Petr Nikolayevich Wrangel

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Baron Petr Nikolayevich Wrangel (Russian: Пётр Николаевич Врангель), born in Zarasai, Russia, now part of Lithuania on August, 15 1878 is a Russian military officer. The current Minister of Interior of the Russian Federation, he is one of the most known White Generals of the Russian Civil War, and a Field Marshal of the Russian Armed Forces.



Before the Civil War

Descendant of the prestigious Baltic German family of the von Wrangel, that gave to Russia and as well to Sweden and Prussia valourous generals, Baron Petr Nikolayevich Wrangel studied in the Petrograd Institute of Mining Engineering where he graduated in 1901, before swifting to a cavalry officer career, commissioned as an officer in 1902 and taking part in the Russo-Japanese War of 1904-1905. 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 Weltkrieg, having future ruler of Mongolia Roman Ungern von Sternberg under his orders for some time. In 1914, as a captain of the Horse Guard, he distinguished by seizing a Prussian battery following a dangerous charge. In 1916, he is commander of the Ussuri Cossacks division, and was among the few officers to advocate a preventive sending of troops to Petrograd in order to restablish the order after the February Revolution. Firmly believing that the Czar's abdication will only make the things worse, he is dismissed by the Provisional Government and went back to Crimea with his family.

Russian Civil War

Following the October Revolution, Wrangel is detained by Bolshevik sailors in Yalta and owes his life to his wife who begged them to spare him. Once freed, he flees to the Kuban where he joins Denikin's White Volunteer Army by September 1918. Taking in charge a Cossack division that was about to mutiny, Wrangel manages to discipline them and get their trust. During the Winter 1918-1919, he conquers the Kuban and the Terek basin, seizes Rostov-on-Don and Tsaritsyn by June, after expressing his reticences about uniting the White command under Kerensky's authority, even if he recognized that an united command was needed in order to win the Civil War. He is noticed for his tentatives to limit the collateral damages and keep his troops disciplined. During the 1919 Offensive on Moscow, his forces who had suffered deep looses after the fall of Tsaritsyn can only defend the conquered places; after the failure of the offensive of Moscow, he became one of the advocates of a German alliance, sent in early 1920 to Berlin in order to negotiate German support. He joins his forces to Groener's Expeditionary Corps, most notably during the Battle of Tsaritsyn, and is the first White General to enter Moscow in September 1921.

After the war

In spite of his personal oppositions to Kerensky and Denikin, due to the context of these last years, Wrangel becomes Field Marshal of the Russian Army. Due to his reputation as a man of discipline and a stern anti-Bolshevist, he serves as Minister of Interior in various governments under the Republic, even if he blames democracy as a "regime which has been completely destroyed following the Weltkrieg" and "a weak system unable to control Russia". He criticizes the mess that has become the Russian Army, unable to get back the territories that had been lost after the Civil War. His role during the 1925 Coup Attempt of Alexandr Kolchak remains unclear: known as an outspoken support of Kolchak and in charge of the garrison of Petrograd, he didn't intervened during the Coup. Did he decided to betray Kolchak and be loyal to the Republic, or was he waiting to the situation to be better for the coupsters? Even if he is harshly criticized by most of the Russian leftist and centrist political class, Wrangel remains highly popular as a hero of the Civil War. He has survived an assassination attempt in 1928 by a Marxist activist, and publised his Memoirs in 1930, under the title White Cause.

Political positions


Field Marshal Wrangel in front of a portrait of Grand Duke Nikolai, former pretender to the Russian throne

Since the February Revolution, Wrangel has been known as a harsh critic of Russian democracy and Kerensky, lined with a reputation of a devout Orthodox and anti-Bolshevik, which had considered his fightings against the Red Army as some sort of "Crusade", even advocating a rapprochement with Germany in order to counter the Syndicalist threat. To him, the Russian Federation remains a regime of compromise created in the troubles of the Civil War, and responsible for the loss of most of the territory of Russia in the aftermath of the conflict. After the failure and exile of Kolchak, the latter's supporters and lackeys, that is the entire Russian far right, were in lack of a strong leader and figurehead within the military, able to lead another coup d'Etat. Even if he proved his loyalty during the Coup, Wrangel became more and more infuriated with the democratic government due to the political crisis and the 1928 amnesty of the former Bolsheviks. Forming networks of supports within the military or the civilian administration, Wrangel has emerged as the right's providential man; due to his popularity and his firm control upon the Ministry of Interior, the government was unable to counter his rise. Now supported by Russian traditionalists as well as National-Populists, Wrangel has also gained the monarchists' support, who see him as a possible Russian General Monck, that would restablish the Czar once democracy overthrown...But is Wrangel willing to be nothing less than a figurehead? Only the mysterious Field Marshal could say.

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