Who's Who - Nikolai Dukhonin

No photograph available Nikolai Nikolaevich Dukhonin (1876-1917) was, for a brief period in 1917, the Russian Army's Commander-in-Chief.

Dukhonin's war in 1914 began modestly enough with command of a Russian regiment.  He progressed to Chief of Staff and was given responsibility for the army in the wake of Lavr Kornilov's abrupt dismissal in the autumn of 1917.

Dukhonin's position of power was short, under a week, and began on 16 November 1917.  During the early stages of the Bolshevik Revolution the Council of People's Commissars instructed Dukhonin to cease wartime hostilities and open negotiations for a peace with the German government.  Among those visiting Dukhonin in Petrograd to arrange an armistice was Lenin and Krylenko, the latter his replacement as Commander-in-Chief.

Dukhonin's response was robust: he categorically declined on 22 November to obey the directive of the Council of People's Commissars - much to the relief of the Allied governments in Europe who had warned Dukhonin against such a move.  Dukhonin stated that such an order could only be issued by "a government sustained by the army and the country".

Lenin, unabashed, proceeded to a wireless station and wired 'news' of Dukhonin's dismissal as Commander-in-Chief and Krylenko's replacement in his stead.

Dukhonin consequently surrendered himself to Krylenko in Moghilev but was murdered there on 3 December, lynched by a mob of soldiers in full view of Krylenko whose impassioned pleas that Dukhonin be tried by a Revolutionary Tribunal in Petrograd went unheeded.

"Coffin Nails" was a term used by British soldiers to describe cigarettes.

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