“We studied using Soviet textbooks, where emphasis was placed on the imperialist character of the First World War, which became the forerunner of the two revolutions of 1917 of the year. Everything is so, however, this does not cancel the feats accomplished by Russian soldiers, ”says State Duma Deputy Anatoly Lisitsyn.
The whole world celebrates November 11 historical event: on this day in 1918 the Compiegne truce was signed, which signified the surrender of Kaiser Germany and put an end to the First World War. It lasted four years and three months, almost ten million people died in its fire, one in five of them was Russian. This day is celebrated in the countries of the former Entente: in the USA - Veterans Day, in the states of the British Commonwealth, including Britain itself, Australia and Canada - Memorial Day, in Belgium and France - Armistice Day. Only in Russia there is no date associated with the First World War. But this is also our victory! At least this is convinced by the ex-governor of the Yaroslavl region, and now the State Duma deputy Anatoly Lisitsyn, who has become the author of the initiative to amend the Federal Law "On the days of military glory and memorable dates of Russia." Lisitsyn proposes to include in the official calendar August 1 - the day the First World War began.
- Why did you suddenly turn to this topic, Anatoly Ivanovich?
- Not suddenly. My grandfather, Andrei Sidorovich Gromov, fought on the fronts of the First World War. A peasant, he became an officer, brought home three crosses of St. George. In the hungry twenties, the golden order was exchanged for bread, and two silver ones are stored with me as priceless heirlooms ... Several years ago, on business affairs, I ended up in Belgrade and accidentally found out that there was an abandoned Russian cemetery. What I saw humanly hurt. In fact, this is almost the main burial of our compatriots who fell at the First World War. It has already been established and documented: on the "Novo Grobl" is located 741 graves of Russian soldiers, including one hundred and twenty-four generals of the tsarist army, three admirals of the imperial fleet, two hundred eighty-six colonels and captains of the first rank. There is a mass grave. And not far from the cemetery in the Russian Church of the Holy Trinity lies Peter Wrangel.
“The very baron who shamefully escaped from the Crimea from Mikhail Frunze?”
- Here you are repeating a typical mistake ... Yes, we are talking about the commander-in-chief of the Armed Forces of the South of Russia, Lieutenant-General. We often judge the outcome of the White Guard by the book of the same name by Mikhail Bulgakov and feature films like “Running” and “Two Comrades Served.” The panic of the civilian population, the hysteria of the officers, the attempts at the last moment to jump aboard the overloaded steamer ... But this is one side of the coin, and there was another. The facts show, and even Wrangel’s contemporaries give him the credit for faultlessly organizing the evacuation. For three days, about 150 of thousands of people — civilian refugees and the army — sailed from the Crimea. Panic moods flared up only in Feodosiya, in other places the situation remained under control. When the armada of ships came to the raid of Constantinople, the Allies faced a real problem of what to do with the great mass of people. The Russian military were not going to fold weapon, piously believing that a new campaign against Soviet Russia will soon take place. The army continued to feel like an army. Responsible for the Turkish occupation zone, the French immediately offered to disarm. Wrangell refused to even discuss it. A significant part of the soldiers were stationed in a field camp on the deserted Gallipoli peninsula, which we spontaneously renamed to Naked Field. An army corps was created, which included an artillery brigade, infantry and equestrian divisions, a technical regiment, a railway battalion. Separately based Don and Kuban corps. At first, the French helped their coalition allies with food and clothing, but they soon became bored with the role of selfless patrons. As compensation for the services rendered, they demanded the whole fleet from Wrangel, and this, sorry, more 280 ships! The situation continued to deteriorate, even if it was Turkish, but winter, among the military began sickness and famine, someone tried to return home, but the Bolsheviks put defector to the wall without regret, and the flow of deserters quickly dried up. All this time Baron Wrangel was searching for a place to which his army could move. Finally, in the summer of 1921, he reached an agreement with the government of the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes (the Kingdom of CXS), as the future Yugoslavia was then called, and the Russians began to relocate to Belgrade. At some point, up to 70 thousands of former subjects of the Russian Empire lived here. Serbian King Alexander I was considered a Russian pet, he graduated from the Corps of Pages in St. Petersburg, had several Russian orders. In addition, at the beginning of the last century, Karageorgievichs intermarried with the imperial family of the Romanovs, and Alexander I’s letters to Nicholas II resemble the correspondence of a son and father. Our country actively supported the brothers-Slavs in the First World War, and the Serbs remember well. All this could not but affect the foreign policy of the Belgrade government. Alexander I did not recognize Soviet Russia, when almost all of Europe had already done so. He did not forgive the Bolsheviks for the execution of the royal family. The king did not make it imperative to disarm Wrangel’s army. Most of the arrivals in an organized manner settled on the border service, engaged in the construction of railways and clearing the forest. Many units retained the old military structure, Russian officers continued to wear uniforms, and, for example, the guards division under the command of Colonel Rogozin, who worked in the sugar and sawmill factories, existed unchanged until the 1941 year. Alexander I paid our military a salary comparable to what the Serbian officers received, built and, on behalf of the Karageorgievich dynasty, presented the Russian house in the center of Belgrade to the emigrants. He also identified four sites at the Novo Groble cemetery for compact burial. Incidentally, there lies the teacher of Alexander I in the Corps of Pages. They accidentally collided on the street, the king invited the colonel to the palace, but he was ashamed to go because the form was worn out, and there was nowhere to take a new one. Yes, in exile there was life in different ways, it happened, the generals taught Serbian young men to ride a horse ... Nevertheless, the Iverskaya Chapel, an exact copy of the one that stands on Red Square in Moscow, was built with the help of the diaspora. The crypt is the tomb of Metropolitan Anthony (Khrapovitsky), who for many years served as First Hierarch of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad. In the same place on the cemetery there is a monument of Russian Glory, perhaps the only place where you can lay a wreath in memory of Russian soldiers who fell in the fields of the First World War. The general project who was in charge of the project was two infarctions while the construction work continued. They just didn’t blame him for the theft of the money collected, unprofessionalism, or dancing on the bones. Eat ate!
Constructed in 1935 by the architect Roman Verkhovsky and at the same time, the consecrated monument is a crypt-pedestal where the exhumed remains of 387 members of the Russian Expeditionary Force who died in the 1916 — 1918 front on the Salonika (Macedonian) front were transported. There, our troops achieved significant success, fighting shoulder to shoulder with the Serbian and French soldiers. In addition, in the crypt is the dust of 136 officers and soldiers of fourteen Russian artillery batteries defending Belgrade during the siege by Austro-Hungarians and Germans. Here in the mass grave are four prisoners of war shot by Austrians for refusing to load shells to the front, two sailors from the Tiraspol monitor killed at the Danube port of Kladovo, and more than a hundred of our soldiers who died in the hospitals of the occupied Austrian Austrians.
In the Church of the Holy Trinity, which has the status of a monastery of the Russian Orthodox Church and also built with the money of Russians who settled in Belgrade, the remains of Baron Wrangel are buried. Petr Nikolaevich died in 1928 in Brussels, but he bequeathed to bury himself in Orthodox land. His will was performed with the observance of truly royal honors. The day of the reburial was declared non-working in Belgrade, tens of thousands of people took to the streets to conduct the last general in battle. A military parade took place, Russian and Serbian columns were walking along ... Four years ago, Nikita Mikhalkov offered the descendants of Baron to transport his remains to the Donskoy Monastery, to which the grandson of Pyotr Nikolayevich lawyer Peter Bazilevsky refused. I can read an excerpt from that letter: “Not far in the cemetery are thousands of colleagues, officers of his army, infinitely loyal to him, to whom he also gave his last strength. The mutual trust of the commander-in-chief and his subordinates has no limits - it is not limited either by death or by prescription of years. Both in life and in death, he is in the ranks, along with his officers, soldiers, Cossacks. Now take him - one - for reburial in Moscow is possible only for a very good reason. If he were alive, he would hardly have agreed to leave his army for the honor of going to Moscow alone, knowing that Lenin and Stalin still occupy an honorable place next to the Kremlin ... ”
- Deep, I see, you bit into the topic, Anatoly Ivanovich!
- The question is not in me. When I first visited the cemetery here in Belgrade, it became insulting to the state; you cannot say otherwise. Novo Groble is something like Moscow Novodevichy. There is a pantheon of prominent people of Serbia, there are sites with French, Italian, Austro-Hungarian, Bulgarian and English war graves. And only Russian graves are in a deplorable state - fallen and broken crosses, overgrown with weeds and unnamed mounds thrown over by rubbish ... Honestly, shameful! While the relatives of the dead were alive, they looked after the necropolis. But in the 1944 year, the Soviet army came to the Balkans, and the mass exodus of the White emigres began. Many went overseas, took part of the archives. In fact, after the Second World War, our cemetery was abandoned. Nobody paid for the rent of land, did not care for the graves. By law, the Serbian authorities could have plowed up the old graves for a long time and re-sold the land, but did not do this solely out of respect for the Russians in their land. At the same time, there are about a dozen Russian-Serbian friendship societies today, no one knows their exact number, but each claims the right of birthright and spends the lion's share of the time fighting with competitors. As they say, at seven nannies ...
In a word, I came to the local Orthodox lord and said: “I am ready to help in restoring the ruined.” At first, Vitaly's father did not believe me: “Here and before there were high people from Moscow, they promised a lot of things, and then they left - and the ends”. Archpriest Vitaly is the third dynasty of the Tarasiev priests who serve in the Church of the Holy Trinity in Belgrade. The grandfather of the current abbot came to the capital of the Kingdom of CXC, together with the army of Wrangel. Father Vitaly provides invaluable assistance in the preservation and restoration of the Russian necropolis. With his active assistance from church books and archival records, we established the names, surnames, dates of the lives of many compatriots buried in Novo Groble. After all, it was not only the military who lived here. Suffice it to say that six Russian-language literary magazines were published in Belgrade in the 20s. Six! Emigrants from Russia raised, and sometimes even created, separate industries of Serbia from scratch. At one point, every third professor at the University of Belgrade was Russian. And modern Serbian ballet has exclusively Russian roots. Many buildings in the city were built according to the designs of our architects. Nikolai Krasnov, who in his time built many beautiful temples, villas, palaces, including Livadia in Crimea, and was awarded the title of academician of architecture, for seventeen years, until his death in 1939, led the expert group on monumental buildings in Belgrade. An honorary citizen of the city, he participated in the design of more than thirty buildings, including the People’s Assembly, the government and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Serbia ... Nikolai Petrovich was buried in Novo Groble next to his wife. In the pantheon of prominent Serbs are thirteen of our compatriots. So marked their services to the new homeland. A little away from the Russian sectors is the tomb of Mikhail Rodzianko, the chamberlain of the imperial court, chairman of the III and IV State Duma from 1911 to 1917 a year. Nearby lies the remains of the legendary military leader, creator of the Volunteer Army, member of the Russian-Turkish, Russian-Japanese and World War I, Adjutant General Mikhail Alekseev. He died in 1918, in Ekaterinodar, but the retreating Cossacks under the blows of the Reds carried his remains to Serbia ...
The more seriously I deal with the “Novo Groble” theme, the more curious things are revealed. Although much remains to be learned. On my initiative, an agreement was concluded between the University of Belgrade and the Yaroslavl Pedagogical University, and joint research has begun. Alone such massive projects do not overpower anyone. Therefore, I tried to involve government agencies in cooperation. I met with Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, in a personal conversation I convinced Prime Minister Vladimir Putin that the topic was worthy of attention. As a result, the Board of Trustees was created, which included Boris Gryzlov, Sergey Shoigu, Sergey Stepashin, Nikita Mikhalkov, Alexander Shokhin ... My charitable foundation deals with the implementation of the project, United Russia and the Democratic Party of Serbia jointly supervise it. Project documentation is ready. It remains to decide on the money. It takes three million euros to put in order the necropolis, the Iversk chapel, the monument of Russian Glory. Make for ages! We figured: if funding is not delayed, by 1 August 2014, we will be in time for the centenary of the start of the First World War.
- Blessed is he who believes ...
- You understand what kind of thing: our compatriots went to this land, and it is we who should be primarily interested in preserving the memory of them.
- Therefore, you want to perpetuate in the official calendar the date associated with the First World War?
- In many countries, the war is called great. In France, on November 11, the head of state lays a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier under the Arc de Triomphe in Paris. In Britain, the main events in honor of those killed in the First World War are held at the cenotaph, literally translated from Greek, at the “empty grave”. Every self-respecting Englishman wears a plastic poppy in his buttonhole for a week. On the second Sunday of November at eleven o'clock in the morning the queen, the prime minister, the generals carry poppy wreaths to the cenotaph on Whitehall, and the country sinks into silence for two minutes. In Serbia, commemorative events are held at Novo Groble. They include ambassadors of foreign countries, only ours, Russia, not. We studied according to Soviet textbooks, where emphasis was placed on the imperialist character of the First World War, which became the forerunner of the two revolutions of 1917 of the year. Everything is so, however it does not cancel the feats accomplished by the Russian soldiers and the commanding genius of the tsarist generals. I'm not saying that, in the opinion of many authoritative historians, the Second World War was a continuation of the unfinished First ... The Law "On Days of Military Glory and Memorable Dates of the Russian Federation" was adopted in 1995, and I suspect it was done hastily, otherwise how to explain the selection criteria, for which some events are mentioned in the calendar, while others are completely absent? No one argues with the validity of the presence in the list of the Kulikovo or Borodino battles, but why are there several less significant victories, memorable, perhaps, only to the chroniclers of military affairs, and there is not a single date associated with the First World War? Yes, the Day of Defender of the Fatherland has a conditional relationship to the events of that war, but this is rather a myth, invented by Comrade Trotsky. 23 February 1918 was not the outstanding victories of the Red Army over the Kaiser troops near Pskov. Rather, there were separate clashes with local successes against the background of a major tactical defeat. But the Brusilov breakthrough deserves to be mentioned among the days of military glory. The celebrated Marshal Foch wrote: "If France was not erased from the map of Europe, it was primarily due to the courage of the Russian soldiers." And these are already lines from the poem by the collector of the emigre archives, Viktor Leonidov:
And in the sixteenth, damn,
And on the way of the cross
Soldiers were coming from Russia,
To save France.
And to Europe to delight,
Russian brigades fought,
To Paris to cover up.
The French, therefore, remember the feat of our soldiers, but we do not. Is that right? And Churchill wrote that the Russian Empire actually won the First World War, and then collapsed itself, eaten away from the inside by worms. I will say this to you: the Serbs will not allow Russian graves to completely overgrow. An initiative group was created, led by local entrepreneur Milan Radenkovich. He and his supporters from among respected people in the country are ready to autonomously begin to raise funds for the restoration of the Russian necropolis at Novo Groble. If rich Russia does not do this, our work will be performed by Serbia, which is not the most prosperous by European standards. Just how will we feel later? ..
Belgrade - Moscow