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Image of the German as opponent in consciousness of the Russian officers in the years of World War I

UDK 930+572


Pedagogical Institute of Southern Federal University


This article is written in line with military and historical anthropology and devoted to the analysis of features of perception of Germans as enemies in consciousness of officers of the Russian army during World War I. At the same time the author reveals a role of this process on mass consciousness of the Russian officers.

Perception of the enemy is the most important element of consciousness of soldiers and officers during warfare. From the attitude towards the enemy the firmness of resistance, thirst of a victory and rage of the attack results. The enemy in consciousness of defenders of the country, has to be surely cruel, artful, silly, coward — he the back of all merits attributed "to". Thanks to it there is psychological superiority "of", necessary for a victory, over "strangers". Moreover, according to E.S. Senyavskaya, "the enemy it is necessary and it is possible to kill because he kind of is initially taken out for a framework of categories to which norms moral and religious etiki1 extend". At the same time it is impossible to add that murder of the enemy should not in itself cause any remorse because he real threat for family, the homeland, own life — for everything that to expensively ordinary person. If similar motives and the relations in consciousness of soldiers and command structure are leveled, weakened or lost, then war can be an impracticable task as massacre by the person similar contradicts all standards of human morals and sensible mentality.

But if collective ideas of soldiers of the enemy can be called "an image of the enemy", then for consciousness of officers (owing to their specific relation) more true and in our opinion the designation "image of the opponent" can become acceptable. Initially, the concept "enemy" bears in itself deep emotional loading and means the extreme degree of irreconcilability (reaching cruelty) in relation to an aggressor. Such position is typical for archaic consciousness of the ordinary soldiers who left the country environment. The concept "opponent" (or its equivalent "enemy") possesses both a certain stock of intolerance, and a share of respect for adverse party. The opponent is a subject, owing to certain circumstances, appeared on other party. The opponent is rather rival, the competitor. Not accidentally there is an expression "the worthy opponent", and "the worthy enemy" does not. The enemy is always foreign and unclear, he does not possess any of advantages, it set of roughness and all negative. The opponent partly "the, but another", he is clear and predictable, can cause not only cold respect, but also enthusiastic admiration of the superiority.

At the same time the image of the opponent was influenced also by other factors. Owing to the level of culture and education, officers on other treated events of war and its attributes. Numerical, strategic and tactical and technical indicators of the opponent were important for them. And therefore, their perception of the enemy differed in prevalence of an abstract and analytical component of their consciousness. This trend amplified if the officer served in a distance from the front and was familiar with war only according to lists of the dead, movement of troops and other stati-

1 E.S. Senyavskaya. Opponents of Russia in wars of the 20th century: Evolution of "an image of the enemy" in consciousness of army and society. M, 2006. Page 21.

stiko-strategic information. As the famous philosopher F.A. Stepun who was in the years of war by the officer of the artillery battery noticed: "Everywhere (in the headquarters — P.G.) the scheme, figure, abstract dynamics of approach and retreat, valorous business behind which despondency of autumn rains in indistinct trenches, the legs which never are drying out, louses, melancholy for peaceful life, the agonal fear cooling soul is not felt..." 2. Thus the staff officer kind of partially lost that emotional loading which experience on direct participation in war gave. But the closer the bloody and fiery strip of military operations which was accurately dividing people into "" and "others" lay the more sharply in consciousness of officers the conflict emotional sounded and rational began. To create an image of future opponent and to aggravate feeling of national consciousness ideological preparation of society for the forthcoming war was called.

Work on definition of future enemy in anticipation of big European war was conducted at the level of military-political elite, since the end of the 19th century. The historian E.Yu. Sergeyev in the article allocates three stages on formation of ideas of "external threat" with Zapada3. At the first stage (1898-1905) Great Britain and some other the island states not available to ground forces of the Russian army was the main rival of Russia owing to prevalence of the East Asian direction in foreign policy. Germany and Austria-Hungary were considered rather as potential opponents of the Russian Empire in Central Europe and on Balkanakh4. The second stage (1906-1910) can be characterized as the beginning on change of foreign policy reference points. If Great Britain as the enemy receded into the background, then the role of Germany and Austria-Hungary on the contrary increased. And as the author of article fairly notices: ""dynastic solidarity" in Europe was finally succeeded by national interests." 5. The final stage (1911-1914), became a final point in arrangement of the foreign policy priorities shown with a new force already in World War I voyne6.

Thus, in sixteen previous years, the Russian foreign policy elite went a long way from rivalry with Great Britain to open opposition with Germany. But the indecision of a position, a confused game on both camps and weak, overdue ideological preparation of public opinion essentially affected consciousness of the main participants of future war — officers and soldiers.

From the beginning of war the daily contact of the Russian officer with the enemy had to lead to accurate focusing of an image of the opponent. But it did not occur. In the majority of the used sources their authors abstain from detailed characteristic of the enemy ordinary "human" qualities. In their consciousness the opponent is extremely abstract and acts more as the warring party dressed in strategic and tactical and technical concepts. In addition any of the European opponents did not cause in officers in a mass order either anger, or rage. In a number of memoirs it is possible to notice partly quiet, tolerance of the enemy who became to that only at will of the powers that be. At the same time many of officers of the Russian army were or Germans, or had them among the acquaintances and relatives. About the number of Germans in the Russian army on the eve of World War I there is very informative article of A.A. Melenberg and to repeat its basic provisions has no smysla7. However the fact that for April 15, 1914 attracts attention (that is for

2 Stepun FA. Former and unfulfilled. SPb., 2000. Page 305.
3 E.Yu. Sergeyev. Military-political elite of the Russian Empire about "external threat from the West" on the eve of World War I / / Modern and contemporary history. 2000. No. 5.
4 In the same place. Page 200-201.
5 In the same place. Page 221-222.
6 In the same place. Page 222-223.
7 A.A. Meleberg. Germans in the Russian army on the eve of World War I//history Questions. 1998. No. 10.

two months prior to war) among 169 generals of Germans there were 28.4%, among lieutenant generals — 19.7%, and among major generals — 19%8. Some of them already finally became Russified, others continued to preserve the national identity. Anyway, but the German layer was one of the most numerous in the Russian army, being allocated not only the unusual surnames, but also continuity of service in army. Among the German nobility tradition from generation to generation to serve in the Russian army was fixed since the time of Peter I. By the beginning of World War I several decades there were known military dynasties which presented to Russia prominent military leaders. In the years of war the number of carriers of the German surnames (namely this indicator was the most noticeable and distinctive) dominated more at the level of commanders of cases and divisions. It is also necessary to add to it that for natives of the noble environment the German culture was in many respects if not native, then clear and close. Knowledge of German along with other European languages was considered as an everyday occurrence. Related bonds of House of Romanovs with princely dynasties of the German empire were an important factor also. Together with it education of future officers in cadet and yunkersky schools was conducted on the basis of almost "knightly" code of behavior. "The order of the Russian army about laws and customs of overland war" was its basis. In it is mute the following was told: "You are at war with enemy troops, but not with civilians. Strike the enemy in fair fight. Do not beat the unarmed enemy asking for mercy. Respect others belief and its temples. When battle terminated, feel sorry for the wounded and try to help in process of forces to it, without sorting — the it or enemy" 9. Such manuals idealized in consciousness of officers not only war, but also the relations between representatives of the conflicting armies. As a result progress of the German army gave rise in consciousness of officers not only respect, but even to respect for the enemy. This trend very noble and humane was dangerous as it is impossible to defeat the opponent to whom you test a piety, thereby without noticing its weaknesses. Excessive underestimation of strength of the opponent is also harmful to army, as well as its glorification.

Similar moods were characteristic of many officers irrespective of their rank and a position. So the general A.A. Brusilov says that "the German soldier — therefore, the people — are worthy universal respect" 10. Moreover, according to the prince A.V. Romanov the Russian officers in honor of the died son Wilhelm 11 "were on the left hand in mourning" 11. The respect for the opponent can be found in memoirs of other officers. So, the shtabs-captain K.S. Popov summing up the result of the enthusiastic description of the German customs, concluded: ".nevolno you like respect for the people with it strong and healthy traditions." 12. What "traditions" were? Among them the author mentions abundance of portraits of the Kaiser Wilhelm II and all reigning dynasty and the discipline, general for all Germans. In other words all that merged for the shtabs-captain K.S. Popov in "one anthem to God, the Homeland and the emperor" 13. Moreover, in these words the certain sense which is that similar qualities of the German people, there is a pledge of numerous victories of their army is put. According to the lieutenant A.V. Orlov just because in "Germany all were imbued and impregnated by soldiery" to commanders and soldiers of their army any were successful operatsii14.

8 A.A. Meleberg. Germans in the Russian army on the eve of World War I//history Questions. 1998. No. 10. Page 128.
9 O.S. Porshneva. Peasants, workers and soldiers of Russia on the eve of and in the years of World War I. M, 2004. Page 188-189.
10 A.A. Brusilov. My memoirs. Minsk, 2003. Page 93-94.
11 Military diary of the grand duke Andrey Vladimirovich Romanov / / October. 1998. No. 4. Page 143.
12 K.S. Popov. Memoirs of the Caucasian grenadier. 1914 — 1920. M, 2007. Page 43.
13 In the same place.
14 "There is a wish to trust, but there is nothing.". Pages from the diary of World War I//the Homeland. 2006. No. 8.C. 71.

Also the difference in life which existed between Russians and Germans did not escape a look of officers. Entering the German town, its unusual purity and akkuratnost15 made an impression on the prince G.K. Romanov. And the shtabs-captain K.S. Popov notices that they passed all way across East Prussia "stopping in wonderful estates, locks or clean and small villages" 16. The general V.I. Gurko admitted the memoirs later: "Extremely high standards of scientific farming which in East Prussia were observed everywhere" 17 made the strongest impression on me. And further he notices the wealth of the German peasants resulting not only from their diligence, but also from policy vlastey18. Such pictures, especially in comparison with the Russian towns and villages amazed never the going abroad officers. Even such trifle as a simple cheap German cigar "demonstrated such standard of living about which did not know in the Russian army" 19. It is remarkable that the material and cultural level of ordinary Germans amazed not only the young officers, but also skilled generals never happening in Europe for whom life and customs of the opponent should not have become surprise.

But the difference between two armies consisted not only and so much available or lack of cigars. The German army was the strongest opponent of Russia on fronts of World War I. Her training and hardware, did not come within miles of armies of Turkey and Austria-Hungary. According to the general V.I. Gurko the German army showed "sufficient assertiveness, and the enterprise was felt" even in actions small podrazdeleniy20. In this regard that evolution which happened in consciousness of the lieutenant A.V. Orlov in views of the German army is interesting. Having arrived to an artillery position in February, 1915, he, describing the attitude of the colleagues towards the enemy, with some share of irony and mistrust notices: "Against us there are Germans whom all concern with great respect, that is are rather afraid" 21. But only four days later the tone of its records cardinally changes: "and perhaps and industrial power to us not to break the .germansky military." 22. And after three more months in his diary it is possible to meet the next lines: ".nemets defeated all, and if it is possible to overcome still them, then not troops, and hunger at all" 23. Despite this the Russian officers made sometimes on the truth heroic acts, trying to oppose to the German technical superiority the valor and courage. However with each next retreat before the German army in consciousness of officers there was an idea of invincibility of the opponent. Shtabs-kapitan K.S. Popov in the memoirs several times fixes a similar thought after everyone successful for the opponent stolknoveniya24. It is possible to assume that similar representation of the enemy was a momentary response to its brightest victories. However the more often the German army inflicted defeats of the Russian, the more firmly and the opinion of officers on invincibility of Germans was nepokolebimy. At the same time strengths of the German army were noticeable at the initial moment of the first invasion of the Russian army into East Prussia. So the general V.I. Gurko remembered subsequently: ".nash

15 See: Gabriel Konstantinovich In Marble Palace. Memoirs. M, 2001. Page 224.
16 K.S. Popov. Decree. soch. Page 33.
17 V.I. Gurko. War and revolution in Russia. Memoirs of the commander of the Western front. 1914 — 1917. M, 2007. Page 53.
18 See: In the same place.
19 V. Littower. Russian hussars. Memoirs of the officer of an imperial cavalry. 1911 — 1920. M, 2006. Page 140.
20 V.I. Gurko. Decree. soch. Page 51.
21 "There is a wish to trust, but there is nothing.". Pages from the diary of World War I//the Homeland. 2006. No. 7. Page 73.
22 In the same place. Page 74.
23 "There is a wish to trust, but there is nothing.". Pages from the diary of World War I / / the Homeland. 2006. No. 8. Page 69.
24 See: K.S. Popov. Decree. soch. Page 21, 42.

the first campaign to East Prussia convincingly showed with what care the Germans prepared for war. All of them thought over, provided everything." 25. Especially favourably in consciousness of officers the German army in comparison with the Russian troops looked. The lieutenant A.V. Orlov, reflecting over force of the German army, indignantly wrote: ".no the truth that Germans are stronger than us that the army is better and more brave than them, and about the organization and nothing to speak" 26. When the Russian soldiers "sleep and go (in trenches — P.G.) as sleepy flies. each German in hands all the time potters with a rake that that picks" 27. And this opinion is not single. Many officers, recognizing a number of merits for the Russian soldier, said: "After all Austrians and Germans far more culturally than the Russian troops" 28. Similar lines can be met also in R.R. von Raupach's memoirs. More than once, noting the best sides of the Russian soldier, he actually crosses out them one phrase: "Already from the very beginning of war it was obvious that the cultural level of our army is much lower German" 29. The similar view on the and enemy armies leads in consciousness of officers to very important results: the army of the enemy receives time of absolutely groundless praise and cultural superiority while the "native" soldier loses all signs of the civilized person, turning into gray faceless weight. The Russian officers occupying a role of "army fathers misters" according to the state ideology and before war treated the soldier without due human respect. After their collision with life and customs of the German army and society, the officers who were already looking down on soldiers felt even more that welfare abyss which divided soldiers and officers. And soldiers in turn began to look with a bigger suspiciousness at officers with the German surname and to accuse them of treason. There is an impression as if the Russian officers were ashamed of the soldiers and did not wish to notice those changes that occurred in their environment. As V.P. Buldakov truly noted: "the .istinny aristocrat "does not hear" a talk of footmen among themselves." 30. Cultural and military superiority of the opponent (sometimes far-fetched and unreasonable) negatively affected a condition of officer corps of the Russian army and its relationship with ordinary soldiers.

Thus, the image of the opponent created in consciousness of officers of the Russian army initially possessed friable and weak structure. It speaks not only badly coordinated policy in the sphere of ideology, but also purely psychological factors in mass consciousness of officers. Besides that many of them carried the German surnames or were related to Germans, they were brought up in the spirit of noble knights, getting used to show generosity to the opponent. They did not see in Germans of irreconcilable enemies, but saw in them the highly cultured nation standing on an inaccessible step of development. The German was for them rather a rival at whom it was worth studying and adopting all best. As a result mass ideas of officers of the enemy developed in a bright and many-sided picture in which there were a deep respect and unjustified glorification, humanity and desire not to be worse. But these specifics of officer perception of Germans negatively were reflected in their attitude towards own soldiers. Empty praise and excessive respect for the opponent aggravated and strengthened their haughty attitude towards soldiers in consciousness of officers. The army long before February, 1917 stopped being a uniform organism, and it appeared in the center of the internal destroying contradictions.

25 V.I. Gurko. Decree. soch. Page 49.
26 "There is a wish to trust, on there is nothing.". Strapichki from a dpevpik of World War I//Rodipa. 2006. No. 8. Page 69.
27 In the same place. Page 74.
28 D. Oskip. Ensign's notes//Frank stories. M, l998. Page 240.
29 Raupach R.R. fop Facies Hippocratica (Face of dying): Memoirs of a chlep of Extraordinary Commission of inquiry of l9l7 of year. SPb., 2007. Page 173.
30 V.P. Buldakov. Red distemper. Nature and consequences of revolutionary violence. M, l997. Page 121.



This article is written within the framework of military and historical anthropology. It is devoted to analysis of the image of Germans as enemies P. G. KULTYSHEV in perception of officers of the Russian army in World War I. At the same

time, author researches the impact of this process on the mass con-Pedagogical Institute sciousness of Russian officers.

of South Federal University

Helgesen Sigurd
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