Semyon Mikhailovich Budyonny (1883-1973) is one of the most famous Soviet military commanders. This thrice Hero of the Soviet Union became one of the first marshals of a young country. The brightest part of Budyonny’s career took place during the Civil War. On the territory of the former Russian Empire, this commander helped organize the red-and-white movement. His 1 st Cavalry Army became a real force, taking an active part in the south of the country.
In the 1920-1930-ies Budyonny continued his military career, becoming the first deputy of the People’s Commissar of Defense. During the Great Patriotic War, the Marshal was a member of the Supreme High Command, participated in the defense of Moscow, headed the Reserve and North Caucasian Fronts. After the war Budenny occupied various honorable, but not so significant positions.
The fate of the commander is amazing – he was one of the few heroes of the Civil War who could avoid Stalin’s repressions, even despite the arrest of his second wife and accusing her of espionage. The personality of Budyonny modern historians is assessed ambiguously.
In Soviet memoirs and encyclopedias, he appears as a hero, but the popular rumor believed him to be a real peasant, a straightforward honest and simple-minded, or even a careerist, an ordinary martinet. We will try to examine in more detail the identity of this unusual person and to debunk the basic myths about him. Budyonny thought of budenovka.
From the name of the famous headdress, one of the symbols of the Civil War, it is clear, in honor of whom he got his name. In fact, according to one version of the history of the appearance of Budenovka originates from Nicholas II. He wanted to create a new element of the military form, symbolizing the coming victory in the First World War. It is no coincidence that the uniform of Budenovka is similar to the hero’s helmet, it should represent the might of the Russian state and the strength of its army. Many famous artists worked on the design of the new headdress, including Viktor Vasnetsov and Boris Kustodiev. By 1917, there were a huge number of sets in the warehouses of the new form. A double-headed eagle was embroidered in front of the Budyonovka, which the new authorities closed with a five-pointed star. But according to the official Soviet version, after the birth of the Red Army in February 1918, it became necessary to create a uniform for her. It was then that the artists Vasnetsov and Kustodiev with the others took part in the competition for the creation of a new winter cloth headdress. The new helmet became a classic sign of a soldier of the Red Army. He was called by the name of the parts that were the first to use such a dress. The helmet was called Frunzevka, and then Budyonovka. This headdress was used until 1940. His abolition was associated with poor characteristics in conditions of warfare in severe frosts, but not with the personality of the marshal.
Budyonny with his First Cavalry played a decisive role in the defeat of Wrangel in the Crimea in 1920.
In 1973, Budenny’s memoirs were published. There he questions the merits of Frunze in the liberation of the Crimea. And in an interview with Pravda in 1960, the marshal confirmed his version. In fact, he tried to oppose himself to the commander of the Southern Front and implement his own plan. But even with Voroshilov’s support, these ideas were not supported by the Revolutionary Military Council. Separatism at such a critical moment in the army was not needed. In October 1920, the Southern Front and the First Cavalry Army launched an offensive in the south. One of the most important tasks was to cut Wrangel’s way to the Crimea. It was Budyonny who was responsible for reaching the isthmus and cutting off the white ways to retreat. The military commander could not cope with the task, but he was not accused of this. Almost a strong onslaught was of armored squads and tanks. But Budyonny himself blamed the 2nd Cavalry Army in his memoirs. True, a member of the Revolutionary Military Council of the Southern Front Gusev hotly traces this myth, emphasizing the valor of the 2nd Cavalry. The assessment happened only a few weeks after the events. On November 8, the offensive of the Red Army began on the Crimea.In his memoirs, Budyonny recalled that his army was walking along the ground where fighting had recently taken place. The author himself sparingly mentions that the 2nd Cavalry Army fought in front of its units. Decisive battle became on November 11 and 12, when Wrangel tried to reverse the situation. And again he was opposed by Mironov’s 2nd Cavalry Army. And only when, on November 13, Wrangel announced the army dissolved, Budyonny entered the Crimea with his army. And in Simferopol, he met with Mironov, blatantly accusing him of complicity with the enemy. In Budyonny’s memoirs you can read how the lava of the red cavalry poured into the Crimea, sweeping Wrangel’s troops. Here are just the merits of the future marshal in this was not. The victorious cavalry was not commanded by him.
Semyon Budyonny was a Cossack.
This person is considered a symbol of Cossack prowess, but in fact he was not a Cossack. Budyonny’s grandfather was a Voronezh serf who received his freedom under the decree of Alexander II. Together with his family, this commoner went to the Don, in search of a better life. There, on the farm Kozyurin stanitsa Platovskaya, and was born Semen Mikhailovich. But the poor peasant family was considered alien and alien here. Such people who did not belong to the local estate were usually poor. They had to put up with their origin, not having a chance to acquire large land allotments, like Cossacks. Budyonny preferred not to spread his pre-revolutionary biography. Tolerating the sneers of his fellow villagers, Semyon could only try to master their riding better. And he succeeded – he famously handled the horse, winning even in local competitions. And being drafted into the army, Budyonny served in the dragoon regiment. In the Russo-Japanese War, he was listed in the 26th Don Cossack Regiment.
Budyonny was a religious man.
There were rumors that this man, who had served under the tsar, secretly retained his faith. In Soviet times, it was not open to talk about religiosity. And could the marshal, the living symbol of the Red Army, the idol of the younger generation, undermine the ideological principles of the state and the course toward atheism? But Budyonny himself recalled that even at a meeting with Lenin he said that things are going with God’s help. Then it was perceived as a joke. Later this topic was not raised. So if Budyonny and kept his religion, then this remained deeply his personal business. In the family circle there was talk about Semyon Mikhailovich’s meeting with the Mother of God. She asked the young soldier not to defile his family, promising protection from bullets.
Budyonny had a full George’s bow.
This term implies four St. George’s crosses and four St. George medals for bravery. Although Budyonny’s valor is in doubt and is not put, the number of awards should be clarified. Although there are detailed descriptions of exploits, for which Budenny received his crosses, only two such awards – 4 th and 3 rd degrees – were acknowledged in the archives, and only one medal. So even all four crosses are also a doubtful fact in the biography of the marshal. It is worth noting that these awards he did not survive. He himself told that in the Soviet times he gave the royal crosses and medals for melting, to the support fund of OSOAVIAHIM. Quite strange it looks for a person who has a tender affection for awards and decorations. Budenny created the First Cavalry Army.
Budyonny’s name is closely connected with the First Cavalry Army, which brought him fame. In the fall of 1919, the Red Army broke the course of the war. Large cavalry forces of white generals Shkuro and Mamontov were defeated, the front retreated from Voronezh to the south, in the area of the Don Army. November 19, 1919 officially appeared the First Cavalry Army. According to official Soviet history, Voroshilov and Budyonny created it. Already in perestroika times, they began to talk about the dominant role of Boris Dumenko. And although there was a connection based on the Horse Corps of Budyonny, who appeared from the horse-corps of Dumenko, the initiators of the creation of the whole army were neither one nor the other.Initially, General Mamontov started talking about creating a large cavalry unit capable of solving strategic tasks. The realization of this idea almost did not turn into a catastrophe for the young republic. Mass desertion of the Cossacks, who did not want to fight away from the Don, did not allow Mamontov’s army to occupy Moscow. The creators of the Soviet First Cavalry Army were Klim Voroshilov and former Tsarist General Alexander Egorov. These parts had to fulfill an important task – to cut off the White Volunteer Army from the Cossack Army of the Don and separate them separately. Budyonny himself learned about the formation of the First Cavalry Army and learned his appointment at the end of November. And Dumenko had no relation to the corps at that time. Its parts in theory could become the basis of a new army, but the choice was made in favor of Voroshilov’s protege. And that the appointment of Budyonny looked more logical for the Revolutionary Military Council, he was taken to the Communists in hindsight. The statement was written back in March 1919, but it was not signed. Now they remembered this, and on the recommendation of Stalin, Budyonny suddenly found himself in the party six months ago.
During the Great Patriotic War, Budyonny proved himself to be the thinking category of the past commander.
Extra events of that war were not brought to Budyonny. His resignations from the post of the commander-in-chief of the South-Western direction, the North Caucasus direction, the fronts, said that the talents of the commander were either exaggerated or unclaimed in modern conditions. However, there are several facts that make us doubt this. So, in September 1941, Budyonny sent a telegram to GHQ, proposing to withdraw troops from under Kiev. The situation threatened to turn into a major encirclement. But the front commander informed Stalin that there was no need. As a result, the obstinate Budyonny was dismissed from his post as commander of the South-Western direction. But history showed that the marshal was right. If Stalin listened to him, then there was no “Kiev Kettle” with 650 thousand captured soldiers. And in the winter of 1941 near Moscow, it was the cavalry, which was under the tutelage of Budyonny, helped to crush the Germans. In those cold weather, all the equipment got up.
Budyonny even in the late 1930s advocated the preservation of the cavalry, confronting the fans of the tanks.
Budyonny was a cavalry inspector, and therefore he defended the preservation of his kind of troops. It is believed that he was opposed by Tukhachevsky, who saw the future of the Red Army in tanks. But Budyonny himself did not argue about the superiority of technology over horses. His opponent believed that tanks should be light and mobile, while Budyonny himself insisted on their reliable armor and heavy weapons. As a result, during the war horse mechanized units were created, of which the marshal spoke. Budenny realized that the time for the cavalry was going away. It could be used under certain conditions, in the same swamps heavy equipment might not pass. Talk about the reassessment of the role of the cavalry in the pre-war years, which imputes Budyonny, is not necessary – its share in the army was constantly declining.
Budyonny served in the royal stables.
After the end of the Russo-Japanese War, the prospective rider was sent to study in St. Petersburg, the Officer’s Cavalry School for riders for lower ranks. They even wanted to leave Budyonny there, but he returned to Primorye. And with the emperor Nicholas II the dragoon did meet – he shook hands with the winner of equestrian competitions. But in the royal stables Budyonny did not carry service.
Budyonny was just an illiterate non-commissioned officer.
This myth appeared, thanks to envious persons and ill-wishers who want to reduce the merits of an outstanding personality, no matter how it may be. In 1932, Budyonny graduated from the Military Academy Frunze. He was constantly engaged in self-education, he knew several languages. In addition to German, French and Turkish, Budyonny after the war also learned English as the language of a potential enemy.It was the “uneducated noncommissioner” who insisted on repeated tests of “Katyusha”, which Marshal Kulik rejected because of low accuracy. It was Budyonny who initiated the creation of airborne troops. At the age of 48, he personally parachuted to assess the possibilities of a new kind of troops. And during the war, education allowed Budyonny to adequately perceive the current situation. But in the first months, it was not necessary to talk about any non-standard winning decisions. And the ideas of operational and tactical methods of Budyonny even during the Civil War were adopted by the Germans for their blitzkriegs.
Budyonny was living only as a service.
The real element of Budyonny was not military service, but horses. Budyonny even actively engaged in breeding new breeds for the army and agriculture. Thanks to his intellect and enthusiasm, the marshal achieved outstanding results in this field. Bouden breed, excreted, combines strength, beauty and endurance. For one such horse, the Dutch queen paid a million dollars. Budyonny also had other talents-he played the accordion and performed even before Stalin.
Budyonny killed his first wife.
Budyonny’s first wife, Nadezhda Ivanovna, died in 1924 during an accident. Officially, she took a revolver in her hand and jokingly stated that she would try to shoot herself. Unfortunately, the gun was loaded, and the fuse was removed – a shot rang out. After that, they began to say that Budyonny was on the side of a novel. Upon learning about this, Nadezhda Ivanovna rolled a scandal to her husband. Gossips even whispered to accuse the army commander of the murder. So it is not clear whether there was an accident or the spouse for conceited gaiety concealed despair, but she killed herself. Everything happened in front of the guests. The version of suicide was never officially denied.
Budyonny denied his second wife.
Only a few months after the tragedy, Budyonny had a new woman, a conservatory student, Olga Mikhailova. It was her who was called the ill-fated dissident. Problems in relations appeared immediately. Budyonny’s wife led a bohemian lifestyle, was interested only in the theater. She visited foreign embassies, suspicious individuals circled her. Children Olga Stefanovna did not want to have, and in general openly betrayed her husband. As a result Budyonny was summoned by Stalin, and then by Yezhov. They drew attention to the unbecoming behavior of his wife. The NKVD promptly collected compromising material on it, and Budyonny’s wife was arrested in 1937. The marshal did not bother with her, but in the end helped. Moreover, he transferred to his house and attached his mother-in-law. And her niece began to visit her, Masha. It was she who became the third wife of Budyonny, giving birth to his children. And Olga Stefanovna was released in 1956 with the active assistance of Semyon Mikhailovich. He transported his ex-wife to Moscow, kept her and even invited him to visit.
Budyonny helped Stalin repress the supreme commanders of the Red Army.
The wave of repression went around Budyonny side, affecting only his wife. Meanwhile, many of his comrades in the Civil War were arrested. Budyonny himself was a member of the commission on the case of Bukharin and Rykov, was part of the court, which sentenced Tukhachevsky to be shot. However, the Marshal still did not welcome mass arrests in the military leadership. It is believed that he personally wore Stalin lists of those who could not be arrested. Allegedly Budyonny told the leader that it was necessary to arrest both of them. As a result, many commanders were returned to the service. Among them was General Chumakov, former brigade commander of the First Cavalry Army, and also a cavalryman, General Rokossovsky. But his participation in the courts Budyonny was not shy, believing that pests and traitors received what they deserved. The Marshal believed that they mostly punished the guilty, but worthy people also came across them.