Rare Russian Photographs Added to Portsmouth Peace Treaty Exhibit for 110th Anniversary of the Portsmouth Peace Treaty
August 8, 2015 marked the 110th anniversary of the arrival of the Russian and Japanese diplomats who would negotiation the Portsmouth Peace Treaty at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard. The re-opening of the Treaty Rooms were the peace conference and the Treaty signing took place on August 13th marks the start of a month of special programs in Portsmouth and around the state, leading up to Portsmouth Peace Treaty Day on September 5.
The Anniversary was marked by welcoming Russian and Japanese diplomats to Portsmouth and a reception at Wentworth By the Sea in the room where the Japanese hosted an appreciation banquet the night before the Treaty was signed in 1905. This was the first time Russian and Japanese celebrate the Portsmouth Peace Treaty together in the same room since then.
The Portsmouth Peace Treaty exhibit at the John Paul Jones House Museum hosted a display of the record of another shared moment of commemoration: photographs presented by the Alexander Solzhenitsyn House of the Russian Emigre Community in Moscow. Arranged through the Consul General of the Russian Federation in New York the rare photographs were given to the Portsmouth Peace Treaty Forum with permission for exclusive display in the Treaty exhibit.
In April 1904 during the Japanese blockade of Port Arthur that began with the start of the Russo-Japanese War in January 1904, Admiral Stepan Osipovich Makarov and his flagship the Petropavlovsk, while trying to return to the harbor, hit a Japanese mine. Eyewitnesses said the ship sank within minutes, with all hands lost. A famous Japanese print, displayed in the Treaty exhibit, shows a valiant Makarov on the deck as his battleship sank. The Japanese retook Port Arthur in January 1905.
Nine years later, in June 1913, the Japanese Government sent a team of divers to recover the remains of those who perished on the Petropavlovsk. Admiral Makarov, who had been blown off the deck by the force of the explosion was not among them; but the bodies of several officers (identified by their uniform insignia) and Russian sailors were brought to the surface and given a full-honors military burial attended by Russian Orthodox clergy and the relatives of those who died. Photographs from a rare book document the Petropavlovsk funerals on June 24, 1913 in Port Arthur.