Leo Berk


Russian spelling

Лео Берк

Born 18.07.1888

Place Belostok, Grodno, Poland

Ethnic origin Russian

Religion Roman Catholic

Father Paul Berk

Mother Anna

Residence before arrival at Australia Served in the Russian army (26 months, artillery) and took part in the Russo-Japanese war (21 months)

Arrived at Australia
from Far East
on 20.05.1913
per Eastern
disembarked at Brisbane

Residence before enlistment Brisbane

Occupation 1915 labourer, 1920 traveller for Paproff [Popoff] Co.

Service
service number 8766
enlisted 16.09.1915
POE Brisbane
unit 2nd DAC, 4th FAB
rank Gunner
place Western Front, 1916-1917
casualties WIA 1917
final fate RTA 31.10.1917
discharged 5.02.1918

Naturalisation 1920

Residence after the war Brisbane, Tumoulin, Ravenshoe, Qld

Died 1969, Queensland

Materials

Digitised naturalisation (NAA)

Digitised service records (NAA)

Digitised Embarkation roll entry (AWM)

Alien registration (NAA)

Publications

Елена Говор, Белорусские Анзаки. - Białoruskie Zeszyty Historyczne, 2013, no. 40, c. 53-108.

Blog article

Russian

English

Newspaper articles

W. Kallashnikoff, 'A Russian Protest', Daily Mail, Brisbane, 27 August 1918, p. 2; Daily Standard, Brisbane, 28 August 1918, p. 7.

L. Berk et al., 'Protest by Russian Soldiers'. - Daily Mail, Brisbane, 5 September 1918, p. 8.

W. Kalashnikoff, 'Russian Soldiers' Protest', Daily Mail, Brisbane, 12 September 1918, p. 2.

L. Berk et al., 'Russian Soldiers' Protest'. - Daily Mail, Brisbane, 17 September 1918, p. 7.

W. Kalashnikoff, 'A Rejoinder', Daily Mail, Brisbane, 26 September 1918, p. 4.

L. Berk, 'The Bolsheviks'. - Daily Mail, Brisbane, 8 November 1918, p. 6.

A. Mendrin, L. Berk, 'Can it be true? Bolshevism in Russia'. - Daily Mail, Brisbane, 18 November 1918, p. 4.

L. Berk, 'Treatment of Russians'. - Daily Standard, Brisbane, 20 May 1919, p. 3

Russians at law. Action for defamation. - Daily Standard, Brisbane, 13 May 1920, p. 5

From Russian Anzacs in Australian History:

Later on, disillusioned by the bloodshed of war, some Russians would bitterly say that this 6 shillings was the price of their betrayal. Walter Kalasnikoff, who came back from the war, half-blinded by an explosion was one who expressed this sentiment. In 1918 at the Russian Association in Brisbane he had the courage to say, pointing to his returned soldiers' badge: 'It is my dishonour! I have sold myself for 6s and went to kill my fellow-men!' The newspaper carried the response of a group of Russian returned soldiers, headed by Leo Berk, who dissociated themselves from Kalasnikoff, by saying, 'we think that Mr Kalashnikoff [Kalasnikoff] is the only returned Russian soldier who possess the bad instinct of the renegade'. They went on to declare, 'We went to the front not for 6/- as Mr Kalashnikoff did, but to give our lives in the fight for Russia and her allies in this Great World war for democracy and peace'.

[...] Kalasnikoff's opponents were all men from a different social background and with different political sympathies: Leo Berk, Serguey Kalinin, Nicholas Silantiff, Matfeus Oleinikoff, Akim Petroff, Steven Orloff, George Diaconescu, Conrad Shlipnekoff, and Nicholas Fedorovich. They accused Kalasnikoff of having connections with Simonoff, the Soviet-appointed consul, and declared that they 'will fight the so-called Bolsheviks to the bitter end'. Of these, Serguey Kalinin was considered to be a socialist who opposed bolshevism; but Leo Berk, the instigator of this campaign, was an informant for the security services, according to Raymond Evans. Moreover, in a couple of years' time two of the others, Nicholas Silantiff and Steven Orloff, will apply for Simonoff's assistance to return to Russia -- to join these very bolsheviks that, here, they claimed to be fighting.