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The attitude of the Don Cossacks to military service in the 1920th years: problems and contradictions

UDK 9 (With 16) 24



© 2010 G. Tikidzhyan

Rostov academy of service of the Southern Russian state university of economy and service, Varfolomeyev St., 215, Rostov-on-Don, 344018, sgf@rostinserv. of t

Rostov Service Academy of South Russian State University of Economics and Service, Varfolomeev St., 215, Rostov-on-Don, 344018, sgf@rostinserv. ru

The problem of the attitude of the Don Cossacks to service in the Red Army for the 1920th is analyzed. Differences of opinion of donts on a conscription are revealed, the reasons and factors which caused emergence of these distinctions are established. The author's opinion that some part of the Don Cossacks for socio-political motives was negative to need to serve in ranks of RKKA is proved.

The analysis of the attitude of Don cosacks to the military service in the Red Army during 1920 is made. The differences in the opinions of Don Population to the military service are shown, reasons and factors which caused these differences are determined. The author&s opinion is reasoned which showed that some part of Don cosaks because of the social and political motives had negative attitude to the military service in RRCA.

The military service, participation in fights and campaigns represented one of the most important and most characteristic components of activity of the Don Cossacks. So was throughout the entire period of existence of Army of Donskoy - from times legendary Sara-Azman before the crash of the Russian Empire which came true under a roar of bloody battles of World War I. Military art and military-patriotic traditions of the donts which once again showed the combativity in the years of Civil war were demanded also in the first decades of existence of the Soviet state. In particular, the Don Cossacks served in the Red Army for the 1920th, despite all complexity of this period within which and Bolsheviks it was impossible to call relationship of the Cossack communities (including Don) cloudless in any way.

Though such subject as military service of the Don Cossacks in the Red Army in the 1920th, received some reflection in G.L. Voskoboynikov, D.K. Pri-lepskogo, V.D. Batyrev [1] works, the analysis of a historiography allows to note that process of scientific research in this direction is very far from over. So far did not receive satisfactory lighting a number of important questions of the specified subject, without response to which our ideas of stay and a role of donts in the Red Army in the first post-October decade will be approximate and fragmentary. Issues of involvement of Cossacks in command structure, their relationship with the military personnel from other social groups of the Soviet society (workers, peasants, employees), specifics of preconscription training in the Cossack villages and so forth need a detailed research. Considering a condition of a historiography, within the present publication an attempt to cover such important aspect of the touched issue as the relation of representatives of the Cossack community of Don to service in RKKA for the 1920th is made

The order of passing by the Don Cossacks of military service in divisions of the Red Army for the second decade of the 20th century a little than reminded a compulsory military service of imperial Russia. And the principles of the organization and completing of armed forces of the Soviet republic significantly differed from pre-Soviet analogs. In this case Bolshevist theories about "dying off" of army as one of institutes of the state how many urgent need for reforming of RKKA which developed following the results of Civil war played a role not so much. The Soviet Russia ruined by war

did not may support big army any more, however difficulties of an international situation dictated the need to create such mechanism which in case of enemy aggression would allow to increase quickly the number of armed forces at the expense of the trained reservists. Therefore in RSFSR (and then - in the USSR) formation of territorial and militia army began.

The specifics of such system were that the Red Army was divided into personnel and militia (variable structure) parts, and the first were much less, than the second. Red Army men of personnel divisions of RKKA passed the full term of military service directly in location of the military units. Otherwise the situation in militia formations which consisted "of a shot and variable structure" was [2, page 34]. In other words, a kernel of militia divisions were Red Army men and commanders of HR department, but the bulk of the military personnel in such divisions belonged to variable structure. Krasnoarmeytsy-peremenniki (or terarmeyets, i.e. serving in militia and territorial divisions) were attributed to militia parts, but did not bring constant service to them, in barracks were not but only passed periodic and short-term (as a rule, one and a half - two months) military collecting. Before there came time to the Soviet citizens to recover on active duty in regular units or on short-term collecting regarding variable structure, they (at the age of 16 - 18 years) had to have preliminary training for service. It consisted in physical and elementary military training of youth under the general management of the Defense Ministry, but forces and means of the civil organizations on places. Then from 19 years the young citizens of RSFSR (USSR) took a course of preconscription training.

Sources allow to agree with V.S. Sidorov believing fully: "A statement as if the Cossacks till 1936 were deprived of the right to bear military service... to put it mildly, is not true" [3]. In the 1920th the representatives of the party and Soviet and military authorities had nothing against their service in the Red Army. In the Soviet press it was unambiguously specified: "The Cossack army[armies] it is natural militia army because each Cossack since childhood the good equestrian and the dashing fighter. The Cossack, without happening in barracks, already the soldier" [4]. However, leaders of the Communist Party opposed to assumption in the structure of armed forces of those Cossacks which had unseemly (from the point of view of Bolsheviks) a social origin or not

differed in due loyalty to the Bolshevist mode. But here discrimination on class sign as ranks of army were closed also for all in general citizens of the Soviet state whose origin or a social and political position did not suit communists cannot see.

In principle without objecting to execution by "the labor Cossacks" of military service as a part of RKKA, representatives of the Bolshevist management, however, resolutely eradicated a traditional order of the Cossack service. Unlike army of imperial Russia in armed forces of the Soviet state in the 1920th isolated Cossack cavalry (or, is more rare - infantry) divisions were not created any more. In this case Bolsheviks were faithful to the principles of "decossackization", i.e. a desoslovization of the Cossack communities, their gradual dissolution in the mass of country people. Now Cossacks were in accordance with general practice called both in infantry, and in a cavalry; they passed military service in territorial parts side by side not only with the stanichnik, but also with peasants, and with workers. So, many Don Cossacks were attributed as Red Army men-peremennikov to the 9th Don rifle division. On April (1925). A plenum of RCP(b) of the Central Committee the first secretary of the North Caucasian regional committee of RCP(b) A.I. Mikoyan, emphasizing the absence fact as a part of troops of the North Caucasus Military District of specifically Cossack divisions, said: "We in the North Caucasus have territorial cavalry and infantry formations... Among them not only Cossacks, but also non-residents. Therefore name & #34; казачьи" it is wrong because there not only Cossacks" take part [5].

As for the relation to military service to the Soviet state of Don Cossacks, it was not unambiguously positive or negative. The file of document and materials which is at our disposal allows with a sufficient share of confidence to claim that most of representatives of the Cossack community of Don (as well as Kuban, and Terek) in general were positive to need to serve either in personnel, or in territorial parts. The similar choice was defined by several most important circumstances.

First of all in the 1920th and many decades later rural young men, and especially young Cossacks, concerning military service practically had no choice. According to a fair remark of A.Yu. Rozhkov, "in many settlements, especially in the Cossack villages, the young man who was not doing military service traditionally was considered as disabled" [6, page 259]. Public opinion of country (Cossack) society stimulated the younger generations of farmers to pass military service which thus gained the nature of a certain initiation.

Besides, in the conditions of the social mobility which increased in the Soviet Russia there are a lot of young peasants and Cossacks aspired in army to go beyond a close framework of the rural world (Cossack village). And, after all, the army attracted young people kre-

styan and Cossacks an opportunity to increase the educational level, to broaden horizons, to find or strengthen a civic stand. Very well similar hopes of the Cossack youth are transferred in the story by M.A. Sholokhov "A stitch curve", in a plot when after obtaining the agenda on passing of military service the secretary of a stanitsa cell of Komsomol Grishka joyfully speaks to the unlucky friend: "Let's go to army, the odd fellow, we will see the world, and here, okromya manure what is pleasure?. And there, the brother, in armies - the doctrine." [7].

Some part of donts in the 1920th was firmly convinced of need of passing of military service for the purpose of receiving and increase in knowledge and skills necessary for protection of "the socialist Fatherland" against the hostile capitalist environment threatening with aggression. Most often similar moods distinguished the Cossack youth, susceptible to Bolshevist promotion to a large extent. As one of Red Army men-peremennikov wrote to the editorial office of "The country newspaper" in 1928, "I and other my companions as children labor revolutionary kr [estyanst] va with pleasure went to serve the sentence of military service better to be prepared to military-political business and at the right time to become on protection against attack on S.S.S. r the western predators, capitalists, landowners" [8].

Most of the Don Cossacks defined the relation to service in the Red Army, proceeding not from political slogans, and from ages of the developing tradition of service to the Homeland. Many donets in the 1920th, as well as earlier, saw the purpose in military classes and war. They regarded service in armed forces and participation in wars as the hardest, deadly, but honourable work which skillful performance turned the Cossacks into a special military caste allocated the Cossack communities in the mass of farmers. Quite often for such Cossacks military service was nearly a last resort of self-identification, nearly the only remained way to prove the peculiarity, dissimilarity on peasants or workers. Not accidentally in the 1920th the journalists and the party and Soviet figures quite often noted that the Cossacks willingly serve in the Red Army as "the territorial service corresponds to its historical way" [9].

At last, as one more factor stimulating the benevolent attitude of Cossacks to service in parts of the Red Army it is necessary to call the simplification of a military and mobilization burden which happened during the Soviet period. In the 1920th, in comparison with a pre-Soviet era, representatives of the Cossack communities began to see off on service much less time and to spend for it much less than material supplies. In October, 1925 the members of the Veshensky district committee of RCP(b) with pleasure noted that "there is a lot of surprise" at the Cossacks born in 1903 who were subject to mobilization caused that circumstance, "that very much short service life [in RKKA]" [10, l. 8]. Of course, in comparison with 20-year service,

which donets were obliged to pass during the pre-Soviet period according to "The charter about a compulsory military service of the Don army" of April 17, 1875, short-term military collecting in parts of variable structure of the Red Army seemed to Cossacks a real trifle. Highly cut in expenditure on equipment of the recruit also affected what on various mass actions representatives of party soviet leadership very much liked to speak about the relation of donts to service in RKKA. So, on taken place on October 11, 1925 in the station Mityakinskoy of Tarasovsky district of the North Caucasian edge of a non-party Cossack conference one of speakers - somebody Konyaev - triumphantly spoke about superiority of the Soviet mobilization practice over its pre-Soviet analogs: "At a royal system Cossacks as though did not bear tax weight in that form as now, but for that they incurred considerable material expenses in connection with obligatory military service and a number of public duties. Now service in the Red arma (army. - R.T.) is not connected almost with any material inputs. In what you will come in that and accept, wounds she not that: sprav [ь] a saddle, buy loshad [] yes not ABBA what, and good" [11, l. 271 about.].

An indicator of the positive relation of the Cossack youth and in general most of Cossacks to service in the Red Army were military collecting and draft campaigns which, as a rule, proceeded in the Cossack regions of Don without special complications. In this case the draft campaign which was taking place in the fall of 1925 in Veshensky district of the Donetsk district of the North Caucasian edge is a striking example.

In the report of the Veshensky district committee of RCP(b) sent to the district authorities it was said that in the fall of 1925 recruits born in 1903 went to service to RKKA. Most of recruits belonged to the Cossack community as the population of the area almost entirely consisted of Cossacks: according to a census of 1926, from 52.7 thousand locals of 44.9 thousand (85.2%) ranked themselves as the Don Cossacks [12].

Employees of the Veshensky district committee of RCP(b) demonstrated: "Mood to an appeal of both recruits, and the population - quite favorable". To some extent formation of a positive image of RKKA with consciousness of the Cossacks was helped ("played much") by the demobilized Cossacks born in 1902 as they "transferred good about service in the Red Army much" [10, l. 8]. Only "at the highest levels kulachestvo" the unwillingness to go to military service was noticeable ("as, naturally, it was possible to expect"), but "influence [fists on the mass of the Cossacks] any was not". Recruits were on assembly points "in due time and completely in compliance of draft lists except for 2 people"; however these two could be hardly ranked as deserters as one of them died, and another was somewhere outside the area. From personal meeting with recruits the members of a district committee concluded that they are ready "to protect owls -

the government", and on the question "as your fathers treat [need to serve]" the answer [was] one: fathers do not object to an appeal, but here if only in a cavalry" [10, l. 8].

It is necessary to include the curious combination of the Cossack traditions and the Soviet innovations in a draft campaign noticed by members of the Veshensky district committee of RCP(b) in our narration. "To mark out Nebezinteresno", they reported in the Donetsk district committee, "the old traditional phenomena. In old time, probably, called arranged rolling of atamans that is done and at the moment". But, as atamans at the Soviet power were not any more, "recruits of a left-bank part of the Don River after the meeting in the station Veshen-sky began to swing PredRIK (the chairman of district executive committee. - R.T.), the secretary Raykom, etc. RIKa zavotdelam then began to raise money from swinging how many who will give", and "as a result they collected 55 rubles". Recruits tried to receive some sum and from the secretary of a district committee, but the main communist of Veshensky district appeared the guy not a miss and instead of money handed to Cossack recruits "The red flag expressing mood of recruits and new traditions"; thereby the secretary and money kept, and brought a necessary element of Bolshevist ideology in process of wires. "The raised money, it was thought, will go on sing, but it appears them divided among themselves into tobacco and cigarettes" that demonstrated, according to members of a district committee, lack of "drunk and rekrutsky manners" and, therefore, once again favourably emphasized discipline of Cossack recruits [10, l. 8a]. Let's explain that "rekrutsky manners" which employees of the Veshensky district committee of RCP(b) mentioned represented the unlimited consumption of alcohol by recruits which is very extended in the 1920th and their drunk tricks, i.e. "violence with a mass wine party, fights & #34; a wall on стенку" riots of wine benches and market ranks" [6, page 263].

Though most of the Don Cossacks in the 1920th as that is shown by the above-stated example, were positive to need of passing of military service for the Red Army, the Cossack community of Don in this case was not monolithic. Some part of donts crucially, and even sharply negatively perceived a duty "is on duty [ь] to all population of the USSR 2 years" [13] in regular units or at least to undergo short-term military collecting at territorial formations.

Here it is necessary to emphasize that the reason for criticism was available even for those Cossacks who in general were not against "to serve". Even the donets ready it is fair to protect borders of RSFSR (USSR), asked and demanded from the party and Soviet and military authorities to enlist them by tradition in a certain type of military forces, namely - in a cavalry. Authorities repeatedly recognized: "The Cossacks are not enough that it is enlisted in infantry... all Cossacks have a great desire to serve in a cavalry and artillery" [14]. At the Cossack non-party conference in the station Mityakin-

sky Tarasovsky district of the North Caucasian edge, passed on October 11, 1925, the acting Cossacks stated "a wish that the martial spirit and congenital tendencies of Cossacks to a nayezdnichestvo were used Owls. the [etsky] power at an appeal of the Cossack population in military units" [11, l. 275 about.].

It is necessary to tell that finally the government of the Soviet state moved towards wishes of Cossacks and began to send them mainly to sabers (though about any return to pre-Soviet practice of creation of purely Cossack cavalry and the speech did not go because it contradicted a course of Bolsheviks on "decossackization", i.e. on a Cossacks desoslovization). In 1923 the 3rd Separate cavalry crew deployed in the North Caucasus Military District (NCMD) was transferred to the beginnings of a territorial and militia system, and to service Cossacks began to be attracted in it first of all. At the North Caucasian regional meeting on work among the Cossacks in July, 1925 "the issue of expansion of terkav-construction in the Cossack areas was discussed" [15, page 51]. The same year in the North Caucasus Military District there took place the first gatherings of a terkonnitsa which attracted great interest of local community including Cossacks [2, page 394 - 395]. In September, 1928. The North Caucasian regional committee of the All-Union Communist Party (bolsheviks), noting that the territorial cavalry was formed first of all in those areas, "where the population had experience of passing of military service on own game (b. [yvshy] Cossack areas)", noted: "thus, areas of completing of sabers, having included a part of the Kuban, Armavir and Tersky districts at the beginning, now captured completely and also a part of the Stavropol and Maykop districts" extended to Shakhty and Donetsk, Don, Salsk [16]. In other words, cavalry divisions of variable structure by the end of the 1920th were created in all Cossack districts of the North Caucasian edge, including to Dona.

However many Cossacks not just expressed discontent that they were not sent to a cavalry, and did not wish to serve in RKKA at all. Partly the discontent of donts was generated by negative lines of the army device or direct abuses of command structure, instructors and so forth. In particular, at the end of 1922 in one of settlements of the Upper Don district the beating "youths of premilitary age instructors" took place [17]. It is easy to present what reaction this incident called both peasants, and Cossacks in locals.

More, judging by certificates of sources, Cossacks, as well as other villagers, the period of military collecting in territorial parts did not arrange everything. The fact is that collecting fell on the spring and summer period, i.e. for the period of hard agricultural works. Just when in families of grain-growers each pair of working hands was necessary, the state demanded from young people (and, so the most able-bodied) peasants and Cossacks on two - three months to leave economic affairs and to be engaged in military training. It could not pass completely for the kre-styansko-Cossack farms, not bezosnova-at all

telna were complaints of grain-growers that "tersbor during a summer working time are unprofitable" [18]. Reached that recruits tried or to evade from collecting, or deserted from the divisions as one of rural correspondents of "The country newspaper" from the South of Russia in 1925 wrote about that [19].

And, certainly, the negative relation to military service in RKKA was shown by those donets who or did not support the Soviet government, or were exposed to discrimination from the Bolshevist mode by social or political criteria. Large-scale repressions concerning representatives of the Cossack top ("fists", the former officers, atamans and so forth) began in the last third of the 1920th, in anticipation of and during "a great change". But also before "class and alien" to Bolsheviks donets aroused at the last unrelenting mistrust and were exposed to oppressions: for example, to disfranchisement. In reply Cossacks - "lishenets" expressed the unwillingness to do military service, protecting the Soviet power.

In sources mentions that sons of "fists" to which after all call-up papers (though generally "class and alien" elements of the Cossacks were not subject to a conscription) came did not wish to go to military service quite often meet; it is enough to address the above-stated example from the report of the Veshensky district committee of RCP(b). Also the attitude of the Don Cossacks - "lishenets" that disfranchisement automatically brought them from among recruits is indicative. On one of plenums of the Don district committee of the All-Union Communist Party (bolsheviks) at the beginning of 1927 the representatives of the party management with surprise noted difference in reaction of peasants and Cossacks on disfranchisement. If peasants took transition to category of "lishenets" painfully, then Cossacks treated it calmly, saying: "Time was deprived, the law of the Soviet power means to us it is obligatory to performance". Actually at Cossacks - "lishenets", the Don communists were indignant, there was even the interest in the new status: "When you will talk to them properly, leaves that he knows that do not take the persons disfranchised in the Red Army, and here war will be, let those which have a voice go to be at war as they at us are expressed, and we will not go" [20].

We will add that, strangely enough, results of class policy of Bolsheviks in the sphere of military science sometimes revolted even the rural (Cossack) poor and middling persons. It would seem, reasons for discontent in this case simply could not be: notorious class approach was focused only on protection of interests of the poorest groups of country people in which ideologists and leaders of the Communist Party saw the social support in the village. But in this case the class policy of Bolsheviks backfired to them as the poor perceived prevention of "fists" in army as an indulgence the last, but not as punishment. Therefore recruits from among farm laborers, poor people, middling persons quite often expressed discontent concerning release of fists

and prosperous from service with a formulation "as socially unusable element" [21].

So, in the 1920th the governmental bodies of the Soviet Russia, despite the rejection of the Cossack communities caused by communistic ideology and aspiration to "decossackization", not only quite kindly treated attraction "klassovo relatives" Cossacks in the Red Army, but considered necessary it. Not all Don Cossacks were to service in the Red Army kindly favorable disposed, regarding it as one of forms of support to the Soviet power criticized by them. However the majority of donts at all differences and nuances in their relation to the Bolshevist mode showed willingness to pass military service, especially in a cavalry. Thereby the military service to some extent reconciled Bolsheviks and Cossacks whose positions in other areas of activity were in many respects various, and even are irreconcilable.


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Came to edition

3. V.S. Sidorov. Comments on the collection of the Cossack letters//God burden. Tragedy of the Cossacks. Part 1/sost. V.S. Sidorov. Rostov N / D, 1994. Page 258.
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7. M.A. Sholokhov. A stitch curve//From early stories. M, 1987. Page 119.
8. RGAE. T. 396. Op. 6. 22. L. 190.
9. S. Lazarev. On a joint of the proletariat with the peasantry (Party and political and educational work in the Don territorial division)//the Communist. 1924. No. 3 - 4. Page 18.
10. CDNI RO. T. 36. Op. 1. 5.
11. RGAE. T. 396. Op. 3. 570.
12. Cossacks of the North Caucasian edge. Results of a population census of 1926 / edition of N.I. Vorobey; A.I. Gozulov's preface. Rostov N / D, 1928. Page 3.
13. HECTARE of RO. F. r-1198. Op. 1. 154. L. 115.
14. RGASPI. T. 17. Op. 84. 904. L. 86.
15. G.L. Voskoboynikov. The Cossacks in the Red Army.
16. CDNI RO. T. 7. Op. 1. 760. L. 651.
17. In the same place. T. 75. Op. 1. 38. L. 1.
18. RGASPI. T. 17. Op. 84. 901. L. 199.
19. RGAE. T. 396. Op. 3. 795. L. 178.
20. CDNI RO. T. 5. Op. 1. 98. L. 119.
21. RGASPI. T. 17. Op. 84. 905. L. 9.

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