Home / Bendery defense (Romanian occupation) 1918: One century ago

... Bendery defense (Romanian occupation) 1918: One century ago ...

 Chapter one. About the periodization

2017 and 2018 are significant for us, not just like the epoch-making centenary dates that we celebrate. These dates require us not only to formally state facts and events, but also to pay even closer attention to them, to understand them in the light of the modern realities and of the rapidly changing world. Studying the past, we find answers to the burning questions of today. You understand this when you turn to a powerful historical layer of the first half of the 20th century, which included three Russian revolutions, two world wars, interventions, and the Civil War.

In 2017, the 100th anniversary of the Great October Socialist Revolution was celebrated, which many people today prefer to call the October Revolution. In the same series is the centenary of the Patriotic Armed Forces, the events of the Civil War, accompanied by Romanian intervention, the subsequent occupation of Bessarabia and Bendery. And in this context - the 100th anniversary of the heroic defense of Bendery from the Romanian invaders. In 2019, another fateful date is the 100th anniversary of the Bendery armed rebellion.

Despite the fact that the participants in these events have long been dead, the relevance of those fateful days in recent decades, in the light of current geopolitical realities, has increased many times over, due to not only the difference in approaches to historical events, the irreconcilable nature of their assessments, but also due to frank, frantic falsification of history.

Making the acquaintance of a particular issue on this topic, you find a whole series of elementary inconsistencies, contradictions, even concerning the periodization and the chronological framework of the events. Thus, many researchers attribute to the Civil War only the time of the most active military operations on the fronts from May 1918 to November 1920. One does not need to be a meticulous historian to discover: the intervention of the Romanian troops on the lands of Bessarabia began much earlier - at the beginning of December 1917, when a detachment of Romanian troops broke into Leovo. The local council, having gathered for an emergency meeting, in an ultimatum form suggested that the invaders immediately leave the territory. The inhabitants of the town held several protest meetings, organized armed resistance to the invaders, which forced the interventionists to retreat beyond the Prut. However, soon the Romanian troops, reinforcing their forces, made the second invasion. “Two Romanian regiments with machine guns entered Leovo, they shot 5 Russian agitators ... the arrests are ongoing” - the telegram from Cahul to Kishinev said on December 7, 1917. On January 8, 1918, the armed forces of the Romanian government invaded Bessarabia on an already wide front. At the same time, they attacked the central, Northern and Southern regions (1).

Probably those researchers are right who, taking into account the hostilities on the outskirts of the Soviet Republic, expand the chronological framework of intervention and the Civil War from 1917 to 1922, ending the war with the capture of Vladivostok in October 1922. However, in this case, the real occupancy level of this framework of historical events leaves much to be desired.

You come to this conclusion by returning to the historical literature of wide access published in the Soviet period. For example, in the voluminous illustrated documentary publication “50 Years of the Armed Forces of the USSR” (“Military Publishing House of the Ministry of Defense of the USSR”, M, 1967) or in the two-volume “History of the USSR” (Higher School, M, 1982), some mention about revolutionary events, Romanian intervention and the Civil War on the territory of Moldova is completely absent. At the same time, in both sources you can find information about the rebellion of the Czechoslovak corps on the Middle Volga and in Siberia. If you believe the second edition, then “the beginning of the military intervention began on March 9, 1918 by the landing of British troops in Murmansk. On March 14, a detachment of British warships arrived. French troops landed on March 18, and American infantry on May 24. In total, by the summer of 1918, 10 thousand foreign troops were landed in the Murmansk region...” (2). There is information in both editions about the battles in Ukraine, the Baltic states, the North Caucasus and Transcaucasia, and on the Turkestan front.

Such a discussion is not at all a matter of empty argument. On the contrary, it is of a fundamental nature, since the Romanian intervention in Bessarabia was the first in the years of the Civil War, and many facts indicate this (3).

This discrepancy in estimates does not at all indicate the weakness of Moldavian Soviet historical science, which, on the contrary, was of a rather high level. Most likely, the insufficient attention of the Center to the events in our region, their insufficient systematization in the context of the hostilities on the fronts of the Civil War. The same trend can be observed in relation to individual personalities.

Foto S.A. Shestakov

In Soviet Moldova, the name of one of the pioneers of Soviet aviation Semyon Aleksandrovich Shestakov was widely known. Born in Bendery, Honored Pilot of the USSR, a participant of the Great October Socialist Revolution, Civil and World War II, in 1927 and 1929 on ANT-3 and ANT-4 aircraft, he made unparalleled flights on the routes Moscow - Tokyo - Moscow and Moscow - New York.

Without a doubt, his name should be on a par with the names of M.M. Gromov, V.P. Chkalov, G.F. Baydukov, A.V. Belyakov. V.S. Grisodubova, M.M. Raskovoi, P.D. Osipenko and others. But alas ... It is useless to look for information about him in Soviet reference books and encyclopedias, even military ones. In the 2nd edition of the Great Soviet Encyclopedia, published in the 50s of the twentieth century, there were four Shestakovs: a historian, theater artist, philologist, architect...

At the same time, a book of M.G. Ganetsky dedicated to Shestakov was published and repeatedly reprinted in Chisinau  “Through the Three Oceans”, a worthy place was allotted to him in the encyclopedia “Soviet Moldova”, published in 1982. But the glory of the famous pilot at that time never crossed the borders of Moldova. And only many years later, already in the two thousandth, his name appeared in the voluminous Russian reference publication “Aviation Encyclopedia in Persons”, dedicated to the 100th anniversary of Russian aviation (4).

The undoubted merit in this belongs to our fellow-countryman, subsequently a resident of St. Petersburg Oleg Alexandrovich Serov. For many years, being a first-class civil aviation pilot, he worked at Pulkovo Airlines, collaborated with aviation magazine “The Wings of the Baltic”. Thanks to his efforts, not only the name of S.A. Shestakov was included in this encyclopedic publication, but also four of our fellow-countrymen. Returning to the topic of the Civil War, it is probably worth noting that Semen Alexandrovich Shestakov in 1922-23 participated in battles with the Basmachi in Central Asia - in Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.

Another look at the periodization of the events of intervention and the Civil War is the most eloquent evidence of confusion in modern minds, when literally everything is turned upside down. In the chronological framework of the Civil War, many recent historians include, no less, the February Bourgeois-Democratic Revolution and the Great October Socialist Revolution. They also call the latter the October Revolution.

In fact, each of these events has its own clear time frame, an established outline of events, their historical outcome. In the case of the February Revolution, this is the overthrow of the autocracy. The October Socialist Revolution marked a radical breakdown of socio-economic formations, changed the face of the world, and predetermined the development of mankind for many decades to come, which, surprisingly, even its most ardent opponents admit. This is not the Kiev Maidan, not the "classic of the genre" - military coups in the banana states of Africa and Latin America.

From left to right: E.A. Lobanov, A.G. Serov and O.A. Serov

Modern generations have a rather vague idea of the time that our media contribute to a lot. Every year, the once festive date of November 7 is presented by them in information programs only as the next anniversary of the 1941 parade of the Red Army. Indeed, this event became a legend when our army immediately after the end of the parade went to smash the fascist hordes near Moscow. But simple and natural questions always remain outside the brackets: why did this parade take place on that day and in honor of which event? About this silence. At best, it is mentioned that somewhere on the periphery, "Gennady Zyuganov gathered several thousand of his supporters in meeting."

Considering the events of the Romanian intervention, and in its context of the Bender Defense of 1918, it is impossible to pass by another major date - the 100th anniversary of the Patriotic Armed Forces. Traditionally, we celebrated February 23 as the Day of the Soviet Army and Navy, and now as the Day of Defender of the Fatherland. The historical outline of the events associated with this date is doubtful for many. This part of the researchers claims that the archival data does not contain any information about the battles of the Red Army in the Narva and Pskov directions on February 23, 1918, from which, as is commonly believed, the glorious victories of the Soviet armed forces began.

Proponents of this point of view have their opponents who bring their own counter-arguments. The date of the release of the Lenin Decree on the creation of the Workers 'and Peasants' Red Army could reconcile the two, if at one time it had been elected as the festive date of the calendar.

For us, more fundamentally is other thing. Let us turn to the documents of that time. On January 15 (28), 1918, the Council of People's Commissars adopted the Decree on the creation of the Workers 'and Peasants' Red Army, and on January 29 (February 11), the Decree on the creation of the Workers 'and Peasants' Red Fleet. The heroic defense of Bendery from the Romanian invaders lasted from January 29 to February 7, 1918 (according to the new style), i.e. just in the short interval between the adoption of these two documents and long before the battles near Narva and Pskov, if they took place. Why is not a reason for sensation?

They may object that in such a short time, the Red Army could not be organized. Formally, yes. It’s fundamentally different: regular units of the Russian army, in particular, the 5th and 6th Zaamur regiments, the military formations of Rumcherod (Romanian Front, Black Sea Fleet and Odessa Region), etc., related to the defense of Bendery, had already switched to side of the Soviet power. It is well known that the 2nd Congress of the reorganized Rumcherod, held on December 23, 1917 - January 5, 1918 in Odessa, was recognized by the Council of People's Commissars and was already firmly in the Bolshevik positions (5).

Chapter two. The thunder comes from the West.

Strengthening the position of the Bolsheviks was noted in Bendery. On the initiative of the Bolshevik organization of the Bendery railway district on January 9 (22), 1918, power in the city passed into the hands of the headquarters of the revolutionary committee, which had been separated from the executive committee of the Soviet of soldiers and peasants' deputies.

In his announcement, “From the Headquarters of the Revolutionary Committee of the City of Bendery and the County,” it said: “In view of the conflict with Romania and the announcement of Bendery and the county under siege, the population of the latter is notified that from January 9 all power in the city and county is concentrated according the resolution of the Garrison Assembly, in the allotted by the Executive Committee of the Council of Soldiers, Workers and Peasants of Deputies exclusively at the Headquarters of the Revolutionary Committee, from which Headquarters all orders regarding the protection of the Revolution and order and public tranquility.

Therefore, all Institutions, places and organizations, as well as police officers and all other military and private individuals are invited to completely and implicitly submit to the Headquarters of the Revolutionary Committee and its resolutions, as well as to resolve any issues, misunderstandings, disputes and conflicts that may arise, to apply exclusively to the Headquarters Revolutionary Committee. In addition, realizing the responsibility of the moment, the Revolutionary Headquarters announces that all counter-revolutionary actions, robberies and violence against civilians, regardless of whoever they were, will be fundamentally suppressed by armed force (the spelling and stylistics of the original are preserved - V. P.) ”(6).

A.Y. Griso

The complete Bolshevization of power in the city occurred immediately in the face of Romanian aggression. One of the active participants in the defense of Bendery Anton Yakovlevich Griso, testifies to this in his memoirs: “On January 11 (24), 1918, there was a meeting of all parts of the troops and railway workers, as well as city workers, in order to completely take power into our own hands (for even the majority of the Mensheviks sat in the Council of Deputies) and to repulse the impending Romanians. And already on January 14 (27) the train arrived from Bulbok station with the message that it was impossible to go further, because the Romanians had already occupied the station. Then railway regiment leave Bendery at night and goes for Ukraine. Only Rumcherod remained with Comrade Babaev. ”(7).

It should be noted that the memoirs of A.Y. Griso are written in a simple accessible language, without demagoguery, excessive pathos and gloss. They create, perhaps, the most holistic, and in many respects a reliable picture of the events taking place in Bendery and therefore cause trust.

It is worth saying a few words about the source where they were published. The article “What the Dniester saw. Bendery executions” was published in No. 1 of the journal “Red Bessarabia” in January 1926. It was published in Moscow from January 1926 to March 1938 by the Central Council of the Bessarabian Society in the USSR.

A total of 129 issues of the magazine were issued. Until December 1928, it went out once every two months, later monthly. The publication printed materials about the seizure of Bessarabia by royal Romania, about the terror regime established by the invaders, and the revolutionary movement in the province. Speech and articles of M. Frunze, M. Litvinov, G. Dimitrov, M. Kashen, A. Barbus, V. Kolarov, M. Veltman (Pavlovich), A. Lozovsky and others were published on its pages. Reports of socialist construction in the MASSR. The magazine was also distributed in France and Belgium, Czechoslovakia and other countries (8). The above-mentioned article in the journal is signed: “An average repair worker at the Birzul depot (Bendery resident) A. Griso” After the occupation of Bessarabia by royal Romania, Anton Yakovlevich Griso worked in Birzul (subsequently the city of Kotovsk, Odessa region). 

G.I. Borisov (Old)

The events around Bendery developed rapidly. On January 13 (26), Romanian invaders captured Chisinau. Members of the Front Department, deputies of the Chisinau Council, the command of the revolutionary forces of the Bessarabian region with military units devoted to Soviet power were forced to retreat to Bendery. Together with the headquarters of the city’s defense, headed by G.I. Borisov (Old) organized the defense of the city. P. Dobrodeev also entered the headquarters,

I. Shapovalov, M. Shabanov, I. Cherkasov, I. Lapin, 3. Frolovich and V. Muntyan (Churkin). Subsequently G.I. Old wrote in his memoirs that at the meeting of the Bendery Council it was decided to create a center for the fight against the approaching Romanian troops (9).

In Bendery, Red Guard detachments were formed to fight the invaders. One detachment on an armored train left to meet the Romanian invaders, advancing from the city of Reni, and in a battle near the village of Kaynary captured and disarmed two Romanian companies. Another detachment, made up of workers, soldiers, peasants and students, opposed the Romanian troops, who marched on Bendery from Chisinau, and joined the 5th Zaamur Regiment, retreating from Chisinau, under the command of G.I. Kokoreva.

At the meeting of the headquarters of the regiment with representatives of the headquarters of the revolutionary troops of Bendery, headed by G.I. the Old it was decided to move the regular troops beyond the Dniester to the Tiraspol region for reformation, and assign Bendery’s defense to Bendery’s troops. The following goal was pursued: regular troops replenished on the left bank were to launch an offensive and expel the invaders not only from Bendery, but also from all of Bessarabia. The 5th Zaamursky regiment and the 6th Zaamursky regiment located in the city area crossed the Dniester (10).

Testifies A.Ya. Griso: “At 12 noon on January 16 (29), from the suburbs of Borisovka, the Romanians began to bombard the city, and their intelligence was already near the fortress. Then comrade Babaev takes the command, gives the weapons out of the wagons to the workers and to anybody, and the whole city moved into a counteroffensive ”(11).

This is what the Voice of the Revolution newspaper (Rumcherod’s organ published in Odessa) wrote on January 24 (February 6), 1918 about the reaction of the inhabitants of the city to the invasion of the Romanian troops: “The Romanians, moving towards Bendery, apparently counted on the same success, but the opposite happened. The population, learning what the Romanians were moving for, rose from small to great to defend young freedom, which stopped the Romanians from moving”(12).

Reading these lines, it involuntarily takes you 70 years ahead, comparing the atmosphere of the events of 1918 with the times of political strikes of August - September 1989 and the full-scale aggression of the pro-Romanian forces of the Republic of Moldova against Bendery in the summer of 1992. Speaking from the rostrum of the rallies of many thousands held then on the eve of the war, in the city square, the townspeople recalled the events of the two Romanian occupations, urged people to be vigilant. An inscription on the red banner “Remember the citizen of Bendery, 1918!”, mounted on the entrance to the commandant’s office of the 2nd Bendery Republican Guard battalion, in a building on the street Soviet 39 in 1991.

This suggests that, at the level of broad public consciousness, the events of 1918 and the end of the eighties and the beginning of the nineties were perceived by Bendery citizens as links in one historical chain. Then, almost 30 years ago, in the city there were still quite a lot of people who survived both the first and second Romanian occupations.

A.Y. Griso recalls: “The Romanians retreated back to Bulbock, but during the retreat they took hostages. Among them was our railway electrician comrade Gulerman. In the evening of January 16 (29), we convened a meeting in the workshops, what should be done? Some say it will be bad, others say that weapons must be destroyed, because he (Romanian) will shoot everyone; others say that we need to fight, because our forces are in Tiraspol. But still you need to free comrade Gulerman. Then everyone chooses a delegation: comrade Dobrodeev, so they went to rescue Comrade Gulerman. Since the population of workers and citizens was not organized, everyone left the front in the evening and went home” (13).

And again parallels with 1992 come to mind. On June 22, after an unsuccessful assault on the police and a memorable meeting in the working committee, some of the city’s defenders decided to leave Bendery. It ended tragically - with the execution of a column of guards at a fortress that came under fire from their own. But, as in the ninety-second, the resistance to the invaders in the following days of 1918 continued. “On January 17 (30) and 18 (31), an airplane flew over the city all the time. They fired at it all the time with rifles, they poured bullets at it like hail, but they didn’t shoot it down” (14).

There was no doubt that the interventionists would not abandon their plans: the invaders sought to seize the strategically important points of Bessarabia: cities, railway junctions, ports, large villages. In Bendery, they hoped to take possession of huge warehouses of food and clothing (15). “In addition, with the occupation of Bendery, Tiraspol, a large railway junction Razdelnaya and even Odessa, were under attack, in which these days preparations were underway for an armed uprising for the Soviet regime (established here on January 17 (30))” (16).

“On January 18 (31), the Front Department issued an appeal to workers, peasants and soldiers of all nationalities, in which he called on them to unite as members of the great proletarian family to fight against the invaders” (17). The battles for Bendery were extremely fierce: “The old people, women, children fought” (18). However, the forces were clearly unequal, the enemy threw up more and more reserves, and the ranks of the defenders were inexorably thinning.

“From the morning of January 19 (February 1), Romanian artillery all the time tried to get into the artillery storage located in the Bendery fortress. It succeeded, and the city was set on fire. A terrible fire with explosions continued from 11 a.m. until the evening. Despite this, Bendery defended itself to the last possible opportunity ”(19).

Recalls A.Ya. Griso: “On January 19 (February 1), the bombing of the city began again in the morning. At this moment, a shell explodes on a ramp (at the station), panic rises, the city is bombarded with fragments. From the smoke it became dark, people began to go out, some on the outskirts, some to the steppe, others were hiding in the cellar. This went on until 12 noon, and in the morning of January 20 (February 2) the Romanians occupied the city of Bender. At first, they did not touch anyone and issued an order to all railway workers to come with white bandages to obtain passes to the workshops.

We gathered near the hotel where the headquarters stayed, and we already saw Russian officers in Romanian uniform there. At that moment, shooting started from Tiraspol, the shell hit the steps of the hotel near the doors. Clutter rises, the people began to scatter, but machine guns were sent at them, and the massacre started.

On January 21 (February 3), everyone appeared with a white bandage on which the Romanian seal was printed. The bandage had to be worn on the right hand. It was necessary to enter work on January 22, but no one wanted to. Only the strength of the weapon made it go to work. According to the order, it was impossible to go out before 8 in the morning” (spelling and stylistics of the original preserved - V.P.) (20).

Chapter three. The struggle continued…

But the struggle for Bendery still continued. The Soviet authorities and command gathered new forces for the Dniester. The Red Guard and sailor detachments from Odessa and Nikolaev joined. In the region of Tiraspol, new partisan detachments of G.I. Kotovsky and others were created. From Razdelnaya came a detachment of revolutionary soldiers of volunteers of the 8th army under the command of T.N. Khokhlova (21).

The detachments of Romanian-internationalists formed by the Romanian revolutionary committee arrived from Odessa in order to fight on the side of Soviet fighters against the Romanian oligarchy (22).

“No one went out on January 23 (February 5),” A.Y. recalls. Griso - but shooting was heard in the city, and we learned that the city was again occupied by the Bolsheviks. Then benderchane (the old name of the townspeople) began to shell the fleeing Romanians. The first step was to release the prison, where the alleged hostages were sitting. The Romanian guard near the prison was completely killed. The detachment that occupied Bendery was Kotovsky. He fired for two days in the city, as the Romanians settled in houses and on the belfries of churches and fired machine guns. In order to bring them down, a Russian armored car drove around the city, and also a steam engine with a platform on which the gun was installed arrived from Tiraspol. From it they hit houses and a church occupied by Romanians ”(23).

Having pushed aside the interventionists who were trying to break through to the left bank of the Dniester from the Bendery bridge, Soviet troops and partisan detachments entered Bendery (24). After a fierce battle on January 24 (February 6), they occupied the Bendery Fortress (25). They were assisted by city residents who themselves demanded weapons to continue the fight against the invaders (26), joined partisan detachments, and, as the Voice of the Revolution newspaper reported, they fought with interventionists with extreme fury (27).

Romanian revolutionary detachments, with their participation in the battle for Bendery, inscribed a heroic page in the history of their people. “The Romanian revolutionary army received baptism of fire. - wrote the newspaper of the Romanian left social democrats “Lupta” on January 28, 1918 - At the gates of the old Bendery Fortress, the first echelons of this army defended the bridge on the Dniester and, together with the Russian sailors and the Red Guard, recaptured the city (28). “The baptism of fire of the Romanian proletariat at the gates of Bendery is the beginning of our saving revolution,” wrote Lupta (29).

Foto Diorama. The battle in the area of the depot during the defense of Bendery from the Romanian invaders.

No less eloquent are the evidence of the Romanian reactionary circles. The commander of the Romanian troops, General Broshtyanu  recognized the courage and perseverance of the defenders of the city (30). The military Romanian historian Mikhalescu subsequently wrote about this: “The occupation of Tigina (Bendery), on the contrary, was made with difficulty and loss, due to extreme resistance and hostile resistance ... a strong attack of the Bolsheviks on January 23, accompanied by street battles, forced us to leave the city and retreat to Borisovka. On January 24, the Romanian detachment, whose strength reached 7 battalions, 1 squadron and 3 batteries, together with the 4th brigade of roshior (cavalry) resumed the attack of Bendery (Tigina) ... ”(31)

On January 25 (February 7), the interventionists launched a new attack on Bendery. The defenders of the city fought heroically, but under the onslaught of superior forces, the Soviet troops had to retreat again to the left bank of the Dniester (32).

The Voice of the Revolution newspaper, No. 162 of January 28, 1918, reported the final battles of Bendery defense: “Yesterday, many refugees arrived in Odessa from Tiraspol. They give us the details of the battle of Bendery. On January 25 (February 7), in the morning, the Romanian troops accumulating in the area of the Kalfa peninsula, encircling and capturing the erupted cavalry detachments of the Zaamur horse regiments, moved towards Bendery.

Notified of the movement of the Romanians, our forces, consisting of two infantry regiments of the 6th army and revolutionary detachments of sailors and Red Guards, prepared for battle.

It was ordered to move part of our troops towards the Romanians. Near Bendery there was a meeting of our troops with the enemy. Our troops entered the battle.

It should be noted that while our artillery units remained in Bendery, the Romanian artillery moved along with the infantry. On our reserves and the area adjacent to Bendery, the Romanians fired artillery fire. Shooting was carried out exclusively by field artillery. Romanian infantry fired explosive bullets. After several volleys, the Romanians tried to rush at our troops, but met by our barrage, retreated.

Lacking support, our troops were forced to retreat beyond Bendery, where our reserves were concentrated and positions were prepared. Rumors about the capture of Tiraspol are incorrect. At present, Tiraspol is being protected by our significant forces ”(33).

Chapter four. G.I. Kotovsky

Foto G.I. KotovskyOf particular interest to us in the events of the Bendery Defense of 1918 is the personality of G.I. Kotovsky, the participation of his military units in battles for the city.

Any information about the times of dashing youth associated with Bendery was not noted in his pre-revolutionary biography. He left a mark in the history of the city during the period of turbulent revolutionary events and the Civil War. After a number of arrests, prisons, penal servitude G.I. Kotovsky in 1917 was defined as a private in the Russian army and on August 4, 1917 arrived on the Romanian front in a reconnaissance company of a cavalry located in the Chisinau region. In Bessarabia, he was already well known as an implacable fighter against the class of oppressors, so on November 25, 1917, soldiers elected him a member of the Presidium of the Revolutionary Committee of the 6th Army of the Romanian Front. Soon after the invasion of the troops of royal Romania in Bessarabia, Grigory Ivanovich was seconded to Chisinau to assist the revolutionary committee and organize a worthy rebuff to the aggressor. Here he was actively involved in strengthening the city’s defense, speaking at rallies and meetings. Creating workers detachments, armed them in accordance with the instructions of the Chisinau Revolutionary Committee.

On January 13 (26), 1918, as already noted, after three days of stubborn battles, the revolutionary units and combat squads under the onslaught of significantly superior enemy forces were forced to leave Chisinau and retreat to Bendery

Two days later, together with the retreating revolutionary units of G.I. Kotovsky arrived in Bendery. And again, with the highest perseverance and responsibility, together with the party and Soviet activists, he set about forming the Red Guard detachments of workers, rural residents, soldiers, and students…

One of such detachments came forward towards the Romanians. As a result of a stubborn battle, the enemy was forced to retreat to Bulboki station. The next day, as mentioned above, the invaders' attempts to seize the city were unsuccessful.

"G.I. Kotovsky was instructed to lead the Bendery defense sector from the southern, Kaushansky direction, to control the areas of Balka, the Caucasus, Camp Field and Plavnya. Grigory Ivanovich managed to attract to the execution of this task, in addition to the allocated detachments, all the inhabitants of the site. It was then that he met with the family of underground activist Anton Yakovlevich Griso ”(34).

Immediately after the Romanians first captured Bendery on January 20 (February 2), the overwhelming majority of defenders retreated beyond the Dniester, where G.I. Kotovsky in Tiraspol immediately set about forming an equestrian partisan detachment, which included Bendery residents. A. Y. Briefly mentions the fighting of this detachment in Bendery in the following days. Griso: "The detachment that occupied Bendery was of Kotovsky." This was also said above.

Once again, back to the personality of A.Y. Griso and his family. In Bendery on the street Akkermanskoy (now Pervomaiskaya St.). No. 60, since pre-revolutionary times, a family of active underground activists Anton Yakovlevich and Neonila Vasilyevna Griso has lived in an unpretentious adobe house. On this house in not so long Soviet times, a white marble stone board was installed. During the fighting in the summer of 1992, the little house was in the center of fierce fighting. "Guardians of the constitutional order" Moldova stole the board and the house officially classified as a city history monument, pretty badly damaged.

“In 1918, after the capture of Bendery by the Romanians, the father of the family went to the left bank, and the mother stayed with four children, shouldering the order of the revolutionary committee on their fragile shoulders continue maintenance and operation of the safe house (35).

In 1977, the former director of the Bendery Museum of History and Local Lore, Evgeni Aleksandrovich Lobanov, being a museum research fellow, traveled to Odessa, where he met with the underground daughter Vera Antonovna Griso. She was then 60 years old, but she - candidate of chemical sciences, associate professor - continued to work, heading the department of inorganic chemistry of Odessa Technological Institute of Food Industry named after Lomonosov.

“More than three hours with the smallest details - recalls E. A. Lobanov. - she told me about the heroic events of 1917 - 1923. It was felt that she watched a lot herself, but no less learned from her parents. And I studied the official documents of that time deeply and conscientiously ”(36).

From all told V.A. Griso on this topic, Evgeni Aleksandrovich emphasizes one fact: she proclaimed very persistently, dispelling his doubts, that on the eve of the Bendery armed uprising in May 1919, G.I. Kotovsky secretly moved to their house for a while. He asked his mother Neonil Vasilevna for a long time about the situation in Bendery, about the number and location of Romanian military units, Sigurans, etc. In a conversation, he said that they had crossed the Dniester with two fighters on horseback. They were left on the shore opposite the current DOSAAF building, and he made his way by foot.

 The Griso family house on Pervomaiskaya St. 80s (is not preserved)

Later E.A. Lobanov found indirect confirmation of this evidence. The text of the "Mandate of the Odessa Military District Commissariat", No. 213 of April 13, 1919, Odessa says: "Comrade Grigory Ivanovich Kotovsky, as a tried-and-true military comrade, is entrusted with the organization of military units to free Bessarabia from the yoke of world imperialism. Comrade Kotovsky works in the territory of the Odessa district and clandestinely in Bessarabia. All Soviet preemptions, executive committees, revolutionary committees, and also underground Soviet organizations (emphasized by E.A. Lobanov) render unconditional assistance to the indicated comrade Okrvoenkom ”(37). This document, we note, was issued a month or so before the armed uprising of Bendery on May 27, 1919. It confirms the correctness of the certificate of V.A. Griso about the stay of Kotovsky in the safe house of Bendery in the spring of 1919. This is fully consistent with the character of Grigory Ivanovich, who was distinguished by courage turning into despair, dashing and increased risk.

The close nature of the relationship between the Griso family and Kotovsky is confirmed by the fact that subsequently, when their paths converged in Birzul, the hero of the civil war repeatedly visited their house, where he was accepted as his own, very close person. And one more interesting evidence. On one photography, very widespread in Moldavian historical literature, where G.I. Kotovsky was captured with a group of Moldovan workers during the formation of the MASSR in 1924, and Neonila Griso is standing next to him in a white shawl.

Chapter five. Blood reaping

January 25 (February 7) 1918 Bendery was taken. The interventionists, having seized the city a second time, proceeded to the third, most brutal phase - the massacre of the population. According to an eyewitness, former chairman of the Front Department of the Romanian Front V. Perper: “in Bendery, when the Romanians entered the city for the second time, children were mercilessly killed. Bullying of citizens this time reached its climax. Over 5,000 people, including many women, old people and children, were driven out for the Black Fence, separating the city from the railway track, and the Romanians kept them there, on their knees under the rifle barrels aimed at them for four hours. From time to time they issued a command, according to which the unfortunate were to put their hand to the visor ... ”(38).

The "Black Fence" was the starting point of reprisals against the defenders of the city, but people were shot everywhere: at the Borisov cemetery, at the walls of the Bendery fortress, on the streets of the city ...

The most detailed picture of these bloody events is contained in the memoirs of A.Y. Griso “In the morning, when all the inhabitants were still asleep, the Romanians entered the city in chains and took the men from the apartments and sent them out of town. A huge circle was arranged outside the city, which was surrounded by machine guns. Everyone had to go into the circle with their hands up, and the Romanians searched the weapons, but they took everything that was there from their pockets. Snow fell at this time, but the inhabitants did not have time to get dressed and how they slept, so in their underwear they drove them to the steppe. On the way there were already dead bodies. - These were those who dared to ask where and for what they were being led. A myriad of people gathered, and here the reprisal began: coats and hats were removed, and those who had good boots or boots, they took off their shoes and killed on the spot.

The first to die were the engineer Vasilenko and the station watchman killed by explosive bullets. We see that the city is on fire, the mills are on fire, but no one dared even ask. Women and children are running after their husbands, screaming and crying arose after their fathers, they all abandoned their homes and went after their fathers and husbands. The Romanians went to rob the apartments of civilians.

Finally, from the other end of the city a volley of shots was heard. There was also a large crowd of people, the party was already led there and they told us that they had shot it. It is reported that the second batch was led towards the bridge, on the outskirts. Finally, at 4 o’clock the horse arrives, he said something. Then the translator shouts: "To be built by 40 people." And now everyone is trying to avoid getting into the first batch. Then the Romanians themselves begin to build. And they led the first batch; women, children raised a greater cry and moved for the departing. Finally they led the second, third installment, etc. Wives pass that everyone is in the city center.

When the last batch arrived, it was already getting dark. Then the translator began to read the order, which said: more than two people should not walk down the street, in houses the fire should burn until 8 o’clock in the evening, the shutters in the apartments should be open. He says that "an order has been issued by the general to pardon you for your speeches, for he came to do order, because the Bolsheviks wanted to take power over Bessarabia." After this speech, we were driven home.

The city presented a picture of a complete pogrom. The corpses lay in the streets. If anyone went out of the gate, he fell victim. January 26 (February 8) we went to the workshops, where we learned about the fate of our comrades, seconded from the Privislinsky railway. There were barracks at the station, there were business travelers who were all killed and brutally mutilated beyond recognition. Also, many local workers' comrades were not visible. Later it turned out that they also fell. Here are some cases. The Romanians went into the apartment of the oiler Ulyanov, who at that time had breakfast with his family and invited the Romanians (there were two) to have breakfast too. They sat down, ate, after which they brought Ulyanov out of the apartment and stabbed him with bayonets, inflicting countless wounds on him in the presence of his family. Storekeeper Bogatovich at the knock of a Romanian did not soon open the gate, for which he was killed on the spot. The conductor, walking along the road, did not look back at the call, for which he was wounded by a shot from a rifle. The wounded asked for help. but instead was doused with kerosene and set on fire. The result was a living martyr’s torch.

Many from shells hid in cellars with families. Romanians, entering the courtyard, shot rifles in the cellar. It got to the point that they threw bombs there, regardless of the old ones. nor with the little ones, they did not give mercy to anyone. There was even such a brutal act that the assistant engineer was buried alive in a pit. Wherever a shot is heard, they are now surrounding and all men are being shot.

The fate of those led to the outskirts, next. The Dniester River had the arrival of water, there was no ice. And subsequently, when the water became, at the bottom of the river lay corpses with their hands tied back with wire. Among the corpses were soldiers, townspeople and our railroad workers. The corpses were lying around, and no one dared to clean them, even relatives.

Thus, about 250 people died of our railway workers killed and missing at the hands of the Romanian boyars, and at the hands of the Russian officers. How many widows and orphans remain can be judged by ourselves.

Such was the day of January 25 of the old style of 1918, which the Bessarabia-Bendery consider the day of Romanian occupation of Bessarabia and on which we honor the memory of comrades who fell at the hands of mercenaries of capital ”(spelling and stylistics of the original preserved - V.P.) (39) .

 According to other evidence, the names of the dead railway workers are mentioned - locksmiths Tishchenko and Streletsky, joiner Dvornitsky, loader Evdokimov, paramedic Kravchenko (40). Bessarabia Defense Member E.G. Vasilevsky wrote in his memoirs of the execution of 150 railroad workers and many citizens (41). A well-known academic publication reports more than 100 executed revolutionary workers (Soviet Moldova. Brief Encyclopedia. Chisinau, 1982. p. 45). The above data on the lost defenders and civilians in three historical sources, although somewhat different from each other, are quite comparable and create a real picture of the event. In Soviet times, employees of the excursion bureau and museums often quoted the figure of 500 executed. From today's perspective, it looks clearly overpriced.

To complete the picture of what was happening in Bendery, one should cite the facts of the mass arbitrariness of the invaders in relation to various layers of the civilian population, as well as evidence characterizing the socio-political situation in the city in the early days of the occupation. So, the newspaper “Voice of the Revolution” in No. 168 dated February 6 (19), 1918 wrote: “The bloody massacre of the Romanians, which began with their entry into Bendery, continues to this day. Bendery is now a terrible picture. The ruins of burnt houses, gaping holes instead of doors and windows, looted shops and shops.

From the "Warsaw Hotel", which housed the headquarters of the Russian troops acting against the Romanians, there was not a stone unturned. The Paris Hotel, in which some members of the Front Department lived, was also plundered. Everyone who had this or that relation to a public and political life, appeared in Romanian descriptive lists.

A number of people were sentenced to death, among them the popular pharmacist Mulman, Dr. Wunderbar, a student. Nutov, Sperling and all the employees of the “Bessarabian Southern Region”, suspected for some reason of Bolshevism, despite his definitely anti-Bolshevik physiognomy.

In addition to those who suffered from slander provocateurs, there are many victims of Romanian anti-Semitism. Thus, the owner of the forest warehouse Erlich, the owner of the drugstore Ris and gr. Goldgamer. The wife of the latter is injured. The owner of the Shusterman manufactory was shot. But all the dark forces of the city crept into the light of day. former policemen, security guards, figures of the Union of the Russian people. Some of the repainted ones quickly shed. So. Romanians appointed mountains. head Prokofiev - the old Black Hundred who passed into the Duma under the flag of the Cadets. The chief of police, the former tsarist prosecutor Chkhenkeli and Ch. Duma Kolesnichenko. According to the slogans of the provocateurs, political workers are wanted. Troshin and Pridikman. The "black fence" at the station has become a real place of executions. The death penalty has become commonplace in Bendery, shot on the most trifling occasions.

High Relief Monument "Black Fence"

In Kaushani, a neighboring Bendery town, a peasant was sentenced to be shot for disapproving of the Romanian “requisition”. Thanks to the pleas of fellow villagers, the execution was replaced by rods ...

In order to show the population what punitive disrespect towards the Romanians is punishable, about 2,000 residents from Bendery and the surrounding villages were driven to this sad sight. Unhappy after the 30th rod fell into an insensible state, was taken to the hospital, where he died.

In village Kopanka Romanians shot the chairman of the land committee, organized a partisan detachment. Horror without end. And to all this a hopeless situation in the food issue. Everything that was available in Bendery’s edible was exported to Romania, while the population is literally starving ”(spelling and stylistics of the original preserved - V.P.) (42).

Chapter six. One century ago

Thus, the Bendery twice during the 20th century experienced massive aggression inspired by pro-Romanian forces - at the beginning of the century, in 1918, and at the end of 1992. It would be very short-sighted not to see a direct connection between these events in our time.

In a wider format, although with certain reservations. these include the events of the Bendery armed uprising of 1919 and the German-Romanian occupation of 1941-1944.

The Romanian expansion of 1918 was basically not so much interethnic, but rather class and political. Having received a mandate from the Western powers, Romania, with the complicity and betrayal of General D.G. Shcherbacheva simultaneously sought to put an end to Bolshevism and to quench its territorial claims at the expense of the young Soviet republic.

D.G. Sherbachev

Shcherbachev should be mentioned separately. He successfully commanded the 9th corps during the offensive in Galicia at the beginning of the First World War, occupied Lviv. During the Great Retreat of 1915, he led a number of victories over the German and Austrian forces at the head of the 8th Army. He achieved significant success in the Brusilovsky breakthrough. From October 1915 to April 1917 Dmitry G. Shcherbachev commanded the Southwestern Front. In early April 1917 he was appointed assistant to King Ferdinand I, commander in chief of the armies of the Romanian Front, created in December 1916, in connection with the defeat of the Romanian army and the need to prevent a threat to the southern Russian territories. In fact, General Shcherbachev was the commander of the front - he had four Russian and two Romanian armies under his command. After the unification of the Romanian and Southwestern fronts into the Ukrainian Front in December 1917, under the command of Shcherbachev, he was subordinate to the Ukrainian Verkhovna Rada until January 1918.

In February 1918, entered into a truce with Germany in the Fountains, and obtained from the German command consent to the preservation of the non-demobilized Romanian army. In December 1917, he agreed to the introduction of Romanian troops into Bessarabia - under the pretext of guarding the Russian and Romanian borders and maintaining order and calm in the rear of the Romanian front. In January 1918, hostilities began between the Soviet troops and the Romanians. The Romanian division invading the left bank of the Dniester was defeated. An ardent opponent of Bolshevism, during the period of widespread revolutionary agitation, he ensured that the front committee on October 30, 1917 decided not to recognize the Soviet regime. In turn, on January 13, 1918, Shcherbachev, by decree with the Tax Code of the RSFSR, declared "an enemy of the people" and placed "outside the law."

On April 18, 1918, temporarily retiring from business, he settled on the estate provided to him by the Romanian king. December 30, 1918 he arrived in the Kuban, in Yekaterinodar, where he was in charge of supplying the white armies, was appointed military representative of the Russian armies to the allied governments and the allied High Command. In May 1920, due to disagreements with Lieutenant General Baron P.N. with respect to joint actions with Poland, Wrangel was replaced by Lieutenant General E.K. Miller. He enjoyed the special favor of the Romanian king. In 1920 he moved to Nice, where he lived on a life-long pension assigned to him by the king of Romania and the Romanian government. Romania did not forget his activities during the First World War, including his contribution to the occupation of Bessarabia. He died on January 18, 1932 in Nice from intestinal flu, and was buried in the local Kokad cemetery.

As already noted, the Romanian units included many Russian White Guard officers dressed in Romanian military uniforms. At the same time, during the civil war, the Romanian revolutionary units more than once widely and actively participated in battles on the side of the Red Army.

A similar picture was observed in 1992. It is enough to recall personally “famous” in the battles for Bendery, Colonel L. Karasev, commander of the primary military group of the Republic of Moldova. a native of Donbass, and V. Guslyakov. Commissioner of the Bendery City Police Department. At the same time, ethnic Moldovans made up a significant part of the Transnistrian military units. At the heart of everything that happened in Bendery at the beginning of the nineties is a modern big geopolitical game aimed at reorganizing the world order.

In organizational, strategic and tactical terms, the actions of the Transnistrian military units have often been and are being subjected to rather harsh criticism, often justified. However, the same attitude towards their own is observed in the Republic of Moldova. However, if we look at the 1992 war through the prism of the events of the Bendery Defense of 1918, they are struck by the similarity both in general and in details. And this is by no means accidental.

In both cases, the defense of the city was represented by motley military formations of various types, often without allusions to the joint organization of hostilities. In 1918, these were divisions of Rumcheroda regular military units, partisan. Red Guard, sailor self-defense units, etc. formally, the date of creation of the Armed Forces of Transnistria is considered September 11, 1991, however, in this case it was only about creating the Republican Guard in the conditions of sharply aggravated socio-political situation in the republic. At the same time, the revival of the Black Sea Cossack army, the creation of the militia, the formation of the TCO and the people's militia were under way at different speeds.

Under these conditions, clearly coordinated military operations could not be considered by definition. Hence, in both cases, the not always motivated withdrawal of troops beyond the Dniester, introducing confusion and nervousness into the actions of the city’s self-defense forces. We should not forget that all this happened against the backdrop of the collapse of the old state systems and barely emerging new, in the atmosphere of unpredictable, rapidly developing events, in which Bendery and Transnistria were in a knowingly losing position. In the case of PMR, what is the state of unrecognition of the republic, which continues to this day.

In the 20th century, Bendery experienced two of the greatest tragedies in its history, comparable both in the scale of the aggression committed against him and in the number and nature of the crimes inspired by his defenders and civilians.

We highlight two more important points: the Romanian intervention against the young Soviet republic was the first in the years of the civil war, and the Bendery defense of 1918 was the largest milestone in the struggle against the invaders in the framework of these events.

Bendery Defense in 1918 and 1992 was of great importance for the fate of the statehood of Transnistria. The persistent resistance of the city’s defenders on the right bank of the Dniester ultimately did not allow the invaders to gain a foothold on the Left Bank, where the MASSR was subsequently formed. The heroic defense of Bendery in 1992 broke the ridge of the invaders and made it possible to defend the republic at a new stage in its historical development.

In recent decades, turbulent processes of returning to historical sources have been going on in the PMR. The restoration of the Bendery Fortress is proceeding at a fast pace, military-historical memorials and complexes are being opened, and monuments to figures of history and culture are being erected. In this case, there is a noticeable tilt towards the monuments and architecture of the pre-Soviet era.

Unfortunately, against this background, there is a lack of attention to historical monuments of the Soviet period. The Memorial of the revolutionary, military and labor glory of the railroad workers, the museum of the same name, which has been working only for 24 hours in the warm season for 24 years now, is in distress. Repeatedly acts of vandalism were subjected to the high-relief monument "Black Fence".

In the early nineties, the G.I. Memorial Museum was closed Old and P. Tkachenko - the founders of Transnistrian statehood, the museum of the cavalry brigade G.I. Kotovsky in Tiraspol.

And that worries. We have no right to forget those who defended Transnistria with arms in both formidable 1992 and harsh 1918.


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