But there were other opinions of foreigners who were directly watching the October events. In their words, the situation was paradoxical. Passions were seething in the square in front of the palace, barricades were being prepared and masses of armed people were accumulating. By the way, there was another problem. Crowds of onlookers gathered around, who came to see how it would all end. Among them were supporters of Kerensky, and his opponents. For the Bolsheviks it was worth a lot of work to free all the surrounding streets from the metropolitan inhabitants.
Another mystery lies in the fact that from the embankment side the defense of the Winter Palace and, accordingly, its surroundings were completely absent. At the height of the events on the evening of October 25, the officers of the French military mission, Majors Marcel Oblay and Etienne du Castel, went for a walk. They walked freely along the embankment from the back of the besieged Winter Palace. We went to visit the lord Davie who lived on the embankment. Only on the way back, they were detained by patrols on Millionnaya Street under the pretext of the danger of being attacked. They had to return again along the empty Neva Embankment to the Trinity Bridge.
At the same time, the English ambassador of Buchanan noted in his notes that on October 25, the shelling of the palace continued uninterruptedly until 10 hours of the evening. Then, after about an hour break, shelling resumed. Only by half past two in the morning of October 26 did the rebels completely capture the palace. At the same time, in his letter, the aforementioned French major Etienne du Castel noted that the captured female soldiers were released only two days later and then after the intervention of the English military attache. Who was discussed, it is not clear. As is well known, all the shock-workers captured in the palace were freed by the Bolsheviks practically on the same day.
Threats to the life and female honor of volunteers
Talk about the brutal massacre of drummers began almost on the morning of October 26 1917. Understanding such a delicate and so confusing question until the end is hardly possible now. Some evidence has already been mentioned by us. Without repeating, we will try to compare the stories of some witnesses, including foreign eyewitnesses, in order to identify similar facts and apparent contradictions.
Let's begin, perhaps, with the testimony of the defenders of the Winter Palace, who at that time were closest to the impactors in mortal danger. Let's add some of earlier given certificates. “The soldiers penetrated into the royal cellars, there is total drunkenness,” recalled later the former junker of the 2 of the Peterhof school of ensigns who were among those brought to the barracks of the Preobrazhensky regiment - women of the shock company who had surrendered the last were raped. With his own eyes, Lieutenant Sinegub saw the scene of violence in the barracks of the Preobrazhensky regiment. The head of the school of ensigns of the Northern Front, Colonel von Prussing, mentioned earlier, recalled the massive abuse of captured prisoners.
But the facts of abuse of the detained volunteers of the 2 half-lives are not even mentioned in the memoirs of M. Bocharnikova. Although she also wrote about the tense situation in the barracks, where they were first placed. The prisoners captured inside the palace under convoy of soldiers were arrested in the barracks of the Pavlovsky regiment. “The mood of the soldiers gradually changed,” recalled Bocharnikova, “threats began, curses. They ran high and did not hide their intentions to deal with us as women. ” Seeing the aggressive spirit of the soldiers, the members of the regimental committee decide to transfer volunteers to the barracks of the Grenadier Regiment, which held neutrality and did not participate in the battles. There, the women were fed and treated them with sympathy.
Therefore, the assertions of the famous Russian poetess and writer Zinaida Gippius raise doubts by their categorical nature. In her diaries, published in Belgrade in the 1929 year, she gave her 27 entry for the October 1917 year. “I’ll go back to the Winter Palace for a minute ..,” she wrote, “No, it’s too embarrassing to write ... But you have to know everything: the wounded battalion was dragged to Pavlovsk barracks and there they were raped ...”
But there were other evidences showing that nothing of the kind happened. This point of view was shared, in particular, by American correspondents John Reed and Albert Williams. They were the Winter Palace at night from 25 to October 26, they saw everything with their own eyes and, in their words, did not observe any facts of violence against volunteers. It should be noted that these left-wing Americans, loyal to the Bolsheviks, later served in Soviet propaganda institutions.
However, it is not entirely clear that if everything was so good, then why did John Reed emphasize the issue of violence against the women's battalion in the notes to his book “10 days that shook the world”. However, he pointed out that the Petrograd City Council, which was in opposition to the Bolsheviks, was actively involved in this issue. The American journalist refers to her investigation into the events.
“The City Duma has appointed,” we read in a note to the chapter of Reed’s book, “a special commission to investigate the case. 16 (3) November this commission returned from Levashov, where the women's battalion was quartered. Mrs. Tyrkova reported that the women were first sent to Pavlovsk barracks, where some of them were indeed treated badly, but now most of them are in Levashovo, and the rest are scattered in private homes in Petrograd. Another member of the commission, Dr. Mandelbaum, witnessed dryly that not a single woman was thrown out of the windows of the Winter Palace, that three were raped and that she had committed suicide, leaving a note in which she wrote that “she was disappointed in her ideals”.
I must say that this information was confirmed by the son of A. Tyrkova-Williams, referring to the memories of his mother. It would seem that the question is settled. But, as we already know, in this case, again, this is only about the events of October 25-26 and affects only the 2-th half of the women's battalion, which has relatively safely reached Levashova. In addition, by November 3 - the moment of the commission’s work - a significant number of volunteers have already left their unit.
In the above testimony of Tyrkova there are new riddles concerning the fate of the female female. How to understand her words that “most of the volunteers got to” Levashovo, and “the rest are scattered in private houses in Petrograd”? Who are we talking about and how many are there? It turns out that nobody interrogated those who remained in the capital? How could they stay under the escort of armed grenadiers?
It seems that only such a small episode of the Russian storiesassociated with the fate of the female female defenders of the Winter Palace, almost the whole consists of historical riddles, omissions and distortions. For some reason, everyone in those days was interested only in the facts about whether there was violence or not only when disarming volunteers. In other words, their fate beyond the two-three days of the end of October 1917, nobody was interested. But in vain, as subsequent events showed.
As it later became known, it was precisely in the following November days that travel time to home was the most dangerous for former female drummers. Among the volunteers of 2, half the company was only one who died during the capture of the Winter Palace, which was mentioned by the platoon commander. “But many of us later died when, unarmed, went home. - recalled Bocharnikova. “Soldiers and sailors raped, raped, thrown out from the upper floors, from the windows of the train on the move, drowned.” Her very bitter share is over. True, it was necessary more than once to visit the Bolsheviks under arrest and serve time in the women's prison on the Vyborg side of the capital.
Investigation of the US Senate Commission
The unceremoniousness of Americans to intervene in internal Russia has always manifested itself, and not only in our days. In February and March, the US Senate Commission headed by Senator Overman worked on 1919 to investigate anti-American activities, incl. and the Bolsheviks. More than 20 witnesses were heard, including John Reed and Albert Williams. They told their version of the October events and both again pointed to false publications in the Western press regarding the alleged rape of volunteers after the capture of the Winter Palace.
The official report of the Overman Commission was published in Russian. True, not in full, but with the testimony of only 12 witnesses. Given that, of all the respondents, only three were loyal to events in far away Russia. All the rest were opposed to the power of the Bolsheviks.
However, even a year and a half after the 1917 events of October, the testimony of Reed and Williams did not so much clarify this confusing situation, but rather, on the contrary, confused it even more. Without going into the discussion, we give only small fragments with insignificant bills from their testimony. It seems that the reader himself will pay attention to the inconsistencies of facts, inaccuracies and discrepancies in the words of these witnesses.
“The women's battalion,” said John Reed, “was in the Winter Palace. He was offered to swear allegiance to Kerensky. In the palace there were ... near these women 250 ... Juncker was locked the women's battalion in the back of the palace, in the cellar so that nothing could happen to the women. The Red Guards ... Having found the location of the women's battalion, they did not even think to harm him, since by that time the initial arousal had had time to lie down. The Red Guards did not know for a long time how to deal with women.
Most of the women were sent to the Finland Station and from there to Levashovo; but many chose to remain in the city, and the Bolsheviks went with them around the city almost all night until they finally managed to find a house where they could be accommodated. Three weeks later, all the women were brought into the city, they were given a woman's dress - and the battalion was disbanded. It was rumored that many of these women had been raped, some thrown out of the windows, and four had committed suicide. The report of the Petrograd Duma, which opposed the Bolsheviks, said that one woman was apparently raped, not one was killed, not one was thrown out of the window, and only one woman committed suicide, leaving a note stating that she was disappointed in her ideals. ”
With his testimony, Albert Williams rather complemented Reed’s speech on the fate of the female battalion shock women. It can be noted that he mentions a different number of volunteers in the palace and dwells in less detail on the details of the events of those days. He was in the Russian capital as a correspondent for the New York Evening Post. Williams noted: “... a message was issued that 200 women from the women's battalion were raped by the Bolsheviks. The English newspaper "Daily News" has repeatedly reported that the gene. Knox (Knox) from the British mission came to Smolny to protest the rape of these 200 women. In fact, they were treated very politely. They were told to dissolve the organization and go home. None of them suffered any insult. I say this only because all of Petrograd has spread a rumor about the rape of the women's battalion. "
This point of view of loyal American correspondents almost completely coincided with the official point of view of the authorities and historians of Soviet Russia. But did it reflect historical realities and was it based on reliable facts and evidence?
Hidden by time and distorted by people
Concluding a brief insight into the events of a century ago, it should be noted that the October 1917 events of the year and the fate of the female battalion 2 companies have not been studied enough. A lot of details and facts about those days are lost. Not all of them can be fully restored now. And not only because time has erased much in the memory of generations. It’s just true then, and now too, everyone’s different. People still paint those events in familiar red and white colors. Therefore, in many respects the memories of participants and eyewitnesses of the same historical events do not coincide. Yes, and human memory is unreliable.
But the documents were not preserved either for various reasons - they were destroyed, burned, disappeared in a series of those rapid changes. Much of the revolutionary routine of those days was simply not documented. Not before it was. A giant scale power struggle unfolded. There was no time for the fate of specific people.
And yet, together with caring Readers and Connoisseurs of national history in these short publications, we managed to look behind the scenes of HISTORY. We recalled those sometimes nameless female soldiers who had fulfilled their military duty to the end and remained loyal to the oath. Eternal memory and bow to them!