The Salisbury Times, Salisbury, MD, Friday Evening, May 11, 1945
Somebody’s Found Peace
By Peter Edson
San Francisco – To Ahmet Emin Yalman, president representative of the Turkish delegation to the United Nations Conference has come one of the strangest and pleasantest experiences of the whole San Francisco meeting marking the end of another smaller search for peace that began back in 1939. Or maybe it began a couple of hundred years before that. Anyway—
In 1939 Yalman was a Turkish commissioner to the World’s Fair in New York.
In June of that year there came to the Turkish Embassy in Washington a delegation of Molokans from California. They wanted to migrate to Turkey and the case came to the attention of Commissioner Yalman in New York because it was in the nature of “new business.”
Now the Molokans are a lovely people, a clean and humble people something like the American Quakers. The word “Molokan” means “a drinker of milk.” They eat no pork. Molokans are pacifists.
Originally they came from what used to be Southern Russia, though their homelands are now in Turkey on the Russian border. Over the centuries they had built up their own customs and culture in which the desire for peace was always a dominant influence.
When they grew tired of the continual warring and massacres on the Turkish-Russian border, some of the younger spirits migrated to America to find peace. Here they prospered. There is a small colony of them in San Francisco, larger communities of several thousand families in the Fresno and Los Angeles areas. They made good citizens, pay their taxes and they never cause any trouble.
But in 1939 a group of these Molokans from the Los Angeles colony wanted to return to their homeland and they came to the Turkish Embassy in Washington to see what could be done about it. Their reason for wanting to leave America was this:
One of the prophets of the Molokans had a dream. In this dream it was revealed to him that the whole world was going to be engulfed in a horrible war. The United States was going to be involved in this war, according to the prophet, and the only country in the world that wouldn’t be involved would be Turkey.
So the Molokans wanted to go back where they came from to live in peace.
Well, the Turkish Embassy staff and Commissioner Ahmet Emin Yalman thought this was very nice, but a little bit crazy. If there was a war they figured Turkey would be among the first countries to be involved and the United States would be the last. Why didn’t the Molokans realize that and stay where they were in peaceful America?
So the Molokans came back to California, and here they have stayed. But Ahmet Emin Yalman now an editor of a newspaper in Turkey never forgot the strange dream of the Molokan prophet and when editor Yalman arrived in San Francisco for the United Nations Conference, one of his first requests was to visit the Molokans.
They arranged a little meeting of the Molokan Mothers’ Club out at the neighborhood house in San Francisco’s Potrero Hill district. Editor Yalman went out with six other members of the Turkish delegation, and they had a wonderful time. There were several hundred of the older people there. They all talked Turkish and they all wanted to shake hands with every one of the delegates. The younger Molokans have drifted away from the old traditions somewhat and become Americanized. But the old folks wanted to hear how things were with their relatives and forebears back on the Turkish border. They were told.
The Molokans’ desire to return home, however, is all gone. It was just a dream. They’ve found peace here.