Military Review

Is General Sukhomlinov guilty of the First World War projectile?

Is General Sukhomlinov guilty of the First World War projectile?

"The historiographic myth grows out of the political and gives it a noble reflection of objectivity. As a result, the real existence of the former, turning into scientific truth, as a rule, is no longer questioned" 1. Such myths include the “Sukhomlinov case”, in which the former military minister, General V.A. Sukhomlinov was accused of espionage in favor of Austria-Hungary and Germany, as well as of the criminal inaction of the authorities, which led to a disastrous shell hunger in 1915 and caused the defeats and retreat of the Russian army. According to the official version, Sukhomlinov did not care about supplying the army and was only interested in bribes. However, the documents say otherwise. Today we can assert that Vladimir Alexandrovich Sukhomlinov was the scapegoat for the mistakes and miscalculations of others 2. But how did the minister of war see ways to overcome the shell hunger? How did his vision of the problems of the military industry correlate with the views of the artillery bodies of that time, first of all, General A.A. Manikovsky?

"Offices worked - each by itself"

The First World War showed a lack of preparedness of the military Russian industry. Russia had to resort to foreign orders. But "overseas orders in general on the 9,3 million shells did not bring any benefit to the armies. Instead of million orders of shells and remote tubes, 5 thousands of cartridges were delivered to Russia" 3.

One of the most talented gunners of the time, A.A. Manikovsky remarked that "during the war, the efforts of customers, and especially Russia, of American industry were imparted with valuable experience in military production and, through gratuitous briefing by Russian engineers, a rich frame of experienced specialists in various branches of artillery equipment was created in America" ​​4.

Manikovsky showed the main drawback, not only of the Russian military industry itself, but also of its management: "During World War II, the supply business of the Russian army was actually in the hands of capitalist breeders and the representatives of the royal power in their favor, pursuing in most cases only their own or other personal interests Agencies worked - each by itself, apart from the others, trying to appropriate more of those or other advantages, at least to the detriment of others and the general benefits of the state "5.

Manikovsky analyzed the reasons for the failures of the military industry mobilization, stating the findings in a secret report to the Minister of War D.S. Shuvaev 20 October 1916 G.6

He pointed to one of the reasons for lack of preparation, which was that "in assumptions about the need for combat supplies for a future war, we, based on the experience of our Manchurian campaign ... determined too little of this need, and therefore did not develop the proper way, neither our state-owned plants, nor those of private ones that in peacetime manufactured military supplies "7.

Other countries experienced similar problems. “I had to resort to the very least — orders abroad, mainly in America and from our allies, England and France, who, by the way, themselves, at the same time, lacked combat supplies” 8.

"It is necessary to quickly develop our industry"

The general believed that “it is necessary to develop our domestic industry in the most urgent way, and, moreover, not only for the needs of the current war, but also in anticipation of the future. But it is necessary to use one important indication of past experience: for each individual production of combat equipment to be organized its own independent group of factories ... the main core, so to speak, the permanent staff of the group, should be state-owned factories, which in cases of mobilization not only develop themselves, but also will identify the appropriate technical staff to instruct the rest of the "9. Manikovsky also noted the need for early preparation of a plan for industry mobilization.

Therefore, it was no coincidence that Sukhomlinov’s attitude toward Manikovsky. September 11 1914 Mr. Sukhomlinov wrote to General N.N. Yanushkevich: “Your answer has now received that the Supreme Commander speaks strongly against the appointment of Manikovsky as [head of] the [avny] artiller of the [ruling] administration. What did I do, the only way out was for me to make this department work with might and main ... Manikovsky energetic, knows the business and I don’t know a more suitable person, he would greatly help improve the artillery supply of the army in the 10.

22 January 1915 Mr. Sukhomlinov said to Yanushkevich: “It’s terribly annoying that he led [ik] to [Sergey] Serg [her] Mih [Aylovich] his personal“ I ”put above state interests and put a stick in the wheel. But maybe God willing, Man [Ikovsky] will succeed in moving even more energetically under these conditions. ”11.

Not long before his retirement, 6 on June 1915, Sukhomlinov wrote to Yanushkevich not without enthusiasm: “They decided to not be shy of Man [Ikovski] and abruptly took the steering wheel with him to the right aboard. impacts, but let's go, lifting the visor "12. Does this phrase of the former Minister of War mean his solidarity with Manikovsky in his view of the problems of the military industry? We can answer this question in the affirmative, especially since this is confirmed by sources.

"I go to the factories and ponkayu"

In the same correspondence, Sukhomlinov reveals much in common with Manikovsky. 9 September 1914 Sukhomlinov wrote to Yanushkevich: “The second trouble is the artillery [Jewish] cartridges. The expenditure is enormous, unbelievable, and the performance of our mining plants is weak ... Everything that we can do, we do ... but you yourself know how our factories are poorly equipped and, as we all the time, despite my protests, were based on foreigners "13.

2 December 1914 Sukhomlinov said: "I myself go to the factories and pushes, but I come across strikes, lack of coal, non-delivery of machines from abroad, but we do not have them" 14. In a letter from December 15, the general reported that "without powerful serviceable factories, it is difficult to accomplish the tasks that fell on us in this war and not on us alone, but on all the warring armies: our enemies have exactly the same flaws ..." 15.

23 May 1915 Mr. Sukhomlinov wrote to Yanushkevich: "For a ten-month sanguinary struggle, what kind of light I have not experienced, it is no wonder to go to hunger for military supplies, and especially for us, with our poorly developed industry ..." 16

Similar estimates can be found in Sukhomlinov’s diary. For example, in the record from 23 February 1915 G.: "The huge consumption of shells and the vigorous demand to replenish them, and our factories do not cope (delay in delivery of coal), lack of preparation, the lack of manufacturing machines in the country. - Permanent orders abroad" 17. Or in the record from 4 June 1915 G .: "Shostka. A well-established factory. It can be duplicated - with almost the same composition of the administration and technicians. When I was drafted a project - it would cost about 12 000 000 rubles. If the Main Artillery Directorate thought about this with the beginning of the war, everything would be ready now. The factory remembers that the second minister arrived. The first was Arakcheev "18.

23 October 1915 was already a former minister Sukhomlinov wrote in his diary: "A very interesting letter from the [head]] General [avny] art [Iller]] [General] Manikovsky’s management in Novyj Vremeni:" Until now, the military industrial committee has not not a single projectile; all the shells that arrive at positions that the correspondent had to see were delivered in pursuance of the orders given by the Main Artillery Directorate at the previous time, before the opening of military-industrial committees. ”And left-wing newspapers found that thanks to [the new military minister A.A. .] Polivanov began to get plenty of shells and all supplies. It turns out that it’s not like that "19. Earlier, on October 18, the former minister noted that he "more and more often hears that the" mobilization industry "began to live in clerical work, useful not for the army, but for the plutocracy" 20.

11 December The 1915 General noted: “Large numbers of military-industrial committees everywhere receive a lot of money, but they are unlikely to be of real benefit for the present war. It would be necessary to direct their activities to ensure that the manufacturing industry will continue to us so that our former dependency and overseas bondage disappear "21.

Thus, the views of Sukhomlinov and Manikovsky on the problems of the Russian military industry during the First World War coincided. The lack of a clear plan of action and a strategic vision of the development of industry among the country's leadership played a role in Russia's subsequent troubles. A turn of the rudder, joint with Manikovsky, as Sukhomlinov put it, could change the situation for the better, but the accumulated system slips and contradictions did not allow this to materialize.


1. Ayrapetov О.R. Shell demagoguery. Words and deeds of Russian liberals // Motherland. 2010. N 7. C. 122.
2. Evdokimov A.V., Seleznev F.A. The Minister of War as a scapegoat: on the question of the reasons for the resignation of General V.A. Sukhomlinova // History in detail. 2014. N 6 (48). C. 30-35.
3. Sidorov A.L. The economic situation in Russia during the First World War. M., 1973. C. 20-21.
4. Manikovsky A.A. Combat supply of the Russian army in world war. M., 1937. C. 623.
5. Ibid. S. 648.
6. Evdokimov A.V. On the question of the reasons for the appointment and resignation of the Minister of War, DS Shuvaeva // World War I. A look from the 21st century. Russia and Nizhny Novgorod province in 1914-1918 Nizhny Novgorod, 2014. C. 170-179.
7. Military industry at the beginning of XX century. 1900-1917. Sat doc M., 2004. C. 595.
8. Ibid. S. 596.
9. Ibid. S. 597.
10. Correspondence V.A. Sukhomlinova with N.N. Yanushkevich // Red archive. T. 1. M., 1922. C. 248.
11. In the same place // Red archive. T. 2. M.-Pg., 1922. C. 170.
12. In the same place // Red archive. T. 3. M.-Pg., 1923. C. 70.
13. In the same place // Red archive of T. 1. M., 1922. C. 246.
14. In the same place // Red archive of T. 2. M.-Pg., 1922. C. 141.
15. Ibid. S. 151.
16. In the same place // Red archive of T. 3. M.-Pg., 1923. C. 64.
17. Diary of General Sukhomlinov // Business and Days. 1920. Prince 1. C. 228.
18. Ibid. S. 234.
19. Diary of General Sukhomlinov // Business and Days. 1922. Prince 3. C. 131.
20. Ibid. S. 130.
21. Ibid. S. 135.
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  1. Koshak
    Koshak 5 December 2015 08: 08
    This history lesson needs to be remembered now so that you don’t have to bite your elbows.
  2. Riv
    Riv 5 December 2015 08: 59
    The article is correct. And the story repeats itself, as always. At our place, the military industry is also gradually creeping out of a twenty-year-old pit, but slowly. So slow. The point is not even in management, but in the fact that it is necessary to re-create production chains. At the same time, many industries are simply no longer there, part of them are hopelessly outdated and staff shortages everywhere. No workers, no mid-level engineers. It’s good that the raw materials have become better over the past few years.
    The situation is like in the 41st, when the Germans occupied half of the European part of the USSR.
  3. xorgi
    xorgi 5 December 2015 10: 23
    Thank you very much for the article, very interesting. BUT, you describe the period after the start of the war, and what was done before the start, why thinking people (from the point of view of Sukhomlinov) were not appointed to key posts in advance, why such conclusions were drawn from the "Manchurian campaign", why the question of factories Sukhomlinov was concerned only with the end of the 14th year? Here are the questions to which I would like to hear the answer.
    1. Pomeranian
      Pomeranian 6 December 2015 22: 23
      And before the war, this is what. Minister of the Sea Biryulyov, having read the report of one of his subordinates, who asked to write out a certain number of spark plugs from France for submarines, with a wave of his hand, came up with the resolution: "A couple of pounds of ordinary stearin is enough." Those in the government of Nicholas II were the majority. History, alas, repeats itself.
  4. cth; fyn
    cth; fyn 5 December 2015 10: 55
    Tsarism is .... Tsarism!
    1. Akuzenka
      Akuzenka 13 October 2016 09: 51
      This is not tsarism, people are like that. Nobody bothered to count how many bastards got out of "tsarism" during the February revolution. Units remained correct. So the rest had their own interest (were agents of influence), and not only their own, but other countries. Even now, the situation with these bastards is not much better (in fact, I don't know).
  5. Army soldier2
    Army soldier2 5 December 2015 12: 00
    It must be assumed that the answer to the question is whether War Minister Sukhomlinov is to blame for the shell famine of 1915 of the year. V.A.Sukhomlinov served as Chief of the General Staff from December 1908 to March 1909 and Minister of War from March 1909 to June 1915. The term is quite sufficient for making and implementing the necessary decisions. I am sure that if an official of this level cannot realize his plans, he should leave, and not cover up the crap of his superior. By the way, this was done by 70% of the generals of the Main Operations Directorate of the General Staff in the 2009 year, when their convictions were contrary to the activities of Serdyukov and Makarov.
    Of course, along with Sukhomlinov, Nicholas II, and the chairmen of the empire’s council of ministers, S.Yu. Vitte, I.L. Goremykin, P.A. Stolypin, V.N. Prince Sergey Mikhailovich.
    My conclusion: General Sukhomlinov is to blame, and given his position, he is to blame more than others.
    1. Morrrow
      Morrrow 5 December 2015 14: 54
      He is guilty just like the other parties to this conflict.
  6. Rastas
    Rastas 5 December 2015 14: 28
    The system is to blame. And Sukhomlinov was just a high-ranking switchman.
  7. alicante11
    alicante11 5 December 2015 14: 31
    Guilty / not guilty. Kohl supervised the preparations for the war, then it is guilty. Another thing is that the consumption of b / p was incorrectly estimated by all participants of the WWI. But the Entente and Germany managed to INCREASE production much faster. But we also have problems with this. And the "bottleneck" - the machine tools - is quite rightly indicated. Unfortunately, this problem in Russia is constant. And now we are equipping new production facilities with foreign machines, and our machine-tool production is at the near-zero mark. Therefore, in the event of a major war, we will again step on the same rake.
  8. The centurion
    The centurion 5 December 2015 16: 59
    By the year 1915 in the Russian army was brewing crisis of material supplies, mainly shells, ammunition and all types of weapons. Russia started the war, having only 950 shots per light weapon, and even less for heavy weapons. These meager prewar stocks and the norms of artillery shells and rifle cartridges were expended in the first months of the war. Russia found itself in a very difficult situation, firstly, because of the relative weakness of its own defense industry, and secondly, after Turkey entered 1914 in November on the war on the side of the Central Powers, it was actually cut off from supplies from the outside world. Russia has lost the most convenient means of communication with its allies - through the Black Sea straits and through the Baltic. Russia has two ports that are suitable for transporting a large amount of cargo - Arkhangelsk and Vladivostok, but the carrying capacity of the railways approaching these ports was low. In addition, through the Baltic and Black Sea ports, up to 90% of Russia's foreign trade was carried out. Cut off from the allies, unable to export grain and import weapons, the Russian Empire gradually began to experience serious economic difficulties. It was the economic crisis triggered by the closure of the Black Sea and Danish straits by the enemy, as a very significant factor influenced the creation of a “revolutionary situation” in Russia, which eventually led to the overthrow of the Romanov dynasty and the October Revolution.

    But the main reason for the lack of firearms was related to the pre-war activities of the military ministry. From 1909 to 1915, the military minister was Sukhomlinov. He pursued an army armament course largely due to foreign orders, which led to their acute shortage while reducing imports. For disrupting the supply of the army with weapons and shells and on suspicion of having links with German intelligence, he was removed from the post of Minister of War and imprisoned in the Peter and Paul Fortress, but then was practically acquitted and under house arrest. But under pressure from the masses in 1917, he was put on trial by the Provisional Government and sentenced to eternal penal servitude. Sukhomlinov was pardoned by the Soviet authorities 1 in May 1918, and immediately emigrated to Germany. By the beginning of the war, in addition to the lack of firearms in the reforms of Sukhomlinov, there were other major blunders, such as the destruction of serf and reserve troops. The serfs were excellent, strong parts, well knew their fortified areas. With their existence, our fortresses would not surrender and would not rush with the ease with which the random garrisons of these fortresses covered themselves with shame. Concealed shelves, formed instead of reserve ones, also could not replace them due to the lack of strong personnel and spikes in peacetime. The destruction of the fortified areas in the western regions, which cost a lot of money, also contributed greatly to the failures of 1915 of the year.
    "My Memories" General Brusilov.
  9. barbiturate
    barbiturate 5 December 2015 21: 18
    Blame, of course, and more than many others. Everything he wrote during the war refers to "sobering up" and rethinking that he prepared the army for war, he is simply disgusting. After all, before the war, he wrote cheerful articles that Russia was READY for war and there was more than one such article. When the shells ran out already in OCTOBER-NOVEMBER 1914 !!, he sang different songs, the rifles and cartridges ran out, it turned out that the recruiting system of the deployed second-order divisions was generally useless and there was no production capacity, that the soldiers did not even have helmets for head protection ... What is 1915? The shells ran out in 1914 !!

    Of course, at the front, this shell, gun and rifle "famine" led to enormous casualties and the demoralization of troops.
    The company commander of the Ufa Regiment A. Uspensky recalled the battles of November 1914 in East Prussia:

    “At this time, the Germans bombarded us with artillery fire, not sparing shells. Our artillery shot offensively little. A neighbor - the battery commander personally showed me the order of the artillery brigade commander, not to spend more than 3 shells on the gun per day, under the threat of removal from office! ”
    This is how things were with shells in the Russian army, back in NOVEMBER 1914 !!!
  10. Pomeranian
    Pomeranian 6 December 2015 22: 14
    This Nikolay the Bloody did not have a single sensible minister in the government. Why advocate the same mediocrity of Sukhomlinov is not clear. Oh, what shells ..
    “The most ordinary rifles were missing - and they were bought all over the world, right down to Mexico and Japan, all kinds of different models, each with their own cartridges that didn’t fit the others ... There was even a proposal, because of the lack of rifles ... to equip the soldiers with“ axes on long poles ” . Central State Military Historical Archive (TsGVIA), f. 369, op. 3, d. 70, l. 6 and 54., Personal gene archive. Barsukova. Here, your Minister Sukhomlinov, it was not in vain that he was thrown out at the request of the people out.