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Born in Ust-Kamenogorst, Russian Turkmenistan, to a family of Cossack Military men, Lavr Kornilov originally enlisted as a intelligence officer in the Imperial Russian Army. Between 1890 and 1904, he led a series of exploration missions to Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, and Persia, where he learned several Central Asian languages. In the Russo-Japanese War of 1904-1905, he was awarded the St. George Cross for bravery, and was promoted to the rank of Colonel.
Kornilov served as a military attache in China from 1907 to 1911. By the outbreak of the Great War, Kornilov had achieved the rank of Major General and was given command of an Infantry division. In 1915, he was captured by Austro-Hungarian forces. During his incarceration, the commander in chief of the Austrian army, Field Marshal Conrad, met the general. Although a priority prisoner, he escaped and returned to duty in 1916. After the overthrow of Tsar Nicholas II, who Kornilov had always been critical of, he was given command of the Petrograd Military District. After commanding the only successful section of the disastrous June 1917 Russian offensive, Alexander Kerensky, then leader of the Russian Provisional Government, promoted General Kornilov to Supreme Command of the Russian Army.
Coup against Kerensky
Although critical of the Tsar, Kornilov felt that Russia, as a member of the Triple Entente, was committed to fighting the war against the Central Powers. He also was of the belief, which was popular among some Russians, that after the February Revolution against Nicholas II the country was descending into anarchy and that military defeat would be disastrous for Russia. Vladimir Lenin and his "German spies" should be hanged, he announced, the Soviets stamped out, military discipline restored and the Provisional Government "restructured". On August 24th, an envoy arrived at Kornilov's headquarters claiming he had been sent by Kerensky to gauge Kornilov's reaction to Kerensky's three proposed strategies to strengthen Russia. Two of these involved instating Kerensky as dictator, and the third consisted of installing a Military Dictatorship under Kornilov. On his return to Petrograd, the envoy informed Kerensky that Kornilov was in favour of becoming the dictator. That evening Kerensky, alarmed by the thought of a coup, attempted to gain confirmation of Kornilov's intentions. In a rather confusing teleprinter conversation, in which Kerensky impersonated as the envoy as well as conversing as himself, Kerensky interpreted Kornilov's responses as confirmation that he intended to seize power. In response, he dismissed him from his position as Supreme Commander.
On August 27th, in open defiance of the Provisional Government, Kornilov ordered his men to advance on Petrograd. Realising that the prospect of a coup was fast becoming reality, Kerensky appealed to the Petrograd Soviet for aid, proposing to re-arm the Bolsheviks in exchange for their aid putting down this rebellion. The Bolsheviks agreed. The Soviet called upon the workers in the capital to fight against Kornilov, and they responded. The railroads where shut down before Kornilov's troops reached the city, while Soviet propagandists attempted to convince the advancing army that they where betraying the revolution. Believing that Kornilov was no longer a threat, and that the time was ripe to take power for themselves, the Soviet revolted in Petrograd. Kerensky's soldiers deserted, and he was captured. However, the soviets had badly misjudged. Kornilov arrived in the city on August 29th and proceeded to attack the soviet forces. His well trained, well disciplined, soldiers cut down the Soviet rebels. By the day's end, Kornilov had declared himself the Tsar-General of Russia, and quietly ordered Kerensky executed. As his troops began a bloody purge of Soviet and Loyalist forces, Kornilov began to consolidate his power.
Russian Civil War
Not all of Russia was glad of Kornilov's rise to power. Multiple Soviet, Loyalist and Monarchist forces, acting independently, attempted to remove Kornilov from power. However, Kornilov had the majority of the army on his side. After skillful use of propaganda, he managed to undercut the rebel's supply of troops. The rebels where then nearly massacred, with a small portion escaping into exile. Kornilov now controlled Russia undisputed. The economy was put back on war footing and troops where once again redirected to the German border. In secret, Kornilov had Nicholas II and as many of his family members as could be located executed. The official statement was that they had been put under house arrest.
March to Berlin
Kornilov launched a second offensive against Germany in 1918. The Germans, having believed that Kornilov would need more time to pacify Russia, had left the border somewhat undermanned, as they prepared for another offensive in France. Kornilov exploited this in full, driving his forces straight through the German lines. The Germans would offer any other serious resistance until the city of Graudenz. Kornilov ordered the city razed, willingly destroying the civilian population to lower German morale. His forces continued to advance, capturing the city of Thorn. Meanwhile, a second advance was initiated at Koslin. After the naval-launched assault on Koslin, this second contingent advanced on Stettin. Russian forces then laid siege to Posen, while two more groups split off to attack Landsberg and Frankfurt. Now, there was little between Russian forces and Berlin.
Revolution had been brewing in Germany for some time. The German Social Democrats where already revolting, disrupting troop movements from the Western Front and demanding that Kaiser Wilhelm II abdicate. Now that Berlin itself was threatened, this movement collapsed into chaos. Without clear leadership, the rebels split on whether to assault Berlin themselves and attempt to sue for peace with Russia or the dedicate themselves to defending the capital. Eventually, this infighting prevented them from impacting the outcome of the battle either way.
The attack on Berlin began on November 6th, 1918. Russian forces employed massive amounts of artillery, shelling the defenses before overwhelming them with superior numbers of conscripts. Meanwhile, well disciplined professional soldiers broke through the German lines and advanced towards the city. On November 11th, Berlin surrendered to the Russians. The Great War was officially over. Wilhelm II was executed by Kornilov's soldiers, along with most government officials that had not yet fled.
The remaining German soldiers where left leaderless and demoralized. Without leadership from Berlin, the defenses on the Western front Crumbled. France and Belgium where retaken, and the Germans where pushed back over the Rhine before the last troops gave up the fight. Austro-Hungary surrendered around this point, retreating out of Serbia and Greece and submitting to arms regulation. Kornilov wanted to continue the fight until every last Central Power had been eliminated, but was forced to back down by his allies. The Ottoman Empire collapsed outright.
The Great Depression
Kornilov had huge amounts of the German leaders purged. Virtually nothing was left of their military, as well as any important civic figures who refused to collaborate. Russia occupied Germany outright for four years, before creating the puppet state Germania. Severe international sanction where applied to Austria-Hungary; Russia went above and beyond their duty to make life miserable for them.
Kornilov's former allies, now fearful that he might take advantage of their state of near economic collapse, excluded Russia from the European Community. This prevented Kornilov from invading Turkey and the rest of the middle east, something he had planned to do. Russia was also denied its share of the German colonies. Feeling cheated out of their spoils, the Russians grew even more loyal to the Tsar-General.
Russia itself was not free of economic hardship. The Great Depression may not have struck Russia, or "Great Russia" as Kornilov had renamed it, as strongly as the rest of the world, the collapse of the war economy cause severe problems for the working class. The remainder of the Soviets again grew in popularity, and only extreme propaganda and careful use of Kornilov's secret police helped keep them down.
Eventually Russia would recover from the depression, roughly around 1938. Around this time, Kornilov's wish to invade Japan in response to their attack on his ally, China, in the Great East Asian War, was prevented again by his former allies, who threatened economic sanctions and even war if Russia where to intervene. However, Kornilov did authorize support of the Chinese Nationalist Army, providing them with arms, funds and other supplies.
On May 10th, 1945, Lavr Kornilov passed away from Brain Cancer. A national day of mourning was declared, and the country held its first democratic elections as to who would succeed him.
As Kornilov had established a one party system, his successor, Vladimir Stukov, became the President of Great Russia. It wouldn't be long before he to seized dictatorial powers...
Kornilov accomplished many things in his life.
He had several important figures executed:
- Alexander Kerensky, former leader of the Provisional Russian Government.
- Vladimir Lenin, leader of the Soviet.
- Nicholas II, former Tsar of Russia.
- Wilhelm II, Kaiser of Germany
He caused the end of the German and Ottoman Empires, while reducing the strength of Austria-Hungary. He created the state of Great Russia as a world superpower, with excellent relations with China.