Figner, Aleksandr Samoilovich

The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Figner, Aleksandr Samoilovich


Born 1787; died Oct. 1 (13), 1813, near Dessau, now in the German Democratic Republic. Hero of the Patriotic War of 1812. Colonel (1813).

Figner graduated from the second cadet corps in 1805. In 1805 and 1806 he took part in a Russian naval expedition to the Mediterranean Sea. In 1810 and 1811 he fought in the Russo-Turkish War of 1806–12, distinguishing himself at the battle of Ruşçuk (now Ruse). At the beginning of the Patriotic War he commanded an artillery company of the 11th Artillery Brigade. After the French occupation of Moscow, Figner, disguised as a French officer, gathered intelligence in the city. Later he formed a small detachment of volunteers and launched bold attacks against the enemy. At the end of September he assumed command of a partisan detachment of soldiers and peasants, which successfully operated in the enemy rear and delivered valuable intelligence to the Russian command.

Early in 1813, on secret orders from M. I. Kutuzov, Figner, disguised as an Italian merchant, penetrated the fortress of Danzig. He soon gained the trust of the French commander, General J. Rapp, who used Figner to deliver dispatches to Napoleon; instead, Figner delivered them to the Russian command.

Figner subsequently formed a legion consisting of Germans, Italians, and cossacks and carried out operations in the enemy rear in Saxony. During one operation, Figner’s detachment was surrounded by the French. Figner perished while attempting to cross the Elbe River.

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.