Rus Articles Journal

Penalized persons in the war. How to distinguish the truth from fiction?

are Considered by the enemy - morally we are weak.

Behind it both the wood, and the cities are burned. you better the wood cut

for coffins -

go To break penal battalions!
Vladimir Vysotsky`s Song “Penal battalions“ was written to

in 1964. The poet became one of the first who started talking about penalized persons at the top of the voice. The official ban on disclosure in works of a subject of penalized persons at that time did not exist, just tried not to remember them especially as materials about penal parts all are that remained secret. Naturally, as in the years of war cultural figures did not mention penalized persons.

Much later journalists and writers began to write about penalized persons, there were feature films in which the truth was thoroughly mixed with fiction. The subject turned out “very famous“, naturally, that there were persons interested to milk it.

In principle, any writer or the screenwriter has the right for fiction. It is bad when obviously abuse this right, almost completely ignoring the historical truth. Especially it belongs to cinema. It is no secret that the modern youth likes to read that not really - preferring to obtain information from the Internet and movies. After an exit to TV screens of series “Shtrafbat“ they obtained this information. Now to convince them that what was seen - ordinary fiction, art vision of the director and screenwriter which had very vague idea of real shtrafbata, not easy. It is curious that the cinema master Mikhalkov who sent in “Burnt by the Sun - 2“ the hero Kotov in penalized persons obviously for ultraboundary term did not resist temptation even.

In the years of war penal battalions and companies (these are essentially different separate military units) began to be formed only since summer of 1942, having existed then till summer of 1945. It is natural that concluded by echelons in penalized persons did not direct also commanders of companies and platoons did not appoint.

Here it is necessary to make a reservation that in 1941 several large-scale amnesties for the persons who committed not serious crimes and suitable for service then were carried out more than 750 thousand people were directed to the front. At the beginning of 1942 one more amnesty which gave armies of 157 thousand people followed. All of them went for replenishment of usual front parts, and, some parts and divisions almost completely (except officers and sergeants) were formed of the former prisoners. Amnesties for the insignificant number of prisoners proceeded and later, but all amnestied went only to front parts.

Formation of penal battalions and companies began after the well-known order No. 227 of July 28, 1942 “To a step backwards!“. It is considered that the first shtrafrota was created on the Leningrad front three days before a release of this order. Mass formation of penal divisions began since September when the order of the people`s commissar of defense of the USSR approved regulations on penal battalions and companies of field army.

It was provided that penal battalions in quantity from one to three are created on each front that “to give the chance to the persons of an average and the senior command, political and commanding structure of all types of military forces who were guilty of misconduct on cowardice or instability blood to expiate the crimes before the Homeland brave fight against the enemy on more difficult site of military operations“.

As you can see, only officers and to them the equated persons went to shtrafbata, and, the decision on it was made by chiefs in a position not below the commander of a division. The small part of officers got to shtrafbata on sentences of military courts. Before the direction in shtrafbat officers were subject to degrading to ordinary, their awards were given to storage to a front human resources department. It was possible to direct in shtrafbat for a period of a month to three.

Shtrafbatovtsa, the got wounds or which caused a stir in fights were represented to an early release with restoration in a former rank and the rights. The dead were restored in a rank automatically, and their family was granted pension “in accordance with general practice with all families of commanders“. It was provided that all penalized persons who served the put sentence “are presented by command of a battalion to a front Council of War regarding release and after the adoption of representation are released from a penal battalion“. All released were restored in a rank and returned them all their awards.

Penal companies were created in quantity from five to ten in each army that “to give the chance to the ordinary fighters and junior commanders of all types of military forces who were guilty of misconduct on cowardice or instability blood to wash away guilt before the Homeland“. The former officers also could get to shtrafrota if were degraded to privates by the solution of a military court. In this case, after departure of term in a shtrafrota, to them the officer rank was not restored. The term of stay and the principle of release from shtrafrot (for all the time of their existence) was just the same, as well as from shtrafbat, only decisions were made by Councils of War of armies.

Penal battalions and companies were the separate military units directly subordinated to command of the front and army, only regular (regular) officers and commissioners ordered them (later - political workers) for which reduction of term of a period of service for receiving the next rank half was provided, and every month services it was set off at award of pension in six months. To commanders of penalized persons the high disciplinary rights were granted: komrota as to the commander of a regiment, and battalion commander as commander of a division. Originally the number of regular officers and commissioners in shtrafrota reached 15 people, including the operative of People`s Commissariat for Internal Affairs and the paramedic, but then their quantity decreased to 8 - 10.

In fight the penalized person could replace the killed commander with some time, but could not order penal division in a usual situation even by way of exception. Penalized persons could be appointed only to non-commissioned officer`s positions with assignment of the corresponding rank, and, in this case they received “non-commissioned officer`s“ monetary pay.

Penal parts were used, as a rule, on the most dangerous sectors of the front, charged them carrying out developing attack, break of a first line of the opponent, etc. Information that penalized persons machine guns were driven to fight by blocking detachments (similar is shown in the mentioned series), is not supported by either the documents, or memoirs of veterans.

It was provided in regulations on penal parts that for concrete feats penalized persons can be recommended for government awards. So, A. Kuznetsov provides the interesting figures taken them from the archival document in article devoted to penalized persons: “In penal parts 64 - y armies during fights near Stalingrad 1023 persons for courage were exempted from punishment. From them are awarded: the Order of Lenin - 1, Patriotic war of the II degree - 1, the Red Star - 17, the medals “For Courage“ and “For Services in Battle“ - 134“. I will remind that in armies there were only shtrafrota so it is about penalized persons - sergeants and privates. So Vysotsky was right: “And if you do not catch lead in a breast, you will catch a medal on a breast “For courage““.

The former prisoners could not get to shtrafbata in principle if before they on received officer ranks. Got to shtrafrota also former amnestied, but only after commission of offenses in front parts where served. Besides, the insignificant number of convicts under not heavy articles which during court or already in colonies were granted a delay from departure of punishment with the direction in a penal company went to shtrafrota. As a rule, it were not civilians, but the former military personnel or soldiers from rear parts condemned by military courts.

Since 1943 when active approach began, began to send the former military personnel who remained during the fights in the occupied territory but which were not trying to pass a front line or to adjoin guerrillas to shtrafrota. Then began to send after the corresponding checks to shtrafrota of voluntarily given vlasovets, politsayev, the staff of occupational administrations which did not soil themselves punishments over civilians, underground workers and guerrillas, and on age were subject to an appeal on service.

All for years of war 65 penal battalions and 1037 penal companies were created. They had various existence time, some were disbanded in several months after creation, others were at war until the end of war, having reached Berlin. The maximum quantity at the same time existing shtrafrot was in July, 1943 - 335. There were cases when the caused a stir penal companies in full strength transferred to the category of front. Since 1942 also penal squadrons for pilots were created, according to official figures they existed only several months.

Since 1943 the quantity of shtrafbat became sharp to decrease, in their 1944 there were only 11, in everyone approximately on two with small hundreds of people. It is connected with the fact that there were not enough skilled officers in army, more rare to send to their steel to shtrafbata, preferring to lower guilty of a rank on several steps and to appoint to subordinate officer positions.

All during war through penal parts there passed about 428 thousand people. The fault, real or imaginary, the vast majority expiated them with honor, and, many - the life. It is necessary to be respectful to their memory, in the Great Victory there is also their contribution.