From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
WikiProject Russia / History / Military (Rated Start-class, Mid-importance)
WikiProject icon This article is within the scope of WikiProject Russia, a WikiProject dedicated to coverage of Russia on Wikipedia.
To participate: Feel free to edit the article attached to this page, join up at the project page, or contribute to the project discussion.
Start-Class article Start  This article has been rated as Start-Class on the project's quality scale.
 Mid  This article has been rated as Mid-importance on the project's importance scale.
Taskforce icon
This article is supported by the history of Russia task force.
Taskforce icon
This article is supported by the Russian, Soviet, and CIS military history task force.
WikiProject Military history (Rated Start-Class)
MILHIST This article is within the scope of the Military history WikiProject. If you would like to participate, please visit the project page, where you can join the project and see a list of open tasks. To use this banner, please see the full instructions.
Start This article has been rated as Start-Class on the quality assessment scale.

Till the first injury?[edit]

Is it true or a legend that the service in shtrafbat automatically ended with a combat injury (do pervoy krovi). If so, it should be added to the article. Also, I don't get the meaning of the last sentence. : "In fact, it was unnecessary: those who served in penal units were unconditionally under the threat of death penalty." Why would that make zagradotryad unnecessary. Perhaps, it should be stated differently. Thanks! -Irpen 05:06, Jun 7, 2005 (UTC)

"1st blood": miscommunication; a rather silly idea, I would say, bearing in mind the times. Probaly arisen from the cliches of the application: "I ask to allow me to wash away with my blood my guilt before Motherland", "to purge my guilt with blood", etc. But I will try to double-check. mikka (t)
I heard earlier that standard sentence to penal unit for for three months or until the first heroic deed or combat injury. But now I searched a little to confirm and make sure. This is what I found in the first or second yandex link for the string: Штрафбат ранение. From ПОЛОЖЕНИЕ О ШТРАФНЫХ БАТАЛЬОНАХ ДЕЙСТВУЮЩЕЙ АРМИИ Signed by Zhukov on Sept. 26, 1942
1. Штрафные батальоны имеют целью дать возможность лицам среднего и старшего командного, политического и начальствующего состава всех родов войск, провинившимся в нарушении дисциплины по трусости или неустойчивости, кровью искупить свои преступления перед Родиной отважной борьбой с врагом на более трудном участке боевых действий.
9. Лица среднего и старшего командного, политического и начальствующего состава направляются в штрафные батальоны ... на срок от одного до трех месяцев.
13. За неисполнение приказа, членовредительство, побег. с поля боя или попытку перехода к врагу командный и политический состав штрафного батальона обязан применить все меры воздействия вплоть до расстрела на месте.
15. За боевое отличие штрафник может быть освобожден досрочно по представлению командования штрафного батальона, утвержденному Военным Советом фронта. За особо выдающееся боевое отличие штрафник, кроме того, представляется к правительственной награде.
17. Все освобожденные из штрафного батальона восстанавливаются в звании и во всех правах.
18. Штрафники, получившие ранение в бою, считаются отбывшими наказание, восстанавливаются в звании и во всех правах...
The link is here (closer to the bottom of the page). Irpen 05:32, Jun 8, 2005 (UTC)
If it needs to be translated, yes, one of the articles of the order about penal battallions clearly says that servicemen who are injured in combat are given unconditional pardon and are restored in all their rights. No need to make this scarier than it was. This outcome was perceived as tricky only on account of the dangerous nature of the operations shtrafbats executed. All in all, I strongly doubt the truthfulness of the system described in the article (that the true motive behind forming penal battallions was to kill them off as soon as possible, going so far as to send qualified pilots to trigger landmines). As with other layman myths about Soviet military, this suggests that Soviet Army gave completely no thought to strategy, tactics, matters of practicality or the value of human life; were it the case, any military victory would be impossible, less so of the scale the Eastern Front had shown. This is not the question of ideology, but of practicality and common sense. (I've just gone through other criticisms of this article, and agree with all of them.) (talk) 03:13, 5 January 2013 (UTC)
"Last sentence": What is unclear here? They knew: turning back means execution, without any NKVD. mikka (t) 05:38, 7 Jun 2005 (UTC)
Well, being killed not for, but during an attempt not to move forward is a stronger threat. I simply don't know whether barrage troops were used or not for penal units but the answer is not obvious to me from the logic. So, if this is a fact, the article should just say so. If this is an analysis, it does not seem fully convinsing. As per this the barrage troops were not used for penal batalions (units for former commanding officers) but were used for penal companies (for the rest). This is all that I could find quickly, I will look for more when I feel competent to contribute for the article. Regards, -Irpen 05:32, Jun 8, 2005 (UTC)

Dubious phrases[edit]

I removed this info for now as suspicious:

  • ...10 years of prison equaled to 3 months of shtrafbat, 5-8 years to 2 months, 5 years or less to 1 month.
  • ...convicts released from prisons and labor camps who volunteered into active military service;

mikka (t) 05:38, 7 Jun 2005 (UTC)

  • Penal battalion service was very dangerous, and was often used in attempts to break through particularly stubborn enemy defences with human wave attacks. AFAIK Russians did not use human wave attacks during WWII. Germans had enough MG34s to ensure that these types of attacks were doomed to failure.

Pointed it out in the Talk for Rokossovsky, repeating it here. The "bemused Stalin mocking Rokossovsky for missing fingernails in 1941" is quite dubious. From my own experience (a train door took my nail clean off, without hurting the finger itself), traumatically removed fingernails grow back after a couple of months. It appears that this is a myth and an unneccessary "scary story" about Stalinism. Though horrendous things have happened, and the Army Purge is one of them, there's no need to "support" this sentiment with cheap anecdotes. Also, the WHOLE rest of the article is highly dubious, but I leave its critique to qualified historians, since I'm not, and this is a hotly contested topic. (talk) 03:13, 5 January 2013 (UTC)

Order 227 only remained in full effect for three months! It's not relevant to this article.[edit]

"The holding units [established under Order 227] were in operation for about three months; on 29 October a new order was issued which cancelled them as from November 1942." Generals didn't implement the terms of Order 227 since they perceived it as a waste of their own troops. Hence, the alleged barrier units that were supposed to arrest deserters were more likely to be "posted to keep guard over command posts" or used to divert "less useful manpower [to] menial jobs." Combined with the negative effect it had on morale, the decision to have regular army units self-police was abandoned by the Soviet leadership shortly after it began.

From Anthony Sellas, The Value of Human Life in Soviet Warfare, (NY: Routledge, 1992) p.159.

Of course, the NKVD (as a political security force) systematically arrested deserters in the rear throughout the war. But the army did not waste its own manpower doing so. —Preceding unsigned comment added by TheShadowDawn (talkcontribs) 09:32, 19 May 2008 (UTC)

WikiProject Military history/Assessment/Tag & Assess 2008[edit]

Article reassessed and graded as start class. --dashiellx (talk) 20:17, 27 June 2008 (UTC)

Agreed. Article is currently very misleading, sources are mostly weak (authors with intense personal agendas), and there are almost no primary sources. Article completely overlooks the criteria for being discharged from Strafbat service (3mo service, moderate or heavy wound, or distinction in combat). Also, aside from a single instance (a unit created under orders from a Front commander, not Stalin), there were no cases of the ridiculous penal aircraft detachments. Such men were simply sent to the army penal units. Finally, lack of weaponry was more the exception than the rule; there are recounts of these units being plentifully armed before battle.-- (talk) 16:28, 3 September 2012 (UTC)

The Dirty Dozen is just fiction[edit]

The article claims that the movie " The Dirty Dozen " was a dramatization.In fact, that movie is just a fiction.Agre22 (talk) 02:51, 6 September 2008 (UTC)agre22

Order 227[edit]

The para:"Pursuant to Order No. 227, any attempt to retreat without orders, or even a failure to advance was punished by barrier troops ('zagraditel'nye otriady') or "anti-retreat" detachments of the Soviet special organization known as SMERSH (Smert shpionam), Russian for “Death to spies”.[20][21] SMERSH units were used to shoot retreating men serving in penal units should the latter commence a retreat after failing either to advance to secure an objective, or to stop a German attack via counter-attack.[22][23] As a result, with nowhere else to go, the penal battalions usually advanced in a frenzy, running forwards until they were killed by enemy minefields, artillery, or heavy machine-gun fire. If the men survived and achieved their objective, they were rounded up and used again in the next assault.[24]" looks odd. The order 227 did not state that any attempt to retreat automatically lead to conviction to penal units. "Anti-retreat" detachments (in actuality, defensive squads) weren't subordinated to SMERSH, according to the order's text. According to the Order 227, the defensive squads were put "directly behind unstable divisions and require them in case of panic and scattered withdrawals of elements of the divisions to shoot in place panic-mongers and cowards". Nothing was said about penal units in the defensive squads context.
Since no full references are provided that support the paragraph I have no opportunity check if the cited sources really contain these statements. In addition, since Suvorov's "evidentary base (or lack thereof), his dubious assertions of facts, have been critiqued devastatingly by Gabriel Gorodetsky in Mif Ledokola"(the quote was taken Teddy J. Uldricks Source: Slavic Review, Vol. 58, No. 3 (Autumn, 1999), pp. 626-643), I am not sure Suvorov to be a reliable source. This my assertion is in concordance with many reputable scholars, such as Derek Watson (Source: Slavic Review, Vol. 59, No. 2 (Summer, 2000), pp. 492), Hugh Ragsdale (Source: Slavic Review, Vol. 59, No. 2 (Summer, 2000), pp. 466), Roger Reese ( Slavic Review, Vol. 59, No. 1 (Spring, 2000), p. 227), Stephen Blank (Russian Review, Vol. 59, No. 2 (Apr., 2000), pp. 310-311), Robin Edmonds (Source: International Affairs (Royal Institute of International Affairs 1944-), Vol. 66, No. 4, Seventieth Anniversary Issue (Oct., 1990), p. 812), David M. Glantz (Source: The Journal of Military History, Vol. 55, No. 2 (Apr., 1991), pp. 263-264), Cynthia A. Roberts (Source: Europe-Asia Studies, Vol. 47, No. 8 (Dec., 1995), pp. 1293-1326) who agree that Suvorov's writings are based on "virtually no evidentary base" (Cynthia A. Roberts) and cannot be taken seriously.
Summarizing all said above, I am intended to remove this paragraph.--Paul Siebert (talk) 05:37, 12 July 2009 (UTC)

Lebed's memoirs.[edit]

I removed the statement based on the Lebed's memoirs from the article per discussion there [1]--Paul Siebert (talk) 17:46, 22 September 2009 (UTC)

Pop culture references[edit]

Off the top of my head, I think 'Inglorious Bastards'(the original) and the game Battlefield: Bad Company follow the story of fictional penal units. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 07:36, 4 September 2010 (UTC)

what a crap is this?[edit]

It seem to me that this whole article is written by some child who watch too much hollywood movies. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 17:26, 16 July 2011 (UTC)

'Very well documented that the ussr made people march onto minefields'[edit]

And yet we have no evidence of this other than the propaganda claim. Please, I understand that people have very ignorant or biased beliefs, but at least make an EFFORT to make it appear that it has any basis in reality.

0G — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 23:07, 1 October 2013 (UTC)


How do I report this page. This page needs serious assessment, because it is clearly very poorly written and full of dubious information. The voice is not academic, like the reference about the good supply of vodka. As this is the very sensitive topic, I urge the admins to take action. Articles like this will discredit Wikipedia, especially for CIS- countries readers, who are very sensitive to WW II history. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 12:22, 30 March 2014 (UTC)

Admins do not 'police' article content. Content is improved by editors. You can become one. If you have better sources, please contribute. If you see dubious information, please be specific. I removed the 'vodka' and another sentence from dubious source. -No.Altenmann >t 06:06, 31 March 2014 (UTC)

Altenmann, enough with the vandalism.[edit]

Just because you don't like what it says, doesn't mean you can just go around removing it. (talk) 09:09, 2 August 2015 (UTC)