The God of War: Baron Ungern-Sternberg

Independance for Mongolia?

There are two Mongolias: Inner and Outer Mongolia. The former belongs to China while the latter is now an independent nation. It wasn't always that way. In 1911, because of civil war in China, Mongolian princes got together and decided to succeed to form their own nation. They were supported by (then Czarist) Russia. They chose the Bogd Khan who was the living Buddha, to be their new leader. As 'Khan' (our version of King) he would just be a figure head: The country would really be under feudal/military rule. But then there was confusion from their Russian allies as the communists took over and civil war broke out there, too. The Chinese quickly regained control of the region.

A Confused Russia

As Russian soldiers of different loyalties fought it out with each other, things were a mess. The Red Army was loyal to Lenin and the Bolshevik revolution while the White Army knew that they were defending God and the Czar. There was even a Green Army who fought for themselves, attacking both sides.

Russia had a unit called the Asiatic Mounted Division stationed way out in Siberia. Their leader was a man named Baron Roman Federovich von Ungern-Sternberg. It's hard to say which side he was on, only that the last thing that he was was a communist.

God of War

The Mongolians would call him, 'Tsagan Burkhan' which translates to, 'God of War.' In the west he was known as the Mad or Bloody Baron.

If you thought that Buddhism was a peaceful religion then you've never heard of Baron von Sternberg!

He had been a hero during World War 1 but the Russian army was too scared to promote him because they politely suspected that he was a nutcase. So they gave him a command post in the far east of the Russian territories to get rid of him. When the civil war broke out he was at first loyal to the Czar. But he and his ragtag group of men started attacking the Whites as much as the Reds. He had fallen in love with the nomadic lifestyle of the people in the region. He was drawn to eastern mysticism.

Accepting Buddhism as the only religion that made sense, he began to realize that he was the reincarnation of Genghis Khan. He also discovered that he was psychic. Staring into the eyes of the men who were under his command, he'd decide which ones were worthy to serve him and which ones he'd have shot.

In 1921 he drove the Chinese out of Mongolia. Reinstating the Bogd Khan as figurehead, he was now the dictator of this new country. While he ruled with an iron fist and made decisions based on prophecy, he also introduced the Mongolian people to telephones and public transportation.

He let his soldiers indulge in alcohol, opium, and hashish. They were also supposed to abstain from having sex. This was intended to turn them into the perfect killing machines. And the Baron didn't care how many people he had killed because they'd be reincarnated anyway.

The Baron's rule didn't last long: Just under 6 months. In need of more drunken conquests, he reentered communist Russian territory and was captured and executed.

The Baron was one Buddhist who certainly hadn't best represented the peaceful side of that religion.

Check out Ferdynand Ossendowski's account of the Baron in his biographical novel...

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