Military Officers of the Russian Imperial Guard as Viewed by their Subordinates (Diary of Vladimir Savonko, 1899–1909)
Keywords:diary notes; Russian Imperial Guard; relations between field and subaltern officers; professional conflicts; discipline; leisure
This article introduces the previously unstudied diaries of V. S. Savonko, an officer of the Life Guard of the First Artillery Brigade, which were kept between 1899 and 1909. The analysis of the author makes it possible to demonstrate the way subordinates perceived the field officers of the Brigade. The diary points out positive and negative features of the commanders and contains some criticism from lower-ranking officers. Most particularly, the latter emphasised their superiors’ knowledge of and compliance with their service requirements, their respectful attitude towards subordinates, their good social skills, and their sense of camaraderie. However, they also strongly condemned their lack of competence, laziness, disregard of their duties, their inability to appeal to subordinates, and their lack of good manners. Analysing Savonko’s diaries, the author concludes that subordinates were becoming more demanding in regard to their superiors’ competence and moral image, which was not always pronounced. Additionally, the diaries reflect their author’s personality, his values and conflicts (both outer and inner): these testify to the increasing contradictions in military life and the impossibility of compromise between the high-ranking officers neglectful of their service and lower-ranking officers who treated military service as their life’s work.
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