Tag Archives: cossacks

Only the Greybeards Left

100 years ago in Ukraine, after four years of the Great War and two of Civil War:

Official caption:

Only the Greybeards Left. When the principal men of the Cossack village of Prochnookopskara, South Russia, were called together to meet the representative of the American Red Cross there were none of the fighting age left. Only the old warriors, whose scars gave a good account of their former days but whose bodies had no longer enough vigor to fight under the fearful campaigning conditions of the struggle against the Bolshevists, met in the market place and doffed their astrakhan hats in honor of the visitor who brought help. The American officer at the left of the center surrounded by hetman in huge white caps is Prince Ourousow

Sadly, once the Reds won the Civil War in South Russia in November 1920, just months after the above photo was snapped, commissars began a state campaign of Raskazachivaniye (decossackization) that was genocide by any other name. Many of the old greybeards shown here soon likely found themselves labeled as “kulaks” or “money bags” (bogatei) for owning a few acres of land and were deported to Siberia in chains or stood up against a wall. The lucky ones just lost their land, horses, and guns and were allowed to join the local collective.

Although the Don and Kuban Cossacks were deemed “counter-revolutionaries” by Moscow and targeted for special treatment, it should be noted that at least one-fifth of all of the men in arms from the stanistas (about 30,000) did so under Red banners, with a full division, the First Don, being composed primarily of Cossacks. As such, many of the young men who rode with Budyonny’s Red Cavalry (Konarmiya) returned home to the farm in 1921 to be shown the light of the Workers’ and Peasants’ Paradise.

Babel didn’t cover that.

Combat Gallery Sunday: Repin x3

In 1891, Ilya Yefimovich Repin completed his giant 6×11 ft painting “Reply of the Zaporozhian Cossacks to Sultan Mehmed IV of the Ottoman Empire” after an 11-year effort, selling the piece to Tsar Alexander III for a princely sum.

Hung in the Tsar’s Winter Palace in Saint Petersburg.at the time, the painting is still there, although the palace is now the State Russian Museum.

The Zaporozhye Cossacks Writing a Mocking Letter to the Turkish Sultan *oil on canvas*358 × 203 cm *signed b.c.: И.Репин 1880-91

It depicts the popular legend of the 1676 cossack reply to an ultimatum of the Ottoman sultan, Mehmed IV, that these autonomous border people submit to Turkish rule. The reply, as the story goes, was one of insults with each rough steppes horseman striving to outperform his buddy. A lot of references to Mehmed’s mother and at least one goat were mentioned in the reply.

Since then, the painting has been updated a few times with the same Russian patriotic tendency.

Zaporozhian have been swapped out for Red partisans in WWII

Note the M1910 Sokolov machine gun, captured German MP40, and at least one Red Cossack

This most recent example, by Vladimir Nesterenko, is set in Syria with the modern Russian military, complete with 30mm grenade launchers and AK74s.

The next one will probably be set in space.