The fate of women soldiers of the other half is not fully understood. Perhaps the explanation for this historical riddles lie in the recollections of “The Storm of the Winter Palace” by the head of the School of Warrant Officers of the Northern Front, Colonel O. von Prüssing. He arrived early in the morning of October 25 at Palace Square, together with 4 companies of cadets, at the disposal of the headquarters of the Petrograd Military District. On the same day, reinforcements from a women's battalion consisting of 224 strikers arrived at him. Further, the colonel recalled that many drummers were killed or captured in the battles for the Winter Palace. When, at 11 o’clock in the evening after the capture of Zimny, the colonel left the palace together with the surviving junkers, there were 26 drummers dressed as junkers in service. Everyone went to the station and departed to the place of deployment of the ensign school in Gatchina. According to the data, the loss of volunteers killed and captured by the rebels amounted to 198 people. Can these memories be unconditionally trusted? Apparently not, since some of the facts cited in them are mentioned for the first time and need additional verification. For example, the colonel testified of the unprecedented brutality of soldiers and Red Guards. “Nevertheless, most of the drummers still fell into the clutches of furious bandits. He wrote, “I cannot describe everything that they have done with them — the paper cannot stand it.” Most of them were stripped, raped, and by means of bayonets stuck into them, they were placed vertically on barricades. ” Let us leave this testimonial of the participant of events without comment.
In the previously mentioned memoirs of a participant in the defense of the Winter Lieutenant A. Sinegub from the school of ensigns of the engineering troops, there is a mention of offensive actions of female victims. He was present when volunteers obtained permission from the palace’s chief defense to conduct a raid on the Main Headquarters seized by the rebels. They considered their military mission to be the liberation of the former Supreme Commander General Alekseev who was there, they said, by force. Attempts to convince them that the general is not there, the result was not given. Udarnitsa insisted on his own and the head of defense, Colonel A. Ananyev (by the way, Lieutenant Sinegub's brother) gave in to their request on condition that they immediately return to the palace.
Much later, when he was already in emigration, the lieutenant published his memoirs in the 4 volume of the multi-volume archive of the Russian Revolution, which was then published in Berlin. He claimed that, in his eyes, the company of the women's battalion marched out from behind the barricades and headed through the palace square. “And at that very moment, the lights that were extinguished again lit up,” A. Sinegub recalled, “and I saw a group of shockwomen lined up, facing the palace and the right flank to the exit from behind the barricades in the direction of Millionnaya Street. "Get the same." At attention, covering the clicking of bullets on the walls, on the barricades and the top of the gate, was commanded, standing in front of the front of the female strikers, a female officer. - On hand. Right. Step march. “And, taking the revolver out of the holster, the female officer ran to the head of the company.” But even in this eyewitness testimony there are not quite clear points. For example, where could a female officer come from in the women's battalion when it is known that all the officers of the 1-th Petrograd Women's Battalion were men? Not clear and the fate of these volunteers. And is it true that the whole company of female victims took part in the raid on the liberation of one person, even in the rank of general? For such tasks usually use a much smaller number of soldiers. Yes, and systems under fire do not go. In general, doubtful observation for a lieutenant-warlord, who was A. Sinegub. As for the shock women, it is possible that in both cases we are talking about the same detachment.
Later, when he got into the barracks of the Preobrazhensky regiment with a request for military assistance to the defenders of the palace, he heard shooting and learned from the accompanying soldier about the fate of the female gunners. “Now the machine guns pounded louder. - recalled the lieutenant. “Mostly rifles clicked.” “Shoot,” the soldier broke the silence. Whom? - I managed. Udarnits! - And after a pause, he added: - Well, women, misfortunes. One half survived. Guys and got it! They are with us. But that which refuses or is sick, that bastard is now against the wall! .. ”. As we see, there are again mentioned more than once the barracks of Pavlovsky and Preobrazhensky regiments. In the very first days after the October events, contemporaries wrote and spoke about these barracks as places of atrocities and abuse of volunteers. They went the same way through Pavlovsk barracks, but with a favorable outcome for them, and half-lives of the imprisoned drummers, among whom was M. Bocharnikova. Fortunately for them, the Pavlovsky regimental committee decided to send them to the barracks of the Grenadier Regiment.
Eyewitness accounts of the October revolution do not match.
As often happens, participants and eyewitnesses of events, quite sincerely mistaken, present or mentally construct their versions of certain events. Then documents come to the rescue, if they are, of course, preserved. As an example, consider the issue of the number of women in a palace. It is known that it was the 2-I company of the women's battalion. Her full-time 280 man, along with officers, non-commissioned officers and other military personnel. John Reid called the number of volunteers he saw in the palace of another - 250 people. The colonel, to whom, in his words, a company of female gunners arrived as reinforcements, called the 224 female soldier.
In other published memoirs of eyewitnesses, the number of female women in the range from 130 to 141 is called a person. By order of the Military Revolutionary Committee of October 26 of 1917, drawn up on the letterhead of the military department of the executive committee of the Petrograd Soviet of Workers 'and Soldiers' Deputies, it was ordered to immediately release the 130 women of the women's shock battalion arrested in the Grenadier Regiment. On the same day, the Commissioner of the Grenadier Guards Regiment, A. Ilyin-Zhenevsky, reported to the Military Revolutionary Committee that at that time there were 137 women soldiers of the strike battalion arrested in the palace. There is a legitimate question - how many defenders of the Winter were actually and where are the others?
Since it was not immediately possible to find a convincing answer, over time, some historians began to write that, allegedly, not all of the 2 company was left on Palace Square, but only a part of it in the half company. In other words, instead of searching for the truth, the adjustment of quantitative indicators began. Even in spite of the fact that the new figures do not coincide with those that were called by the officers of the women's battalion and the direct participants in those events.
But, if we take this other number of volunteers as a working version, new questions arise. Where did the other half go disappear without a trace? After all, this is almost a hundred and fifty armed female pistols with live ammunition received before the parade. There is no evidence that they arrived after the parade in the camp in Levashovo. Who commanded them? Is there any evidence from commanders and other female gunners that the 1 and 2 platoons of the 2 company of the women's battalion were not sent elsewhere by order of the command? Why did the 2 half-company returning in two days did not find its colleagues from the 1 half-company in Levashovo?
How did the commander of the 2 Company, Lieutenant Somov, explain all this? Where has he been all this time? These questions to the officer arose after the documents were issued showing that the company commander did not arrive at the building on Palace Square on October 24, having been told by the patient in the apartment. This was allowed, but not in such crucial cases. When did he appear in the Winter Palace? The fact that he was there confirmed in her memoirs Maria Bocharnikova. As we see, there are more questions than answers.
End of military service volunteers
In the evening of October 26, detained drummers from the barracks of the Grenadier Regiment were escorted to the Finnish Railway Station and put on a train to Levashovo. But there they saw the empty camp. There was no women's battalion. The next morning, the commanders and the lieutenant Verny came to the camp. Surprisingly, the volunteers of the 2 half-company, after all their experiences, have not lost their fighting spirit. Therefore, they re-armed and occupied the all-round defense. True, cartridges were found only about 100 pieces. They sent scouts in all directions to search for ammunition. The messenger went to the established new location of the women's battalion.
However, the ammunition was not delivered on time. Maybe for the better. When, after a while, 4 companies of the Red Guards arrived to disarm the volunteers, it was decided to drag out time in negotiations. And, if they manage to deliver the cartridges, then join the battle. “We wanted to protect ourselves,” Maria Bocharnikova recalled, “perhaps from the bitter fate.” But the cartridges were not brought up and the volunteers had to surrender and fold for the second time in several days weapon. At that time, only 150 people remained in the company.
In the meantime, the women's battalion was disbanded. The battalion commander disappeared somewhere and Captain Chagall took command. Volunteers began to go home. It was at this time, and not during the storming of the Winter Palace, that they, unarmed, powerless and defenseless, became easy prey for demoralized soldiers and sailors. Bocharnikova recalled several cases of massive (group) abuse of volunteers known to her. Dozens of female soldiers suffered. At that time, such cases and often fatal for female women became commonplace.
A look at the events from the Bolsheviks
After the Aurora shot, an active exchange of gunfire began again, which calmed down only around 10 in the evening on October 25. “The Women's Shock Battalion,” recalled Podvoisky, one of the military organizers of the capture of the Winter Palace, “was the first who could not stand the fire and surrendered.” Thus, a myth arose from the hands of the head of the military department of the executive committee of the Petrograd Soviet and a member of the Military Revolutionary Committee, which was later literary designed by Vladimir Mayakovsky.
A new revolutionary government public discussion of hostilities against female volunteers was politically and ideologically unprofitable. The metropolitan public was already agitated by stories and rumors about the mass violence against female soldiers in the soldiers' barracks. It was necessary to remove this social heat among the residents in order to prevent mass protests. For this purpose, information was spread that revolutionary-minded soldiers and sailors treated the female comforters good-naturedly and advised them to change their pants for skirts as soon as possible.
In order to prevent the further spread of rumors about the violence that took place, a letter from several volunteers from the women's battalion was published in the newspaper Pravda immediately after the October coup. It confirmed shock that no violence and atrocities against them was not. They emphasized that all this is false and slanderous fabrications spread by malicious individuals. Another mystery was the fact that the original letter of the female victims was addressed to the editorial office of the Esserovskaya newspaper, Delo naroda, and for some reason it was published in the Bolshevik Pravda. In this regard, the newspaper “Delo naroda” in those days appealed to the shock workers who signed the letter to come to the editorial office and help to understand the issues related to the disarmament of the women's battalion. Most likely, this meeting did not take place, since it was not mentioned anywhere else.
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