Skip to comments.Friend or Foe: the Story of Two Monuments
Posted on 09/18/2012 6:08:21 AM PDT by annalex
Digest by Annalex
As Omsk, in Siberia, celebrates its 300th year, there is a movement in town to erect a monument to an important historical figure and, if you ask me, the last legitimate head of state in Russia, Admiral Kolchak. During the Civil War in Russia Omsk became the headquarters of the White Army and the temporary capital of all Russia. Admiral Kolchak was the Supreme Ruler recognized by the entire White Movement: the Siberian Army which he commanded but also the Armed Forces of the South of Russia headed up by Denikin and General Youdenich army attacking the Reds from the West. General Kolchak was also supported by an allied international forces present in Siberia as a part of their effort in the World War.
Numerous poll was conducted; the official one, organized by the Community Council of the region, showed near 80% approving of the monument and 15% opposed. Since that wa determined as is inconclusive, there will be a referendum held in the region.
Apparently, due to the still controversial nature of the Civil War, the Admiral is shown not so much as a commander of the land forces and a statesman who ruled free Russia out of Omsk, but as an explorer of the Arctic Ocean, which he was ten years earlier.
Source, Source (all in Russian)
We'll see how all this plays out.
In the meanwhile, in another Siberian city, Tyumen, another monument was erected. This time there was no polls and no referenda; the monument just appeared. An honor guard was lined up, speeches made and even a tank rolled in to add to celebratory mood. Who is that hero whose monument justr slices through the Russian society as a knife through warm butter? Why that is the object of popular love, the founder of the Soviet repressive apparatus, the irrepressible Felix Dzerzhinsky. It is, after all, his successor, a KGB colonel and a leader of all wildlife, Putin sitting in the Kremlin.
A question: is Russia a rump of the old Soviet Union or a free country raised on its ruin, -- is an important one, and not only for the Russians.
Well, I’ve studied Kolchak and the Russian Civil War for years, and he certainly had the makings of a great National leader. But he had his flaws, and failed to take advantage of the resources that he did have at his disposal, including the Czech Legion. In fact, he treated the Legion so badly that it ultimately betrayed him and handed him over to the Reds at Irkutsk. The American commander in Siberian, General William Graves, who controlled the Trans-Siberian Railroad, refused to help Kolchak fight the Reds, which of course came back to bite us all on the butt later.
I dunno. Don-o?
The point today is not the reason of Kolchak’s failure so much as the nature of Putin’s regime: it likes to be seen as civilized, with values common to the West, but if you look just beyond the surface you see the same NKVD running things, and the only improvement is that they got beat in the Cold War.
The Czech Legion was entirely Socialist Revolutionary, and therefore bound to betray him; it was, besides, impossible to “take advantage” of a contingent whose only objective was to get home.
Have you read Sakharov’s memoirs?
If I may exploit your knowledge for a personal matter.
My granddad, born in 1900 in a family of modest means and extraction, volunteered into the Kolchak’s army in Ekaterinburg. He, in fact, volunteered twice, was turned down first for reasons of age, but volunteered again, and became a stoker or assistant stoker on an armored train. At some point during the retreat toward Irkutsk the train was overrun by the Reds, and he was pressed into service already with the Reds. He had a vivid recollection of the battle, the sound of bullets hitting the tender where he was crouching, then the sound of the advancing enemy infantry. With the same train, now red, he rolled into Irkutsk, where he volunteered into civilian service of which he knew nothing, but obviously preferred it to the uniform. The new job was making theater props...
Anyway, I’d like to identify the armored train; as you know they usually had names. Most of them were with the Military Forces of South Russia; in fact I never heard of a Kolchak’s armored train, even though the retreat was in some part done on the railroad. It was not a sophisticated construction; mostly, the granddad recalled, boxcars with machine guns of them and plates of armor here and there. Any ideas where to look — I mean, on the Internet?