Penal military unit
Penal battalions, penal companies, etc., are military formations consisting of convicted persons for which military service in such units was either the assigned punishment or an alternative to imprisonment or capital punishment.
- See Royal African Corps (1800–1821), and its derivative units.
- See Battalion of Light Infantry of Africa formed in 1832 and made up of men with prison records who still had to do their military service or soldiers with serious disciplinary problems.
- See Régiment pénal de l'Ile de Ré, formed in 1811
- See Afrika-Brigade 999 (AKA Bewährungseinheiten 999, Strafbataillon 999, Bewährungstruppe 999, Division 999).
- See Dirlewanger Brigade (AKA SS-Sturmbrigade Dirlewanger).
- See Galvanized Yankees; during the American Civil War, Confederate prisoners of war who swore allegiance to the Union were allowed to join the Union Army and serve on the western frontier.
Saudi Arabia and Syria
There have been reports that convicts from Saudi prisons have been set free prematurely on the condition that they will join in the Syrian Civil War against the regime of President Bashar al-Assad.
References in culture
- The story, "The Warlord" by Soviet writer Vladimir Karpov recounts Karpov's military career from a penal company serviceman to a Guards Colonel awarded the title of Hero of the Soviet Union.
- Nikolai Dostal's critically acclaimed 11-part television serial, Penal Battalion ("Shtrafbat" ("Штрафбат", Shtrafbat at the Internet Movie Database), was released in 2004.
- The Dirty Dozen, a 1967 American film about a fictional U.S. penal military unit directed by Robert Aldrich, from the novel by E.M. Nathanson.
- The novels by Sven Hassel about the (fictional) 27th Penal Panzer Regiment.
- Between Heaven and Hell (film) features a paroled military prisoner sent to a company that contains a variety of misfits.
- the novel Biribi by French author Georges Darien is based on his memories of his own military service in the African Battalion.
- The hero of Paullina Simons' Bronze Horseman trilogy, Alexander Belov, is sentenced to serve in a Red Army penal battalion.
- The Soviet faction in Command and Conquer: Red Alert 3 have penal flak infantry units whose quotes convey disapproval of their situation.
- The Penal Legions of Warhammer 40,000 consist of prisoners convicted of anything from failure to return library books to murder.
- Bad Company of Battlefield: Bad Company and its sequels is a fictional US Military penal battalion.
- Conquest, Robert, Kolyma: The Arctic Death Camps, Methuen Press, (1978) ISBN 978-0-670-41499-4
- Hatch, Gardner N., American Ex-prisoners of War: Non Solum Armis, Turner Publishing Company, (1988), ISBN 978-1-56311-624-7
- Krivosheev, G.F. Soviet Casualties and Combat Losses in the twentieth century, London, Greenhill Books, 1997, ISBN 978-1-85367-280-4, available online (in Russian) .
- Lebed, Alexander (Gen.), My Life and My Country, Regnery Publishing, Inc. (1997) ISBN 978-0-89526-422-0
- Manazeev, Igor, A 'Penal' Corps on the Kalinin Front, Journal of Slavic Military Studies, Vol. 15, Issue 3, September 2002 OCLC 201968754
- Mawdsley, Evan, The Stalin Years: The Soviet Union 1929-1953, Manchester University Press (2003), ISBN 978-0-7190-6377-0
- Suvorov, Viktor, Inside The Soviet Army, Hamish Hamilton (1982), ISBN 0-241-10889-6
- Tolstoy, Nikolai, Stalin's Secret War, New York: Holt, Rinehart & Winston (1981), ISBN 0-03-047266-0
- Toppe, Alfred, Night Combat, Diane Publishing (1998), ISBN 978-0-7881-7080-5
- Yefim Golbraikh memoirs, including his serving commander of a penal company (Russian)
- Article on Penal Units from Voice of Russia