Military Review

Soviet Count Ignatiev

Alexey Alekseevich Ignatiev was born 2 (14) in March 1877, in a family that belonged to one of the most distinguished families of the Russian Empire. Mother, Ignatieva Sofya Sergeevna, is nee Princess Meshcherskaya. The father is a prominent statesman, a member of the State Council, the governor-general of the Kiev, Volyn and Podolsk provinces Ignatiev Alexey Pavlovich. Killed at a council retreat in Tver in December 1906. Alexey Ignatiev later believed that the royal secret police was involved in the murder. Alexey's younger brother, Pavel Alekseevich Ignatiev, served as a military agent in France, wrote a book about this, “My mission in Paris”. His uncle, Count Nikolai Pavlovich Ignatiev, served as Minister of the Interior in 1881-1882, and was also a well-known diplomat, whose merits include the signing of the Beijing Treaty in 1860, the preparation and signing of the San Stefano Peace Treaty, which concluded the Russian Turkish war 1877-1878's.

Soviet Count Ignatiev

In the 1894 year, at the age of 14 years, Alexey Ignatiev joined His Majesty’s Corps of Pages, the most privileged military educational institution in Russia of that time. His father sent him there, as he put it, "to eliminate effeminacy and tearfulness." The curricula did not differ much from the courses of the cadet corps, but more attention was paid to foreign languages ​​- French and German. For admission to the Corps of Pages the preliminary highest order was necessary, and, as a rule, only sons or grandchildren of generals were honored with this honor. But sometimes exceptions were made for representatives of the old princely families. Both the father and Uncle Alexey Alekseevich - Alexei and Nikolai Pavlovich Ignatiev studied in the Page Corps. A year later, in 1895, Alexey was introduced to Emperor Nicholas II and served the empress. After the end of the corps, he was promoted to officer and carried out court service as a cavalier.

In 1905, the Russian-Japanese war began, and Ignatiev, along with other officers, was sent to the eastern front. He went to the staff of Linevich, commander of the Manchu army, where he was assigned to the intelligence department. Thus began the military diplomatic service of Alexei Ignatiev, which determined his further fate. Relations with military agents gave him the opportunity to explore the morals of representatives of foreign armies. Under his leadership were the British, Germans and Americans, and the duties included checking the correspondence. The end of the Russian-Japanese war, the count met with the rank of lieutenant colonel with the orders of St. Vladimir 4 degree and St. Stanislav 2 degree, and later promoted to the rank of major general.

After the war, Ignatiev continued his diplomatic career. In January, 1908, he served as military attaché in Denmark, Sweden and Norway, and in 1912, he was sent to France. As the count himself indicates in his memoirs, no one has trained him for the activities of a military agent, and he had to work “on a whim”. The direct duties of the agent were to keep his general staff informed about the state of the host country’s forces, including reports of what they saw, maneuvers, exercises and visits to military units, as well as deliver all new military and technical books. The count preferred to communicate with the French, rather than with representatives of the Russian secular society.

In France, Count Ignatiev was responsible for the purchase of weapons and ammunition for the Russian army, and only he could dispose of the account of the Russian Empire in a French bank. He also led a wide agent network. When the First World War began, Russia was in dire need of ammunition. Ignatiev received a large order for heavy shells, but none of the French dared to fulfill it. Graf came to the aid of only Citroen, with whom he was on good terms. There were also a lot of rumors about this, too - as if Aleksey Ignatiev was making money off on military supplies, using his connections, but he did not give direct evidence.

Russian emigration condemned Count Ignatiev and for his relationship with the beautiful woman of Paris, the famous dancer Natalia Trukhanova, the daughter of a French woman and a gypsy. The dancer performed semi-nude, performing the dance of Salome to the music of Strauss. For her, the count divorced his wife, Elena Vladimirovna Okhotnikova. Since 1914, they lived with Trukhanova, renting a luxurious apartment on the Bourbon embankment. Ignatiev spent on the maintenance of his mistress huge sums, which corresponded little to his official income.

When the October Revolution broke out, on the Russian account in the “Bank de France” was the amount of 225 million rubles in gold, transferred to Count Ignatiev for the next purchase of military equipment. A diplomat had a choice: what to do with the money that was left without a master. Representatives of various émigré organizations, wishing to capture Russian millions as “legal representatives” of the Russian empire, were drawn to him from all sides, and French intelligence was watching his actions.

But the count made another decision, having committed an act that came as a complete surprise to many. In the 1924 year, when France finally recognized the Soviet state and the Soviet diplomatic mission reopened in Paris, Ignatiev transferred the entire amount to the trade representative L. Krasin. In exchange, he asked for a Soviet passport and permission to return to Russia, now Soviet.

Russian emigration instantly rejected Alexei Ignatiev, declaring him a traitor. His brother Paul made an attempt on him, trying to shoot him, but the bullet only hurt the Count’s hat. He kept it in memory of the attempt. His own mother renounced Ignatiev and forbade her to appear in her home, "so as not to disgrace the family." His most faithful friends turned away from him, including Karl Mannerheim, with whom they studied at the Academy of the General Staff. Only Natalya Trukhanova remained, with whom the count was married in 1918.

But Ignatyev was not allowed to come to Russia right away. The income of the graph significantly decreased, Trukhanova also spoke very rarely. There was not enough money, and Ignatiev began to grow mushrooms for sale. Until 1937, he was listed in the Soviet trade mission, in fact doing agency work, now for Soviet intelligence. In his hands were dozens of illegal intelligence officers, experts to work under cover in official organizations - a serious intelligence network. Perhaps it was this circumstance that served as a guarantee for Ignatiev’s life. Returning to his homeland in the difficult 1937 year, he not only avoided Stalin's repressions, but was again rewarded with the rank of major general, now the Red Army.

In Moscow, Ignatiev officially oversaw language courses for the command staff of the Red Army, headed the department of foreign languages ​​of the Military Medical Academy, and since October 1942 he was editor of the militaryhistorical literature Military Publishing House of NGOs. Compared to past busy activities, for him it was a minor job. However, according to unofficial data, the count continued to engage in foreign intelligence, and was in good standing with Stalin. As they say, there are no former intelligence agents. The tsarist officer, the “class enemy” of the Soviet regime, not only worked calmly, but also engaged in creative activities. On the eve of World War II his book of memoirs “50 Years in Service” was published, the Count was also fond of cooking and worked on the manuscript “Conversation of a Cook with a Minion” for more than 20 years, which he never managed to publish. This recipe book was released in the 90s under the title "Culinary Secrets of the Cavalier Guard of General Count A. A. Ignatiev, or Conversations of the Cook with a Minion".

During World War II, the count provided invaluable assistance to the Soviet army. In 1943, on the personal order of Stalin, Alexey Ignatiev was given the rank of lieutenant general. There is also an opinion that it was precisely on the advice of Alexey Alekseevich that the shoulder straps were returned to the army. In 1947, the command satisfied the resignation report, and the count retired at the age of 70. He died 20 on November 1954, in Moscow, and was buried at the Novodevichy Cemetery.

It is difficult to judge the true motives of the act that made the count famous. However, one should not detract from its value either, because Ignatiev could easily keep the money for himself, borrow at least a part, or give it to the aid of the Russian emigration. He preferred to return everything to the leadership of the new Russia. It would have been clearer if the count had been during the revolution in Russia - but he lived in France, and the arrests of the Bolsheviks did not threaten him. In addition, before returning to Soviet Russia, Ignatiev had 20 years to live among the environment hostile to him. The count has not touched repression, which also demonstrates the importance of his person, and here his activity in foreign intelligence probably played a significant role. But no matter what opinion about the graph Alexey Ignatiev - negative or positive - his deed will not leave anyone indifferent.

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  1. Hitrovan07
    Hitrovan07 16 December 2013 08: 46
    Thanks, very interesting article.
  2. pensioner
    pensioner 16 December 2013 09: 00
    I have his memories: "50 years in the ranks." I highly recommend reading it if anyone hasn't read it yet ...
    1. Buxx
      Buxx 16 December 2013 14: 09
      I support - I also read and really liked the book!
      1. unclevad
        unclevad 16 December 2013 16: 37
        Wonderful book. As a child, swallowed it in one fell swoop. Only in it, of course, is not what is written in this article. Many thanks to the author! He discovered a new person in such a wonderful person.
    2. The comment was deleted.
  3. Samy
    Samy 16 December 2013 09: 15
    I read it at one time, I liked it. In my opinion, he was a true Russian character, broad, active, and loved to walk and was devoted to his homeland to the end. A rare fate and a gifted person.
  4. makarov
    makarov 16 December 2013 09: 35
    He read “50 years in service” in his youth, later re-read it, and found something new. Repeatedly V.S.Pikul in his works mentioned Ignatieff, and only in a positive color.
  5. Standard Oil
    Standard Oil 16 December 2013 10: 34
    This is how a true patriot of the Motherland should act, not to intrigue against it like many emigrants who "played out" to a direct alliance with Hitler, and in fact, how is an alliance with England or the United States better than an alliance with Adolf? The theories of Goebbels and Rosenberg. But he could have pocketed some money and live like a king, but he didn’t, so there were still decent people, otherwise I began to think in passing that all decent and honest people of imperial Russia were killed at the front.
  6. moremansf
    moremansf 16 December 2013 10: 40
    A real Russian patriot !!! I did not hide in offshores, but honestly acted, as befits a Russian officer !!! The country should be proud of him by right, but it's a pity they don't study this at school, but it should be ... "HIS EXAMPLE, TO OTHERS SCIENCE ..." AS Pushkin.
    1. evgenm55
      evgenm55 16 December 2013 15: 01
      Yes, an example of the count’s life should be read to our thieves at night — of course, this will not add conscience to them, but at least insomnia will attack ...
  7. Alekseev
    Alekseev 16 December 2013 10: 45
    Lieutenant General A.A. Ignatiev did not "keep at least a part of himself" folk money, and did not pass it on to anyone other than the Bolsheviks. Let the new government was not good. But, whatever they were, by the will of historical development, it was the Bolsheviks who became the legal representatives of their people. And this, the count, apparently clearly understood.
    I’ll build services for my Fatherland for 50 years.
  8. drop
    drop 16 December 2013 10: 59
    "50 years in the ranks" is a good book, so readers of "VO" are advised to look through it. My grandfather fought in the Japanese war in 1904-1904, but was wounded, went to Minsk, got married. My grandmother told me about my grandfather's military activities during that period. The grandfather died in 1940. Ignatiev has a personalized house on the square of "Labor" in St. Petersburg, which was never given to him. The connection with the beauties of the upper officer class was widespread in Russia. Remember the singer A. Vyaltseva and her husband, Lieutenant General. But he was forbidden by the regiment commander to marry her. And this was the richest woman in Russia. She died in 1913, more than 200 thousand residents of St. Petersburg accompanied her on her last journey. This story is beautiful and exciting. This is what films should be directed about, not about murders that do not leave TV screens. The article is interesting.
  9. RoTTor
    RoTTor 16 December 2013 11: 11
    "50 years in the ranks" is an interesting book. But in the ranks? You can serve like this, enduring the hardships and hardships of military service in Paris, for 150 years.
    1. Standard Oil
      Standard Oil 16 December 2013 11: 44
      Everyone benefits, well, or hurts in their place, well, it would not be Alexei Alekseevich in Paris, but some then Anatoly Eduardovich Serdyushtein, who was an "effective manager" and would attach these 225 million, somewhere to his account and dumped in your Switzerland, where would you live happily? Would that be good? Or some ideological fuck that would invest this money in terrorist actions against Soviet Russia, which is good? And in general the diplomatic service for a person who honestly serves Russia, who is while in the Anglo-Saxon world, probably not sugar.
    2. The comment was deleted.
    3. makarov
      makarov 16 December 2013 12: 21
      intelligence service is even worse than in the ranks.
    4. berimor
      berimor 16 December 2013 12: 58
      By the way, after the publication of his book among the officers of the Red Army of those years, this book was jokingly called "50 years out of order."
      My father, a colonel who participated in the war with Germany and Japan, told me about this.
      1. berimor
        berimor 17 December 2013 13: 26
        Well, and what URA-partyiot is minus me?
        Did he even read carefully what I wrote?
        It was just a statement of what was really. And they have the RIGHT to know everything!
        Or, only those comments can be placed on the VO that do not contradict the thoughts that arise in the limited brains of such URA-triots.
        Guys! I’m an adult man, a retired colonel, who have seen and fought a lot, but I’m accustomed to looking soberly at life, for it has already been proved by life itself that how many do not utter the word halva, but it won’t be sweeter in the mouth. And the thoughtless praise of everything and everything is, excuse me, mental limitation!
        Now you can minus !!!
  10. Walking
    Walking 16 December 2013 13: 27
    Not to pocket money, but to give it to a state that has not yet recognized it, it is worthy of respect.
  11. runway
    runway 16 December 2013 13: 30
    A.A. Ignatiev is an honest and decent person. No dirt spread by his ill-wishers will stick to him. Although, some of his ACT remains unclear to this day. As experiencing great need after the collapse of the Russian Empire, actually existing on the home cultivation of champignons, not to spend a penny of the more than 50 million francs controlled by him alone. At that time - fantastically huge money. Save them and hand them over to the new Russia. In his memoirs "50 years in the ranks", he reveals this and many other issues related to that time. A very exciting and informative book. I join the wishes of the participants in the discussion of this article to read it carefully. I am sure you will not regret the time spent.
  12. Petrik66
    Petrik66 16 December 2013 15: 42
    I read his memoirs many times, interesting, but everything is combed and the general meaning: Everything is in shit, and I am the Count of Monte Cristo. His participation in hostilities is a one-time fragment in staff work. But read: Say, I'm an old soldier, an awesome front-line soldier, and everyone else is a bunch of mediocrities and crooks. Wrangel is a scoundrel, Alekseev is a scoundrel, Kurapatkin is mediocrity, etc. Whether it is the old "Manchurian umbrella" - the trench wolf Ignatiev. Well, the right thing is a major, which, unlike other cavalry guards transferred from St. Petersburg to the trenches of the First World War, fought in Paris ......... In short, who did not serve as a cartographer for a month at Kuropatkin's headquarters in Manchuria, but sat in the Brusilov breakthrough, he did not see the war. Yes, but if his uncle and dad (accent on the first syllable) were not Count Ignatiev, he also grabbed orders for the defeat at Mukden ?!
    1. Alekseev
      Alekseev 16 December 2013 21: 17
      Quote: Petrik66
      fought in Paris .........

      Who studied what. request
      A.A. Ignatyev is a military diplomat, not a general who never claimed to be the one. All professions are important, all professions are needed ...
  13. Glagol
    Glagol 16 December 2013 20: 23
    I remember right away: "Yes, there were people in our time, not like the present tribe,
    Bogatyrs are not you. "
  14. Marat
    Marat 16 December 2013 20: 33
    In the country of the Soviets, they knew how to value good specialists in their field, and Stalin in particular never suffered a sergeant inferiority complex.
  15. AlNikolaich
    AlNikolaich 16 December 2013 21: 08
    Like Pikul:
    -Many people trampled out marks from Berlin to Belgrade ...
    ... his biography is blank, but for us, not all is significant! -
    In short, as in the story of Alexander Samoilo ... Man, did his duty to the motherland!
    And all we do not fully learn about these people. Like so many others ...
    In short, "top secret, keep forever"!
  16. Kustanayets
    Kustanayets 16 December 2013 22: 54
    As a military attache with connections among the Western elite and a professional intelligence officer, he apparently perfectly understood who and why had dragged Russia into the war, who added fuel to the Civilian fire and who made money on it. He knew in the face of the enemies of his country, unlike other emigrants. So to speak, a patriot with brains.
  17. yacht
    yacht 17 December 2013 00: 27
    This is, with a capital letter, the Patriot of his Motherland. It is about such people that you need to write books and make films, however, other "patriots", all kinds of Kolchaks and Krasnovs, are in favor now.
  18. Sugar Honeyovich
    Sugar Honeyovich 18 December 2013 14: 38
    Sam A.A. Ignatiev wrote that it was Brother Paul who made his mother renounce him through the newspaper. And the mother herself said goodbye to him quite warmly.
  19. Marat
    Marat 18 December 2013 21: 38
    S. Maksimov's book "The Trail of the Griffin" perfectly describes the attitude of the Soviet government and Stalin in particular to such specialists.