Joseph Stalin – as the ‘elected’ General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union – was understandably ‘disappointed’ when the initial results were received, regarding the performance of the Soviet Red Army following the Nazi German invasion of the USSR in June, 1941. The ‘elite’ Soviet Boder Guards had performed their function appropriately – whilst suffering horrendous casualties in the process. As the ‘first contact’ point of any invading enemy – the task of the Border Guards was to communicate the nature, strength, location and speed of the threat to the country – whilst aiming to ‘slow-down’ that attack and buy time (through their sacrifice) for the more substantial Red Army formations to ‘prepare’ to halt and turn-back the invasion. However, as the German armour and infantry formations smashed into the Red Army (in its well-dug-in and prepared positions) – the Soviet military formations were cut-off from one another and easily ‘encircled’ – where they ‘surrendered’ in their hundreds of thousands! In the first few weeks of the invasion, the Nazi German Army took at least 300,000 Red Army POWs, and made good use of the captured weaponry, ammunition, medical and food supplies! Although educated in the superior ideology of Marxist-Leninism – these Soviet military formations were being ripped apart and reduced to trembling cowardice. Of course, although tens of thousands of Red Army soldiers died fighting bravely – their sacrifice was wasted by individuals who did not perform their duty correctly.
Hitler had ordered that the inferior Slavic race should be eradicated from the planet as it had chosen to follow the ‘Jewish’ ideology of Bolshevism (even though this had nothing to do with Judaism). Hitler’s madness had convinced him that everything he did not life or favour was somehow the product of Jewish deceit – and that by eradicating the Jews (and their allies) he could ‘purify’ the world of all its corruption. To achieve this – or so Hitler believed – all living Jews (and their allies) had to be killed – along with all disabled, homosexuals, gypsies and anyone who resisted his ideology. Hitler predicted that the Red Army would not stand and fight his racially superior soldiers and the advanced technology that German industry had turned-out. In the early months of the Great Patriotic War, Hitler’s prediction appeared to be coming true. At first, the Soviet High Command thought that the mass-surrenders and loss of soldiers were the result of the ‘shock’ of the Blitzkrieg strategy being employed by the Hitlerites. After the Russian winter of 1941-1942 brought the Nazi German attack to a halt – the Soviet High Command was able to restructure and reorder its shattered military formations. Fresh soldiers and equipment were brought-in and deployed across the frontline. Political Commissars extended, improved and deepened the political ideology classes – so that each man and woman of the Red Army understood what was at stake – and the murderous activities being carried-out by the Nazi Germans!
As spring approached in 1942 – the fighting resumed with many Soviet counter-attacks dissolving into nothing and being easily beaten back to their starting-lines. When the Nazi Germans began their offensive toward Stalingrad – the Soviet Red Army forces collapsed yet again! This failure of new troops and more advanced weaponry prompted Joseph Stalin to issue orders that ‘stiffened’ the resolve of those soldiers who ‘gave-in’ too easily! He also created ‘Special’ Blocking Battalions whose function was to machine-gun down the returning Soviet troops – if their return was ‘unsanctioned’ by the High Command. Before opening fire, however, these Battalions took every possible opportunity to persuade the retreating soldiers to turn-back toward the enemy. Joseph Stalin Ordered:
The German troops were forced to retreat in the winter under the pressure of the Red Army. Their discipline was shattered. Then the Germans resorted to severe measures, and those have not shown bad results.
As is well-known, those measures have had their effect, and the German troops now fight better than they did in the winter. The German troops now have good discipline even though they do not have before them the lofty mission of defending their homeland and have only the predatory objective of occupying enemy territory.
In each front area, from one to three punishment battalions of five hundred men each are to be created. Into them are to be placed all intermediate and senior commanders and political officers of comparable ranks who have shown themselves guilty of cowardice, of not preserving discipline, or of not maintaining resistance to the enemy. They will be committed in especially dangerous situations so that they may expiate their crimes against the homeland with their blood.
Corps and division commanders, who allow troops to retreat without an order from the army commander are to be unconditionally removed. They will be turned over to the military councils of the fronts to be condemned by court martials.
In each army area, three to five well-armed blocking detachments of approximately two hundred men are to be created. They will be stationed directly behind unreliable divisions, and it will be their duty, in the event of panics of unauthorised retreats, to shoot spreaders of panic or cowards on the spot.
In each army area three to five punishment companies of one hundred fifty to two hundred men are to be created in which all enlisted men and junior officers are to be placed who are guilty of cowardice, not preserving discipline, or of failing to maintain resistance to the enemy. They will be committed to especially dangerous situations so that they may expiate their crimes against their homeland with their blood.
Our armoured forces and their units frequently suffer greater losses through mechanical breakdowns than they do in battle. For example, at Stalingrad Front in six days twelve of our tank brigades lost 326 out of their 400 tanks. Of these about 260 owed to mechanical problems. Many of the tanks were abandoned on the battlefields. Similar instances can be observed on other fronts.
Since such a high incidence of mechanical defects is implausible, the Supreme Headquarters sees in it covert sabotage and wrecking by certain elements in the tank crews who try to exploit small mechanical troubles to avoid battle.’
Earl F Ziemke & Magna E Bauer: Moscow to Stalingrad – Decision in the East, Military Heritage Press, (1988), Pages 361-381