Boris Shteifon

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Boris Aleksandrovich Shteifon
Boris Shteifon sketch.JPG
General Shteifon
Born (1881-12-06)6 December 1881
Kharkiv, Ukraine
Died 30 April 1945(1945-04-30) (aged 63)
Zagreb, Croatia
Allegiance  Russian Empire
Service/branch Russian Imperial Army
Volunteer Army
Russian Corps
Years of service 1902–1945
Rank General
Battles/wars Russo-Japanese War
World War I
Russian Civil War
World War II

Boris Aleksandrovich Shteifon (December 6, 1881 – April 30, 1945) (Russian: Борис Александрович Штейфон) was a general in the Imperial Russian Army, who subsequently served as a general in the Russian anti-communist White army, and as the leader of the Nazi-allied Russian Corps in Serbia during World War II.

Biography[edit]

Shteifon was born on December 6, 1881 in the city of Kharkiv (currently Ukraine). His father was a Jewish merchant (converted to Orthodox Christianity), his mother was the daughter of a Russian Orthodox deacon.

Shteifon graduated from the Chuguyivske Junker Infantry School, one of the premier schools of the Imperial Russian Army, and went to serve as a second lieutenant in the 124th Infantry Regiment based at Voronezh. He first saw combat during in the Russo-Japanese War of 1904–1905, during which he was injured with a concussion. He was also awarded for bravery and excellence five times, receiving the Order of St. Vladimir along with other decorations. He was promoted to lieutenant in September 1905.

In 1911, Shteifon completed the Imperial Nikolaevsky Military Academy with the rank of captain. He was subsequently assigned to serve in Russian Turkestan, and was a staff officer of the 2nd Turkistan Army Corps in 1914.

With the start of World War I, Shteifon served on the Caucasus front against the forces of the Ottoman Empire. He was Assistant Chief of Intelligence in the staff of the Russian Caucasian Army, and was promoted to lieutenant colonel in 1915. He played a key role in the Battle of Erzurum under General Nikolai Yudenich and was awarded the Order of St. Anne and Order of St. George for conducting intelligence operations. In January 1917 he was appointed Chief of Staff of the 161 Infantry Division and then in August of that year, the head of the Finnish 3rd Infantry Division. In 1917 he was promoted to colonel.

In the wake of the October Revolution and the collapse at the Russian front, Shteifon returned to his native Kharkov where he headed an underground organization to recruit and relay officers who want to join the Volunteer Army. In the fall of 1918 he arrived at Volunteer Army headquarters in Ekaterinodar. He became Chief of Staff of the 3rd Infantry Division of the Volunteer Army in April 1919, and commander of the 13th Infantry Regiment from July. He was active in operations throughout the Ukraine and parts of Poland and Romania through the end of the year. In January 1920 Shteifon was promoted to the rank of lieutenant general.

However, with the growing collapse of the White movement, he was forced to evacuate into Poland with his men, then arrived in Crimea to continue active duty under General Pyotr Wrangel. He evacuated with the remnants of Wrangel's forces to Constantinople and arrived to the Gallipoli camp for White Russian refugees. On April 25, 1921, he was put in charge of the exiled 1st Army Corps, and relocated to Bulgaria. In 1922, the Bulgarian government expelled Shteifon, and he found refuge in the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes. Living in Belgrade, he actively participated in the Officers' Union, but was removed by General Wrangel for insubordination.

During the 1920s and 1930s, Shteifon published a series of military tactical and historical works, and became a professor of military sciences.

With the occupation of Yugoslavia by Nazi Germany in World War II, Shteifon was offered a position as chief of staff of the Russian Corps organized by former Russian general Mikhail Skorodumov in 1941, becoming its commander three days later. Under his command the Russian Corps fought with Yugoslav partisans, and then with the regular units of the Red Army after their entry in late 1944 to the Balkans. Over the lifetime the Russian Corps, Shteifon attempted to win the maximum amount of independence and better equipment from the Germans. He managed to send its representatives to the occupied areas of the Soviet Union, and recruited around 5,000 new volunteers. Shteifon, who suffered from liver disease, died of a heart attack in Zagreb, Croatia, on April 30, 1945. He was buried in Ljubljana, Slovenia, at a German military cemetery (block VIII, row 6, grave 16).

References[edit]

  • M.V. Nazarov, The Mission of the Russian Emigration, Moscow: Rodnik, 1994. ISBN 5-86231-172-6