Star of General Brusilov
They already forgot about him, that is, the old veterans remembered - but there were few of them left, these old veterans, who at the end of 1914, were about to descend from the snow-covered Carpathians down to the Hungarian plain, who retreated with him to 1915 and “rushed” the Austrian Front artillery fire, bayonets and nippers in 1916. Forgot his Napoleonic plans, calls for officers to take part in the Soviet-Polish war. He merged with historical twilight, shed: whether white, or red, but rather - distant; standing on the horizon, where the colors are indistinguishable in the evening sun ... It seemed that its history was completed: the clock beat off its own, and the hands froze somewhere around six o'clock in the afternoon: a memory on a cracked dial. But it turned out wrong. 1944 year, the Red Army crosses the state border. This is not exactly the old Red Army, and perhaps not the same at all - powerful ferments of old Russian regiments and victories roam in it, its borders are tight, it gets out of them like a barrel, and the enemy’s defensive lines ring plainly like broken iron hoops . Army passes Tarnopol, Lviv; the trenches of the two wars are very close - here were taken yesterday from the battlefield, and behind them - others, covered with grass: the trenches of the First World War. And whether from there, or from the misty forests, an old dry general comes out, sits down on the camp fires: “Remember me? ..”
Brusilov among these soldiers, along with them: in 1944, in the army units, the Brusilov readings begin, materials are published about the Brusilovsky battle (one of the few episodes of the "imperialist slaughter", which now deserves a positive assessment of Soviet power). The newspaper 60 of the army of the 1 of the Ukrainian Front writes about the lecture of Major Avrutin "Brusilovsky breakthrough": "The brilliant victory was won, first of all, thanks to the heroism of the Russian soldiers. Guided by a beloved general, they performed miracles of heroism. The combination of high moral qualities of a soldier with the art of commanding general Brusilov ensured an unprecedented success. The lecturer described the bright personality of Brusilov, an outstanding Russian commander, a follower of Suvorov and Kutuzov. ” (“Army Truth”, 3 June 1944 of the Year, # 130).
An article signed by “the old soldier Prokofy Ignatievich Ivannikov” is published in the same newspaper: “We knew that this time we were commanded by our Russian general Brusilov, and we were shown to everyone what it means when the Russian guard comes.”
The mention of Ivannikov’s participation in the Brusilov breakthrough is even in his award list for the Order of the Red Star, signed in April 1944: “An old soldier fighting a second war with the Germans, a participant in the heroic Brusilovsky breakthrough, the cavalier of St. George, the old guard ...”
In 1943-1944 there is a novel by Sergeev-Tsensky, a former lieutenant during the First World War - "Brusilovsky Breakthrough". They say about the general, they remember, but not a single front-line operation was named in his honor - like "Kutuzov" or "Bagration", there are no orders and medals of his name. After the operations of 1944, Brusilov was once again forgotten for a long time; at the end of the war, communist propaganda is being intensified, for which the general (despite the Soviet episode of his biography) is still too “royal”. Brusilov again retreats into the shadow - from the present to the past, to his troops, their graves in the Carpathians and near Przemysl. What do we remember about him? ..
... Brusilov advanced in the Russian-Turkish war of 1877-1878: he received three military awards and the production of a staff captain. Many young heroes of that war were unlucky: Skobelev died untimely, Admiral Makarov died, Admiral Rozhestvensky was captured, Kuropatkin turned from the head of the “white general” to the sad hapless commander of the Russian-Japanese war. Alexey Alekseevich Brusilov was lucky: his career went up. He was recognized as an outstanding cavalryman, was the head of the officer's cavalry school, held a number of command posts in the guard, received the highest rank in the hierarchy of military officials of Russia - the general from cavalry. At the beginning of World War I, Brusilov assumed command of the 8 Army of the Southwestern Front. He, who had seen the war as a captain, wanted to test himself in the impending tremendous battle.
Later, Brusilov noted: “I was not ambitious, I did not solicit anything for myself, but by devoting my whole life to military affairs and studying this difficult matter continuously throughout my life, putting my whole soul into preparing troops for war, I wanted to test myself , your knowledge, your dreams and hopes on a wider scale. ”
He was 61 for a year, but the fine dry general seemed younger than his years and acted vigorously. The front moved to the West - the Austrians were crushed and fleeing, Galich, Lviv, Peremyshl were taken. For the successful leadership of the troops in the Gorodok operation, Alexey Alekseevich was awarded the Order of St. George, III degree.
At the beginning of the 1915 campaign, his troops are fighting in the Carpathians, preparing to descend into the Hungarian plain. However, the old hussar Mackensen breaks through the front, heavy artillery roars - this is Gorlitsky breakthrough, Russian troops retreat, counterattack and retreat again. Brusilov fights his 8 Army out of his entourage, and the counterstrokes of the fall of 1915, the capture of Lutsk and Chartoryisk, strengthened his military reputation. Brusilov is considered one of the most promising commanders, and in the spring of 1916, he is the one who comes to replace the "tired" General Ivanov, commander of the South-Western Front. Head of the Imperial Palace Guard I.A. Spiridovich remembered: “On March 19, the Sovereign returned to Tsarskoye Selo and stayed there for a week. Then he went to the front. We drove to the South-Western Front. The topical theme of the conversations was the displacement of the Commander-in-Chief of that front, General Ivanov. He did not like Alekseev. The bid was not happy with it. 17 March The Emperor signed the rescript to Ivanov and appointed him to be with his person. The old man screamed that he was tired of crying for resentment. And later he chatted that it was as if Alekseev had explained to him his displacement by the desire of the Empress and Rasputin. It was another stupid gossip. Who invented it, it is difficult to say. Commander-in-chief of the South-Western Front was appointed Adjutant-General Brusilov, whom Alekseev also did not like. But Brusilov was popular among the troops and proved to be an outstanding leader. In contrast to Ivanov, who was afraid of moving forward, Brusilov burned with an offensive. March 28 The sovereign arrived in Kamenetz-Podolsk. They met the guard of honor and Brusilov. The latter had a report from the Sovereign. He was given special attention. He was beautiful and independent. The war is filling the price for the generals, especially in their own eyes. ”
And the lean, impetuous Brusilov enters the headquarters, this new commander, the leader approved by everyone, is not ready for half measures, like this quiet Kuropatkin - commander of the Northern front, like this multiplying paper commander of the Western front Evert, they do not believe in victory, offer to hold on passively. But the German troops have already rushed to the attack on Verdun, the Italians are retreating before the Austrians, Romania is hesitating, a strong blow will inevitably lead her to the allied camp; The public is worried, rumors about traitors are crawling, these rumors, like shadows, are increasingly surrounding the throne. It is necessary to attack, and on the edge of this attack, at its beginning, General Brusilov. At first, he was entrusted with a demonstration: the South-Western Front is on the side, almost out of place, after retreating from the Carpathians, this is almost a secondary direction. It seems that a solution must be sought on the Western front, against the Germans, in the attack on Vilna: this strike is capable of bringing down the enemy’s disposition. (As a rule, the southern direction of the Eastern Theater of the Battle was not decisive. It often became auxiliary or compromise when it was impossible to achieve the main goal “by the shortest distance”: as in the case of Napoleon’s campaign in 1812 or the Wehrmacht’s attack not on Moscow - as Stalin expected , and in the direction of the Volga and the Caucasus in the 1942 year.) Already during the offensive of the South-Western Front, the journalist and philosopher Lev Tikhomirov noted in his diary: “To win, we don’t need Galicia or Sandwich Islands, but the liberation of our provinces and the invasion of Germany. But, probably, we do not have the strength, and therefore we are staying on with fruitless "successes" along the lines of least resistance. There will be no sense of this. It seems to me that a major strategist would have gathered all his strength and, leaving alone secondary points, such as Bukovina, would have beaten by all means into the center. In my opinion, it would be necessary to beat on Kurland and on East Prussia. ”
The Germans and the Austrians did not intend to attack on the Eastern Front in 1916, and did not expect a decisive attack by the Russian armies. Field Marshal Falkengine sought a solution in the West.
As General Zayonchkovsky notes: “The revealed Russian fighting capacity, not sufficiently shaken in 1915, the ever-increasing disorganization of the Austrian army, in which unrest began, the unexplained behavior of Romania and, finally, the fearlessness of the unlimited Russian space and the lack of pride in the memoirs of Falkenhain were Russian .
And here 5 June 1916, the troops of the South-Western Front go on the attack, artillery triumphantly roars, the front is broken in four places, by each army. The task of Brusilov is completed in these few June days. As General Zayonchkovsky notes: “In view of the limitedness of the vehicles, these attacks were planned to be short-circuited, having the immediate goal of actions“ to break the enemy's living force and seize its fortified positions. ” All the armies did not receive a further goal: the front command did not provide for a profound breakthrough and development of success, omitting also the coordination of the actions of strike groups in the neighboring armies. ” However, the scale of the victory, as well as the offensive of the Western Front, which was postponed to a later date, led to the continuation of the offensive. As the historian Kersnovsky writes: “By June 12 (old style date - M.Sh.) - in twenty days of a victorious offensive - the army of the South-Western Front captured 4013 officers, 194041 lower rank, 219 guns, 196 mortars and bombers, Xnumx machine gun. The losses of the enemy exceeded the 644 400 people, but ours also amounted to 000 officers, 4020 285 lower ranks. Namely - 298 officers killed, 739 40 lower ranks, 659 officers wounded and 3118 lower ranks, 212904 officer missing and 163 31 lower ranks missing. In the ranks of the South-Western Front, with suitable reinforcements, 715 711 fighters were considered against 000 600 enemies, which, however, had more than one and a half superiority in artillery. "
The offensive was “scattered” in space, its goals remained uncertain: this is no longer a demonstration, yet — apparently — support for future actions of the Western Front, or already soon — an independent strike?
As Zayonchkovsky notes: “owing to the fluctuations of the command of the South-Western Front, and after him the Stavka, and a number of conflicting orders issued by the 8 Army, to develop their attack on Kovel, then on Lviv” the troops were disoriented. The Germans managed to bring reserves, removing them from the Western Front, where the battle for Verdun was in progress. Already on July 17 they start a counterattack at Kovel, each step forward is given with more and more blood.
The unfortunate Evert nevertheless went over to the offensive — however, 15 of June was only in one corps, and on July 2 was General Xaroza’s 4 army in the Baranovichi direction. The fierce battles continued until July 8, the July 9 attack did not take place because of the fog, then it was postponed to the 14, and ultimately completely canceled due to the lack of projectiles. “The results of the operation were reduced to mastering only the first fortified line, capturing more than 2 000 prisoners and several guns. The battle involved 11 divisions that suffered losses around 40 000 people. The main reasons for such a major failure were: poor artillery preparation, a small number of artillery in the breakthrough area, poor reconnaissance of the fortified zone and poor preparedness of the command personnel for organizing the breakthrough of the fortified bands. ” (A.M. Zayonchkovsky)
Evert was punished by public contempt, especially zealous leaders considered him a traitor. General Brusilov said through clenched teeth in his memoirs: “The attack on Baranavichy took place, but, as it was not difficult to foresee, the troops suffered huge losses due to complete failure, and this ended the combat activities of the Western Front to facilitate my attack”. Frenchman Jules Legre, who was at that time in Russia on the instructions of the French Ministry of Defense, assesses Evert's activities as follows: “Permanent orders and counter-orders on the eve of the attack; continuous fluctuations about the grouping of military units, interfering in the course of the operation, for example, two days before the offensive, the unit that knew the area was replaced with another that had never seen it. His [Evert] indecision, underlined by countless counter-orders; his lack of understanding of reality, dispersed in instructions, when every person who knew the trenches and material resources that the Germans possessed was aware of the impossibility of this operation. ”
There were rumors about Evert's treason, which became part of a common legend about the "betrayal of the upper". Of course, Evert was not a talented commander, and under these conditions acted on the accepted pattern of breaking through a fortified position, which was reduced to “gnawing a hole” in a narrow defense sector. (Similar actions were taken by the Germans, the French and the British on the Western Front).
Nevertheless, General Evert still differs in a positive way from the commanders- "minotaurs" of the Western Front, who did not stop at much more serious losses with insignificant results.
It is worth remembering that later similar, and even more bloody attacks by the Red Army on Rzhev and Velikie Luki in 1942 ended with great losses and without visible success.
The offensive of the Western Front happened too soon, until the enemy forces were exhausted. Perhaps it could have been a victorious one or two years later - but in 1916, the German army still held the blow tight. In this sense, broad operations in the south and private operations in the center and in the north of the German-Austrian front were an intuitive but correct choice. However, in an atmosphere of fatigue from war and the growth of revolutionary moods, there was no time to implement such a plan. Lev Tikhomirov wrote: “It is remarkable that the victory of Brusilov does not make any particular impression on the public at all. Before each success caused delight, enthusiasm ... Now, although the newspapers describe the unparalleled attacks and success of Brusilov, but the public simply does not dare to rejoice. We would rejoice at the signs of a final victory, but private success, which does not entail victory over Germany and Austria, is clearly not happy, that is, not very happy, they do not consider such private victories to deserve serious Russian joy. Moreover, victories over the Austrians do not excite the consciousness of our power. If we had defeated the German armies, at least with half success, this, of course, would have excited delight, that is, the consciousness of our resurrected power. But to beat the Austrians, to beat the Turks - it means nothing. We have fear and the consciousness of powerlessness exists only in relation to the Germans. In the head of the people penetrated the grave opinion that we are not able to beat the Germans. This overwhelming feeling can only be destroyed by victories over the Germans. And we are treated to defeat the Turks and the Austrians. This is not enough to raise the spirit of the country. "
After the failure of the Western Front, the direction of the main attack goes to the South-Western Front, however, the enemy managed to prepare and turn the valley of Stokhod and the Kovelsky district into an almost impregnable fortress. Recently, victoriously rushing forward Russian troops get stuck in the German defense. The guard, part of the Special Army, Brusilov, is battered and partly destroyed, is thrown into the attack in the area of Stokhod. Losses are growing: destroyed combat-ready units, which can no longer be restored in the near future. (As Kersnovsky notes: “By circling the troops in the autumn of 1916, Emperor Nikolai Aleksandrovich called out the old soldiers who had left for the war with the regiment. Two or three left, rarely five to the company - nobody left the company”.) On the left flank front success achieved General Lechitsky XNUM th army: taken Stanislav and almost all of Bukovina. Romania finally takes the side of the Powers of Concord, however, its entry into the war in August was clearly belated - the Brusilov offensive was almost over. As a result, the Romanian troops suffered the defeat, which, in essence, completed the 9 campaign of the year in the East.
Summarizing Brusilovski offensive, General Zaionchkovskii said: "Decisive advances armies of the South-Western Front forced the Austro-Germans to transfer its operational reserves to the front south of Polesie, where 27 infantry and 2 cavalry divisions, including 18 German and 2 Turkish focused.
From the French front, the Germans withdrew the 11 infantry divisions, and the Austrians from the Italian - 6 infantry divisions. This is the substantial assistance provided by the Russians to their allies during the difficult days of operations for them at Verdun and in Trentino.
But these successes of the Russian army caused great losses, which on one South-Western front were determined by 13 497 fighters on one South-Western front. Conducting further operations and preparing for the 000 campaign demanded additional calls for recruits and militia warriors, only about 1917 1 900 people and 000 215 horses. These additional appeals caused serious discontent among the Russian population. ” In turn, General A.I. Sokolov in the book Notes on the impressions of a war participant 000-1914. Characteristics of the lower command in the 1917-1914 war, noting the "extraordinary spirit uplift among the troops, which appeared before the onset of the offensive; even the selected Germanic troops summoned to the aid of the Austrians broke about this spirit, “looks skeptically at the results of the operation:“ the success of the Brusilov offensive was expressed only in an insignificant territorial acquisition, or rather, the return of our lands and the occupation of Eastern Galicia; the main goal - the destruction of the Austrian army and the complete defeat of Austria-Hungary could not be achieved. "
... Autumn 1916 of the year. Ahead is the muddy gray winter of 1916-1917 of the year, the last winter of the Empire, telegrams from generals demanding the denial of Nicholas II - this will be in solidarity, touchingly united with Evert and Brusilov. Ahead is Brusilov’s short high command, when a new offensive in Galicia in 1917 would result in a collapse, according to General Kornilov: “sheer horror, shame and disgrace that the Russian army did not know from the very beginning of its existence.” There will be cooperation of Brusilov with the new authorities, living in a communal apartment, proclamation to the white officers. Evert will either become a beekeeper, or be killed during his arrest in 1918.
Brusilov will take some formal, empty position in the Red Army and will die in 1926. “He strayed from his own people, did not come to strangers,” they will say about him and forget for many years.
But in the autumn of 1916 of the year, here he is - a dry, well-appointed general, the recognized best commander of Russia; he is standing at dusk not far from the front line, looking at the West, gazing about whether the expected, eagerly desired Napoleonic star will flash among the clouds. And she flashes him his seductive deceptive rays ...
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