Anna Kamensky (1897-1952) was the first General Secretary of the Russian Section of the Theosophical Society.
Annie Besant wrote of her:
Anna Kamensky was born at Pavloosk, in the environs of Petersurg, in 1867, of a family belonging to the Russian Nobility. A domestic tragedy robbed her in childhood of her father, and at two years of age she left Russia, with her grandmother, mother, godmother, and two sisters; they lived first on the borders of the Staarenbergsee, near Munich and later near Stuttgart, and then near Frankfort-on-Maine; in 1875 they went to Geneva, and the young Anna studied there - as so many of her compatriots have done - until 1882.
Her mother was poetical, artistic and musical, and this surrounded her childhood with a sunny atmosphere, made yet happier by her godmother, who was her tenderest nurse and friend, a woman of extraordinary sweetness and spirituality, a veritable saint of whom her godchild speaks with intense devotion and gratitude.
In 1882, she returned to Petersburg, and began to study for the University, but in 1883 the family was in great financial straits, and she found herself, at sixteen, with her family to support; abandoning her studies - which she took up again from 1896 to 1900 - she devoted herself to earning money by teaching.
In 1887, doubts drove her out of the Greek Church, and she found herself deprived of the help of religion, torn with agony over social and humanitarian problems, the sufferings of her country becoming a poignant personal pain. Her inner sufferings did not, however, harden her heart, and she labored earnestly to raise her people, especially by taking part in free education. The reward of her self-sacrifice came. In the midst of a hopeless night of despair and anguish, the light of Theosophy dawned upon her, on hearing, in 1902, the lectures delivered in London by myself. It was, so she wrote: "as the sudden illumination of a radiant light in a house closed up in darkness for years, like a tomb. Since that blessed moment I have worked with enthusiasm for the cause; in the midst of tests I am happy; I breathe 'the peace which passeth understanding'. Whatever may come in the future, whatever trials may test our work, I know that the end of all is Light, that though forms may break, the Spirit abides, and all is well."
Again, she writes: "One thing which seemed strange to me, before studying Theosophy, was the intensity with which I lived in the past, my passionate love for the East, for Egypt,, for India, and my worship for those who were the idols of my soul since childhood - Hypatia and Giordano Bruno. I have cried bitterly in those early years over th idea that they were no more, that I lived in another age, that I could never see them nor know them; I had been born too late, and the world without them was grey and void."
It is to Anna Kamensky's steadfastness courage and wise discretion that the Theosophical Society owes its Russian child. Mlle. Nina de Gernet has also worked assiduously, sowing the good seed far and wide, and she was the pioneer of Theosophy in Russia. Her arm devotion for her country made her one of the nursing sisterhood during the Russo-Japanese war, and she could not reap the harvest of the seed she sowed. Her work was taken and carried to a successful conclusion by the strength ad tact of Anna Kamensky. It was no light task to obtain a legal status for the T. S. in Russia, and for many years members were in danger of imprisonment, and their meetings liable to be broken up by the police. Now Theosophy is becoming respected; it has a growing literature, its propaganda is public, its meetings safe. All honor to the nobel band that labored valiantly through the darkness, and to Russia's first General Secretary, Anna Kamensky.
- Ideals of Peace and Brotherhood by Anna Kamensky
- The Light of the Russian Soul: A Personal Memoir of Early Russian Theosophy by Elena F. Pisareva
- Annie Besant, "Theosophical Worthies: Anna Kamensky," The Theosophist 32.5 (Feb, 1911), 835-837.