пятница, 20 ноября 2009 г.

ADMIRAL KOLCHAK’S FATE


Admiral Alexander Kolchak was one of the most controversial personalities of the revolutionary Russia of the 20th century. A brilliant scholar, the hero of Port Arthur, a ruthless dictator and a self effacing man, Kolchak is an enduring legend historians and politicians still argue about… There were many victories and as many defeats in Kolchak’s life. And one love that outlived him. Her name was Anna Timireva.

There is a modest wooden cross rising up from a snow-covered bank of the winding Siberian river Ushakovka where Admiral Kolchak was executed in 1920. Standing nearby is a jailhouse where Kolchak spent his final hours. The winter of 1920 was cold even by Siberian standards, meaning that digging a grave in the icy ground was a mission impossible, especially for the time-strapped Bolshevik executioners. After the execution they hauled the Admiral’s body onto a horse-driven sledge and, taking in to the riverbank, dumped into an ice-hole.

Standing in front of the firing squad Kolchak was calm, his arms folded on his chest. His only request was to convey his blessings to his wife and son. He made no mention of Anna Timireva though, the woman who had volunteered to be arrested only to be by her loved one’s side… Maybe Kolchak just hated to have his last farewells conveyed to her by his executioners… Shortly before the execution, Kolchak wrote Anna a note overfilled with love and tenderness. The missive never reached her though, lost in the criminal case…

The two first met five years previously. Most of that time they lived separately because each one had a family and kids to care for. Once, during a ball, Anna gave Kolchak her photograph which he kept until his last hour, along with her glove… Anna was the first to say she loved Alexander. The two started dating in secret but before long, everyone knew what was going on between them, including Kolchak’s wife Sofia. Timireva divorced her husband in 1918 and moved in with Alexander. She was 25, he was 44 and by that time his family had long been living in France.

Anna Timireva was a very lively and charming woman and Kolchak never tired of admiring her quick wit and profound interest in politics. She was probably a stronger personality than he was, always holding out under the most challenging conditions. She joined her loved one in the Irkutsk gaol of her own accord to fortify his spirit. Briefly released after Kolchak’s execution, Anna Timireva was arrested again and sent to a concentration camp. Eventually allowed to walk free, Anna out of desperation, married another man but in the eyes of the Soviet authorities she forever remained the wife of Admiral Kolchak, a dictator and a counter-revolutionary. Accused of being an enemy of the Soviet state, a crime punishable by five years behind bars, Timireva was repeatedly arrested and exiled until 1960. In between arrests she worked as a librarian, a house painter and a draftswoman. Anna Timireva died in 1975, outliving her best beloved by 55 years…

Before the 1917 revolution Alexander Kolchak was best known as a gifted scholar and organizer of a number of scientific expeditions. He was also an outstanding military leader and a onetime commander of the Black Sea Fleet. After the Bolsheviks seized power in 1917 Kolchak sent a letter of resignation protesting the breakup of the Russian navy. Gathering the crew of his flagship together he gave his men a scathing lecture. With that he tossed his golden sword awarded to him for bravery in the Russo-Japanese war over the side. He resigned his post there and then… In appreciation of Kolchak’s extensive knowledge, the Americans and the British invited him to consult their navies. After a short deliberation Kolchak accepted the offer but not for long. In 1918, honest, ethical and able, he was given the title of Supreme Ruler of the Russian State by anti-Bolshevik insurgents in Siberia. His rule over Siberia and the Far East lasted for a little more than a year though. An overwhelming majority of the local people hated Kolchak because of his retinue – tsarist officers all who had their estates confiscated by the Bolsheviks. They treated the peasants as if they were serfs or even plain animals. The peasants reciprocated with hatred that could have easily been avoided. The continuous searches for Red Army soldiers and their helpers which regularly degenerated into bloody beatings and killings were fueling popular discontent about Kolchak’s rule. Many local peasants who had just returned from the war were fed up with fighting and just couldn’t care less for any authority. Disregarding this sentiment, Kolchak started drafting them into his army. Mao Zedong timeless formula about all political power coming from the barrel of a gun provides a very apt description of what was going on here during the 1917 revolution and the Civil War that happened shortly after. Kolchak exercised little, if any control of his units where much depended on the local commanders and which, just like in any volunteer army, were full of petty adventurers. Admiral Kolchak could have been an idealist, but in his inner circle there were people hell-bent on making a career at any cost. Kolchak eventually found himself dependent on these climbers and fell hostage to a situation which determined his ultimate downfall. All this meaning that Anna Timireva was not entirely wrong once called her beloved Alexander a “chimera in an admiral’s uniform”…

Source:The Voice of Russia

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