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Baron Pyotr Nikolayevich Wrangel (Пётр Николаевич Врангель) (German: Peter von Wrangel) (August 15, 1878, Zarasai, Lithuania (then Imperial Russia) — April 25, 1928, Brussels, Belgium)[pictured, left, circa 1920], was an officer in the Imperial Russian army and later commanding general of the pro-monarchist White Army in Southern Russia in the later stages of the Russian Civil War.
Wrangel was a Russian descendant of the Baltic German Wrangel family. After graduating from the Institute of Mining Engineering in 1901, Wrangel volunteered for the Cavalry and was commissioned an officer in 1902, taking part in the Russo-Japanese War of 1905. In 1906, he became a member of the punitive expedition forces under General A.N.Orlov in the Baltic region. Wrangel graduated from the General Staff Academy in 1910 and commanded a cavalry unit during the World War I.
After the October Revolution Wrangel went to the Crimea and in August of 1918 joined the White Volunteer Army. He first commanded a Cavalry division and after spring of 1919 the entire Caucasus Army. In the Summer of 1919 he led the White Army's capture of Tsaritsyn (later Stalingrad, now Volgograd) and gained a reputation as a skilled and just administrator. In contrast to some other White Army generals, he did not tolerate lawlessness or looting by his troops. He became commanding general of the entire Volunteer Army in December 1919.
A political conflict with fellow White general Anton Denikin would soon force him to go abroad. However, he would return and on April 4, 1920 was elected Commander-in-Chief of the White forces in Crimea, which he then renamed the Russian Army. Together with a coalition government he instituted sweeping reforms (including land reforms), and as a result the Crimea became the most economically prosperous of all Russia regions. He also recognized and established relations with the new (and short lived) anti-Bolshevik independent republics of Ukraine and Georgia, among others.
After defeats in which he would lose half of his standing army, and facing defeat in Northern Tavria and the Crimea, Wrangel organized a mass evacuation on the shores of the Black Sea. Wrangel gave every officer, soldier, and civilian a free choice: evacuate and go with him into the unknown, or remain in Russia and face the wrath of the Red Army. The last military and civilians personnel left Russia with Wrangel on November 14, 1920.
Wrangel journeyed via Turkey and Tunisia to Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes as the head of all Russian refugees, and arguably became the most prominent of all exiled White emigres. In 1924, he established the Russian All-Military Union (Русский общевоинский союз), an organization established to fight for the preservation and unity of all White forces living abroad; he would later conduct anti-Soviet guerrilla warfare in the USSR. Wrangel's memoirs Notes (Записки) were published in the magazine White Cause (Белое дело) and also in Berlin in 1928.
Some (including Wrangel's family) believe that the general was poisoned by his butler's brother, who lived in the Wrangel household in Brussels briefly and was allegedly a Soviet agent. Soon after the butler's brother's departure, Wrangel took ill and died. Wrangel's funeral and burial took place in Serbia. He is buried in an Orthodox church in Belgrade.
The town of Sremski Karlovci, which served as his headquarters and was at the time of his death the location of the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church in Exile, had a monument erected in his honor by his fellow White Russians.
Tuesday, July 17, 2007
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