In the Soviet period, he was demonized, called the "black baron", monarchists and white immigrants extolled as one of the last true defenders of the White idea. But the Civil War was, though very important, but still an episode in the life of the Russian general. If it were not for the revolution, the name of Baron would hardly have been associated with politics - he was making a brilliant military career and, until 1917, he was not at all about to go into political squabbles.
Peter Wrangel came from a very distinguished German family name, the home of the Tolsburg-Ellistfer family of the Wrangel family. Many representatives of the Wrangel clan achieved fame in the Russian service. Thus, Lieutenant General Alexander Wrangel, who fought in the Caucasus, directly commanded the capture of Imam Shamil. In honor of the navigator Admiral Ferdinand Wrangel named the island of the same name in the Arctic Ocean. However, the father of Peter Wrangel, Nikolai Egorovich Wrangel, unlike the majority of the representatives of the clan, made a career not in the military, but in the civil field. He was an official, then went into business and was chairman of the board of the Russian gold mining company. In 1877, Wrangel married Maria Dmitrievna Dementieva-Maykova, who bore him three sons - Peter, Nikolai and Vsevolod. Nikolai Nikolaevich Wrangel, brother of the “black baron”, later became a famous Russian art critic. Peter was born in 1878, in Novoaleksandrovsk, Kovno Province (now it is the Lithuanian city of Zarasai).
Peter Wrangel's childhood passed in Rostov-on-Don. Here, where the family of his father, Nikolai Egorovich, lived until the 1895 year, their family mansion still remains - the famous "Wrangel House", which was built in the 1885 year. Peter Wrangel himself had every chance not to start a military career, but to follow in the footsteps of his father - a successful entrepreneur. In 1896, Peter graduated from the Rostov Real School, and in 1901, the Mining Institute in St. Petersburg, received an engineering education. However, family traditions still took their toll, and in 1901, Peter Wrangel entered as a volunteer in the Life Guards Mounted Regiment. In 1902, he passed the exam at the Nikolaevsky Cavalry School and received the rank of cornet guard with admission to the reserve.
Resigning from the guard, Peter Wrangel went to serve in the Irkutsk province - official of special assignments under the Irkutsk governor-general. It seemed that a civil career awaited Pyotr Nikolayevich, but the Russian-Japanese war began. Baron re-enrolled in the army - this time already forever determined the choice of life. He was enrolled in the 2 of the Verkhneudinsky regiment of the Trans-Baikal Cossack Army, where in December 1904 was promoted to the center. In 1906, the city of Wrangel was transferred to the 55 th Dragoon Finnish Regiment in the rank of headquarters captain, and in 1907 in the Life Guards Mounted Regiment in the rank of lieutenant. After graduating from the Nikolaev Military Academy in 1910, Peter Wrangel continued his service. By the beginning of the First World War, he commanded the rank of captain and commanded a squadron of the Life Guards of the Horse Regiment. Already 12 December 1914, the valiant officer received the rank of colonel.
Wrangell proved himself very well - as an enterprising, courageous commander. October 8 1915. He was appointed commander of the 1-th Nerchinsky regiment of the Trans-Baikal Cossack army, fought in Galicia against the Austro-Hungarian troops. In January, 1917, shortly before the revolution, Colonel Peter Wrangel was promoted to major general and appointed commander of the 2 Brigade of the Ussurian cavalry division, and in July 1917, after the revolution, commander of the 7 Cavalry Division, then Commander of the Consolidated Cavalry Corps.
The tumultuous political events of the fall of 1917, forced the general to move to a dacha in Yalta. There he was arrested by local Bolsheviks, who placed the baron under arrest. If they knew what role Peter Wrangel would play in the Civil War in the foreseeable future - they would never let him go alive. But then Peter Wrangel was only the general out of office of the old army. Therefore, he was released and soon the baron moved to Kiev, where he contacted representatives of the Hetman Pavel Skoropadsky.
But soon Wrangel rejected the idea of cooperation with Skoropadsky, convinced of the weakness of the Kiev regime. Arriving in Yekaterinodar (Krasnodar), Peter Wrangel entered the Volunteer Army and was appointed commander of the 1-th cavalry division, then - commander of the 1-of the equestrian corps. Already in service in the Volunteer Army, Major General Peter Wrangel 28 November 1918, was promoted to lieutenant general. So Peter Wrangel became one of the leaders of the White movement, distinguished not only by great personal courage and demanding of subordinates, but also by an ardent hatred of the Bolsheviks. It was Wrangel who commanded the capture of Tsaritsyn 30 on June 1919 of the year.
In November 1919, the baron headed the Volunteer Army, which fought in the Moscow sector, but already 20 December 1919 due to disagreements with General Anton Denikin - Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Southern Russia, was dismissed from his position and 8 February 1920 was dismissed. Wrangel departed for Constantinople, but already on April 2 of 1920, General Denikin decided to leave the post of Commander-in-Chief of the All-Soviet Union. After this decision, the military council, chaired by General Dragomirov, elected Peter Wrangel as the new commander-in-chief. Already on April 4, the baron returned to Russia - the British battleship "The Emperor of India" brought him to Sevastopol. 28 April 1920, the year Wrangel renamed the army into the Russian Army, hoping, thereby, to raise the morale of the troops, who were by that time in a very difficult situation.
In 1919-1920 Peter Wrangel for the sake of joint action against the Bolsheviks was ready to unite with anyone. He even sent parliamentarians to the anarchist Nestor Makhno, but the rebels executed them. However, a number of less significant "green" atamans concluded an alliance with the Wrangel. Wrangel was ready to recognize Ukraine as an independent state, and the Ukrainian language as the second official language other than Russian after the creation of federal Russia. Wrangel recognized the independence of the mountain federation of the North Caucasus, on whose support he also counted.
Contrary to Soviet propaganda, Baron Wrangel was not a supporter of the return of peasant land to landowners. On the contrary, he acknowledged that the seizure of landlords by the peasants in 1917 was lawful, offering only to pay a certain contribution to the treasury of the state. Equally, Wrangel made concessions to the Cossacks, and even tried to win over the workers, taking steps to protect their rights. But all this did not help the baron. By this time, the Red Army was far superior to the armed units subordinate to Wrangel. Baron seriously discredited himself and continued cooperation with the British and French, whose intervention in Russia caused a negative attitude towards them, even by many former officers of the old Russian army.
By the beginning of autumn 1920, the situation of the Russian army of General Wrangel had deteriorated significantly. Wrangel could not prevent the Red Army from occupying bridgeheads in the Kakhovka area, and on the night of November 8 1920, the Southern Front of the Red Army under the command of Mikhail Frunze launched an offensive on the Crimea. The 1-i and 2-i cavalry armies, the 51-division of Vasily Blucher and the army group of Nestor Makhno under the command of Semen Karetnik participated in this operation. Despite the great losses, Red managed to take Perekop by storm and break through to the territory of the Crimean peninsula. The threat of an offensive by the Soviet troops, which no longer had the strength to resist the Wrangelians, led to a mass evacuation of the remnants of the Russian army from the Crimea. Around 100, thousands of people — soldiers and officers of Wrangel’s army — were evacuated to Constantinople in an organized manner. The Black Baron never returned to his homeland.
Once on the Turkish coast, Wrangell settled on the yacht "Lukull", which stood at the embankment of Constantinople. But, despite the fact that the “black baron” left Russia, the Soviet leadership continued to consider him a dangerous opponent of the Soviet government, which could organize a new anti-Bolshevik movement with the support of the Western powers. 15 October 1921, a year after the evacuation of the Wrangeers from the Crimea, an Italian ship “Adria” crashed into the yacht “Lucull” from the Soviet port of Batum. The yacht sank, but Wrangel and his family luckily escaped to escape - during the ram they were absent on the yacht. There is a version that the ram of the yacht was specially planned and organized by the Soviet special services. In any case, the Soviet leadership was right, fearing the hostile activities of Wrangel and his supporters.
In 1922, the “black baron” moved from Constantinople to Sremski Karlovtsi, in the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes (Yugoslavia), and in 1924 he founded the Russian All-Military Union (EMRO), which many Russian officers who found themselves in emigration European countries and in Turkey. In an effort to give ROVS special legitimacy, Peter Wrangel conceded the supreme leadership of the organization to Grand Duke Nikolai Nikolayevich, who was the supreme commander-in-chief of the Russian Imperial Army during the First World War. The EMRO continued to engage in anti-Soviet activities, studying the situation in the Soviet Union and consolidating all anti-Bolshevik emigration.
Baron Wrangel himself in September 1927 of the year moved from Yugoslavia to Belgium, where he settled in Brussels, becoming an engineer in one of the local organizations. However, in April 1928, Peter Wrangell unexpectedly contracted tuberculosis. The disease developed very rapidly and 25 on April 1928, the 49 year-old Lieutenant-General Peter Wrangel died suddenly. The relatives of the commander decided that the Soviet special services had poisoned Baron, who continued to monitor the former leader of the White movement. Peter Wrangel was buried in Brussels, but the next year his ashes were transported to Yugoslavia and October 6. 1929 was solemnly reburied in the Russian Church of the Holy Trinity in Belgrade. Many associates of Wrangel continued to mourn the general for a long time, believing that if he were alive, he would certainly continue the struggle against Soviet power. Some were even convinced that in the 1941 year, Wrangel would inevitably be on the side of Nazi Germany, at least he would try to seize the moment and join the German forces to participate in the overthrow of the Bolsheviks.
The figure of General Baron Wrangel meets with conflicting opinions. Traditional for Soviet historical The science approach depicts the Baron as an ardent opponent of Soviet power, acting in the interests of restoring the old regime. The “White Patriots”, in turn, see Peter Wrangel as a heroic military leader who wished Russia only good. But, most likely, Peter Wrangel himself in 1920 could not answer the question of what he wanted Russia. In his hatred of the Bolsheviks, he was ready for an alliance "even with the devil." Hetman Skoropadsky with his "Sich Riflemen", Germans, British, French, Caucasian highlanders and Crimean Tatars, atamans of the "greens" - with whom the "black baron" was not ready to cooperate.
Meanwhile, the fighting in the Crimea in 1920, partly prevented the Red Army from delivering a fatal blow to the White Poles and take Warsaw. Most likely, for Peter Wrangel, by this time the war had already acquired the character of some kind of “action for action”. He very vaguely imagined the future of Russia in the event of victory over the Bolsheviks - some kind of federation with semi-independent formations of Ukrainians, Cossacks, Highlanders.
But Wrangel actively supported the West, realizing that the longer the Civil War is torn apart by Russia, the more massive the blow will be delivered to the Russian state, the more difficult it will be for the country to revive its former power.
Of course, all that has been said does not cancel the military qualities of Lieutenant General Peter Wrangel, the hero of the Russo-Japanese and World War I, who received awards not for staff work, but for the blood shed by him and his soldiers on the battlefields. Peter Wrangel was an interesting and tragic figure in the turbulent period of Russian history, which there is something to respect, but not worth idealizing.