Zinovi Petrovich Roschestvensky

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Admiral Zinovi Petrovich Roshestvensky

Zinovy rozhestvensky , Russian Зиновий Петрович Рожественский , scientific. Transliteration Zinovij Petrovič Rožestvenskij , (born October 30, jul. / 11. November  1848 greg. In St. Petersburg ; † 1. jul. / 14. January  1909 greg. ) Was a Russian admiral .

The name is also rendered as Roshestwenski, Roschestwenskij or Roshestwenskij due to different transcriptions in German.


Zinovi Petrovich Roschestvensky was born in St. Petersburg on 1848 as the son of a doctor. In his youth he was already interested in seafaring. At the age of 16, he was accepted into the Imperial Navy because of his skills and perseverance . He finished his training there in 1868 as the fifth best of his class and then served in the Russian Baltic Fleet . Roschestvensky decided on a career as an artillery officer and was then appointed to the Mikhailov Academy in Saint Petersburg . He finished this training in 1873 with the rank of lieutenant . Soon after, he was assigned to the Russian Naval Artillery Commission, where he remained active for the next 10 years.

In 1875 Roschestvensky married. His wife had a daughter shortly afterwards.

During the Russo-Ottoman War (1877-1878) he served on the cruiser Westa . After the ship had won a five-hour battle against the armored cruiser Fehti-Buhlend , Roschestvensky was awarded two high Russian medals for extraordinary bravery and was promoted to lieutenant captain. However, he later revealed in a newspaper article that the Westa did not actually win the battle, but could only escape the totally overloaded Fehti-Buhlend because of the higher speed. After the end of the war, he criticized the backwardness of the Russian fleet and thus came into confrontation with the Russian admiralty . This behavior seemed to hamper his further advancement in the Navy. Relatively unexpectedly, Roschestvensky was offered the post of commander of the friendly naval forces of Bulgaria in 1883 . In this role Roschestvensky was instrumental in building up the Bulgarian naval forces. He also drafted a defense plan for the Bulgarian coastline. Besides, Roschestvensky was one of the co-founders of the Technical Society of Bulgaria . In 1885 he returned to Russia and was reassigned to the Russian Baltic Fleet. In 1891 he was promoted again and sent to Great Britain for further training, where he learned about the British fleet and naval tactics. In 1894 he got his first command of a larger ship, the cruiser Vladimir Monomakh . Four years later he was promoted to rear admiral and at the same time received command of the artillery training of the Russian Baltic Fleet. In 1903 he was appointed head of the naval headquarters . He supported and called for the creation of a fleet of armored warships .

Russo-Japanese War

The outbreak of the Russo-Japanese War marked a turning point in Admiral Roshestvensky's life. After his appointment as Vice Admiral in 1904, he was given the task of assembling the 2nd Pacific Squadron , which was to be sent to the Far East in support of the Russian Pacific Fleet . Under his leadership, the Russian squadron made a journey around Africa to Japan in 8 months . The Doggerbank incident occurred in the North Sea , which was to damage the reputation of the admiral. After the fall of the fortress of Port Arthur , the fleet was supposed to break into the Russian port of Vladivostok . For lack of coal and supplies, Roshestvensky chose the shortest and most dangerous route through the Korean Strait past the island of Tsushima . On the morning of May 27, 1905, the Russian fleet was sighted by a Japanese reconnaissance aircraft and defeated in the ensuing naval battle near Tsushima . His personal skills as a leader had little influence on the course of the battle, which was largely decided by the superior firepower of the Japanese fleet under Admiral Heihachiro Togo . However, he was later accused of some failures that could have brought about a more positive outcome of the battle for the Russian side. Roschestvensky himself was injured several times during the battle and was saved by a Russian torpedo boat from his flagship Knjas Suvorov , which was sunk shortly afterwards . On the morning of May 28th, he and his staff were captured by the Japanese and taken to a hospital in Sasebo . In November 1905 he was finally released from captivity and returned to St. Petersburg. Since he was seriously injured and no longer fit for service at the time of the surrender , he was acquitted of all allegations in the subsequent court proceedings. He himself accepted full blame for the defeat. For the press and the Russian public, he remained the main culprit for the deaths of 5,000 Russian seafarers. Since then, the name Roshestvensky has been inextricably linked with the Russo-Japanese War and the sea battle at Tsushima. In February 1906 he had to resign from his position as head of the naval headquarters. His military career ended after that. In the two following years he tried several times to justify his decisions during the battle and criticized the Russian Admiralty several times. He rarely left his apartment. In the summer of 1908 he fell seriously ill and left St. Petersburg for the last time for a cure.

Zinovi Petrovich Roschestvensky died on New Year's Eve 1909 of complications from a lung disease. On the 3rd / 16th On January 1st, 1909, he was buried in the presence of numerous Russian sailors in the Tikhvin cemetery of the Alexander Nevsky Monastery in Saint Petersburg .


The views on Zinovi Petrovich Roschestvensky as a person and the assessment of his achievements are by no means uniform. His perception in public was largely determined by the statements in Alexej Silytsch Novikow-Priboj's book Tsushima . Novikov-Priboj, who took part in the voyage of the 2nd Pacific Squadron and the battle as a sailor, describes Roshestvensky as an incompetent admiral, a powerful despot and an extremely aggressive choleric , who did not shrink from injuring officers under him.

On the other hand, however, Admiral Roschestvensky is described as a very capable seaman as well as a courageous and intelligent leader. He was also the holder of 10 Russian and foreign orders. What is undisputed, however, is his performance as the organizer of the 2nd Pacific Squadron's trip around half the globe. The squadron consisted of more than 45 ships and almost 12,000 Russian sailors and, under his leadership, moved over 18,000 nautical miles into Japanese waters in a performance that is still incomparable today. At a time when all ships were dependent on a constant supply of coal and only France and Germany were Russia's allies, the voyage was considered hopeless from the start. Even Vladimir Ilyich Lenin wrote in his notes that "... this squadron has no chance of victory or even of reaching its destination ..." . Roschestvensky refuted most of these fears, but ultimately failed because of the overwhelming power of the Japanese, who were massively supported by Great Britain (e.g. by building modern warships for Japan).


  • Nowikow-Priboj, AS : Tsushima , 1955, Volksverlag Berlin
  • Frank Thiess : Tsushima , 1936, 1957 (with preface November 1949), Bertelsmann Lesering with permission from Paul Zsolnay Verlag, Vienna
  • V. Posnachirew: Vice-Admiral Roschestvensky - Questions of History , 1993, (Russian)
  • V. Posnachirew: Guilt and Admiral Roschestvenskis Ehre , in the magazine Армия, 1992, issue 2, pp. 66-72 (Russian)

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