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Boris Skossyreff

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Boris Skossyreff (12 June 1896? though some records suggest 1898 – Vilnius, then part of Tsarist Russia–1989, Boppard, then part of West Germany, now Germany)

Boris Skossyreff was an adventurer of Russian origin who attempted to become King of Andorra in 1934. Much of the verifiable information about him is fragmentary and there is much misinformation about him - to which he himself contributed.

He left a paper trail of sorts in The Times and other newspapers, and in a number of Foreign Office files, which have mostly been weeded, leaving only entries in the index system.

The evidence is that he left Russia at about the time of the Bolshevik Revolution, possibly having rendered services to British and other military forces. At one point he became connected with a Japanese Military Mission to the UK, whose departure was noted in a FO file: there was an incident involving one of the Japanese representatives, as noted in a file. It would appear from a comment on a BBC website page that Skossyreff may have been acting as an interpreter for Irish units.

He opened a bank account with the Russo-Asiatic Bank in London and in January 1919 was in Westminster Police Court charged with failing to pay his hotel bills and, as a foreignor, failing to register a change of address. The moneys owed were eventually paid by others. Records of the incident appear to be confined to several articles in The Times.

At some point thereafter he acquired a Nansen passport and then a Belgian one: he travelled much, and was, briefly married.

In 1934 - a year after a political upheaval in Andorra, Boris Skossyreff attempted his claim on Andorra, not actually residing in the country. He declared war on the Bishop of Urgel, who had him arrested and he was taken to Barcelona, after which he was expelled, and travelled through various countries, some of his journeys being recorded in The Times and other newspapers. He travelled variously thereafter before settling in France. During WWII he ended up in a concentration camp in 1944, before serving as a ‘special officer’ (Sonderführer) on the Eastern Front. In 1945 he was taken by the Americans, was released (being neither German nor Nazi) and went to Boppard (afterwards part of West Germany, now part of Germany). In 1948 he was arrested in Eisenach, Thuringia (then in Soviet Sector of Germany, afterwards East Germany), tried and sent to Siberia, from whence he returned to Boppard in 1956, being granted a small state pension.

He died on 27 February 1989.

A more detailed description of Skossyreff's actual and claimed activities can be found at:

Several other Skossyreffs appear in the records, and it is not clear how they are related. Upon his marriage Boris Skossyreff stated that he was the son of Michel d’Skosyrew and Elisabeth Mawrusow. A French genealogical website has a Michel Skossyreff who had married one Olga Sakalinska, having a daughter Alexandra Mihailovna (1873-1940). The FO records mentioned below refer to a mother and son.

FO records

  • 1919: W38 31867 Behaviour of Major Hoshimoto in connection with Boris Skossyreff. FO attitudes towards.
  • 1920: 20i745/201745/38 Request for assistance by Irene Skossyroff: processing her reparation from Russia to UK
  • 1921 N3890/N4051/1226/38 Skossyreff-Cheshire, FC, Mrs Reparation Expenses of KL 10256/3764/295

As release of her son, Vadim Skossyreff, from Russia L 16191/16191/238 (file)

  • Skossyref, Boris de, Baron Services rendered to Allied Embassies in Russia in 1918 N9531/9531/38
  • Skossyreff W Welfare K562/562/236 (file)
  • 1932 Boris Skossyreff Activities: nationality L 4227/4227/ (file)
  • 1933 Boris de Skossyreff Activities abroad K 13929/1329/241
  • 1934 Skossyreff, Baron, Pretender to the Throne of Andorra, Activities C5139/5139/17
  • 1935 Skossyreff, Baron de, alias Boris Count of Orange alias Rollo, Capt: Portuguese enquiry respecting L1821/1821/405 (file)