The source of historical distortion and factual inaccuracies
The main biographical source for many decades is considered the book of memoirs of Maria Bochkareva “Yashka. My life is a peasant woman, officer and exile "(hereinafter - the book" Yashka "), which, ostensibly, is based on the true facts of her life. In our opinion, this is not the case. We explain our point of view on this issue.
Memories M.L. Bochkareva was written because of her illiteracy not by herself, although sometimes her autobiography, first published abroad in 1919, is sometimes called. It would be more correct, in our opinion, to relate this book to the section of the lifetime literary record of her stories about her life and destiny. The American journalist I. Don Levin performed this work. The very figure of this correspondent is ambiguous. Yes, and their meeting on American soil in the summer of 1918, the year was not accidental. Surely, this former subject of the Russian Empire was not the only Russian-speaking journalist who was able to record and translate oral recollections of Mary into English. But the choice fell on this young Jew of Russian origin, who had already managed to publish his book about the revolution in Russia.
In fairness, we will not criticize Maria Leontyevna for the inaccuracies and distortions made in the text. After all, this text is not she wrote. She did not even have the opportunity to simply read and edit the record made from her words. Firstly, she was illiterate to express her thoughts in writing in literary Russian. Secondly, even if she could read and write in Russian, that would not help her either, since Don Levin immediately wrote down her stories in his translation into English. And she did not know English any more.
Therefore, it is not necessary to talk about the high degree of reliability of the events and facts of the memories stated in the book. In addition, the book “Yashka”, which reached the Russian reader only in 2001, actually underwent a translation twice: direct from Russian into English and vice versa - from English to Russian. This alone significantly reduces the credibility of the presentation of Lieutenant Bochkareva’s memories, since it is known that when translating from one language to another, linguistic inaccuracies and semantic distortions inevitably arise as a result of the subjective understanding of the text by the translator himself. In addition, much in the life and fate of Mary was associated with military service in the Russian army. In her stories there was a lot of such that it was not at all easy to even understand Isaac Don Levin, who had not served in the army, not to mention that they also needed to translate everything that was not understood into English. Most likely, the calculation was made on the fact that the book was addressed only to the Western, moreover, to the English-speaking reader, for whom these blunders and errors in the text are imperceptible. Nearly a 100-hour story by Maria Bochkareva over the course of several days, a former citizen of the Russian Empire immediately recorded in English. Published in 1919 in New York, and then in Britain, the book “Yashka” in English was later translated into other languages. But, when Bochkareva’s memories became available to the Russian reader, the distortions and textual inaccuracies began to attract attention.
Doubtful authorship and inaccuracies in the title
The name and surname of Bochkareva are indicated on the cover, which implies its authorship. However, I. Don Levin in the preface calls himself as the author of the book. “For Bochkareva and me as an author,” he wrote, “the main thing in the narration was the exact reproduction of facts.” And it is precisely with the authenticity of the facts and the description of the events of those years that questions arise. And starting with the name of the book, where it is indicated that Mary is an exile (eng. - exile). In other versions, this word is translated as exile. In some book titles in English, instead of the word "officer" (officer), the word "soldier" is indicated. In several editions, the order of words in the title of the book has been changed. The subtitle of individual editions of the Yashka books says that this is an autobiography, although it is known that Bochkarev did not write the book herself.
Much of the text of the book contradicts historical facts and even its own memories. For example, it is known for sure that Maria Leontyevna was neither an exile nor an exile. Exile from the country, as well as the link - these are different types of criminal punishment. In the first case, a person is forcibly expelled from the state under the penalty of imprisonment or even the death penalty. Usually this punishment involves deprivation of citizenship and the right to return to the country. This is a very serious sanction applied by a court decision. In the second case, again by a court decision, the right of free movement throughout the country is restricted. For the place where the sentence is served, the remote territory within the state is, as a rule, elected. As is known, prior to her arrest at the beginning of 1920, no judicial actions were applied against Bochkareva. She voluntarily left Soviet Russia in April 1918 of the year and later also returned freely in August of the same year through the Northern region of Russia. In the fall of 1919, she moved to Tomsk, where her parents then lived.
Memories of the service "full of" fiction and inaccuracies
A lot of inaccuracies and gross errors in the description of what is connected with the military service Bochkareva. For example, the book mentions its presentation for military distinctions to the Order of St. George 4 degree twice. She could not have been unaware that until 1917, this order was the highest military award for officers. The lower ranks before the provisional reforms of the Provisional Government did not introduce themselves to such an award and were not honored with this order. Obviously, we could talk only about the soldier's badge of distinction "St. George's Cross".
Nothing but a smile from a reader who served in the army does not evoke the description of Bochkareva’s farewell to her colleagues in the 28 th Polotsk Infantry Regiment. It’s impossible to imagine a regiment built for the wires of a junior non-commissioned officer in the line. Indeed, in such a system, standing nearby on the same line about 4 thousand people will stretch about 2 kilometers!
Or what is worth mentioning about how during the feast the regiment commander drew another strip on her shoulder straps with a pencil, thereby making Bochkareva a senior noncommissioned officer. However, for some reason, until June 21, 1917 continued to wear epaulets of the junior non-commissioned officer of the Polotsk Infantry Regiment. And there are quite a few such annoying inaccuracies in the pages of the book. Where and what did Maria Leontyevna embellish herself, where Don Levin, a native of Belarusian Mozyr who did not serve in the Russian army, didn’t understand her anymore. But it should be recognized that the book “Yashka” became the primary source of historical distortions, inaccuracies in the facts and events described.
At the same time, the role of Lieutenant L. Filippov, who, as Bochkareva recalled, performed during her overseas trip as her military assistant, adjutant and representative in negotiations with publishers, remains unclear. For some reason, the personnel officer either could not or did not want to make changes to the text regarding the features of the service in the Russian army.
On the waves and off-road memory
The memory more than once let the narrator down, despite the fact that Don Levin emphasized that "... one of Bochkareva’s natural talents is a brilliant memory."
Due to illiteracy, she perceived all the information "by ear", without being able to read it. This often failed Maria Leontyevna when she told about herself, her fate and social circle at the front and in revolutionary Petrograd. She was confused in dates, was mistaken in the names of places of past events and in the names of their participants. Therefore, in the book “Yashka” by General Baluev, with whom she actively and directly communicated, she said, being at the front, she persistently calls Valuev. And the ladies of high society Duchess Leuchtenberg (Leuchtenberg) and Princess Kekuatova (Keykuatova) in her memoirs become, while retaining their titles, respectively Lichtenberg and Kikutova. Among the participants in the events are people who, for objective reasons, could not attend them.
For example, the military and naval minister Kerensky was not present at the presentation of the banner “The First Female Military Command of the Death of Maria Bochkareva” to the formation of volunteers, contrary to the memoirs of Maria Leontyevna and the movie “Battalion”. Moreover, he was not in Petrograd at all, since from 14 of June until the end of June he was traveling along the fronts. This is evidenced by the journals of meetings of the Provisional Government. For this reason, he could not, as Bochkareva states in the book "Yashka", personally attach to her officer shoulder straps. In general, the production of Bochkareva as an officer is a special story that requires separate consideration.
And "venerable" historians are wrong too
The annoying mistakes crept into the preface to the Russian edition of the book “Yashka”. But the truth, in our opinion, is possible and necessary to restore. For example, in the preface of S. Drokov, it is incorrectly stated that Captain Chagall led the instructors assigned to the women's battalion. At the same time, the historian cites the article “The Women's Battalion” in the magazine “Military Story” (Paris), in which Captain Chagall himself writes that he was the commander of the 3 Company of a completely different female formation - the First Petrograd Women's Battalion. This women's battalion was formed after the death team Bochkareva went to the front. Moreover, Pavel Vasilievich Chagall was the assistant to the commander of the women's battalion of the captain of the Life Guards Kexholm regiment A.V. Loskova and participated in a military parade on Palace Square, together with his battalion 24 October 1917 year.
All this confusion is aggravated by the fact that among the photo illustrations in the Yashka book, more than a dozen photographs reflect life, military life, and combat training of the First Petrograd Women's Battalion headed by Captain Loskowy, not Bochkareva’s death team. At the same time, two more photos refer to the Moscow Women's Death Battalion.
So read the memories of Maria Bochkareva should be carefully, with a pencil in hand and clarifying the accuracy of the dates, names and events in the book.
Recent stories about life "under the protocol"
There is another source that gives an idea of the life and fate of Maria Bochkareva. It is about her criminal case No. XXUMX, which was investigated by the Cheka during the period from January to May 796. Protocols of 1920 interrogations of Lieutenant Bochkareva were published in the journal "Domestic Archives" in 4 year. However, there are a lot of factual errors and inaccuracies, because in this case the information was recorded from her words. The only difference is that Don Levine wrote down her story about himself in the American hotel, and the investigators of the Cheka contributed to the interrogation protocols her answers to the questions they posed in prison conditions.
By a strange coincidence, each interrogation was conducted by a new investigator. At the same time, investigators were from different, though related, departments: from the special branch of the Revolutionary Military Council of the 5 Army, from the Tomsk Cheka, and from the special department of the Cheka of the 5 Army. Naturally, the interrogation tactics were also constantly changing, as was the information interesting for the investigators.
By the way, according to Bochkareva, protocol No. XXUMX states that she was awarded for fighting with the Germans with all four degrees of the Cross of St. George and three medals. In fact, which is documented, in November 4, she received the St. George Cross of the 1916 degree. Prior to that, she was awarded the St. George medals of the 4 and 3 degrees and the Medal for Diligence. She did not have any awards from the Provisional Government; therefore, it remains a mystery from where, during her trip to America and Britain in April-August 4, a second St. George's Cross appeared on her uniform.
In conclusion, in her criminal case, the investigator formulated the final accusation against her on the basis of serving as an officer in the army of Kolchak and forming a women's battalion, who "took part in the fight against the Soviet authorities in Petrograd." At Kolchak she served a few days, having only managed to organize a military-sanitary detachment in her own name. Neither she herself nor the volunteers from her team took part in the events in Petrograd. At that time they were on the German front. No material evidence in the case was indicated.
Nevertheless, M. Bochkareva agreed with the accusations and declared: “I plead guilty to the Soviet republic”. But even in spite of her confession, the investigative commission of the special department of the Cheka 5 of the 21 Army on April 1920 of the year decided to send her investigative case "together with the accused person" to the Moscow Cheka. However, at this time, a high-ranking KGB officer I. Pavlunovsky arrived from the capital and was given special powers. He 15 May with his stroke of the pen - "shoot" - completed the earthly journey of this woman with a complex and broken fate. In January, 1992, she was rehabilitated. No evidence of the enforcement of the sentence was found. This gave rise to several unconfirmed versions of her happy deliverance from death.