Émigrés, White

Émigrés, White


all opponents of Soviet power who left Russia after Nov. 7, 1917. In addition to generals, officers, soldiers, and cossacks of the defeated White armies, the White émigrés comprised landowners, capitalists, merchants, government officials, bankrupt politicians, intellectuals, frightened philistines who cast their lot with the foregoing classes and strata, and family members who accompanied those in the groups listed. In the words of V. I. Lenin, “they were driven out by the Civil War” (Poln. sobr. soch., 5th ed., vol. 43, p. 49). Between 1917 and 1921 the White émigrés totaled some 2 million persons, most of whom settled in France, Germany, Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia, and China; as time went on, increasing numbers took up residence in South America, the USA, and Canada. A description of the main trends and organizations among the White émigrés follows.

The monarchists, at a congress held in Bad Reichenhall, Bavaria, in May 1921, elected a supreme monarchist council, with N. E. Markov as chairman. They published the Vysshii monarkhicheskii sovet in Berlin. The monarchists were divided into two opposing factions: the supporters of Grand Duke Nikolai Nikolaevich, the Younger, a first cousin once removed of Nicholas II, and the supporters of Grand Duke Kirill Vladimirovich, a cousin of Nicholas II. On Aug. 31, 1924, in Coburg, Germany, Kirill Vladimirovich proclaimed himself emperor of all Russia.

The Young Russians (Mladorossy) united under the slogan “The tsar and soviets.” At a congress held in Munich in 1923, they established the Union of Young Russians, with A. L. Kazem-bek as chairman. The Young Russians were most active in the mid-1930’s, when they tried to assume the role of a “second soviet party” and promised “to turn the revolution onto the path of nationalism.” They published Mladorosskaia iskra (1931–39). In 1939 the union, convinced that its efforts were futile, disbanded.

The Russian General Military Union, founded on the initiative of General P. N. Wrangel in September 1924, united former generals, officers, soldiers, and cossacks of the White armies, who numbered about 100,000. It had its headquarters in Paris and departments and branches in Europe, South America, the USA, and China. Its organ, Chasovoi, was edited by V. V. Orekhov from 1929 to 1941 in Paris; publication was resumed after 1945 in Brussels. The union maintained the Fund for the Salvation of Russia, which was used to finance its intelligence work and subversive activities in the USSR. After Wrangel’s death in 1928, the union was headed by A. P. Kutepov, E. K. Miller, and A. P. Arkhangel’skii.

The Russian Financial, Industrial, and Commercial Union, also known as Torgprom, was founded in Paris in 1920. It united more than 600 large-scale capitalists and was headed by S. N. Tret’iakov, A. I. Guchkov, and S. G. Lianozov. The union advocated the “restoration of private-property rights” and attempted to thwart the signing of trade agreements with Soviet Russia.

The Constitutional Democrats, or Cadets, who emigrated split into various groups. Such right-wing Cadets as A. V. Kartashev and V. D. Nabokov joined with P. B. Struve and V. L. Burtsev to form the Russian National Committee, which proclaimed its loyalty to the “principle of armed struggle” against Soviet power. Some of the Cadets rallied around the newspaper Rul’ (1920–31), published in Berlin and edited by I. V. Gessen. The left-wing Cadets, headed by P. N. Miliukov, gathered around the newspaper Poslednie novosti (1920–40), published in Paris. After the White Guards had been soundly defeated, the left-wing Cadets adopted a new tactic, one aimed at promoting the “evolution and transformation of the Soviet system.”

The Republican Democratic Union, founded in June 1924 and headed by Miliukov, was an “alliance of persons ranging from left-wing Cadets to right-wing socialists” who opposed the “Communist economic system.” In the 1920’s the union had branches in Berlin and Prague; its headquarters was in Paris.

The émigré Socialist Revolutionaries (SR’s) and Mensheviks split into numerous groups over questions of tactics. Most of the SR’s lived in Paris, where they published the newspaper Dni (1922–32) under the editorship of A. F. Kerensky, and in Prague, where they published the newspaper Volia Rossii (1922–32) under the editorship of V. I. Lebedev, M. L. Slonim, and V. V. Sukhomlin. In Berlin the Mensheviks, headed by L. Martov and R. A. Abramovich, founded the Foreign Delegation of the RSDLP (Mensheviks), which rallied around the newspaper Sotsialisticheskii vestnik. In Paris the Georgian Mensheviks founded the Parity Committee, or the Committee for the Liberation of Georgia, which was headed by N. N. Zhordaniia, I. G. Tsereteli, and N. S. Chkheidze.

The ideologists of Eurasianism, a trend that arose among the émigrémigré intelligentsia in 1921, included N. S. Trubetskoi, N. N. Alekseev, G. V. Vernadsky, and P. N. Savitskii. In their view, the collapse of the White movement and the dislocations throughout the world during the postwar era were results of the false path that European culture had taken. They believed that European culture was dying and would be replaced by a new culture from the East—from Asia and adjacent areas of Europe— that would be pervaded by nationalism and the ideas of the Orthodox Church; their theories were set forth in the collection An Opening to the East (1921).

The Eurasianists looked to the unique nature of Russia’s historical development for an explanation of current events. Their political program was based on the discredited slogan “Soviets without Communists.” A split occurred among the Eurasianists in the late l920’s.

Another ideological current among émigré intellectuals was smenovekhovstvo, or the Change of Landmarks movement, which published the journal Smena vekh (1921–22) in Paris and the newspaper Nakanune (1922–24) in Berlin. The movement, whose theorists and leaders included Iu. V. Kliuchnikov, N. V. Ustrialov, and A. V. Bobrishchev-Pushkin, showed that part of the intelligentsia had come to accept Soviet power. Together with an objective and progressive wing, however, the movement included right-wing members who looked forward to a bourgeois restoration and interpreted the New Economic Policy as a return to capitalist relations.

Efforts to unite the forces of the White émigrés proved futile: the Russian Congress Abroad (April 1926, Paris), in whose preparation anti-Soviet commercial and industrial circles played a major role, ended in failure. The most adventuristic of the White émigrés waged a bitter struggle against Soviet power. Such organizations as the Russian General Military Union, the Supreme Monarchist Council, and the Russian Financial, Industrial, and Commercial Union drew up plans for intervention in Soviet Russia, engaged in terrorist, intelligence, and subversive activities there, spread anti-Soviet lies, and carried out acts of terrorism designed to complicate the international situation and provoke a conflict between the capitalist countries and the USSR. The White Guards assassinated V. V. Vorovskii, the Soviet representative at the Lausanne Conference, in 1923 and P. L. Voikov, the Soviet ambassador to Poland, in 1927. White Guard detachments took part in the fascist takeover in Bulgaria in 1923, served in the Yugoslav border troops, fought in the counterrevolutionary armies of Chang Tso-lin, and took part in the adventuristic operations of Chinese White generals on the Chinese Eastern Railway in 1929.

At the same time, the difficult financial and legal situation of the overwhelming majority of the émigrés, disenchantment with the ideals and slogans of the White movement, the growing international recognition of Soviet Russia, news about improving economic conditions there, and nostalgia for the motherland contributed to the dissolution of the White émigré movement and led to the founding of unions of return to the motherland. In 1921 about 120,000 émigrés returned home, including such prominent leaders of the White movement as Ia. A. Slashchev and Iu. K. Gravitskii.

In the 1930’s many émigrémigré groups and organizations disintegrated and ceased to exist. On the eve of World War II some émigrés, convinced of the need to defend the USSR, organized the Union of the Defensists in France. With the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War several hundred émigrés, mostly of the younger generation, went to fight against fascism in the international brigades; however, there were also Russian émigrés in General F. Franco’s army.

Fascist Germany’s attack on the USSR brought about new divisions among the White émigrés. Generals P. N. Krasnov and A. G. Shkuro formed military units in temporarily occupied areas of the USSR to aid the Wehrmacht. In Yugoslavia, General B. A. Shteifon headed the Defense Corps, composed of Russian émigrés, which took part in punitive expeditions against the Yugoslav partisans. Members of the National Labor Alliance of the New Generation, founded by B. M. Baidalakov and M. Georgievskii in 1930 as the National Alliance of Russian Youth, were in the service of the fascist Germans during the war.

Considerable numbers of White émigrés waited to see what the turn of events would bring. The victories of the Soviet Army forced many to revise their positions. Antifascist émigrés took part in the resistance movement in France, Belgium, Italy and other European countries; some of them died heroically in the struggle against fascism, including B. V. Vil’de, A. A. Levitskii, E. Iu. Kuz’mina-Karavaeva, V. A. Obolenskaia, and M. A. Shavrova-Marutaeva.

On June 14, 1946, the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR issued the edict On Restoring Soviet Citizenship to Subjects of the Former Russian Empire and to Persons Who Have Lost Their Soviet Citizenship. As a result of the edict, about 11,000 persons in France alone became citizens of the USSR, some 2,000 of whom returned to the motherland. Emigres from other European countries returned as well, and an unusually large number returned from China.

The White émigrés exhausted themselves as a political force. Only small groups have retained their world view in its original form; they take part in anti-Soviet campaigns that are stirred up by traitors to the motherland who ended up abroad after the Great Patriotic War and by younger renegades.


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