"Achieving this goal hardly requires war with Germany ..."
Opponents of the Entente in Russia on the Eve of the First World War
On the eve of the First World War, anti-German sentiments, as they would say now, were the leading trend of Russian society — criticizing Germany’s foreign policy and the dominance of German goods was considered one of the rules of good taste. However, this does not mean at all that other, alternative points of view, proving the death and uselessness of a military clash with the Germans, did not sound.
They were expressed by representatives of various political and social groups - radical social democrats, some highly respected officers of the General Staff and officials, including the former Minister of the Interior Durnovo, and even fighters against “masons and Jews”. Such a motley choir, however, could not exert any noticeable influence on Russian society and the policy of the Russian empire and prevent a slide to catastrophe.
Geopolitics against the Entente
Among the Russian opponents of the Entente, who tried to express their opinions on the eve of the First World War, historians first of all distinguish a group that can be called “geopolitics” - publicists and analysts who are in no way interconnected, but at the same time study and criticize Russian foreign policy.
For example, during the formation of the Anglo-French-Russian alliance against Germany - the Entente (from the French word entente - consent) - some contemporaries believed that Russia did not want to join any of the military blocs and it was more profitable to remain a great neutral power. Thus, the well-known military geographer Andrei Snesarev, then head of the Central Asian department of the General Staff of the Russian Empire, still in 1907, in a specially published brochure, he expressed a negative attitude towards the Anglo-Russian agreement concluded at that time, alienating Russia from Germany, noting its “insincerity”.
Before the First World War, another Russian military and historian, Lieutenant-General Yevgeny Martynov, criticized the current Russian policy in the Balkans, the very policy that would soon become the pretext for world war: “For Catherine, mastering the straits was the goal, and patronizing the Balkan Slavs was a means. To the benefit of national interests, Catherine exploited the sympathies of Christians, and later the policy of sacrificing the blood and money of the Russian people in order to make it more comfortable for the Greeks, Bulgarians, Serbs and others who were supposedly loyal to us and the common religionists. ”
By the way, in 1913, General Martynov was fired with a scandal for criticism in the press of the existing order in the army and current state policy. At the beginning of World War I, he was captured, and upon returning to his homeland, like the above-mentioned Snesarev, he joined the Red Army (both “geopolitics” will not survive 1937 a year).
Another officer of the General Staff of the Russian Empire and military intelligence officer Lieutenant Colonel Alexei Yedrikhin, speaking under the pseudonym Vandam, wrote two voluminous geopolitical writings on the eve of World War I, in which he reflected his alternative foreign policy vision for Russia (“Our position”, St. Petersburg, 1912 G., "The Greatest Art. Review of the current international situation in the light of the highest strategy", St. Petersburg, 1913)
Like most other Russian "geopolitics", the edge of his analysis was directed not against the "German empires", but against British colonial policy. On the eve of the First World War, Lieutenant Colonel Yedrikhin wrote: “It seems to me that it is time for the white peoples who were choking in their concentration camp to understand that the only reasonable balance of power in Europe would be a coalition of land powers against the refined, but more dangerous, than Napoleonic, the despotism of England, and that our desire for “warm water” cruelly ridiculed by the British and now ridiculed by the Germans' desire to have “their place in the sun” do not contain anything unnatural. In any case, appropriating the exclusive right to enjoy all the benefits of the world, the British should and protect it alone with their own forces. ”
Edrikhin more than once repeats the “geopolitical” admonition he likes: “It’s not good to have an Anglo-Saxon enemy, but God forbid to have him as a friend!” However, Vandam-Edrikhin didn’t do without conspiracy and Anglo-American Jewish massassonians: factories, factories, workshops and temples of science, where Karl Marx, long ago ridiculed by the West, is installed on the altars of Russian thought ”.
This is generally a common feature of “geopolitics”, in whom a sober analysis of certain issues often coexists with conspiracy infantilism in understanding other, primarily social, issues.
Lenin and the Black Hundreds - for peace
The fight against "world freemasonry" reflects well the marginality of people who, on the eve of world war, tried to defend before Russian society views alternative to conventional Germanophobia and panslavism. And here the most vivid example will be the activity of such a colorful personality as Svyatoslav Glinka-Yanchevetsky, editor of the far-right, Black-Hundred newspaper Zemshchina.
In October, Gnink's 1912, in a number of his articles on events in the Balkans, where internecine wars of the Slavic states were then going on, considered it necessary “to bow to earth Sazonov, that he did exactly the will of the tsar and did not take into account the stupidity of our chauvinists.” Glinka thanked Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Sazonov for not drawing the country into a military conflict with Austria and Germany in the Balkans as early as 1911.
German diplomacy, who "managed to keep its Viennese allies from armed intervention and rendered an invaluable service to Russia", also received grateful words from the intelligent Black Hundreds, while the policy of "rotten" France and "traitorous" England in the Middle East received the most unflattering epithets from Glinka, who considered the "union of autocratic Russia with Masonic powers" an unnatural phenomenon.
Svyatoslav Glinka was an ardent anti-Semite and a close associate of the leader of the Black Hundreds Vladimir Purishkevich. Purishkevich himself described Glinka in this way: “His main attention was directed to the struggle against the dominance of the Jews and to the unmasking of Freemasonry, which set itself the goal of destroying altars and thrones.”
At the same time, Glinka was a talented person with a very outstanding biography. A Polish nobleman by birth, in his youth he served three years in the Peter and Paul Fortress on suspicion of revolutionary activity. There he wrote an article about the meaning of the rifled weapons for the location of fortresses, for which, at the suggestion of the head of the engineering department of the Russian Empire, General Totleben, prisoner Glinka-Yanchevsky, was awarded a prize right in prison. Later, Glinka was successfully engaged in business in the Russian Central Asian colonies, and his theoretical work on fortification enjoyed great respect.
Since the beginning of the Russian-Japanese war, Glinka submitted a note to Interior Minister Plehve, in which he advised, using public sentiment, to convene a Zemsky Sobor (during the pre-parliamentary era, references to Zemsky Sobor of the 16th-17th centuries were the last Russian memory of people's representation in power). The necessity of convening such a "protoparliament" in the form of the Zemsky Sobor Council was argued by Glinka that after the inevitable defeat of Russia in the war with the Japanese, a revolution would lift its head, which would not fail to take advantage of the oppressed state of the people. Minister Plehve did not heed these prophetic advice and, as is well known, finished badly.
After 1905, during the period of revolutionary terror, Glinka publicly and persistently urged the government in response to the terrorist attacks of revolutionaries to introduce the institution of hostage-taking: “If for each killed dignitary a certain number of intelligent Jews are chosen by lot, that is, at the direction of God’s Finger, the property of Kagala will be shot in a certain amount will be confiscated, - the terror itself will cease ".
Since 1909, Glinka edits the Black Hundred newspaper Zemshchina and is one of the leaders of the odious Union of Michael the Archangel. Glinka-Yanchevsky was the author of the idea expressed at the beginning of the world war in the pages of Zemshchina that “not Germany started a war, but the Jews who chose Germany as an instrument of their plans”, allegedly they needed to set off two powers, where the monarchical principle is strongest, to weaken them both in a fierce mutual struggle.
Glinka was a staunch opponent of rapprochement with Great Britain, fearing not only its economic influence, but also pressure in favor of granting equal rights to Jews.
On the pages of Zemshchina he spoke on the Polish issue. Glinka-Janchevsky was not against the re-establishment of the Polish Kingdom, but without war. In his opinion, Poland for Russia is “only a burden. It sucks hundreds of millions of Russian money annually, and has caused enormous expenses with its insurrections. The Polish intelligentsia made its way into all the institutions and influenced the corrupting Russian intelligentsia. ”
Needless to say, Glinka and his ilk, although they had a certain number of supporters in society, remained marginalized. Their foreign policy ideals peppered by frantic anti-Semitism could not be accepted by Russian society, which at that time massively shared liberal views of varying degrees of depth.
It is noteworthy that among the people who clearly understood all the destruction of the war with Germany for monarchical Russia, along with the Black Hundreds was Vladimir Lenin, the leader of the radical Social Democrats. At the height of the second Balkan war, he wrote in Pravda on 23 in May 1913: “The German Chancellor scares the Slavic danger. If you please, the Balkan victories reinforced the "Slavs", which is hostile to the whole "German world". Pan-Slavism, the idea of uniting all Slavs against the Germans — that’s the danger, the chancellor assures and refers to the noisy manifestations of the Pan-Slavs in Petersburg. Beautiful argument! The manufacturers of guns, armor, cannons, gunpowder, and other "cultural" needs want to enrich themselves both in Germany and in Russia, and in order to fool the public, they refer to each other. The Germans are frightened by the Russian chauvinists, the Russians by the Germans ... ”
Lenin was well aware of how much the war in general, and even more so, the war with Germany, the Russian Empire is not needed. And so Lenin ended his thought about the Russian and German chauvinists as follows: "Both those and others play a pitiful role in the hands of the capitalists, who are well aware that it is funny to think about the Russian war against Germany." But personally, Lenin himself, as a radical politician, looked at this question differently from the pages of propaganda newspapers - according to Trotsky’s testimony, he wrote to Maxim Gorky in 1913: “Austria’s war with Russia would be very useful for a revolution, but it’s not very likely that Joseph and Nikolasha brought us this pleasure. ”
It remains to add that in this question Lenin overestimated the mental faculties of both the monarchs and the bourgeoisie.
Bad predictions Durnovo
A brief sketch of marginal points of view on Russian-German relations at the beginning of the twentieth century, different from the popular and dominant anti-Germanism in Russian society, can be completed with the so-called Durnovo Note, a fairly well-known and illustrative document.
Peter Durnovo was the Minister of the Interior of the Russian Empire at the height of the 1905 revolution of the year. In the successful suppression of this revolution for the monarchy, a considerable amount of merit belongs precisely to its determination and cruelty. In 1906, Durnovo became a member of the reformed State Council of the Russian Empire, where, until his death in 1915, he was the informal leader of the “rightists”.
In February, 1914, Peter Durnovo presented to Nicholas II a voluminous, as they would say, analytical note in which he warned the last Russian emperor of drawing Russia into a major European war. “Note Durnovo” really differs deep analysis and confirmed by the time come true predictions, very sad for the Russian monarchy.
Half a year before the start of the First World War, Durnovo gives an analysis of the near world conflict: “The central factor in the period of stories is the rivalry of England and Germany. This rivalry will inevitably lead to an armed struggle between them, the outcome of which is likely to be fatal for the vanquished side ... Undoubtedly, therefore, that England will try to resort more than once with the success of her tried means and decide on an armed demonstration participation in the war on its side strategically stronger powers. And since Germany, in turn, will certainly not be isolated, the future Anglo-German war will turn into an armed clash between two groups of powers that adhere to one Germanic and the other British orientation. ”
Further, Durnovo critically assesses the Russian-English rapprochement: "It is difficult to grasp any real benefits we have gained from rapprochement with England."
Durnovo also reveals that Russia does not have insurmountable contradictions with Germany in Turkey and the Balkans: “The obvious goal pursued by our diplomacy in rapprochement with England is the opening of the Black Sea straits, but it seems that the achievement of this goal hardly requires war with Germany. After all, England, and not Germany at all, closed our way out of the Black Sea ... And there is every reason to expect that the Germans are easier than the British, would go to provide us with straits, in whose fate they have little interest, and at the cost of which our union would willingly buy ... As you know, even Bismarck owned a catch phrase that for Germany the Balkan question is not worth the bones of one Pomeranian grenadier ... "
Durnovo correctly predicts the level of tension of the future war: “The war will not take the enemy by surprise and the degree of its readiness will probably exceed our most exaggerated expectations. It should not be thought that this readiness would stem from the desire of Germany itself for war. She does not need war, since she could have achieved her goal without it - the termination of Britain’s sole dominion over the seas. But since this goal, vital for it, meets with opposition from the coalition, then Germany will not retreat before the war and, of course, will even try to cause it by choosing the most advantageous moment for itself. ”
“The vital interests of Russia and Germany are nowhere to be confronted and provide a complete basis for the peaceful coexistence of these two states,” Durnovo quite rightly asserts. “The future of Germany on the seas, that is, where Russia, essentially the most continental of all the great powers, has no interests.” At the same time, according to Durnovo, “all these factors are hardly taken into due consideration by our diplomacy, whose behavior towards Germany is, to a certain extent, even some aggressiveness that could unduly approximate the moment of an armed conflict with Germany - with our English orientation, in essence the inevitable ... "
Durnovo reasonably doubted the benefits of the war with Germany, even in case of dubious success for Russia: “We do not feel an excess of the population, which requires expansion of the territory, but even from the point of view of new conquests, what can victory give us over Germany? Poznan, East Prussia? But why do we need these areas densely populated by Poles, when we are not so easily controlled with Russian Poles ... Indeed, both territorial and economic acquisitions that are useful for us are available only where our aspirations can be hindered by England, and not by Germany . Persia, the Pamirs, Gulja, Kashgaria, Dzungaria, Mongolia, the Uryanhai Territory are all areas where the interests of Russia and Germany do not collide, and the interests of Russia and England have repeatedly collided ... "
In fact, Durnovo directly suggests Russia to expand its policy from a divided and densely populated Europe to the East, where the Russian Empire has much more military, political and economic chances for a successful expansion. He also unusually correctly and succinctly assessed the economic relations between Russia and Germany six months before the war: “There is no doubt, of course, that the current Russian-German trade agreements are unprofitable for our agriculture and beneficial for Germany, but it is hardly correct to attribute this circumstance to cunning and the unfriendliness of Germany. One should not lose sight of the fact that these contracts, in many of their parts, are beneficial for us ... By virtue of the foregoing, concluding a trade agreement with Germany that is quite acceptable for Russia does not seem to require prior
defeat Germany. I will say more, the defeat of Germany in our bargaining with her would be unprofitable for us ... "
The author of the document mentions the German capital: “... as long as we need them, German capital is more profitable for us than any other.” Further, Durnovo gives a completely accurate economic forecast, which will be confirmed by the very near future: “In any case, if we even recognize the need to eradicate German dominance in our economic life, at least at the price of perfect expulsion of German capital from Russian industry, then appropriate measures can be taken and besides the war with Germany. This war will require such huge expenses, which will many times exceed the more than dubious benefits received by us as a result of getting rid of German domination. Moreover, the consequence of this war will be such an economic situation, before which the oppression of German capital will seem easy ... "
Given the tremendous growth of Russia's foreign debt during the First World War, and remembering that Russia paid its debts to the Paris Club of creditors on loans of that period at the beginning of the 21st century, the words of Durnovo seem quite prophetic.
But, in contrast to the pan-Slavist hype of the liberal-bourgeois newspapers and the vigorous forecasts of the near militarists, the analysis of Durnovo did not have the slightest influence on Russian society and its fate. The official historian of Nicholas II, Professor Oldenburg, later in exile, wrote: “There is no information about how the Sovereign treated this note. Perhaps she was late. "
- Alexey Volynets
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