- Valery Evgenievich, the monarchies of Russia and Germany have traditionally been friends and interacted. How and why did they suddenly become mortal enemies in 1914?
- Indeed, the Russian dynasty of the Romanovs and the German (more precisely, the Prussian) Hohenzollern were tied by kinship and political sympathies. Whenever the two powers turned out to be allies, they received a tangible gain. This was manifested both in the period of the liberation of Europe from Napoleon, and in the tangle of wars and intrigues that brewed around the long-standing hotbed of international tension - Poland, and at the moments of revolutionary crises in Western countries. The friendly position and unequivocal support of Russia helped Prussia to brilliantly win the wars with Austria-Hungary and France, rally the motley jumble of the German kingdoms and principalities into a mighty monolithic empire. Although Russia won at the same time. She was able to reject the terms of the Treaty of Paris imposed on her by France and England after the Crimean War, which forbade the creation of military bases and fleets on the Black Sea.
Kaiser Wilhelm II, while heir to the throne, was in our country, became friends with the future Tsar Nicholas II. In the correspondence, they called each other "cousin Willie" and "cousin Nikki."
- This is a well-known fact and causes confusion.
- Monarchs do not always determine the political lines of their states. On the contrary, the monarch expresses the position of his subjects (or the ruling elite). And the interests of our countries began to diverge sharply. The German Empire, born under the thunder of cannons and under the victorious fanfare, turned out to be quite militant. Fast and bright successes turned the heads of the German military, politicians, diplomats. They fought with their neighbors.
Russia realized the danger of German ambitions. The course was taken to maintain peace and stability in Europe. The Germans were not allowed to finish off France. We tried to restrain the expansion of Germany and Austria-Hungary into the Balkans ... But by doing so our country became the main obstacle for any aggressive plans. And these plans were grand! Fascism did not exist yet, but its "beginnings" matured much earlier. Not in Nazi Germany, but in Kaiser! Pan-Germanism was the dominant ideology — it included the theories of the “higher race” and the “living space in the East”, and the notorious justification of aggression. As for the plans, the Germans aimed at world domination.
The creation of “Great Germany” was envisaged, in which Austria-Hungary, the Balkans, Scandinavia, Belgium, Holland, northern France, Poland, the Baltic states, Ukraine were to enter. All this was connected with the colonies that were to be taken away from the British, French, Belgians, and Portuguese. And the Kaiser’s ally, the Ottoman Empire, under his patronage, rolled out her lips to take away from Russia the Transcaucasus, the Caucasus, Central Asia, to spread influence over the Volga region and the Urals. In Berlin, encouraged such projects.
And the war itself promised super-profits to the banking and industrial corporations of Germany and Austria-Hungary. Sulila super-profits oligarchs of other powers - primarily the United States. By the way, the American and German banking clans are closely intertwined. For example, the largest German bank was led by Max Warburg, and in the US financial system were run by his two brothers, Paul and Felix. They were financial advisors to President Wilson, Paul Warburg became vice president of the Federal Reserve Bank of the United States.
Banking and industrial aces paid for war propaganda. She overwhelmed the entire German people. These sentiments were fully picked up by Kaiser Wilhelm himself. Obuyanny complex, very unbalanced and immensely vain. Contemporaries wrote - he was most fascinated by the enthusiastic roar of the crowd, honors, he dreamed of the greatest accomplishments.
In such conditions, the traditions of friendship with Russia turned into a hypocritical disguise. For example, during the Russian-Japanese war, William II portrayed himself as a sincere friend of “cousin Nikki”, but for his neutrality forced him to conclude a very unfavorable trade agreement for Russians on 10 years. And most importantly, the Russian forces tried to push the Russian forces east to untie their hands in Europe. But with Russia it was supposed to maintain peace only for the time being. Plans for the war against our country, the German General Staff developed and corrected in 1872, 1875, 1879, 1894. Finally, the Schlieffen Plan was compiled and approved in 1905.
- Do you think it was possible to avoid a collision in the summer of 1914 of the year?
- Not. In the summer of 1914, it was impossible to avoid war from Russia. Because the war was predetermined in advance, and not predetermined in Petersburg. Note that Tsar Nicholas II did everything in his power to prevent a catastrophe. Now many have forgotten that he was the first to initiate international congresses on disarmament, and at his insistence an international court was created in The Hague to resolve controversial issues peacefully. Nikolai Aleksandrovich made great efforts to eliminate contradictions with Germany.
For example, in 1910, the king met with the Kaiser in Potsdam and offered to negotiate mutual concessions. The parties also had to make mutual commitments on non-participation in groups hostile to each other, and a number of specific proposals were stated. Wilhelm verbally agreed. But in fact, all let down on the brakes. Because Germany, biting the bit, rushed to war. And did not even consider it necessary to hide it. In the same 1910, when Berlin was visited by the Belgian king Albert, the Kaiser simply stunned him by giving an offensive tirade at the ball to France. Then he introduced him to General von Kluck, noting that this is the very commander who “will have to lead the march to Paris.” Moltke, without hesitating, told Albert that “the war with France is approaching”, since this state “provokes and annoys” the Germans.
The Germans provoked two crises around Morocco - but both times the conflict could still be hushed up. Periodical exacerbations of the situation in the Balkans also became the pretext for war. The Balkan Wars broke out in 1912, and Wilhelm II on December 8 convened a meeting of military leadership. The topic of the meeting was formulated as “The best time and method for the deployment of war”. According to the Kaiser, it was necessary to begin immediately. Chief of General Staff Moltke agreed that "a big war is inevitable, and the sooner it starts, the better." But he pointed out that it was necessary to conduct propaganda training: “It is better to ensure the national character of the war against Russia.” And only the commander of the naval forces Tirpitz objected that the sailors were not yet ready: “The Navy would be interested in shifting the beginning of large-scale military operations by a year and a half.” We agreed with his opinion. A year and a half - it was the summer of 1914.
The same term was called Russian intelligence. At the beginning of 1914, the German and Austro-Hungarian military leaders actively conducted meetings, the latest coordination of plans. German army rearmament programs were calculated before 1916, but the dates were corrected. Outlined all the pressure to spring 1914.
When the Serbian Masonic terrorists from the Black Hand organization killed the heir to the Austrian throne, Franz Ferdinand, in Sarajevo, this was exactly what was required of all the supporters of the war. In Vienna, they joked that the murderers had to erect a monument for such a “gift.” And Wilhelm II, having received a report on the terrorist act, inscribed in the margins: “Jetzt oder niemals” - “Now or never.”
As is known, Serbia was presented with an ultimatum, in effect depriving it of sovereignty. She, at the prompting of Nikolay, II found the optimal solution - to submit the matter to the international Hague court for consideration, having agreed in advance to execute the sentence! No, this option did not suit the aggressors! At least something in the ultimatum was not fulfilled - Austria immediately declared war. Opened through the Danube artillery bombardment of Belgrade. The king tried to reason with the Austrians demonstration of force, announced mobilization. But this is precisely what Cousin Willie used as a pretext. I made some noise that the Russians were mobilizing, preparing to attack Germany and Austria, and declared war on Russia.
By the way, the Kaiser, his military leaders and diplomats were not particularly considered with logic. The propaganda screamed that the Russians were threatening - but at the same time the German armies did not rush east, but west! On neutral Belgium, neutral Luxembourg and on France! And where is the logic, if the "Russian threat" was just an occasion. And the Schlieffen-Moltke plan worked out in advance provided for just such an order: first crush the Western opponents, the French with the British, with a “blitzkrieg”, and then transfer all forces to Russia ...
- How strong and independent was the military industry of pre-war Russia?
- Pre-war Russia was one of the most advanced and developed powers of that era. Over the years, 50 industrial output has grown in 10-12 times (for 13 pre-war years - three times), and for some indicators the increase was just fabulous. Chemical production increased 48 times, coal mining - 700 times, oil - 1500 times. The huge country was covered by a network of railways, the Donbass coal deposits, the oil fields of Baku and Grozny were developed. Russia has created the world's largest and best oil refining industry. 94% of oil was processed domestically, the products were famous for their quality and cheapness.
Mechanical engineering developed rapidly. 63% of the equipment of the means of production were manufactured in domestic enterprises. Such giants as the Putilov, Obukhov, Russian-Baltic plants were built, the largest textile centers in the Moscow region, Ivanovo, Lodz, etc. were formed. Textile products fully provided for Russia itself, it was widely exported.
But agriculture, food industry, did not yield. In our country, there were 21 million horses (75 million in total in the world). 60% of farms had 3 and more horses. Russia received as much profit from the sale of butter alone as the sale of gold. In the global food market, it was the absolute leader. She ranked first in the world in the production and export of grain, for the production of sugar. Half of the products sold in Europe were made in Russia. Between 1890 and 1914, foreign trade has tripled.
In terms of industrial production growth and labor productivity growth Russia in the early twentieth century. came in first place in the world, ahead of the United States - which also experienced a period of rapid growth. In terms of production, our country ranked fourth, and in terms of per capita income, it was fifth in the world. However, these figures were determined by foreign researchers and are very incorrect. Because the economic systems of the Western powers included their colonies (or, in the United States, raw materials appendages). Due to this, the manufacturing industry metropolis received high gross figures. But the “souls of the population” of the colonies and appendages were not taken into account. And if, for example, the population of India were to add the population of India, Burma, Egypt, Sudan, etc., then the real figure of "per capita income" would have been much lower than the Russian one.
However, not everything was smooth. Moreover, the shortcomings belonged specifically to the military field. But the shortcomings were not scientific and industrial, not technological, but organizational. Despite the presence of a powerful national base, the war ministry led by General Sukhomlinov preferred to place many orders for weapons and ammunition abroad. Heavy guns, airplanes, motors, projectiles and ammunition were ordered from British, French, even German firms. It was believed that this is more convenient and easier. No need to fool your head with the establishment of production, track, check. He signed the contract, paid for it and received it ... Although in reality this specificity had another significant reason - corruption. Foreign representatives covered Sukhomlinov from all sides, generously fed with bribes.
The results were deplorable. During the battles in all the warring countries, without exception, it turned out that the consumption of weapons and ammunition is many times higher than planned. In France, an acute shortage of shells and cartridges became apparent as early as August-September 1914. In Germany, in December 1914 - February 1915 was struck by a natural “hunger”. Available shells were transmitted only to those areas where hot battles rattled. The rest of the guns were silent, did not respond to the fire of Russian batteries. In our country, the military was taught to shoot not at random, but precisely. Thanks to this, we reached the spring of 1915. But all the warring powers, with alarming symptoms, frantically modernized and developed their own production. But the military ministry of Sukhomlinov again went the usual way.
He ordered everything necessary at the British Vickers-Armstrong factories. An order for 5 million shells, 1 million rifles, 1 billion rounds of ammunition, 8 million grenades, airplanes, aviation motors, guns and other equipment was adopted, this should have been enough for the 1915 campaign. But Russia was openly framed. The Russian armies had won a number of brilliant victories by this time. They beat the Germans near Warsaw and Lodz, tattered Austria-Hungary, taking Galicia from her, and destroyed the Turkish army near Sarykamysh. At that time, the Western Allies had absolutely nothing to brag about. They were afraid that Russia would make the main contribution to the victory, and after the war it would become a leader in the international arena, and would be able to dictate its terms of peace.
The Russians were not even warned that their military order in England would not be fulfilled. It was not until the shipment deadline, March 1915, that the British War Minister Kitchener suddenly announced: all the products had to be taken over by the British army.
- How would you characterize military training in the Russian army and from opponents?
- In the 1914, the Russian army was significantly superior to other powers in terms of training, and inferior in technical equipment only to German and Austrian - but they purposefully prepared for war. Weapon it was better, or at least no worse than foreign analogues: the Mosin three-line rifle, the Nagan revolver, the Maxim machine gun improved by Tula gunsmiths. The machine guns were on the 8 regiment - just like the Germans and French. One of the best in the world were three-inch (76 mm) guns of Baranovsky. In the division there were 48 guns (the Germans - 72, the French - 36). In total, the Russian army had 7030 guns (of which 240 were heavy). For comparison: in Germany - 9398 guns (1300 heavy and 996 siege), in Austria-Hungary 4083 (960 heavy and 338 siege), in France - 4800 (there was no heavy at all).
The first field radio stations created by A.S. Popov and captain Troitsky were introduced back in 1900, and by the beginning of World War there were “spark companies” in all corps. Telephone and telegraph communication was widely used. The troops numbered more than 3000 vehicles (the Germans only had 83 units, they underestimated the vehicles, intended it only for the advanced troops). The air force made up the 263 aircraft and the 14 airships. Again, for comparison - in Germany 232 aircraft and 15 airships, in France - 156 aircraft and 5 airships (when Geoffroy argued for aviation, he dismissed: “Well, this is for sports!”).
In Russian navy magnificent seaplanes M-5 and M-9, designed by D.P. Grigorovich, they were considered the best in the world. In 1913, a multi-engine Sikorsky aircraft “Russian Knight” was created at the Russian-Baltic Plant, and at its base was the Ilya Muromets bomber, it already had special bomb pendants, droppers and sights. For pilots on this plane, a Kotelnikov parachute was used.
Russian designers Fedorov, Tokarev, Roshepey have already created the first samples of automatic rifles. In 1904, midshipman Vlasov and Captain Gobyato invented a mortar. There were samples of light machine guns, "anti-aircraft" guns. They remained at the level of development, but by the beginning of the war they were not in other countries. By the way, there were no hand grenades in the European armies, they were considered to be complex and dangerous weapons. The Germans made grenades not by factories, but by sappers, and were used by them. The Russian grenades were already produced, began to enter the army. The new Manual for the infantry envisaged throwing grenades at the enemy before the bayonet attack. But in practice, the troops have not yet been trained.
Russian strategy and tactics were advanced for that time, taking into account the experience of the Japanese war. The offensive was recognized as the main type of combat, but due attention was also paid to defense. Attacked in rarer orders than in the West (intervals up to 5 steps). Climbing, dashes, nominations or single soldiers under the cover of fire of those who remained in place were used. Not only in the defense, but in the offensive from the soldiers needed to dig in. The army was trained in oncoming combat, operations at night, instead of bayonet fire tactics were introduced. The infantry showed very good results in shooting, and the gunners did not know their equal - in their midst it was considered a matter of honor not just to shoot straight, but also thoroughly, even cogs, to know their gun. Russian artillery in the Japanese war for the first time used shooting from closed positions using a protractor and a panorama, and used aerostats to adjust the fire. The cavalry was also well prepared, and they were taught to act both on horseback and on foot.
An important role was assigned to the individual training of soldiers and commanders. Russian officers and non-commissioned officers were real masters of military affairs. The classic of military pedagogy M.I. In his works, Dragomirov demanded: “Closely communicate with subordinates”; “Put service above personal matters”; “Not to be afraid of independence”. The cadre Russian army was superior to the German one in the quality of the fighters. The soldiers in it served in the literal sense of the word choice. Russia contained much smaller armed forces than its human resources allowed. From recruits medical commissions selected only 52%! The most healthy and strong. (In Germany, only 3% of overt disability were sifted out).
For a visual comparison, the army of Allied France is best suited - by the way, it was considered “advanced”. She did not even enter the protective form. The French began the war in red pants, red caps (with officers with white plumes), in blue uniforms and overcoats. The cavalry was adorned in glittering cuirass, in helmets with horsehair tails, feather sultans. When the Minister of War Messimi proposed to introduce protective uniforms, it was considered that this would undermine the spirit of the army, and the former Minister of War Etienne exclaimed in parliament: “Le panta руon Rouge Sele France!” - “Red pants are France!”
French military science rejected defense. The field manual, adopted in 1913, taught: "The French army, returning to its tradition, does not recognize any other law than an offensive." Not only did the soldiers not dig in, but they also forbade them not to stain their form, not to lose their vigorous appearance and offensive spirit. It was written in the orders: “Never will the French army dig trenches, it will always attack decisively and will not humiliate itself before defense”. A month before the war, one hussar lieutenant landed under arrest for introducing the squadron to digging trenches.
Attack taught close systems, to achieve greater pressure. Intelligence was considered an insignificant trifle - it is impossible to linger, think. It was required “to immediately start all means to battle”. And the role of artillery was reduced to a “squall of fire” - to continue the road by throwing infantry. Heavy artillery was not at all. It was believed that she would slow down the pace of the attack. Communication was via messengers. Such a novelty as the radio did not take into account. And the phones were provided only for the senior bosses, because the telephone wires in the parts would prevent their rapid progress.
Shooting was not enough (for the cavalry, the course was just 3 of the day). The main were supposed to be bayonet and saber blows. The infantry was trained in “Napoleonic” marches on 40 km. Worked out the standards for bayonet throwing - 50 M should be overcome in 20 seconds. It was believed that the enemy needed 20 seconds to reload a rifle, aim and shoot. Was it any wonder that the Germans overturned and crushed the French army, with one jerk they reached almost to Paris. They would have taken Paris too - if the Russians hadn’t saved them, they hadn’t struck in East Prussia and had not distracted the enemy.
The training of the German army was much better, but it was also somewhat inferior to the Russians. Tactics lagged far behind modern requirements. Defense was given insufficient attention. When attacking, attacks were envisioned in full growth by thick chains, at intervals in the 2 pitch, or even in closed columns. The chain had to keep equal. Such an archaic method was also worked out - after a certain number of steps the chain stopped, took aim, fired a volley and marched on (under enemy fire). Cavalry was also preparing for attacks in tight formations. A German strategy for the experience of the last century, aimed to win in one general battle. The need for strategic reserves was denied, it should have been thrown into battle all at once - and won. Errors had to be corrected during the battles, and they cost a lot of blood. Contemporaries described how Germanic dense chains fell under Russian machine guns and shrapnel. As they attacked, they remained lying down with whole companies and battalions.
- How fair is the opinion that the losses among the officers and guards contributed to the collapse of statehood by the year of 1917?
- This is just a legend, born by the same officers. By the way, the losses were not as big as they are usually portrayed. Russia is not overstrained, not bled. The latest report of the tsarist army’s casualties was presented in the “Special Records Management Report” No. 4 (292) from 13 (26) February 1917. On all fronts since the beginning of the war, 11.884 officers and 586.880 lower ranks were killed and wounded; the number of gas poisoned was 430 and 32.718, respectively; loss of the wounded and sick - 26.041 and 2.438.591; contused 8.650 and 93.339; Missing - 4.170 and 15.707; 11.899 officers and 2.638.050 soldiers were in captivity. Total: 63.074 officer and 5.975.341 soldiers (TsGVIA USSR, f.2003, op.1, d.186, l.98).
The damage of our armies was less than in other countries. Russian soldiers killed about 600 thousand, in Germany for the same period - 1,05 million, in France - 850 thousand. And it was quite natural, because the royal command did not allow such lengthy meat grinders as Verdun or Somme. If the operation was unsuccessful, it was stopped, unlike the French or German generals, who stubbornly threw new and new contingents into suicide attacks.
About as many Germans, Austrians, and Turks were in captivity in Russia, as were our soldiers in enemy captivity. In terms of injury, diseases and contusions were dropped much less than in the armies of the enemy, despite the fact that Russian doctors approached the examination much milder than the German and Austrian ones, many of the commissioners recovered, worked, and later fought in civil.
No, the loss of 63 thousand officers (of which 12 thousand dead) could not be fatal for the state. By the way, of these 63 (and 12) thousand, only 15-20% belonged to personnel officers. The rest are storekeepers, yesterday’s intelligentsia, or yesterday's soldiers, who have exhausted the officer's shoulder straps with their valor, who have completed short courses. However, we note another feature. The officers themselves, including personnel, were thoroughly infected with the ideas of liberalism, democracy, and even socialism. Many generals and officers were in the ranks of the conspirators who prepared and carried out the February revolution, which overthrew Russia into chaos. And if they did not participate in the conspiracy, they sympathized with the revolutionary coup. Suffice it to recall the position of the great princes Nikolai Nikolaevich, Kirill Vladimirovich, the generals Ruzsky, Radko-Dmitriev, Evert, Kornilov, Brusilov, Krymov, etc.
We can also cite such an eloquent example — the famous Kornilov regiment, which consisted of volunteer officers on the roads of the civil war and at the White Guard parades, sang together its Kornilovsky march:
... We do not regret the former
The king is not our idol ...
They even considered complete revolution in the chaos of total disaster as a blessing! They still believed that the overthrow of the monarchy would benefit Russia. And only Bolsheviks - usurpers and German henchmen blamed for disasters. Later, some rethought their views, but it was too late. By the way, here it is competent to give other numbers of losses for comparison. Revolutionaries have always justified the coup - as if he saved Russia from the "imperialist slaughter." In fact, the civil war has cost our people 15-17 million lives. So compare with the losses of the “imperialist slaughter”.
- Why in the last years of the war the "left" parties managed to seize the political initiative? Where did the monarchists go to 1917?
- No, not in recent years. Paradoxically, only the “left” parties were represented in the political spectrum of Russia. They differed only within themselves, from each other — the Cadets, Octobrists, Socialist-Revolutionaries, Social Democrats, Bolsheviks. In our country, there were no significant and authoritative "parties in power" at all. Perhaps the case was explained historical features of Russia. It has traditionally been a monarchy, and its monarchist foundation, as it were, did not need party props. There is Vera, Tsar, Fatherland, what other parties?
For several years, no conspirators and foreign agents could crush a powerful state and stir up a multimillion-dollar people. But by the beginning of the tragic crucial events, the country and the people were already seriously ill. The bacilli of this disease were also introduced from the outside, from the West. They did not immediately hit the Russians. But the infection spread gradually over several centuries. Fashionable theories, “free” morals, ideas of liberalism ... The disease encompassed Russia “from the head,” from above. The aristocracy, the nobility, the so-called cultural strata of society got used to focus on Europe, foreign views and assessments became role models, were perceived as “generally accepted” axioms.
The main cover for ideological sabotage was “enlightenment” (and “enlightenment” was given a very important role in Freemasonry, it was opposed to religion). And the Westernizing system of education that has become established in our country has become a ready channel for infecting Russia with liberalism. The same European standards and theories were taken as a basis - and along with the humanities and technical sciences, the intelligentsia received other “supplements”: imbued with “national inferiority complexes”, got used to consider foreign as “advanced”, and its own — “backward”. And from here it was seen as a truth of the main necessity of reforms according to foreign models.
It is not by chance that the professorial-teaching environment became the focus of the liberal spirit. Sowed in the souls of young people the seeds of free-thinking, atheism, doubt. These seeds were combined with the usual young fronderism and gave abundant shoots. The temptations of “freedoms” turned heads worse than wine, the denigration of power, laws, and domestic traditions became a sign of good taste. The division of all phenomena of social life into “progressive” and “reactionary” has been introduced. Moreover, the new, revolutionary, destructive belonged to the “progressive”, read - good. And everything that served to stabilize Russian reality turned out to be “reactionary”.
Parties were not mechanisms of the Russian, but of the western political system. In our country, they arose purely as opposition. And the parliamentary structures themselves, which infiltrated 1905, turned into an opposition tool. The Union of the Russian People, established in December 1905, claimed the role of a monarchist, pro-government party. The following year, it came out on top in terms of size and popularity among political organizations in Russia. But liberalism had already infected the top of the Russian administration, much of the royal dignitaries and church hierarchs. "Soyuz" began to put a spoke in the wheel, provocations began. In 1907-1908, it was able to split it, and it rolled into decline.
In the Duma, monarchists were represented by figures like Purishkevich — more scandals and provocateurs than serious politicians. And the liberals turned the Duma into a powerful legal platform. In the period between revolutions, a massive treatment of the people, the breaking of monarchical foundations, began. The war did not give rise to these processes, but aggravated them. The course of the fighting provided food for various slanders and speculations (moreover, under the “patriotic” sauce). In addition, there were customers willing to pay for subversive work. On the one hand - the opponents, the Germans and the Austrians. On the other - allies. England, France, USA. Of course, they wanted to win. But ... without Russia. Russia was for them the main competitor, economic and political.
In the end, massive propaganda and slander could even distort Russian monarchism! Appeared ordinary people who sincerely consider themselves supporters of the monarchy, but with the "other" king. Or those who built their own models - they are not obliged to unconditionally obey the king, to enter the sovereign according to their wishes ... What is left of monarchism here is difficult to judge, but the stab in the back has become fatal for the empire. At the critical moment the king did not have reliable support.