Military Review

The Last Knight of the Empire

The Last Knight of the Empire

Under the steps leading to the monument of Russian glory in Belgrade, there is a chapel in which the remains of Russian soldiers and officers who died in the territory of Serbia are buried. She keeps the memory of one of the last knights of the Empire - General Michael Konstantinovich Diterikhs.

The monument to Russian glory - a monument to Russian soldiers who fell in the First World War, was erected in Belgrade in 1935. The Russian architect Roman Verkhovsky performed the sculptural composition in the form of an artillery shell, at the foot of which is depicted a wounded Russian officer defending the banner. The “1914” date is engraved above the officer's figure, a bas-relief of a two-headed eagle and inscriptions in Russian and Serbian are engraved: “Eternal memory to the Russian Emperor Nicholas II and 2000000 of the Russian soldiers of the Great War”. The composition is crowned with the figure of the holy Archangel Michael, the Archangel of the Heavenly Host, the heavenly patron of General Michael Diterichs ...

Mikhail Konstantinovich Diterikhs came from the oldest knightly family of Europe. His distant ancestor, Johann Dieterichs, in 1735, was invited by Empress Anna Ioannovna to lead the construction of the seaport in Riga, and became the founder of the Russian military dynasty, whose representatives distinguished themselves in the Russian-Turkish war of the 1812 year, and in the Russian-Turkish and Caucasian wars. Mikhail Konstantinovich continued the family tradition. In the year 1886, when he was twelve years old, he was enrolled in the Highest Order as students of His Imperial Majesty's Corps, whose director at that time was his uncle, Lieutenant General Fedor Karlovich Diterikhs (according to the rescript, approved by Catherine the Great, could only become children and grandchildren of generals from infantry, cavalry or artillery).

"You will be faithful to all that the Church teaches, you will protect her; you will treat the weak with respect and become his protector; You will love the country in which you were born; You will not retreat before the enemy; You will wage a merciless war with the infidels ; You will not lie and remain faithful to this word; you will be generous and do good to all; you will be everywhere and everywhere a champion of justice and good against injustice and evil. You will be hard as steel and pure as gold. " Loyalty to the precepts of the Knights of Malta, which brought up the pages, Michael Dieterikhs carried through his life.

8 August 1894. Mikhail received the junior officer rank of second lieutenant and was sent to Turkestan, to the position of clerk of the horse and mountain battery. A year later, not seeing career prospects, Second Lieutenant Dieterichs filed a deduction report. In 1897, he passed the exams to the Nikolaev Academy of the General Staff for "excellent" and returned to St. Petersburg. Three years later, Diterikhs completed training in two classes of the Academy in the first category. In May, 1900, he was promoted to captain-headquarters for "excellent achievements in the sciences" and sent to serve in the Moscow Military District.

The Russian-Japanese war of the 1904 of the year was the first military campaign for Diterichs. He was appointed chief officer for special assignments at the headquarters of the 17 Army Corps and immediately sent to the forefront.

He was awarded the Order of St. Anne 3-th degree with swords and bow, then the Order of St. Anne 2-th degree with swords. Having finished the campaign in the rank of lieutenant colonel, Diterikhs returned to the headquarters service. He met the First World War with the rank of colonel and the post of head of the department in the mobilization department of the main directorate of the General Staff. When the fighting began, Diterikhs headed the operational detachment of the headquarters of the Southwestern Front, and soon, at the request of the Chief of Staff of the Southwestern Front, Adjutant-General M.V. Alekseeva, was appointed first quartermaster-general of the headquarters of the 3 Army, and then - Acting Quartermaster General of the South-West District Headquarters. According to the memoirs of Col. B.V. General Alekseev divided the head work into the creative and executive ones, and for the creative work General V. Borisov and Colonel M. Diterikhs were recruited, with the help of which Alekseev made and developed decisions. 28 May 1915 of the year “for excellent service and wartime works” Diterikhs was promoted to major general, and October 8 of the same year was awarded the Order of St. Stanislav 1 degree with swords. In December, the Adjutant General A.A. headed the 1915 of the Southwestern Front. Brusilov, who, paying tribute to the knowledge and abilities of General Dieterichs, instructed him to develop plans for the famous counter-offensive that entered into history as "Brusilovsky breakthrough." However, three days after the beginning of the offensive, May 25, Major General Diterikhs, was appointed head of the 1916 Special Brigade, which was to join the inter-allied military contingents of the Thessaloniki Front.

The Thessaloniki Front was opened in October-November 1915 after landing in the Greek Thessaloniki of the Anglo-French Expeditionary Force. Initially, the front was created to assist the Serbian army and jointly repel the Austro-German-Bulgarian offensive against Serbia. But because of the contradictions between the countries of the Entente, who were trying to shift the main burden of the operation to each other, help was delayed: by the end of 1915, Serbia was occupied, and its army, with great difficulties, was evacuated to Corfu island through Albania. However, the Allied forces managed to hold positions in Thessaloniki. At the beginning of 1916, the Entente contingent on the Thessaloniki Front already consisted of four French, five British and one Italian divisions, which were soon joined by the reborn and returned to the Balkans Serbian army. 16 January 1916, the Allied military units formed the Eastern Army, which was led by French General Maurice Sarraille. At the same time, the question was raised about the direction to the Thessaloniki front of Russian troops. Emperor Nicholas II, who considered the defense of the Orthodox Slavic peoples a historical duty of Russia, approved the project to create the 2 Special Brigade for subsequent shipment to the Balkans. Major-General Diterikhs, appointed by her chief, was, according to the memoirs of contemporaries, certified to the French military authorities by the head of the French mission in Russia "as an active and educated officer, in general, quite appropriate for a much more responsible position than the position of the brigade commander."

General Dieterichs personally handled the formation of the brigade, which was staffed by experienced personnel officers and non-commissioned officers. Her staff consisted of 224 officers and 9 338 lower ranks. As the researchers note, the brigade commander meticulously delved into all the details of the combat training and organization of life of the military unit entrusted to him.

The first echelon of the brigade headed by Diterichs moved to the place of deployment of 21 on June 1916 of the year. The path of this Russian avant-garde, aimed at the Balkans, in Greek Thessaloniki, which everyone unanimously called Slavonic Solun, lay across the Atlantic, Brest and Marseille during the war. Already at the end of August, units of the 2 Brigade took up positions on the front lines.

By that time, the position of the allied forces in the Balkans was close to catastrophic. Romania extremely unsuccessfully entered the war, its army suffered one defeat after another, the Bulgarian-Austrian troops had already occupied Bucharest. To save a new member of the Entente, the troops of Thessaloniki Front had to go on a general offensive. But suddenly Bulgarian troops broke through the front of the city of Florin and attacked the Serb units. The commander of the inter-allied forces, General Sarrail, threw an 2 Special Brigade, whose concentration had not yet been completed, to eliminate the breakthrough.

General Dieterichs began the fighting, having at his disposal only one regiment and his own headquarters. In the very first battle that happened on 10 in September of 1916, the Russian units, together with the French, repulsed the attack of the Bulgarian infantry.

The next task was the capture of the city of Monastir, which ensured the unification of the Western (occupied by the Italian troops) and Eastern (joint French-Serbian-Russian contingent) sectors of the Salonika Front. The main attack was delivered by the troops of the Eastern sector. At the edge of the attack was the team Diterikhs. The offensive took place in difficult mountain conditions, with a lack of food and ammunition. However, on September 17, Allied forces captured the city of Florin, which was a key position on the approaches to Monastir. The Bulgarian army began to retreat to the north - thus, one of the objectives of the offensive was achieved.

The Allied command appreciated the success of the Special Brigade: “The 3 th Special Infantry Regiment /… / carried out an outstanding offensive against the Bulgarians, and consistently knocked them down from the Sinjak Mountains, Seshrets and Neretskaya Planina, seized with resolute and powerful effort, despite sensitive losses, the line of fortified the enemy’s heights to the north of Armensko and thus contributed greatly to the capture of Florina. ” Thus, in the order for awarding the 3 Special Infantry Regiment by the French military cross with a palm branch, he announced the merits of General Dieterich's troops, the Commander-in-Chief of the Allied forces on the Eastern Front, General Sarrail. He received Croix de Guerre avec Palme and Dieterich himself. Dozens of soldiers and officers were awarded the St. George crosses and orders. At the end of September, 1916, the Diterichs, led the combined French-Russian division, which, in addition to the 2 Special Brigade, included French colonial troops, usually used in the most dangerous areas. The Franco-Russian division continued the offensive, but met fierce resistance from the Bulgarian forces.

On October 2, Diterikhs ordered the troops immediately after the end of the artillery preparation to go on the attack in two columns. Under the threat of encirclement, the Bulgarians began to retreat further north in the night from 2 to October 3. Their forces were exhausted by defeat in the bloodbath in the Kaimakchalan mountain range. Dieterichs ordered to continue the pursuit of the enemy, defeat the rearguard left to cover and overtake the main forces of the retreating enemy. In the evening of October 4, both regiments of the Special Russian Brigade forced the Rakov River. The Russians were so carried away by the offensive that they neglected intelligence. Having taken the large village Negochany on the move and having beaten off the Bulgarians' counterattack, they rushed to the attack and came across well-fortified enemy positions. Two kilometers outside the village, on a smooth field, the Russian regiments were met with hurricane machine-gun and rifle fire from the Bulgarians.

This is how a battle participant, an officer in the 4 Special Regiment VN, described this terrible episode. Smirnov:

“Having fixed bayonets, the companies rushed forward and unexpectedly stumbled upon a wide strip of wire barriers. Having no scissors, they tried unsuccessfully to knock down wire with butts under terrible fire, but were forced to lie down beneath it in the cold autumn water. Digging in the swamp was not possible. So they lay in the water, and only in the morning they moved to about the middle of the field, where they began to dig trenches "...

The division suffered heavy losses and needed a break. In order to maintain the spirit of his fighters, General Diterikhs personally walked around the trenches in the evenings, talked with officers and soldiers.

Russian troops were in positions in extremely difficult conditions: rain, cold, deteriorated ammunition, problems with food due to poorly adjusted communication with the rear. There have been cases of looting. Wishing to avoid decomposition of troops and complication of relations with the local population, the general issued an order in which he reminded his fighters: “The Russian soldier here, in a foreign land, among foreign troops, must be especially careful with his behavior, impeccably honest and noble, to set an example for all others, and the Russian name in nothing and in the least should not be tainted. "

The general strictly forbade the release of parts of the individual lower ranks from the location: only teams with reliable senior could go to the villages. Company commanders and team commanders were ordered to keep such outfits strict records and monitor their subordinates. It was possible to produce products only on the basis of written instructions of the authorities, and it is obligatory to pay in cash according to the existing prices.

Understanding that in order to overcome the resistance of the enemy and further advance, long artillery preparation was necessary, Diterichs reported this to Sarrail. However, soon Serbian units broke through to the rear of the Bulgarian troops. Trying to avoid encirclement, the Bulgarians continued their retreat to the north. General Diterikhs foresaw this, immediately organized the pursuit of the enemy and informed General Leblois, the commander of the French Eastern Army, that he decided to take Monastir by all means. At that moment, the Italians who were advancing from the territory of Albania, the French and the Serbs were striving for Monastira - the significance of this victory was obvious to all. But the Russians were the first in the city with the old Slavic name, which today is changed to nothing and nobody who tells Bitola. In 9: 30 am 19 in November 1916, the 1 battalion of the 3 Special Regiment, literally on the shoulders of the enemy, broke into Monastir.

Soon the headquarters of the Franco-Russian division settled in Monastir. The Austro-German-Bulgarian front was broken through, the Allied forces entered the territory of Serbia. But the capture of Monastir was not only of military-strategic, but also of great moral importance, since it marked the beginning of the liberation of the Serbian land from the invaders.

“I heartily thank you for the congratulations that you brought me on behalf of your heroic brigade, whose selflessness contributed to the fall of Monastir. I am happy that the age-old Russian-Serbian fraternity was once again imprinted in a just struggle for the liberation of the Serbian land from the insidious thief, ”Prince Alexander Georgevich, the heir to the Serbian throne, telegraphed to Diterikhsu. Two days after the capture of the city, Prince Alexander personally arrived at the liberated Monastir, where, according to eyewitnesses, he expressed particular gratitude to the Russian troops and awarded General Dieterichs with a high military order. The commander of the French Eastern Army, General Leblois, in his order, noted the stewardship shown by Diterichs, thanks to which "Monastir fell and were warned of the destruction that the enemy had prepared in his fury after defeat." He highly appreciated the actions of the 2 Special Brigade and General Sarrail: “Russians, in the Greek mountains, just like on the Serbian plain, your legendary bravery has never betrayed you.” 10 January 1917 of the Year Diterichs was awarded the officer cross of the Legion of Honor - the highest award of France. The actions of the general were also noted in the Fatherland: for the capture of Monastir, he was awarded the Order of St. Vladimir 2 degree with swords.

However, the Romanian army, having suffered a crushing defeat by that time, left Bucharest and took refuge in Bessarabia, in the territory of the Russian Empire. Since the task of her salvation has lost relevance, the offensive in Macedonia was discontinued. Troops entrenched on the reached lines and began to prepare for the winter. The war and the Salonika front moved to the positional stage. In November 1916, the 2-I Special Brigade was incorporated into the Serbian forces. According to contemporaries, Russian and Serbian warriors treated each other with sincere respect and sympathy.

Hopes for a spring offensive across the front and an early victorious end of the war in early March, 1917, were shaken by the news of the revolution in Russia and the abdication of Emperor Nicholas II.

Soon a stream of propaganda literature of a defeatist character literally poured into the Russian units because of the front line. However, General Diterikhs managed to maintain the combat capability of the units entrusted to him. He tried as soon as possible to convey to the soldiers all the official information about the situation in Russia, and because of this he was able to maintain in the troops discipline and confidence in the officers. Dieterichs called on the fighters to rally in the name of Victory over the enemies of the Fatherland. The general was a staunch monarchist, but he accepted the Provisional Government as a new power, which the Sovereign and the Supreme Commander ordered his obedience to obey in his manifesto on renunciation.

The 2-I Special Brigade swore to the Provisional Government.

General Diterikhs was convinced that a soldier sacrificing his life for his Motherland expresses some Supreme Truth. Dieterihs treated his fighters not only with fatherly care (in his diary he with a few ingenuous constancy called the soldier "children"), but also with respect, therefore he took it for granted with their civil rights. His expectations were justified: the overwhelming majority of soldiers and officers of the Special Brigade were ready to fight until victory. However, the brigade’s participation in the 9 offensive in May 1917 turned into big losses: it was killed, injured and missing the 1300 of the best fighters. Their death shook Diterikhs and he addressed General Sarrail with a report about the need to send the brigade to the rear: after all, the Russian units had been on the front line since August 1916. The 2-I Special Brigade retreated to the rear, where it was to unite with the 4-th Special Brigade of General Leontyev (since October 1916, she was also part of the Serbian army) in the 2-nd Special Division. June 5 General Diterikhs took command of the new connection, but in early July, he was urgently summoned to Russia.

The departure of Diterikhs by many of his military comrades was perceived as a great loss.

General Sarrail, in particular, wrote: “I sadly found out that he was leaving, the general ... who was often my most valuable assistant in all military and life problems. The general who replaced Diterikhs in his post was a courageous officer, but his new position was unknown to him ... "

By unanimous acknowledgment of his contemporaries, General Dieterichs during his time on the Macedonian front brilliantly coped with his task both as a representative of Russia and as an experienced head of combat units. Even in the most difficult times, he managed to preserve the respect and love of his soldiers and officers. “A well-educated person who speaks several languages, he kept himself in the rear with constant tact and dignity, and in battles, regardless of any shelling, he was always where his presence was most valuable. We have been subject to both the French and the Serbs; he knew how to establish excellent relations with those and others, insistently demanding the delivery of everything that was necessary for the success of the operation, for alleviating our needs and efforts, carefully considering and preparing our actions and forcing everyone who dealt with it; he knew the price both for himself and for others, but he did not chase after any effects, remained accessible to his subordinates and was for them an example of patience, loyalty to his homeland and his work, respect for allies, resilience and calm courage in all circumstances, ”wrote about Diterikhs, his colleague, captain Vsevolod Focht.

It is worth noting that the mission of commanders of Russian troops abroad was not only honorable, but also difficult. Their actual position was much greater than that which the heads of individual divisions should nominally occupy.

“They were the first in Europe representatives of the acting Russian army, its combat units, and chiefs, who daily endangered their own lives. Behind them was a double authority - officers of the General Staff, that is, specialists who had all the possible training and competence in the purely theoretical field of military art, and at the same time generals who shared the lives of their subordinates in advanced positions, who were in constant contact with the enemy, who knew from personal experience, and not only from reports and stories, the actual situation on the front, the very practice of war, ”emphasizes Focht.

After the departure of General Dieterichs, the Russian troops in Macedonia remained at the front until January 1918, but they were no longer destined to achieve at least some significant success. Mikhail Konstantinovich himself returned to a completely different country. Leaving Russia, he believed that his participation in the war in the distant Balkans would bring the long-awaited victory closer. But it turned out that the country, intoxicated by the dope of freedom, does not need this victory.

The further life of Michael Diterikhs developed dramatically. From 24 August to 6 September 1917, he was Chief of Staff of the Special Petrograd Army, from 6 September to 16 November, General Quartermaster General of the Stavka, and from 16 November to 20 November, Chief of Staff of General Dukhonin. On November 21, he moved to Ukraine, where in March 1918 of the year became the chief of staff of the Czechoslovak Corps, well-known from the history of the Civil War, with which he passed to Vladivostok. Diterichs immediately supported Admiral Kolchak, who appointed him on January 17 on 1919 as head of the commission to investigate the murder of the Royal family.

From 1 July to 22 July 1919, General Dieterihs was the commander of the Siberian Army, from 22 July to 17 in November, Commander of the Eastern Front, and simultaneously from 12 August to 6 in October, Chief of Staff A.V. Kolchak. As a result of disagreements with Kolchak, who insisted on the need to defend Omsk at all costs, General Diterikhs resigned at his own request. It was he who initiated the creation in the summer and autumn of 1919 of the volunteer formations with the ideology of the defense of the Orthodox faith - the “Friends of the Holy Cross” and the “Friends of the Green Banner”. In September 1919, Diterichs developed and successfully conducted the last offensive operation of the Russian army of Admiral Kolchak - the Tobolsk breakthrough. After White’s defeat at the end of 1919, he emigrated to Harbin.

23 July 1922 at the Zemsky Sobor in Vladivostok, General Diterikhs was elected the ruler of the Far East and the Zemstvo voivode, commander of the Zemsky army.

He began to introduce a variety of reforms in order to revive the social order of the pre-Peter the Great and return the Romanov dynasty to the throne. But in October 1922, the troops of the Amur region were defeated by the Red forces Blucher, and Diterikhs was forced to emigrate to China, where he lived in Shanghai. In 1930, he became chairman of the Far Eastern Division of the Russian General Military Union.

9 October General 1937 of the year died, buried in Shanghai, at the Lokaway cemetery. The cemetery was destroyed during the Chinese “cultural revolution”.
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  1. sub307
    sub307 25 February 2014 08: 21
    It’s just that the officer’s biography (a knight in the best sense) didn’t change his beliefs (someone couldn’t change his mind for various reasons, etc. ...) during the fratricidal (civil) war. Bright memory. Thank.
  2. Dovmont
    Dovmont 25 February 2014 09: 36
    Thanks to the author for the article! All the same, how little we know about the commanders of the white movement! I would like to know more!
  3. Kuvabatake
    Kuvabatake 25 February 2014 10: 33
    Good article. We know little about the people of that time ...
  4. oscar
    oscar 25 February 2014 12: 15
    Very interesting!
  5. parus2nik
    parus2nik 25 February 2014 13: 46
    An interesting article, no more ... White generals, so white and fluffy .. Ryyyytsari ..
    1. Vlaleks48
      Vlaleks48 25 February 2014 19: 29
      Quote: parus2nik
      An interesting article, no more ... White generals, so white and fluffy .. Ryyyytsari ..

      Of course, Lev Davidovich Bronstein is somehow closer to you in terms of ideals! What happened then still cannot be explained by any historical calculation! Do not forget who was at the head of the "pegevogot", far from being fools. They completed the task! They pulled out the Russian the core is faith. They tried to destroy the steadfast, to turn the cautious into ivans of kinship who do not remember! Cut the huge Russian empire into caress and now we are reaping the fruits of those cutters!
      General Diterichs did everything he could! Eternal memory!
      1. invisibility
        invisibility 25 February 2014 20: 00
        Eka skidded you! Here is Joseph Vissarionovich closer to me, but about Ivan, who does not remember kinship, are you not talking about yourself?
      2. parus2nik
        parus2nik 25 February 2014 20: 10
        No, Trotsky is not ideal for me .. The ideal for me is my grandfather, red cavalry, my five grandmother’s brothers, also red cavalry .. by the way, great-grandfather, rich was, things were from Don to Volga .. Ideal, another grandfather and great-grandfather, who opposite Kolchak fought ..
        In 1930, Diterichs became chairman of the Far Eastern Division of the Russian All-Military Union. As I understand it, ROVS was a charity .. and was funded exclusively by donations from emigrants ..
        1. invisibility
          invisibility 25 February 2014 20: 26
          Quote: parus2nik
          As I understand it, EMRO was a charity .. and was funded exclusively by donations from emigrants ..

          Yes, they got together, put a samovar. To drink tea with bagels, but to sing Russian songs ...
      3. parus2nik
        parus2nik 25 February 2014 20: 15
        Yes, about the coup .. I understand you correctly, did Lenin and Trotsky go for the abdication of the Tsar? But Budyonny, Kotovsky, Chapaev-tsarist generals advised the tsar to abdicate, and Prince Lvov and the entire composition of the Provisional Government were exclusively Bolsheviks ... But Rasputin Dzerzhinsky and Peters were killed ..