Who's Who - Nikolai Ruzsky

Nikolai Ruzsky Nikolai Ruzsky (1854-1918) played a pivotal role in persuading Tsar Nicholas II to abdicate in March 1917.

A Russian General, Ruzsky's military career prior to the outbreak of war in August 1914 took him to both the Russo-Turkish War of 1877-78 and the Russo-Japanese War of 1904-05, where he was Chief of Staff to the Second Manchurian Army.  In between he served as Deputy Chief of Staff of the Kiel Military District (1896-1902).

Despite his reputation for caution and indecision Ruzsky was handed command of the Northwest Front in September 1914; less surprising perhaps given his firm support for War Minister Vladimir Sukhomlinov.  His key achievement of the war was his part in the defence of Lodz in November 1914.

Subsequently given command of Sixth Army in March 1915 and of the Northern Front in the winter of 1916 he once again demonstrated excessive caution and indecision, leading to his replacement by Alexei Kuropatkin in February 1916, although he was reinstated by the Tsar in July.

His indecision was only taken so far however: Ruzsky did play a key role in persuading the Tsar of the need to abdicate when the latter was stranded at Ruzsky's headquarters in March 1917.  It was a decision that Ruzsky (true to form) came to regret later.

Following the February Revolution of 1917 he was dismissed from command and went south to the Caucasus where he joined other Tsarist generals.  Subsequently captured following the October Revolution he was duly executed.

A 'Tracer' was a phosphorescent machine-gun bullet which glowed in flight, indicating course as an aid to artillery.

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