The term Harbin Russians
or Russian Harbinites
refers to several generations of Russians
who lived in the city of Harbin
, a major junction city on the Chinese Eastern Railway
(CER), from approximately 1898 to the mid-1960s.
The people in the Soviet Union
used the terms "KVZhDist" (, "person of the China Eastern Railway") and "Harbinets" (Харбинец, "Harbinite/person from Harbin") to refer to a person with any type of ties to the China Eastern Railway.
The first generation of Harbin Russians
were mostly the builders and employees of the Chinese Eastern Railway
. They moved to Harbin in order to work on the railroad. At the time Harbin was not an established city. The city was almost built from scratch by the builders and early settlers. Houses were constructed, furniture and personal items were brought in from Russia. After the Russo-Japanese War
, while many Russians left Harbin, a lot of long-time residents decided to stay. By 1913, Harbin had become an established Russian colony for the construction and maintenance work on the China Eastern Railway
. A record shows Harbin had a total of 68,549 people, most of which are of Russian
descent. There were a total of 53 different nationalities. Along with Russian
, there were 45 spoken languages used in Harbin at the time. Only 11.5% of all residents were born in Harbin. There were lively religious activities, too, by the Russians......