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Emmanuel, a Name Mentioned In the Annals of Three Peoples

24 декабря, 00:00

Cavalry General Georgy Emmanuel, of Serbian parentage, hero of the war during Napoleon’s invasion of Russia (known in Russian/Soviet history as the Patriotic War of 1812), played an important role in the inter- Slavic military relationships at the turn of the 19th century. It is an established fact that his grandfather Manuil was grand duke in Viskerugad. In recognition of his combat merits in the war with Turkey, the title was made hereditary. He and his wife moved to Vrsac (Banat) where Arsen Manuilovich, future father of Georgy Emmanuel, was born. He also became grand duke. Georgy’s future mother Anna was also born there. In 1777, Arsen arrived in New Serbia (currently Kirovohrad oblast) and when he returned home the grand duchy of Banat, joined to Hungary, was liquidated. However, in view of the family’s meritorious service, they were formally recognized as part of the Hungarian nobility.

Among Arsen and Anna’s many children Georgy became a most celebrated figure in the Russian empire. He was born in Vrsac, April 2, 1775, graduated from a local college. Even as a youth he took a keen interest in the military science. A Russian source dating from before the Russian revolution, reads: “In 1788... the Turks invaded Banat...most residents of Vrsac left the town, but E., then 13, gathered his friends and talked them into holding the fort. The boys collected weapons and began military preparations, posting guards everywhere. As the Turks approached the town, the boys... met them with cannon fire. The Turks, assuming that a strong garrison was stationed there, thought better of approaching any closer and circumvented the town...” Shortly afterward, Georgy joined Mijalevic’s volunteer corps and still later served in the Hungarian Aristocratic Guards.

In 1797, Russian Emperor Paul I approved Emmanuel’s (his last name had thus transformed by then) commission as lieutenant of the Royal Hussars Regiment. Eventually, the Serbian officer applied for and was granted transfer to Ukraine where he was placed in command of the Kyiv Dragoon Regiment and took part in combat operations against the French in 1806-07. During Patriotic War of 1812, Emmanuel fought in Bagration’s army. On August 24, he defended the famous Shevardinsky Redoubt in the Battle of Borodino. There he was wounded again, yet a month later he was back in service. In December, he joined the campaign liberating Europe from Napoleon’s occupation. On March 17, 1814, Emmanuel was placed in command of the vanguard Russian unit advancing on Paris. After capturing Paris he was promoted to lieutenant general.

In 1826, Emmanuel was appointed military commander of the Caucasus region. The populace was conquered, using diplomacy and military force. The general also served science. It was under his leadership that an expedition succeeded in getting to the top of Mt. Elbrus for the first time, but his military career ended in battle when besieging a fortress. Emmanuel was gravely wounded. At the time he was decorated with a Gold Medal of Austria, Russia’s Orders of St. George, St. Vladimir, St. Anna, St. Alexander Nevsky, Prussia’s Order of Red Eagle, and Swedish Order of the Sword, conferred at the turn of the 19th century. He was also awarded a gold sword with the inscription “For Gallantry.” While in the Caucasus, Emmanuel became an honorary member of the [Russian] Academy of Sciences.

In 1831, Cavalry General G. A. Emmanuel moved to Yelizavethrad (currently Kirovohrad), probably because the doctors wanted him to leave the Caucasus to be in the moderate central Ukrainian climate. Besides, the city accommodated the headquarters and regiments of the 2nd Reserve Cavalry Corps, meaning that he would meet with a lot of friends. He and his large family settled in the outskirts, in a mansion not far from the rivers Inhul and Suhokleya, which they were allocated in accordance with Emmanuel’s rank and position.

In 1834, he had a family burial vault built in the garden. That same year his daughter Olena found her last repose there. The following year his wife Maria, daughter of Russian General Knobel, born him a son but died in labor. They had spent 30 years together. Emmanuel was grief-stricken and visited the vault every day, staying there for several hours. On January 14, 1837, he blessed his seven daughters and three sons, and passed away. The state assigned his children pension (10,000 rubles for all) and they continued to grow the family tree in Ukraine.

The Emmanuels were reputed landlords and army officers in the districts of Yelizavethrad and Aleksandriysk, Kherson gubernia. The late general’s son Mykola was a councilor of the Kherson provincial council and retired from the army as colonel. He was buried in a vault erected beside that of his parents. The other two sons, Heorhy and Oleksandr Emmanuel, were promoted to general. The former started his military career under 15 and at 38 was promoted to major general (his father had been conferred the rank at 37). While in the Russian army, Heorhy Emmanuel received the Orders of St. Anna, 1st-3rd Class, St. George, 4th Class, St. Stanislaus, 1st Class, and the Greek Order of the Savior. His service record mentions Yelizavethrad where he started as captain, adjutant to the commander of the 2nd Reserve Cavalry Corps, later promoted to major. He subsequently served in Novoheorhiyevsk (currently Svitlovodsk district of Kirovohrad oblast, on the bottom of the Kremenchuk reservoir) with the Cuirassier Regiment of the Military Order. In Yelizavethrad, Heorhy Emmanuel served with the noted Russian poet Afanasy Fet. The latter was often invited over by Heorhy for dinner or a dancing party. The poet would later write about his visits “to one of the coziest homes in the city, that of Colonel Emmanuel.”

On the eve of Georgy Emmanuel’s 100th jubilee as the sire of the families in Russia and Ukraine, his seven daughters ordered a commemorative medal portraying their father at the mint in St. Petersburg. The medal was ready in 1875. In the spring of 1912, a delegation of the Kyiv Dragoon Regiment visited Yelizavethrad to celebrate the jubilee of the Patriotic War of 1812. Mass for the dead was celebrated and a wreath was placed at the grave. The ceremony was attended by relatives, among them numerous great grandchildren of the war hero. Remarkably, most of them studied at the local modern (non-classical secondary) school, among whose students were future prominent Ukrainian cultural figures and men of the arts Yevhen Malaniuk, Yury Yanovsky, Ivan Tobilevych, Yevhen Chykalenko...Later, the civil war in Russia and Ukraine would place them on different sides of the trenches. The Emmanuels would be on the White Guard side.

The NKVD remembered this during Stalin’s purges. Serhiy Emmanuel, almost 70, was arrested because he corresponded with his sons who had followed Wrangel’s retreating troops to the Balkans. He wrote in his CV that his social status was office employee, after the [Russian] revolution, that his grandfather and father were Serbs, and that he considered himself a Ukrainian citizen of the USSR; that he “did not serve in any White Guard units, did not take part in any rebellions against Soviet power, never did any espionage work.” However, the verdict passed by one of the notorious “three-man tribunals” in Mykolayiv oblast read that he “assisted White Guard and Denikin bandits during the civil war, took part in armed rebellions against Soviet power, allowed his apartment to be used as headquarters of a gang, kept in touch with his son, a man of Denikin currently residing abroad. Prior to that he rallied counterrevolutionaries round him.” The son and grandson of the Serbian generals was executed. His daughter Inna Krepak’s family, fearing further purges, destroyed the rich family archives, save for several relics that were carefully packed and placed in a zinc-plated box, and thus survived.

In 1956, the NKVD case was revised after Inna Krepak filed a complaint, claiming that the name of her great grandfather was immortalized by the Soviet regime. She wrote that “there is a park and a grotto named for General Georgy Emmanuel in Piatigorsk, in the Caucasus; a bust was unveiled on the site of the Battle of Borodino 70 miles west of Moscow where the general had defended the famous Shevardinsky Redoubt (August 24, 1812). As a great granddaughter of a man who brought undying glory to the Russian army and military science, I am pained at heart and deeply humiliated to know that my father was executed by Yezhov’s thugs, having never acted against Soviet power, as the result of a flagrant violation of the Socialist law, and that now my reputation and that of all our family is undeservedly smeared. Therefore, I want my father’s reputation to be posthumously restored...” The next year the military tribunal of the Caucasus Military District repealed the verdict in the Emmanuel case.

Marko, son of Serhiy Emmanuel, visited Kirovohrad in 1958 and was shocked to see what had happened to the family burial vault. He learned that in 1919 the remains of his great grandfather were exhumed and “executed” again. The only thing left of the burial vault by the late 1970s was the underground part, lost in the woods. S. Bonfeld, member of the board of the local organization for the protection of monuments, wrote in a local newspaper, “The house where H. A. Emmanuel lived is still there... However, the chapel where he was buried and the gravestone were destroyed by the Nazis during the temporary occupation. There is just the stone column which has miraculously survived with a barely discernible legend reading ‘Cavalry General Emmanuel.’ What the Nazis left was destroyed when cottages started being built on the site. A bulldozer fell into a cavity which turned out the general’s burial site. The local public rose in defense of the memorial, picketing the site, demanding that construction works be stopped. Eventually, a restricted area was fenced off. Russia also showed an interest and offered to transfer the remains to a different site...”

In the fall of 2002, the Emmanuel burial site was still within that fenced-off area, with a granite slab placed by the entrance, bearing no inscription, so most passersby would have no idea about who was buried there. Perhaps it was the right thing to do? So many years have passed since that Patriotic War of 1812. The graves of all those Rusychy, Haidamaky, Cossacks, people who died during World War I and 1917-21 national liberation struggle have long since disappeared from the face of the earth. Perhaps we will likewise forget all about World War II in Ukraine after the last war veteran dies? Germany, meanwhile, takes good care of the cemetery of Werhmacht officers and men that died for their Fatherland in Kirovohrad oblast.

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