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Pyotr Nikolayevich Krasnov (Russian: Пётр Николаевич Краснов ) September 22 (10 old style), 1869 – January 17, 1947), sometimes referred to in English as Peter Krasnov, was a Don Cossack historian and officer, promoted to Lieutenant General of the Russian army when the revolution broke out in 1917, and one of the leaders of the counterrevolutionary White movement afterwards.
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Petro Krasnov was born in 1869 in Saint Petersburg, son to lieutenant-general Nikolay Krasnov and grandson to general Ivan Krasnov. In 1888, Krasnov graduated from Pavlovsk Military School and later served in the Ataman regiment of the Life Guards. During World War I, he commanded a Cossack brigade and a division, in August–October 1917, of the 3rd Cavalry Corps. During the October Revolution, Alexander Kerensky appointed Krasnov commander of the army, which was sent to Petrograd from the front to suppress the Bolshevik revolution (see Kerensky-Krasnov uprising). However, Krasnov was defeated and taken prisoner. He was released by the Soviet authorities on the condition that he would not continue his struggle against the revolution. He agreed to this but reneged on his promise to do so.
Russian Civil war
Krasnov fled to the Don region and in May 1918, in Novocherkassk, was elected Ataman of the Don Cossack Host. With support from Germany, he equipped the army, which would oust the Soviets from the Don region in May–June 1918. By the middle of June, a Don Army was in the field with 40,000 men, 56 guns and 179 machine-guns. In the second half of 1918, Krasnov advanced towards Povorino-Kamyshin-Tsaritsyn, intending to march on Moscow, but was defeated. After Germany's defeat in World War I, he set his sights on the Entente powers in his search for allies. In January 1919, Krasnov was forced to acknowledge General Denikin's authority over the White movement, despite animosity towards him.
Exile in Germany
On February 19, 1919, Krasnov retired from the military and went to Germany due to his frictions with the command of the Volunteer Army. In Germany, he continued his anti-Soviet activities. Krasnov was one of the founders of the Brotherhood of Russian Truth, an anti-communist organization with an underground network in Russia.
In exile Krasnov had written memoirs and several novels. His famous trilogy From Double Eagle To the Red Flag, in addition to the main plot, with its hero, General Sablin, has several sub-plots which encompass many places, events, and personages. It presents a vast panorama of the Revolution and the Civil War throughout the country. Events are revealed through the fates of many characters, who, in turn, give their own interpretations of the events. Even the revolutionaries have an opportunity to express their views, although, in general, their political expositions seem to be the weakest parts of the novel. The ideology of the book is thus presented polyphonically. The author, although he tends to align himself with his conservative characters, offers no personal opinion of his own. All major themes, such as authority vs. anarchy, respect for human dignity vs. violence, creative work vs. destruction, as well as cruelty and terror, are treated in this polyphonic manner.
Krasnov's novels were translated into English, German, French, Serbian and other European languages.
During World War II, Krasnov continued his "German orientation" by seeking an alliance with Nazi Germany. He agreed to organize and head Cossack units out of White emigres and Soviet (mostly Cossack) prisoners of war, to be armed by the Nazis. The Nazis, in turn, expected Krasnov to follow their political line and keep to a separatist Cossack orientation. In November 1944, Krasnov refused the appeal of General Andrei Vlasov to join the latter's Russian Liberation Army. At the end of the war, Krasnov and his men voluntarily surrendered to British forces in Austria. All of them were promised upon surrender by Major Davis that they, as White Russian emigres, would not be repatriated to the Soviets.
Repatriation and death
On May 28, 1945, Pyotr Krasnov was handed over to the Soviets by the British authorities in Operation Keelhaul. He was sentenced to death by the Military Collegium of the Supreme Court of the USSR, together with General Andrei Shkuro, Timofey Domanov and Helmuth von Pannwitz. On January 17, 1947, he was executed by hanging.
On January 17, 2008, Victor Vodolatsky, Ataman of Don Cossacks and a deputy of the United Russia party in the Russian Duma signed a controversial decree regarding creation of a workgroup for rehabilitation of Pyotr Krasnov.
- From Double Eagle To Red Flag. New York, Duffield and Company, 1926. 2 vols.
- The Unforgiven. New York, Duffield and Company, 1928. 444 p.
- The Amazon of the Desert. Trans. by Olga Vitali and Vera Brooke. New York, Duffield, 1929. 272 p.
- Napoleon And The Cossacks. 1931.
- Largo: A Novel. New York, Duffield and Green, 1932. 599 p.
- Ludmila A. Foster. The Revolution and the Civil War in Russian Emigre Novels. Russian Review, Vol. 31, No. 2 (Apr., 1972), pp. 153-162
- Krasnov family genealogy on Russian Wikipedia