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Roman Ungern von Sternberg

Roman Ungern von Sternberg

Overview
Baron
Baron
Baron is a title of nobility. The word baron comes from Old French baron, itself from Old High German and Latin baro meaning " man, warrior"; it merged with cognate Old English beorn meaning "nobleman"...

 Roman Nikolai Maximilian von Ungern-Sternberg (adopted Russian
Russian language
Russian is a Slavic language used primarily in Russia, Belarus, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan. It is an unofficial but widely spoken language in Ukraine, Moldova, Latvia, Turkmenistan and Estonia and, to a lesser extent, the other countries that were once constituent republics...

 name: Роман Фёдорович фон Унгерн-Штернберг, which transliterates as Roman Fyodorovich fon Ungern-Shternberg) (December 29, 1885 NS – September 15, 1921) was a Russian Yesaul
Yesaul
Yesaul, or Osaul , , a post and a rank in the Ukrainian and Russian Cossack units.The first records of the rank imply that it was introduced by Stefan Batory, King of Poland in 1576.-Cossacks in Russia:...

 (Cossack
Cossack
Cossacks are a group of predominantly East Slavic people who originally were members of democratic, semi-military communities in what is today Ukraine and Southern Russia inhabiting sparsely populated areas and islands in the lower Dnieper and Don basins and who played an important role in the...

 military rank
Military rank
Military rank is a system of hierarchical relationships in armed forces or civil institutions organized along military lines. Usually, uniforms denote the bearer's rank by particular insignia affixed to the uniforms...

), Lieutenant-general, and a hero of World War I
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

. He commanded troops during civil wars in both Russia
Russian Civil War
The Russian Civil War was a multi-party war that occurred within the former Russian Empire after the Russian provisional government collapsed to the Soviets, under the domination of the Bolshevik party. Soviet forces first assumed power in Petrograd The Russian Civil War (1917–1923) was a...

 and Mongolia between 1918 and 1921. In February and March 1921 his troops wrested control of Mongolia from the occupying Chinese
China
Chinese civilization may refer to:* China for more general discussion of the country.* Chinese culture* Greater China, the transnational community of ethnic Chinese.* History of China* Sinosphere, the area historically affected by Chinese culture...

 forces.
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Baron
Baron
Baron is a title of nobility. The word baron comes from Old French baron, itself from Old High German and Latin baro meaning " man, warrior"; it merged with cognate Old English beorn meaning "nobleman"...

 Roman Nikolai Maximilian von Ungern-Sternberg (adopted Russian
Russian language
Russian is a Slavic language used primarily in Russia, Belarus, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan. It is an unofficial but widely spoken language in Ukraine, Moldova, Latvia, Turkmenistan and Estonia and, to a lesser extent, the other countries that were once constituent republics...

 name: Роман Фёдорович фон Унгерн-Штернберг, which transliterates as Roman Fyodorovich fon Ungern-Shternberg) (December 29, 1885 NS – September 15, 1921) was a Russian Yesaul
Yesaul
Yesaul, or Osaul , , a post and a rank in the Ukrainian and Russian Cossack units.The first records of the rank imply that it was introduced by Stefan Batory, King of Poland in 1576.-Cossacks in Russia:...

 (Cossack
Cossack
Cossacks are a group of predominantly East Slavic people who originally were members of democratic, semi-military communities in what is today Ukraine and Southern Russia inhabiting sparsely populated areas and islands in the lower Dnieper and Don basins and who played an important role in the...

 military rank
Military rank
Military rank is a system of hierarchical relationships in armed forces or civil institutions organized along military lines. Usually, uniforms denote the bearer's rank by particular insignia affixed to the uniforms...

), Lieutenant-general, and a hero of World War I
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

. He commanded troops during civil wars in both Russia
Russian Civil War
The Russian Civil War was a multi-party war that occurred within the former Russian Empire after the Russian provisional government collapsed to the Soviets, under the domination of the Bolshevik party. Soviet forces first assumed power in Petrograd The Russian Civil War (1917–1923) was a...

 and Mongolia between 1918 and 1921. In February and March 1921 his troops wrested control of Mongolia from the occupying Chinese
China
Chinese civilization may refer to:* China for more general discussion of the country.* Chinese culture* Greater China, the transnational community of ethnic Chinese.* History of China* Sinosphere, the area historically affected by Chinese culture...

 forces. His subsequent invasion of Southern Siberia
Siberia
Siberia is an extensive region constituting almost all of Northern Asia. Comprising the central and eastern portion of the Russian Federation, it was part of the Soviet Union from its beginning, as its predecessor states, the Tsardom of Russia and the Russian Empire, conquered it during the 16th...

 to support anti-Bolshevik
Bolshevik
The Bolsheviks, originally also Bolshevists , derived from bol'shinstvo, "majority") were a faction of the Marxist Russian Social Democratic Labour Party which split apart from the Menshevik faction at the Second Party Congress in 1903....

 rebellions in June 1921 ultimately led to his defeat at the hands of the Red Army in August of that year. Although his surname was von Ungern-Sternberg, it is often incorrectly written as Ungern von Sternberg, after the first Soviet publications about him.

Ungern-Sternberg was an independent and brutal warlord
Warlord
A warlord is a person with power who has both military and civil control over a subnational area due to armed forces loyal to the warlord and not to a central authority. The term can also mean one who espouses the ideal that war is necessary, and has the means and authority to engage in war...

 in pursuit of pan-monarchist
Monarchy
A monarchy is a form of government in which the office of head of state is usually held until death or abdication and is often hereditary and includes a royal house. In some cases, the monarch is elected...

 goals in Mongolia and territories east of Lake Baikal
Lake Baikal
Lake Baikal is the world's oldest at 30 million years old and deepest lake with an average depth of 744.4 metres.Located in the south of the Russian region of Siberia, between Irkutsk Oblast to the northwest and the Buryat Republic to the southeast, it is the most voluminous freshwater lake in the...

 during the Russian Civil War
Russian Civil War
The Russian Civil War was a multi-party war that occurred within the former Russian Empire after the Russian provisional government collapsed to the Soviets, under the domination of the Bolshevik party. Soviet forces first assumed power in Petrograd The Russian Civil War (1917–1923) was a...

. His goals included restoring the Russian monarchy under Michael Alexandrovich Romanov
Grand Duke Michael Alexandrovich of Russia
Grand Duke Michael Alexandrovich of Russia was the youngest son of Emperor Alexander III of Russia.At the time of his birth, his paternal grandfather was still the reigning Emperor of All the Russias. Michael was fourth-in-line to the throne following his father and elder brothers Nicholas and...

 and reviving the Great Mongol Empire
Mongol Empire
The Mongol Empire , initially named as Greater Mongol State was a great empire during the 13th and 14th centuries...

 under the rule of the Bogd Khan
Bogd Khan
The Bogd Khan was enthroned as the Great Khaan of Mongolia on 29 December 1911, when Outer Mongolia declared independence from the Qing Dynasty after the Xinhai Revolution. He was born in the Kham region of eastern Tibet, today's Sichuan province of the People's Republic of China...

. Ungern-Sternberg fiercely persecuted those he viewed as his opponents, particularly Russian Bolsheviks and Jews
Jews
The Jews , also known as the Jewish people, are a nation and ethnoreligious group originating in the Israelites or Hebrews of the Ancient Near East. The Jewish ethnicity, nationality, and religion are strongly interrelated, as Judaism is the traditional faith of the Jewish nation...

. Following the collapse of his Asiatic Cavalry Division in Mongolia, Ungern-Sternberg's Russian officers abandoned him, and he was taken prisoner by the Red Army
Red Army
The Workers' and Peasants' Red Army started out as the Soviet Union's revolutionary communist combat groups during the Russian Civil War of 1918-1922. It grew into the national army of the Soviet Union. By the 1930s the Red Army was among the largest armies in history.The "Red Army" name refers to...

. He was tried and executed for his counter-revolutionary involvement in Novonikolaevsk (now Novosibirsk) in 1921.

Biography



R.F. von Ungern-Sternberg was born in Graz
Graz
The more recent population figures do not give the whole picture as only people with principal residence status are counted and people with secondary residence status are not. Most of the people with secondary residence status in Graz are students...

, Austria
Austria
Austria , officially the Republic of Austria , is a landlocked country of roughly 8.4 million people in Central Europe. It is bordered by the Czech Republic and Germany to the north, Slovakia and Hungary to the east, Slovenia and Italy to the south, and Switzerland and Liechtenstein to the...

 on December 29, 1885 to a noble Baltic German family. His mother was Sophie Charlotte von Wimpffen, later Sophie Charlotte von Ungern-Sternberg, and his father was Theodor Leonhard Rudolph von Ungern-Sternberg (1857–1918). In 1888 his family moved to Tallinn
Tallinn
Tallinn is the capital and largest city of Estonia. It occupies an area of with a population of 414,940. It is situated on the northern coast of the country, on the banks of the Gulf of Finland, south of Helsinki, east of Stockholm and west of Saint Petersburg. Tallinn's Old Town is in the list...

 (Reval), the capital of Estonia
Estonia
Estonia , officially the Republic of Estonia , is a state in the Baltic region of Northern Europe. It is bordered to the north by the Gulf of Finland, to the west by the Baltic Sea, to the south by Latvia , and to the east by Lake Peipsi and the Russian Federation . Across the Baltic Sea lies...

 (then part of the Russian Empire
Russian Empire
The Russian Empire was a state that existed from 1721 until the Russian Revolution of 1917. It was the successor to the Tsardom of Russia and the predecessor of the Soviet Union...

), where his parents divorced three years later in 1891. In 1894 his mother married Oskar Anselm Herrmann von Hoyningen-Huene. From 1900 to 1902 Ungern attended the Nicholas I Gymnasium in Reval (now Gustav-Adolph gymnasium in Tallinn). In 1903 he enrolled in Marine Officers Cadet School in St. Petersburg. In 1905 he left the school to join the fighting in Eastern Russia during the Russian-Japanese war, but it is unclear whether he participated in operations against the Japanese, or if all military operations had ceased before his arrival in Manchuria. In 1906, Ungern was transferred to service in Pavlovskoe Military School in St. Petersburg as a cadet of ordinary rank. After graduating he served as an officer in East Siberia
Siberia
Siberia is an extensive region constituting almost all of Northern Asia. Comprising the central and eastern portion of the Russian Federation, it was part of the Soviet Union from its beginning, as its predecessor states, the Tsardom of Russia and the Russian Empire, conquered it during the 16th...

 in the 1st Argunsky and the 1st Amursky Cossack regiments, where he became enthralled with the lifestyle of nomadic peoples such as the Mongols
Mongols
Mongols ) are a Central-East Asian ethnic group that lives mainly in the countries of Mongolia, China, and Russia. In China, ethnic Mongols can be found mainly in the central north region of China such as Inner Mongolia...

 and Buryats
Buryats
The Buryats or Buriyads , numbering approximately 436,000, are the largest ethnic minority group in Siberia and are mainly concentrated in their homeland, the Buryat Republic, a federal subject of Russia...

. In 1913, at his request, he was transferred to the reserves. Ungern moved to Outer Mongolia to assist Mongols in their struggle for independence from China, but Russian officials prevented him from fighting with Mongolian troops. He arrived in the town of Khovd
Khovd
Khovd can refer to:* Hovd River, a river in the west of Mongolia* Khovd , the capital of Khovd aimag* Hovd Territory, a historical area in Mongolia during the Qing Dynasty.* Khovd Province, an aimag in Mongolia...

 in western Mongolia and served as out-of-staff officer in the Cossack guard detachment at the Russian consulate.

First World War


On July 19, 1914 Ungern joined front-line forces as part of the second-turn 34th regiment of Cossack troops stationed on the Austrian Front in Galicia (today's territories of southern Poland
Poland
Poland , officially the Republic of Poland , is a country in Central Europe bordered by Germany to the west; the Czech Republic and Slovakia to the south; Ukraine, Belarus and Lithuania to the east; and the Baltic Sea and Kaliningrad Oblast, a Russian exclave, to the north...

 and western Ukraine
Ukraine
Ukraine is a country in Eastern Europe. It has an area of 603,628 km², making it the second largest contiguous country on the European continent, after Russia...

). Ungern took part in the Russian offensive in Eastern Prussia, where in 1915-1916 he participated in rear-action raids on German troops by the L.N. Punin Cavalry Special Task Force. During the war, Ungern gained a reputation as a brave but somewhat reckless and mentally unstable officer. Although decorated with several military awards, he was eventually discharged from one of his commanding positions for failing to obey orders. General Wrangel mentions Ungern's determination in his memoirs.

After the February Revolution
February Revolution
The February Revolution of 1917 was the first of two revolutions in Russia in 1917. Centered around the then capital Petrograd in March . Its immediate result was the abdication of Tsar Nicholas II, the end of the Romanov dynasty, and the end of the Russian Empire...

 in 1917, Ungern transferred to the Caucasian theatre of war, where Russia was fighting with Turkey. In April 1917 near Urmia
Urmia
- Demographics :According to official census of 2006, the population of Urmia is about 871,204.- Language :The population of Urmia is mainly Azerbaijani people, with Kurdish, Assyrian Christian, and Armenian minorities...

, Iran, Ungern, together with Grigori Semenov, started to organize a volunteer squad of local Assyrians. The Assyrians scored minor victories under Ungern's command, but their contribution to Russia's war effort was limited.

Bolshevik Revolution, 1917


After the Bolshevik-led October Revolution
October Revolution
The October Revolution , also known as the Great October Socialist Revolution , Red October, the October Uprising or the Bolshevik Revolution, was a political revolution and a part of the Russian Revolution of 1917...

 of 1917, Semenov and Ungern declared their allegiance to the Romanovs and vowed to fight the revolutionaries. Semenov, who was backed by the Japanese, appointed Ungern governor of Dauria, the large area to the east southeast of Lake Baikal. In the months that followed, Ungern distinguished himself by his extreme cruelty towards the local population and his own subordinates alike. His exceedingly eccentric behavior at this time lead many to dub him the "Mad Baron." Semenov and Ungern, though fervently anti-Bolshevik, were not part of the White movement
White movement
The White movement and its military arm the White Army - known as the White Guard or the Whites - was a loose confederation of Anti-Communist forces.The movement comprised one of the politico-military Russian forces who fought...

, and refused to recognise the authority of Admiral Aleksandr Kolchak
Aleksandr Kolchak
Aleksandr Vasiliyevich Kolchak was a Russian naval commander, polar explorer and later - Supreme ruler . Supreme ruler of Russia , was recognized in this position by all the heads of the White movement, "De jure" - Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes, "De facto" - Entente States...

, the nominal leader of the Whites. Instead, they acted independently, supported by the Japanese with arms and money. The Japanese hoped to establish a puppet state in the Russian Far East headed by Semenov. For the White leaders, who believed in a "Russia strong and indivisible", this was high treason.

Because of his successful military operations, Ungern received the rank of Major-General. Semenov appointed him commandant of the Dauria railway station and entrusted him with forming military units to battle Bolshevik forces. In Dauria Ungern formed the volunteer Asiatic Cavalry Division (translated from the native Russian
Russian language
Russian is a Slavic language used primarily in Russia, Belarus, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan. It is an unofficial but widely spoken language in Ukraine, Moldova, Latvia, Turkmenistan and Estonia and, to a lesser extent, the other countries that were once constituent republics...

 "Азиатская конная дивизия"), which included Russians, Buryats, Tatars, Bashkirs, Mongols from different tribes, Chinese, Manchu, Japanese, Polish exiles and many others. Several authors, such as Robert de Goulaine and Hugo Pratt
Hugo Pratt
Hugo Eugenio Pratt was an Italian comic book creator who was known for combining strong storytelling with extensive historical research on works such as Corto Maltese...

, refer to Ungern's unit as "The Savage Division" (the accurate translation of the native Russian
Russian language
Russian is a Slavic language used primarily in Russia, Belarus, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan. It is an unofficial but widely spoken language in Ukraine, Moldova, Latvia, Turkmenistan and Estonia and, to a lesser extent, the other countries that were once constituent republics...

 "Дикая дивизия"), a name also used at the time by both Ungern and his contemporaries. The Savage Division
Savage Division
The Caucasian Native Mounted Division , or Savage Division was a cavalry division of the Imperial Russian Army, formed in 1914. It was composed of volunteers from Chechnia, Ingushetia, Daghestan, Karachay, Circassia, Kabarda and Azerbaijan...

 properly referred to the military unit consisting of mountain peoples from the Caucasus
Caucasus
The Caucasus, also Caucas or Caucasia , is a geopolitical region at the border of Europe and Asia, and situated between the Black and the Caspian sea...

 or Mongolic
Mongolian language
The Mongolian language is the official language of Mongolia and the best-known member of the Mongolic language family. The number of speakers across all its dialects may be 5.2 million, including the vast majority of the residents of Mongolia and many of the Mongolian residents of the Inner...

 Kalmyks in the Russian Imperial Army, which fought in World War I
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

 and later, after the Russian Revolution, against Bolsheviks. Ungern reinforced his military station at Dauria, creating a kind of fortress from where his troops launched attacks on Red forces.

Like many other White units, Ungern's troops employed plundering as source of their supply. They plundered trains passing through Dauria to Manchuria. While these confiscations did not significantly diminish supplies of the Kolchak's forces, private Russian and Chinese merchants lost considerable property.

Ungern believed that monarchy
Monarchy
A monarchy is a form of government in which the office of head of state is usually held until death or abdication and is often hereditary and includes a royal house. In some cases, the monarch is elected...

 was the only social system which could save Western civilisation
Western world
The Western world, also known as the West and the Occident , is a term referring to the countries of Western Europe , the countries of the Americas, as well all countries of Northern and Central Europe, Australia and New Zealand...

 from corruption and self-destruction. He began to pursue the idea of restoring the Genghis Khan's Mongolian Empire with the Qing Dynasty
Qing Dynasty
The Qing Dynasty was the last dynasty of China, ruling from 1644 to 1912 with a brief, abortive restoration in 1917. It was preceded by the Ming Dynasty and followed by the Republic of China....

 providing the most appropriate candidate for the throne. Ungern sought to organize a military expedition to Mongolia, at that time occupied by the Chinese troops led by General Xu Shuzheng
Xu Shuzheng
Hsu Seu-Cheng or Xu Shuzheng , was a Chinese warlord in Republican China. A subordinate and right-hand man of Duan Qirui, he was a prominent member of the Anhui Clique....

, to restore the rule of the Bogd Khan
Bogd Khan
The Bogd Khan was enthroned as the Great Khaan of Mongolia on 29 December 1911, when Outer Mongolia declared independence from the Qing Dynasty after the Xinhai Revolution. He was born in the Kham region of eastern Tibet, today's Sichuan province of the People's Republic of China...

 as part of his plan to re-establish monarchies from the Far East to Europe.

As part of his plans, Ungern traveled to Manchuria and China proper in February through September 1919. There he established contacts with monarchistic circles, and also made preparations for Semenov to meet with the Manchurian warlord Zhang Zuolin
Zhang Zuolin
Zhang Zuolin was the warlord of Manchuria from 1916 to 1928 . He successfully invaded China proper in October 1924 in the Second Zhili-Fengtian War. He gained control of Peking, including China's internationally recognized government, in April 1926...

. In July 1919 he married the Manchurian princess Ji in an Orthodox ceremony. The princess was given the name Elena Pavlovna Ungern-Sternberg. They communicated in English. This marriage had a political aim as Ji was a princess and a relative of General Zhang Kuiwu, commander of Chinese troops at the western end of the Chinese-Manchurian Railway
Chinese Eastern Railway
The Chinese Eastern Railway or was a railway in northeastern China . It connected Chita and the Russian Far East. English-speakers have sometimes referred to this line as the Manchurian Railway...

 (in Russian: KVZhD), and governor of Hailar.

Restoring Independence of Outer Mongolia


After Kolchak's defeat at the hands of the Reds and the subsequent decision of the Japanese to withdraw Japanese expedition troops from Transbaikalia, Semenov, unable to withstand the pressure of Bolshevik forces, planned a retreat to Manchuria. Nevertheless, Ungern decided to implement his monarchistic plan. On 7 August 1920, the newly promoted Major-General Ungern broke his allegiance to Semenov and transformed his Asiatic Cavalry Division into a guerrilla detachment.

Ungern's troops crossed the northern border of Outer Mongolia on October 1, 1920 and moved south-westwards. Ungern entered negotiations with the Chinese military. All of his demands, including disarmament of the Chinese troops were rejected. On October 26–27 and again on November 2–4, 1920 Ungern's troops assaulted Mongolia's capital, Urga
Urga
Urga may refer to:* Ulan Bator, the capital of the republic of Mongolia* Ürgə, a municipality in Azerbaijan* Urga aka Close to Eden, a film by Nikita Mikhalkov, 1992...

 (official name at that time was Niislel Khuree; now Ulaanbaatar
Ulaanbaatar
Ulan Bator or Ulaanbaatar is the capital and largest city of Mongolia. An independent municipality, the city is not part of any province, and its population as of 2008 is over one million....

) but suffered tremendous losses. The Chinese had tightened their control of Outer Mongolia by this time, strictly regulating Buddhist services in monasteries and imprisoning Russians and Mongols who were considered as "separatists". After the defeat, Ungern's troops retreated to the upper currents of the Kherleen River in Tsetsenkhaan Aimag (district ruled by princes with the title Setsen Khan) of in eastern Outer Mongolia. He was supported by Mongols who sought independence from Chinese occupation. Bogd Khan secretly sent Ungern his blessing for expelling Chinese from Mongolia. According to M.G. Tornovsky, the Asiatic Division numbered 1460 men, while the Chinese garrison was seven thousand men strong. The Chinese had a big advantage in artillery and machine guns, and had built a network of trenches in and around Urga.

On February 1, 1921, Ungern's detachment, led by B.P. Rezukhin, captured Chinese front-line fortifications. Other troops moved to Urga and to the Manjushri Khiid Monastery on the Bogd Uul mountain south of Urga. On February 2, Ungern's troops, after battles, captured other Chinese front lines and secured parts of Urga. During the battle Ungern's special detachment of Tibetans, Mongols, Buryats and Russians rescued the Bogd Gegeen from house arrest and transported him through the Bogd Uul to Manjushri Khiid Monastery. On February 3, Ungern gave his soldiers a respite. Borrowing a tactic from Genghis Khan, Ungern ordered his troops to light a large number of camp fires in the hills surrounding Urga, using them as reference points for Rezukhin's detachment. This also made the town appear to be surrounded by an overwhelming force. On February 4, Ungern launched a major assault on remaining Chinese positions in Urga from the east, capturing the most fortified positions at the barracks and the Chinese trade settlement . The entire capital was finally taken after several fierce battles, although a part of Chinese troops had abandoned the town earlier. Nevertheless, small battles continued through February 5

Between March 11 and 13 Ungern captured a fortified Chinese base at Choiryn in the south of Mongolia; further south, Zamyn Uud, was abandoned by the Chinese soldiers without battle.

Remaining Chinese troops, after having retreated to the north of Mongolia, then tried to round Urga from the west in order to reach China. In addition a large number of troops departed the Maimachen (the same name) near Kyakhta on Russian border. Russians and Mongols considered this mass movement of Chinese troops as an attempt to re-capture Urga. Several hundred Cossacks and Mongols were dispatched to meet the Chinese troops of several thousand strength at the mouth of Kharukhyn Gol river near the Tuul river in central Mongolia. There battles raged from March 30 to April 2, the Chinese troops were routed and pursued to the southern border of the country. Thus, Chinese forces have left Outer Mongolia.

Mongolia before the entry of Bolsheviks, 1921



Ungern, Mongolian lamas and princes brought the Bogd Khan from Manjushri Khiid Monastery to Urga on February 21, 1921. On February 22, there was a solemn ceremony restoring the Bogd Khan to his rightful throne. As a reward for ousting the Chinese from Urga, the Bogd Khan granted Ungern the high hereditary title darkhan khoshoi chin wang in the degree of khan, and other privileges. Other officers, lamas and princes who had participated in these events also received high titles and awards. For seizing Urga, Ungern received from Semenov the rank of Lieutenant-General. Mongolia was proclaimed an independent monarchy under the theocratic power of Bogd Khan, or the 8th Bogd Gegen Jebtsundamba Khutuktu.

Ungern accepted Buddhism without fully renouncing his Christianity. He declared himself a subject of Mongolia. His traditionalism and orientalism, quite atypical for Western culture at that time, contributed to his reputation as the "Mad Baron". Historians note that Ungern was viewed as the incarnation of the "God of War", a deity absent in the Buddhist pantheon but existent in some folk traditions of Tibetan Buddhism as Jamsaran, "God of War". Although many Mongols may have believed him to be a deity, or at the very least an incarnation of Genghis Khan, Ungern was never officially proclaimed to be any of these incarnations. The widespread view that Ungern became "khan" or "dictator" of Mongolia is incorrect.

The title "khan" granted to Ungern by the Bogd Khan was solely an honorific one, without any political power. Full power over Mongolia belonged to the Bogd Khan and his government.

According to some eyewitnesses (his engineer and officer Kamil Gizycki
Kamil Giżycki
Kamil Giżycki was a Polish writer and traveler.Giżycki studied at the famous Jesuit school Zakład Naukowo-Wychowawczy Ojców Jezuitów w Chyrowie in Khyriv. He graduated from Technical University of Munich. During the First World War he served in Austro-Hungarian army and he was injured and...

, and adventurer and writer Ferdynand Antoni Ossendowski
Ferdynand Antoni Ossendowski
Antoni Ferdynand Ossendowski was a Polish writer, journalist, traveler, globetrotter, explorer and university professor...

, etc.) Ungern was the first to institute order in Urga
Urga
Urga may refer to:* Ulan Bator, the capital of the republic of Mongolia* Ürgə, a municipality in Azerbaijan* Urga aka Close to Eden, a film by Nikita Mikhalkov, 1992...

; imposing street cleaning and sanitation, and promoting religious life and tolerance in the capital, and attempting to reform the economy. His Asiatic Cavalry Division consisted of national detachments, such as the Chinese regiment, Japanese unit, various Cossacks regiments, Mongol, Buryat, Tatar and other peoples' units. Ungern said that 16 nationalities served in his division. Dozens of Tibetans also served as part of his troops. They might have been sent by 13th Dalai Lama
Thubten Gyatso, 13th Dalai Lama
Thubten Gyatso was the 13th Dalai Lama of Tibet.During 1878 he was recognized as the reincarnation of the Dalai Lama. He was escorted to Lhasa and given his pre-novice vows by the Panchen Lama, Tenpai Wangchuk, and named "Ngawang Lobsang Thupten Gyatso Jigdral Chokley Namgyal"...

, with whom Ungern communicated, or these Tibetans may have belonged to the Tibetan colony in Urga. They were essential as securing and protecting the Bogd Khan during the battle for Urga.

Defeat, capture, and execution, 1921



The Bolsheviks started infiltrating Mongolia shortly after the October revolution 1917, i.e. long before they took control of the Russian Transbaikalia. In 1921, various Red Army
Red Army
The Workers' and Peasants' Red Army started out as the Soviet Union's revolutionary communist combat groups during the Russian Civil War of 1918-1922. It grew into the national army of the Soviet Union. By the 1930s the Red Army was among the largest armies in history.The "Red Army" name refers to...

 units belonging to Soviet Russia and its satellite state of the Far Eastern Republic invaded newly-independent Mongolia to defeat Ungern. These forces included the Red Mongolian leader and independence hero Damdin Sükhbaatar). Spies and various smaller diversionary units were sent ahead to spread terror and betrayal to weaken Ungern's forces. Ungern organized an expedition to meet these forces in Siberia and support ongoing anti-Bolshevik rebellions. Believing he had the unwavering popular support of locals in Siberia and Mongolia, Ungern failed to properly strengthen his troops despite being vastly outnumbered and out-gunned by the Red forces. However, unbeknownst to Ungern, the Reds had successfully crushed uprisings in Siberia, and the economic policies of Soviet power had been temporarily softened. Upon Ungern's arrival, few local peasants and Cossacks volunteered to join him.

In the spring the Asiatic Cavalry Division was divided into two brigades: one under the command of Lieutenant-general Ungern and the second under Major-General Rezukhin. In May, Rezukhin's brigade launched a raid beyond the Russian border to the west of the Selenge River. Ungern's brigade left Urga and slowly moved to the Russian town of Troitskosavsk (now Kyakhta in Buryatia). Meanwhile, the Reds moved big forces towards Mongolia from different directions. They had a tremendous advantage in equipment (armored cars, airplanes, rail, gunboats, ammunition, human reserves, etc.) and number of troops, yet the beginning stages of the summer campaign in 1921 the last Mongolian invasion of Russia looked very promising. As a result, Ungern was defeated in battles that took place between June 11 and 13 and failed to capture Troitskosavsk. Then the combined Bolshevik and Red Mongol forces entered Mongolia and captured Urga after a few small skirmishes with Ungern's guard detachments.

Having captured Urga on June 6, 1921, the Red forces failed to defeat the main forces of the Asiatic Division (Ungern's and Rezukhin's brigades). Ungern regrouped and attempted to invade Transbaikalia across the Russo-Mongolian border. To rally his soldiers and local people, Ungern quoted an agreement with Grigory Semyonov
Grigory Semyonov
Grigory Mikhaylovich Semyonov, or Semenov , was a Japanese-supported leader of the White movement in Transbaikal and beyond from December 1917 to November 1920, Lieutenant General and Ataman of Baikal Cossacks .-Biography:Semyonov was born in the Transbaikal region of eastern Siberia...

 and pointed to a supposed Japanese offensive which was to support their drive, although neither Semenov, nor Japanese were eager to assist him. After several days rest, on July 18, the Asiatic Division started its raid into Soviet territory. Eyewitnesses Kamil Giżycki and Mikhail Tornovsky gave similar estimations of their numbers: about 3 thousand men in total. Ungern's troops penetrated deeply into the Russian territory. The Soviets declared martial law in areas where the Whites were expected, including Verkhneudinsk (now Ulan-Ude
Ulan-Ude
Ulan-Ude is the capital city of the Republic of Buryatia, Russia, located about southeast of Lake Baikal on the Uda River at its confluence with the Selenga...

, the capital of Buryatia). Ungern's troops captured many settlements; the northernmost being Novoselenginsk, occupied by them on August 1. By this time, Ungern understood that his offensive was ill-prepared; he also heard about the approach of large forces of the Reds. On August 2, 1921 he began his retreat to Mongolia, where he declared his determination to fight Communism. While Ungern's troops wanted to abandon the war effort and head towards Manchuria to join with other Russian émigrés, it soon became clear that Ungern had other ideas. He wanted to retreat to Tuva, then to Tibet. Troops under both Ungern and Rezukhin effectively mutinied and hatched plots to kill their respective commanders. On August 17, Rezukhin was killed. A day later conspirators unsuccessfully tried to assassinate Ungern. His command then collapsed as his brigade broke apart. On 20 August Ungern was captured by the Soviet detachment led by the famous guerrilla commander P.E. Shchetinkin (later a notorious member of the Cheka).

After a six hour and 15 minute trial on September 15, 1921, prosecuted by Yemelyan Yaroslavsky
Yemelyan Yaroslavsky
Yemelyan Mikhailovich Yaroslavsky was a Russian revolutionary, Soviet politician, communist party organizer and activist, journalist, and historian...

, the Baron was sentenced to execution by firing squad
Execution by firing squad
Execution by firing squad, sometimes called fusillading , is a method of capital punishment, particularly common in the military and in times of war.Execution by shooting is a fairly old practice...

. The sentence was carried out that very evening or night in Novonikolaevsk
Novosibirsk
Novosibirsk is the third-largest city in Russia, after Moscow and Saint Petersburg, and the largest city of Siberia, with a population of 1,473,737 . It is the administrative center of Novosibirsk Oblast as well as of the Siberian Federal District...

.

"When he learnt of his death, the Bogd Khan
Bogd Khan
The Bogd Khan was enthroned as the Great Khaan of Mongolia on 29 December 1911, when Outer Mongolia declared independence from the Qing Dynasty after the Xinhai Revolution. He was born in the Kham region of eastern Tibet, today's Sichuan province of the People's Republic of China...

 ordered prayers for his soul to be read throughout Mongolia. They were undoubtedly needed."

Ungern-Sternberg in fiction

  • Ungern-Sternberg is the model for the central villain, "Baron Ugenberg," in the alternate history
    Alternate history (fiction)
    Alternate history or alternative history is a genre of fiction consisting of stories that are set in worlds in which history has diverged from the actual history of the world. It can be variously seen as a sub-genre of literary fiction, science fiction, and historical fiction; different alternate...

     game Iron Storm, in which he rules a Pan Russo-Mongolian Empire during a Great War that has stretched into the 1960s.
  • Ungern-Sternberg appears in Hugo Pratt
    Hugo Pratt
    Hugo Eugenio Pratt was an Italian comic book creator who was known for combining strong storytelling with extensive historical research on works such as Corto Maltese...

    's graphic novel Corto Maltese in Siberia (Italian: Corte sconta detta Arcana), part of the famed comics series Corto Maltese
    Corto Maltese
    Corto Maltese is a comics series featuring an eponymous character, a complex sailor-adventurer. It was created by Italian comic book creator Hugo Pratt in 1967...

    .
  • Baron Ungern is a character in the novel Chapayev and Void
    Chapayev and Void
    "Chapayev and Void" , known in the US as "Buddha's Little Finger" and in the UK as "Clay Machine Gun", is a novel by Victor Pelevin first published in 1996.-Plot summary:...

    ("Clay Machine-Gun"), by the modern Russian writer Viktor Pelevin. He is depicted as the sovereign of esoteric
    Esotericism
    Esotericism or Esoterism signifies the holding of esoteric opinions or beliefs, that is, ideas preserved or understood by a small group or those specially initiated, or of rare or unusual interest. The term derives from the Greek , a compound of : "within", thus "pertaining to the more inward",...

     spiritual
    Spiritualism
    Spiritualism is a belief system or religion, postulating the belief that spirits of the dead residing in the spirit world have both the ability and the inclination to communicate with the living...

     "Inner Mongolia".
  • Ungern-Sternberg plays a significant role in Daniel Easterman's 1998 novel The Ninth Buddha.
  • Ungern-Sternberg is a significant historical character in Charles Stross
    Charles Stross
    Charles David George "Charlie" Stross is a British writer of science fiction, Lovecraftian horror and fantasy. He was born in Leeds.Stross specialises in hard science fiction and space opera...

    's 2010 sci-fi horror/espionage novel The Fuller Memorandum
    The Fuller Memorandum
    The Fuller Memorandum is the third novel by Charles Stross in his "Laundry" series of Lovecraftian spy thrillers. The previous novels in the series were The Atrocity Archives and The Jennifer Morgue...


Further reading

  • Kuzmin, Sergei L. (2011). The History of Baron Ungern. An Experience of Reconstruction. Moscow: KMK Sci. Press, ISBN 978-5-87317-692-2.
  • Kuzmin, S.L. (compiler) (2004). Baron Ungern v Dokumentakh i Memuarakh. Moscow: KMK Sci. Press, ISBN 5-87317-164-5.
  • Kuzmin, S.L. (compiler) (2004). Legendarnyi Baron: Neizvestnye Stranitsy Grazhdanskoi Voiny. Moscow: KMK Sci. Press, ISBN 5-87317-175-0.
  • Ossendowski, Ferdynand
    Ferdynand Antoni Ossendowski
    Antoni Ferdynand Ossendowski was a Polish writer, journalist, traveler, globetrotter, explorer and university professor...

     (1922) Beasts, Men and Gods. New York.
  • Kamil Giżycki
    Kamil Giżycki
    Kamil Giżycki was a Polish writer and traveler.Giżycki studied at the famous Jesuit school Zakład Naukowo-Wychowawczy Ojców Jezuitów w Chyrowie in Khyriv. He graduated from Technical University of Munich. During the First World War he served in Austro-Hungarian army and he was injured and...

     (1929). Przez Urjanchaj i Mongolje. Lwow – Warszawa: wyd. Zakladu Nar. im. Ossolinskich.
  • Pershin, D.P. (1999) Baron Ungern, Urga i Altanbulak. Samara: Agni.
  • Pozner, Vladimir (1938) Bloody Baron: the Story of Ungern–Sternberg. New York.
  • Yuzefovich, Leonid. Le baron Ungern, khan des steppes
  • Hopkirk, Peter (1986) Setting the East Ablaze: on Secret Service in Bolshevik Asia. Don Mills, Ont.
  • Michalowski W.St. (1977). Testament Barona. Warzsawa: Ludowa Spoldzielnia Wyd.
  • Palmer, James (2008) The Bloody White Baron. London: Faber and Faber. ISBN 0571230237
  • Znamenski, Andrei (2011) Red Shambhala: Magic, Prophecy, and Geopolitics in the Heart of Asia. Wheaton, IL: Quest Books. ISBN 978-0-8356-0891-6
  • Bodisco Th. von, Dugin A., Evola J., Fernbach M., Freitag Y., Greiner A.W., Mutti C., Nesmelow A. 2007. Baron Ungern von Sternberg – der letzte Kriegsgott. Straelen: Regin-Verlag.

External links