Kolchak, Aleksandr Vasiliyevich (1874-1920).
Born in St. Petersburg into a naval artillery officer's family (November 4, 1874); graduated second in his class from the Russian Naval Academy (1894); participated in two Russian Academy of Sciences polar expeditions to the Arctic as a hydrologist; served as a destroyer commander and later commanded a battery during the siege of Port Arthur (June 1904-January 2, 1905); held briefly as a prisoner of war in Japan; joined other officers embarrassed by the war with Japan in reforming the navy and creating the Russian Naval General Staff (1906-1909); participated in the third polar expedition to discover a northern sea route to the Far East and received the Academy of Science's Gold Medal for his work (1908-1911); served on the Naval General Staff (1911-1914); captain of the Baltic Sea Fleet flagship when World War I broke out (August 1914); chief of the Bureau of Operations of the Baltic Fleet (1915); distinguished himself by his tactical skills in constructing an effective coastal defense system from inadequate forces and materials; as commander of the Baltic destroyer forces, he distinguished himself further in a series of encounters in the Gulf of Riga (1916); youngest naval officer promoted to vice admiral of the Russian Navy (August 1916); assigned as commander in chief of the Black Sea Fleet (1916); supported the Provisional Government of Alexander Kerensky following the February (March) Revolution (1917); plagued by the threat of mutiny in his command, he submitted his resignation (June); sent by Kerensky to the United States to study the American navy and possibility of invading the Bosporus; stopping to visit Britain, he became friends with Admirals Jellicoe and Hall; discouraged by his visit to the U.S., he sailed from San Francisco to Japan; arrived in Japan shortly after the Bolsheviks' October (November) Revolution (1917); offered his services to the British navy after the Brest-Litovsk negotiations began (January 1918); his orders to report to British forces in Mesopotamia were suddenly changed to duty in Siberia; appointed as Minister of War and Navy in the anti-Bolshevik Socialist Government established in Omsk; seized control as Supreme Ruler in a military coup d'etat at Omsk (November 18, 1918); angered liberal elements in his government by his dictatorial style and the corruption within his regime; alienated the Czechoslovak Legion, which supported the anti-Bolsheviks and held the vital Trans-Siberian Railroad; suffered a series of defeats during the summer of 1919; relinquished the supreme command of the anti-Bolshevik forces to Gen. Anton I. Denikin (January 4, 1920); placed himself under Allied protection, but the Czechs turned him over to the Bolshevik authorities in Irkutsk (January 15); after a lengthy interrogation, he was executed by firing squad and his body thrown into the Angara River (February 2, 1920). <BL>
Sources: Carr, Edward H., The Bolshevik Revolution, 1917-1923. New York, 1966. Fleming, Peter, The Fate of Admiral Kolchak. New York, 1963. Mel'gunov, S. P., Tragediia Admirala Kolchaka. Belgrade, 1930. Popov, K. A., Dopros Kolchaka (Interrogation of Kolchak). Leningrad, 1925.
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|Author:||Koerper, Philip E.|
|Publication:||The Harper Encyclopedia of Military Biography|
|Article Type:||Reference Source|
|Date:||Jan 1, 1992|
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