Pyotr Schmidt

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Pyotr Schmidt Leytenant shmidt.jpg
Born 17 February [O.S. 5 February] 1867
Odessa, Russian Empire
Died 19 March [O.S. 6 March] 1906
Berezan Island, Russian Empire

Pyotr Petrovich Schmidt (Russian: Пётр Петрович Шмидт; February 17 [O.S. February 5] 1867 – March 19 [O.S. March 6] 1906) was one of the leaders of the Sevastopol Uprising during the Russian Revolution of 1905.

Early years[edit]

Pyotr Petrovich Schmidt was born in 1867 in Odessa, Russian Empire, now Ukraine into the family of a naval officer. His father Pyotr Petrovich Schmidt (Senior) participated in the defense of Sebastopol during the Siege of Sevastopol (1854). His mother Yekaterina Yakovlevna Schmidt (born von Wagner) was of German descent. Schmidt spent his youth years in Berdyansk, where his father was appointed as a mayor. In 1883 Pyotr Schmidt Jr. entered the Naval Officers' Corps in Saint Petersburg and after its graduation he enrolled into the Imperial Russian Navy. He gave his resignation in 1888 and married Dominika Gavrilovna Pavlova. After the birth of his son Yevgeniy in 1889, the family moved to Taganrog, where Alexander Nentzel, manager of the Azov-Don Commercial Bank offered him a bookkeeper's post. In 1893, Schmidt left Taganrog and enrolled again the Imperial Russian Navy.

Uprising in the Black Sea Fleet[edit]

The uprising in the Black Sea Fleet was part of the Russian Revolution of 1905. Pyotr Schmidt was a Lieutenant Commander of the destroyer Number 253 in the Imperial Russian Navy. On October 1, 1905, he made a speech during the meeting in Sebastopol, urging the citizens to stand up for their rights and demanding the authorities to free political prisoners. Participants of the meeting headed towards the city prison, where they were met with machine gun fire. The following days, Pyotr Schmidt addressed a speech at the special session of the Sevastopol City Council and at the cemetery during the funeral ceremony, where he was arrested. He was convoyed to the battleship Tri Sviatitelia, which provoked protests and the authorities were forced to release the lieutenant commander. On November 7, 1905, Pyotr Schmidt was sent into retirement in the rank of the captain (капитан 2 ранга). The uprising continued and with the cruiser Ochakov in its center. On November 26, 1905 a mutiny started on board the cruiser, and all of its officers were chased away from the ship. Lieutenant Schmidt, though not being a member of RSDRP, was invited to take the command of the rebel ships, including the minelayer Griden, gunboat Usuriets, destroyers Zavetniy, Zorkiy, Svirepiy, 265, 268, 270, training ship Dnestr and mine carrier Bug. The same day, the Soviets of Sailors' and Soldiers' Deputies decided to start a Black Sea Fleet-wide mutiny and appoint the naval officer Pyotr Schmidt as commander of the Fleet. On November 28, Pyotr Schmidt arrived on board of the cruiser Ochakov that raised the red flag and the signal Commanding the Fleet. The rebellion squadron was also joined by the battleship Panteleimon. The revolutionary forces made up some 8,200 vs. 10,000 government forces. Schmidt sent a telegram to Emperor Nicholas II of Russia:

The glorious Black Sea Fleet, sacredly devoted to the people, demands Your Majesty to immediately call a meeting of the Constituent Assembly (Учредительное собрание), and no longer obeys orders of Your ministers. Commander of the Fleet P. Schmidt.

Commander of the Imperial Russian forces, General Meller-Zakomelskiy gave the ultimatum demanding immediate capitulation, but there was no reply. Three hours after the ultimatum, the government forces opened fire at rebel ships and barracks. In 90 minutes, the revolutionary squadron was defeated by the government ships led by the battleship Rostislav. Pyotr Schmidt and his 16-year-old son were captured, and all who stayed alive were arrested. Next day, the government forces supported by artillery took the rebellion barracks.

Aftermath[edit]

The closed hearing was held in February 1906 in a small fortress in the island of Tendra near Sebastopol. Pyotr Schmidt and other leaders of the uprising were sentenced to death. He was executed on March 19, 1906 at Berezan Island by the crew of the gunboat Terets. In 1922, Mikhail Stavraki, commander of the gunboat's firing squad was accidentally discovered in Batumi, in possession of five fake passports in different names and old bank notes, by Cheka agents. The trial of Mikhail Stavraki, who was Schmidt's classmate at the Naval Corps in St Petersburg, was held on April 1, 1923 in Sebastopol, while most of the witnesses and participants of the events were still alive. On April 3, 1923 the Military Board of the Supreme Court of the USSR sentenced Stavraki to death by firing squad.

Bust of Pyotr Schmidt at the Russian Black Sea Fleet Museum in Sevastopol

Places named after Pyotr Schmidt[edit]

  • Blagoveshchensky Bridge, a major bridge across the Neva River in Saint Petersburg, Russia was called Lieutenant Schmidt Bridge in memory of Pyotr Schmidt in 1918 – 2007.
  • In 1924, a fisherman discovered the spot where Schmidt and other revolutionaries were shot dead. The remains were buried in Sevastopol, and in 1960s a 50-meter-high stela was placed on the island of Berezan.
  • After the Russian Civil War, a street in virtually every Soviet city was named after Lieutenant Schmidt.
  • On December 31, 1922 the old (1899) torpedo boat Svirepy of the Sokol class was renamed Lieutenant Schmidt. It was decommissioned in 1927.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  • Encyclopedia of Taganrog, Taganrog, 2003, Second edition
  • По старой Греческой by Oleg Gavryushkin, Taganrog, 2003
  • The Black Sea novel (1935) by Konstantin Paustovsky translated in Dutch De Zwarte Zee

External links[edit]