The Bloody White Baron

The Bloody White BaronThe Bloody White Baron Roman Ungern Von Sternberg Was A Baltic Aristocrat, A Violent, Headstrong Youth Posted To The Wilds Of Siberia And Mongolia Before The First World War After The Bolshevik Revolution, The Baron Conquered Mongolia, The Last Time In History A Country Was Seized By An Army Mounted On Horses Full Description My name is surrounded by such hate and fear that no one can judge what is the truth and what is false, what is history and what is myth. Baron Roman von Ungern SternbergThis is a rollicking history about a forgotten section of a war in a distant corner of the earth, with entertaining digressions into Mongolian society, Buddhist mythology Mongolian Buddhism is a far cry from Tibetan , and a biography of one of the strangest historical figures of the Russian Civil War Baron Roman von Ungern Sternberg was a Baltic German aristocrat who served in the Russian Army during the First World War He had little success in his earlier academic and military career, but felt admiration for the steppe peoples, especially the Cossacks He won awards for his almost suicidal bravery, although he had no tolerance for the discipline of army life.After the 1917 Revolution, he went with fellow officers to the far east supposedly to defend the Russian Monarchy and join the White armies which would fight the Red Communists However, the Baron had other plans He had long harbored dreams of reviving the Mongolian Empire, and took steps to entrench himself in that kingdom by reinstating the Khan and driving out the Chinese.What fol
It s OK, I guess Palmer s actually a pretty colorful writer, but the problem with his subject, Baron Ungern Sternberg, is that there s not a whole lot of reliable documentation on him as a person There s little doubt that the Baron was a psychopath, but the Devil is in the lack of concrete details The setting, post WW 1 Mongolia, is about as distant as it gets Add in to that the murky murderous stew of competing powers Red Russians, White Russians, Japanese, Chinese, Mongolians, soldiers of fortune , and it s pretty much impossible, other than the general outlines of what actually occurred, to figure out who was killing who at any given time Because there s so little on the Baron, the book feels very padded with information that is sometimes of interest and sometimes so far afield that you the sense the author trying to reach some sort of page count The Baron, in Palmer s hands, com
I have always been interested in Mongolia, because of its remoteness from Europe, its inaccessibility, and its obscurity Until recently, it was a country as impenetrable as, say, North Korea, but now that is no longer the case.I never dreamt that I would ever treat Mongolian patients or would work with Mongolian dental assistants many of them are dentists trained in Mongolia , but now I do So, when someone on Goodreads, having read my brief review of The Russian Fascists Tragedy and Farce in Exile, 1925 1945, recommended The Bloody White Baron, I ordered it immediately.The Baron, Ungern Sternberg, the villainous hero of the book was born in Graz Austria and brought up in the now popular Estonian tourist destination Tallinn formerly Reval His family were Baltic Germans with a heritage extending back to the German warlords who expanded the German lands eastwards in mediaeval times He is also supposed to have had some connection with the Imperial Russian royal family He regarded himself first and foremost as a Russian, and this accounts for his intense disappointment with the fall of the Tsar and the eventual rise of the Bolsheviks.The Baron became a fanatic member of the White Armies opposed to the Bolsheviks, and was active militarily in the Russian Far East.Imbued with a fascination with mysticism and also Buddhism, and also realising tha
The subject of this book is a vicious anti semitic Baltic aristocrat, Baron Ungern Sternberg, who briefly flared up as a murderous precursor of national socialist ethnic cleansing in Mongolia in the chaos of the post revolutionary struggle for control of the Russian Empire.As with the tale of Colonel Despard recently reviewed by us another marginal figure in another empire at another time , an individual outlier from the norm is an opportunity to weave a story about a particular time and place and permit us to make our own judgements about history.The comparison with Despard is instructive the tale of a fundamentally honourable and good man out manouevred by the special interests of a coalescing and rising empire is a fitting contrast to a fundamentally evil and cruel man trying to cope with the crumbling of a falling empire.Here, in two books, we have the best of humanity and the worst of it We see contrasted, in the Despard book, the worst aspects of society when it is in the hands of the calculating few but what happens when society has no rudder in this one.The often equally murderous but less gratuitously cruel Bolsheviks though that changes with time in a general deterioration of conduct at least occasionally appear disciplined and engaged in their struggle through something other than fear of the lash.In
You ve probably never heard of the Baron Ungern Sternberg I came across a passing reference of him while reading The World on Fire 1919 and the Battle with Bolshevism last year something about him claiming to be a reincarnation of Genghis Khan, declaring that he would kill every Jew in Russia, making human torches out of his victims and vowing to make an avenue of gallows from Siberia to Europe My interest thus piqued, I looked for a biography of this guy and came across this Palmer give us a good portrait of a delusional psychopath and aristocratic misfit that failed at everything he tried until he found his true calling warfare and genocide on the most colossal and bizarre scale possible Sternberg also kept wolves in his house Once, he paused in the middle of a hostile city during a reconnaissance mission to berate an enemy sentry for falling asleep on duty.Perhaps fittingly, many of Sternberg s ancestors had backgrounds as unsavory as him Otto von Ungern Sternberg 1744 1811 was a wrecker he used false
I first read about Ungern Sternberg in Peter Hopkirk s account of the Russian Civil War in Central Asia Setting the East Ablaze , and I couldn t imagine why the Baron s story hadn t been filmed It has everything armoured trains, ragtag armies moving across the steppe like something out of Road Warrior , Mongol horsemen, Japanese mercenaries, eerie shamanic rituals, and a central figure whose madness and cruelty arewell, breathtaking Ungern Sternberg s story is a kind of dark, dark comedy in the Grand Guignol mode, a surreal sideshow to the already brutal and horrific Russian Civil War in the East I ll fault James Palmer for a few things continually using Nikolas II for the last tsar instead of
I read this before, but its such a real life Heart of Darkness Apocaypse Now in the Russian Civil War that I had to read it again Still amazing A meditation on all that far right occultist merger stuff that today exists largely in center left homeopathic whole foods shopper form The Ba
The Bloody White Baron is one of those fascinating short books about a nasty little corner of the world during a nasty time The nasty little corner of the world is Mongolia the nasty time is the Russian Civil War The eponymous Baron is Roman Nikolai Maximilian von Ungern Sternberg, of Estonian German extraction, who was called the last khan of Mongolia and waged a brutal, doomed minor campaign against the Chinese and the Bolsheviks in the early 1920s Naturally, he came to a bad end.The backdrop to all this is the Russian Civil War in eastern Siberia Figures such as Alexander Kolchak and Grigory Semenov pop up as background players to Ungern s little campaign Interestingly, the tenuous relationships of such men with Ungern highlight one of the White Russians biggest failures the inability to unite among themselves Palmer is an excellent writer, and he makes all these characters come alive.The book covers mostly 1920 and 1921 Ungern wanted to put Michael, the brother of the last Tsar, Nicholas II, on the throne, whi
Not quite what I expected I thought this would be a biography of the Russian aristocrat Baron Ungern Sternberg who would be the savior of Mongolia, the spiritual and military reincarnation of Genghis Khan Maybe combined with a history of Mongolia in the post Russian revolution period It was a little of both of these, but much of a military history of the White anti communist Russians and Baron Ungern s various battles, which just isn t that interesting The Baron seems to have been quite disturbed delusions of becoming the next Khan, saving Mongolia and defeating the Communists He was also terrifically anti Semitic and a bloody sadist It seems there could be a great story here, but the writer isn t up to telling a coherent story The battles are confusingly told and the Baron doesn t really become a full blooded character for some reason Lots of editorializing on the author s part, which isn t bad in general, but in a history I expect objecti
A remarkable read about one of history s most bizarre characters a Russian nobleman from Estonia with a Jewish name who was apparently a Buddhist religious fanatic, seen as a reincarnation of Genghis Khan and, most startlingly, bulletproof The author, who apparently hangs out pretty close to where this story unfolded, pulls together a tremendous number of sources written in different languages and with different levels of attention to accuracy, and puts it all in one place for you Curiously, he didn t give that much attention to the main character s cruelties or the other odd features of his personality he focuses of the legends that spun off from the reality Written in a light, ironic tone that continues to the last page of endnotes, which