Stalingrad & civilian defenders


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Lucky
October 16, 2006, 03:31 AM
How numerous were they, and how effective? Was Vassili Zaitsev one of them?

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psyopspec
October 16, 2006, 03:37 AM
According to wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vassili_Zaitsev) he was indeed one of the defenders of Stalingrad.

Cosmoline
October 16, 2006, 03:47 AM
Accurate accounts are hard to come by about how motivated the civilians were. Stalin kept them from leaving, and the Red Army put them to forced labor. Zaitsev was there, but he was not a civilian.

bouis
October 16, 2006, 03:55 AM
How motivated were they? Motivated enough, I guess, since the Red Army wouldn't let them evacuate.

I think a lot of them were killed or ended up slipping out over the course of the battle, but IIRC the ones who were left when the Germans were surrounded were either collaborating or at least not resisting.

Dr. Dickie
October 16, 2006, 07:48 AM
I believe that the entire Red Army was modivated by Stalin's, "Not one step backwards," policy.
The Germans MIGHT kill you, but if you retreated the you knew the commanders WOULD kill you.

max popenker
October 16, 2006, 08:03 AM
The Germans MIGHT kill you, but if you retreated the you knew the commanders WOULD kill you.
Well, you certainly overestimate the "No step back order".
There were DIVISION of civilian volunteers fo fought for their (our) country, not for Stalin, Lenin or whoever else you can think

For example, when Germans came close to the Tula, most of the Tula Arms factory workers armed themselves with production of their own factory, and a BATALLION of older men and boys gave Germans a pretty hard time...
There are great many other accounts like that; in fact, there were special orders from Soviet government that officially PROHIBITED certain professions from enlisting into Red army as volunteers - industry just could not afford losing skilled workers and engineers.

One alo may remenber how many thousands of people on occupied territories turned into "partisan" and fought Germans from behind...

remember, hitler officially declared the slavic nations as "untermensh" relegating them to slavery and extermination. yes, there were those who hated Soviet government more than any thing, or just SOBs who tried to survive under any government... but they are not so numerous, otherwise we just could not win in 1945.

El Tejon
October 16, 2006, 08:04 AM
Many civilians were organized by the NKVD and like internal police of the USSR, e.g. the tank traps outside Moscow. Numbers? Who knows. I would not trust the numbers of the USSR, most were fictional or destroyed. The Red Army was not the German Army, who had serial numbers for socks.

Vasily Zaitsev was not a civilian. In 1936 he joined the Soviet Navy, serving as a bookkeeper, and volunteered for combat upon the German invasion.

He was assigned the 1047th Rifle Regiment, 284 Infantry Division to Stalingrad. Zaitsev was on the small side and not considered to be a fighter. Then . . . he started shooting.:scrutiny:

He was awarded the Hero of the Soviet Union medal on Febrary 22, 1943.

http://www.soviet-awards.com/forum/attachment.php?attachmentid=9237&d=1083181762

geekWithA.45
October 16, 2006, 08:15 AM
The book "Enemy at the Gates" gave a really good account of the entire siege of Leningrad.

The movie (which I enjoyed) focused on and fictionalized about 2 pages of the whole thing.

Basically, the entire population of the city was involved in its defense, either directly in combat roles, or in immediate support roles.

CraigJS
October 16, 2006, 03:31 PM
And least we not forget the Russian women were some of the most deadly and motivated of the breed..

offthepaper
October 16, 2006, 03:54 PM
Quote: "For example, when Germans came close to the Tula, most of the Tula Arms factory workers armed themselves with production of their own factory, and a BATALLION of older men and boys gave Germans a pretty hard time..."
---------------------------
Did the Tula arms factory ever come under German control, even for a brief time?

antsi
October 16, 2006, 05:45 PM
As noted above, Vasily Zaitsev wasn't a civilian, he was a soldier in the Red Army.

All through the German-Soviet war, Russian civilians were often conscripted as militia. More often than fighting, they were often conscripted for manual labor like digging anti-tank ditches. This kind of labor was critical in the battles of Moscow, Leningrad, and Stalingrad. I have seen the number quoted of 250,000 civilians conscripted to build defensive works around Moscow in Nov-Dec 41.

There are other accounts of factory workers being conscripted into battle. This certainly happened at Stalingrad.

The best book I have read on the battle of Stalingrad is "Stalingrad: The Fateful Siege" by Anthony Beevor.

antsi
October 16, 2006, 05:47 PM
----quote------
Did the Tula arms factory ever come under German control, even for a brief time?
---------------

Guderian got very close to Tula during Operation Typhoon in late 1941, but he was driven back from there by the Russian Moscow counteroffensive. I don't think any German forces ever got close to Tula again.

Cosmoline
October 16, 2006, 06:11 PM
IIRC, Sestroryetsk, which had stopped making Mosins years earlier, was the first to fall in WWII. Tula was impacted by the fighting quite a bit, and its production numbers fell during the war years.

Gaucho Gringo
October 16, 2006, 06:43 PM
I read several articles about women snipers the Russians had during WWII. They were very deadly. I sure wouldn't want to come up against one after reading the articles.

dfariswheel
October 16, 2006, 07:24 PM
The point is missed that Joesph Stalin himself decreed that in "The Great Patriotic War" there WERE no civilians.
You either served Mother Russia (Stalin himself) or you were an enemy to be killed by whatever means.

The only distinction was, some "soldiers" wore uniforms, most didn't.

A little recalled fact of the Stalingrad battle was, even in the most desperate time when there weren't enough people to fight and make weapons, the NKVD under direct orders of Stalin were holding mass executions of people deemed not doing enough.
A significant percentage of casualties of Stalingrad, in fact the whole Russian war were actually victims of Stalin's purges.

After the siege was broken and the battle won, the purges were actually increased in Stalingrad to root out "disloyal" people.

Dirk Pitt
October 16, 2006, 07:35 PM
I read the book "War of the rats" of which Enemy at the gates is based on. There were some interesting stats at the end of the book. One of them was civilian casualties. It stated that there was approximatley 500,000 civilians in Stanlingrad when the battle started and at the end there was about 1500. The losses on both sides were just astronomical. What we have lost in Iraq in 3 years they would loose in one DAY. It is hard to fathom that.

Cosmoline
October 16, 2006, 07:41 PM
It's a real mistake to view the loyal defenders of the Motherland as some Russian version of the American citizen-soldier. I've been reading "Ivan's War" and several books about the Winter War. There were motivated Red Army Men and hard fighting Frotoviks, but they tended to have a lot of genuine party loyalty and faith in the Communist ideals. Those that didn't were purged, even after the reforms reduced the day-to-day oversight of the political overseers.

The Finnish example is much closer to what we would think of as citizen soldiers fighting to defend their homeland. They were mostly farmers from a nation of riflemen. They had a high literacy rate and were pretty stubborn, independent-minded people. Even though they had emerged from the political struggles of 1919, the Red/White conflict was not a significant part of their motivation for fighting. Indeed the local socialists and Civil Guard agreed to operate as one to defend the homeland against the Soviets. The Red Army Men, driven on by socialist indoctrination and the threat of being shot in the back of the head, got slaughtered.

StG
October 17, 2006, 07:28 AM
> Accurate accounts are hard to come by about how motivated the civilians were.
Well, some accurate accounts that shows motivations.

1941 : one division and 8 batalloins of milita were created.
1942 : over 80 batallions of militia counting at least 11 000 of people.

Theese troops were fought aside with regular ones, were used for recon and covered the people evacuation from Stalingrad.

And some more facts about motivation: at 4th November, 1942 17 members of "Barefeet Garrison" (a partizan formation) were captured by Nazi, tortured and 10 of them were executed at 7th November ... They were 9 to 13 year-old boys.

> Red Army wouldn't let them evacuate.
Over 300 000 people were evacuated.

> It stated that there was approximatley 500,000 civilians in Stanlingrad when the battle started
It couldn't be so -- the population was near 400 000.

> NKVD under direct orders of Stalin were holding mass executions
They fought aside with regular troops ... for example 270 and 272 regiments of 10th NKVD Division defended the "Komsomolskiy" park.

posadnik
October 17, 2006, 09:25 AM
guys.
1. from the formal viewpoint, Vasily Zaitsev was a marine.
2. No step backwards order just motivated the troops, as many soldiers' and officers' memoirs state. Before that, it was disorderly retreat. After that, the retreat started to cease.
3. Yep, it COULD be that in 400.000-people Stalingrad there were 500.000 civilians in summer, 1942, as the city was an important evacuation hub (see Nekrasov, In Trenches of Stalingrad). But no one dares say the people were not evacuated. Just they were coming and coming from the west. Also, in 1941 and 1942 there awere opeople who refused to evacuate. Justy it was their home, and all that.
4. The thesis about NKVD holding mass executions to run weapons productions... I am awfully sorry, but it was simply crap instead of facts.
a) there was simply no need to oppress people like that, making them obey orders: the reppresions boom of late 1930s put everyone to obedience.
b) people in Europe, not to say in Russia, are community-minded, so I can't imagine regular failure to obey orders.
c) by summer 1942 the motivation of the people was already like this: it is not just the government's affair, it's one of my own, as the German forces carried the regime that was far from friendly to the people - just remember that by that time SOME of the territories occupied by the Nazi, were already liberated, so there WERE facts of nazi violence and regular pillage revealed. And the propaganda machine provided the people with them.
d) guys, I do not know if you do, but the evacuation hazzle of 1941 and 1942 was much less disorderly as it could be - as the evacuation plan was compiled well before the war, for every defence-related plant and factory - the hardware and people as well. So, who'd work on those plants back in Siberia, when NKVD shoots workers in huge numbers? But they did issue weapons, and land lease weapons were a great help just for teh period of plants movement and start of their work. Already in 1943 and 1944, the national weapons production was in full swing, decreasing the precentage of aircobras, vallentines etc in the troops. The US help with raw materials, transport aircraft, trucks and jeeps was great, no crap. But the import of weapons was vital only in transition period of 1941 and 1942.

5) I would like to have some info on why Russian data is either a fake or incomplete info, while the guys who bnever crossed teh Atlantic possess the Sacred Truth in their books. Especially bearing in mind that during the Cold War there was a lot of semi-propaganda stuff (on both sides!!!) that crept into regular historiography, distorting the real picture. Not to say Europeans and especially Russians have a more community-oriented mentality, so it is completely wrong to tell those days' guys motivations from the viewpoint of a 21-century American.

antsi
October 17, 2006, 10:26 AM
--------quote----------
I would like to have some info on why Russian data is either a fake or incomplete info, while the guys who bnever crossed teh Atlantic possess the Sacred Truth in their books. Especially bearing in mind that during the Cold War there was a lot of semi-propaganda stuff (on both sides!!!) that crept into regular historiography, distorting the real picture.
-----------------------

There are lots of potential distorting factors in trying to write history about the Great Patriotic War.

First is the fact that in the 1950's and 60's, Western historians had much better access to German participants and archives, particularly interviews with German generals. Therefore they tended to unconsciously adopt the German perspective on the war. The German generals naturally tended to interpret things in such as way as to preserve their own reputations. Therefore, you get the general impression that the war was mostly about overwhelming Russian numbers and Hitler's meddling.

Second, much of the Soviet history writing was distorted by Soviet information control. Many powerful postwar politicians did stupid and/or criminal things during the war (or, altnernatively, did nothing very helpful or glorious during the war) and therefore had both the motive and the ability to re-write history to try to make themeselves look good. Kruschev is a good example of the first and Breshnev is a great example of the second.

Post 1980's, the opening of Soviet archives has done much to correct these distortions. Western historians have had the opportunity to set the record straight by mining Soviet archives and they have made much of this opportunity. Generally, Western historians have had greater resources: bigger book contracts, better supported university positions, so they have been able to spend the time and money doing their research.

I don't think it is reasonable to say that current and recent western historians like Anthony Beevor, David Glantz, and Jonathan House are motivated by an anti-Russian bias. These folks certainly have spend large amounts of time in Russia. Beevor may not have "crossed the Atlantic" to do his Russian research but that's because he's based in England. To some extent, they've made their careers by reversing the anti-Russian bias in previous accounts.

djpullen
October 17, 2006, 10:44 AM
Whoever would have thought that in 1996 that American soldiers would be interacting and training with Russian soldiers. I was in Lviv Ukraine for Peace Shield 96. That was a great time. Good Vodka and lots of it.

http://www.nato.int/structur/nmlo/links/yavoriv-training-centre.pdf

I have a few pictures that the military photographer sent me but the attachment tool says that they are too big to attach on here. I'd love to go back to the Ukraine and tour all over Russia one of these days.

ilbob
October 17, 2006, 10:57 AM
It seems unlikely that Soviet archives regarding WWII are any more accurate than their official reports on military readiness or economic numbers. With a high degree of certainty, we know those reports were routinely falsified. It seems likely that official reports from the WWII era were also routinely falsified.

Opening up of the Soviet archives certainly does give historians another data set to work from, but it is probably far less reliable than the German archives. Propoganda was an integral part of the Soviet system. Soviet leaders never had much in the way of reliable infomration to work from because their own people lied to them almost continuously to avoid the penalties for telling leaders what they did not want to hear.

Joe Demko
October 17, 2006, 11:20 AM
Opening up of the Soviet archives certainly does give historians another data set to work from, but it is probably far less reliable than the German archives. Propoganda was an integral part of the Soviet system.

Have you ever heard of a fellow named Joseph Goebbels (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joseph_Goebbels)?

Dr. Dickie
October 17, 2006, 11:28 AM
Yes, but that was disseminated information to the masses (we had a fair bit of that here in the US as well).
Did the Germans actively falsified records?

ilbob
October 17, 2006, 11:39 AM
Official reports of the German military and of the German government for internal use were generally pretty reliable. Keep in mind how many German generals got into trouble because of them. The leadership knew they needed reliable information on which to make decisions.

I am not suggesting there was no slanting, or that some conclusions were not just plain wrong, but that there was not wholesale fabrication and falsification as there was in the Soviet Union.

antsi
October 17, 2006, 12:03 PM
------quote------
I am not suggesting there was no slanting, or that some conclusions were not just plain wrong, but that there was not wholesale fabrication and falsification as there was in the Soviet Union.
-----------------

Quick! Call David Glantz, John House, and Anthony Beevor! They may not realize that there is potential bias in Soviet records!

Just kidding... but I'm pretty sure that these very capable historians are aware of the potential biases in Soviet records and take account of this in their research.

Cosmoline
October 17, 2006, 01:41 PM
As you can see from our own Russian counter-attack, there is a great deal of emotion invested in the official version of the Great Patriotic War. People want to believe that the Red Army Men fought without duress and without any sympathy for Soviet ideals. They're even defending the secret police! I guess the ruthless purges and wholesale slaughters of soldiers and officers at the hands of Stalin's secret police was just a misunderstanding.

That said, we in the US suffer from our own version of this mythology. We think WWII was fought entirely by the standard hollywood mix of wise-cracking Jew, naive farm boy and Italian immigrants, with Tom Hanks or John Wayne standing as the tough but fair officer. The reality saw many, many instances of conscripts who wanted to be anywhere but where they were. Low morale, horrible planning and idiotic officers were not problems restricted to Vietnam. The war saw a rampant militarization of the nation and even ruthless martial law. Up here, the only place where we faced actual invasion, the Army took over and in a pogrom worthy of Stalin, forced every Aleut to move fro, their ancestoral homes of 10,000 years to overcrowded concentration camps in SE Alaska. The move exposed them to a completely new climate and new diseases, killing a great many. Natives were forbidden from mixing with whites by the military government, and conscript soldiers were treated like fodder. I've heard first hand accounts of privates forced by idiotic officers to dig fox holes in Aleutian muskeg and stand in the freezing water. The climate killed many, and if we'd been facing something more than a slight-of-hand invasion it would have killed far more, because just like Stalin our socialist leaders in DC didn't really care if the troops had anything resembling proper equipment. The morale of the first wave of troops was so low they were declared combat ineffective. The Army had to bring up the 7th ID to eject the Japanese. If the US had faced the same pressures as the USSR, we probably would have seen at least some level of purges and mass executions as the military took more and more control.

Joe Demko
October 17, 2006, 02:02 PM
As you can see from our own Russian counter-attack, there is a great deal of emotion invested in the official version of the Great Patriotic War. People want to believe that the Red Army Men fought without duress and without any sympathy for Soviet ideals. They're even defending the secret police! I guess the ruthless purges and wholesale slaughters of soldiers and officers at the hands of Stalin's secret police was just a misunderstanding.

I'm curious as to why you apparently believe that you know the history and the motivations of the Russians involved better than our own Russian members do. What are your sources of information that you place as more trustworthy than theirs?
Also, I think you are ignoring the fact that the Russians were/are capable of loving and defending their homeland while loathing their government...much the same as many here at THR.

Cosmoline
October 17, 2006, 02:58 PM
Well if they stick around beyond a single post, let's ask them what they think of Stalin's purges of the military and whether they think millions were starved to death in the Ukraine before the war even started. I've talked with many Russian neo-patriots who have some very interesting views on these matters. It's tempting to start believing the old propaganda on both sides.

Also, I think you are ignoring the fact that the Russians were/are capable of loving and defending their homeland while loathing their government...much the same as many here at THR.

It's highly unlikely that anyone as vocal as we are here on THR would have survived to 1941. As detailed in the new book "Ivan's War," the Soviets of the time were a population that had been brainwashed and brutalized for a generation. There was discontent, to be sure, and it was answered with brute force.

antsi
October 17, 2006, 03:42 PM
Personally, I think there is plenty of historical inaccuracy to go around here.

There are the Russian neo-patriots who want to glorify Russian/Soviet accomplishments.

At the same time, it is true, that Western cold-war era WWII history was heavily influenced by German accounts and our own anti-Russian/Soviet biases, and we generally have grossly under-credited the accomplishments of the Soviets. Correcting this misperception does not, however, mean that we should gloss over the monumental crimes of Stalin, the NKVD, or the communist system in general.

I think if you look at the historical works of authors like Glantz, House, Beevor, etc., you will find that they have managed to rectify anti-Soviet inaccuracies without de-emphasizing anti-Soviet truths.

A good video series on this from the Russian perspective is Blood on the Snow. The main story line of their account is that in the 1920's-1950's, Stalin waged a huge war against the Soviet people, and in the middle of that monumental bloodbath, the Soviet people also managed to fight off and defeat a skilled and powerful Nazi invader. Stalin killed more Soviet people than Hitler did, by a long shot. That doesn't detract from the achievements of the Soviet people in defeating the Nazis.

Note: I use 'Soviet people' here not to credit the Soviet system of government, but rather to indicate "the peoples who were under Soviet control at that time" which includes Belorussians, Ukrainians, and scores of other nationalities in addition to Russians.

Cosmoline
October 17, 2006, 04:12 PM
I think there is plenty of historical inaccuracy to go around here

No argument here. That was the point I was trying to make, but probably didn't do too well. I have great respect for the Red Army Men who fought in WWII and for the civilians who managed to survive the carnage. I just think it's easy to view the whole experience through a propaganda-tinted lense. The same can be said of how we view our own role in WWII. We were most certainly tempted by the dark side during that experience, and if we'd been pressed harder I strongly suspect the powers that be would have given in all the way. As it is they proved themselves more than willing to herd up large numbers of Americans into concentration camps and to stifle dissent with brute force.

This is one reason I reject the notion, so popular among modern Americans, that WWII was a positive experience for the nation because it "made boys into men" and brought out the best of us. You can see quite a bit of this thinking in any given thread about the draft.

Joe Demko
October 17, 2006, 06:54 PM
This is one reason I reject the notion, so popular among modern Americans, that WWII was a positive experience for the nation because it "made boys into men" and brought out the best of us. You can see quite a bit of this thinking in any given thread about the draft.

You and I are in complete agreement on this, and I think also on the larger themes of this thread.

StG
October 18, 2006, 09:26 AM
There's official document called "The information on the number of dismissed commanding and political units during 1935-1939" signed by E.Shyadenko

I'm not sure whether the english translation of this document is aviable, so i'll bring up some numbers.

Dismissed from RKKA:
1937 - 18658 ( 13,6% )
1938 - 16362 ( 11,3% )
1939 - 1691 ( 0,6% )
Total : 36711 in 3 years

Looks bad, but ... let's see how many were arrested or condemned.
1937 - 4474 ( 24% of dismissed )
1938 - 5032 ( 30% of dismissed )
1939 - 67 ( 3.6 % of dismissed )
Total : 9573 in 3 years

But there were over 30 000 appeals on improper dismisson or condemnation.
According to them, 11178 of dismissed in 1937-1939 were resored, so the total loss was about 25533 in 3 years.
If we look at 1934-1936 we'll see, that number of dismissed is 20074.
Well, the number of "cleaned out" is greater, but it was fixed by recalling people from the reserves.
That's all 'bout "thousands of executed" and "headless army".

PS: I used incomplete data, but it brings light to scene. The numbers can be isufficiently greater because of Aviation etc.

buck00
October 18, 2006, 02:06 PM
At Stalingrad the Sixth Army's front line divisions contained over 50,000 Soviet citizens in German uniform. This remains a taboo subject in Russia to this day.


The Soviets also executed over 13,500 of their own soldiers at Stalingrad- the equivalent to more than a whole division of troops. This was uncovered post 1991 when the Russian archives opened up.

slzy
October 18, 2006, 02:24 PM
i talked to a girl once from kazahstan. she was about to complete a post-grad degree in math from a major university,so she was well educated. we spoke of ww2,and her eyes lit up. she knew all the generals and marshalls names,just as a student of the american civil war would know who was who. she spoke with pride of her grandfather who worked in the soviet defense industry. two points here,i guess. one,she swelled with pride in her grandfathers and his "comrades" accomplishments. two,how many americans under 30 could name even three generals in ww2?

StG
October 18, 2006, 02:25 PM
At Stalingrad the Sixth Army's front line divisions contained over 50,000 Soviet citizens in German uniform. This remains a taboo subject in Russia to this day.

Well, it is quite surprising, because general Vlasov's army is not a taboo. And was not.


The Soviets also executed over 13,500 of their own soldiers at Stalingrad- the equivalent to more than a whole division of troops. This was uncovered post 1991 when the Russian archives opened up.
Well, deserters were arrested and some of them were executed. I failed to find info in trustworty sources, but 13.500 is common for "yellow press"

buck00
October 18, 2006, 02:41 PM
I wasn't talking about Vlasov's army, cup cake. I was talking specifically about Stalingrad. You’ve only had three posts here at THR, maybe you need to slow it down and read more carefully.

Yellow press? So 13,500 Soviet soldiers executed at Stalingrad is far fetched?

You are right StG, I bet this is made up by the "yellow press."

Oh wait a second, the source is the Russian Ministry of Defense central archive at Podolsk. The number is based on detailed reports from the Stalingrad Front to Aleksandr Shcherbakov, the head of the political department of the Red Army in Moscow. A Soviet soldier could be executed for desertion, crossing over to the enemy, cowardice, incompetence, self-inflicted wounds, 'anti-Soviet agitation' and drunkenness. And 13,500 is just the number of documented executions. There were most likely many more than that.

Yeah but what the hell do the Russians know right?

StG
October 18, 2006, 03:26 PM
I wasn't talking about Vlasov's army, cup cake.
I've got it. You didn't understand me. It is well known that some captured Soviet soldiers cooperated with Nazi, and so did some of the population. I don't reject it. I just don't get why you think that that it is a taboo. There were near 50 000 soviet people, and some of them formed "Von Stumpheld" (if i don't mess something). But most of them were not a part of regular army -- they were "Hiwi".

The number is based on detailed reports from the Stalingrad Front to Aleksandr Shcherbakov
Link to info, please ?

A Soviet soldier could be executed for desertion, crossing over to the enemy, cowardice, incompetence, self-inflicted wounds, 'anti-Soviet agitation' and drunkenness
When you have a city you've got to defend at all costs, this has to be put to an end. Even by executions.

StG
October 18, 2006, 03:47 PM
well, i managet to dig up some info from the archives
Data is not complete, but ...

Most of it looks like this : 1 - 15 october 1942

"Donskoy Front"
detained: 36109
arrested: 736
executed: 433
returned to positions : 32933

"Stalingradskiy Front"
detained: 15649
arrested: 244
executed: 278
returned to positions : 14833

Very cruel and inhuman, yes ?
If we interpolate, we can get 13500, but i doubt. Theese are the one of the largest numbers i found. Most of the documents count 1-30 executed.

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