czechoslovak astronomer and

military Minister of a newly established country in Central
Europe. Last winter he passed through Harbin. We spoke
in a very candid manner about global events. What he
said was true. Speaking both modestly and seriously, he
enquired about various topics from Chinese history and
astronomy. Answering his questions, I was unable to finish
what I wanted to say. How saddened was I when he said
farewell. I cannot help but desire for another meeting with
him. Looking at his photograph, I always feel that I am in
his presence. And now I send him my photograph as a sign
of my gratitude and pleasant memories.33

Unfortunately, this dedication survives only as a printed account

in Czechoslovak press, and it is unclear whether the letter ever
reached its recipient, who died a mere three months later. The letter’s
current whereabouts are also unknown. The Czechoslovak Foreign

Ministry Archive, however, holds a letter from
the Czechoslovak Office in Harbin, signed by
Plenipotentiary Hesse, which was dispatched
alongside the photograph. This letter briefly
sums up the meeting in November 1918 and
specifies that the photograph was delivered via
the French consul in Harbin and that Li Chia
Ao’s dedication was written in both Chinese and
English, with an additional Czech translation
enclosed by the Office.34
Judging from the aforementioned personal
recollection of the meeting by František Kubka,
we may assume that this was the second
photograph of himself that Li Chia Ao gifted
to Štefánik. Sadly, neither has been located,
neither in the Archive of the Czechoslovak
Foreign Ministry in Prague nor in the Slovak
National Archive, which inherited Štefánik’s
correspondence. The same applies to Li Chia
Ao’s photograph of Štefánik, which has yet
to be found. Much time has been spent on
consulting Chinese official sources and press
coverage of the meeting – unfortunately,
without any tangible results.35
It is, however, worth noting that the
Associated Press (AP) noticed his visit and
the New York Times printed an article titled
‘Czechs (sic) to Stay in Russia – Stefanik, Their
War Minister, Pays High Tribute to America,’
which was published on 26 November 1918.
Figure 8: A selection
of items that Štefánik The article noted that ‘the General was in
most likely purchased Harbin today on his way to the Volga front’
in China (Harbin or and quoted his tribute to the role of the United
Shanghai) – brocade
garment (left) and silk States: ‘America by this [First World] war has
cover (right). Image not gained provinces nor indemnities, but has
courtesy of the Slovak gained the love of the free peoples of the world.
National Museum.37
President Wilson’s pronouncement gave the
first practical solution to the problems of our oppressed people.’36 It
remains unclear at which stage of his visit Štefánik spoke to the AP

Following the morning meeting with Li Chia Ao, General Štefánik
headed to Fujiadian, a city adjacent to Harbin and the seat of the
Chinese Bingjiang County Office since 31 October 1905.38 Here, he
was welcomed by a ‘horn-blowing’ Chinese guard of honour and had
a meeting with the commander of the First Chinese Division, a certain
General Dao, who hosted a banquet to honour his guest.39
After the visit, Štefánik once again visited the telegraph office
for a further discussion with General Janin and Lieutenant General
Čeček, who were still in Vladivostok. Štefánik expressed his wish to
leave Harbin and join Czechoslovak troops, led by General Syrový,
in Omsk in order to avoid their possible demoralisation as the troops
were increasingly worried by the uncertainty surrounding their
predicament in Russia – the combination of an escalating civil war
coupled with the slow pace of their evacuation from Russia.40 At 3:30
pm, Štefánik received Li Chiao Ao, General Dao, and their interpreter
in his railway carriage. Afterwards, he made calls on British, American,
Russian, and Japanese consuls as well as on (White) Russian
generals Dmitri Horvath and Mikhail Pleshkov – the latter a former
competitor for Russia in equestrian jumping at the 1912 Stockholm

Figure 9: Czechoslovak and Chinese soldiers in Harbin. Ivana Bakešová,

Legionáři v roli diplomatů: československo-čínské vztahy 1918-1949
(Legionnaires as Diplomats: Czechoslovak-Chinese relations 1918-
1949) (Prague: Filozofická fakulta Univerzity Karlovy, 2013), p. 206.

Summer Olympics. After dinner with French consul Lépice, he visited
a performance in the Chinese theatre of Fujiadian that was held to
commemorate his visit. A Chinese guard of honour was lined up
along the entire street, on which the theatre was located.41 Naturally,
Chinese hosts Li Chiao Ao and General Dao as well as Bohdan Pavlů,
Plenipotentiary of the Czechoslovak Republic to Russia, and M.
Lépice, French Consul in Harbin, joined the performance and were
later given yet another banquet at an unspecified Chinese hotel in
Fujiadian.42 Judging from the generous treatment the Chinese side
gave to the Czechoslovak delegation, it can be concluded that they
held them in high esteem, most likely as the result of the impression
that General Štefánik made on Li Chia Ao.
The train of General Štefánik left Harbin at 5:30 am on 22
November 1918 and headed west.43 Before leaving, he issued one
more command, which was read out to Czechoslovak troops in
Harbin by Captain Hříbek two days later, ‘Brother General Štefánik
was very pleasantly surprised by the welcome he received here at the
train station and upon his departure told me to send his regards and
also those of Professor [President] Masaryk to all [Czechoslovak]

The aftermath of the harbin visit

General Štefánik’s subsequent visit to Siberia was physically and
mentally draining – he made repeated visits to Yekaterinburg and
Omsk (stopping in smaller cities with Czechoslovak presence along
the way, including Chita, Tyumen, Samara, Irkutsk) to inspect
Czechoslovak troops and increase their morale, which was severely
tested by the uncertainty about their future. On the one hand, the
troops, as the most potent military force in the region, were a valuable
bargaining chip for newly established Czechoslovakia in her dealings
with the victorious powers at a time when the post-World War I global
order had yet to be created. On the other hand, the troops desired to
secure their early withdrawal from the Ural front and an early return
to their homeland. Štefánik was also reunited with General Janin, met
with Admiral Kolchak (with whom he had many heated exchanges),
French representative Regnault, British representative Elliot, and
many others.45 According to memoirs of Dr. Josef Mandaus, Štefánik’s
already poor health suffered another blow in mid-January because of
draining work and poor diet and he himself started talking of death (‘I

am not scared of death, only of
slow dying’).46 While in Omsk,
General Janin decorated him
on 14 January 1919 with the
Ordre National de la Légion
d´Honneur (Third Class –
Commandeur).47 Throughout
his time in Siberia, his medical
problems intensified further
as did the predicament
of Czechoslovak troops –
Štefánik concluded that they
were unable to attack the
Bolsheviks and that he should Figure 10: General Štefánik (left) with
General Gajda (right) in Yekaterinburg
return to Paris, either to on 10 December 1918 – just three
secure reinforcements or their weeks after his visit of Harbin. The
complete withdrawal from Czechoslovak Review, v. 3, no. 2, p. 369.
Russia.48 Upon learning that Porthos, a French ship that was due to
leave Shanghai for Marseille on 1 February, he left Omsk on 16 January
1919 at 1 a.m. Doctor Mandaus recalled that ‘we headed eastwards as
fast as we could, stopping only to get new locomotives.’49 Štefánik’s
train arrived in Harbin on 25 January at 6:00 am. According to one
witness, Štefánik was ‘seriously, mortally ill’ and did not leave the
carriage to greet the assembled guard of honour.50 He did not receive
any visitors either, but dispatched the local Czechoslovak commander
along with French Mayor Fournier to pay a visit to French Consul
Lépice and French Military Mission’s Lieutenant Defontain. The train
left for Changchun at 11:15 am, where Štefánik, ‘completely exhausted
and physically broken,’ was transferred onto a first class carriage to
Shanghai, passing through Peking on 28 January and arrived to
Shanghai on 30 January.51 While in Shanghai, his planned to meet
with representatives of local companies, the municipality, and Czechs
and Slovaks were cut short as his health further deteriorated. He only
managed to meet with the French consul, with whom he reached an
understanding that an elected representative of the local Czechoslovak
community would work at the French consulate as an advisor for
Czechoslovak affairs.52 Štefánik spent most of his time in Shanghai
in bed, and according to one direct witness ‘stood up only one hour
before the departure of Porthos, with strong will and determination

Figure 11: Czechoslovak community in Harbin, 1938. Ivana Bakešová,
Legionáři v roli diplomatů: československo-čínské vztahy 1918-1949
(Legionnaires as Diplomats: Czechoslovak-Chinese relations 1918-1949)
(Prague: Filozofická fakulta Univerzity Karlovy, 2013), p. 21.55
saying “My quest is extremely important, I have to arrive [in France]!”
and left for the port.’53
Štefánik never returned to China, dying in an air accident while
landing in Bratislava just three months later, on 4 May 1919. The cause
of the accident remains unknown.
The North-China Herald reflected on his departure from Siberia
and the wider ramifications of the decision to leave under a headline
‘Deadline in Siberia – Information Upon the Czech (sic) Problem’ in
an article ‘From Our Own Correspondent’, written on 6 February and
published on 22 February 1919. The article stated the following:

The sudden return of General Stefanik, the Czecho-Slovak

War Minister who had accompanied General Janin, as
Chief of Staff from France to Harbin from the Ural Front,
naturally created surprise among those living in these
parts. The initiated felt something was in the air when it
was announced that Stefanik was not returning to Western
Siberia. The cat is now out of the bag, and though no
official announcement has yet been made, it is practically
certain that all the Czech (sic) troops now at the Eastern
front are to be withdrawn as quickly as possible and are to

be transported to their native soil. The higher Czech (sic)
authorities on the spot have come to the conclusion that
further interference into Russia’s intestine affairs has now
become inadvisable.54

Prior to leaving China, Štefánik made several important decisions

concerning Czechoslovakia’s future relations with China. On 23
January 1919 he named Lieutenant-Colonel Miloš Hess as head of the
newly created Czechoslovak Representative Office in Harbin – his full
title was ‘Plenipotentiary of the Czechoslovak Government for Russia
(eastwards of Lake Baikal), China, and Japan’ and the Office was opened
on 28 January 1919.56 Hess titled himself ‘chargé d’affaires’ despite the
lack of diplomatic relations between China and Czechoslovakia (his
stamp said ‘Republique Tchécoslovaque, chargé d’affaires pour Extréme-
Orient, Harbin’), later changing it to ‘Plenipotentiary.’57 Further
Offices were opened in Shanghai in February 1919 (headed pro bono
by a Czechoslovak citizen – an equivalent of Honorary Consul) and
Beijing in May 1920, but diplomatic relations were not established
until 5 December 1930 as the two sides could not reach an agreement
on contentious points of extraterritoriality and tariffs. Moreover,
Czechoslovak policy towards China was marred by a number of
blunders, especially with regard to its personnel, which were largely
responsible for the long delay in establishing diplomatic relations.
The Czechoslovak community in Harbin also deserves some
attention. The first Czechs in Harbin appeared during the construction
of the Chinese Eastern Railway at the end of the nineteenth century,
including musicians, craftsmen, small businessmen, engineers and
even brewers. 59 The most successful of them was aforementioned
Ferdinand Erml, who ran a local brewery and whose role as the
speaker of the Czech community was acknowledged even by Professor
(later President) Masaryk, who passed through Harbin in April
1918. The Czechoslovak community developed further in the 1920s,

Figure 12: ‘Slovak Voices’ – a newspaper published in Harbin for Slovak legionnaires.58

roughly echoing the growth in trade between Czechoslovakia and
this region of China, including the opening of commercial office of
Škoda Plzeň, a leading provider of railway machinery and equipment,
in 1924.60 The company also participated in the refurbishment of the
Chinese Eastern Railway in 1928, building two railway bridges near
Harbin and supplying other machinery. Zbrojovka Brno, leading
Czechoslovak manufacturer of light weapons, started selling arms to
local warlord Zhang Zuolin in 1927. The story of their arrival to China
was rather adventurous; they left Europe on ship Praga, which initially
flew a German flag but upon reaching the Indian Ocean switched to
a Czechoslovak flag. The Kuomintang learned of the ship’s existence
before its arrival to Manila and tried to bribe its crew to hand over
the ship. This attempt was unsuccessful and Zhang Zuolin’s cruiser
escorted it from Manila to one of his ports. According to reports,
Zhang Zuolin himself welcomed the ship and inspected the newly
delivered weapons. He could not hide his satisfaction, immediately
ordering another 30,000 rifles and 500 machine guns and concluding
a contract for another 100,000 rifles and 1,500 machine guns.61
Contacts also continued under his son Zhang Xueliang. Zbrojovka
Brno sold him an Š-31 plane accompanying it with a gift of a chrome-
plated automatic rifle. He was supposedly so pleased that he ordered

Figure 13: Slovak legionnaires from the 12th Shooting Regiment of General Milan
Rastislav Štefánik transferring via Harbin, 13 June 1920. This particular regiment
was created in the aftermath of Štefánik’s visit of Siberia and composed (primarily)
of Slovak soldiers. Photo courtesy of the Institute of Military History, Bratislava.

another 100 pieces as ‘gifts for his dignitaries.’62
Fortunes of the Czechoslovak diplomatic mission varied with
its Representative Office in Harbin, which was opened following
Štefánik’s visit in early 1919 was closed for financial reasons (despite
protests from the local Czechoslovak community) in 1925. Ferdinand
Erml served as liaison between the Czechoslovak community and the
Czechoslovak legation in Peking.63 Following the establishment of
diplomatic relations between the two countries in 1930, a full-fledged
Czechoslovak Consulate was opened in Harbin on 18 September
1931. It was headed by former legionnaire Rudolf Hejný and housed
in a classist villa that was built and previously owned by a rich Russian
merchant.64 One week later, Japanese troops invaded Manchuria.
Czechoslovak Foreign Minister Edvard Beneš strongly denounced
Japan’s actions during his speech at the League of Nations in Geneva
in December 1932. Czechoslovakia refused to recognise Manchukuo,
but the Consulate remained operational until the second half of
1938. The Japanese occupation had an adverse effect on the local
Czechoslovak community – its numbers fell from approx. 500 citizens
to 250 and only the poorest remained – those who could ill-afford
the journey back to Europe.65 One of the last, highly symbolic major
events organised by Consul-General Hejný and the Czechoslovak
community in Harbin was the unveiling of a memorial made by
sculptor Vinkler to fallen Czechoslovak legionnaires at the local
Orthodox cemetery on 31 October 1937, just three days after the
nineteenth anniversary of the establishment of Czechoslovakia.66 One
Czechoslovak newspaper reported that the event started at 3:00 pm
and was attended by Harbin’s Orthodox Archbishop, Consul-General
Hejný, French Consul-General Reynaud, the entire Czechoslovak
community, members of the Yugoslav community, and Russian
émigrés. The memorial was destroyed during the Cultural Revolution.
Following the departure of Consul-General Hejný in 1939,
Czechoslovak authorities received no news from the Harbin
community until December 1946, when a list of 117 Czechoslovak
citizens living in north-eastern China (mainly in Harbin), expressing
their desire to return home, were delivered to the Czechoslovak Embassy
in Moscow.67 The list was compiled by the Soviet consul and Václav
Pensa, leader of the local Czechoslovak community. The Czechoslovak
Embassy in Nanjing managed to establish regular contact with the
community in February 1949, after the restoration of postal service

between the Freed Territories and
Nanjing government. Václav Pensa
confirmed that the community had
110-120 members, mostly workers,
musicians, and employees of small

Figure 12: ‘Slovak Voices’ – a newspaper published in Harbin for Slovak legionnaires.58
businesses. They were without
Czechoslovak passports, which
were taken away from them by the
local authorities after the break-
up of Czechoslovakia in 1939.
Repatriation of all Czechoslovak
Figure 14: Memorial to Czechoslovak citizens occurred from 1952 to 1954
legionnaires in Harbin, unveiled in on Polish ships and the community
October 1937 and destroyed during ceased to exist.68
the Cultural Revolution. Image
from Legionářský týden, Legionaries’ Li Chia Ao stayed in his posts
Weekly, no. 5, 16 January 1938.69
until March 1919, when he resigned
and rejoined the Foreign Office. In September 1919, he assumed the
position of the High Commissioner to Siberia and concurrently sat
on the board of the Trans-Siberian Railway.70 He returned to Peking
in August 1920, becoming Acting Chief Justice of the Special High
Court for the Eastern Provinces in September 1921 and serving in this
role until March 1923.71 In October 1923, Li Chia Ao was appointed
Chinese Envoy to Russia and one month later, he was given the rank of
Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary to Russia, reaching
the peak of his career.
Li was in Moscow at pivotal times in early Sino-Soviet relations
and was directly involved in the process of the establishment of
diplomatic relations and renunciation of Tsarist privileges on the
Chinese territory, which occurred on 31 May 1924. His diplomatic
work has been acknowledged by several historians of early Sino-
Soviet relations. Firstly, Li was involved in negotiations concerning
the issue of the control of the Chinese Eastern Railway, during which
he liaised with Lev Karakhan, the Soviet envoy to China, just before
the establishment of diplomatic relations, and helped to convince
Foreign Minister Wellington Koo to accept the proposal of joint Sino-
Soviet management of the northern branch of CER. 72 Secondly, he
led the subsequent protests of the Chinese government against the

Figure 15: Detail of a note verbale signed by Li Chia Ao in his capacity of Chinese
Minister of Finland. Image courtesy of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Finland.
Soviet decision to conclude a secret supplemental agreement with
warlord Zhang Zuolin, who effectively controlled the site of the CER
and engineered the October 1924 coup in Beijing. 73 Thirdly, Li also
participated in difficult discussions with Soviet Foreign Minister
Chicerin over the status of (Outer) Mongolia, which took place in May
1925, insisting that the territory formed an integral part of China, as
stated in the 1924 Sino-Soviet Treaty, and meeting with a less than
amicable answer (thinly veiled threats of Soviet intervention should
China enforce its claim over Mongolia).74
The Finnish government issued agrément to Li Chia Ao on 24
August 1925, and he thus became China’s Minister to Finland.75 A
note verbale sent by the Chinese Legation to the Finnish Ministry of
Foreign Affairs in late July 1926 informed of Li Chia Ao’s illness, the
onset of which was not sudden – in yet another note verbale from April
1926, he informed the Finnish Foreign Minister E. Setäla that Li had
‘been advised by doctor to go to the South of France for recreation for
some time.’76 Li passed away in Helsinki on 1 September aged 67 and
his remains were transported to China on 28 September 1926.77 An
obituary by Tsai Ting Kan, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic
of China, was subsequently transmitted to the Ministry of Foreign
Affairs of Finland, praising his ‘excellent record of public services to
China [and] frankness, straightforwardness, sincerity, faithfulness and
sympathetic attitude.’78
The ultimately tragic fate of Li Chia Ao’s family has also been
pieced together. His son Li Pao Tan (Li Baotang, 李寶堂, 1888 - ?),
known in Russia as Vladimir Aleksandrovich, worked in 1924 as
Second Secretary at the Embassy of the Republic of China in Moscow

and married a woman called Maria Filippovna Marks.80 They lived in
Harbin and Peking in the 1930s, where Li Pao Tan taught Russian at
Tsinghua, moving to the National Southwestern Associated University
(Lianda) in Kunming after the Second Sino-Japanese broke out and to
the Shanghai Jiao Tong University in the late 1940s.81 They had three
children - son Valentin, who committed suicide in his youth while
living with his father in Peking; daughter Ariadna, who was born in
Paris, lived in Shanghai, served in the army but was maltreated during
the Cultural Revolution, dying some years later; and another daughter
Rita, who was four years younger, born in Berlin and described as
‘stunning’, moved to Hong Kong to marry a businessman of mixed
Chinese-British descent.82 She died of cancer in Hong Kong. Whether
Rita and her husband had any further descendants remains unknown.
This article briefly introduced Milan Rastislav Štefánik, the
circumstances of his brief visit of China in November 1918 and
February 1919, and his amicable meeting with the Li Chia Ao, the
daoyin of the three north-eastern provinces and Commissioner for
Foreign Affairs for Harbin. It also explored the aftermath of Štefánik’s
visit, especially the presence of Czechoslovak community in Harbin,
which continued for another three decades, and explored the equally
fascinating career of Li Chia Ao and the fortunes his descendants.
The historical significance of Štefánik’s meeting with Li Chia Ao is

Figure 16: The Li family, date unknown – Li Chia Ao, Rita, Li (Vladimir
Aleksandrovich) Pao Tan, Valery, Li Chia Ao’s second wife (name unknown),
Ariadna, and Maria Filippovna Marks (from left to right). Qiu Chonglu, 美女上校
(Beautiful Female Officer), 2014 http://blog.sina.com.cn/s/blog_45d4d1900102v9au.
html, last modified on 25 December 2014. (accessed 22 May 2018).79

undoubtable and has not thus been given proper attention. What is,
perhaps, more fascinating is the friendship that ensued, the evidence
of which survived thanks to eyewitnesses’ accounts and Li’s letter,
which was published in Czechoslovak press. Given the circumstances
in which the meeting took place, several blank spots exist, especially
in terms missing coverage of the visit in local and provincial media
as well as official documents on the Chinese side. Further archival
documents may eventually come to light and provide answers to yet
unanswered questions.

The author dedicates this article to VK and MP, memorable

conversations with whom inspired this article. I would also like to
express my gratitude to Mrs. Ivana Bakešová; Mrs. Mária Halmová,
Director of the Slovak National Museum in Martin; Mrs. Anna
Halienová from the Slovak National Library in Martin; Mrs. Luo Huan
from the National Library of China; Ms. Liu Nian from Handelsblatt;
Mr. Miloslav Čaplovič, Director of the Institute of Military History
and, Mr. Peter Kralčák, Director of the Military History Archive in
Bratislava; Mr. Josef Žikeš, Director of the Central Military Archive
in Prague; Prof. Mark Gamsa from the Tel Aviv University; and
colleagues from Slovak Embassies in Prague, Helsinki, Paris, Tokyo,
and our Office in Taipei.

About the author

Lukáš Gajdoš works as a diplomat at the Embassy of the Slovak
Republic in Beijing.
E-mail: lgajdos@gmail.com

1 Prior to its creation, the term ‘Czecho-Slovakia’, which was also
preferred by Štefánik, had been used – after its creation on 28
October 1918 the country was, however, called ‘Czechoslovakia.’
Terminology used in this article corresponds with this distinction.
2 Some sources state that Li Chiao Ao was in fact born four years later
in 1863 – this article uses the 1925 edition of ‘Who’s Who in China’,
according to which he was born in 1859.
3 Milan Rastislav Štefánik, Ekvádorský zápisník, The Ecuador Diary,
1913, available at http://zlatyfond.sme.sk/dielo/1273/Stefanik_

Ekvadorsky-zapisnik/1 (accessed 22 May 2018).
4h ttp://www.stefaniktrail.sk/en/ (accessed 22 May 2018).
5 Bohumila Ferenčuhová, ‘Štefánik diplomat - medzi Francúzskom a
Talianskom (1914-1919)’ (Diplomat Štefánik– between France and
Italy (1914-1919)),
in Marián Hronský and Miloslav Čaplovič (eds.), Generál dr. Milan
Rastislav Štefánik - vojak a diplomat (General Dr. Milan Rastislav
Štefánik – Soldier and Diplomat) (Bratislava: Vojenský historický
ústav, 1999), pp. 87-108.
6 Dušan Kováč, Štefánik a Janin – príbeh priateľstva (Štefánik and
Janin – Story of Friendship) (Bratislava: Dilema, 2001), pp. 13-14.
7 Ibid.
8 Martin Hronský, Anna Krivá, Miloslav Čaplovič, Vojenské dejiny
Slovenska IV., 1914-1939 (Military History of Slovakia, vol. 4, 1914-
1939), (Bratislava: Ministerstvo obrany Slovenskej republiky, 1996),
p. 54.
9 The meeting had reportedly been arranged using Štefánik’s good
connections within the Masonic circles. At this stage, Štefánik
was already engaged to Marchioness Giuliana Benzoni, favourite
granddaughter of Ferdinando Martini, former Governor of Eritrea
(1897-1907) and Member of the Italian Parliament (1876-1919).
Benzoni later became a prominent anti-fascist activist. For more
information, see Banditi o eroi? Milan Rastislav Stefanik e la legione
ceco-slovacca (Bandits or Heroes? Milan Rastislav Štefánik and the
Czecho-Slovak Legion) by Sergio Tazzer; František Hruška, ‘O
Štefánikovi z Talianska’ (About Štefánik from Italy), https://zurnal.
last modified on 26 May 2018 (accessed 26 May 2018).
10 This paragraph is based on Daniel Šmihula’s well-written article.
Daniel Šmihula, 2018, Hviezdna hodina légií, ktoré vystúpili
proti sovietskej vláde (The Finest Hour of the Legions that stood
up to the Soviet Government), Pravda, http://zurnal.pravda.sk/
spolocnost/clanok/470427-hviezdna-hodina-legii/, last modified
on 22 May 2018) (accessed 23 May 2018).
11 Bohdan Pavlů was born in the present-day Czech Republic, but spent
his childhood in present-day Slovakia and identified himself as being
from ‘the Slovak branch of the Czechoslovak nation.’ He was elected
to lead the troops on the ground in Russia during the absence of their
commanders – Janin and Štefánik and as Šmihula correctly point

out, no Slovak in history has ever controlled such a vast territory.
After his return to Czechoslovakia he worked as chief editor of ‘The
Slovak Daily’ and later server as Ambassador to Bulgaria, Denmark,
and Soviet Union, becoming Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs in
1937. He died in a car crash in Yugoslavia in May 1938. Ibid.

Radula Gajda (1892-1948) was yet another colourful figure in this

fascinating story – born in the picturesque Montenegrin town of Kotor,
he served in the Austro-Hungarian Army (1914-15) and Montenegrin
Army (1915-16), joining the Czechoslovak Legions in early 1917 and
rising through the ranks to become a Major-General at the age of 26.
Nicknamed ‘the Siberian Ataman’ or ‘the Siberian Tiger’, he decided
to join Kolchak’s forces. Part of his conversation with Štefánik was
captured by his doctor Mandaus, who (rather prophetically) warned
Gajda ‘not to think to be a great soldier yet and not to choose the wrong
path in the light of recent successes.’ Gajda’s time with Kolchak ended
in failure and after his return to Czechoslovakia in the early 1920s he
became a pro-Fascist sympathiser, cofounding the Mussolini-inspired
National Fascist Community in late 1926. He was an MP for this (but
paradoxically anti-German) party, took part in the so-called Židenice
mutiny in 1931, refused cooperation with Germany during the
occupation of the Czech lands, but was still arrested and imprisoned
in the aftermath of the Second World War (1945-1947). He was freed
and died in April 1948, aged 56. He remains a controversial figure.
Josef Mandaus, ‘S generálem Štefánikem na Sibiři (In Siberia with
General Štefánik),’ in by Ladislav Mazáč (ed.), Štefánik: Kniha druhá:
vzpomínky, dokumenty a jiné příspěvky (Štefánik: Book II: memories,
documents, and other contributions) (Prague: L. Mazáč, 1938), p. 285.
12 Susumu Nagayo, ‘Nové poznatky z pobytu Milana Rastislava
Štefánika v Japonsku (október - november 1918)’ (New Findings on
the Visit of Milan Rastislav Štefánik to Japan (October – November
1918)), Historická revue 18, no. 9 (2007), p. 14.
13 Štefánik did not take this easily – given his role within the Czecho-
Slovak National Council, Janin wrote that he had expected to be
the Vice-President, which ‘would reflect his love for the Slovaks …
and enable him to better determine how to reach a closer union of
his country with the other branches of the Czechoslovak nation.’
Kováč, Štefánik a Janin – príbeh priateľstva, p. 80.
14 Ibid., p. 91.
15 Ibid., p. 41.

16 František Kubka, ‘Generál Dr M. R. Štefánik v Charbině (General
Dr. Milan Rastislav Štefánik in Harbin)’, in Ladislav Mazáč (ed.),
Štefánik: Kniha druhá: vzpomínky, dokumenty a jiné příspěvky
(Štefánik: Book II: memories, documents, and other contributions)
(Prague: L. Mazáč, 1938), p. 275. This published account is identical
with the ‘History of the Czechoslovak Armed Forces in Harbin
– Since the Beginning until 29th June 1920’, which was edited by
František Kubka and Josef Tichý and the handwritten manuscript
of which was kindly provided by the Central Military Archive in
17 Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk, Světová revoluce (Global Revolution),
(Prague: Orbis, 1925), p. 166.
18 Ivana Bakešová, Legionáři v roli diplomatů: československo-čínské
vztahy 1918-1949 (Legionnaires as Diplomats: Czechoslovak-Chinese
relations 1918-1949) (Prague: Filozofická fakulta Univerzity
Karlovy, 2013), p. 24.
19 Telegram in Kováč, Štefánik a Janin – príbeh priateľstva, p. 135.
20 Kubka, ‘Generál Dr M. R. Štefánik v Charbině’, p. 276.
21 Czechoslovak soldier František Kubka who accompanied Štefánik
in Harbin, refers to Lépice (whom he calls, phonetically, ‘Lepis’)
as ‘French consul’ – email communication with La Courneuve,
the Archive of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of France, however
identified Lépice as ‘vice-consul.’
22 Telegram in Kováč, 2001, Štefánik a Janin – príbeh priateľstva, p. 136.
23 To give a more detailed account – ‘Pristan’ (Daoli or ‘the area within’
in Chinese; Pristan or ‘wharves’ in Russian) was the business centre
of Harbin … rested on the western side of the marsh and was
surrounded by the tracks of the CER, tracks that roughly mirrored
the concession’s physical border. Less grand and less expensive
that Newtown, Pristan was where most of Harbin’s shops and
apartments were located. The main street – called, ironically, China
Street – was lined with pastel neo-classical buildings. The street
earned Harbin the nickname ‘the Chinese St. Petersburg’. Blaine R.
Chiasson, Administering the Colonizer: Manchuria’s Russians under
Chinese Rule, 1918-29 (Vancouver: University of British Columbia
Press, 2010), p. 152.

A detailed account of his poor health was given my General Dr Josef

Mandaus, who was at the time in charge of medical train, stationed in

Yekaterinburg at the time of Štefánik’s arrival on 9 December 1918.
(Then Mayor) Dr Mandaus accompanied Štefánik all the way to
Changchun – until his departure for Shanghai in late January 1919
– and the two led many interesting conversations, which he captured
in his diary. Mandaus, ‘S generálem Štefánikem na Sibiři,’ p. 279-287.
24 Telegram in Kováč, Štefánik a Janin – príbeh priateľstva, p. 137.
According to one authoritative explanation, ‘an intermediate
post that had existed between Governor and prefect, the circuit
intendant (daoyuan but often daotai or daoyin) remained [after
the fall of the Qing Empire] but the position of this official in the
administration of the Republican period was anomalous and his
authority unclear.’ Michael Dillon, Xinjiang and the Expansion of
Chinese Communist Power: Kashgar in the Early Twentieth Century
(Abingdon: Routledge, 2015), p. 89.
26 František Kubka, who participated in the meeting, added that the
three provinces were jointly administered since 7th April 1907.
Kubka, ‘Generál Dr M. R. Štefánik v Charbině’, p. 277.
27 Larry M. Wortzel, Robin D. S. Higham, Dictionary of Contemporary
Chinese Military History (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1999),
p. 128.
28 Based on John Benjamin Powell, Who’s Who in China (Shanghai:
The China Weekly Review, 1925), pp. 452-453.
29 Mark Gamsa, ‘Mixed Marriages in Russian-Chinese Manchuria’ in
Dan Ben-Canaan, Frank Grüner, and Ines Prodöhl (eds.), Entangled
Histories – The Transcultural Past of Northeastern China (Springer:
Cham, 2013), p. 55. Also Kubka, ‘Generál Dr M. R. Štefánik v
Charbině’, p. 275.
30 Kubka, ‘Generál Dr M. R. Štefánik v Charbině’, pp. 276-277.
31 The source of these claims is not specified. Bakešová, Legionáři v
roli diplomatů: československo-čínské vztahy 1918-1949, p. 24.
32 Ibid.
33 Č eskoslovenský týdeník (Czechoslovak Weekly), Dopis z Charbina
(Letter from Harbin), 1 April 1919.
34 Archive of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Prague, Siberian archives,
Archive of the Harbin-based Czechoslovak Plenipotentiary for the Far
East Lieutenant-Colonel Miloš Hess, dated 4 March 1919.
35 The author approached the Second Historical Archives in Nanjing,
Academia Sinica in Taipei, and the Harbin Archives Bureau. Chinese-
language collections of local newspapers in the National Library of

China, Heilongjiang Provincial Library and Jilin Provincial Library
(namely《东陲商报》,《国际协报》,《哈尔滨新闻》-  also
called《哈尔滨日报》, and《新生活报》). Local Russian (《远
东报》,《满洲新闻》) and Japanese-language (《盛京日报》,
《泰东日报》,《生活新闻》,《北满洲》) newspapers have yet
to be consulted and may reveal a mention of the visit.
36 T he New York Times, 26 November 1918.
37 Following the death of Milan Rastislav Štefánik in May 1919, his
brother Kazimír gifted the items to the Slovak National Museum
(he later moved to Argentina where he passed away in 1971. He is
buried in Presidencia Roque Sáenz Peña, Gran Chaco Province).
Their (most likely) Chinese origin was confirmed by experts from
the Náprstek Museum of Asian, African and American Cultures in
Prague. They are currently exhibited in Košariská – the place of
birth of Štefánik – and were kindly photographed for this article
by the local branch of the Slovak National Museum. Photos of
additional items are available at http://bit.ly/MRSinCN. (accessed
22 May 2018).
38 Chiasson, Administering the Colonizer: Manchuria’s Russians under
Chinese Rule, 1918-29, p. 39.
39 The full name of the Chinese general was not recorded. Kubka,
‘Generál Dr M. R. Štefánik v Charbině’, p. 277.
40 Telegram in Kováč, Štefánik a Janin – príbeh priateľstva, p. 136-138.
41 Kubka, ‘Generál Dr M. R. Štefánik v Charbině’, p. 277.
42 I bid.
43 J osef Bartůšek, ‘Cestovní data M. R. Štefánika (Travel Log of Milan
Rastislav Štefánik)’, in Ladislav Mazáč (ed.), Štefánik: Kniha druhá:
vzpomínky, dokumenty a jiné příspěvky (Štefánik: Book II: memories,
documents, and other contributions) (Prague: L. Mazáč, 1938), p.
44 K ubka, ‘Generál Dr M. R. Štefánik v Charbině’, pp. 277-278.
45 Štefánik harshly criticised Admiral Kolchak’s political and military
circumstances – one particular exchange concluded with the
following words – Kolchak: ‘Vous êtes très dur, mon général’ (You
are very tough my general.); Štefánik: ‘Non, je suis conséquent.’
(No, I am thorough.) Noted in Mandaus, ‘S generálem Štefánikem
na Sibiři,’ p. 284; Bartůšek, ‘Cestovní data M. R. Štefánika’, p. 387.
46 Mandaus, ‘S generálem Štefánikem na Sibiři,’p. 285.
47 Štefánik previously received two lower-level Ordre National de la

Légion d´Honneur – Chevalier (Fifth Class) in 1914 and Officier
(Fourth Class) in 1917.
48 Kováč, Štefánik a Janin – príbeh priateľstva, p. 44.
49 Mandaus, ‘S generálem Štefánikem na Sibiři,’ p. 285.
50 Kubka, ‘Generál Dr M. R. Štefánik v Charbině’, p. 278.
51 Bartůšek, ‘Cestovní data M. R. Štefánika,’ p. 387.
52 Bakešová, Legionáři v roli diplomatů: československo-čínské vztahy
1918-1949, p. 25.
53 Stanislav Kovář, ‘1938, Ministr M. R. Štefánik v Šanghaji (Minister
M.R. Štefánik in Shanghai)’, in Ladislav Mazáč (ed.), Štefánik:
Kniha druhá: vzpomínky, dokumenty a jiné příspěvky (Štefánik:
Book II: memories, documents, and other contributions) (Prague: L.
Mazáč, 1938), p. 290.
54 T he North-China Herald, 22 February 1919.
55 The photo is from Mrs. Věra Sýkorová, who was born in Harbin
– one of the youngsters is her brother. Bakešová, Legionáři v roli
diplomatů: československo-čínské vztahy 1918-1949, 215.
56 Ibid., p. 25.
57 Ibid., p. 27. The Chinese side called him 捷克斯拉夫共和國代辦.
58 The newspaper has been fully digitised and is available at http://
digitalna.kniznica.info/s/Nloi3YOZH5. (accessed 22 May 2018).
59 Martin Hošek, ‘A Good Pitch for Busking: Czech Compatriots
in Manchuria, 1899-1918,’ Journal of the Center for Northern
Humanities, no. 3 (2010), p. 19.
60 Ibid, Bakešová, Legionáři v roli diplomatů: československo-čínské
vztahy 1918-1949, 166.
61 Ibid., p. 169.
62 Ibid., pp. 169-170.
63 Hošek, ‘A Good Pitch for Busking: Czech Compatriots in
Manchuria, 1899-1918’, p. 23.
64 The villa still exists and is located on Jilin Jie 52 (吉林街52号). It
is a listed building, but its current state is very poor – see http://
bit.ly/CSinHB for “then and now” photos as well as http://bit.ly/
CSinHBonBD (Baidu ‘Street View’) for an interactive view its
surroundings. Bakešová, Legionáři v roli diplomatů: československo-
čínské vztahy 1918-1949, p. 69.
65 Ibid., p. 81.
66 L egionářský týden (Legionaries’ Weekly), no. 5, 16 January 1938.
67 Bakešová, Legionáři v roli diplomatů: československo-čínské vztahy

1918-1949, p. 148.
68 Ibid., pp. 151-152.
69 For GPS coordinates of the memorial and its current position
within the city of Harbin see http://bit.ly/CSmemorialHB. (accessed
22 May 2018).
70 Powell, Who’s Who in China, p. 453.
71 Ibid.
72 Bruce A. Elleman, Diplomacy and Deception: Secret History of Sino-
Soviet Diplomatic Relations, 1917-1927 (Armonk, London: M. E.
Sharpe, 1997), p. 136.
73 G. Patrick March, Eastern Destiny: Russia in Asia and the North
Pacific, (New York: Praeger, 1996), p. 204.
74 Sarah C. Paine, Imperial Rivals: China, Russia, and Their Disputed
Frontier (Armonk, NY: M.E. Sharpe, 1996), p. 326.
75 Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Finland, Note Verbale no. 15/2228
(24 August 1925).
76 Legation of the Republic of China in Helsinki, Note Verbale no. 233
(20 July 1926) and no. 136 (6 April 1926).
77 Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Finland, Note Verbale no. 6/2199 (28
September 1926).
78 Legation of the Republic of China in Helsinki, Note Verbale (no
number/date provided).
79 I am grateful to Liu Nian’s stellar research skills for locating
this photo and other interesting details about the Li family. Qiu
Chonglu, 美女上校 (Beautiful Female Officer), 2014, http://blog.
sina.com.cn/s/blog_45d4d1900102v9au.html, last modified on 25
December 2014. (accessed 22 May 2018).
80 This information was kindly shared by Prof. Mark Gamsa. ‘Vsia
Moskva na 1924 god (Moscow in its Entirety in 1924),’ https://
(accessed 22 May 2018).
81 [校史回顾]上海交通大学外语教育百年回眸 ([School History
Review] Shanghai Jiaotong University’s Foreign Language
Education Review in the Past 100 Years), https://www.sjtu.edu.cn/
info/1489/24839.htm. (accessed 22 May 2018).
82 I am grateful to Professor Gamsa for kindly sharing the original
source of this information. Nina Kruk, Nam ulybalas’ Kvan In”
(Guanyin Smiled at Us), Rossiiane v Azii (Russians in Asia), no.
7 (autumn 2000), 151–197; Gamsa, 2013, ‘Vsia Moskva na 1924

god’, pp. 55-56. Photos of Ariadne as a soldier in the national army
have also been located and are available at http://blog.sina.com.cn/s/
blog_45d4d1900102v9au.html. (accessed 22 May 2018). Following
the end of the Second Sino-Japanese War, Ariadne Li entered the
northeast with the 13th Army and for nine months was responsible
for liaising with the Soviet garrison in Shenyang and Manzhouli.
Qiu, 美女上校.


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