Vasily Chapayev

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Vasily Chapayev
Vasily Chapaev.gif
Born(1887-02-09)February 9, 1887
DiedSeptember 5, 1919(1919-09-05) (aged 32)
Known forRed Army commander during the Russian Civil War
Parent(s)Ivan Stepanovich Chapaev, Yekaterina Semyonovna Chapaeva
AwardsCross of St. George (3)
Сhapayev's birthplace (today the house-museum "Chapayevs' Log House")

Vasily Ivanovich Chapayev or Chapaev (Russian: Васи́лий Ива́нович Чапа́ев; February 9 [O.S. January 28] 1887 – September 5, 1919) was a celebrated Russian soldier and Red Army commander during the Russian Civil War.


Chapayev was born into a poor peasant family in a village called Budayka, now part of Cheboksary to Mordvin (Erzya) father and Chuvash mother. During World War I, he fought as a non-commissioned officer and was awarded the Cross of St. George three times. In September 1917, he joined the Russian Social Democratic Labour Party (Bolsheviks). In December he was elected commander of the 138 Infantry Regiment by a vote of the regiment's soldiers. He later commanded the 2nd Nikolaev Division and the 25th Rifle Division.

On September 5, 1919, the divisional headquarters near Lbishchensk (now renamed Chapayev in his honour) were ambushed by White Army forces. According to official sources, Chapayev tried to escape by swimming across the Ural River, but was never again seen alive. "In 1919, a wounded Chapayev was shot and drowned in the Ural river".[1] His body was never recovered, but the town where he died was later renamed Chapaev, and a museum was established in 1927.

Private life[edit]

In 1908 Chapayev became acquainted with Pelageya Metelina, who was 18. Although his father didn't approve of their relations, Vasily Ivanovich married her. They lived together for 6 years, and had three children, one of whom was Klavdia Chapayeva. Though there was no official divorce, in 1917 Chapayev started living with the widow of his deceased fellow-soldier Petr Kishkertsev. Curiously enough, her name was also Pelageya. Chapayev adopted both of her children. Currently the only relative that remains is his great-great-grand daughter Vasilisa Chapayeva, with her parents Yevgenia Chapayeva and Viktor Pecherin.[1]

In Russian culture[edit]

Chapayev on a 1948 Soviet Union postage stamp

After the Soviet Union had been established, Chapayev was immortalized by Soviet propaganda as a hero of the Russian Civil War. In 1923, a Russian writer, Dmitriy Furmanov, who served as a commissar in Chapayev's division wrote a popular novel entitled Chapaev. Later, in 1934, it was made into a film Chapayev by the Vasilyev brothers. The movie became highly popular in the Soviet Union. The German actor and singer Ernst Busch also recorded the song Tschapajews Tod, which talks about his death in the Ural.

More recently, he became one of the central characters in the novel Chapayev and Void by modern Russian writer Viktor Pelevin.

In November 1998, Red Comrades Save the Galaxy, a point-and-click graphic adventure game was developed by S.K.I.F. and published by Buka Entertainment (now 1C Company). The game's protagonist Vasily Ivanovich Chapaev, is inspired by Chapayev.

Chapayev, along with his aide Petka, became a recurring character in popular Russian jokes.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Valeria Korchagina (March 2, 2001). "Following in Chapayev's Footsteps". The Moscow Times (2154). Archived from the original on February 1, 2014. Retrieved January 17, 2014.

External links[edit]