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"Re-Fighting the Civil War"

Second Lieutenant Mikhail Aleksandrovich Gubanov

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This article sets out to present a biography of Second Lieutenant Mikhail Aleksandrovich Gubanov, a Russian White emigrant. After surviving the Civil War in Russia, Gubanov spent many years in exile in Czechoslovakia, where he played an active role in the Gallipoli Union in Prague. After completing higher military-technical courses, he served as one of the lecturers. Following the attack by Nazi Germany on the USSR, Gubanov enlisted in the Wehrmacht as a translator and set off for the German-Soviet front, where he took part in the Battle of Rzhev. After the war, he lived in Germany and published in military-historical journals of the Russian emigration.

The biography of this unremarkable "small man" brings together general tendencies that characterised a whole group of people in the White military emigration. Gubanov's life can serve as a collective example, a standard image of the fate of such White émigré "defeatists" – of people who considered that in the struggle against the USSR any means were justified, including collaboration. It has been possible to reconstruct his life using materials from various Russian and German archives: the bulk of the documents came from the State Archive of Russian Federation (GARF), with additional important pieces from Stadtarchiv Göttingen, as well as Bundesarchiv-Militärarchiv and others. Gubanov himself was a prolific author: various articles penned by him in Russian military émigré journals and bulletins were also used.

The present work also provides for the first time a historical account of the establishing, in Prague, of courses for foreign officers, as well as examining the use that was made of Russian émigrés by the German army. It is concluded that the émigrés, clinging to the concept of "irreconcilability" and living in an illusory world, in the end supported the German invasion of the USSR and took part in the genocidal campaign.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: April 1, 2018

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  • The Jahrbücher für Geschichte Osteuropas ("East European History") present the discipline in its entire breadth; for thematically focused articles the emphasis lies on the territory of the former Russian Empire and the former Soviet Union. A double-blind review process with international experts ensures adherence to the annals' recognized high quality standards. An extensive section devoted to reviews informs the reader about current trends in German and international research. In addition, the editorial board publishes an electronic review supplement under the title jgo.e-reviews at
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