27 February 1917, after the Manifesto on the dissolution of the State Duma was issued, the Provisional Committee was formed by part of the deputies of opposition views. In his appeal, he stated that he was taking “into his own hands the restoration of state and public order” and expressed confidence that the army would help him in the difficult task of creating a new government.
Hope State Duma Chairman M.V. Rodzianko, who signed this appeal, was justified by the army. Some of the military commanders closest to the Supreme Commander in their official position — the military elite of the army, having violated the military oath, supported the Provisional Committee.
Officer rank ordered to destroy
It is possible that at that time they still did not represent the full scale of the catastrophe that would befall, first of all, through their fault, the entire officer corps of the Russian Imperial Army. Even some members of the Dynasty hastened to salute the Interim Committee. March 1, 1917, Grand Duke Kirill Vladimirovich with his subordinate Guards Navy Rodzianko reports to the crew about his readiness to be at his disposal, who in his memoirs wrote about this fact as a violation of the oath.
He did not show loyalty to the Sovereign and the Chief of Staff of the Supreme Commander-in-Chief, General M.V. Alekseev. Evidence of this is his written request with the question of the Sovereign's abdication of the Throne and the inadmissibility of a different decision, sent in the morning of March 2 by the commander-in-chief of the fronts who did not express their readiness to act in accordance with the oath "to serve the Emperor faithfully and without mercenaries"
In the text of the document there are heartfelt words emphasizing the tragedy of the situation: “It is necessary to save the army in force from collapse; continue until the end of the struggle with an external enemy; save Russia's independence and the fate of the dynasty. " In fact, they became a beautiful wrapper around the criminal act and were not executed.
The path chosen by the generals to achieve the goal of saving the army, refusing allegiance to their Sovereign and Supreme Commander, became the road to the end of the whole army. Approaching him began with the publication of the order No. XXUMX by the Petrograd Soviet of Workers 'and Soldiers' Deputies, which undermined the fundamental principle of military discipline - unity of command. Addressed to the troops of the Petrograd garrison, he became the property of the whole army and caused unprecedented decomposition of the troops.
Having lost the Supreme Leader, the army received from the Provisional Government a new, mockingly defamatory name — the Revolutionary Army of Free Russia, which quickly lost its sense of continuing the war, and no provisional rulers could save it from collapse. What name you give the ship, it will float like that, people say, so the army plunged into the waves of revolution without beginning and without end, losing all their spiritual strength to defeat the external enemy. At the front began fraternization with him and mass desertion.
Especially hard the collapse of the army reflected on the officers, representatives of the social group of the state, which throughout its existence has always been a loyal and reliable defender of Russia. The cleaning of personnel, detentions, arrests, lynching and killing officers became common in the army. Only in the Baltic Fleet by mid-March 1917, more than 100 people were killed.
The officers tried to somehow save the army and themselves by creating public organizations as an alternative to the soldiers' committees, romantically supporting the political slogans of freedom, equality, fraternity and expressing confidence in the Provisional Government, but it acted with caution on the political preferences of the Soviets, and the soldiers did not show willingness to be in unity with the former gentlemen. This was shown by the failure of the idea to create a public organization called upon to restore the destroyed unity of officers and soldiers - the "All-Military Union."
The democratization of the army, coupled with the lack of success at the front, confidently led it to collapse, and the officer corps to death. By order of the temporary military and naval minister A.I. Guchkov on the Navy and Navy Department No.150 from 21april 1917, the naval officers were deprived of shoulder straps, which replaced the sleeve insignia. Then SNK RSFSR in its decree from 16 of December of this year ominously announced to all that the officer ranks, and with them the officer organizations are destroyed.
In ideological captivity
Everything that happened testified to a deep spiritual and moral crisis among officers. Giving an oath, they said, "I promise and swear by the almighty God," which gave her the value of not mere obligation to man, but of a sacred character, as well as the royal power itself. The idea of a monarchy in principle should have been closer to an officer than the republic, because strict subordination and unity of command in the army, the most conservative institution of the state, made him the bearer of autocracy. However, it turned out that, according to IA Ilyin, a part of the "Russian generals" monarchical consciousness was supplanted by "anarcho-democratic illusions and a republican way of thinking."
Since the time of Peter I, the Russian nobility was under the ideological influence of the West. Being in ideological captivity, it lived with its life of imitating Europe and ousting all Russian from itself. By the beginning of the 19th century, the nobleman’s library had 70 percent of the literature of French authors, and they themselves began not only to speak French, but also to think. The Decembrists, for example, testified at the trial in French, because they did not know their own. Misunderstanding grew between the highest strata of society and the simple people who continued to preserve their traditions.
The moral beginning of the military oath of allegiance was gradually lost, it became a mere formality that could not be met for certain purposes. One of the reasons for this was the abolition by Peter I of the ancient custom of transferring the royal throne to direct descendants through the male line, which caused a constant revolutionary ferment in the upper echelons of power and the army during the next change of monarch. The nobility coups entailed a violation of the oath, weakened and shook the foundations of the monarchy.
In the 1725 year, with the accession of the Russian throne with the help of the first foreigner's guard Catherine I, the Supreme Privy Council was formed, contrary to the ideas of the Russian autocracy, which limited the power of the empress so that no her decrees could come out until they were "held" in the Council .
The next action to weaken the monarchy became the Supreme Privy Council, developed in 1730, consisting of senior civil and military officials, the so-called "condition", which imposed serious restrictions on the monarch's authority, reducing them to representative functions, but this time "constitutional monarchy" lasted only a few days. Then most of the nobility and the guard was not ready to support it.
If in the upheavals of 1725 and 1730, the officers involved in them did not violate the oath, in the next two they already went to the perjury, overthrowing the emperor's baby, John VI, in favor of the daughter of Peter I, Elizabeth, and in the 1741 year - Peter IIIrd in favor of his wife Catherine. An example of this in this was the future empresses themselves.
Over the years of the reign of emperors, who were enthroned by the upper layer of the nobility, it was corrupted by its leading position in the coups. The nobles were convinced that the fate of the emperors was in their will, and for their oath of crime they did not receive punishment, but regular liberties and signs of gratitude for their deeds, based on their future loyalty. The discipline of the guard officers fell, they turned into idle, spoiled by the luxury of dandies, who were only listed as regiments, and instead of combat training and order, they preferred haunting.
An important step for the termination of these iniquities was made by Paul I, restoring the previous procedure for transferring royal power and taking measures to strengthen military discipline. In order to raise the values to the proper moral height in the life of a military oath officer, he personally was solemnly encouraged by the assignment of military ranks to Major General inclusive and retired Prime Minister Abramov, who retired to Catherine II, was rewarded with an oath still Sovereign.
This moral lesson has long been the subject of discussion in society, and yet the highest dignitaries and guards did not learn it. Having lost the opportunity to influence the choice of applicants and not having time to grow out of previous liberties, they once again changed, staining their uniforms with the villainous murder of the Emperor, but later the attitude to the oath among the officers changed.
The time of the last military noble 14 coup of December 1825 of the year was chosen so as to create at least the appearance of not violating the oath. However, this was for the bulk of the participating soldiers who did not know the true state of affairs. The organizers, who were members of secret societies, simply could not be unaware that their activities were anti-state in nature, but they took on other obligations that put higher national ones.
Adjutant General 1917 of the year did not take another oath, but at the decisive moment they did not firmly declare support for the Emperor. Very soon, for their infidelity and indecisiveness, the generals themselves felt the gratitude of the temporary and long-time leaders of the republic, as well as the people and soldiers, freed from their obedience.
One of them, the Commander-in-Chief of the armies of the Western Front, General A.Ye. Evert, who made his choice after hesitation, realized his guilt: "I, like other commanders-in-chief, betrayed the Tsar, and for this atrocity we all have to pay with our lives." Perhaps these penitential words became salutary for him personally, but not for many others.
Four of the eight top army officials paid dearly. The first to fall was the commander of the imperial Baltic fleet, Vice-Admiral A.I. Nepeninin, on his own initiative, sent a telegram to 1 in March with a request to support the demand of the State Duma, and the fourth - already arrested by revolutionary sailors for not wanting to hand over the cases to their new commander and meanly shot in the back.
In contrast to him, Vice-Admiral A.V., Commander of the Black Sea Fleet. Kolchak did not leave a written evidence indicating that his infidelity did not take the oath, but, having all the information with the opinions of the commanders-in-chief of the armies of the fronts, he kept silent and did not express his support for the Sovereign. Arrested already as a former Supreme Ruler, giving testimony to the investigation, he said that he “wholeheartedly” welcomed the fact of the transfer of power to the State Duma. Therefore, his silence can be considered as solidarity with the opinion of the top military leaders of the army and navy. On the night of February 7 1920, he was shot.
The most tragic was the fate of the Commander-in-Chief of the armies of the Northern Front, General N.V. Ruzsky, who made a lot of efforts to remove the sovereign from power. The misbehavior of the general during personal contact with him in Pskov and the offer made to surrender to the winners deprived Nicholas II of forgiveness. It was not by chance that the bundle with his chases from the initial officer rank to the last, which he carefully kept, was cut up, found during the search of the general's house in Pyatigorsk in 1918, was cut down, as if symbolizing the unworthiness of their owner. In October of this year, among a large group of hostages, he himself was hacked to pieces at the Pyatigorsk cemetery.
In August, 1920 was shot by the "green" in the Crimea, dismissed from office in April 1917, and retired assistant to the Commander-in-Chief of the armies of the Romanian Front, General V.V. Sakharov. In his telegram, he called the suggestion of renouncing vile, but nevertheless, disoriented in the situation, he supported it.
The rest escaped physical violence, but received a moral lesson that ended in humiliation for them. The Grand Duke Nikolai Nikolayevich, who knew about the preparation of the coup and did nothing to prevent it, then sent the appropriate telegram and was counting on the post of Supreme Commander, was not necessary for those for whom he tried because of his dynastic relationship.
M.V. was entrusted to lead the revolutionary army. Alekseev, who provided support to the Provisional Committee and immediately after the Sovereign left Stavka, sworn in to the new government. Feeding illusions about the salvation of the army, he tried to do it, but did not get the understanding and support of amateurs from the Provisional Government. Soon after the appointment, who understood the futility of his efforts, the High Command spoke frankly at the constituent assembly of the Union of Officers being created: “The military spirit of the Russian army fell; just yesterday, menacing and powerful, she now stands in some kind of fatal impotence before the enemy. ” A similar assessment of the state of the army gave the next revolutionary Glavkoverh, A.A. Brusilov. In his memoirs, he admitted that by May 1917, "the forces of all fronts had completely withdrawn from obedience, and it was impossible to take any measures of influence."
If yesterday the army was formidable and powerful, then it was not necessary to save it. If she came out of obedience, then when she still had discipline, the top military leadership had to fulfill her duty of allegiance to the Sovereign, but it went on about the creators of the coup d'état.
So the words of two military leaders who saw the salvation of the army and Russia in the Sovereign’s abdication, but who were unable to do it without him, became their moral conviction for infidelity. The new government has ceased to need their services, which is why “Calculated as a servant,” Alekseev said bitterly about his resignation. With Brusilov, temporary workers also did not stand on ceremony for a long time. The commander-in-chief, without being constrained, as before, by the instructions of the Stavka, could not show his military talent when the 1917 year came on in June, which undermined his authority. Therefore, it remained in stories only as a hero of the “Brusilov's Breakthrough”, awarded and marked by those whom he refused allegiance at a difficult moment.