The Path Selected



In 1904, while still a student at the Saint Petersburg Polytechnical Institute, Mikhail Vasil’evich Frunze joined the Russian Social Democratic Workers Party (RSDRP).1


TIlE Path Military Affair Military Situation Military Doctrine Eastern Front 
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  1. 1.
    Sergei Arkad’evich Sirotinskii, Put’ Arseniia: Biograficheskii ocherk o M. V. Frunze (Moscow: Voennoe izdatel’stvo, 1956), p. 29. Sirotinskii adds that Frunze “consistently followed the Bolshevik line.”Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    A line has developed in modern Soviet writings to the effect that Frunze was a participant in the “Bloody Sunday” demonstrations. His presence, there or in the capital city, on January 9, 1905, is, however, not established. While a student at the Polytechnical Institute, he frequently left the city and was, indeed, twice expelled from the school. Two popular Soviet biographies state that he was there and was even in the front line of demonstrators when the first shots were fired by imperial forces. These works are Sirotinskii, op. cit., pp. 28-30, and Viacheslav Alekseevich Lebedev and Konstantin Vasil’evich Anan’ev, M. V. Frunze, 1885–1925 (Moscow: Molodaia Gvardiia, 1957), pp. 46-50. The latter biography goes so far as to state that Frunze was wounded in the arm by a rifle shot. Some doubt is cast on these assertions because the presence of Frunze at the Winter Palace is not mentioned in earlier sources. See, for instance, “Desiat’ let so dnia smerti M. V. Frunze,” Krasnyi Arkhiv, No. 5 (72), 1935, pp. 44-50, and Mikhail Vasil’evich Frunze: Polkovodcheskaia deiatel’nost’: Sbornik statei (Moscow: Voennoe izdatel’stvo, 1951), both of which have rather lengthy biographical material on Frunze. Frunze himself did not claim to have been present at the “Bloody Sunday” events. See his “autobiography” in M. V. Frunze, lzbrannye proizvedeniia (Moscow: Voennoe izdatel’stvo, 1957), I, pp. 69-71.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Frunze did not know that his brother Konstantin (Kostia) had been reported killed in the Russo-Japanese War. The report, received by his mother, later proved to be false. Sirotinskii, op. cit., p. 30.Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Lebedev and Anan’ev, op. cit., p. 49, and Sirotinskii, op. cit., pp. 25-31. The letter is reproduced in numerous biographies of Frunze. These works do not cite the source of the letter but there is little reason to doubt its authenticity whether or not Frunze actually participated in the events of January 9, 1905, in Saint Petersburg.Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    Sirontinskii, op. cit., p. 11. Early deaths seem almost to have been the rule among the male members of the Frunze family. Vasilii died at 45, Mikhail at 40, and Timur, Mikhail’s son, at 19.Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    See, for instance, S. Borisov, Frunze (Moscow: Molodaia Gvardiia, 1940) p. 15.Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    See, for instance, S. Borisov, Frunze (Moscow: Molodaia Gvardiia, 1940) p. 16. One of his teachers is reported to have said to Frunze, “I predict, Misha, that you will be a Suvorov.” Mikhail precociously replied, “Or, perhaps, a Timur.” See also, Sirotinskii, op. cit., pp. 13-14, for some hints about the influence of Timur (and Alexander of Macedonia) on Frunze’s early education.Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    G. A. Timchenko, ed., Novye materialy k biografii M. V. Frunze (Alma-Ata: Tsentral’noe arkhivnoe upravleniie Kazakskoi SSR, 1933), p. 4, gives a detailed listingGoogle Scholar
  9. 9.
    Frunze, op. cit., I, p. 69.Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    Lebedev and Anan’ev, op. cit., pp. 45-46.Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    Frunze, op. cit., I, p. 69.Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    On Ivanovo-Voznesensk, generally, as well as Frunze’s activities there, see Pavel Mikhailovich Ekzempliarskii, Istoriia Goroda Ivanova (Ivanovo: Ivanovskoe knizhnoe izdatel’stvo, 1958), Part I.Google Scholar
  13. 13.
    Frunze, Sobranie sochinenii (Moscow: Gosudarstvennoe izdatel’stvo, 1926–1928), I, p. 669.Google Scholar
  14. 14.
    V. Galkin, Vseobshchaia stachka Ivanovo-Voznesenskikh rabochkikh letom 1905 goda (Ivanovo: Oblastnoe izdatel’stvo, 1940), passim.Google Scholar
  15. 15.
    Levedev and Anan’ev, op. cit., pp. 59-61.Google Scholar
  16. 16.
    “Desiat’ let so dnia smerti M. V. Frunze,” op. cit., p. 48.Google Scholar
  17. 17.
    “Desiat’ let so dnia smerti M. V. Frunze,” op. cit., p. 48.Google Scholar
  18. 18.
    Sirotinskii, op. cit., pp. 46-49.Google Scholar
  19. 19.
    Frunze, Izbrannye proizvedeniia, op. cit., I, p. 69.Google Scholar
  20. 20.
    Quoted in Colonel Danil Maksimovich Grinishin, Voennaia deiatel’nost’ V. I. Lenina (Moscow: Voennoe izdatel’stvo, 1957), p. 56.Google Scholar
  21. 21.
    “Desiat’ let so dnia smerti M. V. Frunze,” op. cit., p. 48.Google Scholar
  22. 22.
    “Desiat’ let so dnia smerti M. V. Frunze,” op. cit., p. 48.Google Scholar
  23. 23.
    Ibid., p. 49. Sirotinskii, op. cit., p. 67, mistakenly states that Frunze gave the name “Tachapskii.” Lebedev and Anan’ev, op. cit., p. 86, support the “Tachaiskii” version.Google Scholar
  24. 24.
    Frunze, Izbrannye proizvedeniia, op. cit., I, p. 70.Google Scholar
  25. 25.
    “Desiat’ let so dnia smerti M. V. Frunze,” op. cit., p. 48. In December, 1906, Frunze obtained a deferment from being called up for military service on the basis of his attendance at school. He never discharged his obligation of military service to the Tsar.Google Scholar
  26. 26.
    Lebedev and Anan’ev, op. cit., p. 93.Google Scholar
  27. 27.
    “Because of a complete lack of evidence and obvious violation of procedural forms,” according to Frunze. See his Izbrannye proizvedeniia, op. cit., I, p. 70.Google Scholar
  28. 28.
    Lebedev and Anan’ev, op. cit., p. 96.Google Scholar
  29. 29.
    Ibid., pp. 89-100. For an account of the trial see Sirontinskii, op. cit., pp. 80-84.Google Scholar
  30. 30.
    Lebedev and Anan’ev, op. cit., pp. 109-110.Google Scholar
  31. 31.
    Ia. P. Kornil’ev, “M. V. Frunze v manzurskoi ssylke,” Katorga i ssylka, Book 36, 1927, pp. 181–182.Google Scholar
  32. 32.
    It has been suggested that his exile and imprisonment were the causes of Frunze’s developing stomach ulcers. See A. Skobennikov, “M. V. Frunze (Arsenii) na katorge i v ssylke,” in ibid., Book 20, 1925, p. 250. The condition of Frunze’s ulcers was a subject of later interest because of the circumstances of his death.Google Scholar
  33. 33.
    Lebedev and Anan’ev, op. cit., p. 111.Google Scholar
  34. 34.
    Stepan Gavrilovich Kapshukov, Bor’ba bol’shevistskoi partii za armiiu v period pervoi mirovoi voiny (1914 g. — mart 1917 g.) (Moscow: Voennoe izdatel’stvo, 1957), p. 99, reports that Frunze took advantage of this opportunity to spread the Bolshevik propaganda among the troops.Google Scholar
  35. 35.
    Sirotinskii, op. cit., p. 109.Google Scholar
  36. 36.
    N. Kruzhikov, “Mikhail Vasil’evich Frunze,” Novyi mir, No. 2, 1938, p. 180. Kruzhikov adds that Frunze “played no small role” in the defeat of the Kornilov Putsch. See also, Vasilii Aleksandrovich Galkin, Razgrom Kornilovshchiny, (Moscow: Uchpedgiz, 1959), p. 40, and Ivan Ivanovich Kazeko, Mikhail Vasil’evich Frunze v Belorusii (Minsk: Gosudarstvennoe izdatel’stvo BSSR, 1958), passim.Google Scholar
  37. 37.
    Frunze, Sobranie sochinenii, op. cit., I, p. 674.Google Scholar
  38. 38.
    Lebedev and Anan’ev, op. cit., p. 136, and Sirotinskii, op. cit., p. 117.Google Scholar
  39. 39.
    Colonel Evgenii Arsen’evich Boltin, “Proletarskii polkovodets Mikhail Vasil’evich Frunze,” Novyi Mir, No. 4,1939, p. 163.Google Scholar
  40. 40.
    The military aspects of Frunze’s campaigns are discussed in detail in later chapters.Google Scholar
  41. 41.
    As stated in Raymond L. Garthoff, Soviet Military Doctrine (Glencoe, Illinois: The Free Press, 1953), p. 449.Google Scholar
  42. 42.
    There is some evidence of earlier antagonism between Frunze and Trotsky. Trotsky recommended that F. F. Novitskn be appointed to command of the Fourth Army of the Eastern Front and that Frunze be made merely a member of the Revolutionary Military Council (Rewoensovet). Novitskii, who had served with Frunze in the Iaroslavl’ Military Region as Frunze’s Rewoensovet member, thought that the positions should be reversed, with the command going to Frunze — as it actually worked out in fact. See Sirotinskn, op. cit., p. 120. After his command appointment (the Fourth Army), Frunze was again the subject of Trotsky’s disapproval. It is alleged, in Leonid Mikhailovich Spirin, Razgrom armii Kolchaka (Moscow: Gosudarstvennoe izdatel’stvo politicheskoi literatury, 1957), p. 133, that Trotsky attempted to have Frunze removed from this command because of his lack of military experience. In any event, whether he was opposed to Trotsky as a person or not, Frunze did not attend the Eighth Congress, and his views at the time are not a matter of record. His later opposition to Trotsky was based largely on matters different from those which dominated the disputes at the Eighth Party Congress.Google Scholar
  43. 48.
    Smirnov, the leader of the “Military Opposition” against Trotsky at the Eighth Congress, was later expelled from the party as a Trotskyite. See Vos’moi s’ezd RKP (b), 18-23 marta 1919 g. (Moscow: Gosudarstvennoe izdatel’stvo politicheskoi literatury, 1933), p. 154.Google Scholar
  44. 44.
    For the text of the resolution adopted by the Eighth Congress on military questions, see KPSS o vooruzhennykh silakh Sovetskogo Soiuza: Sbornik dokumentov 1917–1958 (Moscow: Gosudarstvennoe izdatel’stvo politicheskoi literatury, 1958), pp. 49-64.Google Scholar
  45. 45.
    Lebedev and Anan’ev, op cit., p. 260. The Kronstadt rebellion is not mentioned in Sirotinskii, op. cit. See, also, Adam B. Ulam, The Bolsheviks (New York: Macmillan, 1965), pp. 472-473.Google Scholar
  46. 46.
    Desiatyi s’ezd Rossiiskoi kommunisticheskoi partii (8-16 marta 1921 g.). Stenograficheskii otchet (Moscow: Gosudarstvennoe izdatel’stvo, 1921), p. 330.Google Scholar
  47. 47.
    Louis Fischer states in The Soviets in World Affairs: A History of Relations Between the Soviet Union and the Rest of the World, 1917–1929 (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1951), p. 393, that Frunze “came, it was announced, to negotiate an agreement between the Soviet Republic of Ukraine — then autonomous in its foreign affairs, and Turkey. But this short visit, of twenty-three days, was used to arrange for heavy shipments of Russian munitions and for the mapping out of detailed plans of campaign against the Greeks, in which, if need be, Red officers would participate.”Google Scholar
  48. 48.
    The text of the treaty is in Sbornik deistvyiushchikh dogovorov, soglashenii i konventsii, zakliuchennykh s inostrannymi gosudarstvami (2d ed.: Moscow: Izdatel’stvo NKID SSSR, 1928), pp. 114-119.Google Scholar
  49. 49.
    These debates will be discussed in Part II below.Google Scholar
  50. 50.
    The circumstances surrounding the death of Frunze are somewhat controversial. The official communiqué (reprinted in Frunze, Izbrannye proizvedeniia, op. cit., I, p. 39) lists the cause of his death as “a paralysis of the heart.” Since everyone apparently dies of a paralysis of the heart or of a cessation of respiration, this can scarcely be termed a satisfactory explanation.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Martinus Nijhoff, The Hague, Netherlands 1969

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of MarylandUSA

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