THE COSSACK INFERNO
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The Cossack peoples had long suffered stigmatisation, hate and horror inflicted upon them and other ethnic communities by the Bolsheviks. This was partly due to the unwavering allegiance of the Cossack to the Romanov dynasty.
On November 14, 1920, one of the largest flotillas in European history was moored off the bay at Sevastopol in Crimea. With the American-sponsored and armed Red Army poised to overwhelm Crimea, the impending escape of the armada included 150 ships of every size and type imaginable. Most but not all the vessels were the warships and Merchant marine vessels of Imperial Russia.
Waiting to escape Bolshevism’s murderous marauders was General Pyotr Wrangel’s Russian White Army. For years the general’s incredible wandering army had fought against the the Red Terror that was bringing death and destruction to occupied Russia. Finally, overwhelmed by the Soviets financed by Jacob Schiff’s Wall Street banks, 145,693 White Russians had only the exile option to consider.
Of these unfortunates officers and troops there were 5,000 sick and wounded. The throng’s gathered along Count’s Quay at Sevastopol included 15,000 Cossacks, 12,000 Cossack officers, 4,000 to 5,000 regular army troops. Assembled on the Quays of Heartbreak were more than 30,000 officers of the rear units and 10,000 army cadets.
The evacuation, for the most part, took place in an orderly and quiet manner. The organisation was taken care of by mainly Cossack troops and Cossack cadets. Finally, carrying as many evacuees as possible, the vast armada of exiles sailed off into the sunset under the sponsorship and protection of France.
The distressing evacuation was accompanied by unimaginable scenes of pathos. One has to remember that to the Cossack his horse was a family member. The sentiment between animal and man was mutual.
The scenes of devastation were beyond horror. Tens of thousands of Cossack horses that had borne their warriors throughout the 5 years long regime change insurrection were abandoned. Fed for the last time these horses were released to fend for themselves. Many of these horses plunged into the sea in a futile attempt to follow the ships of the escaping Cossacks and war horses died in their thousands.
There is a legend about a powerful young stallion that was used for transporting the White Army’s cannons. The war horse remained on its feet until the very end. The noble creature seemed to set an example for others but finally his death hour approached.
At this point the dying horse unsteadily made its way to an escarpment overlooking the sea. After standing for a while looking seawards the creature’s legs buckled and voluntarily the battle horse plunged to the rocks far below.
This was not quite the Western rescue it seems. Before the fleet had reached the Bosporus Straits commenced the plunder by France and Britain. Attracted to the helplessness of the exiled armada the British set about pillaging whatever the Royal Navy could lay its hands on.
By the time the convoy reached a safe haven in French Occupied Tunisia only 33 of the original 150 vessels remained. Their passengers were now exiled and categorised as stateless persons.
The better conditioned remaining ships of Imperial Russia were demanded by the French and those unwanted vessels that remained were broken up where they were beached. The Cossack peoples now set out on a 70 year long exile from their homelands.
Some of the dwindling numbers of surviving Cossacks were sent to the island of Lemnos. Many others were exiled to France. Other Cossacks, under the command of General Alexander Kutepov, were settled near Turkish Gallipoli.
Several of the Russian ships moored in Bizerte, Tunisia were sold by the French to Italian and Maltese ship-owners and breaking yards.
In 1924 the French Government recognised the Soviet Union and the remaining ships of the Russian Squadron were surrendered by the French to the triumphant Bolsheviks. This betrayal led to a wave of protests throughout Europe and the surrender of the ships was not in the end implemented.
Only in one or two cases was a commander’s warhorse spared being abandoned.
On the Sevastopol quays today one will find a commemoration plaque on Count’s Pier from which the distressed fleet set sail. The tablet commemorates those Russians who were able to depart their Motherland. They were in fact the lucky escapees.
As the Bolsheviks swept into Crimea they set about ethnically cleansing by slaughter the surviving White Russians in their tens of thousands. Little wonder that this betrayal of an entire ethnic group is unknown about in the West. Shame is the most effective gag of all.
Monument “Exodus” In 2013, the Exodus monument was erected on the embankment of the city of Novorossiysk
MICHAEL WALSH is a worldwide journalist, broadcaster and author of 64 book titles with 36 years experience. Like other journalists of integrity, he no longer writes for corporate media, opting instead for true journalism.
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