Schmidt's name has been preserved in history, but not many people know about him. Illustrious as the hero of the first Russian revolution, after decades this man went to the periphery of history. Attitude to his personality is ambiguous. Usually Schmidt's assessment directly depends on the attitude of a person towards the revolutionary events in Russia. For those people who consider the revolution a tragedy of the country, this character and the attitude towards him are often negative, but those who believe that the collapse of the monarchy in Russia was inevitable belong to Lieutenant Schmidt as a hero.
Pyotr Petrovich Schmidt (February 5 (12), 1867 - March 6 (19), 1906) - Russian naval officer, revolutionary, self-proclaimed commander of the Black Sea fleet. It was Peter Schmidt who led the Sevastopol uprising of 1905 and seized power on the cruiser "Ochakov". He is the only naval officer who took part in the revolution of 1905-1907 on the side of the socialist revolutionaries. It is worth noting that Lieutenant Schmidt was not actually a lieutenant at that time. In fact, this is a nickname that is firmly entrenched in history. His last naval rank was a captain of the 2nd rank. The rank of junior naval officer, who did not exist at that time, was invented and “assigned” to him in order to support the class approach and explain the transition of the full admiral’s nephew to the side of the revolution. According to the verdict of the court, Peter Schmidt was shot 110 years ago, on March 19, 1906 in a new style.
Born the future famous, albeit unlucky revolutionary, in a family of very high birth. He was the sixth child in the family of a respected nobleman, a hereditary naval officer, Rear Admiral and subsequently the mayor of Berdyansk, Peter Petrovich Schmidt. His father and a full namesake was a member of the Crimean War and the hero of the defense of Sevastopol. His uncle was a no less famous man, Vladimir Petrovich Schmidt rose to the rank of full admiral (1898 year) and was a knight of all orders at that time in Russia. His mother was Elena Yakovlevna Schmidt (nee von Wagner), who came from an impoverished, but very noble royal Polish family. As a child, Schmidt read out the works of Tolstoy, Korolenko and Ouspensky, studied Latin and French, and played the violin. As a young man, he inherited from his mother the ideas of democratic freedom, which subsequently influenced his life.
In 1876, the next “red lieutenant” entered the Berdyansk men's gymnasium, which after his death would be named after him. In the gymnasium, he studied before the 1880 year, enrolling after its graduation from the St. Petersburg Naval School. After his graduation in 1886, Peter Schmidt was promoted to midshipman and assigned to the Baltic Fleet. Already 21 January 1887 was sent on a six-month vacation and transferred to the Black Sea Fleet. The reasons for the leave are different, according to some sources he was associated with a nervous fit, according to others - due to the radical political views of the young officer and frequent quarrels with the personnel.
Peter Schmidt among his colleagues has always stood out for his extraordinary thinking and diverse interests. At the same time, the young naval officer was an idealist - he was denounced by his rigid morals, which at that time were common in the navy. The “stick” discipline and the beating of the lower ranks seemed to Peter Schmidt to be something monstrous and alien. At the same time, he himself in relations with his subordinates was quickly able to gain the glory of a liberal.
In this case, it was not only in the features of service in the fleet. Schmidt considered the foundations of Tsarist Russia to be unjust and wrong. So the fleet officer was ordered to choose his life partner very carefully, but Schmidt met his love literally on the street. He saw and fell in love with a young girl, Dominica Pavlova. The main problem here was that the lover of a naval officer was a prostitute, which did not stop Schmidt. Possibly, his enthusiasm for Dostoevsky's creativity also affected. Anyway, he decided to marry a girl and re-educate her.
Young people got married immediately, as soon as he graduated from college. Such a bold step practically put an end to his military career, but this did not stop him. In 1889, the couple had a son, whose parents called Yevgeny. It was Eugene and was the only true son of "Lieutenant Schmidt." Together with his wife Schmidt lived 15 for years, after which their marriage broke up, but his son remained to live with his father. The father of Peter Schmidt, however, did not accept his marriage and could not understand it, having died soon after (1888 year). After the death of his father, Vladimir Petrovich Schmidt, a war hero, an admiral, and for some time a senator, took charge of the young officer. He managed to hush up the scandal with the marriage of his nephew and send him to serve on the gunboat "Beaver" of the Siberian flotilla of the Pacific squadron. Uncle’s patronage and contacts helped Peter Schmidt almost until the Sevastopol uprising in 1905.
In 1889, Schmidt decides to leave military service. When he leaves the service, he refers to a “nervous disease”. In the future, at every conflict his opponents will make hints of his mental problems. At the same time, Peter Schmidt could indeed undergo a course of treatment in the 1889 year at Dr. Savey-Mogilevich’s private hospital for nervous and mentally ill patients in Moscow. One way or another, after leaving the service, he and his family went on a trip to Europe, where he was carried away by aeronautics. He even tried to earn a living by conducting demonstration flights, but in one of them he was injured on landing and was forced to abandon his passion.
In 1892, he was again being restored to military service, but his character, political views and worldviews became the cause of frequent conflicts with conservative-minded colleagues. In 1898, after a conflict with the commander of the Pacific Squadron, he filed a request for dismissal. Schmidt was dismissed from military service, but he did not lose his right to serve in the commercial fleet.
The period of his life from 1898 to 1904 was probably the happiest year. During these years he served on the ships of the ROPiT - the Russian society of shipping and trade. This service was difficult, but very well paid. At the same time, employers were satisfied with the professional skills of Peter Schmidt, and there was not even a trace of the “cane” discipline he simply hated. From 1901 to 1904, the year Schmidt walked as captain of passenger and merchant steamers Igor, Utility, and Diana. Over the years of his service in the merchant navy, he managed to gain respect among subordinates and sailors. In his free time he tried to teach sailors to read and write.
12 April 1904, due to martial law, Russia was at war with Japan, Schmidt was called up for military service from the reserve. He was appointed senior officer for the Irtysh coal transport, which was assigned to the 2 Pacific Squadron. In December, 1904, a transport loaded with coal and uniforms, came after the squadron that had already gone to Port Arthur. The second Pacific squadron was waiting for a tragic fate - it was almost completely killed in the Tsushima battle, but Peter Schmidt did not take part in it. In January, 1905, in Port Said, he was decommissioned from Irtysh due to an exacerbation of kidney disease. His kidney problems began after an injury he suffered while carried away by aeronautics.
The propaganda activity that was aimed at supporting the revolution, Schmidt begins to carry on in the summer of 1905. At the beginning of October, he organized the “Union of Officers - Friends of the People” in Sevastopol, and then he took part in the creation of the “Odessa Mutual Assistance Society of Merchants of the Merchant Fleet”. Conducting propaganda among officers and sailors, he called himself a non-party socialist. The royal manifesto of 17 in October 1905 of the year, which guaranteed "the unshakable foundations of civil liberty on the basis of the real integrity of the person, freedom of conscience, speech, assembly, and unions" Peter Schmidt meets with genuine glee. Dreams of a new, more equitable structure of Russian society were about to come true. October 18 in Sevastopol Schmidt, along with the crowd, goes to the city prison, demanding the release of political prisoners. At the approaches to the prison, a mob falls under the fire of government forces: 8 people were killed, about 50 injured. For Schmidt this becomes a real shock.
October 20 at the funeral of the dead, he utters an oath, which later became known as the "Schmidt Oath." During a speech delivered to the crowd, he was immediately arrested for propaganda. This time, even his uncle, who has extensive connections, was unable to help his unprofitable nephew. 7 November 1905, Peter Schmidt was dismissed as a captain of the 2 rank, the authorities were not going to judge him for seditious speeches. While still under arrest on the battleship Three Saints, on the night of 12 November, he was elected by the workers of Sevastopol as a “life deputy of the Council”, and soon, under pressure from the broad public masses, he was released from the ship under an undertaking not to leave.
Already on November 13, a general strike began in Sevastopol, in the evening of the same day a deputy commission consisting of soldiers and sailors delegated from different types of troops, including fleet ships from 7, came to Peter Schmidt with a request to lead an uprising in the city. Schmidt was not ready for such a role, but when he arrived at the Ochakov cruiser, whose crew was the core of the rebels, he quickly became involved in the mood of the sailors. At this moment Schmidt made the decision, which became the main thing in his life and kept his name to this day, he agrees to become the military leader of the uprising.
The next day, on November 14, he declared himself commander of the Black Sea Fleet, giving a signal: “I am in command of the fleet. Schmidt. At the same time, the Ochakov team manages to free some of the previously arrested sailors from the battleship Potemkin. But the authorities did not sit back, they blocked the rebellious cruiser and urged him to surrender. On November 15 a red flag was hoisted over the cruiser and the ship accepted its first and last battle in these revolutionary events. On the other warships of the Black Sea Fleet, the rebels failed to take control of the situation, so the Ochakov was left alone. After 1,5 hours of battle, the uprising on him was put down, and Schmidt and other leaders of the insurgency were arrested. Recovery of the cruiser from the effects of this battle lasted more than three years.
The cruiser "Ochakov"
The trial of Peter Schmidt was held behind closed doors in Ochakov. The officer who joined the rebellious sailors was accused of preparing the insurgency while on active duty. The trial ended on February 20; Peter Schmidt, as well as three sailors of the instigators of the uprising on Ochakov, were sentenced to death. The sentence was enforced on March 6 (March 19 on a new style) 1906 of the year. Sentenced shot on the island Berezan. Mikhail Stavraki, a childhood friend and fellow student of Schmidt in school, commanded the shooting. Stavraki himself 17 years later, already under Soviet rule, was found, tried and also shot.
After the February Revolution in 1917, the remains of the revolutionary were reburied with military honors. The order for the reburial of Peter Schmidt was given by Admiral Alexander Kolchak. In May of the same year, the military and maritime minister of Russia Alexander Kerensky laid the George Cross on the grave of Schmidt. At the same time, the non-partisanship of “Lieutenant Schmidt” played only into the hands of his fame. After the October Revolution of the same year, Peter Schmidt remained in the ranks of the most revered heroes of the revolutionary movement, including all the years of Soviet power.
Based on materials from open sources