Michael Palij, The Anarchism of Nestor Makhno, 1918-1921: An Aspect of the Ukrainian Revolution, 1976.

19. Makhno between Wrangel and the Bolsheviks

After evacuation of the remnants of the Volunteer Army into the Crimea, General Slashchov's Crimean Corps held the Thirteenth Red Army in check from January to March at the Perekop and Syvash isthmuses.1 Denikin, physically and morally defeated, resigned his position as commander in chief and on April 4 at the Conference of Superior Officers, originally the Military Council (Army corps commanders or their equivalents) elected General Baron Peter Nikolaevich Wrangel commander in chief. Wrangel accepted the election by signing a statement:

I have shared the honour of its victories with the Army, and cannot refuse to drink the cup of humiliation with it now. Drawing strength from the trust which my comrades-in-arms place in me, I consent to accept the post of Commander-in-Chief. 2

Whereupon Denikin issued an edict stating:

Lieutenant-General Baron Wrangel is hereby appointed Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of South Russia. Sincere greetings to all those who have followed me loyally in the terribie struggle. God save Russia and grant victory to the Army.3

Wrangel realized that his army of 70,000, reorganized in the course of April and May, could not hope to defeat the Red forces alone. Although Wrangel was a thorough conservative, he tried to correct the mistakes made by his predecessor by introducing a new agrarian law on June 7, 1920, vesting ownership of the land in the peasants, represented by the Soviets of counties and districts, whose members were elected, mainly from among the peasant owners.4 This reform was to be carried out by Aleksandr Vasil'evich Krivoshein, the former minister of agriculture, who had carried out Stolypin's agrarian reforms. Wrangel believed his agrarian policy would secure for him the support of the peasants and would at the same time undermine the discipline of the Red troops. However, the peasants were not satisfied with the new law. Moreover, in many places news of Wrangel's agricultural reforms never reached them. In contrast to Denikin, Wrangel was willing to seek allies where Denikin had seen enemies. He tried to enlist officers and soldiers from belligerent armies. On April 29, 1920, he freed

... all the officers and soldiers who had given themselves up and come over to our side before or during the struggle, from every kind of proceeding and service restriction, as well as all those who had served previously in the Soviet Army, and who had, therefore, already undergone punishment and service restrictions after the territory had been occupied by the armed forces of South Russia of their own free will; they were all reinstated in the ranks and privileges they had held on December 1, 1917. At the same time, all the officers and soldiers who had served the new States, Ukraine and Georgia, and who had undergone punishment and restrictions on that account, were exempted from all further punishment or service restrictions.5

These concessions were extended to the staff of institutions and civil administration by virtue of an edict issued on June 8, 1920.6 Wrangel also wished to improve relations with the non-Russian people, especially with the Don and Kuban Cossacks. He considered

. . . the policy of the former government conducted under the slogan "indivisible Russia," an irreconcilable struggle against all people who inhabited Russia, . . . wrong, and would try to unite all the anti-Bolshevik forces.7

In widening his search for allies against the Bolsheviks, however, Wrangel lost the support of the British government. On April 29, 1920, General Percy, chief of the British Military Mission, announced: "Should General Wrangel prolong the struggle, it can have only one result, and we cannot encourage it by subsidies in money or kind." According to Wrangel the British government insisted that he should enter into direct negotiations with the Bolsheviks:

They warned me that a continuation of the struggle might have fatal results, and that in any case I could not count on any assistance from them. It was clear that the British Government, which sought closer relations with the Bolshevik Government, wished above all to see hostilities come to an end.9

Wrangel rejected British advice and continued his preparation for an offensive; consequently, the British government recalled its representatives and military mission from the Crimea. However, the ensuing war between Soviet Russia and Poland favored Wrangel's cause. On the advice of the head of the French Military Mission, General Mangin, that Wrangel coordinate his activities with the Polish and Ukrainian armies, Prince Trubetskoi, Wrangel's representative in Paris, wrote on May 17, 1920, to Mangin:

The Commander-in-Chief is ready to accept all the collaboration which offers itself, and will be more than willing to cooperate with the Polish and Ukrainian forces. [However] ... he does not want to broach the political side of the question, nor to take his stand on the recent news of the political agreement between Poland and Ukraine. The aim of the Armed Forces of South Russia is the essentially practical and military one of fighting the Bolshevists.11

Although Wrangel's desire to coordinate his own activities with those of the Polish and Ukrainian forces was thwarted by the Iatter's rapid retreat into Poland, each army derived some benefit from the other; Wrangel had aided Poland by diverting large Bolshevik forces to South Ukraine and the Kuban, while the Poles later permitted about ten thousand of General Bredov's troops to transfer to the Crimea and join Wrangel.12 On August 10, 1920, Alexander Millerand, the prime minister of France, in a letter to the Russian Embassy in Paris, declared :

I have the honour to inform you that the Government of the Republic has decided to accord de facto recognition to the Government of South Russia, and will send a diplomatic agent to Sevastopol ... at the same time notifying the Allied and Associated Governments of its decisions.13

This recognition of Wrangel's government and the subsequent support given to him was largely motivated by the French desire to establish an allied Polish state against Germany and to save it from the Bolshevik invasion. According to Wrangel:

At the time when hostilities began between Poland and the Government of the Soviets, France thought it necessary to support the White Armies, which might attract to their front a portion of the Red forces. Later Millerand . . . made a public acknowledgment that the help which had been lent to the White Armies had no other aim beyond the saving of Poland. 14

At the end of 1919 the Ukrainian Army was forced by the superior Bolshevik and anti-Bolshevik Russian forces to retreat westward where it encountered the Polish Army. Petliura decided it was impossible under these circumstances to continue orthodox warfare without external aid. He felt, however, that the struggle against the invading Russian forces should continue in the form of guerrilla warfare. Part of the army, about fourteen thousand men, was reorganized and, on December 7, 1919, under General Mykhailo Omelianovych-Pavlenko, moved far to the rear of the Bolshevik and Denikin forces to fight them and to support the Ukrainian partisans. This "Winter Campaign" continued through the winter of 1919-20.15

Petliura realized that Ukraine could not survive in her struggle against the Russian Reds and Whites without assistance from the Entente. Therefore, he tried to come to terms with the Polish government, which, in his judgment, was the bridge to the Entente. At first reluctant, Poland came awake when the erosion of the Ukrainian position threatened to remove the barrier that had protected Poland from the Bolshevik threat since Germany's defeat. Thus, once the Polish Army attained the desired frontiers, the Zbruch River and western Volyn up to the Styr River, at the expense of Ukraine, the Poles agreed to negotiate. The Directory was obliged to issue a declaration on December 2, 1919, without the consent of its Galician members, accepting this line as the Polish-Ukrainian frontier.

After prolonged negotiations the two governments concluded a treaty, consisting of a political agreement and a military convention. Both governments expressed their profound conviction "that each people possesses the natural right to self-determination and to define its relations with neighboring peoples, and is equally desirous of establishing a basis for concordant and friendly coexistence for the welfare and development of both peoples."16 Although the treaty had many weaknesses and was sharply criticized by many on both sides, and in addition it did not achieve the Directory's hope of winning French or British support, both the Polish and Ukrainian armies, including the participants in the winter campaign, joined in fighting the Red Army. On May 8, 1920, they liberated Kyiv. The Bolshevik counteroffensive, however, forced them to retreat deep into Poland where the Bolsheviks were finally defeated. The Soviet Russian government proposed an armistice and a preliminary peace that the Polish government accepted without consulting the Ukrainian government. When Ukraine asked to participate in the peace negotiations, the Polish minister of foreign affairs, Prince Eustachy Sapieha, referred this question to the Soviet Russian government:

In our negotiations with the Bolsheviks the problem of Petliura will not be taken into consideration at all; nevertheless, today I sent a message to Chicherin informing him that Petliura's government wishes to negotiate with the Russian delegation at Riga. This proposal, however, should in no way create difficulties for the departure of our delegation, even if Chicherin rejects negotiation with Petliura, which I think is certain. 17

Although in the Treaty of Warsaw the Polish government had agreed "not to conclude any international agreements directed against Ukraine," the preliminary peace treaty and armistice between Soviet Russia and Poland were signed on October 12, 1920, and the final peace treaty was signed on March 18, 1921.

In the meantime, however, because the Crimea was too small, either to supply food for such a large army for long and ensure foreign trade or to serve as a base for major operations against the Bolshevik forces, Wrangel's primary task was to capture northern Tavriia, in his words "a matter of life and death for us." The outbreak of the Polish-Bolshevik war at the end of April benefited Wrangel because it diverted the Bolsheviks' attention and relieved the pressure, enabling him to launch an offensive against the Bolsheviks in Tavriia on June 6. In a series of battles Wrangel penetrated north, forcing a general Bolshevik retreat and capturing more than eleven thousand prisoners, sixty big guns, three hundred machine guns, two armored cars, and a huge collection of small arms and bayonets.20 As Wrangel advanced deeper into the Left Bank, Makhno retreated north to the Kharkiv region, leaving behind smaH'partisan units in the villages and towns to carry on covert destruction of the Bolshevik administrative apparatus and supply bases.21 According to a Soviet author:

Fighting against the Red units was more and more violent and the Makhno movement, under various guises and pretexts, moved into the deep rear, causing colossal destruction. Railroad lines, the supplies of products, materials, ammunition—everything that was necessary for the struggle against the White guards. What was burned and destroyed, of course, echoed upon the results of the fighting against Wrangel.22

Wrangel attempted to reach an agreement with Makhno after receiving this encouraging note that he believed was from him: "The Bolsheviks killed my brother. I am going to avenge him. After my vengeance I will come to assist you."23 It is not known whether Makhno wanted to mislead Wrangel or whether somebody else sent the letter, but Wrangel took it seriously. According to the war correspondent with the Wrangel troops:

On the whole, at headquarters, special attention is paid to the partisan movement. Especially . . . the Makhno movement. Now Makhno is considered not a bandit, but a representative of peasant aspirations, a kind of uncrowned tsar of peasants.24

To gain support from Makhno, Wrangel decided to enter into contact with him, disregarding warnings from his intelligence staff that Makhno was an agrarian-anarchist and a bandit who could hardly be expected to enter into an agreement with a tsarist general. On July 1, 1920, an envoy, Ivan Mikhailov, left Wrangel's headquarters at MelitopiP with a letter signed by Wrangel's chief of staff, General Pavel N. Shatilov, and General Konovalov:

To the ataman of the partisan forces, Makhno. The Russian army is fighting exclusively against the Communists in order to help the people save themselves from the commune and commissars and to secure for the working peasants the lands of the state, the landlords, and other private properties. The latter we are already putting into effect. Russian soldiers and officers are fighting for the people and for their well-being. Everybody who is fighting for the people should proceed hand in hand with us. Therefore, now intensify fighting against the Communists by attacking their rear, destroying their transport, and helping in every possible way in the final destruction of Trotsky's troops. The Supreme Command will do what it can to help you by supplying arms and ammunition, and also by sending specialists. Send your representative to headquarters with reports on what you particularly need and for an agreement about operational matters.26

On July 22, after considering this proposal, Makhno and his staff gave an emphatic reply to Wrangel by executing the envoy. In spite of this rejection both sides spread rumors about Makhno's cooperation with Wrangel: the Bolsheviks, to discredit him; the anti-Bolsheviks, to win the confidence of the peasants. Speaking about military conditions on the southern front, Trotsky said: "this Crimean partisan [Wrangel] who united with the Ukrainian partisan Makhno, is advancing northward."27 Later, on October 14, 1920, Trotsky retracted this statement:

Wrangel really tried to come into direct contact with Makhno's men and dispatched to Makhno's headquarters two representatives for negotiations. . . . [However] Makhno's men not only did not enter into negotiation with the representatives of Wrangel, but publicly hanged them as soon as they arrived at the headquarters.28

Nevertheless, rumors were widely circulated and accepted by both the leaders and the people that a close alliance had been concluded; that Makhno and his staff were subordinate to Wrangel, that Makhno had been given a command in Wrangel's army, and that Makhno had lavishly received Wrangel's delegates and toasted to the honor of the chief commander. Later, the newspapers published reports that "Wrangel's ally Makhno had taken Kharkiv and Katerynoslav and the Makhno detachments would join the left flank of Wrangel's army in advancing along the railroads toward Oleksandrivs'k-Katerynoslav.

As the campaign developed, Wrangel realized that his Crimean-Tavriian base of operation was inadequate and precarious. The Crimea was short of everything and could not feed its own population or the large influx of refugees, let alone the Wrangel forces. Tavriia, however, was threatened by growing Bolshevik presence, partisan activities, and peasant uprisings. Moreover, Wrangel's army was too small to secure any more extensive territory in hostile Ukraine. Wrangel had taken to heart the lessons of Denikin's disastrous drive on Moscow without consolidating his rear. He felt that for larger operations he needed to procure a less hazardous base, to enlarge his army and supplies. The Kuban and the Don basins were the only places where Wrangel could find what he needed. During Denikin's retreat thousands of Cossacks had returned to their homes in those areas, taking with them horses, arms, and ammunition. Moreover, these regions were rich in natural resources. If they could be reconquered, Wrangel planned to retreat to the Crimea and defend it at the Isthmus of Perekop, while making the Kuban his base of operation. Because of these circumstances and the Cossacks' hostility toward the Bolshevik regime, Wrangel was encouraged to direct his offensive against the Don and the Kuban.30

On July 22, a detachment headed by Colonel Nazarov, consisting of 1,000 infantry, cavalry, field artillery, armored cars, and two trucks, landed in the area of Novomykolaivka west of Taganrog. Nazarov's aim was to bring about uprisings of the Don Cossacks and prepare for Wrangel's advance into the Don Basin by widening Wrangel's front against the Bolsheviks and obtaining new recruits. Moreover, Nazarov intended to establish contact with General Ulagai, who was to be landed in the Kuban, to secure his position on the lower Don and Manych rivers from the north. Although Nazarov's unit advanced rapidly through the Don, instigating a revolt against the Bolsheviks on the way, and he increased his detachment of 2,500 through mobilization, it failed to accomplish its goal because of its distance from the base and its lack of popular support. It was practically destroyed in a battle at Konstantinovka on July 24—28, though Nazarov himself made his way alone back to the Crimea.

On August 13 a detachment headed by General Ulagai, consisting of 4,500 infantry and cavalry with 130 machine guns, 26 big guns, some armored cars, and 8 airplanes, landed successfully near Primorsko-Akhtiarsk, on the Kuban coast of the Sea of Azov. Ulagai's aim was to advance rapidly on Ekaterinodar, striking at the Bolshevik forces separately and encouraging Cossack uprisings. A separate unit of 500 infantry and 2 guns landed near Anapa, on the Taman Peninsula, as a demonstration. At the outset Ulagai's forces won a few victories and occupied a number of settlements on the road to Ekaterinodar, creating aanic in the city and forcing Bolshevik military and civilian institutions to evacuate.32 However, he vacillated for several days, fearing for his Dase, thus losing his momentum and allowing the Bolsheviks to concentrate their forces. According to Wrangel:

Ulagai unfortunately encumbered himself with enormous rearguard impediments. Great reserves of arms, ammunition and provisions had been left at the landing-stage. . . . Thus, even whilst they advanced, our units were compelled to look back all the time. [Meantime] tiie enemy had begun to collect their forces to attack our advanced detachment. There was no time to be lost; every day we wasted gave the enemy another day in which to bring up fresh troops. Yet General Ulagai did not stir . . . the enemy now enjoyed an overwhelming numerical superiority.33

Ulagai's troops were forced to retreat to Achuev on the Sea of Azov coast and on September 7 they sailed to the Crimea. The unit that landed at Anapa was largely wiped out. Wrangel's Kuban invasion failed because of General Ulagai's indecisiveness; the unwillingness of Cossacks to support the invasion, which seemed to them only an adventure; and Bolshevik military superiority. However, in spite of heavy losses, Ulagai brought back more troops than he had taken with him because of Bolshevik deserters and new recruits.

Wrangel's failure to extend his territorial base into the Kuban and the Don was a turning point of his campaign:

The failure of the Kuban operation had robbed us of our last hope of finding a way of continuing the struggle on neighboring Russian territory. Abandoned to our fate as we now were, we would inevitably perish sooner or later.35

Wrangel, nevertheless, decided to make another effort to strike the Bolsheviks from a different direction, primarily to gloss over his failure in the Kuban. He informed the French government that because of Bolshevik defeat on the Polish front, "the centre of our operations will have to be shifted to Ukraine."36 Subsequently he decided to strike in two directions: across the Dnieper, and north and east from his lines. He wished to secure both banks of the Dnieper preparatory to a deeper northern penetration, and to advance into the central Ukraine to establish contact with the Poles.

Prior to the trans-Dnieper operation, Wrangel began to advance into the Left Bank, threatening the partisans' position. Consequently Makhno was compelled to seek an understanding with the Bolsheviks. The Revolutionary Military Council and Makhno's staff agreed to propose a cessation of hostilities against the Bolsheviks and to join forces with them against Wrangel, but no reply was received.37 Thus Makhno found himself caught between two forces and had to fight both simultaneously. However, in mid-September Wrangel penetrated north to the vicinity of Katerynoslav, and east toward Taganrog, capturing a number of towns including Melitopil', Oleksandrivs'k, the railroad junction at Synel'nikove, Berdians'k, and Mariupil'. Now Wrangel launched his trans-Dnieper operation near Oleksandrivs'k, forcing the Red troops to retreat all along the front. In several days of fighting he captured over three thousand prisoners, eight guns, six armored cars, and an armored train. Mikhail V. Frunze, the newly appointed commander of the southern front of the Bolsheviks, admitted that "by capturing the railroad station in Synel'nikove an undisturbed northward road was open to Wrangel where we had no troops at all."

Wrangel's success caused the Bolshevik leaders to reconsider Makh-no's earlier proposal. Their motives were "to liberate the Red Army's rear from Makhno's detachment [and to achieve] an immediate victory over Wrangel. "39 Lenin explained:

According to Trotsky, the question of Makhno was very seriously discussed in military circles, and it was concluded that nothing could be expected but gains. . . . elements grouped around Makhno have already experienced Wrangel's regime and what they can expect from him would not satisfy them. [Thus] our agreement with Makhno is secured by guaranty that he would not act against us. This is the same situation as with Denikin and Kolchak: as soon as they touched the interests of "kulaks" and peasants in general, the latter were coming to our side.40

Thus the Bolshevik authorities decided to contact Makhno. Rakov-skii wired Makhno at his headquarters at Bilovodsk in Starobil's'k district, Kharkiv province, to negotiate directly about a joint campaign against Wrangel. At that time, however, Makhno, being seriously wounded, authorized three members of his staff, Semen Karetnyk, Viktor Bilash, and Viktor Popov, to carry on preliminary negotiations on September 28, with Rakovskii's representatives, Bela Kun, Frunze, and Sergei J. Gusev (IAkov Davidovich Drabkin).41 The preliminary military and political agreement was sent to Kharkiv for ratification. For this purpose and for maintaining subsequent contact with the staff of the south front in Kharkiv, Makhno's military and political representatives, headed by Vasyl Kurylenko and Popov, were dispatched. On October 15 the agreement, which was both military and political, was accepted by both parties.42

The military agreement contained four clauses:

1. The Revolutionary Partisan Army of Ukraine (Makhnovites) would join the armed forces of the Republic, as a partisan army, subordinate operationally to the supreme command of the Red Army; it would retain its own interna) organization, and the bases of the Red Army would not be introduced.

2. While moving through Soviet territory, or across the fronts, the Revolutionary Partisan Army of Ukraine (Makhnovites) would accept into its ranks neither detachments nor deserters from the Red Army.43


a. The Red Army units and isolated Red soldiers, who have met and joined the Revolutionary Partisan Army behind the Wrangel front, should reenter the ranks of the Red Army when they again make contact with it.

b. Makhno partisans behind the Wrangel front and local people, again joining the ranks of the Partisan Army, would remain in the latter, even if they were previously mobilized by the Red Army.

3. For the purpose of destroying the common enemy, the White Guards, the Revolutionary Partisan Army of Ukraine (Makhnovites) would inform the working masses who supported it of the agreement that has been concluded, it would call upon the people to cease hostile action against the Soviet authorities; for its part, the Soviet authorities should immediately publish the clauses of the agreement.

4. The families of the Revolutionary Partisan Army (Makhnovites) living in Soviet-held territory were to enjoy the same rights as the families of the Red Army and would receive from the Soviet authorities of Ukraine necessary documents.

The political agreement contained three clauses:

1. Immediate release, and an end to the persecution of all Makhno men and anarchists in the territories of the Soviet Republics, except those who carry on armed resistance against the Soviet authorities.

2. Makhno men and anarchists were to have complete freedom of expression for their ideas and principles, by speech and the press, provided that nothing was expressed that tended to a violent overthrow of Soviet government, and on condition that the military censorship be respected. The Soviet authorities would provide Makhno men and anarchists, as revolutionary organizations recognized by the Soviet government, with technical facilities for publications, subject to the technical rules for publications.

3. Makhno men and anarchists were to enjoy full rights of participation in elections to the Soviets, including the right to be elected, and free participation in the organization of the forthcoming Fifth All-Ukrainian Congress of Soviets, which should take place next December.

There was a fourth clause in the political agreement that the Bolshevik representatives refused to sign, arguing that it needed a separate discussion and contact with Moscow:

One of the basic principles of the Makhno movement being the struggle for self-administration of the toilers, the Partisan Army brings up a fourth point: in the region of the Makhno movement, the worker and peasant population is to organize and maintain its own free institutions for economic and political self-administration; this region is subsequently to be federated with Soviet republics by means of agreements to be freely negotiated with the appropriate Soviet governmental organ.44

Between Wrangel and the Bolsheviks 225

Although Makhno demanded that the agreement should be published immediately if he were to act on it, the Bolshevik authorities, under various pretexts, delayed its publication. Finally they published only the military agreement, delaying the political agreement for several days, thus blurring its real meaning. As for the fourth political clause, it never was ratified because it was "absolutely unacceptable to the dictatorship of the proletariat." The agreement, according to a Bolshevik military historian, was justified only by its "strategic importance." However, Trotsky rejoiced "that Makhno men from now on wished to fight not against us, but with us against Wrangel." To assure Makh-no's full cooperation, the Bolsheviks released a number of Makhno men and anarchists from prison and the Bolshevik newpaper, the Proletarian, and other Kharkiv newspapers published Trotsky's declaration, which he issued on October 14, 1920, under the title Makhno i Vrangel:

Undoubtedly Makhno actually cooperated with Wrangel, and also with the Polish szlachta, as he fought with them against the Red Army. However, there was no formal alliance between them. All the documents mentioning a formal alliance were fabricated by Wrangel. . . . All this fabrication was made to deceive the protectors of Makhno, the French, and other imperialists.46

After the agreement, Makhno moved to the area of the Forty-Second Division, arriving at the end of October and setting up his headquarters at Petropavlivka. His army of over ten thousand men consisted mainly of cavalry and machine-gun regiments.47 Subsequently sensational reports began to appear in the foreign press about Makhno's joining the Red Army. These reports had a depressing effect upon Wrangel's troops because, according to the Russian war correspondent,

Great hopes were building around Wrangel's imaginary alliance with Makhno. . . . [Now] the front and the rear, which were based on belief in the existence of a Wrangel-Makhno alliance, received a serious blow to morale. Now it was revealed how false had been the reports about certain of Makhno's grand successes and about his friendly attitude toward Wrangel.48
Wrangel complained, "The bands of the famous 'Father' Makhno who up till now had been 'working' behind the Red lines, suddenly realized the possibility of profits to be made from plundering the Crimea, and joined the Soviet troops."49 After liberating Huliai-Pole, Makhno pursued Wrangel southward and in a fierce battle in the area of Orikhiv defeated the strong Drozdovskii group, taking four thousand prisoners.50 He then returned to Huliai-Pole to prepare for further campaigns.

In mid-October he turned against Wrangel with a strong partisan army of about ten thousand men headed by Karetnyk. It included cavalry units under Oleksander Marchenko and machine-gun detachments under Khoma Kozhyn. Because of his wound, Makhno did not accompany his troops but stayed in Huliai-Pole with his staff and about three thousand men.51 This act initiated the last phase of Wrangel's efforts. His temporary success in the trans-Dnieper operation ended when he was defeated at the armed fortress of Kakhivka and driven back across the Dnieper with heavy losses. Moreover, the Bolsheviks established an important strategic foothold on the left bank of the Dnieper at Kakhivka, from which they could easily strike at the approach to the Crimea, endangering Wrangel's position in northern Tavriia.52 The collapse of this operation greatly undermined the spirit of the troops.

At about the same time, Wrangel received the news that the Poles had signed an armistice and a preliminary peace treaty with Soviet Russia. Gradually the Red Army command began to transfer troops from the Polish front to the south under a slogan "all against Wrangel.' Realizing the seriousness of the situation, Wrangel called a conference of his closest advisors to decide whether to confront the enemy in northern Tavriia or to retreat behind the Isthmus of Perekop. Finally they chose the former alternative because

A retreat beyond the isthmus into the Crimea peninsula would not only condemn us to hunger and every kind of privation, but would be the confession of our powerlessness to continue an active struggle; this would deprive us of all future help from France. Once we were shut up in the Crimea, we would cease to be a menace to the Soviet government, and therefore to be of any interest to the Western Powers.54

The final battles took place toward the end of October. The Red Army command planned to destroy Wrangel in northern Tavriia by cutting him off from the Crimea, but the Wrangel troops fought their way to the Isthmus of Perekop, where fierce fighting developed. To break Wrangel's resistance there, the Red Army commander, Frunze, asked the Makhno army to move in behind Wrangel's troops across the Syvash Lagoon. Karetnyk and his chief of staff, Petro Havrylenko, were, however, very hesitant to advance into the Crimea because they were suspicious of the Bolsheviks' intentions. Frunze confessed:

It seems that Makhno's men did not quite trust me and were terribly hesitant to take the field fearing, probably, a kind of trap. Several times Karetnyk and his chief of staff would leave and come to me under the pretext of getting this or that information. Only early in the morning about 5 o'clock did I succeed in sending them to the front.56

Early on the morning of November 7 the Makhno troops made a surprise attack across the ice of the Syvash Lagoon, beating and driving back the Kuban Cossacks commanded by General Fostikov, who were guarding the Lithuanian peninsula southeast of Perekop. They broke through the heavy fire, advancing into the rear of the Perekop forces located at the first fortified position, Armiansk Bazar, and attacking Wrangel's rear from the left flank. Wrangel's effort to regain the peninsula by counterattack failed. General Kutepov then retreated from the Perekop position to a second fortified line between Perekop and IUshun. With incredible difficulty, his detachments retreated with heavy losses, leaving their artillery in place. On November 8, the Red troops began a strong frontal attack on the Perekop Isthmus that broke Wrangel's resistance; his troops, fearing to be cut off, retreated to the southern part of the isthmus, where the struggle went on for a few days. The Red troops continued to force their way deeper into the Crimea, threatening Wrangel's headquarters at Dzhankoi; Makhno's troops advanced toward SymferopiP, occupying a number of towns, and on November 13—14 they took the city by storm.57

According to Berkman, who arrived in Moscow at about this time:

I was surprised to find the city in festive attire and the people jubilant. The walls were covered with posters announcing the complete rout of Wrangel. Still greater was my astonishment when I glanced at the Bolshevik newspapers. They were full of praise for Nestor Makhno. They called him the Nemesis of the Whites and recited how his cavalry was at that very moment pursuing the remnants of Wrangel's army across the Crimean Peninsula.58

Wrangel ordered his troops to retreat to various ports of the Crimea for evacuation. Since the termination of the Polish-Soviet Russian war, Wrangel had foreseen the possibility of a Bolshevik invasion of the Crimea, and he now ordered General Shatilov and Admiral M. A. Kedrov to put into effect the plan of evacuation that had been prepared jointly by the General Staff and the Admiral of the Fleet at the beginning of May when the British asked Wrangel to come to terms with the Bolsheviks. Moreover, Wrangel had written to King Alexander of Serbia begging him to give the Russian troops shelter in case of need. As the troops reached the ports the evacuation began. From November 13 to November 16, 126 ships left the ports of Kerch, Feodosiia, Yalta, Sevastopil', and Evpatoriia carrying 150,000 persons, two-thirds of them officers and soldiers, the other third civilians. Some of the refugees were taken to Turkey and temporarily put in camps. Gradually they were settled in European countries, including Serbia, Bulgaria, Romania, and Greece.

The Wrangel movement was the last Russian attempt to overthrow the Bolshevik regime in Russia. Wrangel had inherited a most unfavorable situation from Denikin, and had less support than he from prominent Russian statesmen wishing to serve in his government. Like Denikin, he attempted to arouse the population against the Bolshevik regime not in Russia but in Ukraine, in the Don, and the Kuban, with Allied support. But Wrangel's army, except for the Don and Kuban armies, consisted primarily of the Russian upper classes, and Wrangel himself was a tsarist officer of aristocratic background. Thus the Wrangel movement respected neither the national aspirations of Ukrainians and other non-Russians, nor the civil liberties of its own people. These circumstances gave the movement the character of a force fighting against the achievements of the Revolution.

Wrangel could not bridge the wide gulf of suspicion and hostility between the movement and the population, which was the basic cause of the defeat of the anti-Bolshevik movement. His army was only a vestige of the former Volunteer Army, both in quantity and quality. It had been so decimated and demoralized that its reorganization in the Crimea had been a futile attempt to resuscitate a dead cause. The defeat of the Kuban landing, the destruction of the trans-Dnieper operation, the Polish-Bolshevik armistice, the dread prospect of spending a winter in the Crimea, the growing indications that the White regime did not have the support of the population—all these factors undermined the morale of the army. Moreover, Wrangel's army contained, besides non-Russians, a large number of Red prisoners, who were inadequately screened and hence unreliable.

Wrangel could not establish secure bases in Ukraine, the Don, or the Kuban, for in the former it was considered a foreign occupation and in the other areas the people had already lost confidence in the leadership of the movement and in the movement itself, prior to the Novorossisk catastrophe. The majority of the Russian people either supported the Bolsheviks or were neutral. Even France supported Wrangel primarily for Poland's sake and after the end of the Polish-Bolshevik war, France abandoned him. Although Makhno fought both the Bolsheviks and Wrangel, his contribution to the final defeat of the latter was essential, as is proved by the efforts of both sides to have him as an ally. Without adequate operational bases and a large army, Wrangel could not have coped with the constantly growing Red forces and the Ukrainian partisans for long, and his defeat was almost a foregone conclusion.


1. Peter P. Wrangel, "The White Armies," The English Review 47:379; Stewart, White Armies of Russia, p. 361; Frunze, Sobranie sochinenii, 1:268; Kornilovskii udarnyi polk, p. 162. According to Gukovskii the strength of Sla-shchov's Crimean Corps was from 7,000 to 8,000 men, while Slashchov gives only about 3,000 men [Al. Gukovskii, ed., "Nachalo vrangelevshchiny," KA 2 [21] [1922]: 174; Slashchev-Krymskii, Trebuiu suda obshchestva iglasnosti, p. 13).

2. Wrangel, Always with Honour, p. 146.

3. Ibid.; see also A. A. Valentinov, "Krymskaia epopeia," ARR 5:5.

4. A. L. Gukovskii, ed., "Agrarnaia politika Vrangelia," KA 1 (26) (1928): 61.

5. Wrangel, Memoirs, p. 186.

6. Ibid.

7. Gukovskii, "Nachalo vrangelevshchiny," p. 178.

8. Stewart, White Armies of Russia, p. 364.

9. Wrangel, "White Armies," pp. 379-94.

10. Ibid.

11. Wrangel, Always with Honour, pp. 208—9.

12. Grazhdanskaia voina, 3 :503—4; N. P. Lipatov, 1920 god na Chernom more, p. 251; R„ "Bredovskii pokhod," Chasovoi, no. 49 (1931), p. 22.

13. Wrangel, Always with Honour, p. 254.

14. Wrangel, "White Armies," p. 380.

15. Dotsenko, Zymovyi pokhid, pp. VIII ff.; Shandruk, Arms of Valor, p. 116; Dmytro Paliiv, "Zymovyi pokhid," LCK, no. 6 (1935), pp. 8-10.

16. Polska Akademia Nauk, Pracownia Historii Stosunkow Polsko-Radzieckich, Dokumenty i materialy do istorii stosunkow Polsko-Radzieckich (Warsaw: Ksiazka i Wiedza, 1964), 3 : 745-47.

17. Ibid., 3:409—10; see also Polska Akademia Nauk, Instytut Historii, Materialy archiwalne do historii stosunkow Polsko-Radzieckich (Warsaw: Ksiazka i Wiedza, 1957), 1:288.

18. Wrangel, Memoirs, p. 236.

19. Frunze, Sobranie sochinenii, 1:269—70; Semanov, "Makhnovshchina i ee krakh," p. 55; Konstantin Anan'ev, V boiakh za Perekop, p. 7.

20. Wrangel, Always with Honour, p. 231.

21. Trotskii, Materialy i dokumenty po istorii Krasnoi Armii, 2, pt. 2:210; Grazhdanskaia voina, 3:511; Rudnev, Makhnovshchina, pp. 80—81; Efimov, "Deistviia protiv Makhno," p. 208.

22. Teper, Makhno, p. 93.

23. V. Obolenskii, "Krym pri Vrangele," in Denikin-IUdenich-Vrangel', comp. S. A. Alekseev, p. 395. It is true that at the end of February 1920, the Bolsheviks seized Makhno's oldest brother Sava at his home and, although he did not participate in the campaign against the Bolsheviks, he was shot (Gorelik, Goneniia na anarkhism, p. 31).

24. Rakovskii, Konets bielykh, p. 33.

25. Ibid.

26. Denikin, Ocherki, 5:135; see also Arshinov, Istoriia makhnovskogo dvi-zheniia, pp. 168—69; Rudnev, Makhnovshchina, p. 83; Rakovskii, Konets bielykh, pp. 33-34.

27. Arshinov, Istoriia makhnovskogo dvizheniia, p. 169; Kubanin, Makhnovshchina, p. 151; Semanov, "Makhnovshchina i ee krakh," p. 55; Nikulin, "Gibel' makhnovshchiny," p. 187; Rudnev, Makhnovshchina, p. 83; Rakovskii, Konets bielykh, p. 81; Trotskii, Materialy i dokumenty po istorii Krasnoi Armii, 2, pt. 2:187.

28. Trotskii, Materialy i dokumenty po istorii Krasnoi Armii, 2, pt. 2; 214.

29. Rakovskii, Konets beilykh, pp. 81-82, 134.

30. Wrangel, Always with Honour, pp. 235—36; Rakovskii, Konets bielykh, pp. 115 ff.; Grazhdanskaia voina, 3:497.

31. Lipatov, 1920 god na Chernom more, pp. 173—78, 212; Chamberlin, Russian Revolution, 2:325—27; Lukomskii, Memoirs, p. 251; Rakovskii, Konets bielykh, pp. 78-79, 129.

32. Wrangel, Always with Honour, p. 249; I. M. Podshivalov, Desantnaia ekspeditsiia Kovtiukha, pp. 11—12, 15—16; Rakovskii, Konets biebykh, pp. 122—28. According to a Soviet source, Ulagai's detachment, before the end of the offensive, consisted of 4,500 infantry, 4,500 cavalry, 243 machine guns, and 17 guns. The other unit consisted of 4,400 men mostly infantry, 40 machine guns, and 8 guns (Grazhdanskaia voina, 3 :498).

33. Wrangel, Always with Honour, pp. 258, 260.

34. Ibid., p. 262; Stewart, White Armies of Russia, p. 373; Podshivalov, Desantnaia ekspeditsiia Kovtiukha, pp. 48—49; Grazhdanskaia voina, 3 :499—500.

35. Wrangel, Always with Honour, p. 261.

36. Ibid., p. 262.

37. Voline, Unknown Revolution, p. 187; Chernomordik, Makhno i makhnovshchina, p. 24.

38. Kubanin, Makhnovshchina, p. 134; Chamberlin, Russian Revolution, 2: 328; Wrangel, Always with Honour, p. 290; Frunze, Sobranie sochinenii, 1:271; M. V. Frunze, "Vrangel," in Perekop i Chongar, p. 20.

39. IAkovlev, Russkii anarkhizm, p. 34; see also Efimov, "Deistviia protiv Makhno," p. 208; Rudnev, Makhnovshchina, p. 90.

40. Leninskii sbornik, 36:151.

41. Nestor Makhno, "Otkrytoe pis'mo partii VKP i ee TS. K.," DT, nos. 37-38 (1928), p. 10; Romanchenko, "Epizody z borot'by proty makhnovshchyny," p. 132; Grazhdanskaia voina, 3:512; Serge, Memoirs of a Revolutionary, p. 122; IAkovlev, Russkii anarkhizm, p. 34. When Bela Kun visited Makhno, on October 20, 1920, at Ulianivka he asked Makhno what he would do if he had been commander of the Bolshevik troops that had been defeated on the Polish front, crossed into East Prussia, and been disarmed. Makhno replied: "I would not remain in Prussian territory a single hour. [I would] divide my troops into separate effective units and move deep into the rear of the Polish armies, destroying all roads and means of supplies and arms" (Makhno, "Otkrytoe pis'mo partii VKP i ee TS. K.," p. 11).

42. Berkman, "Nestor Makhno," p. 26; Nikulin, "Gibel' makhnovshchiny," pp. 188—89; Lipatov, 1920 god na Chernom more, p. 306; Semanov, "Makhnov-shchina i ee krakh," p. 56; IAkovlev, Russkii anarkhizm, p. 34; Margushin, "Bat'ko Makhno," p. 2; Arshinov,/stoma makhnovskogo dvizheniia, p, 171.

43. This point was demanded by the Bolshevik authorities (Arshinov, Istoriia makhnovskogo dvizheniia,p. 172).

44. Arshinov, Istoriia makhnovskogo dvizheniia, pp. 171—73; see also Lebed', Itogi i uroki trekh, pp. 38—39; Kubanin, Makhnovshchina, pp. 157—58; Grazh-dranskaia voina, 3:512; Footman, Nestor Makhno, pp. 121—22; IAroslavskii, History of Anarchism in Russia, p. 75; IAkovlev, Russkii anarkhizm, pp. 33—34.

45. Kubanin, Makhnovshchina, pp. 158—59; Grazhdanskaia voina, 3:512; Trotskii, Materialy i dokumenty po istorii Krasnoi Armii, 2, pt. 2:212; see also Voline, Unknown Revolution, p. 190.

46. Trotskii, Materialy i dokumenty po istorii Krasnoi Armii, 2, pt. 2:214; see also Voline, Unknown Revolution, p. 90.

47. Efimov, "Deistviia proty Makhno," p. 209; A. Buiskii, Krasnaia Armiia na vnutrennem fronte, p. 76.

48. Rakovskii, Konets bielykh,p. 168.

49. Wrangel, Always with Honour, p. 300.

50. Dubiv, "Ulamok z moho zhyttia," no. 7 (220), p. 919;Makhno,Makhnovshchina, pp. 51—52; Voline, Unknown Revolution, p. 191; Rudnev, Makhnovshchina, p. 90.

51. Dubiv, "Ulamok z moho zhyttia," no. 7, p. 919; Margushin, "Bat'ko Makhno," p. 2; Gorelik, Goneniia na anarkhizm, p. 30; Semanov, "Makhnovshchina i ee krakh," p. 57; Teper, Makhno, p. 109; Kubanin, Makhnovshchina, p. 159; Lebed', Itogi i uroki trekh, p. 40.

52. Grazhdanskaia voina, 3 : 506—8.

53. P. N. Shatilov, "Petr Nikolaevich Vrangel'," p. 3.

54. Wrangel, Always with Honour, p. 294; see also P. N. Shatilov, "Pamiatnaia zapiska o Krymskoi evakuatsii," Bieloe dielo 4:93.

55. Frunze, Sobranie sochinenii, 1:272; Grazhdanskaia voina, 3:513—15, 533—36; Anan'ev, V boiakh za Perekop, pp. 36—37; Wrangel, Always with Honour, pp. 308-9.

56. M. V. Frunze, Izbrannye proizvedeniia, p. 109; see also M. Frunze, "Pamiati Perekopa i Chongara," Voennyi vestnik, no. 6 (1928), p. 47.

57. Frunze, Sobranie sochinenii, 1:272; Grazhdanskaia voina, 3 : 538; Shatilov, "Pamiatnaia zapiska o Krymskoi evakuatsii," pp. 94—95; Anan'ev, V boiakh za Perekop, p. 51; Vygran, "Vospominaniia o bor'bie s makhnovtsami," p. 12; N. Rebikov, "Latyshskie strelki v Rossii," Chasovoi, no. 500 (1968), p. 18; V. Greben-shchikov, "K dvenadtsatiletiiu osvobozhdeniia Kryma," VR, nos. 11—12 (1932), pp. 114—16; Arshinov, Istoriia makhnovskogo dvizheniia, pp. 174—75; Dubiv, "Ulamok z moho zhyttia," p. 919; Margushin, "Bat'ko Makhno," p. 171;Gorelik, Goneniia na anarkhizm, p. 30; Peters, Nestor Makhno, p. 87.

58. Berkman, "Nestor Makhno," p. 25.

59. Wrangel, Memoirs, p. 310; Shatilov, "Pamiatnaia zapiska o Krymskoi evakuatsii," pp. 95, 98; P. Shatilov, "Ostavlenie Kryma," Chasovoi, no. 44 (1930), pp. 14—15; Wrangel, "White Armies," p. 379.

60. Wrangel, "White Armies," pp. 381 ff.; Shatilov, "Pamiatnaia zapiska o Krymskoi evakuatsii," p. 107; Lukomskii, Memoirs, p. 253; Vygran, "Vospomi-naniia o bor'bie s makhnovtsami," p. 12.