Just ministers, not capitalists - Kerensky, Verkhovsky and Manikovsky
Alexander Kerensky. Failed Bonaparte
Alexander Kerensky story remembers both as a nobleman and a homeowner, and as a lawyer with huge fees. But Kerensky and the next two "interim" war ministers, and even more so, his main ally - Boris Savinkov, head of the war ministry, war minister de facto, although not de jure, cannot be called capitalist ministers.
The slogan "Down with the capitalist ministers!", Which appeared on the red banners of the demonstrators in the spring of 1917, was clearly addressed to someone else. The capitalists in the Provisional Government, of course, were, for example, Tereshchenko or Nekrasov, but they also considered saving their capitals not the main task of staying in power.
Alexander Fedorovich Kerensky, Lenin's compatriot from Simbirsk, being 11 years younger than him, unexpectedly quickly got out of the modest ministers of labor into the leaders of the Provisional Government. This became possible thanks to his eloquence, popularity, frantic efficiency and revolutionary charisma.
Of course, from such a position, he could not in any way be a supporter of a compromise with the Soviets, although the Bolsheviks there by no means ruled the show. And after Alexander Guchkov (Alexander Guchkov: the most "temporary" of the military ministers of Russia), in general, there was no worthy leader for the Ministry of War. Tsarist generals there still categorically did not want to appoint.
And this alignment seemed to suit Kerensky quite well. It is no coincidence that he later so quickly endowed revolutionary Russia with the post of minister-chairman and a Directory, like the one that General Bonaparte had dispersed. At the same time, democratic institutions, such as the State Conference or the Council of the Republic - the Pre-Parliament, turned into a meaningless talking shop.
February democracy successfully failed the whole idea with the Constituent Assembly (Russia 1917-1918: an unpaved field of democracy). And, most likely, Savinkov should have been appointed minister. But his reputation at that moment did not allow this. Judging by his further actions, the SR-bombist would have immediately tightened the screws and would have lost his post long before the Kornilov revolt or the coming to power of the Bolsheviks.
After the resignation of Guchkov, the Ministry of War decided to get rid of the hassle of fleet, which became not so much one of the strongholds of the revolution as a headache for the executive branch. Power is almost powerless.
By the time of Kerensky's ministry, the idea of mobilizing the defense industry was not working well, the army was ready to fight solely for the sake of an early conclusion of peace. Real efforts to strengthen the front had to be replaced by meetings and countless meetings, as well as negotiations among themselves.
Democratization led the army to collapse. The War Department was also falling apart, although this was not so noticeable. The search for the very "Bonaparte saber" in Russia did not drag out - this role was claimed, first of all, by Kerensky himself, who was jokingly called "Alexander IV".
But in reality, General Lavr Kornilov came forward as a candidate for dictatorship.
With him, who had a much richer frontline biography than a minister, even a chairman, Kerensky divorced the very course of history. Before that, the ex-lawyer, as prime minister and minister of war, had a complete failure with the surrender of Riga to the Germans (see map). Then in the summer of 1917, the gunners refused to load the guns, and the soldiers of the Provisional Government raised their agitators with bayonets.
And even earlier there was a failure with the material support of the offensive of the Southwestern Front. In Russia, newspapermen, following the example of their European colleagues, also tried to call it "Battle for Peace." But they were pulled personally by Kerensky - the failed Bonaparte, who believed that this could become a propaganda of a separate agreement with Germany and Austria-Hungary.
When there are interruptions in armament and shells, and even in provisions, the death penalty, introduced on the direct orders of General Kornilov, then in command of the front, will not help either. This order, by the way, was sanctioned by Savinkov, who was appointed military governor of Petrograd during the days of the mutiny.
But Boris Viktorovich, a comrade (in our time it is called first deputy) Minister Kerensky, in the days of the mutiny, intrigued with Kornilov and even persuaded him to submit to the Provisional Government. And the showdown with the Kornilovites had to be dealt with by the Bolshevik Red Guard, which eventually brought them to power.
Boris Savinkov resigned. And being summoned by the Social Revolutionaries to give explanations, he divorced them too, leaving the party. Kerensky, more recently a “people's leader,” in a paramilitary jacket with a short haircut (pictured), thought it best to hand over the War Ministry to a professional - Colonel Verkhovsky, popular with newspapermen, who immediately became a Major General.
Kerensky himself lived much longer than his successors as Minister of War - he lived until 1970 in the United States. He left volumes of memoirs, a vivid book about the Russian revolution, as well as a special memory of himself - the famous "Kerenki", a symbol of rampant inflation and the collapse of finance.
Alexander Verkhovsky. Almost dictator or almost Bolshevik
A nobleman, a pupil of the Corps of Pages, who left him because of politics, from a young age was no stranger to revolutionary convictions. Sasha Verkhovsky was not yet 20 years old when, after a bloody Sunday January 9, 1905, with the shooting of a demonstration on the direct order of Grand Duke Vladimir, he was not afraid to declare that “he considers it a shame to use weapon against an unarmed crowd. "
Later, one of his idols would be Napoleon, who did not hesitate to shoot at an unarmed crowd. But before that, Verkhovsky went through the Russo-Japanese and World War, was in the war in the Balkans, studying the experience of future allies - the Serbs. Without any patronage, he eventually earned the rank of major general.
Shortly before the February Revolution, Verkhovsky wrote in his diary:
But he had already held positions in which it was possible at least to achieve something. Among other things, for example, in a mission to the allied Romanian army or in divisions ready to land in Trebizond or on the Bosphorus.
But this huge plan, as well as participation in the post-war world, was thwarted for Russia by two revolutions. In them, Alexander Verkhovsky was by no means the last role. He noted his participation in the Sevastopol Council of Deputies by developing a regulation on soldiers' committees and joining the Socialist Revolutionary Party.
He became a supporter of the commander of the Black Sea Fleet, Admiral Kolchak, who chose the path to dictatorship. Lieutenant Colonel (at that time) Verkhovsky believed that:
The Provisional Government did not manage to hold out for peace. And it was the demand for peace, almost immediate, voiced later by Verkhovsky, that became the reason for his resignation from the post of Minister of War a few days before the October coup.
And the rise of an officer, who received the rank of general only in this post, was directly related to his counter-revolutionary successes. Having risen at the head of the Moscow Military District, and not without the support of Boris Savinkov, Colonel Verkhovsky brutally, albeit without excess blood, dealt with soldiers' demonstrations in Nizhny and Tver, in Vladimir, Yelets and Lipetsk.
Minister of War Verkhovsky at the funeral of those killed during the suppression of riots in the Nizhny Novgorod province. Summer 1917
In fear of the Bolsheviks and the emerging workers' guard, the press started talking about a sensible commander as a possible military leader. Before Kornilov he was, of course, far away, but a little later A. V. Lunacharsky in a letter to his wife seriously called Verkhovsky one of the possible members of "a purely democratic coalition, that is, the front: Lenin - Martov - Chernov - Dan - Verkhovsky."
The very idea of such a coalition, Anatoly Vasilyevich, Trotsky's friend and loyal Leninist comrade-in-arms, however, described as utopian. But the creation of the ruling five at that moment, in fact, was not a utopia - it, having called it in the French manner "Directory", was formed for himself by Kerensky, immediately after he got rid of Kornilov. And he wrote there together with others and Verkhovsky.
It is unlikely that the minister-chairman was afraid of competition from Verkhovsky - the post of Minister of War, unlike the post of the Supreme Commander-in-Chief, was not very suitable for this. But the popularity of Verkhovsky after the failed negotiations with Kornilov and the order for five regiments of the Moscow district to strike at Mogilev, where the headquarters of the Supreme Commander-in-Chief was, only grew.
At the same time, Verkhovsky constantly and convincingly advocated, if not for peace, then at least for peace negotiations. He even declared himself an internationalist, almost a supporter of the Bolsheviks. At the same time, the newly-minted general clearly leapt into ambitions, because of which many began to speak of him in the same way as Moscow University professor Mikhail Bogoslovsky: "a charlatan and a scoundrel."
He did not abandon business at the ministry. But he was clearly unable to change something. Too independent Verkhovsky did not suit not only Kerensky, but all the other ministers. Others were not asked at the time. The resignation of this almost dictator was best described by British Ambassador George Buchanan:
At the last meeting of the Presidium of the Council of the Republic last night, he apparently completely lost his head and said that Russia must immediately conclude peace and that when peace is concluded, a military dictator must be appointed to ensure the maintenance of order. "
The ex-minister, like a real statesman, went to serve the new government and the Red Army without any doubts, although after a six-month stay in Kresty. However, he only rose to the rank of brigade commander and did not live to see a new world war. Verkhovsky fell under repression - he was shot in August 1938 on charges of participating in an anti-Soviet conspiracy.
Alexey Manikovsky. Two days in the ministry, two in prison
Formally, General Manikovsky, better known as an excellent supplier, was not a minister of war. After the resignation of the young General Verkhovsky, they did not even have time to confirm him in office before the Bolsheviks spoke. For history, Manikovsky remained “only” the interim head of the War Ministry.
The general, who served for several years as the head of GAU - the Main Artillery Directorate of the General Staff, gained fame in 1916, when he submitted to Emperor Nicholas II a memorandum with a plan to reform the defense industry in Russia. Later it began to be called nothing else than the "mobilization economy plan."
Passions around him were in full swing both under the tsar and under the Provisional Government. But what about - for the then business elite, who profited from military orders and created the Interim Committee of the State Duma for themselves, this meant the nationalization of the source of their fabulous profits. That is, for them it was about something more terrible than the revolution.
But, of course, not the same one that Lenin and his comrades did in October, who immediately adopted Manikovsky's ideas. He just fell under the hand, as one of the members of Kerensky's last cabinet, abandoned by his prime minister in the Winter Palace.
According to the two-day minister's plan, strong defense state-owned enterprises are given priority in industry, not only during the war. In peacetime, they will become price regulators, becoming the vanguard of technological progress. Doesn't this remind you of today's state corporations? Only slightly distorted the very essence of General Manikovsky's project.
The general went further in his ideas, proposing to introduce something like workers' control at state and even private factories. The factory committees, which Manikovsky wanted to introduce, drew attention to Leonid Krasin, Stalin's friend, then manager of a powder factory, and the Bonch-Bruevich brothers.
In October 1917, this helped the general not stay in custody and go to the service of the new government - the Council of People's Commissars. And before that, Manikovsky had, in fact, a completely ordinary military career, more precisely, a staff career, a graduate of the Mikhailovsky Artillery School, a participant in the Russian-Japanese and world wars.
In the Red Army, where Manikovsky simply could not help but get, he also served in the artillery unit and supply. His book "Combat Supply of the Russian Army in the World War" was published only in 1937. And rightly considered a classic.
And many of the problems of the Russian army in the world war were associated with the fact that there were negligibly few such as Manikovsky among the supplies. Alexei Alekseevich died in 1920 in a train crash heading to Tashkent, where the former general, now painted, was going on a business trip.
In his own way, the British military attaché in Russia, Major General Alfred Knox, draws a unique picture of the circumstances of the resignation and early release of the non-Dominant Manikovsky:
Manikovsky agreed to take over the leadership of the ministry on the condition that he was given freedom of action and not forced to interfere in politics. I found the general in his apartment, sitting in a room with a puppy and a kitten, one of whom he called a Bolshevik, and the other - Menshevik. His sad experience did not affect him in any way, and he shared with me with a laugh how, because he had been a minister for two days, he had to spend exactly two days in prison.
Instead of an epilogue
Each of our heroes deserves a separate essay, even a book. Moreover, a lot of them have already been written about Savinkov and Kerensky. They themselves also wrote quite a lot. And each in its own way professionally.
In this cursory review, we only showed how hopeless were the attempts of Kerensky, together with Savinkov, and then Verkhovsky and Manikovsky, to make the rusted mechanism of the War Ministry from tsarist times work. The last of them, however, did not have time at all and could not do anything.
But Guchkov, of course, had to start this. But he didn’t even have any attempts to change something, he almost didn’t change personnel either. In this they are very similar to the historian Professor Pavel Milyukov, who was also in no hurry to change anything in the tsarist Foreign Ministry.
Later, the RSDLP (b) together with the Left Socialist-Revolutionaries and anarchists became the RSDLP (b) to change both the cadres and the system itself, changing the name “ministry” to “people's commissariat”. Although the actual commissars to the fronts and fleets were sent just "temporary". Even before the Bolsheviks took over the country.
- Alexey Podymov
- wikimedia.org, from the author's archive, photoarchive.spb.ru, stolicaplus.ru, statearchiv.ru
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