Primož Jakopin, photo diary

Russia : Kalač
Where His Vision Sailed*

May 5, 2018, 44 pictures


Jacques Feliksovich Jacobin (JFJ) / Жак Феликсович Якобин, 1897 - 1993

          He was born on April 10, 1897 in Vrhnika pri Ložu, now Slovenia, at the time part of Austro-Hungarian empire, as Jakob Jakopin jr., nicknamed Japec, and died on April 13, 1993 in Kalač, Russia. JFJ participated in the World War I, was wounded several times, fought on the Austro-Italian front in the Tyrolean Alps and later on the Eastern front with Russia in Galicia, where he was wounded for the last time and captured towards the end of the war. From 1922 he lived in France, where he graduated in agronomy in Paris. He could not get work in his profession so he found a job at the French Railways in international traffic, as a technical manager of trains on lines to Spain, Italy, Turkey (Orient Express) and Scandinavia. In the spring 1932 he lost his job, answered a newspaper job ad for work as an agronomist in Russia and departed there on a BMW motorcycle. Of several places on offer he chose Kalač because here the dry climate and steppe landscape make the agriculture especially challenging. He spent most of his life there as an inventor of agricultural machinery. His most remarkable achievement was the rotational earth loosener which imitates the wolf's step and is a predecessor of modern low-impact nature friendly earth cultivation. Though JFJ lived a rather austere life and was never allowed to visit his homeland, in his later years and especially after 1993 his contribution to the benefit and progress of Russia was widely acknowledged and appreciated.
          How did JFJ come to this page? His father Jakob is the grandfather of the writer of these lines, whose father Franc, a university teacher of Russian, was the member of the family who kept contact with JFJ (in Russian language, for several now less obvious reasons) in his Kalač and Voronež years, since 1957. From the outbreak of World War II till that year, when a short notice on a postcard arrived, there was no voice of JFJ. The family believed that he disappeared in the war. So Franc named his second son, born in 1951, after JFJ - he gave him JFJ's nickname, Japec, as he was called at home. The voyage to Russia, depicted in this report, was long overdue and was triggered this time by the opening of the monument to JFJ in December 2017.
          It really was a great pleasure to see what a celebrity our uncle has become. But the welcome, hospitality and attention his nephews received during the visit to Kalač are simply impossible to forget, they are beyond comparison.

Most images are approximately 768 x 1024 pixels in size. Numbers in front of picture descriptions are serial numbers of the original photo files. Full names of persons in the pictures: Olja Nikolaevna and Aleksander Egorovič Kozinin, Nina Aleksandrovna Vinokurova, Japec Jakopin, Andreja Peterlin, Ilja Vasilevič Petrovič Kaminin, Sergej Vladimirovič Percev, Nikolaj Timofeevič Kotolevskij, Tatjana Vasiljevna Mirošnikova, Tatjana Dmitrievna Sirjakova and Elena Andreevna Isaeva.
In this report Russian names are, with rare exceptions, not written in the prevalent American fashion, but in a Slovenian one, Aleksander instead of Alexander, Olja instead of Olya, Kalač instead of Kalach.

Pictures photo and copyright (c) Primož Jakopin 2018.


At Home of Olja and Aleksander


40113. Aerial view of the table with an ample, magnificent breakfast



40115. House cat Archie on the window sill, with two scale sculpture models and three busts in the background



40117. Olja has a new student who just completed the first work, a clay bird whistle.



PTU - Professional Technical School / ПТУ Профессионально-техническое училище


40130. Laying carnations to the marble plate, dedicated to the memory of JFJ



40143. Our interests and achievements / Наши увлечения и достижения - the main focus of the school's Memorial Room



40142. Talent for the benefit of Russia / Талант на благо России - a paneau devoted to the contributions of JFJ



40138. Patent certificate for the Press for hay and straw / Авторское свидетельство - Пресс для сена и соломы, awarded to JFJ for his invention on June 20, 1950



40139. The best portrait of JFJ in his Kalač time, he was a teacher at PTU from 1947 to 1957



40141. Grain combines / Trailed combine harvesters S-6 and RSM-8 / Construction, mechanical care, repair - a booklet from 1957



40116. Nina Aleksandrovna, the school director - she often spoke to JFJ in his late years.



Jacques Feliksovich Jacobin / Жак Феликсович Яакобин Monument in the October Square


40145. The monument, GRP composite, 1.3 life size, work of Aleksander Egorovič



40120. Laying carnations into the hands of JFJ



40121. The monument, close view ...



40122. ... with the sculptor ...



40124. ... and a twin Japec appearance - JFJ was called Japec (pron. Yapets) in his Slovenian years, while his nephew in the picture is also Japec.



40123. The TV crews



40128. JFJ's head from the side ...



40126. ... and a semi-front view



40144. Detail of the machine plan in JFJ's hand



Kalač State Farm / Калачеевский Совхоз


40149. The entrance to the farm, once one of the biggest in Russia, with field area of over 100.000 hectares.



40151. JFJ worked here from 1932 to 1947 - his nephew Japec is laying flowers to the memorial plate.



40146. Our guides to the historic sites at the farm ...



40147. ... Ilja Vasilevič Petrovič ...



40148. ... and Sergej Vladimirovič.



40154. Lathe Department, where JFJ developed many of his ideas, ...



40153. ... is hidden behind the truck mechanic workshop ...



40155. ... but is still in the same place, in the same room.



40158. Most equipment, like this press, withstood all tests of time.



40159. Friendly conversation about a life of a mechanical engineer



40161. Aleksander at the long lathe ...



40162. ... which definitely originates from the JFJ years at the farm.



40164. The old water tower



Reception at the Seat of the Kalač region


40166. Administrative Direction of the Kalač Region, represented by the head, Nikolaj Timofeevič, hand in hand with the Kalač mayor, Tatjana Vasiljevna, went to great lengths to make the last leg of our voyage to and from Kalač as smooth as possible and to make our stay a pleasant one. During the meeting at the Direction and later during the lunch, depicted here, we got acquainted and exchanged views and thoughts about JFJ and his role in connecting the two countries on both sides of his life.



"Jubilee" Culture Center / Дом культуры "Юбилейный"


40168. View of the building across the Lenin Square, Kalač center, as close to it as it gets



40173. The exhibition of Viktor Petinov, from the village Russkaya Buylovka / Русская Буйловка, was on display in the first floor, mainly portraits. He is an extraordinary artist who, after education in fine art, spent his entire working career as an operator of a giant excavator in an opet-pit mine, and returned to painting only after retiring, with great success.



40169. A large-scale stained glass mural in the lobby of the first floor )above the entrance, seen from the outside on the picture 40168)



40170. The Petinov exhibition guide kindly showed us also a few works from the house collection of Kalač artists and the most persuasive was this painting by Gennadij Babenko, titled Autumn 1941 / Осень 1941 г. It is an all inclusive, perfect depiction of the tragedy 80 years ago and, sadly, of many events taking place today, not far away.



Kalač Museum / Калачеевский краеведческий музей


40167. Head of JFJ, by Ivan Emeljanovič Lopatin



40176. Wind mill in the museum yard



40177. Soil ripper / рыхлитель почви, an invention of JFJ, in the wind mill



Tolučeyevka river / река Толучеевка


40182. Downstraem view from the bridge (Ulica 1. Maja) of Tolučeevka, one of the two rivers on the confluence of which Kalač was founded



40184. An upstream view with an island in the background



Kalač Central Library / Калачеевская центральная библиотека


40183. Library director, Tatjana Dmitrievna (second from the right), and some participants of the presentation on the family and origins of JFJ, prepared by his nephews Primož and Japec, given by Primož.



  From Moscow to Kalač, May 4     Kalač Chalk Cave, May 5  

This page, text and photos by Primož Jakopin; send inquiries and comments to primoz jakopin guest arnes si (insert dots and at sign as appropriate). Page initiated on May 20, 2018; date of last change: June 6.