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Category: History

Relationship of autocracy and officer corps of the Russian Empire at the beginning of the 20th century

A.V. arist


History of the Russian officer corps always takes a place of honor in works of domestic researchers. At the same time not enough attention was paid to a problem of relationship of officer corps with representatives of the government. It was connected, first of all, with the fact that per se, the officer of imperial Russia long time, on the known circumstances, was not a subject of serious study.

Interest in this perspective was shown in 60-80 g of last century with the advent of a number of researches. A.P. Zayonchkovsky's works are among the most considerable works, And. Item Zilina, A.I. Verkhovsky, L.G. Beskrovny. These researches contain huge amount of the material covering problems of relationship of officer corps with the last representatives of a dynasty of Romanov. However their comprehensive study is still far from over. Emergence in a scientific turn of new sources and materials induces to more concrete research of this subject.

Results of the analysis of interaction of officer corps of imperial Russian army with the autocratic Government of the Russian Federation are given in this article during World War I.

Throughout several centuries the Russian officer corps played an important role in socio-political life of the state. The problem of the relations of the Russian imperial army with the government is difficult and many-sided. Special attention class "core" of autocracy, its relationship with officer corps - the main support of a dynasty deserves.

In the thousand-year history of the Russian state among forty princes, tsars and emperors who at different times were at "a wheel of the power" there were governors weak and unsuccessful, were skillful and ingenious. Shortcomings of some on an extent

centuries were leveled by dozens of others. In the creation they leaned on three great abutment: spiritual power of orthodox church, the creative genius of the people and on valor of the Russian army. Not their approach and to questions of internal life of armed forces was absolutely unambiguous. The autocracy defined selection of the highest command shots, and to some extent and the structure of all officer corps. Influence of the authorities affected also training of troops, the survivability the parade-ground front doors of the traditions training troops for various effective reviews and parades and, to a lesser extent, for actions on fields of battles was a consequence of what. The Russian autocrats of the closest for themselves considered the field of management military. Exactly here believed themselves the most competent experts owing to what lives of army interfered extensively, in most cases doing only harm, than advantage. Except Peter the Great who created regular armed forces all other monarchs, to a greater or lesser extent, in every possible way interfered with normal development of the Russian army. For them the army first of all was represented as the certain harmonious and beautiful weight dashingly marching in Tsaritsyn Luga.

Military construction and management of army was performed in line with nation-wide policy on protection of external boundaries and strengthening of bases of an autocratic system within the country. The military sphere was only care of the emperor and his immediate environment that was shown in development of the military doctrine of the state, in improvement of bodies of military management and organizational structures of troops, in development of a system of preparation and training of officers, in definition of the main directions of technical modernization of armed forces and also in the solution of questions of social security and household arrangement of staff.

The last Russian Emperor Nicholas II paid to army life much attention. Military traditions and standards of behavior for which the Russian army was famous strongly became usual for royal family. The military service of future autocrat was since birth reckoned. It was enlisted by Alexander II's order in all shelves and offices of leyb-guard in which also his father consisted. A little later Nicholas was made in commanders of a squadron of the privileged Preobrazhensky Regiment. Young Crown Prince received thorough drill, and not only in household troops, but also in army infantry. At the request of the

the majestic father Alexander III he served as the junior officer in the 65th Moscow infantry regiment. It was the first case of service of the member of reigning House of Romanovs in a system of army infantry [1]. Nicholas II was twenty six years old when his father died. He just otkomandovat battalion in Preobrazhenskoye the shelf and had to receive soon a generalship and command of a regiment, but unexpectedly he received the immense Russian Empire in management. Military affairs after the death of the father on a short period were pushed into the background. But could not forget the attachment to the officer Nicholas II environment. As the sovereign admitted, he felt freely only in a circle of officers. Filling out the column of the track record, he with own hand wrote: "Nikolay Romanov", and about service life - "to a grave" [2]. He considered himself the military, the first professional military of the empire, without allowing in this regard any compromise. It seemed to Nicholas II that he is allocated from god with talent of the military leader. When the conversation came about army life, the emperor considered that only it and nobody else can get along better with military science. Once in one of such talk the sovereign in a sharp form objected the Minister of War V.A. Sukhomlinov: "Provide, Vladimir Aleksandrovich, to judge more authoritatively naval questions to us, sailors" [3].

At royal family the system of relationship with officer corps was fulfilled. In days of births of Nicholas II, his mother, wife or children all military units were exempted from classes and exercises. Members of royal family were chiefs of many regiments and quite often presented with gifts of officers.

Similar events were expressly solemn. It was demonstration of location of the ruling house to army. Representatives of the male line were enlisted on military service since the birth. For Romanov' family the officer corps were not only a security measure of the state, but, first of all, an instrument for ensuring of own safety, only a real support of a throne. In order that it is stronger to attach to itself army, Romanov used at some command positions of grand dukes. Nicholas II's relatives, and them at him was much, held key posts in army. Experience of the previous wars showed perversity and insolvency of a similar system of appointments. Ordering separate connections and childbirth of weapon, grand dukes quite often on own initiative brought

confusion and confusion in management of troops, constantly interposing in the matter of the Defense Ministry. Not without reason S.Yu. Witte said to A.I. Kuropatkin on the eve of his appointment as the Minister of War that his main enemies will be grand dukes. "This big evil, - he concluded. - Nothing is recognized. The law for them is not written" [4].

But the heaviest impression was made on officer corps by intervention in public affairs of the empress Alexandra Fiodorovna and "the miracle aged man" of Grigory Rasputin. So, the chief of staff of the Supreme Commander M.V. Alekseev answered a question of participation of the queen in defeats: "At analysis of papers of the empress I found at her the map with detailed designation of troops of all front which was produced all in duplicate - for me and the sovereign. It made the depressing impression on me, you never know who and where could use it. It is more words. Changed the topic" [5].

On August 23, 1915 there was a considerable event, both for army, and for royal family. The grand duke Nikolay Nikolaevich was displaced from a post of the Supreme Commander. This unexpected decision at once had negative impact on troops.

Representatives of the Russian officer corps critically treated the decision of the sovereign to enter a position of the Supreme Commander.

All well understood that at isolation of character and Nicholas II's indecision to wait for any positive results was useless. The commander of armies of the Southwest front general A.A. Brusilov, having learned about the decision of the tsar to head army, noted: "In addition to all these disasters the Supreme Commander grand duke Nikolay Nikolaevich was displaced, and the tsar picked up reins, having appointed himself the Supreme Commander. Nobody (and army, of course) believed in art and knowledge of military science by Nicholas II, and it was obvious that the chief of staff - again appointed general M.V. Alekseev will become the Supreme director". Similar moods were inherent in most of officers of the Russian army. Representatives of officer corps were still ready to execute the oath, but, at the same time, understood clearly that it is already impossible to save autocracy. In the years of war foundations on which the throne kept began to fall promptly. Monarchic moods in officers gradually disappeared, and instead of them hatred to the tsar amplified and

to all autocratic system in Russia. Such army not only stopped being a reliable support for Romanov' dynasty, but, on the contrary, began to threaten its existence.

World War I became a boundary of an open rupture of the autocratic power with the Russian officers. The imperial government made a cruel gaffe, having underestimated a political role in the country of organized and united officer corps. It did not manage neither to prepare it, nor to use it, nor to focus it.

It is not accidental that after renunciation of Nicholas II's throne, the representatives of the Russian officer corps exempted by the tsar from the oath in the majority at once recognized Provisional government both honestly and selflessly continued the work. For them above all there was a love for the country. It is worth to remember also about that circumstance that by the time of Nicholas II's renunciation the Russian officers were presented by nobility least. The diluted in the structure with representatives of different estates of the Russian Empire, officer corps were already ready not so monarchic as earlier. Having nursed a deep grievance at an autocratic system, the officers-commoners made in this rank during world war understood to what serious consequences Romanov led the country. They clearly realized that the autocracy will stop the existence, and at the same time soon that the country crushed and dishonored thanks to inept actions of the tsarist government, nevertheless will come for years of the serious illness to natural regeneration and will rise by heights of greatness and glory. Such fact was remarkable. The officer bringing protection of the palace, belonging to raznochinny layers of the Russian society parted guard on the palace once. Nicholas II, having taken away the officer, approached him and gave a hand for a greeting. The officer receded on a step and did not accept a hand. The former emperor tried to smooth a scene. Having approached him closely and having put him a hand on a shoulder, asked it: "Why, my friend?" What the officer answered: "I from the people. When the people gave you a hand, you did not accept it. Now and I to you will not offer a hand" [6].

A part of the Russian officer corps did not support Nicholas II's renunciation, moreover, this idea seemed to it terrible and ridiculous in the statement. The officers belonging to this category for the rest of the natural remained mo-

narkhichesk adjusted. They could not imagine Russia the republic. Later their most part joined ranks of Volunteer army and shared lot of the white movement.

Without wishing to recognize Nicholas II's renunciation, a part of radical officers was going to stand up for a royal throne. Among officers is army and the fleet the leaflets suggesting to stand up still "For Vera, the Tsar and the Fatherland" and to ask Nicholas II to prevail back renunciation were distributed. "For the Tsar good luck forward", - such is there was a slogan of some officers [7]. But it was already impossible to fight for a throne of the tsar who renounced it. Time for fight was missed. The most part of officer corps understood need of search of a new way of development of the Homeland.

• Thus, it should be noted that for several years of World War I

wars the officer corps radically changed the attitude to an autocratic system. The position of army was defined by officers which during the military campaign of 1914-1917 were strongly democratized, especially in a younger and average link. The highest command structure of army was also dissatisfied with the policy of the government. The last representative of House of Romanovs, Nicholas II, did not hold former authority on the officer environment any more. Confidence that Nicholas II's leaving will raise fighting capacity of army, will regenerate the country and grants it a victory, got stronger every day. With rare exception, the most part of officer corps was unaffected by news of renunciation. The interests of Russia were for them above all. Having got into difficulties during the February revolution, many officers recognized need of changes, seeing in it the only exit from the situation.

1. Yu.N. Danilov. On the way to the crash//the Military and historical magazine, 1991. No. 10. Page 84.
2. In the same place. Page 156
3. Brusilov.A. My memoirs. M, 1983. Page 156.
4. P.A. Zayonchkovsky. Autocracy and the Russian army at a boundary of HGH-HH of century (1881-1903). M, 1973. Page 50.
5. A.I. Denikin. Essays of the Russian distemper//history Questions. 1990. No. 3. Page 128.
6. A.A. Kersnovsky. History of the Russian army. M, 1992. T. 4. Page 267.
7. A.I. Verkhovsky. On the difficult pass. M, 1959. Page 118.
Salvador Miles
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