Siberian exodus

Siberian exodus

The retreat of the Kolchak army. 1919

Smoot. 1919 year. The defeat at the front, the loss of Omsk, flight and guerrilla war in the rear caused the complete decomposition of the Kolchak camp. The decaying garrisons of the cities rose uprising and sided with the Reds. All around conspiracies and riots ripened.

The final decomposition of the Kolchak camp

The defeat at the front, the loss of Omsk, flight and partisan war in the rear caused the complete decomposition of the Kolchak camp. The decaying garrisons of the cities rose uprising and sided with the Reds. All around conspiracies and riots ripened. So, dismissed in September 1919 from the Russian army, deprived of all awards and the rank of general Hyde (former commander of the Siberian Army), he settled in Vladivostok and began subversive activities. On November 17 of November 1919 in Vladivostok he led a rebellion prepared by the Socialist-Revolutionaries against the Kolchak authorities. The Socialist-Revolutionaries planned to convene a Zemsky Sobor in Vladivostok to establish a new government. The rebellion, however, was not supported by the residents of Vladivostok. On the third day, the head of the Amur Region, General Rozanov, collecting all he could - midshipmen, cadets, an officer school, crushed the rebellion. Gaida was arrested. At the request of the Entente command, he was released and Gaida returned to Czechoslovakia.

The Social Revolutionaries were preparing uprisings in Irkutsk and Novonikolaevsk. Negotiated with the Czechs. Allied missions knew about the conspiracy. They informed their governments of the imminent collapse of Kolchak’s power and the creation of a “democratic” government in Siberia. The Socialist-Revolutionaries were in contact with the Allies, trying to attract them to their side. Obviously, the Entente surrendered to the admiral, "the Moor has done his job, the Moor may leave." Ataman regimes in Chita and Khabarovsk were also waiting for Kolchak to fall, playing their games. With the support of Japan, it was planned to form a puppet regime of Semenov in the Far East.

On November 12, in Irkutsk, at the All-Russian Conference of Zemstvos and Cities, the Political Center was created, which included the Menshevik Socialist Revolutionaries, representatives of the Zemstvos and the Central Committee of the "Unions of the Labor Peasantry". The political center set itself the task of overthrowing Kolchak’s power and creating a democratic republic in the Far East and Siberia. The local governor Yakovlev supported the Socialist Revolutionaries, was a supporter of the independence of Siberia, and did not take any measures against the Political Center. He himself wanted to break with Kolchak, the arrival of the Irkutsk government was received coldly. He ordered the trains with refugees and employees of institutions from Omsk not to be allowed into Irkutsk at all, but to be placed in the surrounding villages. Yakovlev began negotiations not only with the Political Center, but also with the Bolsheviks on the issue of ending the war in the region. The Political Center also made contact with the Bolsheviks. The Communists refused to join it, but entered into an agreement on cooperation against the Kolchakites. The Socialist-Revolutionaries and Bolsheviks began to jointly decompose parts of the local garrison, to form workers' detachments.

Meanwhile, part of the Kolchak government managed to get into Irkutsk. The new Prime Minister V.N. Pepelyaev reorganized the cabinet, and tried to find a common language with the Siberian Zemstvos in order to neutralize the coup prepared by the Political Center. He proposed the creation of a “government of public trust”, but the Socialist-Revolutionaries and Zemstvos did not want to make any contacts with Kolchak. Then Pepelyaev went to Kolchak to persuade him to make concessions and find a way out of the crisis.

Death sentence to Kolchak residents

From the very beginning, the Siberian campaign was a tragedy for thousands of people. At first, people began to rob. As soon as the evacuation from Omsk began, the railroad decided to squeeze the "bourgeoisie." Train crews set an ultimatum for passengers, refusing to drive on, demanding “indemnity” and threatening to drop them off the train. This robbery began to be repeated at each subsequent station, where the railway crews changed. The progress on the railway was barely possible. The Siberian railway was clogged, the condition of the tracks and rolling stock left much to be desired. Often there were accidents. Even the lettering "golden train" crashed when it collided with another train.

The situation was sharply worsened by the conflict between Kolchak and the Czechoslovakians who controlled the Trans-Siberian Railway. They were the full owners of the main highway of Siberia. Even before the fall of Omsk, a memorandum was issued by the Czech leadership on November 13 that their army’s stay in Russia was aimless, that under the “protection of Czechoslovak bayonets” the Russian reactionary military commits crimes (although the Czechs themselves were active punitive and war criminals). The conclusion was drawn about the need for an immediate return home. That is, not earlier and not later. It was at the time of the beginning of the large-scale evacuation of the Russian army of Kolchak and the refugees associated with it to the east. In fact, if the Entente so desired, the Czechoslovak Corps - an entire 60 thousand army, fresh, well-armed and equipped, with a whole railway army (armored trains, armored vehicles, trains, steam locomotives), easily covered Kolchak’s withdrawal. The Bolsheviks would not intensify the offensive, breaking through the Czechs to avoid international complications, as they later avoided coming into conflict with the Japanese.

The Czechs did the opposite, the most complicated way Kolchak retreat. The Czechoslovak command ordered to suspend the movement of the Russian echelons, and in no case let them pass further than the Taiga station (near Tomsk) until all the echelons of the Czechs passed. It was openly proclaimed: "Our interests are above all others." In fact, given the local conditions - one main highway, huge distances, winter conditions, lack of supplies, this was the death sentence of Kolchak’s army from the West.

On November 20 on November 1919, Commander Sakharov announced the evacuation of the Novonikolaevsk-Krasnoyarsk area. Here were concentrated many hospitals, sick, wounded, families of soldiers, refugees. They needed to be taken to the Amur region. However, there it was. The Czech army - rested, armed to the teeth, with echelons full of wealth, plundered in Russia, was in a hurry to break through to the east. The Czechs brought hundreds of trophy wagons with them, and dreamed of returning home to the rich. In the conditions of total collapse and chaos, their actions began to be marauding, predatory in nature. They used their strength to get to Vladivostok at any cost. Russian trains were forcibly stopped, driven into dead ends, steam locomotives and brigades were selected. Many echelons - sanitary, rear, with refugees, were stopped, deprived of steam locomotives and railway brigades. Someone was relatively lucky, neither found themselves in settlements, most didn’t, they found themselves in a remote taiga, at dead ends and traveling, doomed to die from cold, hunger and disease. Also, unprotected trains were attacked by rebels or bandits, robbed and killed passengers.

The Kolchakov troops, which the Czechs forbade to use or even get close to the railway, had to march along Siberian routes. Frosts, food shortages and epidemics completed the destruction of the Siberian white armies, killing more people than the red ones. To survive, the Kolchak units entirely surrendered to the enemy. This has become so commonplace that the Red Army soldiers behind the White Guards name: "Uncle, where are they surrendered?" Unable to take everything east weapon, property and equipment, whites destroyed hundreds of wagons, spoiled steam locomotives, blew up railway structures to stop the enemy’s advance. But in conditions of rapid flight, they did not have time to destroy everything. Soviet troops captured more and more trophies. Dozens of echelons with military equipment, arsenals, warehouses with ammunition, food, factory equipment, etc. Everything that Kolchakites took out in the summer of 1919 fell into the hands of the Red Army.

Amid this chaos, the “supreme ruler” Kolchak was lost in his train. He was torn from the troops marching along the old Siberian highway. One by one, the admiral wrote protests against the Czechs to their commander General Syrov, complained to the commander-in-chief of the allied forces, General Janen. He noted that the use of the Siberian Railway exclusively for allowing Czechoslovak troops to pass means the death of many Russian echelons, the last of which were actually on the front line. On November 24, Kolchak wrote to Jeanen: “In this case, I will consider myself entitled to take extreme measures and will not stop before them.” However, everything remained the same, since Kolchak did not have “large battalions” for “extreme measures”, and the Czechs knew this.

The collapse of the white command

Disagreement intensified among the command of the white army. The commanders of some formations and garrisons refused to obey the orders of the command. At the end of November 1919, General Griven, commander of the Northern Group of Forces of the 1 Army, ordered the troops to immediately withdraw to the Irkutsk region, the places where its units were formed. By this he violated the order of the command, which forbade to go east without resistance. As a result, parts of the Northern Group left the front. Coming to the commander of the 2 Army General Wojciechowski, Grivin said that the Northern Group was so weak that it could not fight. Therefore, he decided to take her deep into Siberia and will not change his decision. The demand to surrender the command answered categorically. General Wojciechowski personally shot Grivin "as if he had failed to comply with a military order and violated the foundations of military discipline." A new commander was appointed, but the troops continued to flee or surrendered in whole regiments.

In early December 1919, one of the division commanders Colonel Ivakin rebelled in Novonikolaevsk, demanding a truce with the Bolsheviks and the convening of the Siberian Constituent Assembly. The rebels blocked the headquarters of Wojciechowski and tried to arrest him. The rebellion was crushed. The Polish legionnaires who guarded the Novonikolayevsky section of the railway, unlike the Czechs, remained combat-ready and did not sympathize with the rebels. They defeated the rebels, activists were shot.

The high command was at a loss. In early December, a military meeting was held in Novonikolaevsk in the Kolchak carriage. A plan for further action was discussed. Two views were expressed. Some suggested moving along the railway line to Transbaikalia, where there was hope for the help of Semenovites and Japanese. Others suggested going from Novonikolaevsk to the south, to Barnaul and Biysk. There, unite with the troops of the chieftains Dutov and Annenkov, winter and spring, having bases in China and Mongolia, go on the offensive. Most supported the first option. Kolchak agreed with him.

In addition, the command of the Kolchak army was again changed. The failures of the White Guards led to a fall in the authority of Kolchak and Commander Sakharov in the army, he was considered one of the main culprits of the defeats at the front and the fall of Omsk. This caused a conflict between the supreme ruler and the commander of the 1 Army A.N. Pepelyaev (brother of the prime minister). When the admiral’s train arrived at Taiga station, he was detained by Pepelyaev’s troops. The general sent Kolchak an ultimatum on the convocation of the Siberian Zemsky Sobor, the resignation of Commander Sakharov, whom Pepelyaev ordered to arrest on December 9, and the investigation into the surrender of Omsk. In case of failure, Pepelyaev threatened to arrest Kolchak himself. The conflict could be hushed up by the head of government V.N. Pepelyaev who came from Irkutsk. As a result, Sakharov was ousted from his post as commander; other issues were postponed until his arrival in Irkutsk. The troops proposed to lead Diterikhsu, who was in Vladivostok. He made a condition - Kolchak’s resignation and his immediate departure abroad. The new commander was appointed Kappel.

This could not change anything. The collapse of the army was complete and final. But amid the general collapse and chaos, Vladimir Kappel showed his talents as a commander and organizer and until the very end was the most intelligent Siberian military leader of the whites. Until his death, he retained the nobility and devotion to Kolchak, and was able to collect the most reliable units from the remnants of the troops, organize at least some resistance.

On December 3 1919 the Red partisans occupied Semipalatinsk, where on the night of November 30 on December 1 the uprising of the Pleshcheyevsky factory and part of the garrison began. On December 10, partisans liberated Barnaul, on 13 on Biysk, capturing the entire garrison, on 15 on Ust-Kamenegorsk. On December 14, 1919, units of the 27th Division liberated Novonikolaevsk. Many captives and large trophies were captured. Thus, by mid-December 1919, the Red Army reached the border of the river. Obi.

Lieutenant General V.O. Kappel, commander of the Eastern Front. Source:
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