For 40 years, this Russian family was cut off from all human contact, unaware of World War II


38 Responses to “For 40 years, this Russian family was cut off from all human contact, unaware of World War II”

  1. Roose_Bolton says:

    This story is bonkers, but then so is a lot of stuff not half as interesting.

  2. M Carlson says:

    Incredible. I cannot fathom the thought processes that would involve a voluntary choice to live like that even after know there was no longer danger from the government. Not condemning, just cannot fathom it.

  3. Wow there they are living in their Yurt when they could be Storming the cosmos with their rocket engine.

  4. rattypilgrim says:

    As much as I’d like to believe people could live in the wild, undetected for 40 years I have my doubts. Their pots wore out but what about their clothing? It looks like the women are wearing wool scarves and clothing? Where did they get the fabric? How were they able to supply their clothing needs as the children grew into adults? Last week a “30 million year old aluminum cog wheel” was “found” in Russia. What’s the next strange discovery from Russia we can look forward to reading about?

    • Jerril says:

      “Karp Lykov and his daughter Agafia, wearing clothes donated by Soviet geologists not long after their family was rediscovered.”

    • Robert Drop says:

      From the article: “Clothes were patched and repatched until they fell apart, then replaced with hemp cloth grown from seed.”  It also appears that some of the photos of the family were taken with them wearing clothing given to them.  
      There were plenty of things they couldn’t replace, such as metal tools: “A couple of kettles served them well for many years, but when rust finally overcame them, the only replacements they could fashion came from birch bark.”  Since they couldn’t cook with them directly over fire, they had to change their diet to accommodate that.
      The cog found in coal is a very real but not-at-all-mysterious phenomenon where coal dust compacts, sometimes around random objects, in coal mines, forming apparently unbroken, “solid” blocks.

      • rattypilgrim says:

        Thanks. I didn’t read about the donations. I still don’t understand how the Russian scientists declared the aluminum tool/cog to be 30 million years old.

        • Robert Drop says:

          The coal is old.  Someone was just making the assumption that the object was the same age, despite the dust-into-blocks phenomenon being previously known.  Everyone involved should have known better.

    • Spikeles says:

       I’d like to direct you at this

      • rattypilgrim says:

        Yes, I remember reading about those people. Somehow indigenous people living in the wilds seems much more likely. Just saying. I used to wonder if there were any North American  indigenous group(s) living undiscovered deep in the Rockies or in the areas of Northern Canada that would be similar, actually, to the landscape these Old Believers were found in.

  5. kartwaffles says:

    Old Believers are sort of like the Orthodox version of the Amish. Plus they live in BFE, Siberia. So this sort of thing just might actually be true.

  6. This is truly an amazing story.  I love to see this families story made into a movie and I can’t wait to read the book.

  7. RedShirt77 says:

    Yeah, the lack of intellectual curiosity involved in seeing a plane fly over now and again for decades and never seeking out the answer to how the heck that is possible can really only be explained by religion and incest.,,,

    • Brainspore says:

      In this case “seeking out the answer” would have meant a perilous trek, on foot, over hundreds of miles of dangerous and imposing terrain to a settlement controlled by the very government they were in hiding from. Not so much a lack of intellectual curiosity as a different set of priorities.

    • SedanChair says:

      Seeing as how millions of their countryfolk perished in a war of civilizations, many by way of those wonderful aircraft, it’s tough to say they made the wrong choice. 

  8. Michael says:

    As members of a fundamentalist Russian Orthodox sect, the Old Believers as they are described likely had limited choice about moving. The man decided that this is what he wanted and the women and children had to follow.

    The book’s title claims that they lived this way seeking religious freedom. Last August, Russian police freed children who lived underground and never saw the sun as part of an Islamist sect. Different religion, same outcome.

  9. The youngest one, Agafia, is apparently still alive out there, or was a couple of years ago. There are various articles from 2010/11 talking about how she accepts and even appeals for visitors to come and help out with the Siberian subsistence chores now that she’s old. Seemingly the local authorities give her support, but discourage people from moving in with her, because the whole area is now considered a nature preserve.

    2011 post (in Russian) on some ecclesiastical site, reporting her appeal for companions:
    2010, she approves of Medvedev:

  10. welcomeabored says:

    There are a few ‘modern’ amenities I would have a hard time learning to live without… soap, dentistry, glass window panes, indoor plumbing, toilet paper, knives, scissors, and sewing needles, to name a few.  OTOH, stories like these remind me that I could easily live with a lot less and everything would still be fine.  I have so much stuff, I can’t remember what all of it is, where it came from, or why I still have it.

    • dragonfrog says:

      Soap at least, you can make yourself, albeit through a fairly labour intensive process – the starting ingredients are fat and wood ash.

    • MissCellania says:

       Salt. The most basic stuff was out of their reach.

      • kartwaffles says:

         Maybe those geologists could have pointed them towards some natural salt deposits, if any were in the area.

        “out of reach” depends on your skill level. They had worn out the last of their metal pots and were reduced to using birchbark bowls. Well, why didn’t they try making pots from clay?

    • Wreckrob8 says:

      The earliest bone needles discovered date to 61000 bp.
      They had neither adequate modern nor palaeolithic technology.

  11. niktemadur says:

    I ain’t buying it, look at the profile of the so-called babushka on the left – it’s Daniel Craig!

    • Luther Blissett says:

      61k BP is approximately Mousterian period. Yes, I know: even though the needle was not found in Europe, and not produced be Neanderthals (but most likely by H. sapiens): this is palaeolithic. And, more importantly: their technology was awesome. I think, they call it the Howieson’s Poort Industry.

  12. chgoliz says:

    Nice to know this is still possible on our planet.  Brutally simple, yes, but their choice.

    Not saying I would want to do it….just glad to know it can be done.

    • AnthonyC says:

      They also made the choice for their children. Don’t forget that. The children didn’t get to make their own choice.

  13. class_enemy says:

    At last, the New Soviet Man…..

  14. We’ve run out of lost tribes in the Amazon.  Now we’re down to lost Soviets.

  15. ChickieD says:

    Thanks for sharing this story. It was moving and sad. 

  16. CLamb says:

    More tragic is that there are Americans with iPods unaware of World War II  (Alright it’s a bit of hyperbole–but close.).

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