Blocking detachments in the war. Whether there was in them a real need?
are Not less than penal parts, the mass of rumors and conjectures “acquired“ the protecting groups which were actively used in days of the Great Patriotic War. Similar groups were not the invention of the Stalin mode, their creation was caused by a real situation on fronts and in backs of the Field army which developed during the first period of war.
It should be taken into account that the term “protecting group“ were called various divisions including what was allocated in a tactical reserve, were created for fight against tanks of the opponent, defense of sites of the advanced line where break, etc. was possible. Special groups with the similar name were created in frontier troops for strengthening of protection of border. But the speech in article will go not about them, and about the special groups intended for prevention of panic, flight of fighters from a front line, identification of deserters and saboteurs, establishing order in the next army back.
Blocking detachments began to be created in troops in the first days of war at the initiative of commanders on places. Then People`s Commissariat for Internal Affairs had no relation to them. Army chiefs united the frontier guards receding with troops in the special groups which were carrying out functions protecting. The majority of similar groups formed of skilled soldiers and officers of usual front parts. It is natural that it did not set tasks to shoot receding, and demanded to take all measures to return them in fighting orders, to reveal deserters, saboteurs, etc.
At the end of June, 1941 the special directive of Narkomat of defense of the USSR according to which the organization mobile control - protecting groups on roads, railway junctions, for a clearing of the woods etc. allocated by command with inclusion in their structure of quick employees of bodies of the Third management with tasks was provided “was published:
and) detentions of deserters;
) detentions of all suspicious element which got on a front line;
in) the preliminary investigation made by quick employees of bodies of the Third management of NPO (1 - 2 day) with the subsequent transfer of material together with detainees on jurisdiction“.
People`s Commissariat for Internal Affairs started formation of own blocking detachments only since July 19, creating at special departments of divisions and cases special shooting platoons, at special departments of armies - companies, at special departments of fronts - battalions. In 10 days in the directive of Management of special departments of People`s Commissariat for Internal Affairs of the USSR it was noted that “one of serious means of identification of the agents of the German intelligence transferred to us are organized protecting groups which have to check carefully one and all the military personnel who is unorganized making the way from the front in a front strip, and also the military personnel, groups or alone getting to other parts.
However say the available materials that work of protecting groups is still insufficiently organized, an inspection of the detained persons is carried out superficially, often not operational structure, but the military personnel“.
From these documents it is visible that it was necessary to create blocking detachments and to define an order of their actions literally in emergency mode as to development of the situation on fronts when retreat becomes mass, and often and unorganized, did not prepare in advance.
The situation turned out so difficult that at the beginning of September the General headquarters Rate was forced to be connected to its decision. In the directive which it sent to troops, it was noted: “Experience of fight against the German fascism showed that in our strelkovykhdiviziya there are many panic and directly hostile elements which at the first pressing from the opponent lay down arms, begin to shout: “We were surrounded!“ also entrain other fighters. As a result of similar actions of these elements the division leaves, throws an equipment and then singles begins to come out of the wood. The similar phenomena take place on all fronts“.
According to the solution of the Rate in divisions blocking detachments from reliable fighters, by number to a battalion were created. As their tasks “to consider the direct help to a komsostav in maintenance and establishment of strong discipline in a division, a suspension of flight of the military personnel obsessed with panic, without stopping before a use of weapons, elimination of initiators of panic and flight, support of the honest and fighting elements of a division not subject to panic, but carried away by the general flight“.
By the way, the order a use of weapons was repeatedly explained in special documents. Never demanded to apply it against all running from a front line. So, in the order of People`s Commissariat for Internal Affairs it was explained that “in especially exceptional cases when the situation demands acceptance of drastic measures for immediate restoration of an order at the front, the chief of special department is granted the right of execution of deserters on the place. The chief of special department informs on each such case in special department of army and the front“.
As a rule, shots in air, and if necessary execution on the place of one - two organizers of panic it appeared enough to stop running from a front line, to send them back to positions or to create them in groups for transfer to front parts. On memoirs of veterans, blocking detachments almost instantly stopped panic then the most part of fighters came back to a front line and subsequently was at war with firmness.
From army blocking detachments divisions with number from a platoon under command of the officer which were located behind positions of the second echelon of parts (0,5 - 2 km were usually allocated. from a front line). Blocking detachments of People`s Commissariat for Internal Affairs worked, as a rule, in the back of parts, allocating small groups of the servicemen in pickets, patrols, ambushes, points of verification of documents, etc.
By the end of 1941 when cases of mass panic in troops became rare, retreats were in most cases carried out orderly and under orders, on a number of the directions offensive actions began, the considerable part of army blocking detachments was disbanded, and blocking detachments of People`s Commissariat for Internal Affairs began to work in a front strip, having concentrated on identification of deserters, spies and saboteurs.
To armies it was necessary to return to mass formation of blocking detachments in the summer of 1942 when the catastrophic situation developed on the Stalingrad direction. In the order No. 227 issued then “To a step backwards! “ it was provided “to create within army 3 - 5 well armed protecting groups (on 200 people in everyone), to put them in the direct back of unstable divisions and to oblige them in case of panic and chaotic withdrawal of parts of a division to shoot on the place of alarmists and pants and that to help honest fighters of divisions to fulfill the duty to the Homeland“.
On all fronts then 193 protecting groups were created. That they acted very effectively, the certificate of Special department of People`s Commissariat for Internal Affairs of activity of protecting groups of Stalingrad and Don fronts demonstrates: “Blocking detachments detained from August 1 to October 1, 1942 140 755 servicemen who ran away from the advanced front line. From among detainees:
- is arrested 3 980 people;
- is shot 1 189 people;
- is sent to penal companies of 2 776 people;
- is sent to penal battalions of 185 people;
- is returned in the parts and on forwarding points 131 094 persons“.
As we see, practically all detainees were returned on a front line, less than one percent were shot. In the summer and fall of 1941 executions were applied a little more often. As of October 1, 1941 blocking detachments of People`s Commissariat for Internal Affairs detained 657364 servicemen who lagged behind the parts and running from the front from which “under resolutions of special departments and of sentences of military courts it is shot 10201 persons“ that makes slightly more than 1,5 percent. Archival documents, and practically all cases of a use of weapons were documented, confirm that statements about mass executions by blocking detachments of the receding fighters - no more, than fiction. By the way, it is frequent and blocking detachments had to engage with fascists and even to be at war in an environment.
In separate publications it is possible to meet information that blocking detachments nearly without fail stood behind positions of penalized persons and even the weapon drove them to approach. Veterans do not confirm it. The writer Vladimir Karpov who was at war in a penal company so reacted to the similar statement: “We were really sent to the heaviest directions. But we had no blocking detachments, as shown in the movie (the series “Shtrafbat“ mean). I think if such blocking detachment at us appeared behind the back, we right there would do some shooting it to hell“.
Since 1943 when after Kursk fight resolute approach began, the quantity of blocking detachments in army began to decrease, in 1944 need for them disappeared finally, and by the end of the year they were disbanded.
War is always ruthless also a krovava. During fights often there is a need of acceptance of rigid and even cruel measures concerning own military personnel subject to panic or trying to desert, and actions of protecting groups to that an example. Similar divisions, both regular, and temporarily created, were available also in armies of other countries, including also fascist Germany.