Who does not know the phrase from the "White Guard" of the great Bulgakov:
“The hetman today at about four o'clock in the morning, shamefully leaving us all to the mercy of fate, fled! He ran like the last canal and a coward! "
This is exactly what happened - Kiev, the year 1918, a handful of officers and the hetman of the Ukrainian state, who, having abandoned his supporters, fled to Germany, taking good for the rest of his comfortable life. The final of a career, frankly, is not very good. But it all did not begin with cowardice. Skoropadsky was not someone, but a coward.
The Skoropadsky clan is an old Cossack clan that gave the Hetmanate a number of administrators and hetman, and the empire - large landowners and successful officers. Pavel's father, Colonel Cavalry Guard, provided his young descendant with a successful start in life - the Corps of Pages, the Cavalry Regiment, the Russo-Japanese War, where the brilliant guardsman volunteered, becoming a centurion of the Trans-Baikal Cossack army. As a result - six awards, including a gold weapon For Courage. Already in 1905 - an adjutant wing, in 1906 - a colonel, in 1912 - a major general with enrollment in the Retinue and commander of the Life Guards Cavalry Regiment. For 39 years, the result is brilliant and, in addition to connections among the old aristocracy and huge money, provided with both courage and talent.
His career did not stall further: in 1914 - alternately brigade commander and divisional commander of the Guards cavalry for distinctions in the East Prussian operation, in 1916 - lieutenant general, in January 1917 - accepts the 34th army corps. At this rate, up to 50 years old, Skoropadsky risked breaking under the weight of awards and becoming a field marshal.
There were, of course, explanations for this, in addition to courage and talent.
This is also belonging to the Club of the old clans, where everyone is tied to each other by marriages and interests. And personal capital (one of the largest landowners in Little Russia), and the fact that several generations of the Skoropadsky served in the guard, which became not only and not so much military units, but again - a club, only a military club and supporting its own.
Taking into account the fact that the guards were led by the grand dukes, and the chiefs of the regiments were members of the family ... Well, the fact of marriage with Alexandra Durnovo, whose family was part of a very narrow circle of people closest to the emperor, also contributed.
Be that as it may, in 1917 from Pavel Skoropadsky one could expect a dense monarchism and ardent protection, but he gladly accepted February and began to Ukrainize his corps with the permission and approval of Kornilov (and they say the Bolsheviks laid a mine), de facto creating Ukrainian army on the orders of the commander-in-chief.
Why did this happen?
And the whole tragedy of that Russia is that the higher aristocracy has long wanted, as if according to Tsoi, changes, and they saw England by the light in the window (Pavel himself was brought up by grandfather Andrey in the spirit of English liberalism), at worst, France.
Even some of the Romanovs considered Russia a wrong state and welcomed February, what can we say about an aristocrat from the dynasty of the ruler of a semi-independent semi-state?
So Pavel threw himself into politics with enthusiasm, since, unlike the outcasts from the Rada, he had money and troops. With the corps, however, it turned out uncomfortable, he simply fled, because the peasants wanted land and freedom, and not the Rada or the hetman. But by that time Skoropadsky was already the general chieftain of the Little Russian Cossacks.
And from all official posts, he demonstratively resigned on the eve of the Bolshevik offensive, strengthening his authority in the army and popularity among supporters of order and conservatives. The future hetman did not particularly climb into a fight with the Bolsheviks, giving the members of the Rada the opportunity to break their foreheads on their own.
He stated his real position in letters to his wife:
“I’m going, perhaps, to become a Ukrainian, but I must say in honor, not very convinced.”
One way or another, he was not involved in the disaster of the Rada, as well as in the Brest-Litovsk peace.
But the growing mess, which even the German invaders could not cope with, was very good for him. Moreover, the Germans, having made sure that the Rada was a group of marginal people, who did not enjoy authority and were unable to work, were looking for someone serious for the position of puppet. And it was the General of the Svita who looked like such a figure, after whom they were ready to follow: that of the landowners, that of the capitalists, that of the officers, that of the well-to-do peasants.
How did Skoropadsky feel and what did he think about this situation?
A person who is personally brave and intelligent, he should have understood that he is offered and what he will become. But understanding by understanding, and the chance to become the founder of a dynasty of constitutional monarchs in potentially the richest territory in Europe is another. Fortunately, he calmed his conscience by the fact that
"... for Russia there is no single danger of a federal structure, where every component part could develop freely."
He seems to be saving the Russia of the future, but a federal one.
On April 28, 1918, the Germans arrested the Rada, allocating a whole sergeant major and two soldiers for this case, and at the same time in the Kiev circus, by a certain congress of grain growers, Skoropadsky was elected hetman. The production went brilliantly: no one uttered a word about Radu, everyone was fed up with the mess, and the talkers got it.
His reign was ambivalent.
On the one hand, laws, attempts to build an army, the reconstruction of the secret police and the police, the creation of an academy of sciences ...
On the other hand, violent Ukrainization, open robbery of peasants, brutal suppression of workers' strikes. No matter how much you build a power from a piece of the empire's territory and under the occupation of the Germans: the population will be impoverished, the occupiers will drain resources, and the people will hate such a government.
And so it happened in the end. By the end of the summer, Skoropadsky was hated by everyone: the Russians for national humiliation and shame, Little Russians and political Ukrainians for lack of determination, the upper classes for softness, the lower classes for bestial cruelty. The Entente did not want to negotiate with the German puppet, although he tried.
German bayonets - they are German bayonets, today there are, and tomorrow ...
For the Reds, he was an enemy, for the Whites - a traitor (that is, in fact, it was).
As a result, as soon as everything collapsed in Germany, Skoropadsky instantly remembered that he was Russian, urging in his letter of October 24 to build the Russian Federation. But neither the whites nor the Entente were interested in him by and large, and the supporter of independence, Petliura, together with a member of the UPR government, Vynnychenko, had already formed the Directory and called the peasants to arms.
On December 14, 1918, Skoropadsky fled, leaving his supporters to feed the rioting peasants. In Berlin, he tried to portray himself as a hetman in exile, competing in this with the UPR in exile, but unsuccessfully. In any case, he lived out as a private person and was killed in 1945 by an American bomb.
His fate is a tracing of the fate of many (with variations in the outcome) of the military leaders of the Russian Empire.
The most successful - Mannerheim (Swede) built Finland. The most famous - Kolchak was executed in Irkutsk. some later lived in exile, some returned to punish the Nazis ...
And there can be only one conclusion from this fate - if the generals and aristocrats had this in their heads, and they so easily spat on either the oath or the Motherland, then, apparently, something was wrong with the Russian Empire in its last years. ?
And it’s not a matter of Ukrainianness, Skoropadsky loved Ukraine in his memories, the quote above. But in letters to his wife ... He did not plan them for publication.
The fact is that everyone wanted to become tsars-empire, and then - what came to hand. This desire manifested itself in them instantly, as soon as Russia swayed. And they were the best in the system built by the last Romanovs. The bulk of the whites were in many ways just from the worst, not brilliant and not successful, just like the military experts in the Reds. In fact, taking into account the position of the aristocracy and the inner circle, the last emperor and Russia with him hung over the void.