Rare Book & Manuscript Library

Leonid Cherepen'kin Papers, 1910s-1980s

Summary Information


The papers comprise Leonid Cherepe'nkin's recollection about bombing of Dresden during World War II, his poetry, and family photographs. The collection stored at BAR General Manuscripts Collection.

At a Glance

Call No.: BA#0532
Bib ID 9051624 View CLIO record
Creator(s) Cherepenʹkin, Leonid Vasilʹevich
Title Leonid Cherepen'kin Papers, 1910s-1980s
Physical Description .25 linear feet (7 folders)
Language(s) English .

This collection is located on-site as part of the BAR General Manuscripts Collection.

This collection has no restrictions.



This collection is organized in three series.



The collection consists of Leonid Cherepen'kin's writings and photographs. The manuscript "Dies Irae i mnogoe drugo", written in the beginning of 1980s, is a recollection of author's experience in Dresden in early 1945. Describing the bombing of Dresden, which Leonid Cherepen'kin miraculously survived, author presents the scenes of German order and chaos in the face of inevitable capitulation; conversations with people he met, the mood of the civilian population, his first love to a German girl, refugees who were running to the West fearing of the advancing Red Army. Of all his ordeals and tribulations in Germany, the author chose this episode of his life, because it was the most terrible of the nearness of death and left the most lasting impression. There are also Leonid Cherepen'kin's poetry, family photographs, and biographical note written by Tatiana Shmulevich in 2010. The collection stored at BAR General Manuscripts Collection.

Using the Collection

Rare Book and Manuscript Library

Restrictions on Access

This collection is located on-site as part of the BAR General Manuscripts Collection.

This collection has no restrictions.

Terms Governing Use and Reproduction

Single photocopies may be made for research purposes. Permission to publish material from the collection must be requested from the Curator of the Bakhmeteff Archive. The RBML approves permission to publish that which it physically owns; the responsibility to secure copyright permission rests with the patron.

Preferred Citation

Identification of specific item; Date (if known); Leonid Cherepen'kin Papers; Bakhmeteff General Manuscripts Collection; Bakhmeteff Archive, Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Columbia University Library.


No further accruals are expected

About the Finding Aid / Processing Information

Columbia University Libraries, Rare Book and Manuscript Library

Processing Information

Papers processed Katia Shraga 10/--/1999.

Finding aid written Katia Shraga 10/--/1999.

Revision Description

2011-10-18 xml document instance created by Carrie Hintz

2019-05-20 EAD was imported spring 2019 as part of the ArchivesSpace Phase II migration.

Subject Headings

The subject headings listed below are found in this collection. Links below allow searches at Columbia University through the Archival Collections Portal and through CLIO, the catalog for Columbia University Libraries, as well as ArchiveGRID, a catalog that allows users to search the holdings of multiple research libraries and archives.

All links open new windows.


Heading "CUL Archives:"
"CUL Collections:"
"Nat'l / Int'l Archives:"
Manuscripts (documents) Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Memoirs Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Photographs Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID


Heading "CUL Archives:"
"CUL Collections:"
"Nat'l / Int'l Archives:"
World War, 1939-1945 -- Personal narratives Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID

History / Biographical Note

Biographical / Historical

Leonid Vasil'evich Cherepen'kin was born in Pskov in 1922. His life, in many ways, was the typical life of a member of the intelligentsia from that time period - he lived through the war, survived prison camps, worked in mines and construction, and was always under surveillance by the KGB.

Leonid's father was a mathematics teacher. A first generation intellectual, he was scrupulously honest and had an extraordinary appreciation for books. He managed to acquire them even in the most straitened circumstances, building an excellent library with many rare books and lifetime editions. He instilled in his son a similar passion for books and broad knowledge of good literature. Leonid's mother, whom he adored and honored all his life, was from a family of priests. Her father, Ivan Kulikov, was a true pastor to his parishioners, and many of them voluntarily followed him when he was sent to exile after the revolution. After the German occupation of Pskov in 1941, Leonid's father agreed to become mayor in order to ameliorate the living conditions of Pskov citizens. During the occupation, he helped hide Jewish families. Nineteen-year-old Leonid was not called to serve in the army because he was then ill with jaundice. He started working at the library during Pskov's occupation. In 1943, the Germans in Pskov sent valuable books to Germany, accompanied by those people who had prepared the books for shipment. Thus Leonid ended up in the enemy's territory. While working in various places, he managed to establish contacts with anti-fascists. Through these contacts, Leonid then began to complete small assignments related, as he learned long after, to the family affairs of those who were preparing an attempt on Hitler's life. Leonid was fluent in German, and he even knew a few dialects. In 1945, he reported to the Soviet commandant, and was immediately arrested and accused of collaboration with the enemy. Only by chance did he escape execution and was instead sentenced to ten years. (His father was sentenced to serve eight years in prison camps. In the novel "V chas dnia, vashe prevoskhoditel'stvo" by Arkadii Vasil'ev, Leonid's father figures under the name Cherepenin, as a traitor, a servant of the occupiers, etc.). Leonid served his sentence in Kazakhstan, in Dzheskazgan, working there as a rate-fixer. He participated in the revolt of prisoners in Kengir (this uprising was later described by Solzhenitsyn), which was suppressed by tanks. In the camp, Leonid met many wonderful people, who later became well known as dissidents, writers, and scientists. He personally knew all the prototypes of One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich by Solzhenitsyn. He was released in 1955. He could not return to Pskov, because it would be impossible for him to get a job and live a normal life there. So, he married and lived in Kharkov, then Lipetsk, where there was a need for construction workers. He graduated from the Faculty of Philology at the Pedagogical Institute. Though he wrote a promising thesis on Dante, he continued to work as a fixer, as it was difficult to make a living as a teacher.

Leonid Vasil'evich Cherepen'kin died in 1991. He was buried in Pskov, next to the grave of his mother, according to his wish.