There are many names in history. History keeps the names of saints and villains, heroes and scoundrels, there are many things in history. But there is a separate cohort that stands apart. These are the so-called historically controversial personalities.
That is, those about which you can argue endlessly.
I will not give examples, because the person I want to talk about is himself such a person for many. Controversial.
Although for me personally, there are no doubts about what kind of person Anton Ivanovich Denikin was for a long time. I will not impose my opinion on anyone, but for me General Denikin is an example of how a person who is honest and sincere in his convictions should live his life. Not sold or bought for any good.
Let’s leave the biography of Anton Ivanovich aside, anyone can get acquainted with it without our help. And let’s focus on the events associated with the Great Patriotic War, since the events were more than significant and interesting.
It is no secret to anyone that General Denikin was not a supporter of Soviet Russia and took part in the Civil War on the side of the White movement.
“It has always been my sincere desire for Russia to come to this through evolution, not revolution” (A. I. Denikin).
But first, a small digression, throwing us back during the Civil War. And I will start it with one statement.
General Denikin did not like the Germans.
There is no such direct evidence, Anton Ivanovich was a very politically correct person, but his actions testify in favor of my statement.
First, Denikin was playing a very subtle political game of replacing the pro-German Cossack chieftain Pyotr Krasnov with the allied Afrikan Bogaevsky. We can say that the game was a success, and Krasnov went to Germany for citizenship, and later – to serve Hitler and get a rope from the Soviet court.
Secondly, more than strained relations with the hetman Pavel Skoropadsky, the creator of the somewhat awkward Ukrainian state. The Germans were behind that Ukraine, and they did not like Denikin’s policy at all. Denikin deprived himself of an influx of both volunteers from Ukraine and German weapons. But what’s done is done.
In general, Anton Ivanovich never considered the Germans, former opponents, as allies. And he never agreed on this issue with Krasnov, who really wanted a German hand on his leash.
However, to each his own.
Was Denikin an enemy of the Soviet regime? Oh yeah! Irreconcilable and open.
“As before, and now I consider an armed struggle against the Bolsheviks inevitable and necessary until their complete defeat. Otherwise, not only Russia, but the whole of Europe will turn to ruins ”(A. I. Denikin).
Were Denikin an enemy of Russia? No.
A very clearly distinguishable edge. Denikin hated the Bolsheviks and stood for the complete eradication of Soviet power by all available methods, except for one. Anton Ivanovich was simply jarred from any attempt at outside interference.
That is, only the Russians had to solve the problem of the system in the country. Not British, not Germans, not French. Citizens of Russia, whatever it may be, empire or federation.
An important point.
1933, Hitler comes to power in Germany, behind whom the forces of the nationalist wing were already perfectly visible at that time. The further the strengthening of Germany went, the more attention of the Russian emigration was attracted by this fact.
It is no secret that over the past 20 years, not all emigrants have completely cooled down, many have ideas of restoration in their heads. However, the development of the USSR made it clear that it was impossible or unrealistic to do this by internal forces.
Accordingly, one could only hope for external factors such as Great Britain or Germany.
Interestingly, Denikin originally arrived at the stronghold of Russophobia, in Britain. But after Prime Minister Lord Curzon decided to use Denikin in negotiations with the Bolsheviks, Anton Ivanovich left the country. And he lived in Belgium, Hungary, France.
As soon as they started talking in Russian émigré circles that “Europe will help us,” referring to Hitler’s Germany, Denikin immediately reacted. And exactly how a combat general who beat the Germans on the fields of the First World War could react.
Yes, Anton Ivanovich could no longer fight, but from a combat general he turned into a very advanced and respected writer-publicist. “Essays on Russian Troubles” is a very accurate and justly stated point of view on what was happening in the country. And this is not Solzhenitsyn, this is Denikin.
So, given that Anton Ivanovich has the ability to “burn people’s hearts with a verb,” as well as the Volunteer newspaper, which was published in Paris from 1936 to 1938 and where Denikin published his articles, we can say that the general made the most of his potential in the upcoming war with the Germans.
And at the turn of 1937-39, a real split took place among the Russian emigration. A fairly large number of prominent figures in the emigre movement spoke out in every possible way to support any actions against the USSR, including the proposal to participate in hostilities against the Red Army.
It is clear that in the absence of Pyotr Wrangel (who had died by that time), General Pyotr Krasnov became the center of such a movement. Which with Denikin had a fierce “friendship” since 1919. But Krasnov threw himself into the arms of Hitler, but Denikin’s reaction was very peculiar.
Anton Ivanovich began to oppose the Nazis. Moreover, he began to argue for the need for emigrants to support the Red Army in the event of a war.
No, everything is fine, Denikin did not change his shoes. According to his plans, it was the Red Army that, having defeated the Germans, would sweep the Bolsheviks out of Russia with a steel broom. Here, of course, the general was a little mistaken, but the result was very effective.
The emigration thought about it.
In reality, Denikin’s weight in the emigre environment was very, very. Perhaps someone could compete with him, but really from among the military it was Peter Wrangel. The rest, excuse me, were smaller in caliber.
“It is impossible – some say – to defend Russia, undermining its forces by overthrowing the government …
It is impossible – others say – to overthrow the Soviet regime without the participation of external forces, even if they are pursuing conquest goals …
In a word, either the Bolshevik noose, or a foreign yoke.
I do not accept either a loop or a yoke.
I believe and confess: the overthrow of the Soviet regime and the defense of Russia. “
An interesting position that Denikin outlined in the big work “World Events and the Russian Question” in 1939. He read it as a lecture and even published it as a separate book.
The lecture actually caused a split in the ranks of the emigration, dividing into those who considered it their duty to go and fight in the ranks of the Wehrmacht with the Red Army, and those who abandoned this idea.
Those who refused were the majority. Yes, the Cossack part of the emigration followed Krasnov to the service of the Germans. Someone can be regretted, but these people have determined their own destiny.
Then there was the fight against the ROVS, the Russian All-Military Union, an organization that also planned to participate in the military struggle against the Soviet Union. In contrast to the ROVS, the “Union of Volunteers” was created, the main idea of which was to work on “brain cleaning”. Probably, it is not necessary to say who became the first head of the “Union”?
As a result, the ROVS as a combat structure did not take part in World War II, but its members fought on both sides of the front.
In general, the Germans appreciated the work against the Reich. And when France surrendered, Denikin had to endure many unpleasant minutes. Here and the arrest and imprisonment of his wife, and living under the supervision of the Gestapo, and the prohibition of a large number of articles and brochures in which the general spoke out against the Nazi idea of the Germans.
The Germans did not outplay, well done. They could have made life difficult for the general up to and including its suppression, but they did not. But in this case, Denikin would instantly become a symbol of resistance completely unnecessary for the Germans, and have behind his back an angry Russian White Guard emigration, dispersed throughout Europe, even taking into account the power of the Gestapo, whatever one may say, and hemorrhoids would be very large.
And so it turned out that the Cossacks and some of the emigration, supporting Krasnov, went to serve Hitler, while the bulk of the emigration just stayed at home.
Not the dumbest part of emigration, as practice has shown.
How else? General Denikin, the smartest and most cultured man, who could do nothing worse with a word than with a shell, and even a patriot, although in his own way, as a strong personality should be, the emigration still respected him.
Yes, until his death, Denikin remained an enemy of the Soviet system on the one hand, dreamed of overthrowing the Soviet regime, even by military means, but on the other hand, he called on the emigrants not to support Germany in the war with the USSR.
The slogan “Defense of Russia and the overthrow of Bolshevism”, which was preached by Anton Ivanovich, turned out to be very effective. And coupled with Denikin’s dislike for the Germans …
Much can be said about the fact that General Denikin was a controversial person. Although, in my opinion, he was not any controversial. He was just a person, a patriot of Russia, of his Russia. And, the main thing that Denikin did was split the emigration with his articles.
It is worth just thinking and evaluating how many “Brandenburgs” and “Nachtigalei” could be recruited and created from the White Guards?
And that would be serious: smart, educated, knowing the history and customs of the country, fluent in the language …
The NKVD would really have had a hard time.
And in real life, only the Cossacks, who could not be taken seriously even then, went to fight as if. Well, they were chasing the partisans.
You can argue, you can express your opinion, you can disagree with mine. But it was my opinion that Anton Ivanovich Denikin, with his articles and speeches, deprived the Wehrmacht and Abwehr of many of the most valuable employees. And those who nevertheless went to serve Hitler did not feel very comfortable, because the general was able to cover with a bend those who went to fight against his country.
Well, everyone has their own understanding of patriotism and service to the Motherland.
In my opinion, General Denikin during the Second World War not only fulfilled his duty, but did it as a real patriot. And his contribution to the victory was. And you have to be grateful for him.
Today Anton Ivanovich Denikin does not care what they say and write about him. I think it’s enough just to stop considering him a “controversial person”, General Denikin did not argue with anyone. He just lived like a true patriot of his country lives. General Denikin lived his life in the name of his Russia in such a way that God forbid everyone to live this way.