понедельник, 21 сентября 2009 г.

The Suvorov’s memorial — a part of Russia in Switzerland

Оn September 21 Russian President Dmitry Medvedev arrives in Switzerland. This will be the first of the Russian president to the country in the history of Russian-Swiss relations. Dmitry Medvedev arrives to the Swiss capital of Bern on a remarkable day. On this very day 210 years ago the Russian Army led by legendary field marshal Alexander Suvorov began its historical crossing of the Swiss Alps.

The name of Suvorov is highly esteemed among Swiss people. Two centuries have past since the Russian army crossed the Alps and for two centuries Swiss people have been living without wars remembering that Suvorov saved their country from the invasion of Napoleon, Urs Sulzer, a military attaché of the Swiss embassy in Moscow says.

In the Alps Suvorov bravely fought against the French army in very difficult conditions. Annually near the Devils Bridge in the Alps celebrations are held to commemorate of Suvorov and all Russian soldiers who died there. The monument is officially is considered a part of the Russian territory. This humanitarian component is very important for Swiss people, the diplomat says. Suvorov did not use a stick policy to lead his soldiers. He led them with his own example and that is why soldiers loved him. To remember his greatness as a commander and a person we mark the anniversary of his Swiss campaign.

Vasily Surikov.Russian Troops under Suvorov Crossing the Alps.
1899. Oil on canvas. 495 x 373.The State Russian Museum, St. Petersburg, Russia

The legendary Swiss campaign with the Alps crossing lasted from September 21 till October, 8 1799. At that time Europe was horrified by the victorious march of Napoleon and the Western monarchs believed the only one who could stop him was Suvorov. They decided to put him in charge of the allies’ army. Alexander Suvorov was a really great commander he had not had a single defeat in his career. Though by the time of the Swiss campaign he was quite old he was the only hope of Europe.

Suvorov’s troops freed Northern Italy and were ready to advance to France. Therefore his army was to join with additional Russian units and Austrian troops. Suvorov decided to meet them as quickly as possible and chose the shortest way across the Swiss Alps. Crossing the Alps was a very difficult task to do. The soldiers had to climb mountains pushing the French troops from there t the same time, Irina Bystrova from the Institute of the Russian History of the Russian Academy of Sciences says.

It was a unique and very difficult operation in the mountains. It was unique because Suvorov moved very fast and applied unique tactics combining frontal attacks with bypassing the mountains. And he managed to force a number of hard to reach mountain passes. Nobody expected him to use that route. In particular the troops led by Suvorov took Saint Gothhard pass and the famous Devil’s Bridge. Guarded by the enemy troops this bridge was considered to be impossible to cross.

In fact the French army almost destroyed the bridge and the Russian soldiers had to tie up bridge blocks with their scarves. People died falling down precipice and drowning in icy waters of the Royce River but the army stood fire. It is hard to imagine how Suvorov’s army with horses and wagon trains without any special equipment climbed the Alps. And Suvorov who was already 70 years old by that time shared all hardships with his soldiers during that unprecedented crossing. But the troops Suvorov was to meet had been beaten by the French, Bystrova says.

Suvorov with his units stayed without ammunition and food facing the enemy who was three times stronger. And Suvorov had to go forward without any support. Despite this the Russian troops managed to force a number of other hard to reach passes to bypass the enemy and to defeat him.

That was an unprecedented mountains crossing in the war history. The losses of Suvorov’s army exceeded 4000 people the enemy lost 16000 people. Suvorov’s tactics enabled the Russian army to win despite smaller number of servicemen and less ammunition. Also during the Swiss campaign the legendary Russian commander showed new methods of war in the mountains.

On the day of the 210th of the Swiss campaign President Dmitry Medvedev will visit St. Gothhard Pass. A burial service will be served near the cross cut in the mountains and wreaths will be laid in the memory of soldiers died during the campaign and their glorious commander Alexander Suvorov. The Swiss campaign was Suvorov’s last glorious campaign. He died soon after that in 1800.

Elena Kovacic

Source:The Voice of Russia,www.tanais.info

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