You can write a fascinating detective story and a plump monograph on the personality and heroic (although practically unknown to the general public) for a long time, the formerly strictly secret affairs of Nikolai Stepanovich Batyushin. But in this case, it is of interest to us primarily by the reconnaissance and counterintelligence operations carried out by it, which had a significant impact on the course of the First World War on the Russian front.
... "The personality of this Russian general is extremely curious for a number of reasons," Alexander Alexandrovich Zdanovich told reporters. - First of all, General Batyushin is perhaps the only one of the leaders of Russian intelligence who was directly at her source and professionally engaged in this work right up to the revolution. Then, Nikolai Stepanovich did not take any part in the Civil War: there is no Russian blood on it. He served Russia.
In 2002, we republished Batyushin’s book The Secret Intelligence and Fight against It, which first saw the light in Sofia in 1939. This work destroys the “conspiracy of silence” about the glorious and bitter pages of the pre-October history of the country and its special services.
After all, the history of domestic intelligence services is used to counting off from 20 December 1917, the day of the formation of the Cheka ... "
This is initially an incorrect approach, if only because the founder of the Cheka is the OGPU F.E. From the first days of the Soviet secret service, Dzerzhinsky and his closest comrades were secretly consulted by some leaders of the imperial secret services, in particular, the notorious Lieutenant General Vladimir F. Dzhunkovsky, who in 1913 - 1915. He headed a separate corps of gendarmes and, of course, was aware of the most important operations of the Russian military intelligence and counterintelligence, carried out, in particular, N.S. Batyushin. It seems that the succession that was not advertised and borrowed from predecessors (which in Soviet historical literature was called “royal satrap and stranglers of the revolution”) can explain the incomprehensible fact at first glance, why in the years of the formation of the RSFSR agents of the Cheka-OGPU took firm positions on the front of the secret struggle, recruiting many valuable sources in the most important structures of states such as Germany and the United Kingdom, and even in the leadership of the emigrant Russia skoy obschevoynogo Union ...
But of course, we will not go deep into this topic now, but return to the personality of Major General Batyushin, who was at the forefront of the amazing successes of the Russian special services.
... The initial outline of his biography fits in two paragraphs. The future Major General of the General Staff was born March 11 1874 of the year in Astrakhan. The real school, the Mikhailovsky Artillery Academy, the Nikolaev Military Academy (General Staff), completed in 1899 year - these are the first important milestones of his life path.
However, since the establishment of the General Headquarters by Emperor Nicholas II in the 1903 of the Intelligence Division, all further service activities of Batyushin until the February Revolution of 1917 were inextricably linked with the military special services.
Here it is necessary to say at least briefly what the Russian military intelligence represented on the eve of a major European war. From the second half of the 19th century, the Military Scientific Committee of the General Staff was responsible for it, there were also rather scout reconnaissance units in the headquarters of the border military districts.
After the Russian-Turkish war of 1877 - 1878, which showed terrible failures in the study of the likely enemy, the central intelligence apparatus was reorganized.
In December, Emperor Alexander II of 1879 approved the new staff of the Office of the Military Scientific Committee as part of the business manager, five senior and nine junior clerks. In addition, by the end of the 19th century, Russia had military agents (military attaches) in 18 states and naval agents in 10 countries.
In July, 1900, a new reorganization of military intelligence was undertaken. The General Staff re-introduced the formerly abolished quartermaster general, as part of the operational and statistical offices. The latter was engaged in agent intelligence in neighboring countries.
Nikolay Batyushin, a graduate of the Nikolaev Military Academy, began his service in intelligence in the statistical department of the General Quartermaster Unit of the General Staff Building at the turn of the century.
In April, 1903, the General Staff moved to new states. From the office of the Military Scientific Committee, the cadre scouts were transferred to the 7 branch (military statistics of foreign countries) of the military-statistical department of the Office of the Second Quartermaster General of the General Staff. This department consisted of a chief, eight head clerks and the same number of their assistants, as well as the Special Records Office, which took into account the agents, in which there were only two officers in the staff. The mining and processing, analytical intelligence functions were merged together (which was a significant drawback); moreover, the central apparatus then did not even supervise the same statistical units in the headquarters of the border districts that carried out intelligence intelligence in neighboring countries.
Before 1905, Major General Vitaly Celebrovsky headed the military intelligence, he was replaced by Major General Nikolai Ermolov.
On the recommendation of Tselebrovsky, with the beginning of the Russian-Japanese war, an employee of the 7 division, Nikolai Batyushin went to the theater of military operations to lead the intelligence service of the 2 Manchurian army.
We do not have reliable data on what operations Nikolay Stepanovich was engaged in during this period, but there is no doubt that it was here that he was formed as an intelligence agent and counterintelligence agent.
This was evidenced by his many years of work with the Austrian Colonel Alfred Redl, whom Batyushin began working on from 1905, being transferred to the Warsaw Military District. Here he became the head of the district intelligence bureau, which connected intelligence and counterintelligence functions, organized the fight against foreign espionage and set up the collection of intelligence information on Austria-Hungary and Germany, as her future ally in the war.
When exactly did Alfred Redl start working for Russian intelligence? Some researchers have suggested that since the year 1902. However, it would be more correct to say that this year only the first familiarization contacts took place, and the real recruitment of a brilliant officer of the Austro-Hungarian General Staff was carried out three years later, already under the leadership of Batyushin.
The son of a railroad employee from Lemberg (Lviv), Redl showed early his many-sided abilities, especially in terms of mastering foreign languages. The ancient Slavic Lviv, a century ago, first departed to the Commonwealth, and after its division in the XVIII century - to the Austrian empire, was a multiethnic city, so daily communication with multilingual people became a familiar thing for young Alfred. When Redl turned 15 years old, he entered the Lemberg Cadet Corps (in the Soviet period after World War II and before the collapse of the USSR, Lviv military-political school was located in its walls, which trained cadres, in particular, military journalists).
After graduating from the cadet corps, Alfred enrolled in an officer’s school and graduated from it in the first category, showing great ability in languages. The linguistic talents of Lieutenant Redl interested the personnel officers of the General Staff, and he was immediately enlisted in the staff of the main army department of the "patchwork" monarchy.
In 1900, the captain of the General Staff Redl was sent for in-depth study of the Russian language (as well as secret internships as a scout) to Russia. For about a year, he worked at a military school in Kazan, and in his spare time he did not get bored and led a very secular lifestyle, not missing any officer's revels or balls, which at that time were often provided by wealthy townsfolk. Did Redl realize that in the meantime Russian secret informers were studying his strengths, weaknesses, preferences, and personality traits, wondering about the possibilities of future recruitment? It was not for nothing that already at that time a certain employee of the central apparatus of the Russian intelligence composed the following characteristic to Captain Redl: “He is a crafty man, self-contained, concentrated, efficient. The mindset is petty, all appearance is sugary. Speech is sweet, soft, pleasing. Movement calculated, slow. Loves to have fun ... "
It was this document (and, possibly, the data of external observation) that, apparently, was guided by Batyushin, whose duties included the organization of intelligence work on Austria-Hungary.
And, as authoritatively stated in the first volume of "Essays on the history of Russian foreign intelligence", prepared by SVR specialists in the nineties to popularize the achievements of domestic intelligence services, Batyushin was recommended to "continue studying to attract Captain Redl to covert cooperation, which by that time was firmly entrenched in Russian department of the Austro-Hungarian military intelligence ".
Nikolay Stepanovich successfully fulfilled the instructions of Petersburg. He seconded to Vienna a major specialist in recruiting agents (according to some sources, it was Colonel Vladimir Khristoforovich Roop), providing the most detailed information about the promising general staff officer, a large amount of money in the Austrian currency and detailed instructions for encoding reports from him, as well as ways to maintain communication with him.
Redl agreed to cooperate with Russian intelligence, I suppose, not at all with a light heart, since he himself was closely involved in espionage and counter-espionage and was well aware of the deadly thing he got involved in. Nevertheless, he declared to the envoy Batiushin that he was ready to help Russia, first of all, from personal sympathy for the Russians, among whom he "left many beautiful and sincere friends in Kazan".
“Besides,” Alfred added, “I really wouldn’t like the fire of war to break out between our countries. Already a lot of lives can devour this terrible conflagration. "
Of course, the amount transferred to Redl already at the first meeting made a proper impression, for it already ten times exceeded the annual salary of the officer-general officer. Batyushin also helped Redl create a convincing legend of the reasons for how he suddenly turned into a "wealthy" person. It was made simple, but quite convincingly: Alfred received a notice from a notary about the death of a certain woman who bequeathed to him an impressive inheritance, because she accounted for him as a “distant relative”. As the saying goes, the mosquito would not undermine the nose ...
Having grown rich, Redl quickly gained a reputation for careless hanging and mota, a lover of “sweet life,” ready to burn free money and time in a frivolous campaign. Of course, the Russian treasury paid the reckless spending of a happy "heir". But this way of life allowed the agent to make useful contacts. Redl invited high-ranking officers to his “bachelor parties”, who often blurted out valuable information over a glass of wine. One of these sources was the Guards officer named Horinka, who regularly supplied his “dissolute” friend, who was saving money and secret materials, and it must be assumed, at least vaguely, where his information was going. Moreover, as a token of friendship, Redl gave the guardsman a luxurious Daimler from his own garage ...
Leading the work of Redl, Batyushin, of course, never lost sight of the need to strengthen the official position of his ward. Therefore, the Austrian counterintelligence officer was provided with data on several low-value, and, moreover, suspected of double-dealing, agents from among the Austrians, about the revelation of which he boldly reported to his superiors. So Redl managed to please the head of the Austro-Hungarian military intelligence, Baron Gizel von Gieslingen. To such an extent that he appointed Alfred who was pre-termly made to Colonel immediately as the head of the intelligence department of Kundschaftsstelle (KS for short), who was part of the intelligence bureau of the General Staff and was in charge of counter-espionage.
A number of researchers claim that the Russian friends helped KS Redl to acquire some novelties of the operational technology, which created an opinion on him as a very clever organizer.
For example, he equipped the room for receiving visitors in his mansion with the newly invented phonograph (a prototype of a tape recorder), with the help of which each word of the guest was secretly recorded on a gramophone disc. In addition, the person is hidden photographed using camouflaged cameras.
Used such a trick. During the conversation, the phone rang. It was a false call: Redl or his employee “called” themselves to the device, imperceptibly pressing the electric bell button with their foot under the table. Speaking on the phone, the officer gestured the guest to a cigarette case lying on the table, offering to take a cigarette. Meanwhile, the lid of the cigarette case was treated with a special compound that retained the smoker’s fingerprints. If the guest did not smoke, the officer on the phone himself “summoned” himself from the room, picking up the briefcase from the table, under which lay the folder with the signature “Secret, not subject to disclosure.” Curious visitors happened to look into this folder. And she too was treated with a fingerprint-preserving compound. If such a trick did not succeed, a new trick was applied, and so on until the “fingers” of the visitor of interest to Redl did not fall into a special fingerprint file used both by agents and suspects, and simply by “promising” visitor ...
In Russian, the promising counterintelligence adopted a sophisticated interrogation technique, which often allowed to “split” the suspect even without applying to him the so-called. "Hard" methods.
Moreover, at the insistence of Redl, the Austrian special service secretly opened a file for every resident of Vienna who had ever been to such centers of international espionage as Zurich, Brussels, Stockholm ...
But the main success of Redl, who allowed him for quite a long time to head the holy of the holy Austrian special services, was that he obtained, as it was written later, “the unique secret documents of the Russian army”. Of course, these papers were compiled in the statistical department of the general quartermaster part of the General Staff in St. Petersburg, and then delivered to Warsaw. The special courier, Batyushin, transported them across the border and passed on Redl ... So an important channel of disinformation was established, thanks to which the Austro-Hungarian command on the eve of the First World War turned out to be misled on many questions that interested him.
But the counter documents received from the Austrian counterintelligence officer in Russia did not cause doubts about the authenticity of the Russian specialists. Especially, the flow of valuable information materials from Redl increased when General von Gieslingen was appointed commander of the 8 Army Corps stationed in the Czech Republic, and he took Alfred to Prague as head of the corps.
After leaving Vienna, Redl, of course, did not break his friendly relations with many high-ranking officers and generals of the Austrian military department, from whom important information continued to flow to him. And the orientations that came from Warsaw from Batyushin aimed it in every way to expand the network of its own sources.
Among them were, for example, the brothers Jadrich, Croats by nationality. Both made a career in the Austrian army (the eldest of the brothers, the colonel, served in the general staff, the youngest was a tutor in the Vienna cadet corps, where the children of the military elite were trained), but they sympathized with Russia and the Russians. From Yadricha Petersburg received plans for the newest fortresses on the Austro-Russian border, the fortified areas of Lviv and Krakow, the entire military infrastructure of the frontier.
Colonel Jadrich Sr., in turn, was friendly with the son of the chief of the Austro-Hungarian General Staff, Conrad von Hetzendorf, and received important information, which then went to Redl and further to Batyushin, directly from him. Moreover, the ranks of the Austrian counterintelligence, who later searched the house of von Hetzendorf, Jr., experienced a real shock when they found a Russian passport written out in the name of this Austrian officer in the cache, in addition to secret papers prepared for transfer abroad. A large amount of money was also found there. According to reports, von Hetzendorf Jr. received from St. Petersburg via Redl and Jadrich at least 150 thousand crowns.
And what valuable did Redl himself collect for the Russian General Staff? English researcher Edwin Woodhol claims that he "gave Russia a huge number of copies of documents": codes, photographs, mobilization and operational plans, secret orders for the army, reports on the state of highways and railways, descriptions of military equipment samples ... , according to Woodhol, the mobilization plans for the deployment of the Austro-Hungarian armed forces in the event of a war with Russia and Serbia, which “provided all the details, down to the last man and to the last shki; the method of moving the necessary forces, the location of some units, the mobilization of others; at which points the attack on Serbia will occur ... "All this was described in detail, according to Woodhol, in the tables, diagrams, drawings, maps," this was the masterpiece of the general staff of the Austro-Hungarian army. "
It should be noted that the use of information received from Redl by Russian intelligence by Serbia helped her very much, already during the outbreak of World War II, having a rather small army, three times successfully repel the onset of Austro-Hungarians, striking counter blows at their vulnerable spots.
And, according to many researchers, it was thanks to Redl and his network that the Russian command possessed practically exhaustive information about the plan for the mobilization deployment of the Austro-Hungarian armed forces (which cannot be said about awareness of Germany’s plans), which was the key to the success of the Galician operation 1914 of the year and other victories on the Austrian front.
And how important was the fact that Redl actually hid the data coming from Russia from the Austro-Hungarian undercover agents, replacing the information obtained by them with the disinformation provided by Batyushin!
But the career of any, even the most successful agent, once comes to an end. And on May 26, 1913, a year before the start of the First World War, the Austro-Hungarian newspapers posted a message about the unexpected suicide of Colonel Redl, "who was expecting a brilliant career." Then it was said about the upcoming solemn funeral.
The failure of a well-disguised informant happened, alas, because of the trick, which he himself had invented. Already at the beginning of his counterintelligence activity, Redl created a “black office” in Vienna for the perusal of postal correspondence. All letters from abroad were opened and read, and in suspicious cases, the postal official, who received remuneration from the secret fund, when the addressee appeared, invoked a secret call with a secret bell. It happened at the Vienna Post Office with a letter addressed to Mr. "Nicetas". The postal official inadvertently discovered that 7 thousand crowns had been invested in the envelope, and the item was not declared as valuable. The filers who went for the "Nitsetas" immediately established that this was none other than ... Redl himself.
There is no getting away from the question: did the intelligence organizer Batyushin, rather sophisticated in matters of conspiracy, send the fees to his informant in such a primitive way? It is hard to believe in this, but unfortunately the story did not preserve reliable data ...
At night, a group of officers led by the head of the Austrian military counterintelligence Maximilian Ronge broke into the luxurious room of the Vienna Hotel Klomzer, where he stayed during his voyages to Vienna Redl. Subsequently, he outlined his version of these events in memoirs (the truth of which, of course, must also be treated critically).
“I know why you came,” according to Ronge, Redl said. “I ruined my life, and now I am writing farewell letters ...”
Alfred answered the officers' questions about the accomplices that he did not have such persons, and they would find exhaustive evidence of his treason in his house in Prague. According to Ronge, in accordance with the notions of honor generally accepted in the officers' environment, yesterday’s comrades left a revolver with one cartridge and left the room for a minute. And at once a fatal shot sounded ...
This story has more questions than answers. Why, for example, Redl's interrogation was carried out so quickly and superficially, and why did the Austrian counterintelligence suddenly show such naivety, having believed Alfred in his word that he was alone in his work for Russia?
Moreover, it is reliably known: after Redl Batyushin's suicide, valuable information from the Austrian General Staff from an agent encoded with the 25 digit continued to flow to Warsaw. And just before the start of the war, Colonel Alexander Samoylo, a staff member of the Russian General Staff, went with him to a meeting in Bern. Who did he see? Horinka? Yadrich? Or maybe (why not ?!), by von Hetzendorf Junior himself? This, too, alas, remains a mystery, and, probably, forever ...
Since the beginning of the Great War, Batyushin was still engaged in reconnaissance and counterintelligence, now performing the duties of quartermaster general of the Northern Front headquarters with headquarters in Pskov. Anticipating the possibility of a German offensive along the coast of the Baltic Sea, Nikolay Stepanovich had taken care of that our agents settled in the port cities that could be captured by the enemy ...
A few months later, German troops occupied Libau. The commander-in-chief of the German moved his headquarters here. fleet in the Baltic, Kaiser's brother, Prince Henry of Prussia. Following the important grand admiral, the ranks of his headquarters also moved to this city. Many of them often went to a coffee shop on Charlottenstrasse, which, according to some reports, was contained by a woman who was a particularly trusted agent of Russian intelligence. We will not prematurely disclose the name of this patriot and the details of the operation of the Russian Baltic Fleet brilliantly carried out with her help, during which several first-class German destroyers were sent to the bottom. This topic has yet to be thoroughly investigated and conclusively described. It is important for us in this case that Nikolai Stepanovich Batyushin began working with her ...
Subsequently, in connection with the upheavals that Russia experienced in 1915, General Batyushin headed a special commission on combating rear marauders (similar to the current structures for combating economic crimes), through whose fault Russia began to shake "sugar" riots.
The special commission, in particular, revealed illegal supplies of Russian food (primarily sugar) through neutral countries to enemy Turkey and Germany, organized by a syndicate of sugar manufacturers led by banker Dmitry Rubinstein.
After the February revolution of 1917, Batyushin, simply as a “satrap of the tsarist regime,” was unreasonably arrested by the Provisional Government. No intelligible charges were ever brought against him. Having escaped from prison, he hastened to leave Petrograd turned red and went to the south of the country, to the region where the White movement was formed and developed. But Nikolai Stepanovich did not take any part in military actions, as well as in political investigation directed against the agents of the Red Army headquarters, being a staunch opponent of senseless and even blasphemous fratricide, which is, in fact, any civil war. He lived in the Crimea as a private individual, retraining ... in a modest librarian.
After the defeat of General Wrangel’s army, Nikolai Stepanovich was evacuated to Yugoslavia, and taught at the Belgrade branch of the Higher Military-Scientific Courses, specially created for the emigration of Russian officers by Professor of the Academy of the General Staff Lieutenant-General Nikolai Nikolaevich Golovin. The last years of his life, Nikolai Stepanovich Batyushin spent in Belgium and died in a nursing home in 1957.
As noted by the FSB Major General A.A. Zdanovich, the name and affairs of a talented professional and a wonderful person by the name of Batiushin, certainly deserve to be widely known in modern Russia.