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Title: The White Russian Army in exile, 1920-1941
Author: Robinson, Paul
ISNI:       0000 0003 9932 2669
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 1999
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In November 1920, 100,000 troops of the White Russian Army of General Wrangel were evacuated from the Crimea. These men constituted the most cohesive group in the inter-war Russian emigration, and represented the grass roots of émigré society. In exile, after the troops dispersed, they maintained the army's organisation through their veterans' association, the Russkii Obshche-Voinskii Soiuz (ROVS), whose history is the main focus of this thesis. ROVS was the largest of all Russian émigré organisations. In some countries one third of all Russian exiles were ROVS rriembers. They continued to regard themselves as soldiers, and sought to renew the struggle against the Soviets despite immense pressures: foreign countries were unsympathetic to the needs of Russian refugees; most émigrés lived in poverty; and émigré society was under continual attack from the Soviet secret services. This study shows how these pressures induced in Russian émigrés' feelings of isolation and paranoia which helped to fragment the Russian emigration in the 1930s and which produced numerous public scandals and splits. Yet ROVS survived because it gave substantial support to its members. Its leaders found work for thousands of troops in the early 1920s, and later continued to provide humanitarian aid. ROVS viewed itself as an "order of knights", a concept which boosted the self-worth of members who had few other sources of moral support, and which reflected the prevailing values of White officers. These values, this thesis proposes, were primarily spiritual, the most important being honour. The Whites' beliefs brought them into conflict with émigré monarchist organisations, but they succeeded in resisting the monarchists and restraining their influence on the emigration. Meanwhile, ROVS members promoted youth organisations, and helped to support Russian culture abroad. Through these activities, Russian military émigrés made a more positive contribution to the Russian emigration than has hitherto been acknowledged.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: History