Mikhail Dem’ianovich Getmanov was a Russian major general. A Kuban Cossack by birth (born November 20, 1891) he was educated at the Vladikavkaz Cadet Corps and the Nikolaevskoe Cavalry School (graduated in 1911). Most of his service prior to the First World War was spent in Central Asia, where he was stationed from 1911 to 1914 at Merv (in today’s Turkmenistan) with the 1st Caucasus Kuban Regiment. With the outbreak of the First World War, Getmanov was transferred to the 2nd Caucasus KubanRegiment and served with this unit until 1917.
As the country descended into civil war in 1918, Getmanov was one of the first to join the White Army, participating in its foundational campaign, the Ice March, early in 1918. He was appointed commander of the 2nd Combined Kuban Regiment and, from November 1918, the 1st Brigade of the 1st Kuban Cossack Division with the rank of colonel. He spent most of the civil war with this unit and was promoted to the rank of major general just before the evacuation of the White Army from Crimea in November 1920.
Getmanov’s life in emigration began at an internment camp for Kuban Cossacks on the Greek island of Lemnos, in the Mediterranean Sea between Greece and Turkey. Thereafter he was evacuated to Serbia along with the bulk of Kuban Cossacks, spending the years between the two world wars in the Balkans. During the Second World War, Getmanov served as chief of staff to Kuban Cossack ataman (leader) General V. G. Naumenko, acting as liaison with General A. A. Vlasov, commander of the Russian Liberation Army.
The collection acquired by Hoover consists solely of Getmanov’s typescript memoir, Za otchiznu, which describes his life and career, beginning with his childhood and covering his years in post–World War II displaced persons camps, his emigration to the United States, and his and life in New Kuban, an émigré Cossack community in New Jersey, where he died on January 26, 1978. Documentary appendices to the memoirs include a good deal of valuable correspondence that throws additional light on larger historical questions relating to the activities of Russian émigrés during the Second World War and to internal politics and conflicts among the Cossacks. The memoir is illustrated with numerous photographs of Getmanov and fellow officers, including the illustration here: a photograph depicting the 5th sotnia (squadron) of the 3rd Caucasus Kuban Cossack Regiment.
Anatol Shmelev PhD
Anatol Shmelev is a research fellow, Robert Conquest curator of the Russia and Eurasia Collection, and the project archivist for the Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty Collection, all at the Hoover Institution.