Do Not Awaken The Ghosts Of The Past! – Part IV

Dear Readers:

In my last installment of this penny dreadful, I left you with the cliff-hanger question:  “Was Stepan Karagodin, or was he not, a Japanese spy?”

“The name is Karagodin. Stepan Karagodin.”

Looking at the photo of this Russian Cavalier Rustican with the burning-mad King Lear eyes, one can see a fanatical determination  (unless that’s just an artifact of the primitive photographical art of the time), yet it is hard to imagine this peasant speaking multiple languages or learning ciphers, or any of that neat spy stuff.

So, what was the actual evidence against him?  Well, for starters there was the testimony of a man named Ivan Mikhailovich, a loyal Communist Party member, who was called in by the NKVD tribunal, on December 1, 1937, as a witness against Stepan Karagodin.  Ivan’s testimony apparently helped to convict the old curmudgeon, who was duly shot a couple of weeks later.  Denis Karagodin, on his website devoted to bringing down the “murderers” of his ancestor, named Mikhailovich as one of the “killers” and “stool pigeons” who “falsely” incriminated his great-grandfather of treason.  Here is the “dossier” on Ivan Mikhailovich, posted by Denis Karagodin.  What Denis probably did not count on, when he decided to pick this fight with the shadows of other people’s ancestors, was that people like Ivan Mikhailovich may have had good reason to suspect the old guy of being a no-goodnik.  For example, Dmitry Steshin cites some actual testimony offered by this same Ivan Mikhailovich, who knew the Karagodin family very well and had probably been keeping his eye on them for years.  On that fateful day when he was called into the NKVD tribunal to testify, Mikhailovich apparently gave them an earful, including this:

NKVD investigator Nikolai Zyryanov interrogated Stepan Karagodin.

The year was 1920.  [Communist] partisan units were crossing the Volkovka River.  They kill the husband of Karagodin’s sister, steal his (Karagodin’s) fur coat and possibly also his horse.  This was enough to turn Karagodin against the Soviet government for a very long time.  I remember having many political debates with him.  He nurtured a deep hatred for everything around him.  And the hatred of the father was passed down to his children.  I was a student with Karagodin’s son in the Polytechnicum.  One day the (22-year-old) son said to me:  “The time will come soon when we will cut all your throats.

Please note that Karagodin’s son, who said these terrible things and swore to cut Ivan’s throat, was not arrested nor repressed during the “Great Terror”.  Why not?  If you believe Westie historians, or Westie media, then anybody who uttered a single word against the Communists was immediately shot, tortured, and sent to the Gulag.  Well, maybe that happened in Moscow, but not out in Siberia.  The thing is that Karagodin’s son didn’t actually do anything, nor take up arms against the Soviet government.  He was just a mouthy brat who continued to study at the Technicum.  His Dad, on the other hand…  Was a notable Recidivist with a violent past.  Well, we shall get to that.

While The World Watches

Note again that this story was dug up by the other side, by the anti-Communist Whites.  They started this fight!   Prior to this, only a handful of people had ever heard of Stepan Karagodin.  But thanks to this Red Scare campaign launched by Karagodin’s descendant Denis, Stepan is so famous now all over the world, that it was ridiculously easy for me to google this old peasant and find my pick of photos to paste.

Westies say that Putin is the new Stalin.

The whole world is following this story.  Why?  Apparently they don’t have anything better to do, nor internal demons of their own to exorcize.  At the end of his piece, Dmitry Steshin pleads with people to just leave the ghosts alone, “Let the dead bury their dead,” like Jesus used to say.

Personally, I don’t hold to that.  I say:  “Bring it on.”  Let’s learn all about the past and draw the appropriate conclusions.  The only problem is when it’s one-sided:  When only one of the sides is allowed to tell their story, which is what happens when Westie media gets involved.  All the NKVD officers are called “butchers”, and all of the repressed in the Tomsk cell (amounting to around 36 people) were just innocent saints caught up in a Terror Machine.  On his website Denis Karagodin bubbles over with gratitude when quoting Westie publications who leaped into the fray and cheered him on; for example, the Washington Post crowing that “In Putin’s Russia it just got easier to find the perpetrators of Stalin’s purges!”  Denis Karagodin quickly became the new hero of Westie “Human Rights” organizations bent on taking down “Putin’s Russia”.  Why do they want to take down Putin?  Why, ’cause Putin, the democratically eleced President of Russia, is the new Stalin!  QED.  People who don’t know the difference between Stalin and Hitler, also don’t the difference between Stalin and Putin.

If Denis were a true Russian patriot, then he would have told the Westies:  “Thanks but no thanks.  I don’t need your crocodile tears, nor your hypocritical enthusiasm.”  Instead, he welcomed their snake-like embrace and took them to his bosom.  Thus proving that the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.

The Evidence Against Stepan

Stepan Ivanovich Karagodin, born in 1881, was a dedicated anti-Communist and active participant in the White side during the Russian Civil War.  The remarks concerning Stepan’s activities in the various White military organizations, came from the testimony of witnesses for the Prosecution, including the above-mentioned Ivan Mikhailovich:

On August 25-28, 1918, Stepan took part in an anti-Red peasant conference in the village of Peschanoozersk in the Amur region of Siberia.  The conference was organized by the “Union of Grain Workers”.  The conference condemned the activities of the Amur Commissars and refused to assist them in the mobilization of peasants into the Red Army.  The conference then proceeded to elect an Executive Committee of 17 men, which most likely included Stepan Karagodin.  The committee called itself the “Provisional Executive Committee of the Amur Oblast”.

Amur Cossacks of the Russian Civil War

This organization constituted more of a military opposition than a debating club, and quickly proceeded to enter into alliance with the major anti-Bolshevik forces operating in the region.  A broad military coalition was formed, consisting of Japanese, American, White Russian (“White” in the sense of anti-Communist), Cossack, and Chinese soldiers.  All were broadly under the command of two Japanese generals:  Yamada (who I think was this guy) and Yuhara.  This White army attacked several areas controlled by the Bolsheviks, including the city of Blagoveshchensk and other populated towns.

It was the morning of 18 September, 1918.  Stepan Karagodin, serving in a vanguard unit of 50 Cossacks, which had been organized and armed a couple of weeks earlier in Sakhalian, under the command of Ataman Gamov, and with the support of Japanese military forces, stormed the city of Blagoveshchensk.  The Cossacks departed from Sakhalian and crossed the Amur River in a landing boat.  After seizing Blagoveshchensk, they arrested around 20 Bolsheviks at the train station.

During the occupation of Amur by the Japanese, Stepan Karagodin lived most of the time in the town of Volkovo, which housed Japanese military units.

1924.  Stepan Karagodin, something of a serial mutineer by this point, joined the “Zazeiskoe Rebellion” against the Soviet government.  Something around 5,000 peasants and Cossacks participated in this rebellion.  Even after being crushed, the rebels continued to launch occasional attacks from outside the Soviet borders.

Stepan Karagodin continued to live and survive within Tomsk for the next 14 years.  Engaging in ideological debates and raising his children to hate the government, but otherwise quiescent.

Who Were the Harbintsy?

The city of Harbin, Manchuria, was founded as a Russian frontier outpost in 1898 on the trans-Manchurian railway line.  After Russia’s defeat in the war with Japan in 1905, many ethnic Russian colonists fled from Harbin, but many others remained.  In time, this city came to have one of the largest Russian diasporas outside the borders of Russia proper.  During the Russian Civil War, Harbin became a haven for the White Guard, with up to 200,000 White emigrants dwelling there.  They, along with the rest of the Russian diaspora, worked mainly on the railroad.

In the 1930’s Japan occupied Manchuria and created its own puppet government there.  In 1935 the Soviet Union sold its portion of the trans-Manchurian railway to the new Japanese overlords.  Along with this, the Russian settlers of Harbin were all expelled by the Japanese.  The Russians were forced to quit their jobs on the railroad, and to return to the Soviet Union.  Where most of them were promptly arrested by the NKVD, accused of counter-revolutionary activities.  All this happened in accordance with NKVD Special Order #593, signed on September 20, 1937.  One can see, from reading the order that the Communist government was very worried about the influx of such a number of potential traitors; not too mention the possible quantity of Japanese spies injected along with ordinary railroad workers.  And the NKVD repression of the “Harbinites” did indeed have the quality of a mass repression.  On the part of a government which was becoming very paranoid about external threats, espionage, and possible invasions from East and West.

What does this have to do with Stepan Karagodin?  Well, not much, since Stepan never lived in Harbin.  Nonetheless, the term “Harbinite” had entered the NKVD lexicon as a general term denoting anyone out there in Siberia with White-Guard sympathies who might still possibly be collaborating with the Japanese.  And the anti-Harbinite arrests swept up such people as Stepan, who had probably been on the list of “the usual suspects” for quite some time.  Hence, the sentence against Stepan, when it finally came, after a 3-day investigation and trial, reads as follows:

“Convicted by a special meeting of the NKVD (Moscow) as the organizer of an espionage-diversionary group of Kharbintsy; a Japanese agent; and a Resident of Japanese military intelligence.”

Full Circle

  • And so, we come full circle, to the question whether the NKVD officers who arrested, tried, and shot Stepan Karagodin, accusing him of assisting Russia’s external enemies (in this case, the Japanese) were just being completely ridiculous and unfair to him.
  • Or did they have valid reasons to suspect him of treason?
  • Or was he just one of the “usual suspects” that they knew was an enemy, but they couldn’t quite prove it scientifically, so they relied on sloppy police work and the accusations of his friends and neighbors?

One indicator that the latter bullet point might have hit close to the mark:  The Soviet government itself experienced some remorse later in life.  In the late 1950’s, after Stalin’s death and the advent of a more liberal era,  Karagodin’s family received a long-awaited letter in the mailbox:  Their long-dead Papa has been rehabilitated.  Presumably the Soviet government of the more liberal Khruchshev era felt a twinge of remorse:  Maybe they went too far in shooting Stepan, despite his history as a serial mutineer and recidivist White-Guardist.  Maybe they felt that Stepan had very little to do with the “Harbinites” and was not an active Japanese agent after all.  Despite the fact that he had indeed fought alongside Japanese soldiers and against the Red Army in his youth.

It is also a fact that the Russian people, in general, whatever their political affiliations, disapprove of just arresting a man and not letting his family know that he is in custody.  This is always morally wrong, of course, regardless of a man’s guilt or innocence.  Stepan’s family had to wait many years to learn what they probably already suspected:  That Papa has “died in custody”.  Another indication that Stepan’s execution had not been fully aboveboard, nor his conviction fully transparent and in accordance with the legal codex and the Soviet Constitution.  It is known that the NKVD at that time, and especially in that sensitive region (=the Russian Far East) was operating in full rules of wartime mode; as if a hot war was going on.  In other words, operating with haste, cutting corners, and not always observing legal niceties nor acting with transparency.

What Is the Moral Of the Story?

I began this story as if it were a fable, involving animals instead of Kings.  And every fable must have a moral.  However, since I already pointed out that there are at least three sides to this story, then there must be at least three morals; namely:

  • White moral:  Stalin’s bloody NKVD repressed innocent people with no rhyme or reason.  The current Putin government is the successor to the bloody Stalin government.  Therefore, like Denis Karagodin has stated, when he picked this fight:  This endless “Russian bloodbath” can never be ended until Russia itself is ended; or all Russians repent for their eternal badness.
  • Red moral:  The NKVD was well aware who were the enemies of the state and who had fought against them in the past.  It was okay to arrest traitors such as Stepan Karagodin, even if a few corners had to be cut along the way, in such a time of dire national emergency, what with the Japanese and Germans sharpening their knives and getting ready to invade.
  • Conciliator moral:  Let’s just put all this past behind us.  Can’t we all just get along? Let us stop digging up the bones of our dead ancestors, dressing them up in wartime costumes, and forcing them to re-enact their past battles, for our amusement and our polemics.

And for those who like their fables in animal form, here is the Fable of the Farmer and the Snake:

A Farmer walked through his field one cold winter morning. On the ground lay a Snake, stiff and frozen with the cold. The Farmer knew how deadly the Snake could be, and yet he picked it up and put it in his bosom to warm it back to life.

The Snake soon revived, and when it had enough strength, bit the man who had been so kind to it. The bite was deadly and the Farmer felt that he must die. As he drew his last breath, he said to those standing around:

Learn from my fate not to take pity on a scoundrel.

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6 Responses to Do Not Awaken The Ghosts Of The Past! – Part IV

  1. Pavlo Svolochenko says:

    Has anybody ever asked this asshole whether his grandpappy would have been wrong to spy for Japan?


  2. Lyttenburgh says:

    ” If you believe Westie historians, or Westie media, then anybody who uttered a single word against the Communists was immediately shot, tortured, and sent to the Gulag”

    Not necessary in this exact order!

    “Why, ’cause Putin, the democratically eleced President of Russia, is the new Stalin!”

    Sadly – no.


  3. Lyttenburgh says:

    Maybe they went too far in shooting Stepan, despite his history as a serial mutineer and recidivist White-Guardist.

    Okay. Historical human stories/anecdotes time.

    As you all probably know, I’m a historian. I have lots and lots of friends who are not. Still, they are always good for such things as my trademark enLYTTENment in spheres cliographical and academic and also as sources of our country’s past via the history of their own families.

    Sadly, not everyone really cares about their family’s past, genealogy (or even knows what’s the word means). Even when I *do* found someone among my friends who have preserved some familial history to, say, time before the War – even here their accounts are sketchy and far from perfect. I have several such friends and acquaintances whose ancestors were dekulakaized – in one case they got their property confiscated and… let to live their lives in the same village (which puts them in the 3rd Category). In other case the family not only lost their land property but were exiled to Kazakhstan, where their descendants remained till 1992. But when I try to press for details, the dirty truth, of the reasons why they were dekulakized, how the process had been carried on – or how their ancestors became kulaks in the first place – they became cages and offer no details. They might honestly not know anything beyond the “family legend” about.

    ^ Targaryens. Innocent victims of Westerosian de-dragonization, exiled and full of plans to enact the restitution program in 7 Kingdoms.

    But if the Law of Big Numbers ever teaches us anything is – the bigger the target “pool” of something, the bigger the probability to find whatever you were searching for. Like – the personal story of a family with enough details to satisfy my curiosity for human past. Or something like that.

    Wife of my former school- and classmate Lyudmila claimed to be a descendant from the illustrious noble family of Dorokhovs. Not being an expert in Russian aristocratic genealogy (a discipline thanks to the upheavals of both 1917 and 1991 more akin to quantum physics by now), I can’t verify her claim, but neither can I disprove it. We know for sure that, no, Bloody Bolsheviks didn’t “murder”110% of the nobles, who remained in Russia. No, we are more interested in the history of one particular member of that family.

    During the tumultuous years of the Great War and 2 Revolutions he was still a cadet in one of military colleges. By 1918 he, apparently, graduated, and found himself in Russian South, which felled to they Whites. Lyudmila emphasizes several times that he was “practically still a boy”, so he, possibly, didn’t even graduate yet and the Civil War made it hardly possible for him to formally finish his education. Still, he found himself in the Army of Russian South lead by general Denikin. She didn’t say my what her ancestor was doing while officially part of the White Host, but given his tender age and lack of experience we can assume (not claim – only assume) that he didn’t command any army unit and was employed as, say, aide-de-camp to this or that White commander. Lyuda fast forwarded her story to 1919 when her ancestor fell ill with typhoid. He was abandoned, like many other unfortunate ones in that particular city where this woe befall him, while the rest of the army either pressed forward or was engaged in standard Whitey stuff. Young former cadet caught an eye of one of Sisters of Mercy, a widow of Russian Army’s officer, who fell fighting in the World War. She took the pity of the boy and, basically, all by herself, nursed him back from the edge of the untimely grave back to health.

    And then the Reds took the city.

    Unsurprisingly, they (and the ChK) were very interested in finding out the answer to one pressing question: “Do you got any Whites in here?!”. Young boy’s life was again in danger. So, the woman who saved him once offered to save his life again – by marrying her (and continuing to pretend gravely ill for some more time)! Lyudmila told me that the feeling was mutual, I… didn’t feel cynical enough to suggest that this “typhoid/VCHK wedding” (twice as fun as any “shotgun” one!) possibly lack any amorous element. Still – their scheme worked! The boy got absolutely new identity as a husband of this widowed sister of mercy. And, after the danger subsided somehow, and to be on a sage side, the couple decided to travel from the South of Russian to somewhere more safe for them – where there were no chance of the Civil War to embroil them again, but where they also can live in relative obscurity unrecognized by others. And so they chose my neck of the woods (at that time – literally) – Ural.

    Their life at new place was comfortable all thing considered. Because the young man and freshly minted husband was a noble, with higher education, he easily found himself a job in specialists starved post-Civil War Soviet Union. He began as an accountant (not a dream job for a military cadet!), but rather quickly rose within the “ranks”. Soon, he was a chief accountant in one of the so-called “food trust” (rus. “Пищевой трест”) in 1920s. Their level of income was enough not only to have 2 kids (all girls), but also to get in contact with his wife’s female relatives, left destitute after the War, and invite them to live in their own (yes – their own!) flat, while not demanding for them to provide for the family.

    Lyudmila didn’t say that in her story, so the following is my speculation. I think, that while kind hearted sister of mercy did save young, poor, innocent and barely alive Whitey cadet-boy (twice), she was also the reason of his death. Think about it for a moment. In 1920s it was really hard to have a flat all for your own – the housing crisis in the Soviet Union was absolutely appalling (re: “The Hear of the Dog” by Bulgakov and the situation here). Yet, somehow it was in this time when a relative newcomer to both the region and the profession (very… “bready” profession, as we say in Russia) gets an apartment for himself and his big family. He also, somehow, earns enough money to provide for said family. Indeed – the time of the NEP was a time of opportunity… for some!

    As you probably guessed by know, our no longer a boy, but an adult man more handy with abacus, pen and ledgers than with a saber and gun, had been embezzling funds from his own trust (which was, I remind you, a socialistic property) and abused his higher status to get perks, bonuses and stuff either for free or without obligatory waiting period (aka “блат”). Absolutely not unique story – in fact, such behaviour had been lambasted and satirized left and right by satirist writers and officials for a long time in the USSR. But he was arrested during the Bad Period – in 1937. By now, well established bureaucratic machine of the USSR had managed to whip into some semblance of shape enough of itself, and also to restore a huge amount of archival data. Due to that, the investigators who originally were dealing with this case found out, to their enormous surprise, that shy and conscientious embezzler is not who he claims to be – he’s a fugitive White officer!

    Moral of the post-Revolutionary USSR was rather simple one – it was class based. It was unthinkable for a normal, conscientious proletarian or peasant to harm the Country of Workers and Peasants. The members of other classes, OTOH… I can practically imagine right now how a fire lit up in the eyes of the investigators. This piece of data was a godsend for them – from an ordinary case of your typical white-collar crime they had a chance to blow it into a “Case of Century”! Surely, it was all part of a conspiracy to harm young and besieged on all sides Soviet State – so the agent of the international imperialism crawled his way within the system, where he deliberately harmed the Soviet people by stealing funds and abusing the system – all in the name to subvert the Power of the Soviets.

    And that’s what they did. They also added the fact that he, as the member of the “former” class (rus. “класс лишенцев”) failed to register as such, i.e. lied and abused the Soviet System even in this way. Instead of a prison term he was shot. His wife – as conspirator and also guilty of failing to register as “lishenets” got 10 years in prison camps. They daughters were left in care of the female relatives, who kept them safe throughout the War and till mother’s return from the prison (i.e. – they were not persecuted for their apparent failure to register as “lishentsi”). After the War girls married into intelligentsia (taking the last names of their husbands – of course) and didn’t suffer for their parents past.

    As you can see –even the “fullest” story that I managed to acquire from among my friends and acquaintances is full of lacunas and unanswered questions. I didn’t get the “complete story” myself, so I can’t really present it here. But, what is real and relevant to our case is established and important. The “founder” of the family of my classmate-s wife was indeed repressed in 1937 along with his wife. Was he innocent? No – he was a crook. No corruptioner and embezzler is innocent. Was his wife innocent? No – neither was really anyone who benefited from his corruption, i.e. the entire family. They knew and they kept silent. And so he was shot. For some people this is “overkill” and “not humane”. These same people, while always eager to defend Russian corruptioners (especially pf handshakable variety) are nonplused when they hear about yet another corrupt official executed in China. What – do we have “universal values” ™ or for some (not White enough) countries it’s okay or just a shrugging, but when Russia does it – inexcusable offense?

    They might also argue – as is the case with Karagodin – that he was officially shot “for the wrong reason”. I’ll remind such people the fate of one certain Alfonso Capone. He was never convicted for being a bloodthirsty criminal and a gangster with blood on his hands. He was convicted because of tax evasion.

    Here we have to answer ourselves – what do we want? The Justice (rus. Законности) or the Justness (rus. Справедливости)? Its good when the two coincide, but, sadly, very often it’s not the case. And Russian people throughout our history always craved Justness and took a low view on petty casuistic and fine points of the law. Karagodin the Eldest got what he deserved for his role in aiding the enemies of both his own people and country. Descendants of such people are living at sufferance of those people, who really won the Civil War. And it would be in their best interests to look in the present and future, because their past was not victorious.


    • yalensis says:

      Wow! That is quite a story, Lyttenburgh!
      By any chance, was this White cadet’s name Koreiko?


      • yalensis says:

        P.S. – my own family has checkered history, apparently. I grew up thinking all my ancestors Russian Eliot Ness types, all straight-arrow NKVD. Just solving crimes Ma’am and keeping greedy kulaks in check.
        My father passed away before I could ever get a straight answer from him.
        He was a Commie, of course.
        But on his deathbed he claimed that HIS ancestors, on his Mom’s side, were Whites, even claimed that they were fucking Romanovs! Which would make ME the heir to the throne, I reckon.

        Also, one ancestor supposedly even executed by the Bolsheviks, back in 1918.
        Not even for being a White officer, just for being a pain in the ass.

        The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree!


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