Anatolii Mikhailovich Stessel

Stessel’, Anatolii Mikhailovich

 

Born June 28 (July 10), 1848; died 1915. Russian military commander; lieutenant general (1901).

Stessel’ graduated from the Pavel Military School in 1866 and fought in the Russo-Turkish War of 1877–78. Commanding a brigade, he helped suppress the Boxer Rebellion in China in 1900 and 1901. In August 1903 he was made commandant of Port Arthur, and in January 1904 he became commander of the III Siberian Corps. In March 1904, after the outbreak of the Russo-Japanese War (1904–05), Stessel’ became commander of the Kwangtung Fortified Area.

An unscrupulous opportunist, Stessel’ managed, despite his cowardice and lack of talent, to win the favor of the tsar during the defense of Port Arthur, as well as the support of the press, which glorified him as a hero. In December 1904, despite a decision by the military council, Stessel’ surrendered the fortress to the Japanese. He retired in September 1906. In 1907, as a result of public pressure, he was brought to trial, and in 1908 he was sentenced to death for the decisive role he played in the capitulation. The sentence was commuted to ten years’ imprisonment. Stessel’ was pardoned by the tsar in 1909.