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Vasily Chapayev
Birth: Feb. 9, 1887
Death: Sep. 5, 1919

Soviet Commander. A hero of the Russian Civil War, he was elevated to almost mythic status by government propaganda. Vasily Ivanovich Chapayev was born in the village of Budayki (now part of Cheboksary), Russia. During World War I he fought with the Imperial Army in the Western Ukraine and in Romania, was awarded three St. George Crosses for personal bravery, and rose to the rank of sergeant-major. At war's end he was elected commander of the 138th Regiment, which he brought into the Red Army after joining the Bolsheviks in 1917. In the early days of the Civil War Chapayev distinguished himself in action against the Czech Legion and was groomed for the general staff by Red Army leader Mikhail Frunze. As commander of the 25th Infantry Division from January 1919, he defeated five White divisions under Alexander Kolchak and captured the cities of Ufa and Uralsk. On September 5, White Cossacks led a successful night raid on the 25th's headquarters near Lbishchensk (now called Chapayev); Chapayev was wounded in the attack and disappeared while trying to swim to safety across the Ural River. His body was never recovered. He may well have been forgotten had not Dmitri Furmanov, the former political commissar of the 25th, published his best-selling book "Chapayev" in 1923. Drawing from firsthand observation, Furmanov depicted the commander as a swaggering loose cannon with hazy political notions but an unshakeable faith in himself, his men, and the cause. A "non-fiction novel" decades before the genre became popular in the west, it was immediately hailed as a classic of Soviet Literature. The 1934 screen adaptation (reputedly Stalin's favorite movie) was Russia's biggest box office hit of the decade and fixed Chapayev as an official legend in the Soviet consciousness. Cities, towns, a Red Army division, collective farms, a board game and a popular snack food were all named for him. As an irreverent antidote to this deification process the Russian people made Chapayev the butt of countless jokes, and with the Soviet Union now part of Russia's past he is still a reliable stock character in comic anecdotes. (bio by: Bobb Edwards) 
Family links: 
  Pelageya Vasilievna Chapayeva*
*Calculated relationship
Body lost or destroyed
Specifically: Lost in the Ural River near what is now Chapayev, Kazakhstan
Maintained by: Find A Grave
Originally Created by: Bobb Edwards
Record added: Jan 03, 2008
Find A Grave Memorial# 23733245
Vasily Chapayev
Added by: Bobb Edwards
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