General Kutepov: A Collection of Essays (I)
Kutepov's family waited for him at breakfast. Aleksandr Pavlovich did not arrive. They assumed that he had been delayed at the Assembly. In the afternoon he was to head out of town with his wife and son, but the clock struck three o'clock and he was still nowhere to be seen. A worried Lidi Davidovna (Kutepova) sent the trusted batman Fedor to the Gallipoli Assembly to find out what was delaying the general and....an hour later Fedor returned with the news that the General never arrived at the Gallipoli Assembly that morning.
A terrible presentiment that some misfortune had befallen Aleksandr Pavlovich fearfully took hold of Lidia Davidovna. An accident? A crime?
She summoned General Stogov - head of the Military Chancellery, who hastened to meet with Colonel Zaitsev - General Kutepov's closest confidante - in the hopes of finding out General Kutepov's whereabouts. Colonel Zaitsev, struck by the unexplained and lengthy absence of the General, reported the situation to the Prefecture at once. The police immediately began a search for the General at all the hospitals, morgues and police stations.
The search continued until evening without success. The police alerted the border railway stations about the General's disappearance and urgently requested the General's officials that they keep his disappearance secret for the next few days, in order to increase their chances of finding the trail.
It became clear that the General had fallen victim to a crime. An evil deed had been committed, unbelievable in its audacity. In broad daylight, on the streets of Paris, in a populated quarter, a man had vanished, who was well-known to the police and under their protection. A man had disappeared, whom the local residents knew by sight. A man was abducted who was brave, strong, and incapable of being taken without a fight.
The entire next day, the police maintained their request for complete secrecy concerning the General's disappearance, despite the views of those of us who were in on the secret. But by evening evil rumours had already begun to spread across Paris from person to person.
Monday passed and on Tuesday morning the terrible news began spreading around the coffee-houses of the Russian emigres. The mind did not want to believe that such a crime could be committed and the heart could not admit the possibility that General Kutepov was no longer among us. Thoughts turned to the frightening riddle - where was he then? What did the criminals do with him, those who decided to behead the Russian General Services Union and with it the entire Russian emigre movement?
For two days, the riddle of the General's disappearance remained unsolved, but on the third day came word of a chance witness, who had been watching from a window on Roussel street, the very same street where Alexander Pavlovich resided. Some persons had invited a man who resembled General Kutepov to sit in a car, despite his unwillingness to comply. Finally, there was a clue to the riddle.
In an instant, the tranquil existence of the many thousands of Russians was interrupted, as if being woken from their slumbers. And they suddenly understood that for the Russian emigres there cannot be any peaceful life in expectation of events in the USSR; that the struggle which began 13 years ago continues and that our enemies, the oppressors of the Russian motherland, do not sleep. And as their victim became the one man, in whose hands all the forces of the struggle had been concentrated, and in whom the trust of his comrades-in-arms had been placed in regards the stubborn fight with the enemies of Russia and the Russian people.
The Russian emigres seethed with indignation, thirsted for vengeance, and were willing to make any sacrifice, if only to release General Kutepov from the clutches of the criminals. A committee was formed to collect funds for a search for General Kutepov.
Over several months, a private investigation worked intensively in support of the official French investigation, and all this time a wide stream of contributions flowed to the Committee from all corners of the earth: rich and poor alike shouldered their due, for all knew who had been taken from them. (Contributions to the Committee for the search of General Kutepov reached four hundred and thirty thousand francs, of which three hundred and thirty thousand were spent on the search and investigation. With the agreement of the contributors, the remaining one hundred thousand was handed over to L. D. Kutepova to provide for Pavlik, the General's son. Pavlik lost his father when he was five years old.) Every one cherished the hope that Kutepov was alive, that he would be found, and that he would be returned to us. The belief has also not been extinguished that for the French government it is a question of honour to find and punish the criminals, who made an attempt upon the life of a man, who had been rendered safe haven by France. Alas, days, weeks, and months have passed... Our investigations gave many valuable clues to the French authorities, but... considerations of 'diplomatic immunity' obstructed the investigation. The investigation continue even today.
It is still not known what became of General Kutepov, but we do know what we have lost in him, and we wish all to know this - both Russians, who have been cast across the face of the earth, and foreigners, who have given the Russian emigres refuge.
Fate has cruelly punished the Russian people, who have been tempted by Bolsheviks. Great are their sufferings and tortures. Fate has also mercilessly torn from our ranks, those whom the emigres could trust and in whom the Russian people could believe. Not yet a year had passed since the untimely death of Wrangel, in the full bloom of his life and strength, when the Grand Prince Nikolai Nikolaevich also passed on, and a year later the Bolsheviks abducted Kutepov....
By studying Kutepov's life, our children and grandchildren will learn how one should serve the Fatherland. At all moments of his life, whether a young officer in peace or war, a regimental commander during the period of Revolution and anarchy, a corps commander or commander of an army during the Civil War, Kutepov always and everywhere served as a model: an officer, a leader, and a faithful servant of Russia. Despite the increasing demands which life placed before Kutepov, even in fields absolutely foreign to him - of a non-military nature - he always rose to the occasion. In order to be worthy of serving the Motherland, he constantly studied and bettered himself.
A warrior by nature, Kutepov was an outstanding military commander and an exceptional governor of troops, as became especially clear at Gallipoli, but when circumstances demanded it, he became a political leader. He managed to win the trust of broad social elements among the emigres.
He brought together the Russian emigres and those Russians, who are suffering there, "behind the thistles." He called for struggle and fought for the liberation of Russia... The Russian emigres have truly lost in him their leader, and the Russian people have lost their liberator.
In this book, we and our descendants will learn who Kutepov was and what Russia has lost with him.
1 March 1934.