the regime established by White Guard counterrevolutionaries in the Crimea and southern Ukraine from April to November 1920. After the rout of A. I. Denikin’s White Guard Army, part of it retreated to the Crimea. At the end of March 1920, White Guard units that had survived the rout in the Northern Caucasus were transported to the Crimea by Entente ships. In early April, General P. N. Wrangel became the commander of these White Guard forces.
Great Britain transferred to Wrangel the unused portion of the government credits that had been extended to Denikin, more than £-11 million. Wrangel made extensive use of British aid but firmly rejected Britain’s proposal to limit military action to the defense of the Crimea. Leadership of the counterrevolution in southern Russia then passed to France, which supplied Wrangel’s army with rifles, artillery, tanks, planes, ammunition, and uniforms.
In April 1920, Wrangel reorganized the remnants of Denikin’s armed forces into the so-called Russian Army, numbering some 40,000 (by October 80,000) troops, a large portion of whom were officers and noncommissioned officers. Wrangel also had navies on the Black and Azov seas. All political power in the region was held by the commander in chief of the army, Wrangel, and the government formed by him. The members of this government included A. V. Krivoshein, chairman; P. B. Struve, foreign minister; N. N. Tagantsev, minister of justice; and M. V. Bernatskii, minister of finance.
While reflecting the interests of the landowners and financial bourgeoisie, the Wrangelevshchina was also an at-tempt by the landowner-bourgeois counterrevolution to gain the support of the kulaks and more prosperous strata of the peasantry. On May 25, 1920, Wrangel published a “land law,” which provided that a portion of the landowners’ lands (in estates of more than 600 desiatinas [654 hectares]) could become peasant property, with redemption payments of five times the value of its output to be spread over a 25-year period.
In addition to the “land law” there was issued a “law on volost zemstvos (small rural district assemblies) and village obshchiny (peasant communes),” which were to become organs of peasant (in reality, kulak-landowner) self-government in place of the volost (small rural district) and village Soviets. Wrangel promised the workers state protection against the proprietors of enterprises. He pursued a repressive policy toward workers’ organizations and dealt harshly with Communists and their sympathizers.
Reckoning on the rapid success of the agrarian measures and taking into account the political conflicts with bourgeois Poland (between Wrangel and Pilsudski), Wrangel rejected a proposal for a unified command with Polish armed forces. He conceived an adventuristic plan for military operations independent of the White Poles’ plan for an offensive. Wrangel’s intention was to seize Northern Tavria, the Donbas, and the Taman’ Peninsula. Then, after strengthening his forces by mobilizing the peasantry, he expected to seize the Don region and Northern Caucasus and, later, to march on Moscow.
Taking advantage of the diversion of the Red Army’s main forces to the Polish front, Wrangel gained control of Northern Tavria during June 1920. The Soviet command of the Southwestern Front underestimated Wrangel’s forces and, consequently, could not repel his attack. In Northern Tavria, Wrangel began mobilizing the peasants in order to enlarge his army, but his efforts met with failure—a failure that nullified his military successes. Both the middle peasants and the Ukrainian kulaks firmly refused to form an alliance with Wrangel. He then changed his tactics and placed his hopes on the cossacks. Wrangel concluded an agreement with the cos-sack governments and atamans, giving them the appearance of independence.
In August, Wrangel’s forces landed in the Kuban’. On August 18 they seized the stanitsa (large cossack village) of Timashevskaia and began to threaten Ekaterinodar (Krasnodar) but were halted and then defeated by the Red Army and forced to withdraw from the Kuban’ region.
In September 1920, Wrangel’s army began active operations to seize the Donbas, but Soviet troops halted the White Guard offensive. Defeated, the Wrangel government attempted to prevent Poland from concluding peace with Soviet Russia and proposed the union of Wrangel’s army with Polish forces under the command of one of the French generals. At the beginning of October, Wrangel launched combat operations in order to advance his forces beyond the Dnieper, sieze Odessa, and link up with the right wing of the Polish forces in the Right-bank Ukraine. These plans of Wrangel’s were foiled by Soviet troops. The Polish government dispatched former members of Denikin’s army to reinforce Wrangel’s forces and permitted him to organize a new army of some 80,000 men on Polish territory. It refused, however, to participate in any joint military action or to prolong the war.
After concluding peace with Poland, the Soviet command was able to direct its main efforts to destroying Wrangel’s army. Pursuant to a decision made by the Central Committee of the RCP (Bolshevik) on August 2, the Crimean sector was detached from the Southwestern Front by the Revolutionary Military Council of the Republic on September 21 and made an independent Southern Front under the command of M. V. Frunze and Revolutionary Military Council members S. I. Gusev and Bela Kun. At the end of October troops of the Southern Front launched an offensive and routed the main Wrangel forces in Northern Tavria. On November 7-11, Soviet forces heroically overcame the strong fortifications on the Crimean isthmuses. On November 17 the liberation of the Crimea was completed. The remnants of the White forces, along with a large part of the counterrevolutionary bourgeois population that had fled to the Crimea from the central regions of the country, were evacuated abroad.
REFERENCESIz istorii grazhdanskoi voiny v SSSR: Sbornik dokumentov i materialov, 1918-1922, vol. 3. Moscow, 1961.
Kuz’min, N. F. Krushenie poslednego pokhoda Antanty. Moscow, 1958.
A. V. GOLUBEV