Among the troops of the White Russian army who left Gallipoli, a small group decided to settle in Berlin in 1922. They immediately founded the Russian Truth (Russkaia Pravda) newspaper, and, two years later, in 1924, the Brotherhood of Russian Truth (Bratsvo Russkoi Pravdy, BRP).The Russian Truth Journal (1922–1924)
The founder of the Brotherhood, Sergei Alekseevich Sokolov (1878–1936),
was one of the ideologists of the White Movement during the Civil War. After the October revolution, he became a political correspondent of General Wrangel, the Commander-in-Chief of the Russian Army.
In the spring of 1922, Sokolov moved to Berlin, where he became the director of t
he Bronze Horseman (Mednyi Vsadnik), a publishing house founded by Duke Georgii Nikolaevich of Leuchtenberg
. As noted earlier, Duke Niklaevich was also the founder of the Banque Slave du Midi, a funder of the ROVS, and also the uncle of Sergei Leuchtenberg
, the head of the NTS and of its French section in the early 1930s.
In the summer of 1922 in Berlin, Sokolov and Leuchtenberg along with General Pyotr Nikolayevich Krasnov, the former ataman of the pro-German Great Don Host during the Russian civil war, founded an anti-Bolshevik propaganda journal called the Russian Truth (Russkaia Pravda).¹⁰⁰
Georgii Leuchtenberg’s brother, Nicolai Nicolaevich Leuchtenberg (1868-1928), was Krasnov’s representative in Berlin in 1918.¹⁰¹
According to historian Paul Robinson, Wrangel’s military representative in Berlin, General Ivan Alekseevich Holmsen (1865–1941),
was also involved in the journal’s creation.¹⁰²
Up until 1924, the journal was under the supervision of the head of the underground operations of the ROVS, General Kutepov, and his assistant Nikolai Avgustovich Monkevitz (1869–1926).
Kutepov provided the journal with funding and also handled the distribution of Russkaia Pravda in the USSR, using the channels preserved by Vladimir Grigorievich Orlov (1882–1941),
head of the intelligence network of Wrangel in Europe during the Civil War and until 1926. Both Wrangel and Kutepov were sympathetic to Russkaia Pradva; however, Kutepov’s assistant, Monkevitz, was a GPU agent and quickly persuaded Kutepov to stop funding the journal.The Brotherhood of the Russian Truth (1924–1933)
When funding from Wrangel ceased in 1924, Georgy Leuchtenberg took over. A new group of leadership turned the propaganda journal into a genuine activist organization called the Brotherhood of the Russian Truth (Bratstvo Russkoi Pravdy, BRP).
This small group of people also formed the “Supreme Circle” of the organization and established two structures: the secretariat of the Supreme Circle, headed by Alexandr Nikolaevich Kolberg (1883–1942),
and the Berlin headquarters, which handled the distribution of the journal and the intelligence networks, headed by Orlov.
The Brotherhood was, like the ROVS, an “undecided” monarchist organization, i.e., it supported the idea of “non-predetermination”¹⁰³
, but its members were fundamentally monarchist. Clear sympathies were expressed for the “Nikolaevites.” One of the reasons for this support was the family relationship between Nikolai Nikolaevich and the BRP’s financier; Georgy Leuchtenberg was the great-grandchild of Nicholas I and hence, a relative of the pretender-to-the-throne. The BRP even had the fantasy of considering Leuchtenberg the heir of Nikolai Nikolaevich, but he died before Nikolaevich in 1929.Funding
After Leuchtenberg’s death in 1929, the BRP established funds from numerous sympathetic individuals, mostly living in the United States. The main sponsor of the BRP at that time was Anastasii Andreyevich Vonsiatskii (1898–1965)
, the founder of the All-Russian Fascist Organization (Vserossiiskaia Fashistskaia Organizatsiia, VFO).
In the fall of 1921, Vonsiatsky had married a rich heiress, who generously financed his political activities. From 1927 to 1932, when he was a member of the BRP, Vonsiatsky donated $25,000, after which he was appointed head of one of the nine American chapters of the Brotherhood.
Additionally, the BRP also received funds from the Russian Liberation Treasury in memory of the Tsar‑Martyr Nicholas II (Russkaia Osvoboditelʹnaia Kazna v pamiatʹ Tsaria-Muchenika Nikolaia II, ROK). In fact, the ROK became a front for the BRP, such that the local representatives of the ROK were considered the local heads of the BRP. The chairman of the audit commission of the ROK was Metropolitan Antony, founder of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia (ROCOR). The BRP also had close ties with ROCOR; it received the blessing of the Church and was officially recognized as the organization closest to the Church in spirit.Collapse
Because the BRP had no centralized structure, there is no definite information as to the date it was disbanded. However, the collapse seems to have begun in 1932, when it was discovered that the secretary of the Supreme Circle of the BRP, Kohlberg, was a GPU agent. The last meeting of the Supreme Circle was held in Berlin in 1932, where the supreme circle was transferred to Paris and Prince Anatolii Pavlovich Lieven (1872–1937)
was appointed as the new head of the organization, with Sokolov still handling Russkaia Pravda. Sokolov died in 1936, and Lieven died in 1937. The BRP was inactive during WWII, but in the 1950s and 1960s, unsuccessful attempts were made to revive it in both West Germany and in the U.S. Relationship with the ROVS and the NTSThe Leuchtenberg Family
The Leuchtenberg family can be considered the primary link between the BRP, the ROVS, and the NTS. Georgy Leuchtenberg funded numerous different ventures, including the BRP, the Bronze Horseman publishing house, as well as the Banque Slave du Midi, which financed the underground activities of Kutepov within the ROVS.
The bank was set up by Georgii of Leuchtenberg in 1922 and was located in Nice, France. It employed former officers of the White Army and was run by two people, a White Russian called Nikolai Podziakov and a French called Ravaisson-Mollien. When the bank closed due to bankruptcy in 1926, Vadim Grigorievich Volkonskii (1895–1973)
replenished the funds and appointed his brother-in-law, Arcadii Stolypin—the future head of French section of NTS between 1941 and 1948—as secretary of the bank.¹⁰⁴
Following Leuchtenberg’s death, the bank was shut down in October 1929. After that, Georgii of Leuchtenberg’s nephew, Sergei of Leuchtenberg, became head of the French section of the NTS from 1930 to 1934.The BRP and the ROVS
The leadership of the ROVS, the BRP, the ROK, and the NTS were very closely linked, and, often, people belonged simultaneously to several of these organizations. These include Anatoly Lieven, head of the Latvian section of both the ROVS and the BRP; Vladimir Brandt, head of the Polish section of both the BRP and NTS; and even Alexei Aleksandrovich von Lampe (1885–1967),
who was head of the ROVS German department and also led the underground activities of the BRP in the USSR.¹⁰⁵
The headquarters of Von Lampe and of the ROVS’s German department were located in the editorial office of the Bronze Horseman publishing house.
Another telling example of the overlap between the BRP, the ROVS, and the NTS is the case of
Roman Martynovich Zile (1900–1971), who was simultaneously a member of the BRP Latvian section, the head of counter-intelligence of the ROVS Latvian section, and the representative of the NTS in Latvia.¹⁰⁶The BRP and NTS
The BRP also had close links with the NTS. During its first years, the NTS had not yet developed its own routes for smuggling literature into the USSR. The BRP offered the use of their networks to the NTS, in exchange for which the NTS had to smuggle copies of Russkaia Pravda across the border. But even after the NTS had set up its own networks, the shadow of the BRP remained visible in the methods they used. The two methods that made the NTS famous in the 1950s—the broadcasts from the clandestine radio station, Radio Free Russia, to the USSR, and the use of weather balloons to carry leaflets across the border—are in fact methods borrowed from the BRP. Collaboration with Polish military intelligenceUnderground Activities
Once the Russkaia Pravda journal was absorbed into the BRP in 1924, it took on a function of subversion in addition to that of propaganda. The terrorist activities of the BRP were organized in combat units that independently carried out active guerrilla warfare without centralized supervision. As self-promotion, the leaders grossly overstated the number of their supporters in the USSR and the number of actions they had taken, which is why organizations like the ROVS fairly quickly became suspicious of their intelligence reports.
On paper, the BRP stopped trains; demonstrated shootings and murders of Chekists, policemen, members of the Communist Party and Komsomol; carried out explosions and arson; and called for the destruction of goods exported from the USSR. In reality, the BRP’s work was mainly to send literature to the USSR in various ways and to recruit Soviet sailors in foreign ports to find new distribution routes.Collaboration with the Second Department of the Polish General Staff
The underground activities of the BRP and their successful movement across the Soviet border made them very desirable to foreign intelligence services. Departments of the BRP had local contacts with foreign intelligence services, notably in Finland and Latvia. Some sections were also in contact with British intelligence, especially in Greece and Persia.¹⁰⁷
The Polish section of the BRP, headed by Vladimir Brandt, also notably collaborated, like the NTS, with the 2nd Department of the Polish General Staff responsible for military intelligence. From 1924 to 1933, when the BRP was active, the Prime Minister of Poland was Józef Piłsudski (1867–1935), a military leader and head of state who had launched a military attack on the USSR in February 14, 1919 that concluded in the Peace of Riga on March 18, 1921. Except for a brief period from 1923–1925, Pilsudski was the dominant power in Poland, maintained a strong anti‑Soviet agenda, was notably complaisant to the White cause. Participation in the Asano Brigade against the Red Army
In addition to its strong Polish section, the BRP was active in the Far-East, particularly in Manchuria. As noted earlier, because the Whites were unable to fight in Russia, they actively participated in foreign wars against communists. While we have discussed how the ROVS fought with Franco’s forces in Spain and with Mannerheim's forces in Finland, we will now turn to the BRP’s participation in the Asano Brigade, which fought against the Red Army after the Soviets invaded Manchuria in 1945.The Japanese Invasion of Manchuria (1931)
Manchuria is the region of northeastern China that now covers the provinces of Heilongjiang, Jilin, and Liaoning. In the 1920s, its capital, Harbin, was flooded with 100.000 White émigrés fleeing from Russia after the October Revolution. They were mostly soldiers involved in the White movement and members of the White governments in Siberia and the Russian Far East.
After the fall of the Qing Dynasty, the Japanese invaded Manchuria in 1931 and renamed it Manchukuo. The area became a Japanese puppet state headed by the former Last Emperor of China, Puyi. Inner Manchuria was now detached from China by Japan creating a buffer zone against a possible Soviet invasion. The anticommunist Russian émigrés in Harbin thought the occupation was positive and hoped that the Japanese would help them in their anti-Soviet struggles. That same year, they created the Russian Fascist Party (Russkaia fashistkaia partiya, RFP)
with Japanese support.
Foundation of the Russian Fascist Party (Russkaia Fashistskaia Partiia, RFP) (1931)
The RFP grew out of the Russian Fascist Organization (RFO), which was created around 1925 by Nikolai Ivanovich Nikiforov (1886–1951),
a professor at the Faculty of Law in Harbin. The members of the organization were young Russian émigrés that were also his students at the University of Harbin.
In 1931, the organization was renamed the Russian Fascist Party (Russkaia fashistskaia partiia, RFP), and it was headed, briefly, by Vladimir Dmitrievich Kosmin (1884–1950)
in 1931 and 1932. Konstantin Vladimirovich Rodzaevskii (1907–1946),
who was secretary general of the organization under Kosmin, took over the leadership of the party in 1933. His ambitions were to recruit members throughout the Far East, and he founded new cells of the party in China, Korea, and Japan.
In 1934, the Japanese formed the Bureau for Russian Emigrants in Manchuria (Biuro po delam rossiiskikh emigrantov v Manchzhurskoi Imperii, BREM),
which was under the control of the RFP. The purpose of the BREM was to exert control over Russian émigrés in the region to ensure continuity of their anti‑communist feelings. The bureau, which was funded by the Japanese, also encouraged the RFP’s anti-Soviet propaganda and intelligence work. In total, 44.000 Russian émigrés registered to the BREM, which is approximately half of the total number of Russian émigrés in Manchuria.
In 1937, the party was renamed the Russian Fascist Union (Rossiiskii Fashistskii Soiuz, RFS). With the help of the Japanese, who assured support from 1936 to 1943, Rodzaievskii organized underground subversive actions into the USSR, with little success.¹⁰⁸
In 1943, the RFS was banned by the Japanese, who dominated the occupied Manchuria.The Asano Brigade (1938–1945)
In 1938, Russian émigrés living in Manchuria were conscripted into the Manchukuo Army. On April 29 of that year, a unit made up of Russian émigrés conscripts was created with the help of the RFP‑controlled Bureau for Russian Emigrants in Manchuria. The unit was called the Asano Brigade.
The Brigade fought against the Soviets during the Battle of Khalkhin Gol from May to September 1939 and was almost totally destroyed. Another brigade was established in 1945, which took part in fighting against the Red Army after the Soviet invasion of Manchuria.
The majority the Asano Brigade were members of the Russian Fascist Party of Konstantin Rodzaevskii. Historian Pyotr Bazanov¹⁰⁹
indicates, however, that BRP members were also involved in the Brigade. This is not surprising considering the first leader of the Russian Fascist Party, Vladimir Kosmin, was also simultaneously a member of the Manchurian branch of the BRP. This branch was also privy to Japanese intelligence. Indeed, following the instructions of Japanese intelligence, the Harbin section of the BRP allegedly took part in the assassination of the dictator of Manchuria, Chinese Marshal Zhang Zuolin, in 1928 and were actively used by the Japanese as provocateurs for the capture of Manchuria in 1931.