Laying out material "The death of the cruiser" Emerald ", the author naively believed that he was reasoning about obvious cases, and did not expect the article to provoke such a lively discussion. However, in the comments and in a separate material published subsequently by one of the participants in the discussion, so much was interesting that there was no way to get past this variety of hypotheses and postulates.
The article that is brought to your attention is a reflection on a number of opinions expressed by various participants in the discussion, which seemed most interesting to the author. So…
What always surprised me was the tendency of my fellow citizens to be extremely harsh, if not a harsh assessment of the actions of our ancestors. Today we are guilty of all faults, we are each historical we study the document, like a ruthless prosecutor, whose motto: “The lack of a criminal record is not your merit, but our flaw.” And we only have to find some inconsistencies - everything, the guilt of the “defendant” has been fully proved, and this or that historical character is declared to be an unworthy deceiver. Moreover, having proved the “guilt” of a historical person in just one thing, we don’t believe any of his words, for a liar will lie a second time.
But is that right?
It is well known that the need of mankind in court arose thousands of years ago. Since then, the methods for determining the right and the guilty have been continuously improved and changed many times. We can say that the principles of legal proceedings that exist today (may professional lawyers forgive me the fuzziness in terminology) contain the wisdom of centuries - they are probably imperfect, but this is the best that mankind has thought of today. What is the foundation of today's justice?
Two important principles apply to the accused, the first of which is the presumption of innocence. The essence of this principle is that the burden of proving criminal guilt lies with the prosecutor, and from this two main consequences follow:
1. The accused is not obliged to prove his innocence.
2. Fatal doubts about the guilt of the accused are interpreted in his favor.
The second principle is that the accused has the right to defense. This is expressed in the fact that the accused:
1. Must know what he is accused of.
2. May refute the evidence and provide evidence justifying it.
3. Has the right to protect his legitimate interests by other means and methods.
So, you need to understand that when we bring this or that historical person to the court of descendants, we seriously violate the modern procedure of justice even if we cannot give the “defendant” the right to defense. The reason is objective: the “defendant” has long passed away and cannot defend his interests in any way by giving “testimonies” in our “court”. Well, nothing can be done about it, but it is all the more important to respect with respect to those whom we judge at least the presumption of innocence.
In simple terms, one should not, having found this or that inconsistency in historical documents, declare the person who committed it in all mortal sins. Before you blame a person for something, even with seemingly “irrefutable facts” in your hands, you should think about it - or maybe the whole point is that we did not take something into account?
Report of V. N. Ferzen - a hoax?
We will probably start in the morning of May 15, when the Baron decided not to obey the orders of his immediate commander, Rear Admiral N. I. Nebogatov, and did not surrender his cruiser to the enemy. "Emerald" went on a breakthrough. Here is how VN Ferzen describes it in his report:
“The confusion caused by the surrender of our ships diverted the attention of the enemy from me for the first time and allowed me to move forward a little. He lay down on SO, as on the course, equally diverging from the cruisers to the right and left.
The right-wing cruisers, Niitaka, Kasagi and Chitose, however, soon chased after me. ”
The right-wing cruisers, Niitaka, Kasagi and Chitose, however, soon chased after me. ”
Alas, the composition of the Japanese detachment is completely untrue. In fact, the “cruiser on the right” is the 6th combat detachment, which included the Suma, Chioda, Akitsushima and Izumi before the Tsushima battle. "Kasagi" at the squadron N.I. Nebogatov didn’t exist at all, and the Chitose, although he really pursued the Emerald in the future, but the distance between them was such that they could hardly see him on the Russian cruiser, not just identify him.
And there is a fact - V.N. Fersen in his report incorrectly indicated the naming of the enemy cruisers. Is this a mistake, or is it a deliberate lie? Well, the motive is present: since the Chitose and Kasagi are one of the fastest Japanese cruisers, they, of course, will be able to get to Vladivostok much faster than the Emerald. But if so, then it turns out that the departure of V.N. Ferzen in the bay of Vladimir is more than justified. So, there is a motive, and that means V.N. Fersen lied, and twice (once for each cruiser).
But if we do not rush, we will see that this hypothesis is completely refuted by the report of V.N. Fersen. Firstly, V.N. Fersen writes that during the chase, "I have an insignificant, but still an advantage in the course." Agree, it will be difficult for the authorities to assume that the less fast-moving Japanese cruisers following the Emerald will be able to get to Vladivostok faster than the last. If we take into account the drop in speed of the Russian cruiser to 13 knots, then, again, there is no need to invent any “Kasagi” - any Japanese cruiser was now noticeably faster than the “Emerald” and could be the first to reach Vladivostok. Secondly, assuming malicious intent on the part of V.N. Fersen, one would expect that he would write directly in the report that “Kasagi” and “Chitos” would go to guard Vladivostok, but this is not so.
Without tiring the esteemed reader by quoting various fragments of the report, I note that V.N. At the beginning of his breakthrough, Fersen saw Japanese cruisers both to his right and to his left (which, among other things, is mentioned in the quote above). He defined the “right” cruisers incorrectly, but the “left” did not seem to make out at all, only mentioning that the Japanese detachment consists of 6 cruisers. It can be assumed that V.N. Fersen saw the 5th Japanese battle detachment: “Chin-Yen”, three “Matsushima” along with the Yasyama memo - the 4th combat detachment was also not far from them, so the error in one ship is understandable.
So V.N. Fersen points out in his report that, in his opinion, the cruisers who were located to his right, and 6 “left” cruisers, didn’t go to Vladivostok at all.
And it turns out that if the “Emerald” commander wanted to “rub points” to his superiors, then he should have “discovered” “Chitose” and “Kasagi” not in the right, pursuing his detachment, but in the left, which seemed to go to Vladivostok! But he did not do this, and if so, then there was no motive for a conscious lie that he was pursued by two Japanese “fleets” by V.N. Fersen is not visible. But what then happened?
Let's look at the silhouettes of the Chitose and Kasagi cruisers.
And compare them with the silhouettes of the cruisers of the 6th combat detachment.
As you can see, all cruisers have two pipes and two masts, located with a slope to the stern. Of course, you can see the differences - for example, the Akitsushima mast is located in front of the bow superstructure, and for the rest of the ships - behind it. But V.N. After all, Fersen was not looking at the pictures in the album, but the warships of the enemy, and at a great distance. As we know, the Emerald did not open fire during its breakthrough, because the distance was too great for its guns. At the same time, the 120-mm guns of the Russian cruiser could shoot 9,5 kilometers, that is, Japanese ships did not come closer to this distance to the Emerald.
Finally, one should not forget about the color of the ships of the United fleet, which, as you know, could make identification difficult - especially over long distances.
So, taking into account the similarity of silhouettes and the distance range, it is not surprising that V.N. Fersen took the same Akitsushima for Kasagi or Chitose - and is it worth looking for some malice in this?
Not just a liar, but an ignorant liar?
The next mistake V.N. Fersen, who amused many from the heart, is the presence of the armadillo Yasima in the diagram drawn by him, which, as you know, died as a result of a mine blast near Port Arthur and therefore could not participate in the Tsushima battle.
However, many history buffs know that the Japanese very successfully concealed the fact of the death of "Yasima" and therefore the Russians quite expected to meet him in battle. But the thing is that in fact in Tsushima the Japanese had one three-pipe ("Sikishima") and three two-pipe battleships. And in the diagram of V.N. Fersen lists four two-pipe battleships - Asahi, Mikasa, Fuji, and Yashima! This was the reason to accuse V.N. Ferzena in terrible unprofessionalism is the commander of a cruiser, and does not even know the silhouettes of the ships that make up the backbone of the enemy fleet ...
It seems to be so, but ... Let us nevertheless apply the very presumption of innocence and consider whether it is possible that the error in identifying Japanese ships is not related to the unprofessionalism of the commander of the Emerald.
It is quite obvious that by the time the 1st combat detachment appeared, when the Japanese cruisers were already surrounded by the remains of the Russian squadron on all sides, V.N. Fersen was more than enough all sorts of worries and troubles. And the exact identification of the Japanese battleships was somewhere at the very bottom of the large list of tasks before him. It can be assumed that he did not do this at all, and only then, after the detachment, some signalman reported to him that he had seen four two-pipe Japanese battleships. The mistake, again, is excusable given the range, the angle on the Japanese ships and their color. Accordingly, by the method of simple exception V.N. Fersen determined that there were Asahi, Mikasa, Fuji and Yashima in front of him (the three-pipe Sikishima was missing) and indicated so on the diagram.
Is such an option possible? Quite. Of course, we cannot in any way establish today how things really were: maybe so, or maybe that way. And this means that, from the point of view of justice, we are dealing with the classic case of the presence of fatal doubts about the guilt of the accused. So why, in accordance with the presumption of innocence, not interpret them in favor of V.N. Fersen?
As we hear and write
A few words about the classic mistake of a novice researcher, which consists in an overly verbose perception of what is written in historical documents.
The fact is that the maritime service (like any other) has its own specifics, and those who chose it as their path, of course, know this specificity. But those who read historical documents are not always familiar with her and, as a rule, not in full. Hence annoying misunderstandings arise. When a naval officer makes a report, he writes it for his immediate superiors, who fully knows the specifics of the service and who does not need to verbose explain all the nuances “from the beginning”. And when the report is taken to analyze by a layman, he does not know these nuances and this can easily make a mistake.
Reread article "Some aspects of the reward for courage in the failure of orders". In it, the author decided to verify the statement of V.N. Fersen:
"... headed for a point equally distant from Vladivostok and St. Vladimir’s Bay, decided to walk up to 50 miles from the coast and there, depending on circumstances, go either to Vladivostok or Vladimir."
And the author seemed to do brilliantly - he made a map of the Emerald movement, found a turning point into the bay Vladimir and ... saw that it was not at all equidistant from Vladivostok and from Vladimir, because Vladivostok was farther as much as 30 miles or about 55,5, XNUMX km.
The map is taken from the article "Some Aspects of the Reward for Courage in Failure to Follow Orders"
What will this work tell the reader? There is already one of two things - or V.N. Fersen did not at all consider the transition to Vladivostok and initially walked closer to Vladimir Bay, or V.N. Fersen and the rest of the Emerald officers are so ignorant of maritime affairs that they are unable to even identify on the map a point equidistant from two geographical points. And the reader, of course, comes to the "obvious" conclusion - or V.N. Fersen is a liar or layman.
But what really? We open the testimony of V.N. Fersen of the Investigative Commission, and read:
Not Vladivostok, but Askold Island.
“But how is Askold?” Why - Askold, because it was about Vladivostok ?! ” - a dear reader may ask a question. The answer lies in the fact that in order to go to Vladivostok, oddly enough, Baron V.N. Fersen ... it was not at all necessary to go directly to Vladivostok. It was enough to bring the Emerald to a point where, if necessary, it could anchor and be guaranteed to contact Vladivostok with the help of a ship's wireless telegraph in order to get help from the cruisers there. And such a point was exactly Askold Island, located 50 km southeast of Vladivostok. That is about. Askold was about 50 km closer to the turning point of the Emerald than Vladivostok.
Askold Island circled in red
That’s the answer to the “mysterious 30 miles of V.N. Fersen ". The point to which he led the Emerald was not equidistant from Vladivostok and Vladimir Bay, but from Fr. Askold and Vladimir bays. Moreover, V.N. Fersen obviously considered it unnecessary to state such nuances in the report, but he explained everything exactly in the testimony of the Investigation Commission.
What can be said about this? Firstly, when working with historical documents, there is no need to spare time for cross-checking the information contained in them. Especially in those cases when it seems that you made a certain historical discovery, so to speak, “tore the covers from the unsightly inner essence” of a particular historical person. This is just the case when you need to measure seven times, and then think after that: is it worth cutting? ..
And you always need to remember that, without knowing the specifics, we, "land rats" (of course, this does not apply to sailors), we can not see very much of what the naval officer reports in his report. And therefore, the desire to interpret “as it is written” can easily lead us to “As we hear and write” - with all the ensuing consequences.
However, all of the above is nothing more than errors of judgment, which are, of course, completely excusable.
About information distortion
In the article “Some aspects of rewarding for courage in case of failure to follow orders”, the author quotes a report by V.N. Fersen:
"At this point, it was necessary to decide where to go: to Vladivostok or Vladimir. I chose Vladimir, not Olga."
In the presented form, this quote looks like a classic “Freudian reservation”: if the commander chose between Vladivostok and Vladimir, then how miraculously did the choice shift to Vladimir and Olga? And the author naturally emphasizes this:
“Wait, wait, Mr. Fersen, what does Olga have to do with it ?! It seems he chose between Vladivostok and Vladimir? Where did Vladivostok go? And in the quote above were Vladivostok and the bay of St. Vladimir. So easily Fersen Occam’s razor cut off everything unnecessary. "
And, of course, everything becomes clear to the reader. In no Vladivostok V.N. Fersen did not intend to, but only fooled his bosses about his intention. But…
Let's read the quoted passage of the report in full.
We see that the indicated fragment admits a double interpretation. It can be interpreted so that V.N. Fersen writes about the need to choose between Vladimir and Vladivostok, and then explains why he chooses between Vladivostok and Vladimir, and, for example, not between Vladivostok and Olga. In other words, there is no “Freudian reservation”, but perhaps there is a phrase that is not quite well constructed. But to understand this from an incomplete quote taken from the context in the article “Some Aspects of Awarding for Courage in Failure to Follow Orders” is impossible.
V.N. Fersen did not comply with the order?
Here the logic of reasoning is this: the commander of the Russian forces, Vice Admiral Z.P. Rozhdestvensky ordered to go to Vladivostok, and the commander of the Emerald violated this order, because instead of Vladivostok he went to Vladimir Bay. And therefore, it is reprehensible: “... imagine that in 1941 the commander, having received the order to take up defense at the Dubosekovo junction, judged that it was better to do this in Khamovniki, and eventually dug in a bar on Tverskaya. For this I would be immediately shot at the verdict of the tribunal before the formation. "
It seems to be logical, but ... Exactly what seems to be. The fact is that the army does not order “To take up defense at the Dubosekovo junction!” The army gives the order "To take up defense at the Dubosekovo junction by 08.00 16.11.1941," and nothing else. That is, the order stipulates not only the place, but also the time of its execution. If it is not specified, then this means that there is no clear time frame for the execution of the order.
In this case, the commander who issued the order, generally speaking, does not care how the order issued to them is executed. That is, his subordinate has the right to choose the methods of execution of the order, unless otherwise specified in the order directly. Moreover, in the Wehrmacht, for example, giving petty instructions was not at all welcomed: there it was believed that the officer would have enough of a common task, and his qualifications should be enough to determine the best way to accomplish it on the spot, while at the remote headquarters they might not accept into account some important nuances. Incidentally, the independence of the commanders is one of the reasons for the superiority of the German army over the forces of England, France, the United States, and even the Red Army in the initial period of the Second World War.
So, Z.P. Rozhdestvensky did not give exact instructions to the commander of the Emerald, how and when he should reach Vladivostok. So, it was left to V.N. Fersen. And he had every right to go to the bay of Vladimir, Olga, or somewhere else, if this served the ultimate goal - to get to Vladivostok. Of course, there was no violation of the order in this and could not be.
Escape from the battlefield?
I must say that a similar interpretation of the actions of V.N. Fersen in the morning of May 15 can not cause anything but bewilderment. Personally, I naively believed that the battlefield is the place where opponents fight. But the remnants of the Russian squadron did not fight, they capitulated: how could one escape from what does not exist?
Why V.N. Fersen did not go to Vladivostok from the turning point?
It seems that the answer is obvious and repeatedly indicated in the documents of V.N. Fersen - because he was afraid of the watch of the Japanese cruisers. But no! The following considerations are presented to us:
“Moreover, the patrol line is about 150 km, and the Japanese have chances only in the afternoon. It’s highly unlikely to catch a single cruiser at night. ”
So, the commander of the Emerald, it turns out, had all the chances. Well, let's count a little. Suppose the Japanese really decided to block all roads to Vladivostok at night. Then 6 Japanese cruisers need to patrol a 150-kilometer line. In total, each Japanese cruiser would have only a 25-kilometer section. It would take a little more than an hour to complete its full 12-node move, and after the cruiser reaches the “end” of the patrol area allocated to it, the neighboring cruiser leaves at the point where the Japanese ship started its patrol.
Visibility in the dead of night was then 1,5 km or more. It was at that distance that on the night of May 14, the Sinano Maru discovered the unlit warships of the 1st and 2nd Pacific Squadrons. But, I must say, then the weather did not have and it is possible that during the possible breakthrough of the Emerald into Vladivostok, visibility was much better.
Thus, through simple calculations, we get that 6 Japanese cruisers even at the deepest night at any given time could see 18 kilometers of the sentry line (each cruiser sees 1,5 km in both directions, total 3 km), 150 km line “scanned” a little more than an hour. Skipping such a line is super luck, but by no means an “extremely improbable chance.” But the question is that the Japanese saw the direction of the Emerald, knew that he was leaning east and could organize a patrol not along the entire 150-km line, but on the cruiser’s most probable route. In this case, the Emerald could pass to Vladivostok only by a miracle. It was such an option that V.N. was afraid Fersen.
Why V.N. Fersen did not dare to go to Vladivostok, and Chagin took a chance?
And really. Where the commander of the Emerald was cautious, Chagin with his “Diamond” (the armored cruiser I mistakenly called in my last article) simply went to Vladivostok, and that’s all. Why?
The answer is very simple. Almaz separated from the squadron on the evening of May 14 and, according to the report of its commander:
“Adhering to the Japanese coast, and not meeting a single Japanese ship, having 16 knots on the move, I walked past the island of Oshima about 9 hours. on the morning of May 15th, but held out even before 2 o’clock. days on the previous course NO 40 ° and then lay down on the N-d holding on Cape Povorotny, which I approached at 9 o’clock in the morning. ”
Obviously, the “Diamond”, which went all night at 16 knots and could maintain such speed further, did not need to be afraid of Japanese patrols. Chagin did not know the fate of the remnants of the squadron, and could not assume that N.I. Nebogatov capitulates. Accordingly, he had no reason to believe that the Japanese would free up their forces to organize a patrol in Vladivostok. And even if they were found, then in order to intercept the Almaz, they should have run to Vladivostok almost in full swing at the end of the battle, which, of course, was extremely unlikely. The fact is that the comparatively high-speed Almaz was at Cape Povorotny already at 09.00 on May 16, and the Emerald, with its 13 nodes, moving from the turning point, could be there 15-16 hours later.
Yes, and having discovered enemy cruisers, Chagin at his maximum 19 knots had good chances to evade the battle, but the Emerald was doomed.
Everyone will make them for himself. I ask dear readers only one thing: let's be more careful in evaluating certain actions of our ancestors. After all, they can no longer explain to us the background of these or those of their actions and thereby dispel our errors - in those cases when we allow them.