Voices from Russia

Friday, 25 January 2008

The Last Stand of Baron Wrangel: Turkish Authorities Open Access to a Unique Archive of White Guard Material

Filed under: inspirational,patriotic,Revolution/Civil War,Russian — 01varvara @ 00.00

General Pyotr Wrangel (1878-1928)

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In May 2008, in Turkey, where White Guard Russians emigrated after their defeat in the Crimea in November 1920, a monument shall be dedicated in Gallipoli to the army of Baron Pyotr Wrangel. Recently, when a joint delegation of the St Andrew the First-Called Foundation and the Centre of Russia’s National Glory came to Gelibolu (the Turkish name for Gallipoli) to lay a capsule at the base of the future memorial, Turkish authorities allowed them access to a collection of photographs nearly ninety years old. They were a mute witness of the story of how the exiled remainders of the armies of General Kutepov and Baron Wrangel settled for a time in Turkey. History tells us that the regular army and Cossack cavalry of General Wrangel could’ve taken all of the Ukraine, and Russia in due course, but, internal feuds and divisions amongst the White leadership helped the Red Army under Mikhail Frunze to break the back of the White movement. The Reds defeated the forces of Denikin at Oryol, and routed the troops of Wrangel in the environs of Kharkov. The successful Red assault on Perekop was the harbinger of tragedy for the White Guard Russians.

On 15 November 1920, the remnants of the White Guard forces left Kerch and Sevastopol aboard 126 ships. Some 200,000 exiles (25,000 military) settled in Turkey. The ships crossed the Black Sea and moored at the Gallipoli Peninsula in the Straits of the Dardanelles. Can one imagine the broken morale and sadness of the exiled soldiers? Nevertheless, they preserved their discipline and élan. A veritable tent city grew up on the peninsula. Baron Wrangel, in particular, gave a shining example of composure and devotion to duty. Baron Wrangel was the descendant of a Danish mercenary in the Russian service, and even after his departure from Turkey never went over to the camp of the enemies of Russia. He didn’t emigrate to Denmark or Sweden, although this was possible. Some 22 of Wrangel’s ancestors fell in the Battle of Poltava… on the side of Sweden. Wrangel always carried himself in the Cossack fashion, a habit he retained even in the emigration. After camping in Gallipoli for about a year, the White Guards departed for Europe. Many settled in the Balkans or in France. Many of the Russian ships were interned by the French. Baron Wrangel and his staff left for Belgium, where he finished his days. This emigration was a tragic page in the history of the White Guard movement. However, this period in Gallipoli, when Russian soldiers in a hopeless situation demonstrated a true show of spirit, was a real exploit. Until now, this episode of the bitter end of General Wrangel was little known by modern Russians.

17 January 2008

Timofei Borisov

Тимофей Борисов Российская газета 17.01.2008 № 8

Website of the St Andrew the First-Called Foundation

http://fap.ru/press.php?pt=publ&id=12242

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