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  • Enemy At the Gates/Kommissar scene

    Can anyone tell me how historically accurate the film Enemy at the Gates is with regards to the scenes showing untrained conscript soldiers being handed 1 rifle per 2 men? Did this really occur in the Battle of Stalingrad, or anywhere on the East Front? It's hard to imagine them pushing people straight off the train into an assault on prepared German positions, and then machine gunning any who tried to retreat...
    Last edited by jeffthewookiee; 09 Feb 10, 23:38.
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  • #2
    Originally posted by jeffthewookiee View Post
    Can anyone tell me how historically accurate the film Enemy at the Gates is with regards to the scenes showing untrained conscript soldiers being handed 1 rifle per 2 men? Did this really occur in the Battle of Stalingrad, or anywhere on the East Front? It's hard to imagine them pushing people straight off the train into an assault on prepared German positions, and then machine gunning any who tried to retreat...
    As it usually happens truth and false meets together.
    Read this article showing Russian view on bugs in that movie
    http://www.battlefield.ru/index.php?...id=206&lang=en
    The author of the article of course was not aware of some details (for example whistles really were used by Soviet infantry commanders)

    Replying to your question I can say that situation with unarmed people were forced to attack hardly were realistic. I know cases when unarmed soldiers were forced to defense, when operative situation became too sharp.
    for example such a case took part in June 1941 with the personnel of the 17th Mechanised Corps in Byelorussia. It has only 1/3 of small arms for infantry and almost no tanks, because it only started formation on the time Germans attacked its units. But even in that case unarmed part of it was gathered in forests beyond the armed troops.

    Another myth is "Zagradotryads", who "machine-guns retreating soldiers".
    the main purpose of those kind of detachments was not to shoot at retreating soldiers in mass, but to choose panic-making persons and to shoot, or arrest them. The rest of retreating mass of soldiers were gathering and organizing into temporary units (companies, or even battalions) and returned to the frontline.

    I myself do not know cases when machine-guns behind them forced our soldiers to attack

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

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    • #3
      According to the book "Enemy at the Gates" this did take place. How often and what the conditions were I have no idea.
      But remember the book was written during the cold war and the scenes may have more to do with the imagine of Stalin than reality

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      • #4
        This was based on Stalin's 227th order authorising shooting of hmm... "traitors" soldiers or commanders who reteated without the order from above.
        You coud be declared the "Traitor to Motherland" for being captured by Germans too. But in Putinist Russia Joe Stalin will be soon canonised.
        http://www.mishalov.com/Stalin_28July42.html
        Kosovo is Serbian.
        I support United Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
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        • #5
          Originally posted by DracoBorealis View Post
          This was based on Stalin's 227th order authorising shooting of hmm... "traitors" soldiers or commanders who reteated without the order from above.
          You coud be declared the "Traitor to Motherland" for being captured by Germans too. But in Putinist Russia Joe Stalin will be soon canonised.
          http://www.mishalov.com/Stalin_28July42.html
          Please try to investigate the subject before making such joke of a post here.
          www.histours.ru

          Siege of Leningrad battlefield tour

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          • #6
            Originally posted by DracoBorealis View Post
            This was based on Stalin's 227th order authorising shooting of hmm... "traitors" soldiers or commanders who reteated without the order from above.
            You coud be declared the "Traitor to Motherland" for being captured by Germans too. But in Putinist Russia Joe Stalin will be soon canonised.
            http://www.mishalov.com/Stalin_28July42.html
            "From 1 August till 15 October 1942, the guard squads held 140.755 soldiers that run from the front line.
            Out of this number, 3.980 were arrested,
            executed - 1.189,
            sent to the penal batallions - 2.776,
            sent to penal squads - 185,
            sent to their units or assembly places - 131.094.
            "

            Example:
            "NKVD report, 17-Feb-1943.
            On the 2nd of October 1942, during the attack of our forces, certain units of 138 rifle division, receiving heavy artilery and mortar enemy fire, wavered and run back through the defence lines of 1st batallion 706 SP, 204 SD, on the second defence line. The taken measures resumed the situation. 7 covards and paniceurs were shot in front of other solfiers, others returned to the front line."

            0n the 16th of October 1942, during the enemies counter attack, a group of soldiers from 781 and 124 rifle division, accounting for 30 men, showes covardness and run in panic alluring other soldiers. The guard squad of the 21st army, present in the area, with use of weapons dissolved panic and restored present situation.

            19 november 1942. During the attack of the 293 rifle division, in the time of german counter attack, 2 mortar squads together with the squad leaders, leitenant Bagatirev and Egorov, without order othe higher comand left the positionand run in panic leaving the weapons behind. The present squad of gurad machinegunners stopped them ,and executing the 2 paniceurs in front of the linereturned others to the previous positions, afther which the attack sucessufly resumed."
            Kind regards
            Igor

            * My grandfathers WW2 memoirs - Romania, Bulgaria, Yugoslavia, Hungary, 1944-1945.
            * On the question of "2 mil. rapes" by RKKA
            * Verdicts of RKKA Military Tribunals for crimes against civilians in 1945

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            • #7
              Originally posted by amvas View Post
              for example such a case took part in June 1941 with the personnel of the 17th Mechanised Corps in Byelorussia. It has only 1/3 of small arms for infantry and almost no tanks, because it only started formation on the time Germans attacked its units. But even in that case unarmed part of it was gathered in forests beyond the armed troops.
              Such things happened even later and on other sectors of the front. In autumn 1941, according to the memories of many Nevsky Bridgehead veterans, groups of reinforcements were sent to cross the river without weapons. This is just one of such memories:

              http://www.peoples.ru/military/navy_...ander_kopanev/

              Г.К. – В какое подразделение на «пятачке» Вы попали?

              -К.А.Н.- Когда нашу группу из 18 человек привели в штаб НОГ, нас принял молодой капитан береговой службы, представившийся ПНШ 4-й БрМП.

              Лично побеседовал с каждым новичком. Нас покормили.

              С наступлением темноты, этот капитан с своим ординарцем повел нас к переправе. Нам объяснили, что на берегу и во время переправы запрещено курить, громко говорить, зажигать огонь и так далее.

              Быстро и тихо на четырех лодках мы пересекли Неву.

              Переправлялись без оружия, сказали, что винтовки получим уже в своих ротах.
              G.K.: Which detachment on the "pyatachok" did you get into?

              K.A.N.: When our 18-men group was brought to the NOG (Neva Operative Group) HQ, we were greeted by a young coastal service captain who introduced himself as the 4th Naval Infantry Brigade head of stagg assistant.

              He had a personal conversation with each newbie. We were fed after this.

              With the coming of the dark this captain and his orderly led us to the river crossing. He explained us that it was forbidden to smoke, speak loudly, smoke, light fire and so on.

              We crossed the Neva fast, rowing on four boats. While crossing the river we had no weapons, we were told we would get them on the bridgehead.
              In his case he got his rifle, but during especially intense battles the reinforcements frequently lacked weapons and ammunition.
              www.histours.ru

              Siege of Leningrad battlefield tour

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              • #8
                Originally posted by DracoBorealis View Post
                This was based on Stalin's 227th order authorising shooting of hmm... "traitors" soldiers or commanders who reteated without the order from above.
                No, you are not right. shooting was applied besides that order. Even in 1941 panic-making persons were easily shot without any procedures.
                But shooting in mass was never been applied... At least in mass scales.
                Commanders, which permitted their troops to retreat could be shot after that order. And that was not too rare case. But I'm against mixing up shooting of some given person for this or that fault and shooting in mass. As I have said the scales of the latter is much overestimated...

                You coud be declared the "Traitor to Motherland" for being captured by Germans too.
                Yes, this is true. But Order No. 227 has no relation to this. This was applied again since the year 1941...

                But in Putinist Russia Joe Stalin will be soon canonised.
                I wonder, what some Polish guys are smoking???
                If you fire a rifle at the past, the future will fire a cannon at you.....

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by ShAA View Post
                  Such things happened even later and on other sectors of the front. In autumn 1941, according to the memories of many Nevsky Bridgehead veterans, groups of reinforcements were sent to cross the river without weapons. This is just one of such memories:

                  http://www.peoples.ru/military/navy_...ander_kopanev/
                  Yep. I also said such cases could be. But mostly they were not for attack, but defense situations.

                  In his case he got his rifle, but during especially intense battles the reinforcements frequently lacked weapons and ammunition.
                  This is a bit another situation. The reinforcement was not send to attack without arms, but they were sent to the unit! So, the command expected presence of some ammo and arms left from the staff of that unit who had been killed or wounded before. Also they could have some amount of captured arms.
                  If you fire a rifle at the past, the future will fire a cannon at you.....

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by amvas View Post
                    Yep. I also said such cases could be. But mostly they were not for attack, but defense situations.
                    Well, the troops on the bridgehead were ordered to attack German positions every day. In average from October to December 1941 there were up to 15 attacks a day.

                    This is a bit another situation. The reinforcement was not send to attack without arms, but they were sent to the unit! So, the command expected presence of some ammo and arms left from the staff of that unit who had been killed or wounded before. Also they could have some amount of captured arms.
                    Pity I can't find the article right now as I read it in a magazine. It mentioned the fate of a NKVD battallion made up of cadets which was sent to the bridgehead in September 1941 with the words "We've already breaking through to Mga, your job will only be to pick up your rifles on the field and finish off a few Germans hiding in the bushes". Basically the commaders MIGHT expect them to find enough ammunition but they could not be sure of it at all. Nevertheless, they sent the boys unarmed. Well, there was a huge shortage of rifles at that time anyway.
                    www.histours.ru

                    Siege of Leningrad battlefield tour

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by amvas View Post
                      I wonder, what some Polish guys are smoking???
                      I know, Alex. It is puzzling. I see many comments like this from Poles, and I don't understand why they would rather be occupied by Nazis.

                      Cheers
                      Scott
                      Ignorance is not the lack of knowledge. It is the refusal to learn.

                      A contentedly cantankerous old fart

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by jeffthewookiee View Post
                        Can anyone tell me how historically accurate the film Enemy at the Gates is with regards to the scenes showing untrained conscript soldiers being handed 1 rifle per 2 men? Did this really occur in the Battle of Stalingrad, or anywhere on the East Front? It's hard to imagine them pushing people straight off the train into an assault on prepared German positions, and then machine gunning any who tried to retreat...
                        Jeff, remember that Hollywood provides entertainment, not history. The same can be said for television, including some "documentaries". History is a discipline, requiring research and writing after appropriate reflection. It also involves peer review to ensure conclusions are supported by research, and it requires thought. Neither movies nor television are good at any of these things.

                        The title "Enema at the Grates" is appropriate, and hints at the content of the movie. Think of sixty seconds later ... and it is pure Hollywood.

                        Cheers
                        Scott Fraser
                        Ignorance is not the lack of knowledge. It is the refusal to learn.

                        A contentedly cantankerous old fart

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Scott Fraser View Post
                          I know, Alex. It is puzzling. I see many comments like this from Poles, and I don't understand why they would rather be occupied by Nazis.

                          Cheers
                          Scott
                          Because it's all about the attitude. The Germans smiled nicely, had cool uniforms and said: "Would you please follow me to the gas chamber?" They wore nice white gloves too. The Russians were not cultured at all, wore cotton jackets and reeked of cheap alcohol. Some even washed potatoes in toilet bowls. Make no mistake, the asthetic subtlety of Polish nationalists is a thing to be admired. Oscar Wilde would be an uncouth brute compared to them. They'd rather go into a nicely decorated concentration camp run by cultured people than live the unbearable life where they had to learn Russian at school and suffer from the lack of Levi's jeans.

                          I know not all Poles are like that by those internet nationalists surely are.
                          www.histours.ru

                          Siege of Leningrad battlefield tour

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by jeffthewookiee View Post
                            Can anyone tell me how historically accurate the film Enemy at the Gates is with regards to the scenes showing untrained conscript soldiers being handed 1 rifle per 2 men? Did this really occur in the Battle of Stalingrad, or anywhere on the East Front? It's hard to imagine them pushing people straight off the train into an assault on prepared German positions, and then machine gunning any who tried to retreat...
                            While there were shortages throughout the battle of Stalingrad, in terms of supplies of all kinds, the troops actually fighting in Stalingrad received weapons even if they came over the Volga without (internal reports are pretty candid in this regard). They also utilized German weapons and materials when running short.
                            "This isn't Paris, you will not get through here with a Marching Parade!" Defenders of Stalingrad
                            "Man is the only animal that deals in that atrocity of atrocities, War. He is the only one that gathers his brethren about him and goes forth in cold blood and calm pulse to exterminate his kind. He is the only animal that for sordid wages will march out... and help to slaughter strangers of his own species who have done him no harm and with whom he has no quarrel.... And in the intervals between campaigns he washes the blood off his hands and works for "the universal brotherhood of man" - with his mouth". Mark Twain
                            "It is forbidden to kill; therefore all murderers are punished unless they kill in large numbers and to the sound of trumpets.” Voltaire

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                            • #15
                              Speaking of Volga, the scene when they are crossing Volga is as mentioned by the article: junk. Bringing over supplies in daylight was only used in extreme cases...
                              “For there is nothing more serious than a lunatic when he comes to the central point of his lunacy.”

                              Max Sterner

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