Saturday, January 23, 2010

Mongolia's Austrian White Russian Khan

J.K. Baltzersen reminds us that "[a] century and two dozen years ago today, Baron Roman Nickolai Maximilian von Ungern-Sternberg was born" — Roman Ungern von Sternberg.

Wikipedia calls Roman Ungern von Sternberg "[a]n independent and brutal warlord in pursuit of pan-monarchist goals in Mongolia and territories east of Lake Baikal during the Russian Civil War that followed the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917, [whose] goals included restoring the Russian monarchy under Michael Alexandrovich Romanov and the Mongolian Khanate under Bogd Khan, and [whose] opponents were mainly Communists." Of his brief rule in Mongolia, were are told the following:
    On March 13, 1921, Mongolia was proclaimed an independent monarchy, under Ungern von Sternberg as a dictator. A mystic who was fascinated by beliefs and religions of the Far East such as Buddhism and who believed himself to be a reincarnation of Genghis Khan, Ungern von Sternberg's philosophy was an exceptionally muddled mixture of Russian nationalism with Chinese and Mongol beliefs. His brief rule of Mongolia was characterised by looting and a reign of terror by his army.
"The rise and fall of Baron Ungern-Sternberg is one of the most demented, savage and grotesque stories of modern times," says Simon Sebag Montefiore, in the article whence comes the photo at the top of this post, in which the subject is called "a sadistic, mystical Russian warlord obsessed with Genghis Khan, Buddhism and anti-Semitism" — Baron Ungern-Sternberg, meteoric nutter.

Christopher Eger calls him the "psychopathic warlord of Mongolia and Military Buddhist," and a "poster child for the worst elements of the Imperial Russian Officer Corps" — 20th Century Genghis Khan. His reign is described as "a surreal existence [that] fell over Mongolia as the Baron and his army, now dubbed the Order of Military Buddhists, performed every type of atrocity imaginable including torture and cannibalism." Yet, we are reminded that "[t]oday in Mongolia he is seen as something of a liberator due to the fact that he ended hundreds of years of Chinese occupation, even if he traded it for hell on earth."

The Mad Monarchist offers a more favorable appraisal of the "Mad Baron" who "dreamed of building a monarchist bulwark in the Far East by restoring the Mongol Khanate as well as the Qing dynasty in China from which he could strike out and destroy the Communist regimes and restore traditional monarchies" — Monarchist Profile: Baron Ungern von Sternberg:
    In early 1921 the Baron invaded Mongolia and drove out the Chinese republican forces, liberating the Bogd Khan from captivity and restoring him to the throne. He then set his troops to work cleaning up Urga, installing modern lights, telephones, sanitation and so on. He sent letters to the exiled Emperor of China and to the Emperor of Japan asking for their support in his pan-monarchist coalition. He defeated several republican and communist incursions into Mongolia but was hampered by a lack of an industrial base and a steady reserve of manpower. By the summer he took his forces to attack Kiatkha which Soviet-backed Mongol communists had seized that spring. Unlike his earlier victory in Urga his forces were soundly defeated and barely managed to escape. His plan had been to rally traditionalists to his banner in Siberia, overthrow the Marxists and place the Grand Duke Michael on the throne as Tsar of Russia (he did not know the Grand Duke was already dead). That plan was dashed and while on his way to take refuge in Tibet a group of his soldiers mutinied but did not kill him. He was captured by the Soviets whose propaganda had portrayed him as the most vile criminal imaginable and after a show-trial he was executed on September 15, 1921.

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Blogger MadMonarchist said...

A more favorable view? Certainly true. However, I will also admit that my use of the 'Mad Baron' as a symbol stems largely from a desire to simply tweak, annoy and outrage republicans. With almost anything you read about the Baron you'r taking someone at their word and stories were often contradictory and told by those who had their own interest rather than the pristine truth in mind.

7:32 AM  
Blogger The Western Confucian said...

I enjoyed your "more favorable view" greatly. As we know, history is written by the victors, and we know that monarchism lost in the XXth Century. It goes withooy saying that had his fascinating "pan-monarchist coalition" succeeded, we'd be better off, especially those of us residing in Eastasia.

Also, I understand your "desire to simply tweak, annoy and outrage republicans." While I'd say republicanism is the lesser of the two acceptable forms of governance, I know how fun it is to "tweak, annoy and outrage" modernists of all stripes, in part because it is so easy!

3:06 PM  
Blogger MadMonarchist said...

That is certainly true, and it makes me laugh. Most people have never heard of Baron von Ungern, but those who have (sadly more anti-monarchists than monarchists) go into absolute *spasms* of shock and horror at the mere mention of him. Would East Asia be better off? I obviously think so. There is nothing I deplore more than the era of the most gruesome civil wars that came with the overthrow of traditional authority in Asia in favor of conflicting, foreign ideologies.

4:39 PM  
Blogger The Western Confucian said...

Yes, one of the great tragedies of human history was "the overthrow of traditional authority in Asia in favor of conflicting, foreign ideologies" that you describe.

5:19 PM  

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