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The RUSSIAN IVAN won the war! How to distlnguish truth from lie…

Doctor of History, the known specialist in sphere of historical-demographical studies Vladimir Isupov devoted many of his works to theme of the Great Patriotic War. The theme of last book by professor Isupov is the mobilization of human resources for protection of Native Land. Historian told to portal “The World and We” about who and what write about war and how we can separate truth from lie on the threshold of 70 years from the day of Great Patriotic War beginning:

- There is no subject in our history attracting more intent attention than the Great Patriotic War. Thousands of books are written about tragedy of huge country, its heroic fight with aggressors, about those who forged victory on front and in rear. It seems that everything is studied rigorously and described in details and there are no unstudied themes. However the war remains unknown in many events.

Historians were forced some time ago to ignore so called “sharp” subjects. Myths appeared as result of such tendentious approach determined by ideology exclusively. From the other side historians found themselves in quite difficult situation in last decade of former century and first decade of present century. Because, from one side, they tried to go away from descriptive concept of war as feat of arms and heroism only, but from the other side they didn’t wash themselves to another ashore yet. Plenty of works appeared during two last decades main task of which is attracting attention of readers by catchy declarations. Kit of new “quasidemocratic” myths appeared so. Efforts of both pro-communist and anti-communist historians distorted history of Great Patriotic War in result so that we might speak about war invented by above-mentioned historians – war which was never.

We often saw war as striking adventure. And we took a great interest in it. There were feats in front and in rear, but it is necessary to remember that war is abnormal, pathological condition of human society. It was written too much about events of war, it is told a little that war is social pathology. But really war is such a thing which is not to be simply described but to be a subject for special study.

- There are special studies yet: some people write about battalions of military offen-ders, for example.

- Yes, some people wrote that the war was won by battalions of military offenders only. There are both books and films about it. But it is truth less than a half. But everything wasn’t as, for example, was shown in film “Battalion of Military Offenders”.
It had passed less than a month since beginning of the war but Presidium of Supreme Council of the USSR published order about impunity of condemned people who leaved to front. 420 thou¬sands condemned people from prisons, colonies and camps were sent to front in the period from beginning of war to the end of 1941 year. More than million people were sent to front from places of imprisonment to front during years of war.
Criminals entered front units in the beginning of war that made too much problems therefore since autumn of `1942 condemned people were sent to companies of military offenders. Now it is widely believed opinion that only prisoners condemned for insignificant crimes of property or home character only were sent to front. However, it is not corresponded to reality – hard crimi¬nals were sent to front. There are many evidences about appearance of thieves, gangsters and even condemned to shoot in battalions of military offenders. But there was exception: political prisoners became military offenders only by mistakes and faults of courts and tribunals. They were taken nor to army nor to battalions of military offenders, but only to so called “labour columns”.

- Battalion of military offenders – was it the sentence forever?

- The term of service in penalty formations was set from one to three months. Sometimes there was no term in sentence. In this case commanders considered as following: sentence up to five years was equal to one month of service in battalion of military offenders, up to seven years was equal to two months up to ten years was equal to three months.

Battalions and companies of military offenders were sent to most dangerous parts of front really. The fact that three months of service in battalion of military offenders was equal to 10 years of imprisonment speaks about much. There were ways from battalion of military offenders: to leave because of wound or for battle honour. It is necessary to specify that according to order from January 26 1944 it was banned to send gangsters, robbers and recidivists to companies of military offenders. 438 thousand people were served in 65 battalions of military offenders and in 1037 companies of military offenders during Great Patriotic War. Battalions and companies of military offenders were 1-2 per cents of total strength of our army really. During long time nobody wrote or spoke about battalions of military offenders but these people fought with dignity. They played their role. But it was not decisive. Simple Ivan from village played decisive role – there were hundred thousands of such soldiers in army. Ordinary button men, as a rule, village habitant, put decisive contribution in victory.

Or, for example, there are absolutely fantastic digits about call to army of former wealthy pea-sants. Yes, it was truth, but there were colossal restrictions for such cases really. The state was very mistrustful to former wealthy peasants. This is fact: special destructive battalions were formed even in deep rear for case if former wealthy peasants rebelled in time of Nazi approach.

- Did the Soviets believe in victory always?

- I think one can’t make any one-sided conclusion. There were most different opinions in the beginning of war. There were some people who believed everything was finished, but there were some people who believed that everything was beginning only and our country couldn’t be defeated. There were some people who lost their heads. War is such a thing when it is impossible to reduce everything to a common denominator. As to my opinion, universal certitude in victory, full and unconditional, appeared just after the battle of Stalingrad in 1943.

- What are the directions of studies now?

- There are many directions of domestic historians work studying Great Patriotic war. I will name just few of them. Firstly, this is demographical subject. We don’t know number of dead in war yet. Stalin said about 7 million people in 1947, Khrushchov said about 20 million people in 1961, Brezhnev declared about much than 20 million people later. Then number of dead was said 25 millions. But nobody knows what was in fact!
Moreover we know nothing about death rate change. We take number of dead servicemen only, but death rate in rear was catastrophically high, birth rate reduced to minimum values. Children who had to be born, weren’t born and these are the military losses too!

- What subjects are studied not enough?

- One direction of studies is the mystery of 1941. We don’t know what happened and why. We don’t know this exactly as far as many others therefore it is necessary to study, for example, national relations in war years, life in rear…

Military mobilization work in rear is studied not enough up to day. More than eleven millions army was formed in our country in the middle of 1943 year. And this level was maintained up to victory due to titanic work in spite of heavy casualties. For example, almost 12 million people were sent to our armed forces during first six months of war.  34, 5 million people were mobilized to Armed Forces of the USSR since 1939 to 1945 years.

- Who did get the reservation in those years?

- Norms of reservation concession were revised due to heavy casualties. For example, it was decided to mobilize each fifth of those who got reservation earlier according to resolution of chairman of Commission on exoneration and suspensions of mobilization at enterprises and institutions under National Commissariat of Communications Means. Chiefs tried to keep best specialists in rear, of course. And leaders of enterprises decided to make forgery of documents in some cases – “according to wish to keep staff”. It is possible to understand “red directors” of course, because women and teenagers couldn’t substitute necessary specialists.

- How many Soviet soldiers did return to the ranks after recovery in hospitals?

- Fighting men who were under medical treatment in hospitals were considered important source of front replenishment. Specialists observe: soviet doctors assured very high per cent of wounded return to the ranks in years of war. More than one million servicemen died from total number of 14,7 million people being wounded, contused, burnt and frostbitten. Three million servicemen became invalids. But 10,5 million servicemen returned to the ranks! 29 per cent of wounded and sick servicemen returned to the ranks in years of war totally.

- And all difficulties of war time fell to women’s shoulders in rear…

- In fact the rear districts of our country transferred into female regions. Women occupied working places of men, who went to front. Women were forced to work as stoker, loader, miner, welder, ferriers… Women ploughed, sowed, mowed and made plenty other works in village.
Mass military mobilizations took place for women in 1942. It concerned to girls from 19 to 25 years old. They worked as parachute layer, photo laboratory assistant, telegraphist. But there were several air force regiments of bombers driven by female flight staff. Many women served in anti-aircraft defence units. The result of war depended on millions of simple people. 490 thousands of women were called to service during years of war. 177 thousands of them – to anti-aircraft defence units. Maybe these data are put too low even: some investigators consider that more than million women defended their country with weapon in arms.

- How do you value the books written by nonprofessional historians but history amateurs. Plenty of such books appear in present time. For example, books about the same mystery of 1941 year…

- I have dual attitude to these works. From one side there are many sensible and very interesting thoughts; authors frequently pay attention to unexpected subjects. It is necessary to take into account by all means. But from the other side there are so inexactitudes and simply to say nonsense in many books about war published last years. This is why it is hard to put general estimation to all of these books – it must be individual in every concrete case.

- But how can reader understand what book deserves his attention and what book it is better do not take in arms simply?

- As concerns to me personally, I orient myself to some my own internal sense. It is possible that I have it because I read tens and thousands of books about war, studied great number cases in archives, met with many competent people and, of course, with those who passed war. I think that people who want to know more about Great Patriotic War history must pay less attention to loud phrases, but take into account position of common sense and hear opinion of professionals whose number, believe, is not little.

The outcome of war depended on millions of simple people: soldiers and workers of rear, their will, patience and courage, their ability to fight and to work. The most bloody war in history of humanity transformed to war of motors, but not iron but people solved the outcome of battle. War doesn’t know halftones. Greatest heroism and the most low baseness, stupidity and genius, self-sacrifice and egoism, good and bad went abreast on long and bloody way to victory as always happens in life. On must remember it and our historians must tell about this.

Viewed : 2731   Commented: 1

Author: Владимир Кузменкин

Publication date : 14 June 2011 11:09

Source: The world and we

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