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  • Not one step backwards

    I am currently reading Beevors Stalingrad (excellent book btw, at least up til this point) and have just passed a part that explained drastic measures that were taken to "extraordinary events". This made me wonder...was there a case where Soviet troops fired at the NKVD officers so they could retreat to a safer position, desert or surrender? Unlikely, but just wondering.
    "Beneath its gilded beauty, though, there lies a poorly designed game which rewards the greedy and violent, and punishes the hardworking and honest; and if you think about it, that's a good representation of capitalism" - Nightfreeze about Eve Online

  • #2
    Originally posted by Tom Phoenix
    I am currently reading Beevors Stalingrad (excellent book btw, at least up til this point) and have just passed a part that explained drastic measures that were taken to "extraordinary events". This made me wonder...was there a case where Soviet troops fired at the NKVD officers so they could retreat to a safer position, desert or surrender? Unlikely, but just wondering.
    I have not read anything about what you are looking for, but it may have happened. A lot of what happened at the tactical level for the Russians has never been exposed.
    Kevin Kenneally
    Masters from a school of "hard knocks"
    Member of a Ph.D. Society (Post hole. Digger)

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    • #3
      Depends on the situation. There was at least one occasion where a soldier turned in the hidden commissar in a Russian "volunteer" Battalion. It was pretty hard to get the Commissars past the Germans into the POW cages, let alone live long enough to volunteer for the German Army. It did happen though. Since each Commissar had several unknown "informers" it was also hard to conspire to desert or retreat. My take is when you saw an NKVD officer or unit, THEY had the ammunition and the line unit did not.

      Pruitt
      Pruitt, you are truly an expert! Kelt06

      Have you been struck by the jawbone of an ASS lately?

      by Khepesh "This is the logic of Pruitt"

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      • #4
        Originally posted by Tom Phoenix
        I am currently reading Beevors Stalingrad (excellent book btw, at least up til this point) and have just passed a part that explained drastic measures that were taken to "extraordinary events". This made me wonder...was there a case where Soviet troops fired at the NKVD officers so they could retreat to a safer position, desert or surrender? Unlikely, but just wondering.
        They were usualy entire ''cordon" or barier units of NKWD who blocked the front, with MGs and tanks, besides any man who atempted reatreat risked not only his life, but his entire family's too.
        Kosovo is Serbian.
        I support United Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
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        • #5
          Originally posted by DracoBorealis
          They were usualy entire ''cordon" or barier units of NKWD who blocked the front, with MGs and tanks, besides any man who atempted reatreat risked not only his life, but his entire family's too.
          Not if they had no family. Also, your talking about individual cases. I was talking about groups.

          I think the people from the nations that were a part of the Soviet Union will know any specific case.
          "Beneath its gilded beauty, though, there lies a poorly designed game which rewards the greedy and violent, and punishes the hardworking and honest; and if you think about it, that's a good representation of capitalism" - Nightfreeze about Eve Online

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          • #6
            Good luck getting any info on bad things the Soviets did. You're already in trouble for mentioning Beevor in here. Get ready to experience the wrath of Andrey guys!

            I'm not saying that Andrey is wrong or that he is right. You read his answers and make up your own minds about his information.
            Check out our webpage for our NFL picks http://members.cox.net/mjohns59/

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            • #7
              Originally posted by Psycho1943
              Good luck getting any info on bad things the Soviets did. You're already in trouble for mentioning Beevor in here. Get ready to experience the wrath of Andrey guys!

              I'm not saying that Andrey is wrong or that he is right. You read his answers and make up your own minds about his information.
              Now, now, lets wait until Andrey (or any other citizen from the former Soviet Union) contributes before casting stones in his/their direction

              From my reading the activities of the NKVD and the use of 'punishment battalions' have tended to be sensationalised in the past.
              Signing out.

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              • #8
                I have exact figures for the number of shot by NKVD detachments and number of sent into penal battalions and companies. they are not so large, btw.

                More later
                Alex
                If you fire a rifle at the past, the future will fire a cannon at you.....

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by amvas
                  I have exact figures for the number of shot by NKVD detachments and number of sent into penal battalions and companies. they are not so large, btw.

                  More later
                  Alex
                  I would be interested to know how the penal battalions were used. I am currently playing a game of Stalingrad with the CoW engine. I like to pick up a little information when I play a game.
                  AHIKS - Play by (E)mail board wargaming since 1965.
                  The Blitz - Play by Email computer wargaming.

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                  • #10
                    I promised to cite some figures. In attachment I gave NKVD reference for the number for shot and convicted soldiers and officers in Oct.-Jan.
                    In September 195 soldiers were shot.

                    From another reference:
                    OO NKVD STF v UOO NKVD SSSR "About activities of zagradotryad of the Stalingrad and don Fronts"

                    (not later than Oct. 15'42)

                    I got the next info:
                    Stalingrad Front had 16 and don Front 25 zagradotryad (barrage detachments)

                    In the period Aug. 15-Oct. 15 overall number of armed forces personnel running from frontline hold by barrage detachments: 140,755 .
                    From them
                    arrested: 3,980
                    Shot: 1,189
                    Sent in penal companies: 2,776
                    Sent in penal battalions: 185
                    returned to their units and
                    transit centers: 131,094

                    For the Don Front was hold: 36,109

                    From them
                    arrested: 736
                    Shot: 433
                    Sent in penal companies: 1,056
                    Sent in penal battalions: 33
                    returned to their units and
                    transit centers: 32,933

                    For the Stalingrad Front was hold: 15,649

                    From them
                    arrested: 244
                    Shot: 278
                    Sent in penal companies: 218
                    Sent in penal battalions: 42
                    returned to their units and
                    transit centers: 14,833

                    So, you could see the total number of convicted, shot and sent in penal units was quite low in comparison with mythical figures appeared in western literature and especially in movies

                    Regards,
                    Alex
                    Attached Files
                    If you fire a rifle at the past, the future will fire a cannon at you.....

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                    • #11
                      Overall number of “Barrage detachments” by Oct. 15’42 was 193. Having ~100-120 men personnel it would be hard for them to cover all frontline, eh? So, they were used only on the most important directions. Some of them were even used as regular infantry units. Such cases were in Stalingrad, where barrage detachment of the 62nd Army hold Stalingrad Railway station for 15-16th September and in the 29th Army, when its barrage detachment lost 109 men of its staff out of 118 in the course of attack of the 246th RD. Detachments of the 6th Army/Voronezh front were used as regular units subordinated to the 174th RD and lost 70% of their personnel and residuals were incorporated into that division. Barrage detachments of the 1st Gds Army also were used as regular units and lost ~65% of their personnel.
                      Of course those detachments were equipped only with small arms. They had no tanks, or artillery. Although heavy equipment could be used for preventing retreat by order of high commander.
                      As for repressions towards families. Yep, such a practice existed. Just like in other countries, nothing new here. Barrage detachments also were used at least in Wehrmacht, but a bit later.
                      Btw, a lots of families of soldiers fighting for Soviets remained on occupied territories and got much more troubles from Nazis than from followed Soviet repressions. Nazis simply killed all families if they had found their members fought for Soviets.
                      Last edited by amvas; 12 Dec 05, 00:31.
                      If you fire a rifle at the past, the future will fire a cannon at you.....

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                      • #12
                        Here it is about "Enemy at the gates movie" the image of Red Army here isd the same like in Beevor's Stalingrad

                        http://battlefield.ru/index.php?opti...id=108&lang=en


                        Here is the thread about penal units.
                        http://www.war-forums.com/forums/showthread.php?t=30359

                        It contains the following info about detauchments-obstacles (zagradotriad).


                        "It is from the site of “The Red Star” newspaper, the official newspaper of Russian Ministry of Defense.

                        It was an answer to 10-parts mini-TV series “The penal battalion” that Russian TV showed in the September of 2004. I disliked that movie and do not recommend to anyone to see it. But here is the data about Soviet penal battalions from competent sources….

                        It is translated not completely, some parts are not translated as they were not interesting and auxiliary.

                        December, 16th of 2004

                        “Penal units: the truth without fabrication” by Andrei Kuznetsov, Lieutenant Colonel of Justice [a military lawer – remark of Andrey]

                        It was still in the start of the war, which began tragically for us, when there were a lot of cases of non-organized retreat and, sometimes, the cases of a panic. Many commanders and political officers organized according their own initiative the special units that had to stop retreating soldiers, to bring them to reason, to close them in united organized group. Those units typified the “zagradotriady” (detachment-obstacles). The Soviet Supreme Command supported and legalized such troops’ practice. On June, 12th of 1941 the commanders of the Fronts got an order:

                        1. To organize a detachment-obstacle in every rifle division, those detachment-obstacles had to contain only reliable soldiers and to have the amount not more than a battalion’s one.
                        2. The tasks of a detachment-obstacle had to be – direct help to the officers in the providing of the discipline in the division and the preventing of running away of been panic-stricken soldiers. A detachment-obstacle had no to be afraid to use weapon for the accomplishing of its tasks.

                        Here what was the basis of such strong
                        measures: “The experience of the struggle against the Fascist invaders showed that our rifle divisions contains a few panic-mongers and even hostile types who lay down their arms and began to scream: “We are encircled” after the first enemy pressure and who carry the others to do the same. In the result of such actions of those types a division runs away, loses equipment and then began to go out from a forest by small groups. There were such cases in each Front… The trouble is that we had no enough firm and sure-footed officers and commissars…”

                        So detachment-obstacles were born before penal units were born and the detauchments-obstacles were born in troops. In practice soldiers with frontline experience were sent in detauchment-obstacles, very often they were sent there after wounds and shell-shocks. Army’s detachment-obstacles had the same field uniform like other ordinary army units. They were not related to NKVD.

                        The Russian spectators saw in “Shtrafbat” and in “Goo-ga” how the members of a penal unit collided with a detachment-obstacle whose soldiers were dressed almost in full dress NKVD uniform. It is not true. If they collided with a detachment-obstacle so it contained the same brothers-soldiers who already fought in a frontline before.

                        Yes, NKVD of USSR organized its own detachment-obstacles from the first days of the war in parallel with the Army and Navy. But those detachment-obstacles operated in the rears of the Fronts and they had enough job in the spite of the fact that it is not pleasant to know. Only for the time from the start of the war to October, 10th of 1941 the detachment-obstacles of NKVD, providing the guard of a rear, detained 657,464 soldiers and officers who remained behind of their units or who run away from frontline. 623,486 of them (96%) were organized in units and were again sent in frontline. So if you again will see the opposition between an army unit, retreating right after the attack, and machine gunners in green forage caps of NKVD (moreover, in helmets, that often were not used even in frontline) in the screen of your TV-set, know that it is fabrication.

                        The penal units – battalions and companies – were born in the Red Army only in the July of 1942 after the famous order #227 “No step behind”. That order also regulated the system of detachment-obstacles. It was right in that order where detachment-obstacles of NKVD were ordered to guard rears so they were not able to operate right behind penal units which only had to be became to organize.
                        The order #227 was published not once so I’ll not repeat its words which influenced on the officers and soldiers with not only repressive actions. But it contained and repressive actions..."
                        Last edited by Andrey; 12 Dec 05, 01:09.

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Tom Phoenix
                          I am currently reading Beevors Stalingrad (excellent book btw, at least up til this point) and have just passed a part that explained drastic measures that were taken to "extraordinary events". This made me wonder...was there a case where Soviet troops fired at the NKVD officers so they could retreat to a safer position, desert or surrender? Unlikely, but just wondering.
                          The famous order #227 "No step behind" was made not only for NKVD officers, it was for regular officers also. It meant that a unit had no retreat without an order. If a unit retreated without an order its commande and commissar had to be judged by a military tribunal. So the commander of a unit had the same reasons to prevent the retreat without an order as the unit's commissar because in the case of such retreat both they could be shot.

                          In principle any officer had to prevent a retreat without an order.

                          Also every unit contained Osobyi Otdel (Special Department). A chief of Special Department was an NKVD officer whose task was to search enemy spies, traitors, cowards, saboteurs and so on.

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                          • #14
                            Popel's memoir (deputy of the commander of th 1st Guards Tank Army in 1943-45) contains a story about a traitor who served in tactical scout unit and who tried to go to the Germans. During a raid in enemy rears he wounded his comrade by a knife but was arrested by another soldier.

                            Of course, there were cases when traitors, deserters, cowards and panic-mongers used weapon against the others who tried to make an order.

                            Also the Germans had some special units which were dressed in Soviet uniform and operated in Soviet rears. Such units contained Soviet traitors or nationalists like Unkrainian nationalists under the command of a German officer. Their task was to make a panic and disorder in Soviet rears, to capture bridge, to kill alone soldiers and officers and so on.

                            Also the Germans sent their agents with the task to join Red Army and to become an important person there.

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                            • #15
                              Quite frankly, I dont see whats wrong with Beevor. He got his info from Moscow (among others).

                              Thanks for the information, Andrey. You too, amvas. And yes, I realise that casualties from desertion were smaller then the Western media shows. I think the number almost matches the number of a division.
                              "Beneath its gilded beauty, though, there lies a poorly designed game which rewards the greedy and violent, and punishes the hardworking and honest; and if you think about it, that's a good representation of capitalism" - Nightfreeze about Eve Online

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