In the autumn of 1915, the troops of the Western Front of the Russian Army fought fierce battles of the First World War on Belarusian soil. The 105 th Orenburg regiment was located near the village of Mokray Dubrov in the Pinsk district. His glorious combat past was reflected in the regimental St. George banner with the embroidered words “3 Sevastopol in 1854 and 1855” and “1811 — 1911” (with the Alexander Jubilee Ribbon). For several days the regiment withstood continuous attacks of the enemy and powerful shelling of German artillery. The infirmary was filled with wounded. Doctors, sisters of mercy and orderlies were exhausted by incessant dressings, operations and sleepless nights.
On the morning of September 9, the regimental commander decided to counterattack the German positions. And, when, after the completion of the artillery fire, the next attack of the Germans began, the 10-th company of the 105-th Orenburg regiment was the first, on the orders of the command, to attack the enemy. In the bayonet battle, the enemy was defeated and left his leading positions. In the popular illustrated magazine Iskra, a message appeared: “... during a battle on one of the front sections, our sister of mercy, Rimma Mikhailovna Ivanova, despite the persuasion of officers and brother, a regimental doctor, always tied up the wounded under a strong rifle and machine-gun fire of the enemy.
Seeing that the commander and officers of the tenth company of the native regiment were killed, and realizing the importance of the coming decisive minute of the battle, Rimma Ivanova, gathering around the lower ranks of the company, rushed at their head, overturned enemy units and captured the enemy’s entrenchment.
Unfortunately, the enemy bullet struck a female heroine. Seriously wounded, Ivanova quickly died at the scene of the battle ... ”
Everyone was particularly shocked by the fact that her sister of mercy was killed by a German explosive bullet, prohibited by the Hague Convention, as an unacceptable cruel murder weapon. This ban, even before the war, was put into effect on the initiative of Russia. Her war minister, Dmitry Alekseyevich Milyutin, considered this weapon "Purely barbaric means, not justified by any combat requirements ...". In a report written for a speech at the pre-war European Peace Conference, he, in particular, noted: “In the event of a rupture of such a bullet inside the human body, the wound will be fatal and very painful, as these bullets fly into ten or more fragments. Moreover, the combustion products of the powder charge, very harmful effect on the human body, make the suffering even more painful ... ".
The announcement of the brave girl's exploit spread throughout Russia ... An excerpt from the regiment’s combat magazine was published in the capital’s newspapers: “In the 9 battle of September, Rimma Ivanova had to replace an officer and carry the soldiers with her courage. It all happened as simple as our heroes die. ” At home, the heroine in the Stavropol newspapers published her letters to her parents. Here is one of them: “Lord, how I would like you to calm down. Yes, it would be time. You have to rejoice, if you love me, that I managed to get a job and work where I wanted ... But it’s not for fun that I did it and not for my own pleasure, but in order to help. May I be a true sister of mercy. Let me do what is good and what to do. Think as you like, but I give you my honest word that I would give a lot in order to alleviate the suffering of those who shed blood. But you do not worry: our dressing station is not exposed to fire ... ".
The St. George Duma of the Western Front received a petition from the commander of the 31 Army Corps General, from artillery PI. Mishchenko: “Give military honors to your late valiant sister Rimma Ivanova when you send your body. The post has long to petition for the award of the Order of St. George of the 4 degree and enrollment of the 10 regiment company in the 105 list. ”This request was unprecedented. Of all the women honored with military awards, only Catherine the Great was awarded this order as the founder of the award . Russian women were awarded for their feats of arms only by the soldier’s Cross of St. George. However, Emperor Nicholas II agreed with the proposal of the frontline St. George's Duma and approved 17 on September 1915. degree.
In a farewell speech at the burial of the heroine, Archpriest Semen Nikolsky said: “France had a Maid of Orleans — Joan of Arc. Russia has a Stavropol maiden - Rimma Ivanov. And her name will henceforth live forever in the kingdoms of the world. ”
This feat was bright, but not exceptional - tens of thousands of Russian women at the front or in the rear carried out their spiritual and patriotic duty, saving and guarding the wounded soldiers of the Russian army. And it happened regardless of nationality, religion and class status. Lyubov Konstantinova, 19-year-old sister of mercy from the city of Ostrogozhsk, daughter of the county military commander, died of typhoid on the Romanian front, infected by sick soldiers who saved her. The royal family was not an exception, all women of which, beginning with Empress Alexandra Feodorovna, became either surgical nurses of mercy or nurses in military hospitals.
The wives of Russian officers showed themselves perfectly well, from the first days of the war they became sisters of mercy and performed their duty to the Fatherland as worthily as their husbands. As we have already emphasized, this movement did not know national and religious differences. Therefore, it is not surprising that the first woman in Russia to call 1 in August 1914 in the newspaper “Russian Invalid” for officers' wives to go to military sisters of charity was the wife of artillery colonel Ali-Aga Shikhlinsky - Nigar Huseyn Efendi gyzy Shikhlinsky, the first Azerbaijani sister of mercy.
Russian sisters of mercy went to the front or rear hospitals from 115 communities of the Red Cross Society. The largest community that numbered 1603 people was the community of St. George, and the St. Petersburg Exaltation of the Sisters of Charity, from which the Russian Red Cross Society (ROKK) started its activities consisted of 228 sisters.
... first in stories The Catholic Saints Vincent de Paul (Vincent de Paul) in France created the community of sisters of mercy in 1633. But the holy Christian feat of women - future sisters of mercy - began even earlier, from the times of serving the wounded, sick, and destitute people of Byzantine Orthodox deacons. In confirmation of this, let us cite the words of the benevolent servant of Thebes, the Apostle Paul, in his letter to the Romans (about 58): “I present to you Thebes, your sister, the deaconess of the church of Kenchrei. she will need you, for she also was a help to many and myself. "
In 1863, in Switzerland, the International Committee for Assistance to the Wounded was renamed, renamed 1867 to the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC). In this committee, of which the Russian Empire became a member, a special distinctive sign was approved - a red cross, providing medical personnel with legal protection on the battlefield.
The First World War was met by the Russian Red Cross Society under the patronage of the wife of Emperor Alexander III and the mother of Nicholas II, Empress Maria Feodorovna, before the marriage of the Danish princess. Empress Maria Fyodorovna, who became the favorite of Russian soldiers, considered her main concern to be care for wounded and maimed soldiers, officers, widows and orphans of servicemen. The Great War found her during her visit to Denmark and, mortally hating the German aggressive policy, she immediately returned to Russia and headed the organization of military hospitals, sanitary trains and sea vessels for the outbreak of war. In this work, she and the Red Cross were assisted at the local and regional level by local and city unions. The All-Russian Zemstvo Alliance for Assistance to Wounded and Sick Soldiers, created by 30 on June 1914, was headed, by the way, by Prince George Evgenievich Lvov, the future head of the Provisional Government.
Given the number of seriously injured among the commanding staff of the Russian army, ROKK created a special sanatorium in the Crimea for recovering officers and a shelter for disabled soldiers at Maximilian's hospital. Under the auspices of the Red Cross, 150 schools for the training of military sisters of mercy were urgently created within the communities.
By the end of 1914, 318 institutions of the ROCKC were operating at the front, 436 emergency hospitals were deployed on 1 million 167 thousand beds at the front and in the rear. 36 sanitary-epidemiological and 53 disinfection units, as well as 11 bacteriological laboratories were established. The wounded were transported by ambulance trains and hospital ships. And the main employees and workers there were women - nurses and sisters of mercy.
One of the most important tasks of the sisters of mercy was to cooperate with the ICRC in helping prisoners of war of the Russian army who were in the camps of the countries of the Triple Alliance and Turkey. On the initiative of Empress Maria Feodorovna and the ICRC, as well as the Red Cross of Denmark, in 1915, the opposing states on the Eastern Front agreed to exchange delegations to inspect the prisoner of war camps.
Russian soldiers and officers were starving, sick and dying in these camps, being subjected to sophisticated torture and humiliation in captivity. Executions for the slightest violation of discipline or at the whim of a guard were widely used.
Refusal of the illegal requirement to work at military facilities was considered as a revolt and led to mass executions. The evidence of this was so eloquent that already in the next world war, in 1942, the leadership of the USSR found it necessary to make them public, obviously, so that there was no desire to surrender. The State Archives of the NKVD of the USSR published a special collection of Documents on German atrocities in 1914 – 1918. (M .: OGIZ, Gospolitizdat, 1942). Who could have imagined that the fascist military machine of the Second World War would in many times surpass in inhumanity the attitude towards prisoners of the First World War! Here are just a few examples from 1942 g.
“... When the news of the defeat of the German troops near Warsaw spread in the Schneidemulla camp, joyful revival reigned among the Russian prisoners. Angry with failure, the Germans forced the captives to strip naked and kept them in the cold for several hours, mocking them and thus avenging their failure on the battle front ... ” Pyotr Shimchak, who escaped from German captivity under oath, showed the following: “Once, four Cossack prisoners were brought to the camp, whom I recognized by yellow stripes sewn on trousers .... They brought the first Cossack, put his left hand on a small wooden column, and one of German soldiers with a bayonet-knife consistently chopped off half of the thumb and middle fingers and little finger ... A second Cossack was brought in, and the Germans punctured him with holes in the shells of both ears, and rotated the end of the bayonet-knife in cuts with the obvious goal of increasing size holes ... The third Cossack then brought to the place of torture by a German soldier with a bayonet punch from top to bottom chopped off the tip of the nose ... Finally, they brought the fourth one. What exactly the Germans wanted to do with him is unknown, since the Cossack with a quick movement snatched a bayonet from a nearby German and hit them with one of the German soldiers. Then all the Germans, they were 15 people, rushed to the Cossack and bayoneted to death ... ”.
And it was not the worst torture to which Russian prisoners of war were subjected. Most of the torture and murder is simply hard to write because of its enormity and sophistication ...
Russian sisters of mercy selflessly, despite all sorts of prohibitions, and often the threats of the enemy side, penetrated into the camps in the international commissions and did everything possible to expose the war crimes and make life easier for their compatriots. The ICRC was forced to officially oblige these commissions to have Russian representatives of military sisters of mercy as members. Prisoners of war idolized these women and called them "white doves."
The heartfelt lines written in 1915 by Nikolai Nikolayev are devoted to these “doves”:
Good, meek Russian faces ...
A white handkerchief and a cross on the chest ...
Meet you, dear sister,
Lighter on the heart, brighter ahead.
Youth, strength and soul alive,
The shining source of love and kindness
All you have given in the time of dashing, -
Tireless sister of ours!
Silent, gentle ... Sad shadows
In meek eyes deeply laid down ...
I want to stand before you on your knees
And worship you to the ground.
It has been repeatedly said that the war that began in 1914 was for its time unprecedented in terms of the number of victims and the scale of cruelty. This is also indicated by war crimes against defenseless sanitary detachments and units of the Red Cross, despite their official protection by all sorts of international laws, conventions and agreements.
Sanitary trains and hospitals with dressing points were shelled by artillery and aviation, despite the fact that the flags and identification marks with red crosses installed on them were visible from all sides.
Especially hypocritical and unworthy of the enemy was the widely publicized lawsuit organized by the German side in 1915 against the aforementioned sister of mercy Rimma Ivanova, who committed a heroic act. The German newspapers published an official protest against the chairman of the Kayzer Red Cross, General Pful, against her actions in battle. Referring to the Convention on the Neutrality of Medical Personnel, he stated that "it is not fitting for sisters of mercy to perform feats on the battlefield." Having forgotten that the German soldiers shot the girl from a weapon loaded with explosive bullets prohibited by the Hague Convention for use in battle, he had the audacity to protest to the International Committee of the Red Cross in Geneva. At the same time, German troops committed gas attacks and used explosive bullets along the entire front of the Russian army. In this regard, the Russian command took the most decisive measures to protect their soldiers and medical personnel. Here, in particular, the telegram of commander-in-chief of the Northern front, General Evert, sent in October 1915 to the chief of staff of the Supreme Commander-in-chief, General Alekseev: “Minsk 12 in October 11 h. 30 pm. Pm. During the last time, the use of explosive bullets by the Germans has been noticed on the whole front. I would consider it necessary by diplomatic means to bring to the attention of the German government that if they continue to use explosive bullets, then we will also shoot explosive bullets using the Austrian rifles and Austrian explosive cartridges, which we can find a sufficient number of. 7598 / 14559 Evert.
Despite all the war, by the beginning of the February revolution, the Russian Red Cross had at its disposal one of the best military medical forces among the warring states. There were 118 medical facilities fully equipped and ready to receive thousands of injured from 13 to 26. 2255 doctors, 149 sisters of mercy, 2450 assistants sisters, 17436 pharmacists and 275 thousands of nurses worked in front-line hospitals, including 100 hospitals.
But this harmonious system began to destroy the Provisional Government with its “liberal-democratic” actions, which began its disastrous activity in the field of military medicine with the reorganization of the Russian Red Cross.
The National Conference of Red Cross workers, created with his participation, in its I declaration of 3 / 16 in July 1917 decided: “We will not stop the struggle until the remnants of the former Red Cross, which served the autocracy and officials, are completely destroyed, until a real temple is created international philanthropy, which will be the new Russian national Red Cross ”. Revolutionaries have forgotten that philanthropy - the concern for improving the lot of all humanity is beautiful in peacetime, but in order to defeat the enemy, mercy requires strict organization and military discipline.
The Russian sisters of mercy of the Great War ... What trials they had to go through in this world military conflict that afflicted all civilized countries, and later, through two bloody revolutions, to go through even more terrible and merciless years of the Civil War. But always and everywhere they were close to suffering warriors on the battlefield.