First, about the official version of the death of Chapaev. He died 5 September 1919 of the year on the Ural front. Shortly before Chapayev’s death, the 25 Infantry Division, under his command, received an order from the commander of the Turkestan Front, Mikhail Frunze, about active actions on the left bank of the Urals in order to prevent active interaction between the Ural Cossacks and the armed formations of the Kazakh Alash Orda. The headquarters of the Chapayev division was at that time in the county town of Lbishchensk. There were also controls, including the Tribunal and the Revolutionary Committee. The city was protected by 600 people from the division school, and unarmed and untrained mobilized peasants were in the city. Under these conditions, the Ural Cossacks decided to abandon a frontal attack on the positions of the Reds and make a raid on Lbishchensk instead, in order to immediately defeat the division headquarters. The combined group of the Ural Cossacks, aimed at defeating the Chapayev headquarters and destroying Vasily Chapaev personally, was led by Colonel Nikolai Nikolayevich Borodin, commander of the 6 Division of the Ural Separate Army.
The Cossacks of Borodino were able to approach Lbishchensk, remaining unnoticed by the red. They succeeded due to timely shelter in the reeds in the natural boundary Kuzda-Gora. At 3 in the morning of September 5, the division launched an offensive against Lbishchensk from the west and north. The 2 Division of Colonel Timofey Ippolitovich Sladkov moved from the south to Lbishchensk. For the Reds, the situation was complicated by the fact that both divisions of the Ural Army were manned in the bulk by the Cossacks - Lbishchensk natives, who were well oriented on the terrain and could successfully operate in the vicinity of the town. The surprise attack also played into the hands of the Ural Cossacks. The Red Army soldiers immediately began to surrender, only some units tried to resist, but without success.
Local residents - the Ural Cossacks and Cossacks - also actively helped their fellow countrymen from the “Borodino” division. For example, the Cossacks were given a commissioner of the 25 Division, Baturin, who was trying to hide in a furnace. About where he climbed, said the hostess, where he lodged. Cossacks from the division of Borodin staged a massacre of prisoners of the Red Army. At least 1500 Red Army men were killed, 800 Red Army men remained in captivity. To capture the commander of the 25 division of Vasily Chapaev, Colonel Borodin formed a special platoon of the best-trained Cossacks, who were commanded by a subordinate Belonozhkin. The people of Belonozhkin calculated the house where Chapaev lodged and attacked him. However, the chief managed to jump out the window and run to the river. Along the way, he collected the remnants of the Red Army - about a hundred people. The squad had a machine gun and Chapaev organized the defense.
The official version states that it was during this retreat that Chapaev died. None of the Cossacks, however, could find his body, despite the reward promised for “Chapai’s head”. What happened to the beginning? According to one version, he drowned in the Ural River. According to another - the wounded Chapaev was placed by two Hungarians - Red Army men on a raft and transported across the river. However, during the crossing, Chapaev died from blood loss. Hungarian Red Army men buried him in the sand and showered the grave with reeds.
By the way, Colonel Nikolai Borodin himself also died in Lbishchensk, and on that very day, as Vasily Chapaev. When the colonel was driving down the street in a car, Red Army soldier Volkov, who was hiding in a haystack, served in the protection of the 30 squadron, killed a commander of the 6 division in the back. The body of the colonel was taken to the village of Kalyany of the Ural region, where he was buried with military honors. Posthumously, Nikolai Borodin was given the rank of Major General, therefore in many publications he passes as “General Borodin”, although during the assault Lbishchensk was still a colonel.
In fact, the death of a military commander during the Civil War was not something extraordinary. However, in Soviet times, a kind of cult of Vasily Chapaev was created, which was recalled and revered much more than many other prominent red commanders. Who, for example, besides professional historians stories The civil war today says something about the name of Vladimir Azin - the commander of the 28 Infantry Division, who was captured by white and brutally murdered (according to some sources, even torn alive, being tied to two trees or, according to another version, to two horses)? But during the years of the Civil War, Vladimir Azin was no less famous and successful commander than Chapaev.
First of all, we recall that during the Civil War or immediately after it ended, a whole series of red commanders died, and the most charismatic and talented, who enjoyed great popularity "among the people", but were very skeptical of the party leadership. Not only Chapaev, but also Vasily Kikvidze, Nikolay Shchors, Nestor Kalandarishvili and some other red warlords died under very strange circumstances. This gave rise to a fairly widespread version that the Bolsheviks themselves were behind their deaths, who were dissatisfied with the “departure from the party line” of the listed commanders. Both Chapaev, Kikvidze, Kalandarishvili, Shchors, and Kotovsky were from the Social Revolutionary and anarchist circles, which the Bolsheviks then perceived as dangerous rivals in the struggle to lead the revolution. The Bolshevik leadership did not trust such popular commanders with a “wrong” past. They were associated by party leaders with “partisan” and “anarchy”, were perceived as people who were unable to obey and very dangerous. For example, Nestor Makhno also once was a red commander, but then again spoke out against the Bolsheviks and turned into one of the most dangerous opponents of the Reds in New Russia and Little Russia.
It is known that Chapaev had repeated conflicts with the commissioners. Actually, due to the conflicts, Dmitry Furmanov and 25 left the division, by the way, he is a former anarchist. The reasons for the conflict between the commander and the commissioner lay not only in the “managerial” plane, but also in the sphere of intimate relations. Chapaev began to show too persistent signs of attention to Anna Furmanov’s wife, who complained to her husband, who openly expressed his dissatisfaction with Chapaev and quarreled with the commander. An open conflict began, which led to Furmanov leaving the post of division commissar. In that situation, the command decided that Chapaev — a more valuable cadre as division commander than Furmanov — as commissar.
Interestingly, after the death of Chapaev, it was Furmanov who wrote a book about the beginning of the book, in many ways laying the foundation for the subsequent popularization of Chapaev as a hero of the Civil War. Quarrels with the chief did not prevent his former commissioner from maintaining respect for the figure of his commander. The book "Chapaev" was really successful work of Furmanov as a writer. She drew the attention of the entire young Soviet Union to the figure of the red commander, especially since in 1923, the memories of the Civil War were very fresh. It is possible that if it were not for the work of Furmanov, then Chapaev’s name would have suffered the fate of the names of other famous red commanders of the Civil War - only professional historians and residents of their native places would have remembered him.
Chapaev has three children left - daughter Claudius (1912-1999), sons Arkady (1914-1939) and Alexander (1910-1985). After the death of his father, they remained with his grandfather, Vasily Ivanovich's father, but he soon died. The children came to shelters. They were remembered only after the book by Dmitry Furmanov was published in 1923. After this event, the former commander of the Turkestan Front, Mikhail Frunze, became interested in Chapaev’s children. Alexander Vasilievich Chapaev graduated from a technical school and worked as an agronomist in the Orenburg region, but after military service he entered a military school. By the beginning of the Second World War, he served as a captain in the Podolsk Artillery School, went to the front, after the war, served in artillery in command positions and rose to the rank of major general, deputy artillery commander of the Moscow Military District. Arkady Chapaev became a military pilot, commanded the aviazven, but died in 1939 year as a result of a plane crash. Klavdiya Vasilyevna graduated from the Moscow Food Institute, then worked on party work.
Meanwhile, there appeared another version that contradicted the official one, about the circumstances of Vasily Chapayev’s death, more precisely, about the motives for issuing the location of the red commander. She was sounded in 1999 by the correspondent of “Arguments and Facts” daughter of Vasily Ivanovich - 87-year-old Klavdia Vasilyevna still alive at that time. She believed that the stepmother of the second wife of Vasily Ivanovich Pelageya Kameshkertsev was the culprit of the death of her father, the famous superintendent. Allegedly, she betrayed Vasily Ivanovich with the artillery warehouse chief Georgy Zhivolozhinov, but was exposed by Chapaev. The commanders arranged a tough showdown for his wife, and Pelagia, in retaliation, brought the whites into the house, where the red commander was hiding. At the same time she acted from the momentary emotions, not counting the consequences of her act and even, most likely, simply without thinking with her head.
Of course, such a version during the Soviet era could not be announced. After all, she would question the image of the hero created, showing that in his family not alien to "mere mortals" passions like adultery and subsequent female revenge took place. At the same time, Klavdiya Vasilievna did not question the version that Chapaev had been transported through the Urals by the Red Army men who had buried his body in the sand. This version, by the way, in no way contradicts the fact that Pelageya could get out of Chapaev’s house and “surrender” his whereabouts to white. By the way, Pelagia Kameshkertseva herself was already placed in a psychiatric hospital in Soviet times, and therefore even if her fault in Chapaev’s death was found out, they wouldn’t bring her to justice. The fate of George Zhivolozhinova also developed tragically - he was placed in the camp for agitating the kulaks against the Soviet power.
Meanwhile, the version of his wife - a traitor to many seems unlikely. First of all, it is unlikely that whites would begin to talk to the wife of the red nazdiva, and the more they would believe her. Secondly, Pelageya herself would hardly have ventured to go to the whites, since she could fear reprisals. It is another matter if it was a “link” in the chain of treachery of the chief, which could be organized by its haters from the party apparatus. At that time, there was a rather tough confrontation between the “commissar” part of the Red Army, focused on Lev Trotsky, and the “commander” part, to which the whole glorious pleiad of red commanders who had emerged from the people belonged. And it was precisely the supporters of Trotsky who could, if not directly kill Chapaev with a shot in the back during a crossing over the Urals, so “substitute” him for the Cossacks' bullets.
The saddest thing is that Vasily Ivanovich Chapaev, really a combat and honored commander, no matter how you feel about him, in the late Soviet and post-Soviet times completely undeservedly became a character in completely stupid jokes, humorous stories and even TV shows. Their authors mocked the tragic death of this man, the circumstances of his life. Chapaev was portrayed as a narrow-minded man, although it was unlikely that such a character as the hero of anecdotes could not only lead the division of the Red Army, but even in tsarist times to advance to Feldwebel title. Although the sergeant-major was not an officer, only the best of the soldiers who could command were the most intelligent, and the bravest in wartime. By the way, Vasily Chapaev received the title of junior non-commissioned officer, and senior non-commissioned officer, and sergeant major in the First World War. In addition, he was wounded more than once - under Tsumany his arm tendon was smashed, then, returning to the ranks, he was wounded again - with shrapnel in his left leg.
The nobility of Chapaev as a person is fully demonstrated by the story of his life with Pelageya Kameshkertseva. When during the First World War, Chapaev’s friend Peter Kameshkertsev was killed in battle, Chapaev gave the word to take care of his children. He came to the widow of Peter Pelagia and informed her that she alone would not be able to take care of Peter's daughters, so he would take them to the house of his father, Ivan Chapaev. But Pelageya decided to come together with Vasily Ivanovich herself so as not to part with the children.
George Knight completed field sergeant Major Vasily Ivanovich Chapaev World War I, surviving in battles with the Germans. And the Civil War brought him death - at the hands of his countrymen, and maybe those whom he considered to be his comrades.