M.K. Lemke, Military Censor Headquarters Supreme Commander in 1915-1916
Pavel Adamovich was born 30 May 1850, in the Petersburg province in a noble family. Unfortunately, very little is known about his childhood and youth. Studied Pleve at the Warsaw Classical Gymnasium, and at 1868 was assigned to the privileged Nicholas Cavalry School. He graduated from it two years later, and not just graduated, but according to the first category with entry to the honorary marble board of the institution. The young man who promoted great hopes was fired into cornets and sent to the Life Guards Ulansky regiment. In 1874, Mr. Pavel Adamovich was promoted to lieutenant, and at the same time he decided to enter the Nikolaev Academy of the General Staff. Three years later he graduated from it and again on the first category. Given the difficulty of these results, it was already then possible to conclude about the exceptional talents of the young officer.
Plehve received a baptism of fire in the Russian-Turkish war 1877-1878. He fought as chief officer at the headquarters of the army corps. The young man took part in the battle at the height of Sahar-Tepe, in the battle of the Bulgarian village of Ayaslar, as well as in the general offensive of the Northern detachment and the pursuit of the enemy to Shumla. For distinctions during the war years, Pavel Adamovich was awarded St. Anna of the third degree. When the war ended, Plehve remained to serve in Bulgaria as a staff officer for missions. In November, 1879 was honored with the Order of St. Stanislav of the second degree for "excellent courage and bravery rendered in multi-temporal affairs." In the same year, twenty-nine Pavel Adamovich became a lieutenant colonel. From 1880 to 1889, this talented officer served in various staff and command positions. Among other things, he worked in the examination commission of the Officer Cavalry School, heading the officers studying at the Nikolaev Academy of the General Staff, and temporarily commanded the Cuirassier Regiment. In 1882, he was promoted to colonel.
In 1889, Plehve presented his first military-scientific work to the public - his "Essays from stories cavalry ". The work intended for the cadets of the Nikolaev Cavalry School, considered the development of cavalry from ancient times and was a very good study on this topic. It should be noted that the active by nature Pavel Adamovich was always attracted by the operational mobility of cavalry - the only mobile branch of the military at that time. He, for example, owns the following lines: “The cavalry should not be worried by the rapid improvements in weapons - it must resist the power of fire by the development of maneuverability and speed of action, and in particular by raising the spirits until the readiness of the minute to decide on desperate enterprises ... ”.
At the end of 1890, Pavel Adamovich already commanded the 12th Mariupol Dragoon Regiment, and from the beginning of 1893 he held the position of quartermaster-general of the headquarters of the Vilno military district. This appointment allowed him to familiarize himself with the future theater of military operations in detail - he regularly visited Riga, Suwalki, Grodno, Osovetsk and Kovno fortresses with inspection trips. Years of impeccable service did not go unnoticed - in January 1901 Plehve became lieutenant-general and chief of staff of the Don Cossacks. He stayed at this place until March 1905, and then, due to unrest in the Kingdom of Poland, he was appointed to the post of commandant of the Warsaw Fortress. It should be noted that the general didn’t like this turn of events, and he did his best to get back into service. At last he was transferred to the post of commander of the thirteenth army corps in July of the same year. Unfortunately, Plehve never had a chance to make war with the Japanese during the 1904-1905 war, although he was considered to be its participant. By that time, in addition to the above awards, he had the Order of St. Anne, St. Stanislav and St. Vladimir of various degrees, the French Order of the Legion of Honor, the Romanian Order of the Crown, and many medals. He was characterized in the top leadership always positively, or, as they said, "immaculately."
Career Pavel Adamovich continued to go uphill - in 1906 he became the assistant commander of the forces already familiar to him Vilna military district, and a year later he was promoted to generals from cavalry. Since spring, 1909 Plehve occupied the most responsible post of commander of the Moscow Military District. In 1912, Yevgeny Miller was appointed chief district officer - the same as Plehve, military man to the bone. Since then, these two generals have been a constant and productive duet, excellently working together with each other. Pavel Adamovich at the post of district commander was engaged in charitable and social activities, was a member of the Imperial aeronautics society and an assistant trustee of the hospital of military doctors. In addition, according to the memoirs, Plehve was an exemplary family man — he had three children (two daughters, Olga and Catherine, and a son, Nikolai).
The outbreak of the First World War was a new type of war, which immediately put extremely strict demands on the command staff of the Russian army. By the beginning of the hostilities behind Pavel Adamovich (a man of quite a solid age), there was a five-year experience in leading troops of the district entrusted to him - the time during which Plehve managed to prepare his units and units for the upcoming battles. During the mobilization announced in July, a fifth army was formed under the command of Pavel Adamovich on the basis of the Moscow Military District. She was to join the South-Western Front, located in the area of Brest-Litovsk - Kholm - Kovel. The means and forces entrusted to the general included 1914 battalions, 176 hundreds and squadrons, nearly four dozen engineering companies, about 158 machine guns and 380 guns, as well as six aircraft. In total, the Fifth Army initially numbered 670 thousand people. With regard to the supply of food and ammunition, the forces of Plehwe were in a worse position compared to other parts of the South-Western Front. The main "opponent" of the forces of the commander in this direction was the fourth army of Austro-Hungarians, led by infantry general Moritz Auffenberg, to whom in the first half of August came parts of Archduke Joseph-Ferdinand. The enemy group, which opposed Plehve, numbered over two hundred thousand soldiers, that is, it was significantly superior to the fifth army in manpower, and besides it had a significant advantage in artillery.
In connection with the defeat of the neighboring fourth army under Krasnik, Pavel Adamovich received an order from the commander of the forces of the South-Western Front "... to render help to the left flank of the fourth army to deploy his forces to the west (the former course was to the south)". This maneuver put the Fifth Army in an extremely unfavorable position - Plehve had to split his corps into two parts, which approached the battlefield separately from each other, stretching for a hundred hundred kilometers. In mid-August, the right wing of the Fifth Russian Army met the advancing Austrians. The battle that was fought subsequently received the name Tomashevskaya. The outset of the battle took place (not the fault of the commander) in very adverse conditions. The front of the fifth army was about 120 kilometers (while, for example, for the eighth army - 70 kilometers). The enemy command put its first and fourth armies in a favorable initial position, analyzing in detail the theater of operations and using local topographical and geographical features. Moreover, the enemy in advance created the appropriate grouping and led his corps intently, and the fifth army of Plehve moved on a stretched front and was forced to maneuver in direct contact with the Austrians. As a result, the Russian units entered the battle separately and were attacked from the flanks. Despite this, Pavel Adamovich reported to Commander-in-Chief Nikolai Ivanov: "We will fight to the last extreme."
In the practical hopeless situation of the battle, in conditions of superiority of the enemy in quantitative and positional terms, leading the battle in a semi-circle, Plehve's troops managed to inflict significant damage to the enemy and, dexterously maneuvering, jump out from under the blow. In the course of the encirclement of the fifth army that had begun, the commander, who did not remove his hand from the “pulse” of the battle, found a remarkable use for his cavalry. Having formed a consolidated cavalry corps (by the way, one of the first in the Russian army), he struck them in the rear of the Austrians. The Don Cossack division, Plehwe, was used by the general to ensure the withdrawal of his forces after the Tomaszewski battle. In addition, the Fifth Army's equestrian reconnaissance promptly detected changes in the concentration of Austrian troops, and Pavel Adamovich made all the most important decisions, building on this data. One military historian described Plehwe's cavalry as follows: “In difficult moments of fighting, cavalry divisions quickly concentrated in the breakthrough between the corps or on the flanks of the corps and the battles provided the flanks of the troops, fully contributing to the latter.” Loss of the army of Plehve in the Tomashevsk battle amounted to less than thirty thousand people, and the "victorious" Austrian troops - forty thousand. The operation on the environment, conceived by the enemy command, turned into a trivial repulsion, and the results did not justify the losses incurred. The famous military historian, Lieutenant-General Nikolai Golovin called the march-maneuver of the Fifth Army after the Tomaszewski battle one of the most skillful in the history of the World War: "This withdrawal was not a retreat at all - it was detachment from the enemy, returning the freedom of maneuver of the army, which retained full combat capability" .
In the second stage of the Battle of Galicia, the Fifth Army divided into two parts performed different tasks - Lieutenant-General Yanuariy Tsikhovich, who participated in the Battle of Galicia, wrote that “the fifth army helped the fourth and ninth and half of the third and eighth armies with one half of its forces, applying a deep movement maneuver with their parts in eccentric directions. ” A few days later, the fifth army, uniting its groups, continued the offensive and, after fierce bloody battles with the rearguards of the enemy 8, September reached the San River and occupied Yaroslav, marking the end of its participation in the battle. The outcome of the Galician operation, which ended by mid-September, was the defeat of the first Austro-Hungarian army and the forces of the Archduke Ferdinand, as well as the retreat of the second, third and fourth Austro-Hungarian armies. The total losses of the Russians were 190 thousands of dead and wounded, 40 thousands were captured, about a hundred guns were lost. The Austrians lost 300 thousands of soldiers and officers, about 100 thousands were taken prisoner, four hundred guns were lost by them. In this victory, Pavel Adamovich's considerable merit was - his maneuver by two groups to the rear of the Austrians, who became a classic of Russian military-historical science, severed the cohesion of the enemy formation and destroyed the plans of the enemy. For successful actions of the troops entrusted to him in the middle of September, 1914 Plehve was awarded the highest military award of Russia - the Order of Saint George of the fourth degree.
It should be noted that Pavel Adamovich assigned a huge role during this battle (as well as all subsequent ones) to having connections with his commanders. To his chagrin, the connection was often interrupted, and important reports were late. As a result, Plehve decided to send proxies to the most responsible sites. Their task was, without preventing the commanders from controlling units, to inform Pavel Adamovich about all the details of his interest.
It is important to note that Plehve was one of the few commanders who thought about the success of a common front-line operation, and not about personal laurels. Neighbors, by the way, did not always pay him the same coin. For example, commander Evert refused to help the fifth army of August 13. Similarly, Ruzsky, the commander of the army, behaved himself for a long time, ignoring the orders of the front command to assist the left flank of the Fifth Army. In the latter case, only the resistance of the Plehve buildings prevented the rout.
After the Battle of Galicia, the Austro-Hungarian troops began a hasty retreat along the whole front. The threat of Russian seizure of Upper Silesia, Krakow and Western Galicia caused the German forces to castling to support an ally. In this regard, the struggle for ferries and bridgeheads has become paramount for both sides. One of them - the Kozenitsky bridgehead - remained forever in the history of the war as an example of the courage of the Russian soldiers of the fourth and fifth armies. Despite the desperate attempts of the enemy to overturn the Russian troops in the Vistula, Plehve kept a bridgehead behind him, and also threw two army corps to the left bank, which bound the enemy forces and prepared a base for the offensive.
The next stage in Pleve's brilliant career was the Lodz operation — one of the most difficult in that war against military art. Not being frightened by the threat of encircling his forces, Pavel Adamovich promptly responded with the threat of encircling the enemy’s left flank. The German Gen. Max Hoffman described the situation as follows: “There was a sudden disconnection between the troops that had penetrated the rear of the enemy and the left wing of parts of the artillery general Scholz. In the resulting gap, Russian forces have moved ... ”. This maneuver broke the whole course of the battle. Military historians have noted: “The Fifth Army, like an iron wedge, crashed between the enemy’s flanks, preventing them from closing ... The resilience of the Russians and the energy that commanded the army, Plehve, took the catastrophe, but the Germans turned out to be bypassed.” Pavel Adamovich’s courage was highly appreciated not only by Russian commanders, the major general of the British army, who was under the Russian command, wrote: surrender! In the course of a couple of seconds, Plehve silently studied the young officer from under his thick eyebrows, and then said: “My dear, did you arrive at a tragedy to play or with a report? If you have a report, report it to the chief of staff. And there is no need to play tragedies here, otherwise I will send you under arrest. ”
By November 9, the shock group of Schaeffer-Boyadel, which had previously taken the second army of Russians into the semi-rings, was surrounded by the forces of Plehve. In the German documents there is the following entry: "... In the circumstances, do not hope to release the cut off forces of General Schaeffer." However, the "help" to the remnants of the four enemy divisions suddenly came from the command of the North-Western Front - the front commander Nikolai Ruzsky, who did not understand the situation, ordered the first, second and fifth armies to begin withdrawal. Despite the protests of Pavel Adamovich, this order was carried out. Subsequently, the Stavka recognized the fallacy of such an order, but the time was gone, the blocking troops were not strengthened, and on November 11 in a night battle, the Scheffer-Boyadel group, breaking through the positions of the Russians, united with the main forces. The belated pursuit of the retreating German armies was also not organized, despite the Plehwe telegrams to the front commander, in which he pointed out that "the enemy forces were exhausted with transitions, hunger strikes and frost strikes ..."
And nevertheless, the Lodz operation ended with the victory of the Russians - all the Germans' attempts to repeat Samsonovsky Tannenberg failed, and Pavel Adamovich again confirmed the reputation of the commander fighting with skill rather than number - his forces at the beginning of the operation were in the front line the smallest that did not prevent them from playing a key role in the battle. Erich Ludendorff, Chief of Staff of the German Eastern Front, wrote: “The important operational goal of destroying Russians in the bend of the Vistula River was not fulfilled ... Instead of encircling the enemy troops near Lodz, we had to save our own corps.” In a tactical sense, Plehve himself again proved to be a supporter of active actions, including on the flanks. Here is one of his appeals to the troops: "To beat the enemy, to pursue him in the most merciless and persistent way, not to release him, but to destroy or take, in general, to show extreme energy." Parts of the general successfully retorted all German attacks, forcing the enemy to go on the defensive and retreat. It was after the Battle of Lodz that Pavel Adamovich earned in the army the fame of a crisis specialist, a master of flank strike and maneuver, the “wand” of the Russian Front, which was recalled in the most difficult operational situation.
Plehve acted most effectively in the battles of 1915 of the year, particularly in the Winter Prasnyshsky. This defensive-offensive operation of the first and twelfth (under the command of Plehve) armies of the North-Western Front unfolded in the area of the Polish town of the same name. At the beginning of the operation, the enemy had superiority in the infantry, the Russian armies, in addition to incomplete personnel, possessed small artillery, experienced “shell hunger”, and, nevertheless, won a convincing victory. The significance of this success was extremely important - the consequences of the ill-fated August Battle in East Prussia were largely eliminated. All the successes of the Germans, earned in the August operation of the tenth army, were lost in the course of their defeat of the twelfth army of Paul Adamovich. The French subsequently called the Polish city of Prasnysh “Russian Marna” for a reason. Plehve himself once again confirmed the reputation of a decisive commander. In the tactical aspect, the general sought to organize flank attacks and capture enemy communications. The success of the Russians in this operation together with other factors upset the German plans for the spring campaign of the 1915 of the year. The command of the Germans in the person of Ludendorff, emphasizing the "significant losses" and "energetic counterattacks of the Russians", summed up: "Our troops got a good lesson." The victory of Pavel Adamovich gave the Russian army a significant tactical gain, allowing, in general, in the unfortunate 1915 year for Russia in the north-western direction, to maintain a strong and stable position.
In April, the 1915 Germans launched a powerful offensive in the Baltic States. By 25, the enemy took possession of South Kurland, thereby creating a threat to the Russian Navy in the Baltic. Also in danger turned Riga direction. In order to stabilize the situation in the Baltics, the management of the Twelfth Army (soon renamed the Fifth Army), led by Plehve, was transferred. His forces suspended the advance of the Germans, which in the current conditions was already a considerable matter. It should be noted that a significant imprint on the military force of the forces of Pavel Adamovich was imposed by the fact that many units were not armed, and the reinforcements had not yet completed training. Every fourth battalion of the regiment did not have rifles - thus, the nominal numerical superiority of the forces of Plehve in the infantry turned into the actual superiority of the Germans. The terrible Russian cavalry under the conditions of the north-west proved to be ineffective, on the side of the enemy also had almost double superiority in the number of guns and the absence of problems in the supply of ammunition. To all of the above, add a significant length of the front - about 250 kilometers.
Due to the lack of funds and forces, Plehve abandoned the offensive action plan and limited himself to active defense. In the course of the Mitavo-Shavel operation that began shortly after the Germans, all the actions of the commander were distinguished by timely orderliness and calmness with a correct understanding of the situation. With regard to this operation, military historians noted: “Pavel Adamovich very sensibly assessed the situation and divined all German maneuvers in terms of double coverage. A timely order to withdraw allowed the troops to be removed from the blow ... ” The forces of Plehve, retreating from one line to another, carried out short, but very energetic counterattacks in certain sectors, designed not so much to counteract the enemy as to break his will. By the end of July, the Germans occupied Mitawa, occupying almost all of Courland. The forces of Plehve, hiding behind cavalry, retreated to Jacobstadt, Dvinsk and Riga, as well as to the Western Dvina. The territorial successes of the enemy did not hide his main loss - all attempts to circumvent and destroy the army that he hated Plehve did not succeed.
In late August, the German troops again launched an offensive. This time the main blow was struck at the junction between the tenth army of the Western front and the fifth army of Plehve of the northern front. It was only with vigorous actions that the breakthrough was managed to be localized, in which Pavel Adamovich’s efforts to close the left flank of his army with the right flank of the tenth played a huge role. However, the offensive continued, and in the situation of the enemy entering the communications of the Fifth Army, the commander took her left wing to the Northern Dvina. It was Dvinsk that later became the key center of Russian defense on the northern flank of the front.
The artillery of the enemy continuously worked through the city and its outskirts; it was bombarded from airplanes. All institutions and enterprises were evacuated, Dvinsk left the majority of residents. The fate of the settlement was also predetermined by the authorities - evidence of this is the construction of a bypass railway line. Those who were close to Plehve, remembered his phrase: "While I am in the city, not one step back." Gradually, a deep-echeloned defense was organized near Dvinsk - one of the most powerful on the whole front. The city remained in the hands of Pavel Adamovich, and all the attacks of the enemy were repelled with great losses for him. And in October, the Russians launched a counter-offensive. In general, the Dvina front in the configuration created by Plehve lasted for two and a half years (before the start of 1918).
People who knew Pavel Adamovich closely characterized him as a real soldier and an outstanding commander. Although human qualities are not important for a military leader, it is worth noting that Plehve was unusually modest - he was embarrassed by public speeches, did not like being photographed, and avoided external effect and brilliance. Among his subordinates he had the reputation of being a pedant, a man too immersed in details and details. A curious fact - with the exception of the closest employees - precisely because of his love for accuracy and accuracy, Pavel Adamovich was not popular among the officers. By the way, he himself was not looking for popularity. The Minister of War and the General of Infantry, Alexei Polivanov, wrote: "... Who perfectly knows the situation is Pavel Adamovich, but now it’s hard to serve with him."
The peculiarity of the work of Pavel Adamovich was that he preferred to hold in his hands all the strings of tactical control of troops, limiting the operational freedom of his commanders and personally delving into all the problems of tactical leadership. This, on the one hand, stemmed from distrust of a number of superiors (often, it is worth noting, very reasonable), and on the other, from the desire not to let the control of the situation take place for a moment. It is also important to note here the speed with which Pavel Adamovich evaluated the situation and made decisions. For example, on the first day of the Battle of Shavli, in order to make out all reports, to come to the correct conclusion about the direction of the main attack of the enemy and take appropriate measures, it took no more than three hours.
Not only the victories of Russian weapons, but also a number of innovations in the field of military art were associated with the name of Plehve. In particular, he used the cavalry incredibly effectively, finding it, in contrast to most military leaders (and not only the Russian army), to use it in new conditions. For example, in the course of the Mitavo-Shavel operation, he organized a successful raid to the rear of the enemy, the results of which the German command reported: "The telephone network was destroyed in depth and over a large distance along the front, and the supply of food to the second and sixth cavalry divisions turned out to be interrupted for a day. " Along with energetic actions and wide maneuvers, the commander tried (as far as possible) to keep his troops and not put them on the brink of destruction. All this was combined with his incredible stubbornness in the right cases, for example during the Tomashevsky battle or in the defense of Dvinsk.
Having served in the ranks for a long time, knowing perfectly well the soldiers' mass, Plehve did his best to raise morale among the troops. To this end, he spoke to his soldiers, used military music. There is evidence of a parade held in Dvinsk, which was received by the general himself. Being a supporter of modern war, he welcomed Plehve and technical innovations. At the end of the Prasnysh operation, an antiaircraft battery, headed by Captain Tarnovsky, was transferred to the headquarters of the Twelfth Army. Pavel Adamovich, together with the chief of staff, visited the battery, familiarizing himself with both the new anti-aircraft tool and the methods of shooting. He highly appreciated the success of the first Russian anti-aircraft gunners, awarding them all orders. In the course of the organization of the air defense of the city of Dvinsk, Plehve again drew on a well-proven battery. Also, the general was the ancestor of the assault units of the national army. His order for the Fifth Army in October 1915 stated: “I order in each company to form special bomber detachments ... People in them choose energetic and courageous, each armed with ten grenades, hung from a belt conveniently, and an arbitrary pattern with axes. In addition, each provide a shovel and hand scissors to overcome the wire. " The general established the procedure for training new divisions, having seconded sappers as instructors. Already at the end of the year, this experience spread to the entire Russian army, and similar assault platoons appeared in all infantry regiments, which were called "bombing" or "Grenadier". There is information about the use of the commander of the armor. For example, in the course of the Lodz operation, five regiments of the enemy's infantry were scattered by five armored vehicles that broke into the coverage of the left flank of the enemy corps.
In early December, 1915, sixty-five-year-old Pavel Adamovich, was appointed commander-in-chief of all the armies of the Northern Front. In the new position, Plehve began to prepare troops for the upcoming 1916 campaign of the year, and also began to restore order in the frontline rear. This event, by the way, given the proximity of the front to the capital, was a matter of great relevance. Already 8 numbers Pavel Adamovich sent a note to the chief of staff, indicating that the “dual role of enterprises founded in Russia by the Germans under the guise of joint-stock companies”. In the same message, the general drew the attention of his superiors to the fight against economic sabotage and espionage, which was a completely new phenomenon for the Russian counterintelligence. Among other cases of Plehve, it is worth noting that he, seeing the situation that had arisen in the staffing of front-line officers, decided to send “recovering officers to the headquarters for the replacement of healthy ones, whose place is in the ranks”. In the same period of time, largely thanks to Pavel Adamovich, guerrilla groups began to organize on the Northern Front, including both regular units and volunteers from among the local residents who had the main task of sabotage and search operations in the near rear of the enemy.
At the responsible post of commander of the armies of the Northern Front, Plehve, unfortunately, worked for a short time - health problems increased. At the very end of January, 1916 arrived on the Northern Front with an inspection visit by the Supreme Commander himself, Tsar Nikolay. The emperor was met by two legendary front-line generals — the commander of the front, Plehwe, and the commander of the fifth army, Gurko. After accepting the report, accompanied by the generals, the Supreme Commander conducted a review of the front cavalry forces. The head of the emperor’s guard, Major General Alexander Spiridovich, recalled: “The night before the Emperor's arrival, Pavel Adamovich had a hemorrhage, and in the morning, like a pale canvas, he could hardly stand upright ... He was twisted, small, extremely painful, he had an iron will, unusual energy and hardness. Everywhere, where in the years of the Great War the general was not, he covered himself with deserved glory. ” Shortly after the review, Nicholas II wrote to the Empress: “My God, what poor Plehwe looks like! As a corpse is green, more than ever crooked and blind, it barely moves its legs ... He thinks quite normally and sensibly, his thoughts are clear and his head is fresh - and when he sits, everything is nothing, but when he gets up, he shows up sad spectacle.
For health reasons, in early February, Pavel Adamovich was released from command. He was appointed a member of the State Council, and Plehve left the army. The general arrived in Moscow and settled in an old apartment at the headquarters of the Moscow Military District. He died at the University Hospital of Nervous Diseases 28 March 1916 from hemorrhage in the brain. On the eve of his death, Pavel Plehve accepted Orthodoxy.
According to the materials of the book A.V. Oleynikov "Successful generals of a forgotten war" and the site http://gwar.elar.ru.