Friday, November 15, 2013
Monarchist Profile: General Pavel Rafalovich Bermondt-Avalov
The following year, in 1918, he was made recruiting officer for the southern army in Kiev, in the Ukraine. While there he fought to defend Kiev from the revolutionary forces of the Directorate of Ukraine which had formed in opposition of the Ukrainian State formed by the anti-Bolshevik Hetman Pavlo Skoropadskyi. The Directory was successful as German and Austrian forces were being withdrawn and Bermondt-Avalov was taken prisoner. However, he managed to get himself handed over to the Germans and while in a POW camp began to rally his fellow prisoners to join with the forces of Imperial Germany to combat the spreading menace of the Bolsheviks and restore the Russian Empire. It was also in 1918 that he received his promotion to major general. One of the things that made Bermondt-Avalov stand out was his outspokenly monarchist position. Many of the White Russian commanders, in an effort to form the most broad coalition possible, preferred to remain silent or ambiguous about what exactly they were fighting for; the old Russian Empire, a constitutional monarchy, something like the Provisional Government, but for Bermondt-Avalov there was no ambiguity. His forces were fighting for the restoration of the monarchy, absolutely and unequivocally.
In spite of these problems, for a time the West Russian army was successful. Bermondt-Avalov and his men captured Zemgale, most of Courland, Samogitia and marched in triumph in Riga. However, the plucky little Latvians wanted their own independent country and fought fiercely against them. Eventually they were joined by like-minded governments in Estonia and Lithuania and these combined Baltic forces eventually were able to overpower the West Russian Volunteers. As their support dried up in Germany and the Baltic states joined forces to oppose them, the West Russian army was forced to fall back and retreat to German territory by the end of the year. General Bermondt-Avalov moved to western Europe, settling in Germany in 1921 and by 1925 published a memoir in Hamburg called ‘In the Fight Against Bolshevism’.