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Krasnov, Pyotr Nikolayevich


(18691947), Cossack ataman, anti-Bolshevik leader, and author.

Son of a Cossack general, Pyotr Krasnov was born in St. Petersburg and educated at Pavlovsk Military School, graduating in 1888. During World War I, he rose to the rank of lieutenant-general and to the command of the Third Cavalry Corps in August 1917. After the October Revolution, in uneasy collaboration with Alexander Kerensky (whom, as a monarchist, he despised), Krasnov was among the first to take military action against the Bolsheviks, attempting to lead Cossack forces from Gatchina toward Petrograd. However, the Bolsheviks dissuaded his Cossacks from becoming involved in "Russian affairs," and Krasnov himself was taken prisoner near Pulkovo. Remarkably, he was released after swearing not to oppose the Soviet government further. He immediately moved to the Don territory, was elected ataman of the Don Cossack Host in May 1918, and, assisted by Germany, cleared the Don of Red forces over the summer of that year. After the armistice, his former collaboration with Germany made his position difficult. Following defeats at the hands of the Reds and quarrels with the pro-Allied General Denikin, in early 1919 Krasnov resigned his post and emigrated to Germany. He subsequently became a prolific writer of forgettable historical novels but also worked with various anti-Bolshevik groups in interwar Europe, eventually allying himself with the Nazis and helping them, from 1941 to 1945, to form anti-Soviet Cossack units from Soviet POWs. In 1945 he joined the Cossack puppet state that the Nazis established in the Italian Alps. Surrendering to the British in May 1945, he was among those forcibly repatriated to the Soviet Union, in accordance with provisions of the Yalta agreement. In January 1947, accused of treason, he was hanged, by order of the Military Collegium of the USSR Supreme Court.

See also: civil war of 19171922; cossacks; kerensky, alexander fyodorovich


Tolstoy, Nikolai. (1977). Victims of Yalta. London: Hodder & Stoughton.

Jonathan D. Smele

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