Of the five first Soviet marshals, Alexander Egorov - the only one who had reached the rank of colonel of the Imperial Army, had real team experience gained in the fields of the First World War. But, unlike other fascinating books, they did not write about him, didn’t see Napoleon in him, didn’t add up to his popularly favorite songs, and didn’t say that the Red Army suffered an irreparable loss with his death. His name did not cause much interest after the rehabilitation of the enemies of the people. So was Alexander Ilyich a real military professional? And why was subjected to repression?
The theme of repression among the higher commanders of the Red Army is not new, for the last twenty years many books and articles have been written about this, both scientific and journalistic. They argued and argue about the true level of military training of the “demons of the revolution” Tukhachevsky, Yakir, Uborevich, Blucher, break their spears in the discussions: “What would have happened to meet the Red Army 1941 with the military elite not destroyed three or four years before?”.
In recent years, these disputes have become more meaningful. Already unpopular opuses with peremptory: "The destruction of the" genius "Tukhachevsky and his comrades - also" genius "- led to the victory in the Red Army of the" stupid "pioneer".
The idea of military professionalism of Uborevich is nothing more than a myth. And how can you seriously talk about Tukhachevsky as a talented commander after becoming acquainted with his heavy, in terms of the Russian style, writings on class strategy and the uselessness of reserves? About Yakir, we believe, it makes no sense at all to speak in detail: he did not have a military education, he did not command anything in the Civilian, but only butchered with enthusiasm.
One of the five first marshals of the Red Army, Alexander Ilyich Egorov, stands apart in this unflattering row. He belonged to a group of pioneer sisters, most of whom, led by Budyonny, avoided repression. The only daughter raised by her adoptive parents after her father was arrested did not become a well-known dissident and historian like the sons of Yakir or Antonov-Ovseenko, who diligently exposed Stalinism, but at the same time took care of the return of the “good” memory of the popes - the same executioners, only on a smaller scale.
Finally, Egorov was not a strong personality. He did not possess either the charisma of Tukhachevsky, or the apparent intelligence of Uborevich.
The Russian military emigration was closely following the activities of Tukhachevsky and saw in him the "Russian Bonaparte." The motives here were rather psychological: like many white generals, the red commander was in the past a guards officer. This allowed the prominent figure of the Russian military emigration, General Alexei von Lampe, even in the years of the Civil War, to write with some enthusiasm: "Our Guardsman of the Semenov beats the army soldier Liberal Denikin."
In fairness, we note that Tukhachevsky did not beat Denikin, but this is a topic for another conversation. Again, it was the emigre writer Roman Gul who dedicated the book to Tukhachevsky. Yes, and talented Soviet writers have bothered to create positive images of the listed Bolshevik military leaders - Ilya Dubinsky above all.
The path of Yegorov as commander-strategist began in the Civil War on the Southern Front. On the rainy October of 1919, the Kornilovites took the Eagle. As written in Soviet textbooks, mortal danger hung over the Bolshevik capital. All this tales for an uninformed audience and ideological cliches. The exhausted and small regiments of the Volunteer Army were on their last legs. By the autumn of the 1919, the troops of the Red Southern Front had a tremendous numerical advantage. On this basis, Egorov decided to surround and crush the enemy. Neither one nor the other failed. Whites were neither surrounded nor defeated, but turned out to be ousted by a huge mass of reds, who won by number, and not by art.
More successfully, Yegorov commanded the troops of the South-Western Front in the Polish campaign of 1920, and the defeat of the Red Army near Warsaw was not his fault.
Perhaps that is why, after the war, he headed the Kiev Military District, then the Petrogradsky District, then commanded the Western Front, and finally, led consistently the Ukrainian and Belarusian military districts. At that time, the only serious opponent of Russia was Poland, with the dictator Pilsudski’s ambitious plans to revive the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth “from sea to sea”, which inevitably caused territorial claims to the USSR.
Western direction for the Kremlin was then the most important. It was there that was in 20-egorov. The war did not happen, and Alexander Ilyich went on increasing, having headed the Red Army Headquarters in 1931. Headed a turning point for the world stories a time when the Japanese began the invasion of China. Cloud was looming over Europe: in 1932, at the Conference on Disarmament, the Germans demanded that restrictions on Germany’s rearmament rights be lifted. Hitler was already eager for power.
But the main enemy of the USSR to 1931 was still Poland, led by an aging, but still firm hand of Pilsudski. According to Mikhail Meltyukhov, author of the fundamental work “Soviet-Polish Wars”, in 1932, the second Rzeczpospolita was ready to set up 60 divisions against the USSR. Her military doctrine, based on the experience of a maneuverable and victorious war with the Soviets in 1920, was built on the offensive and was skeptical about the prospects of a positional war.
Warsaw was aware that cavalry would play an important but not decisive role in a future war. Contrary to popular belief, the Polish cavalry brigades were supposed to move in horseback, and attack on foot. They also understood in Warsaw that the future war was a war of motors. In 1935, the Poles launched an army motorization program, for the implementation of which the National Defense Committee was formed, which was in charge of the supply of military equipment. Two years earlier, Polish designers developed one of the best for their time. tanks - 7TR, which was highly praised by the Germans in September 1939.
The Poles gave a lot of effort and the development of the Air Force. Already in 1936, one of the most modern bombers of the initial period of the Second World War - the P-37 "Elk" - took off.
Thus, despite all the talk about the military-technical backwardness of Poland, the country was a very serious opponent and only a short-sighted person could underestimate its power. Yegorov did not belong to those.
For the modernization of the army
By the beginning of 30, Germany was a weak, humiliated and disarmed country. However, the military thought in her worked very hard. The German military doctrine was significantly influenced by the views of General Hansaphon Sect, whose strategic concepts were based on the principle "The soldier knows only one goal of the war: defeat the enemy army." The main means of achieving it are offensive and maneuvering. And the victory was achieved, according to the German strategist, not by number, but by mobility.
Hitler, who had come to power, adopted the strategic views of von Sect, and the generals of the Wehrmacht embodied them in the theory of blitzkrieg. Our probable adversaries, as far as they could, relied on the modernization and motorization of the armed forces.
What point of view did Egorov follow on this issue? What was his true attitude towards the modernization of the Red Army? According to the once popular authors of Rappoport and Geller, Egorov, like Budyonny and Voroshilov, was going to fight with a sword and a rifle. The biggest domestic expert on the history of the military elite of the Red Army during the interwar period, Sergey Minakov, is arguing with this unwarranted view. In the work “Soviet military elite 20's. Composition, sociocultural features, political role "he writes:" Egorov was not at all an apologist for the cavalry. He actively advocated the introduction of armored vehicles in the troops. " These words are confirmed in the facts. In 1931, the Deputy Chief of Staff of the Red Army Vladimir Triandafilov presented Yegorov with his theory of the “deep operation”, which he had developed, and received “good”. And next year, Alexander Ilyich submitted to the Revolutionary Military Council theses on new operational and technical problems arising in connection with the technical reconstruction of the Armed Forces. These theses served as the basis for the “Interim Instructions on the Organization of Deep Battle”, which were published later.
In his works, Egorov emphasized: modern battle is the deployment of hostilities to a great depth, and this requires a motorized army. A supporter of the modernization of the Red Army was Egorov’s associate Semyon Budyonny, about whom so many fictions had been invented at one time.
In 1933, on the basis of the Privolzhsky military district, under the leadership of Egorov, pilot exercises were conducted on the practical development of issues related to the organization and conduct of a deep all-arms battle, that is, a "deep operation."
When Alexander Ilyich was the Chief of Staff of the Red Army (and from the 1935 of the General Staff), there was an active rearmament and reorganization of the Red Army. A few examples: in 1932, the first two mechanized corps in the USSR were created, which were armed with the T-28 tanks - the strongest at that time in the world. There was a development of the Air Force, equipped with high-speed bombers SB. Yegorov approached the modernization of the Red Army quite professionally and as the chief of staff was in his place.
On the threshold of war
What were the views of this military leader on a future war? He reasonably saw Poland as the main opponent of the USSR, believing that Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia would remain neutral. At the same time, Alexander Ilyich believed that Berlin in the conflict with Poland would take a benevolent stance towards the USSR and a hostile attitude towards the Poles. In fact, Soviet Russia and Weimar Germany developed close trade, economic and even military cooperation. At the same time, both countries had tense relations with Poland, which, after the First World War, the Germans were forced to give up part of their territory. In addition, the Danzig Corridor deprived Germany of direct communication with East Prussia.
Yegorov allowed the performance on the side of Poland of Romania, but, probably, did not attach any serious significance to this because it could not form a united front with Poland. The isolated actions of the weak Romanian army could not lead to serious success.
After Hitler came to power, the situation changed and Germany became one of the enemies of the USSR. According to Yegorov, shared by the military elite of the Red Army as a whole, the Germans could oppose the Soviets together with Poland. Alexander Ilyich believed that the Wehrmacht occupied the Baltic States, opening its way to Leningrad. However, while he moves through the so-called limitropic states, the Red Army will have time to turn around the border and repel the enemy invasion.
Probably, Egorov also underestimated the possibilities of the latent concentration of the Germans and the swiftness of the actions of their tank wedges supported by the Luftwaffe. But after all, what happened on the fronts of Europe in 1939 – 1941 was not expected by anyone: neither the Poles, nor the French, nor the British, nor even the Germans. It is enough to read Guderian with his criticism of fellow generals who were at least skeptical of the lightning-fast tank breaks of the "Fast Heinz".
So why did Stalin decide to get rid of Egorov, his combat ally on the Southern Front? Yes, the leader had reason to distrust Tukhachevsky and his entourage. The fundamental reason for the destruction of the marshal and his entourage was named by Serey Minakov: “The presence of living“ former ”political“ leaders ”in the USSR (including Trotsky outside) who maintained the reputation of potential leaders of an alternative political elite in public opinion, turned them into real candidates for political leadership instead of Stalin and the "Stalinists." Therefore, the repression was preventive in nature. In the current system, any “leader” who grew out of the Russian Revolution became a “banner” and a “slogan”. In such a system there could be no “former leaders” or “retired leaders”. Any opposition party, especially the “leader” alternative to Stalin, could not be put in prison, sent to the camp as a convict, but left alive. "The temple is abandoned - all the temple, the idol of the prostrate - all is god." He had the only alternative to power — death, oblivion, and “tabooing” his name. To do this, it was not enough to accuse him of all mortal sins and condemn in the media, propaganda and agitation, prohibit his mention, including in oral, even private and confidential conversations, it was not enough to physically destroy it, it was necessary to completely “clean out” all social the space around it, real, perceived and suspected, as a potential oppositional information medium. Otherwise, even the physically destroyed, informationally forbidden and informationally destroyed “leader” retained the potential of its oppositional ideological “galvanization” and secret “resurrection” in the minds and worldview of its silent but still living supporters or suspects in it. This, in particular, was one of the reasons for the transformation of political repression into mass ones. ”
These original arguments are not applicable to Egorov, for he was no leader.
Crossed out of mythology
Minakov notes that the British General General Wavell Egorov, who visited the Red Army maneuvers in 1936, did not make an impression of a “strong personality”. From the point of view of an Englishman, Yegorov is “quite satisfactory as a nominal leader if he has a really good headquarters behind him, but not a person who can enter and accomplish anything significant coming from himself”. Further, Wavell adds: “It should be noted that at that time practically all foreign observers, including those in the Russian military abroad, and the higher command of the Red Army itself, had such an opinion about Egorov.”
After the 1936 maneuvers of the year, Yegorov organized a strategic game in which the commander of the Belarusian Military District Uborevich did not want to participate. “Given the undoubted exaggerations in describing the behavior of Uborevich,” writes Minakov, “we can nevertheless state that Uborevich did not want to take part in a strategic game. The motivation was indicated only: "Who will teach us there?". Was Tukhachevsky meant in this case? Obviously, first of all, it was about Egorov and Voroshilov, since the development of the game and the management of the game were carried out by Marshal Egorov, and his authority among a considerable part of the then Soviet military elite was very low. ”
Such behavior of Uborevich emphasizes in him the arrogance of the amateur who is unfamiliar with the military subordination of the amateur, but the main thing is that we are convinced once again: Egorov did not enjoy authority in the military elite of the Red Army and therefore could not participate in any conspiracy.
Another possible reason for the massacre of the marshal was named by Nikolai Cherushev in his book “1937 Year. Elite of the Red Army on Calvary ":" There was something to cling to: an officer of the old army; active member of the Socialist Revolutionary Party; a wife accused of spying for Italian and Polish intelligence services; testimony on him by the arrested military leaders as a participant in the conspiracy. "
It is difficult to call these arguments exhaustively convincing. After all, Boris Shaposhnikov was an officer of the Imperial Army in the past, but he was not something that was not repressed - Stalin treated him with great respect. Wife? So the wife, for example, Budyonny was arrested, but the marshal himself was not touched. Socialist past? Stalin was notable for practicality, and who had his past in essence was the least interested. So, in 1921, he stood up for Alexander Ilyich at the IX All-Russian Congress of Soviets, when some delegates were opposed to a former colonel, an “alien class element”, becoming a member of the All-Russian Central Executive Committee.
Then Stalin wisely replied: “They say that Yegorov is a bad communist. So what? Uborevich is also a bad communist, but we nominated him for membership in the All-Russian Central Executive Committee. Yegorov is a bad communist, but a good commander, and as a good commander he must be elected. ” Perhaps, in the last words of the leader lies the answer about the reasons for the execution of the marshal? He stopped in the eyes of Stalin to be a good commander.
Stalin himself attributed the successful defense of Tsaritsyn and the defeat of Denikin on the Southern Front, where Egorov was the commander. They said that in private conversations with colleagues Alexander Ilyich expressed his displeasure with such statements, for which he paid with his life. But could Egorov, who was a clever man and who understands what such talkativeness can lead to, afford criticism of Stalin? Hardly.
Probably, creating a myth about his own revolutionary past, Stalin understood that Egorov did not fit into it. And so he got rid of the marshal. However, we will probably never know about the true motives that made Stalin shoot his former comrade-in-arms. But one thing is certain: the death of Marshal Alexander Yegorov was a real loss for the Red Army.