Translator’s Note: Within a number of not too complimentary Western (bourgeois) accounts of the ‘Great Patriotic War’ (1941-1945) – it is often stated (without credible evidence) that the NKVD (Rear Protection) Troops would deploy machine-gun crews ‘behind’ the advancing Red Army infantry Units – and ‘routinely’ open-fire at any Red Army soldiers ‘retreating’ to their start-lines without orders or legitimate reason. An example of this can be seen in the otherwise interesting (2001) British film entitled ‘Enemy at the Gates’ – which depicts a failed Red Army attack upon Nazi German positions in the besieged city of Stalingrad! Prior to this scene, the arriving Red Army troops arrive in theatre by boat and train – only to find one soldier given a rifle with no bullets – and the next soldier in-line a clip of bullets with no rifle! Again, although this fits-in with the usual Cold War disinformation that Socialism is both callous and brutal – I can find no reliable ‘objective’ evidence that any of this happened in reality. Alexander Werth – who travelled with the Red Army throughout the Great Patriotic War – mentions none of these types of events happening at any point in the conflict, which he expertly recorded in his (1965) book entitled ‘Russia At War’. It would appear that these accusations were fabricated by defectors, dissidents and US-friendly ideologues. The NKVD (Rear Protection) Troops fought bravely against often terrible odds and did a very good job! As an outstanding example of Soviet-Socialist organisation – the US (and her allies) had to attack the courage and accomplishments of these Russian men and women! ACW (5.1.2021)
On June 25th, 1941, the Council of People’s Commissars of the USSR adopted a decree assigning the tasks of protecting the rear of the active Red Army to the NKVD. On June 26th, 1941, the Deputy People’s Commissar of Internal Affairs – Lieutenant General Maslennikov – signed an order according to which a Special Rear Echelon Detachment of NKVD Troops was formed – comprised of Border Troops, Operational Troops and Escort Troops – and functioning as NKVD Troops for the protection of railways and important industrial complexes (to be known as the ‘Internal NKVD Troops of the USSR’) – and designed to operate in the active combat zone protecting the rear of the Red Army.
The bulk of rear protection troops of were recruited from the Border Troops (about 70%). These soldiers had fought bravely against the Nazi German invasion – and then ‘escaped’ to the Soviet lines for redeployment as the Nazi Germans advanced into the hinterland of the USSR. Corresponding front directorates were created to direct the activities of the troops in protecting the rear. They were formed on the basis of the directorates of the troops of the Western Border Districts. The chiefs of troops for rear protection were the already appointed chiefs of the Border Districts Troops who were re-deployed.
The tasks of the ‘rear protection’ NKVD Troops were:
Combating espionage, sabotage and banditry, desertion and looting.
The destruction of small enemy groups that have infiltrated the rear of the active army.
Collection of military equipment captured and left in the rear of the troops.
On April 28th, 1942, as part of the Main Directorate of Internal Troops of the NKVD of the USSR – a special directorate of troops was formed to protect the rear of the active army (at first it was headed by Lieutenant General A.M. Leontyev, and then Lieutenant General I.M. Gorbatyuk), which in April, 1943, was transformed into the Main Directorate. On May 4th, 1943, the number of troops for the protection of the rear stood at 62,818 personnel.
In 1944-1945, rear protection troops in the Baltic States fought against the nationalist underground – the “forest brothers” – in Western Ukraine (which lasted until 1947) – with the UPA , and in Poland – with the Home Army.
After the end of the Great Patriotic War – by order of the NKVD No. 00805 of July 9th, 1945 – the NKVD Troop Directorates for the ‘protection of the rear’ were withdrawn as the military fronts were abolished. NKV?D Troops were moved into a mobile Reserve that assisted the Red Army wherever needed. During October 1945, the NKVD Troops were abolished – with the already enlisted personnel transferred to the Internal Troops of the NKVD.
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