In the article "Defenders of Port Arthur saved the Far East" we talked about the tremendous resilience of the Russian garrison. And now it's time to consider the circumstances of the surrender of the city. It is believed that the heroically fighting soldiers and officers were betrayed by their own commander, Anatoly Stessel, for whom bold characteristics were entrenched: "coward", "mediocrity", "traitor". Stoessel is still blamed for every conceivable and inconceivable sins, and from endless repetition these attacks turned into self-evident truth. But what if in this case we are dealing with the well-known principle that a lie repeated a thousand times becomes true?
The court in the case of Port Arthur sentenced Stessel to be shot, and this circumstance is usually considered sufficient evidence of the general’s treachery, mediocrity and cowardice. The fact that the courts are wrong, everyone knows. Everyone has heard such a thing as “ordered court decision”, so why not question the actions of judges of the beginning of the 20th century? Especially since there are lots of reasons for this.
Let's start with the fact that Stoessel is a participant in the Russian-Turkish war, then he fought in China during the “Boxing Uprising”, and had awards. Neither in cowardice, nor in mediocrity is not noticed. In Port Arthur was wounded in the head, but did not surrender the command. Moreover, when the Japanese gradually began to lay on the city, he received a written order from Kuropatkin to leave Port Arthur. Stoessel refused and asked Kuropatkin to allow him to continue to lead the defense. You will laugh, but then it is this fact and put Stossel in the blame. They said that he did not obey the order and "spontaneously" remained in the fortress. Here, a phrase from the film “About the Poor Hussar Say a Word” immediately comes to mind: “I still understand when an impostor is on the throne. But the impostor on the block? "
This phantasmagoria does not end there. Anyone who reads the verdict of the Supreme Military Criminal Court in the case of the surrender of the fortress of Port Arthur will be surprised by the wording. At first, Stessel is sentenced to death. Then the same court in the same document appeals to the king with a petition to commute the sentence to 10 years of imprisonment. And he motivates his request by saying that the fortress "stood under the leadership of Lieutenant General Stoessel, unprecedented in perseverance in the annals of military stories defense ", as well as the fact that" throughout the entire siege, Lieutenant General Stoessel supported the heroic spirit of the defenders of the fortress. "
What do we see? "Traitor" directs the defense, so much so that it impresses with its perseverance. "Coward" successfully supports the heroic spirit of the defenders! Agree, something is wrong here.
Go ahead. It is known that Stoessel was pardoned by Nicholas II. This fact, by the way, is used as a “proof” of the king’s inadequacy. Roughly speaking, Stoessel is a traitor, and Nikolai is a fool and a weakling who has pardoned the traitor. But here is a telegram of a participant in the defense of Port Arthur to Stoessel: “I heartily congratulate you on the release of your beloved military commander”. And here is what another arturean, commander of the Strongman Balk, writes: “Remembering the fighting time, I congratulate you heartily with the grace of the emperor.”
I gave only two testimonies, but they are much more. As we see, in those years, not everyone considered Stoessel a traitor. Now go directly to the court decision. The commission of inquiry, which dealt with the port-arthur case, found signs of a whole heap of crimes in Steessel’s actions, and the prosecution consisted of many points. However, at the trial, it almost completely collapsed, cringing to three theses:
1) surrendered the fortress to the Japanese troops, without using all means for further defense;
2) power failure;
3) unimportant violation of official duties.
By “inaction of power” was meant the following. In Port Arthur, Lieutenant General Fock, in a mocking tone, criticized the actions of those who were not subordinate to him, and Stoessel did not stop it. For this “inaction of the authorities”, Stossel was then given a month of a guardhouse. The third point is called an unimportant court, so we will not even consider it. Only one point remains, and look carefully at the wording: there is nothing about cowardice, lack of talent, incompetence or betrayal.
At the same time, it is believed that Stoessel made the decision to surrender contrary to the opinion of other officers, and there is still a belief in society that the fortress could hold on for a long time. One such offense is really enough to deserve the death penalty. Here with it we will understand now.
Shortly before the fall of the fortress, a military council was held, at which the current situation was discussed. What the officers said was recorded in the meeting log, and this document was made public a long time ago.
Anyone can be sure that very strange things were happening on the council. One of the other officers described in detail the desperate situation of the fortress, explained for a long time why it was impossible to keep, but nevertheless called for the defense to continue.
Here are the most typical examples:
Lieutenant Colonel Dmitrevsky: "You can still defend, but for how long, it is not known, but it depends on the Japanese ... We have almost no means to repulse the assault."
Major General Gorbatovsky: "We are very weak, there are no reserves, but it is necessary to keep and, moreover, on the front line ..."
I assure you, most of the meeting participants argued in the same way. However, in fact, this is not surprising. Nobody just wants to be known as a coward, nobody wants to get into a situation where a finger is pointed at him as the person who offered to give up. To some extent, subordinates set up their commander, who perfectly saw that there was nothing to defend, and responsibility for an unpopular decision would lie only on him.
Meanwhile, the absolute majority of the lower ranks of the defenders of Port Arthur at the end of the siege hurt scurvy. On this account there is data in the investigation materials. The testimony of Major General Irman about the fact that a day before the fall of the fortress on the Western front there were no shells for large-caliber guns was given there. Few things were better on the Eastern Front, where, according to Lieutenant General Nikitin, on average there were 10-12 shells for field guns, that is, for a few minutes of shooting. Moreover, by this time the Japanese had captured almost all serious Russian fortifications.
In addition, in the hands of the Japanese, there was already an important height — the High Mountain, during which fierce battles took place for a long time. Having captured and equipped an observation post on it, the Japanese were able to correct the fire of their artillery and began to sink the ships of the Russian squadron, which was in Port Arthur. Total defenders of the fortress remained about 10-12 thousands of people, and the hospitals were filled with sick and wounded. By the way, Stoessel later stated that the Japanese in August 1904 of the year, through their envoys, said that if the fortress was taken from the battle, the Japanese commanders could not guarantee that they would be able to keep their soldiers from committing atrocities, therefore they do not rule out mass slaughter in the city.
Having assessed the situation, Stoessel realized that soon the Japanese would realize that the Russians no longer have any opportunities for resistance, and under these conditions any decision that the winner will dictate must be made. Stoessel, without wasting time on formalities, to collect another military council, played a proactive role, sending the Japanese a proposal to begin negotiations on surrender and thereby achieving relatively honorable conditions for surrender.
But if Stoessel is not guilty, then questions arise: who and how blinded the shameful lie about him, who slandered him, and why was the court decision so unfair? If we talk about the preparation of public opinion, then Yevgeny Nozhin, the author of The Truth about Port Arthur, played an important role. From there, the public learned about the “whole truth” about Stoessel.
Nozhin is a very interesting person, so to speak, a textbook advocate of “freedom of speech”. He was a war correspondent in Port Arthur, made reports from the scene. And all would be fine if it were not for one detail: his notes contained important military information that fell into the hands of the Japanese.
Nozhin wrote about how effective the fire of the Japanese on our fortifications, noted by what forces the Russian ships are going to raid, at what time they return. He told who was in command of various defense sectors, described the tactics of the battle for the defenders of Port Arthur ... The question is, who needs such information? Russian soldiers and officers, and so without any Nozhin know how they fight. And the Japanese, who had access to the press and read the newspaper, would have helped.
I think that during the Great Patriotic War for similar essays from besieged Odessa, Sevastopol or besieged Leningrad, a figure like Nozhin would have been detained as a German spy and executed in two accounts. And the point here is not in the notorious “bloodthirstiness of the Stalinist regime”, but in the observance of the most elementary rules of information security.
So, Stoessel decided to stop the violent activities of this journalist, ordering him to be arrested. Oddly enough, the task was very difficult. Nozhin suddenly miraculously disappeared from the besieged city. It was possible to break out only by sea, and at the insistence of Stoessel, an order was issued not to take Nozhin on ships, so that the clever journalist was able to clean the tricks of David Copperfield.
However, miracles do not happen: it was just Nozhin who turned out to be powerful patrons — Rear Admirals Ivan Konstantinovich Grigorovich and Mikhail Fedorovich Loschinsky. They organized Nozhin's escape from the city, using a warship for this purpose! At first, the journalist was secretly transferred to the “Brave” cannon (this “honorable” mission was entrusted to the naval officer Boris Petrovich Dudorov), and then the Rasternop torpedo boat was taken to the Chinese town of Chefu. The destroyer then also blew up. All this leads to thoughts of betrayal. Yes, we have to bitterly admit that there were still traitors in Port Arthur, but not Stoessel, but other people.
Let's take a close look at how the fate of those who organized Nozhin's flight was formed. I propose to test February and October. The essence of the method is as follows. Revolutionaries tend to, after their victory, carry out a personnel purge and arrange their people in important posts. It is at such historical moments that it turns out who is worth something, who is the defender of legitimate authority, and who is its enemy.
Loschinsky died in the 1908 year, so the “test of revolutionism” is not applicable to him. But Dudorov's career after the February revolution sharply went up. He became the First Assistant Minister of the Navy and Rear Admiral.
With Grigorovich, the situation is more interesting. This is generally an interesting person, with a very wide field of activity. He was at the military-diplomatic work in the UK. He was the chief of staff of the Black Sea fleet in the turbulent days of the first revolution. In the years 1911-1917 - Minister of the Sea.
It is easy to see that the years preceding February are the period when it was Grigorovich who was at the head of the naval forces of the Russian Empire, and immediately after February was dismissed. That is, he is still a supporter of the legitimate state power? Let's not hurry: there is still a test for October, and for everyone who studied at school in the USSR, the words “October” and “sailors”, “fleet” are inseparable. Let me remind you that right after February, the “sailor” committee “Tsentrobalt” headed by the Bolshevik Pavel Efimovich Dybenko became the real power on the Baltic Fleet. It is clear that such a powerful organization does not appear overnight. It is obvious that preparatory revolutionary work is being carried out long before the formal “X hour”. So, Grigorovich was obliged to do everything to fight the revolution. A simple observance of his official duties would automatically turn him into the worst enemy of the revolutionaries.
And so the Bolsheviks came to power. And what did they do with Grigorovich? What is the red terror, we know. We also know very well the fate of the generation of Grigorovich, people of his level. Such as he, for the most part, constituted the White movement or, at the earliest opportunity, fled Soviet Russia, and very many of those who did not escape were put to the wall and put in jail.
In the case of Grigorovich, we see a completely different picture. Yes, under the Bolsheviks, he, of course, did not occupy any noticeable posts, but he, the tsarist minister of the sea (!), Was not shot or imprisoned. And this is at a time when, for far smaller offenses, they were set against the wall! Under Soviet rule, Grigorovich worked at the Petrograd branch of the Main Directorate of the Unified State Archival Fund, was an employee of the Maritime Historical Commission, then briefly in the State of the Marine Archive. In 1920, Grigorovich was allowed to emigrate. After moving to France, he calmly lived out his life and died in the 1930 year at the age of 77. It does not seem that Grigorovich and the Bolsheviks were the worst enemies ... There is something to think about, is not it?
Treason in the Russian Empire started a long time ago, in 1917, it only came out. The facts presented in the article suggest that Stoessel was the victim of the intrigues of those people who already at that time took the course of undermining state power in Russia. Stessel was sentenced to death in order to remove the real traitors from the blow.
By the way, do you know who judged Ctessel? Among the judges was Nikolai Vladimirovich Ruzsky, that is, the person who was later one of the main participants in the overthrow of Nicholas II. By the way, he, along with Guchkov and Shulgin, was present at the "denial" of the king. Do you know who the prosecution represented at the trial? Alexander Mikhailovich Gursky, who was later appointed by the Provisional Government to be the chairman of the Main Military Court.
I think that further comments are unnecessary.