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Stalin's Guerrillas: Soviet Partisans in World War II

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  • #16
    Originally posted by Kunikov View Post
    The first partisan groups were created mainly for survival purposes and to get back to the Soviet side. They were mostly comprised of Red Army soldiers who escaped encirclements either solely or in groups. The NKVD and Soviet authorities had little to do with the initial partisan movement. Although partisans, at first, solely accepted those they thought could be trusted. That most likely meant either other soldiers or perhaps party members. Slepyan discusses all of this in detail. But that partisan movement had little impact on the German or Soviet war effort. We are talking about the first months of the war here.
    In contrast, on the Finnish front, the partisan was a different type of combatant. For the most part they weren't left behind and organized in an ad hoc fashion, they were deliberately inserted through gaps in the frontline. In this way they correspond more to long-range patrolmen than insurgents (while they were indeed called "partisans" by Soviets as well as Finns). They were given more or less specific goals, to the extent of having to meet quotas for damage and destruction; this resulted in some recorded incidents of partisans attacking a civilian village and claiming it as a military target (when none was in the vicinity). What I mean is, in Finland it was planned and controlled activity.

    I suppose the concept evolved over time, so that the word now has to cover some more ground than what Slepyan refers to?

    [BTW, a bit of thread necromancy but I just got here ]

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    • #17
      ShAA is actually making a good point. Contrary to common belief, the leadership system of the USSR was not a parallel of the Nazi Germany system. Stalin didn't in fact have absolute power- if he had, a lot of things probably would have turned out differently. In the purges and collectivization, we see countless examples of local officials and party bureaucrats doing the exact opposite of what was ordered of them. Dizzy with Success is but one example of Stalin personally criticizing the haphazard way in which things were being carried out. J. Arch Getty characterizes the purges as chaotic, driven from above and below. Stalin himself was aware that innocent people were being caught up in the repressions, which is one reason, for example, that he sent Ponomarenko to Belarus with the explicit order to "halt the repression". Stalin also lamented the cult of personality built up around him, something that he saw as nothing but a tactic to discredit him later. He was exactly right; those who had most enthusiastically supported the cult of Stalin were tearing it down in 1956.

      ShAA is also right in pointing out that the characterization of the Stalin-era, Stalin this and Stalin that, is in fact nothing but a reversal of the cult, similar to the tactics of the Khruschevites after 56. It is VERY telling to note how many Central Committee resolutions were made when Stalin was not even present; in fact most of them were. Moreover, there are plenty examples of Stalin's wishes being blocked by the Central Committee- something that shouldn't happen when a dictator supposedly has absolute power.

      Hitler, by stark contrast, not only constructed a government in which he would have absolute power, but was quite open about it. Unlike the USSR with its party congress, Central Committee, and Politburo, Nazi Germany was explicitly built up on the Leadership Principle. Hitler was not always explicit in his orders, he did occasionally listen to advice, and oftentimes some elements took up their own initiative, but by and large Hitler was indeed the absolute dictator, and made no bones about it.

      Of course the modern establishment is far more merciful and faithful to facts when it comes to Hitler than Stalin. This is most likely due to Communism still having political clout in Europe and the rest of the world, whereas there is no way Hitlerian National Socialism would ever come to power again.

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      • #18
        Ahh Slavyanski, I know you from elsewhere.
        "To be defeated and not submit, is victory; to be victorious and rest on one's laurels, is defeat."
        --Marshal Józef Piłsudski

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