The Bizarre, Surreal Case of Count Vonsiatsky, the ‘Vozhd’ of the All-Russian Fascist Organization of Connecticut

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The Count (right) with Russian Prince Romanoff

Of the tens of thousands of stories told on Minerd.com, none is as bizarre or surreal as the case of Count Anastase Vonsiatsky, seen here wearing a white-on-blue swastika armband, and the second husband of Marion (Ream) Stevens of the family of Norman Bruce and Caroline (Putnam) Ream.

From 1933 to his arrest in 1942, the Count served as Vozhd, or leader, of the All-Russian Fascist Organization based in Connecticut, with pockets of supporters in Manchuria, Japan and Russia. Born in Warsaw when it was under Russian control, Anastase had served during World War I in an anti-Bolshevik army of “White” Russians, fighting in eastern Ukraine under the command of Gen. Anton Denikin. He claimed that he and others in his unit had massacred 500 prisoners at Rostov, and that he had been wounded in the abdomen by a gunshot, which he carried for the rest of his life.

In a twist of fate, he met divorcee Marion in Paris after the war’s end, and they were married in New York City in 1922, despite her being nearly twice his age. As the daughter of one of America’s wealthiest men, Marion paid Anastase an annual allowance of $25,000, of which he was allowed to spend $10,000 on his “hobby” — the overthrow of the Soviet Union and its dictator, Josef Stalin.

Anastase traveled the world enlisting support for his political cause, joining the Brotherhood of Russian Truth and then, in partnership with Donat Yosifovich Kunle, forming the All Russian Fascist Organization, or “VFO” for short in Russian. To spread his propaganda, he began publishing the Fashist newspaper and set up a local restaurant in Thompson known as the “19th Hole” as his closet headquarters. In 1932, when a press photograph showed him playing golf with Prince Theodore Romanoff (seen here), son of Grand Duke Alexander of Russia, he was billed as “head of the American Branch of the Fund for the Liberation of Russia.” In staged photographs for newspapers, Anastase wore a type of swastika, claiming it was not the German Nazi type but rather pre-Hitler in vintage.

The U.S. government became suspicious of his activities, and one official described him as suffering from paranoia and “colossal delusions of grandeur.” Certain informants claimed that he had met with Hitler, Herman Goering and Rudolf Hess during a trip to Berlin. One source, biographer John J. Stephan, states that at least 20 investigations were opened in the 1930s and early ‘40s. Most of these came to the conclusion that he was of no significance and simply “deranged” and a “nuisance.” Stephan reports that friends and enemies alike used words such as “…erratic, outlandish, megalomaniac, and obsessed.” However, a hard-charging prosecutor, Thomas J. Dodd, who later became a U.S. senator, and seemed to relish the opportunity to gain the limelight using as his weapon the Voorhis Act, which required that certain organizations controlled by foreign powers be officially registered with the federal government. Dodd pressed the matter and compiled a persuasive case. More>>>

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