The beginning of the bloody 1918. The southern Russian city of Maykop, which is translated from the Adyghe as “the valley of apple trees”, with a population that barely exceeded 50 thousand inhabitants, did not remain aloof from the great and terrible events of national history. Already in January 1918, Maykop passed into the hands of the Bolsheviks, who revolted. Despite the fact that the Kuban Rada was ferocious in Yekaterinodar, which declared the independence of the Kuban, the large cities of the region (the Kuban region and the Black Sea province) have already refused to obey it. And the openly discriminatory policy of the Rada, which left the full rights exclusively to the Cossacks, of whom there were not even 50% of the entire population, only exacerbated the situation. In addition to Maikop, Novorossiysk, Tuapse, Armavir, Temryuk, etc. have become “red”.
The Bolsheviks of the Kuban and Black Sea regions began to form detachments of the Red Guard. In March 1918, the Red Guards and units of the 39th Infantry “Iron” Division, whose fighters went over to the side of the Reds, having received news of the atrocities of the Rada Cossacks at the front, seized Yekaterinodar practically without a fight. Rada, with the remnants of her still unformed army, fled north to the Volunteer Army, with which an alliance was concluded against the Bolsheviks. Later, General Anton Ivanovich Denikin, one of the commanders of the army, in “Sketches of Russian Troubles” partly called this alliance a mistake.
Pokrovsky. The future executioner of Maykop
Victor Leonidovich Pokrovsky, hereditary nobleman, the main figure of the Maykop massacre of 1918. He was a career officer who graduated from the Odessa Cadet Corps, Pavlovsk Military School, and in 1914 – from the Aviation Officer School. In the First World War, Pokrovsky entered the commander of an aviation detachment. In 1915, he distinguished himself by capturing two Austrian pilot officers along with a fully serviceable Aviatik airplane. In this case, the seizure took place by forcing the enemy to land.
The case of Pokrovsky is a vivid example of when unconditional personal courage and energy are completely nullified by extraordinary vanity, cruelty, lust for power and the absence of even a hint of mercy. It was guided by these base passions that Pokrovsky made contact with the Kuban Rada. He was instructed to form the “Kuban Army”. The “Army” consisted of less than 3,000 fighters. Becoming at the helm of this large detachment, Pokrovsky became a significant person for the Rada. And in order to appease this power-hungry man prone to cruelty and tyranny, he was promoted to colonel and commander of the “army” in March 1918. And at the end of the same month, Viktor Leonidovich, at the age of 29, becomes a general.
At the same time, Pokrovsky’s ambitions were by no means satisfied. He plotted intrigues with frightening frequency. All in the same 1918, General Denikin received a report from General Romanovsky that Pokrovsky and Colonel Andrei Grigorievich Shkuro intend to send troops to Yekaterinodar and carry out a coup, having dealt with the “party of the Black Sea” (independent Cossacks who advocated the independence of the Kuban and had connections with provocateurs from Ukraine and the Germans). The coup did not take place, however, the Rada, placating Pokrovsky, did not skimp on orders and titles.
Having earned a reputation as an upstart, adventurer and intriguer, Pokrovsky became famous for carousing and drinking, which often took place in the company of Colonel Shkuro right at the headquarters. Baron and General Pyotr Nikolaevich Wrangel spoke of Pokrovsky and his “legacy” no less “flatteringly” in his “Notes”:
“The collapse has reached the top of the army as well. They were politicking, intriguing, dissolving unworthy squabbles and intrigues. Fertile soil opened up a wide field of activity for large and small adventurers. Particularly noisy was the generals who were left behind, consumed by unsatisfied ambition, who had not been promoted according to merit: the former commander of the Caucasian army, General Pokrovsky … “
Later, the famous “black baron” Wrangel, with the greatest relief, will write about the emigration of Pokrovsky to Bulgaria, stung by the fact that he was not entrusted with a command post in the Russian army:
“The intrigues and intrigues of the dissatisfied generals have come to an end. Simultaneously with generals Sidorin and Kelchevsky, generals Pokrovsky, Borovsky, Pestovsky went abroad. The intrigues have stopped. “
Southern city awaiting massacre
In August 1918, the Volunteer Army, in alliance with the “Kuban Army” (Kuban Brigade) that had joined it, finally (after the March failure) took Yekaterinodar by storm. Under the onslaught of numerous Cossack White Guard bands, Georgian Mensheviks who stood on a nationalist basis, and, of course, Denikin’s troops, the Bolshevik front began to crumble.
Campaign of the Taman army in 1918. Hood. A. Kokorin
The Taman army under the command of Ivan Ivanovich Matveyev and his deputy, future corps commander Epifan Iovich Kovtyukh, with heavy fighting retreated towards Tuapse, leaving Novorossiysk. The movement of the troops was burdened and tragic, since civilians also fled after the fighters, fearing the white terror that was already burning in the Kuban with might and main. At the same time, the forward detachments of the army entered into clashes with Georgian nationalist troops, and the rearguard had to periodically fight off groups of “Denikinites” and White Cossacks.
Having taken by storm Tuapse, occupied by Georgian troops, the Taman army turned to the northeast and headed towards Armavir through the mountain ranges. But already in the area of the village of Khadyzhenskaya (the modern city of Khadyzhensk), the Tamans were attacked by units of General Pokrovsky. Heavy fighting ensued. Pokrovsky hoped to completely stop the attempt by the Bolsheviks to break through to the main red forces of Ivan Sorokin in the east, and he counted with good reason. The Taman army was battered by the fighting, suffered from hunger, and its movement was constrained by refugees. At the same time, Pokrovsky had cavalry, artillery, and the number of his fighters was over 12 thousand.
At the same time, the troops of Pokrovsky, coordinating their actions with the anti-Bolshevik Cossack detachments of General Alexander Alexandrovich Geyman (about 5 thousand bayonets and up to 1 thousand cavalry), entered the villages of Kubanskaya, Tulskaya, Abadzekhskaya, Dagestan and Kurdzhipskaya. Thus, they took Maikop, which was still in the hands of the Bolsheviks, into a semi-ring. At the same time, like-minded people in Maikop had no connection with the Tamans, so they did not suspect that large forces were making their way to the east.
Taking advantage of this, on September 7, Pokrovsky and Gaiman threw large forces on Maykop. The fighting lasted all day, and only at dusk did the Bolshevik detachments leave the city, moving east across the Fars River, where they set up defensive positions.
For Maykop, taken by the White Cossacks, the days of a kind of rehearsal of the bloody massacre, which will come in the 20th of September, have come. Pokrovsky, in his best traditions, began to rigidly establish his “order”. However, the reprisals were sporadic and concerned the Bolsheviks and sympathizers. The Taman army did not allow Pokrovsky and his accomplices to roam with all their might.
On September 10, the Tamans launched an attack, breaking through to the east towards Armavir to reunite with the main Bolshevik forces in the North Caucasus. A day later, Belorechenskaya stanitsa (now Belorechensk) was occupied, and the troops of Pokrovsky were defeated. Some of the vain general’s fighters were forced to retreat to the village of Tsarsky Dar (now Velikovechnoye), while others retreated directly to Maikop. But Pokrovsky did not want to let the Tamanians pass, so he again began to pull together his forces.
According to one version, the troops holding the defenses along the Fars River continued to remain in the dark about the actions of the Taman army, according to the other, on the contrary, they used the weakening of the Maikop garrison by the restless Pokrovsky. One way or another, but on the night of September 17, 1918, the 1st and 2nd Maikop regiments, with the support of cavalry, occupied Maikop. In favor of the fact that the regiments had no connection with the Tamans is the fact that they did not develop the offensive, although they could cut the forces of Pokrovsky and Gaiman.
The storming of Maykop and the beginning of the massacres
Upon learning of the loss of Maikop, Pokrovsky left only a small detachment to pursue the breakthrough Tamans, and he himself deployed all available forces, including Gaiman’s detachments and small groups of White Cossacks, to storm the city. In the early morning of September 20, thousands of fighters from the angry Pokrovsky attacked Maykop from the north. Up to nine times, anti-Bolshevik troops tried to take the city by storm, but each time they ran into stubborn resistance. Therefore, Pokrovsky constantly maneuvered, trying to find the most vulnerable spot in the defense of the Reds.
By 16:00, the defenders were practically out of ammunition. Increasingly, they had to use bayonets. As a result, during the retreat, almost all the Bolshevik fighters were killed. Only two scattered groups of 250 were able to break through to the east. General Pokrovsky in the evening solemnly entered the “liberated from Bolshevism” Maikop. The city was in a deplorable state: corpses were lying on the streets, some buildings were destroyed or burned down, people, not understanding what was happening, were hiding.
And in this infernal bloody chaos, Pokrovsky began to restore order in his usual manner. According to his order, all power in the city passed to a certain Esaul Razderishin, who was appointed “the commandant of the city of Maikop.” Razderishin, apparently not yielding to his commander in energy, instantly issued “Order No. 1 to the city of Maikop”:
“I order the population of the city of Maikop to immediately bring the latter into a decent form.
1. Clean out and sweep all streets and squares of the city, courtyards, bazaars. In houses, wash windows, stairs and floors.
2. To the city administration to increase the number of lanterns and now to illuminate the city.
3. In order not to clog it again, I forbid scattering fruit peels and seed peels on the streets. I completely forbid the sale of the latter.
4. I prohibit the sale of fruit on the streets, it is allowed only in bazaars and shops.
5. Clean out all cesspools and trash pits.
In one day, the city must be brought into full order.
The fulfillment of all of the aforementioned is entrusted to the population, the city administration and the district elders. I take it upon myself to observe and warn that for failure to fulfill my demands, the guilty will be subject to fines and corporal punishment. “
The wicked irony is that the order to hold this schizophrenic subbotnik with the possibility of being beaten to the point of disability was far from the most inadequate of those that were then issued by the new authorities with the full approval of General Pokrovsky. Soon the tragic events will begin, which went down in history as the Maykop massacre.
To be continued…