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A prophet in his own country. The experience of geopolitical essays by E. A. Vandamme
Material posted: Publication date: 14-11-2014

Thanks to the efforts of local researchers in recent years, one after another began to open undeservedly forgotten names and fate of the first Russian geopolitics. At the turn of XIX - XX centuries they focused their efforts on research of strategic importance for Russian foreign policy directions, its development prospects and the main geopolitical rivals of Russia.

It was not just sprouts, but the real rise of Russian geopolitical thought, which became an important Foundation for further research. Among the founders stands the name of a contemporary father snesareva major-General Alexei E. Vandamme (Edrikhin). In the early twentieth century, he foresaw the next big protracted European war and predicted that followed the confrontation between Russia and the Western powers, the two world centers of power, and that was it.

It would seem that the prediction of a major war in the early twentieth century does not look particularly original. You can remember the words of L. N. Tolstoy in his philosophical digressions in "War and peace": "About the outcome of each event taking place there are always so many assumptions that whatever is over, there will always be people who will say: "I even said that is so", quite forgetting that among the numberless suppositions were doing and quite the opposite" [Tolstoy, 2009. P. 562]. But the prognosis Alexey Efimovich was multi-stage and related to several events in a row. Not less important is the fact that these words stood a serious political, historical and geographical forces analysis and the strategic objectives of major world powers.

The biography of this unique man attracts attention in several aspects: officer, intelligence officer, geopolitical researcher, writer, publicist, translator of foreign works in the field of philosophy, geopolitics and as an example of the desire to be useful to his country. All of these crowned by a deep and objective look at the political reality of contemporary Russia. This effect on the special sound of his research and the fate of the military leader – as major-General, Aleksei Efimovich was invited to the position of one of the leaders of the North-West of the white movement. Apparently realizing the futility and senselessness of the struggle into a fratricidal war against the backdrop of an overarching severe crisis of the country, General Vandam, a very well-educated officer, hero of the First world war, up to this point, extremely active and always seeking success in their endeavors, refused active participation in the civil war. Wish he left the post of first commander of Pskov volunteer corps, and a year later also left for a business trip (and in fact resigned) obtained in the summer of 1919 the chief of staff of the North-Western white army.

From his vision of the situation taking place right before the events took place in the most natural way, and the inevitability of future clashes with Western powers seemed obvious as in a harmonious communication with the first statement, and regardless of him. Description of the depth of the centuries of movements of peoples, which influenced the formation of modern States, Nations, empires and their interests like same enthralling story about him, which we later read the ln. Gumilev in his works ("From Rus to Russia. Essays on ethnic history", "Ethnogenesis and the biosphere", etc.). Both authors one of the main sources of migration is the "Great steppe". Thus, actualized an important ethno-historical factor of the geopolitics of world powers. The conquest of Siberia and the Russian pioneers to the Pacific ocean and the Amur river basin is a chain of fascinating stories with their heroes and anti-heroes. A red thread passes thought the desire and the need (highlighted by the author – A. M.) our civilization to escape to the warm seas and fertile territories, as "Despite the large size of its territory, the Russian people, in comparison with other peoples of the white race, is the least liveable conditions. <...> its geographical position the Russian people is doomed to a closed, poor, and consequently an unsatisfied existence," [Vandam, 1912. P. 4-5]. The preservation of such situation, according to Vandamme, contributed and continue to contribute to the "Anglo-Saxons" – Britain and America as the leading Western Maritime powers. It is in their interest to push us out of the European States, draining our strength in wars. It happened in the era of the French revolution and the Napoleonic wars. This, according to him, leads England and now, causing a new big war (this was written two years before the First world war). Vandam takes into account both internal factors – the support of the Western States of the revolutionary movement in Russia.

Scientific-creative heritage of Alexey Efimovich at its relatively small total volume can be the source for much research. Special attention deserves the journalism Vandamme. It seems serendipitous experience what life has awarded him with a talent to Express your thoughts in an easy, exciting and accessible to a wide circle of readers form. Major geopolitical works are read in one breath, and "Letters about the Transvaal" (Boer war, 1899-1902) and all such interest notes. But from the ordinary exciting narration "Letters" is different in that they had concluded, in essence, a scouting report about the region. In the fighting Alexey Efimovich participated on the side of the Boers against the British. In his papers he consistently developed the idea that England is the main enemy of Russia in the foreign policy, moreover, its activity against the Russian civilization is a threat to its existence.

Thoughts Vandamme-the geopolitics of today, finally have "the second confession" by restoring the tattered thread of continuity of the Russian geopolitical school. It is the re-release of his book (even in audio format) and with new studies of his biography and works. The first recognition they received right after publication in 1912 and 13 years his books "Our situation" and "the Greatest of the arts. Review of current international situation in the light of higher strategy." These were the responses in the periodical press and the attention of a narrow circle of military specialists: the book of Vandamme "Our position" "Circular of the Committee of Maritime training No. 112 dated April 20, 1913, was "recommended for purchase in the officers 'library" [Samples, 2002. P. 19], and the book "the Greatest of the arts" was partially republished in 1916 in Germany in German, which indicates a high interest in his writings abroad.

The fact that in our days the name Vandamme has suddenly emerged from obscurity, it is symbolic. As quickly he appeared and the peaks in military circles, and in the constellation of Russian thinkers of the beginning of the century. Truly amazing seems to be his fate. Alexey Efimovich was born in 1867 in Minsk province in the family of a soldier. Originally bore the name of Adrain. At 17 he entered as a volunteer in the 120th Serpukhov infantry regiment [1]. From this moment begins its unique for that era's military career. Many of her strokes demonstrate extraordinary character, dedication and high moral and personal qualities Alexey Efimovich.

The origin and low education (less than four classrooms), at first glance, gave him an extremely small opportunity to obtain an officer rank, especially in peacetime. After two years of service he entered the Vilna cadet school, which brings him to the rank of officer because of low academic performance (and probably for other unknown reasons), and as an ensign (equivalent to a non-commissioned officer ranks) Alexey Efimovich entered the service in the 117th Yaroslavl infantry regiment. Two years later, he still receives the rank of second Lieutenant. Subsequent seven-year period of his service stands out for two reasons: in 1892 Adrain awarded the medal "For rescue perishing" (presumably in case of fire or for the rescue of drowning), in 1897 he successfully entered the Nicholas Academy of the General staff, which was difficult even for highly educated officers from the guard (needed 12 to pass entrance exams, including two foreign languages), but for ordinary army officers feasible. The second remarkable circumstance is that the Uchitel, apparently, was able to do this in his position none other than the self-education of exceptional hard [2]. Today it is impossible to figure out whether it was a seven-year period of hard work, beginning with his army service after Junker school or a thought to enter such a prestigious school came the young second Lieutenant later on, and this incredibly difficult goal he could achieve in a shorter period of time.

The Academy of Adrain studied successfully, however, is available to him last year (the right to study on it also had to be earned in school) he asks to have him in his regiment, and there submits a new report about the shipment to South Africa to monitor the progress of the Anglo-Boer war. This petition of Agrichina promptly met, and his absence is included in the period of service with salary. Researchers of his biography it is noted that these privileges indicate that the voluntary resignation of Alexey Efimovich in the regiment was not a surprise to the high command and planned a mission that he may on his own initiative volunteered to implement.

In the Republic of Transvaal and the Orange Republic of Adrien stayed from December 1899 to March 1900. During this time he explored the region and took part in the fighting. From that moment began a collaboration of Alexey Efimovich from a major publisher Aleksei Sergeevich Suvorin, who published his notes from South Africa on the pages of the popular daily (which already twice daily) newspaper "New time". Where, by the way, were published and other war correspondents, for instance, Yevgeny Yakovlevich Maximov, Lieutenant Colonel of the Russian army. Interestingly, he drills for the military services he received the title of fentynal and commanded a Legion of volunteers. It is an outstanding fact in the light of memoirs of Agrichina: " take in the army of the Boers prominence is not easy. The officer positions are replaced by choice, and for a foreigner, especially not knowing the Dutch language, have to do very much to earn trust and to gain power over selfish and not particularly prone to subordinate the Boers, of which each considers himself the perfect warrior" [Vandam, 1899]. In addition, in the illustrated application of "New time" were regularly published caricatures of the English generals and politicians.

About Vandamme-the publicist we can judge by published in the "New times" "the Letters of the Transvaal" – a series of essays. Their analysis reveals the full force of his journalistic and literary abilities. First, it's an easy narrative and descriptive style. The action he organically intertwines with the description, in his own colorful and thorough, but not tiring the reader with its slowness, for example: "You are coming by rail, miles follow miles, but nature does not change. Huge, just fallen from the sky, the rocks, lonely, stones hills with flat tops, called "tables", the countless heaps of black earth, with a height of about a foot, components of the home ants, then rock, again the tables, the anthills again... No memory, no legend enlivens the monotony of the desert".

Joint "Letter" have a story that meets a clear logic of the presentation. It deserves some attention.

First, followed by the notes "On his way to the Transvaal". Their important aim is to show a slice of the attitudes of the societies depending on the distance to the theater of war and other factors [3] and the situation in our neighbors to the war of the colonies. Then go:

  • geographical description of the Transvaal;
  • the story of its indigenous inhabitants – the Boers and their complex relationship with Uitlanders (foreigners that make up the business layer). Characterized the leaders of the parties; in the middle of this semantic part provides a description of the rich resources of the Transvaal, attracted to the Republic of enemies;
  • background to the conflict and the preparations for it;
  • the beginning of the campaign, its prospects, including, loss of opportunity;
  • the further course of the campaign, the actions of the parties;
  • guerrilla war. Tactics of the Boers and the British.

Looking at the schematic built "table of contents", it becomes noticeable that this kind of detailed analytical note, as if anticipating the well-known publication V. Platt "Information work of strategic intelligence". It was sharp ideas, many of which were embodied in the notes of Agrichina.

Along with a strong and clear description of characteristics in the "Letters" are similes: "dengue fever is not very common, much more dangerous than rampant in Johannesburg "gold rush", quickly killing the man in those good qualities that people in General are different from the English" [Vandam, 1899]. Such offers are filled with explicit and hidden meanings that link the events and actors among themselves in the whole picture and the common semantic structure describing communication levels: "action – events – participants – text". Schematically it looks as follows:

Black arrows indicate direct dependence and influence, gray – to avenge the influence of the media text, which not only description but also analysis of events.

A series of essays, thus becoming "mobile" genre, able to transform in a whole or in separate parts. It has plot potential, and if necessary brief – each individual essay can be an independent unit. In the geopolitical sphere, the highest potential of the topic will have exactly a coherent cycle.

Proposal essays are a kind of internal "hypertext" that is visible to the observant reader. A network of interconnected meanings and noticeable on the background of the General discourse works Vandamme. "Letters" is a comprehensive text that gives the information that this or that is interesting to its reader, whether it is a military specialist, volunteer, traveler, or simple man in the street. For each one it has its value.

Materials Adraina were signed by the pseudonym A. Vandam. The exact cause of choice is not installed. It is known that one of the prominent heroes of the Anglo-Boer war this war was the commander of the Johannesburg mounted police van Damme [Anglo-Boer war..., 2012. P. 159]. Probably respect for him prompted Agrichina to use this name as an alias, and after seven years, he will officially change his name.

In cooperation with Suvorin Aleksey Yefimovich will also publish my books and will prove to be a translator of foreign works. It is noteworthy that participation in the Anglo-Boer war a young Lieutenant won his first fame and the attention of wide circles of society as well as in "the other camp", after escaping from captivity, became famous for the first publication and the performances of the young Lieutenant Winston Churchill [4]. It is journalism was a catalyst of thought, instigated the attention paid to this distant and to this day little-known war in public opinion. For domestic it specialists should become an important source of information that provided one of pytlivyy minds in the military.

These circumstances of the life and work of Lieutenant Edrikhin illustrate the special importance and high effect of cooperation of the military specialist and publisher. The connection of strategic thought and force of expression. It is due to this fusion of ideas Alexey Efimovich survived and destroy the myths that the Russian geopolitical school is much younger and weaker West. This is in harmony with other words from the Letters on the Russian people: "If, God willing, come back, I after watching it for the overseas weekdays, with God's help will try to deliver the clear message that we do not worse than others that our morality and all moral power is so high that we are physically heroes, our glorified drinking less terrible than in other Nations, our laziness is not so great, as we say, our ignorance is fixable thing in our right mind. Our confusopoly and camomalone before the aliens have no grounds". In this one sentence is enclosed and extremely concentrated, "Packed" in the words, comparative social analysis of the observed facts.

In addition to events concerning the Transvaal, here touched upon topics as containers of meanings over a long period of interim arrangements, rooted in established stereotypes, to change which would require a much more colossal and systematic work than that which is able to perform journalism, but without which it would not have been possible.

And of course the real tragedy was the fact that the works of Vandamme at their popularity in military circles [Rotich, 2002. P. 150] have not been adequately heard by the country's leadership, given that they always preceded the events from the appearance which they strongly warned. This occurred despite the fact that these same works have an impact on the in vivo recognition of Alexey Efimovich. So, to return to Russia after a week of Agrichina invited to his Minister of War A. N. Kuropatkin. And the day before, he receives the rank of captain.

Further military career Adraina also evolved rapidly as its beginning. Again having gone to the store in 1901, he in 1903 sent the assistant military agent in China, where, presumably, several years. Big difference in dates is due to another gap in his biography. During these years, Adrain probably engaged in self-education and preparation for new tasks. In 1906 he was finally attached to the General staff. The rank of Lieutenant Colonel in 1910 Alexey Efimovich, now "the most graciously called" Vandamme, again left in stock. This time it prompted to this, probably, literary activity, as in 1912 and 1913, he published two of his books "Our situation" and "the Greatest of the arts". It is possible that the retirement was again linked with the intelligence service, as Vandam had previously engaged in literature – translated books from their sphere of interests for the publisher Suvorin, in particular E. Demolina "Aristocratic race" (1906), E. Raich "Modern Germany" (1908) [5], while remaining on active duty.

Before the First world war Vandam again entered the service at the headquarters of the army corps. In 1914 he received the rank of Colonel. Since the end of 1915, in command of the regiment. And in that and in other positions involved in combat and won several awards for special merits, reveals itself as a strong and skillful military commander, including in clashes with the elite German units. In 1917, after the February revolution received the rank of major General and is the chief of the General staff, but followed the collapse of the army and Vandam went to Reval (modern Tallinn).

Participation in the white movement was natural for Vandamme hostile to the revolutionaries. He believed their "political reserve", which is systematically prepared the Western powers for influence on Russia from the inside, at the right time, together with kicks from the outside will help to destroy it (which again was the sad truth). This opinion along with his geopolitical studies was the result of a historical and event analysis, in fact, the type of event analysis. In particular, Vandam maps the time and place of occurrence of the revolutionary uprisings of 1905 with the events of the Russo-Japanese war of 1904-1905, together with the subjective analysis, making conclusions about the purpose and initiators of the movement.

Service Alexey Efimovich in senior positions in the white army made it impossible for him to stay in Russia after its defeat. It is symbolic that the end of life he remained to live in revel, as if striving to be closer to Home. And can not attract the attention that the wand is always active until his death in 1933 he left active business, although he was a member of beloemigrantskimi organizations.

True the question may arise: where is the useful lesson of history in this happy and yet the dramatic fate of this man, who can become a good addition to his scientific and creative heritage? As we would say, not to view today or in the future other Edrikhin-Vandamme among information ocean with its many "prophets" and "false prophets"? We mean, primarily, "free agents" because there is a belief that smart head, which is in the service of the state, are already under his care. This is a difficult question even for professionals, but there is at least one aspect that will help to answer it.

The main methodological sign of good prognosis, as a mandatory feature of "good tone", which we see in journalism and Vandamme, and which I would like to see in any such works is a comprehensive approach to the assessment of events, what would it be and in whatever case, neither was discussed. Mandatory connection of times in the description for the story, as they say, caught in a frozen form of "past present". Structuring events. Equal emphasis on leaders and historical events on the participating masses. The pursuit of objectivity. Healthy optimism. Search the roots of the General and private. The transition from root to current events. And evaluation of tactics, as a tribute to the present moment. Here's what can be learned from the publications of Alexey Efimovich. This seemingly trivial set of actual fact that it should be applied universally when it comes to media channels and appeal to the minds of the readers. This, in our opinion, one of the important components of patriotism and love of country.


Mironov A. A.



  1. Anglo-Boer war of 1899-1902 through the eyes of Russian citizens. In 13 volumes. Vol. 6. M.: Publisher J. B. White, 2012. 404 S.
  2. Vandam, A. E. the Greatest of the arts. Review of current international situation in the light of the higher strategy. SPb.: Printing house of A. S. Suvorin Association "New time", 1913. 53 C.
  3. Vandam, A. E. Our position. SPb.: Printing House Of A. S. Suvorin, 1912. 207.
  4. Vandam, A. E. letters of the Transvaal. The website "Center for strategic conjuncture" /
  5. Samples I. a Forgotten name // Vandam (Edrikhin) A. E. Geopolitics and geostrategy / Comp., Preface. article and comments. I. Obraztsova; the enclosed. V. I. Danilenko. Zhukovsky, M.: Kuchkovo field, 2002. 272.
  6. Rotic N. N. White front General Yudenich: the biography of the ranks of the northwestern army. Moscow: Russian way, 2002. 504 S.
  7. Tolstoy L. N. Complete collection of novels in two volumes. Volume 1. M.: "Publishing ALPHA BOOK", 2009. S. 1279

[1] Detailed information about his biography to date is not available, however, I. Obraztsov, A. Kavtaradze, N. Rutchenko, G. Shubina , etc. there is a fairly detailed biography of General Vandamme.

[2] In the story of Alexander Kuprin "Duel" one of the characters, probably with a "talking" name, Nikolaev several times unsuccessfully tried to enter the Nicholas Academy of the General staff, with the eyes of the protagonist (second Lieutenant Romashova) describes the atmosphere of intense training to Nikolaev next entry: "Nicholas was sitting with his back to them, at a table covered with books, atlases, and drawings. He this year should take the examination at the General staff Academy and throughout the year persistently, without rest we were preparing for it. It was really the third exam, because two years in a row he has failed".

[3] So that Holland, whose company is keenly sympathized with the Boers (they were descendants of Dutch immigrants), politically never interfered and did not show sympathy for the Boers, except for donations to the Red cross, because of the fear of England.

[4] This parallel is appropriate not only in the private value: the further growth of career and the popularity of Adriena prevented the revolution and the collapse of the Russian Empire. But even if you ignore the conventionalities, it is enough to note that General Vandam was one of the leaders of the white movement (which theoretically could lead it to political leadership), thus it, apparently, voluntarily wished to take this opportunity. To N. N. Yudenich Vandam actually headed the North-Western army of white. It is symbolic that after the Second world war (in fact, a great pan-European war that stretched and spread in two "the world", which he wrote Alexey Efimovich) that Churchill uttered the famous "it was Fulton speech" and began the era of the new confrontation between Russia (now the Soviet Union) with the West, as predicted by Vandamme.

[5] in addition, under the transfer Vandamme appear books I. Eberhardt "the Shadow of Islam" (the modern name "In the hot shade of Islam") and H. Remington, "the Future war on the sea and on land PA" (both in 1913). The second sounds intriguing subtitle: "From "Essays and Criticism" (essays and criticism) of military officers,"TheTimes". Drew A. Vandam".

 First, pereodevatsya with French approval I. Obraztsov [the Decree. CIT. P. 201] was not issued because it could not be found in Russian libraries. The author of the article States that it is announced in the advertisement of books of publishing house "New time" on the back flyleaf of "the Greatest of the arts" with the index and assigned a price, although this announcement could be made before the anticipated publication of the book. Another Russian translation of it, apparently, has not. Perhaps the reason of absence of the publication was ambiguous to the identity I. Eberhardt – girls from family of the Russian citizen who converted to Islam and traveled to Africa, in the Sahara (mostly in men's clothing) and the leading free lifestyle. In 1904, she died at the age of 27. However, in her little-known Russian reader publications was probably something that attracted the attention of Vandamme and had prompted him to translate them. I must say, Vandamme and Eberhard from the position of the researcher (or rather, the data he has) brings rich, full of adventurous life and mysterious biography, although there is no reason to assume that they were personally acquainted.

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