Like his cousin by marriage Andrei Golitsyn, Nikolai Trubetskoy has invested time and money in the publication of his relatives’ writings. In 2015, he published his father’s memoirs, which features an altered Trubetskoy family crest on the cover with barbed wire, representing the camps, and birch trees, recalling his time fighting the Nazis as a partisan in World War Two.

Andrei Golitsyn has arranged for the publication of several of his predecessors’ memoirs, including his grandfather’s in 2015 and his father’s in 2008.

In a similar act of remembrance, a cousin of Tatyana Golitsyn, Katya Galitzine, who lives in the United Kingdom, founded a library in a former Golitsyn estate in St. Petersburg.

Nikolai Trubetskoy, whose nickname in school was “prince”, is also an amateur videographer and has recorded his relatives telling their life stories. He says that despite what happened to his family, neither he nor his father are motivated by hatred.

“My grandmother also suffered a lot under the Soviet Union and when we were young we asked whether she wanted revenge,” he says. “And she said something very correct: ‘I forgave these people a long time ago, though I have not forgotten.’”

Modern aristocrats

Unlike the relatively numerous Golitsyns, other prominent aristocratic families almost ceased to exist under Communist rule.

Nikolai Trubetskoy’s father, Andrei Trubetskoy, was the only male Trubetskoy to survive despite being one of ten children. And after the death of Pavel Sheremetyev during the Second World War there was not a single male Sheremetyev in the Soviet Union.

While relatives from abroad did much to continue traditions, many became distant and learned new languages. “They became different people and the people who stayed became different people,” says historian Smith.

Andrei Golitsyn says he agrees with his great-grandfather, a three-term mayor of Moscow under Russia’s last tsar, who believed the revolution happened because of decades of injustice. But Andrei prefers not to accuse individuals. “What happened, happened,” he says, “it’s difficult to blame people while sitting in a warm house in Moscow.”

Life and property rights in modern Russia are more secure than during the Soviet Union. Still, Nikolai Trubetskoy, now president of mid-sized logistics firm NEK Group, fears everything could be taken away again. “The authorities use the same methods: fear, fear, fear,” he says. “Everything could return to what it was like under Soviet power.”

Many see it as their duty to put their family on a more stable footing by producing heirs who will continue the name.

Nikolai Trubetskoy and his three brothers have 7 sons between them. Andrei and Tatyana Golitsyn have four sons. “We have to preserve the family and multiply,” says Nikolai Trubetskoy.