The Russian empire, like most empires in the world, constantly either fought or prepared for war, and therefore the combat readiness of its armed forces was the main concern of the rulers of Russia. Especially since, starting with Peter the Great, they were all in their basic education and training professional military men who served from an early age in the best guard regiments of the army and fleet Of Russia. In the same way, the last Russian emperor and Supreme Commander-in-Chief during the First World War — Colonel Nikolai Alexandrovich Romanov, was brought up.
He passed all the necessary steps of military and civic education of a member of the royal family. Before serving in the regiment, the future emperor received a thorough home education, the program of which, besides the usual gymnasium course, included a number of disciplines of the law faculty of St. Petersburg University and the Academy of the General Staff of the Russian Army.
This training program was designed for 13 years. The first eight years were devoted to the subjects of the extended gymnasium course, where special attention was paid to the study of political stories, Russian literature, English, German and French. The next five years were devoted to the study of military affairs, legal and economic sciences, necessary for the future ruler of the Russian Empire. The military teachers of the heir to the throne were: M.I. Dragomirov, G.A. Leer, N.A. Demyanenko and other military leaders. Outstanding Russian scientists were engaged in general education: N.N. Beketov, N.N. Obruchev, TS.A. Cui, N.H. Bunge, K.P. Pobedonostsev.
6 May 1884, on his birthday, the 16-year-old future emperor took the military oath and entered military service. In August of the same year he received the rank of lieutenant and became an officer in the Russian army.
Military service of the lieutenant, Grand Duke Nikolai Alexandrovich was as follows.
1. Two summer camp gathering in the infantry, in the Life Guards Preobrazhensky regiment in the position of company commander.
He wrote about these years: “I have already done two camps in the Preobrazhensky regiment, I became terribly intimate and loved the service! I am sure that this summer service has brought me great benefits, and since then I have noticed great changes in myself. ”
2. Two summer camp gathering in cavalry, in the ranks of the Life Guards of His Majesty the Hussars Regiment in the position of platoon commander to the squadron commander.
3. One summer camp in artillery.
In the State Archives of the Russian Federation, in the Nicholas II Foundation, there are documents devoted to his scientific military studies of the time:
- calculations of Nicholas II on marine navigation instruments from 23 August 1884 to 3 in January 1885 g .;
- student notebooks of Nicholas II for fortification from October 10 1885 to February 2 1887 g .;
- An outline of the course of artillery, written for Grand Duke Nikolai Aleksandrovich. 470 p .;
- recordings of Grand Duke Nikolai Aleksandrovich at the rate of the military administration from 21 November 1887 to 11 March 1889 (8 exercise books);
- educational records of the Grand Duke Nikolai Aleksandrovich in military affairs 1887 g .;
- summary of the course of “military criminal law”;
- textbooks for the study of military affairs.
6 August 1892, eight years after the start of military service, having passed all the military positions required, Tsarevich Nikolai Alexandrovich was promoted to colonel. Prior to assuming the throne in 1894, he commanded the battalion of the Preobrazhensky regiment. He retained the rank of colonel for life, since he did not consider it possible for himself to raise the rank. Here is what General N.A., a colleague of Emperor Nicholas II wrote in the Preobrazhensky Regiment, wrote Yepanchin: "Tsesarevich served in the infantry, in the Preobrazhensky regiment, as a junior officer and as a battalion commander ... Tsesarevich performed his duties extremely conscientiously, went into all the necessary details. He stood close to the officer and the soldier; he was in tact with people with unusual tact , endurance and goodwill; none of the officers singled out in particular, did not enter into special close relations with anyone and did not push anyone away ... The living situation of the Tsarevich in the regiment was no different from the living conditions about steel officers - was simple, without any frills. He faced in the officers' meeting and did not make any claims, especially it caught the eye of the maneuvers, when a snack of the simplest kind was served, as there was no luxury at all in the Preobrazhensky regiment.
In addition to military service, the future emperor participates in meetings of the State Council and the Cabinet of Ministers, chairs the committee for the construction of the Trans-Siberian Railway, travels to various provinces of Russia and foreign countries: Austria-Hungary, Greece, Egypt, India, China, Japan.
After the accession to the throne, Nicholas II takes special care of the army and navy of Russia. But, besides solving strategic military tasks, he is constantly interested in the life of a simple Russian soldier. It is known, for example, that once in Livadia, he overcame forty miles in soldiers' uniforms, with a full display, rifle and soldier rations in order to check the suitability of the new equipment. The commander of the regiment, whose form the emperor wore on that day, asked to be credited with Nicholas II in the first company and call him as a private on roll call.
The sovereign agreed to this and demanded a record for the lower rank, which he himself filled out. In the column for the name wrote: "Nikolai Romanov," about the term of service - "to the grave" ...
It should be noted that the emperor never considered himself a military leader capable of commanding armies, but could not help but realize the responsibility that the first person of the state bears before the Fatherland and the people. Before the beginning of the First World War, he had to endure the difficult experience of the Russian-Japanese war. He embodied the military lessons he learned into relevant reforms that prepared the Russian army for a new, large-scale war on both the European and Asian fronts. All this gave rise to a special relationship with the emperor in the military. General PN Krasnov recalled the review that Nicholas II did to the Cossack units: “The trumpeters played the regimental march ... The Sovereign took the Heir in his arms and slowly went along the Cossack front ... I followed the Sovereign and looked into the eyes of the Cossacks, watching that my “standard” trained 100 had no wavering of checkers. Our silver standard with a black double-headed eagle bent down, and involuntary tears flowed down the face of the bearded Old Believer, the handsome Wahmmaster. And as the Sovereign walked along with the Heir along the front, the Cossacks cried and the swords in sore callused hands swayed and I could not and did not want to stop this swing. ”
Nicholas II sincerely loved his warriors. “We looked at eight hundred soldiers of the 1 Army Corps who returned from the war to be the teachers of the young soldiers of their regiments,” he wrote to his mother in 1906. “I gave George crosses to all the wounded who remained in the ranks. Such was the joy of seeing these glorious people who served with such selflessness in a terrible and difficult war. ”
The 1914 war turned out to be not only much harder than the war with Japan, but also more difficult in the socio-political situation in the country itself. Russia faced a situation where, during a war with an external enemy inside the state, revolutionary and pseudo-revolutionary forces purposefully destroyed the state structure of the country and its armed forces, which, in fact, was the support of the enemy side ...
There were three forces that, hating each other, were in fact united against the emperor in an anti-state alliance, disastrous for the future of Russia and its peoples.
The first force, cynically honest in their goals, was the Bolshevik party with its revolutionary allies, openly embarking on the destruction of everything that prevented it from seizing power in the country.
The second is the court environment of the emperor, which inflated all sorts of intrigues and, speculating on the weaknesses of the royal family, pursued its own, often petty and mercantile goals. In fact, it was the closest, kindred environment of Nicholas II, and the more painful were his blows ...
But all these forces at the first stage of the overthrow of the Russian monarchy were inferior to the liberal pseudo-revolutionary public, which penetrated all the legislative and executive structures of the state. She had everything: money, influence on public opinion through the media and ... support of the army leaders, ambitiously dreaming of their careers under the new government. This force was not going to stop the war, moreover, she even naively, but sincerely believed that the overthrow of the monarchy would lead Russia under her leadership to strengthen the country and the victory of the Russian troops together with the allies.
Both the court circles and the liberal politicians did not yet understand then whom they were clearing the way for ... So PF Nikolaev, a member of the Ishutinsky revolutionary terrorist group, wrote: “after a number of revolutionary acts, and purely terrorist acts, the power will inevitably be lost, and the reins of power will fall into the street dirt and blood, from where only the same centralized party can raise them” .
Many memoirs of his contemporaries and a lot of research of historians of our time have been written about Tsar Nicholas II of the First World War period. All of them vary greatly in their conclusions and estimates.
Therefore, it is best to consider the dry facts testifying to the military actions of the Russian troops, respectively, before and after the entry of Emperor Nicholas II into the post of Supreme Commander and right up to his overthrow from the throne. To these facts we considered it expedient to add small excerpts from the works of his contemporary, an outstanding military historian and theorist, General from Infantry (infantry) Andrei Medardovich Zayonchkovsky.
Chronicle of the main military operations of the Russian army from 2 in May 1915 to 11 in January 1917.
2 May - 15 May 1915 g. - Gorlitsky breakthrough. German troops break through the defense of Russian troops in Galicia.
June 22 - Austro-German troops occupy Lviv.
5 August - German troops enter Warsaw.
26 August - left Brest-Litovsk.
September 2 - German troops enter Grodno.
September 8 - October 2 - Sventsian breakthrough. German troops occupy Vilnius.
From 2 May to 8 September 1915, the Austro-German troops occupy Galicia, Lithuania, Poland and continue the offensive.
September 8 1915 - Emperor Nicholas II assumes the duties of the Supreme Commander of the Russian Army, replacing Grand Duke Nikolai Nikolayevich in this post.
October 2 1915 - in the area of the Sventsian breakthrough, Russian troops stop the enemy’s advance and stabilize the front.
30 October-16 December - Hamadan operation. The corps of the general from the cavalry N.N. Baratova occupies northern Persia and takes Iran under the control of the Entente.
13 February-16 February 1916 - Russian troops, defeating the Turkish army 3, take the fortress of Erzurum.
In Russia, in the town of Rybinsk, Alexander Bode, a teacher of Russian literature, wrote the song “Holy War” with the words:
"Arise, great country,
Get up on a mortal battle
With dark German power,
With the Teutonic horde.
18-30 March - The Naroch operation in Belarus. After the start of the successful German offensive near Verdun, the commander-in-chief of the French army, General Joffre, appealed to the Russian command to inflict a distracting blow on the Germans. The Russian emperor, fulfilling his allied duty, decided to launch an offensive operation on the Western Front in March, prior to the commencement of the general offensive of the Entente's armies, scheduled for May 1916. The Russian offensive was repelled by the Germans, but stopped their attacks near Verdun for two weeks, which allowed France to pull in additional forces.
18 April - The Turkish Black Sea port of Trebizond taken by Russian troops.
June 3 - The Brusilovsky Breakthrough begins (front-line offensive operation of the South-Western Front under the command of General A. Brusilov).
July 2 - Erzincan battle. Turkish troops who tried to recapture their lost territories were defeated and retreated deep into Turkey.
22 August - Brusilovsky breakthrough ends with the complete success of the Russian troops. A severe defeat was inflicted on the armies of Austria-Hungary and Germany and Bukovina and Eastern Galicia were occupied. Assistance to the Allies at Verdun was again rendered, and the Romanian army was neutralized.
5 January-11 January 1917 - the beginning of the actions of anti-war and anti-monarchist forces in the Russian army. The Mitava operation is an offensive by the Russian troops to protect the strategically important port of Riga from the Germans, as a result of which the front line was distant. The results of political agitation prevented the success of the further offensive of the Russian forces - the refusal to continue the military operations by the revolutionary-minded regiments.
A.M. Zayonchkovsky: “In general, 1916 was the year of the breakthrough, which undermined the military power of the Central Powers and, conversely, brought the Entente forces to a culminating development. It was the year that determined the victory of the Entente in the future ... ".
And the main role in the future victory was played by the selfless and successful actions of the Russian army in 1916.
February-March 1917 - The February Revolution in Russia and the forced abdication of Emperor Nicholas II. Power passes to the Provisional Government and the Council of Workers 'and Soldiers' Deputies, headed by the revolutionary parties. The royal family is taken into custody. Massacres are carried out by revolutionary soldiers, sailors and civilians of officers, generals, admirals of the Russian army. Police and gendarme structures of the state are defeated. From prisons, except for political prisoners, convicted under criminal clauses (“Kerensky chicks”), who are beginning to terrorize the civilian population, are massively released. In the army, all power is transferred to the soldiers' committees, which leads to the complete disintegration of the army and navy of Russia. A.M. Zayonchkovsky: “October 25 (November 7) 1917. The Provisional Government was dropped, the government passed into the hands of the proletariat ... The Germans recently had 80 divisions on the Russian front, i.e. their armed forces 1 / 3, some of which began to be transferred to the French theater from the end of October ... ”
Order holder of sv. George and the French Order of the Legion of Honor, Lieutenant-General Nikolai Alexandrovich Lokhvitsky wrote about this time: “... It took Peter the Great nine years to turn the Narva defeated into the Poltava winners. The last Supreme Commander-in-Chief of the Imperial Army, Emperor Nicholas II, did the same great work in a year and a half. But his work was appreciated both by the enemies, and between the Sovereign and His Army and the victory was the revolution "...
You can certainly not trust the words of a militant Russian general who defended Russia and France from the common enemy in the First World War, considering his opinion to be subjective due to loyalty to his emperor. Therefore, it would be appropriate to cite the words of an ally of Russia in this war, but its uncompromising adversary, the Minister of Arms of Great Britain in 1917, an eminent statesman and military leader Winston Churchill. In his book on the war 1914-1918. he, a career English officer, who went through the Cuban, Indian and Anglo-Boer wars, in particular, wrote (fully in the Appendix): “Fate was not so cruel to any country as to Russia ... In March, the Tsar was on the throne; The Russian Empire and the Russian army held out, the front was secured and victory was indisputable ... Here are the battlefields of Nicholas II. Why not pay him the honor? The selfless impulse of the Russian armies, who saved Paris in 1914; overcoming painful without a retreat; slow recovery; Brusilov victories; Russia's entry into the 1917 campaign is invincible, stronger than ever; Wasn’t it all his share? .. The king is leaving the stage. He and all his lovers are betrayed for suffering and death. His efforts diminish; his actions condemn; his memory is tarnished ...
Stop and say: who else was suitable? In talented and courageous people; people of ambitious and proud spirit; brave and powerful - there was no shortage. But no one was able to answer those few simple questions on which the life and glory of Russia depended.
Holding the victory already in her hands, she fell to the ground, alive, as ancient as Herod, devoured by worms ”.
On the night of 16 on 17 in July 1918, the former emperor and the last Supreme Commander of the Russian Army, Nikolai II, was shot in Yekaterinburg with his family by order of the executive committee of the Urals Regional Council of Workers', Peasants' and Soldiers' Deputies.
Colonel of the Russian Army Nikolai Alexandrovich Romanov honestly performed what he had written in Livadia, in his military service record book, until his last hour of death he wore the shoulder-straps of a Russian officer canceled by revolutionary power and the Order of St. George the Victorious, IV degree, which he received for his services in the First World War war ...
[Winston Churchil. The world crisis. 1916-1918. Vol. I. London, 1927. From 223-225.]:
“Fate was not as cruel to any country as it was to Russia. Her ship went to the bottom when the harbor was in sight. She had already endured a storm when everything collapsed. All sacrifices have already been made, all work has been completed. Despair and betrayal seized power when the task was already completed. The long retreats are over; shell hunger defeated; weapons flowed in a wide stream; a stronger, more numerous, better equipped army guarded a huge front; Logistics centers were crowded with people. Alekseev led the army and Kolchak - the fleet. In addition, no more difficult actions were required: to remain in office; heavy pressure to put pressure on widely stretched German lines; to hold, without showing any special activity, the weakening forces of the enemy on their front; in other words, hold on; This is all that stood between Russia and the fruits of the common victory.
... In March, the King was on the throne; The Russian Empire and the Russian army held out, the front was secured and victory was indisputable ...
According to the superficial fashion of our time, the royal order is usually interpreted as blind, rotten, and incapable of tyranny. But the analysis of thirty months of war with Germany and Austria should correct these lightweight ideas. We can measure the strength of the Russian Empire by the blows that it sustained, by the disasters it endured, by the inexhaustible forces it developed, and by the recovery it was capable of ...
In governing states, when great events are happening, the leader of the nation, whoever he is, is condemned for failures and praised for success. The point is not who did the work, who wrote the plan of the struggle: reprimand or praise for the outcome predominate on those with the authority of supreme responsibility. Why refuse to Nicholas II in this severe test? .. The burden of the last decisions lay on him. At the top, where events transcend the mind of a person, where everything is inscrutable, he had to give answers. Compass needle was he. To fight or not to fight? To advance or retreat? Go right or left? Agree to democratization or hold fast? Leave or resist? Here are the battlefields of Nicholas II. Why not pay him the honor? The selfless impulse of the Russian armies, who saved Paris in 1914; overcoming painful without a retreat; slow recovery; Brusilov victories; Russia's entry into the 1917 campaign is invincible, stronger than ever; didn’t he share in all this? Despite the mistakes big and terrible, the system that was embodied in him, which he led, to which with his personal qualities he gave a vital spark - by this moment won the war for Russia ...
Here it is now slain. The dark hand interferes, at first clothed with madness. The king leaves the stage. He and all his lovers are betrayed for suffering and death. His efforts diminish; his actions condemn; His memory is tainted ... Stop and tell me: who else was useful? In talented and courageous people; people of ambitious and proud spirit; brave and powerful - there was no shortage. But no one was able to answer those few simple questions on which the life and glory of Russia depended. Holding the victory already in her hands, she fell to the ground, alive, as ancient as Herod, devoured by worms ”.