Desertion during the Great Patriotic War

Desertion during the Great Patriotic War

10The Great Patriotic War was a huge test for both the country and for each person individually. Not everyone survived it. This is evidenced by the phenomenon, which for a long time was preferred to be silent, - desertion ...

Say the numbers

The law during the war years provided for a clear punishment for desertion - the highest measure (article 193, paragraph 7-10 of the Criminal Code of the RSFSR). However, the threat of execution with confiscation of property was not always an obstacle to breaking the law.
Only in the period from the beginning of the war to the end of 1941, the NKVD bodies detained over 710 thousand deserters and more than 71 thousand draft dodgers. The first case of desertion was recorded on July 1, 1941, on the Orenburg railway, when a recruit jumped off a military train moving at full speed.11
It is very difficult to calculate the total number of deserters of the Red Army for the entire period of the war, since it is not possible to determine how many of the dead soldiers chose to leave the location of the units;
However, D. Degtev and M.Zephyrs in their book “Everything for the front?” Give similar statistics: the number of deserters is 1.7 million people, the draft dodgers - 2.5 million. These figures are generally confirmed by other sources. In total, during the war years, almost a million people were convicted of desertion, and more than 150,000 were shot.

I do not want to fight!

What made the Soviet soldiers shy away from their sacred duty? One of the main reasons historians call a split in society, generated by the October Revolution.
“I will not go to war for the Communists, I will not defend the reptiles!”, Said a resident of the Ryazan Region M. Volodin. Ideological opponents or victims of the Soviet government clearly did not want to die for the interests of their enemies. And some of them frankly hoped for the fall of the hated regime.12
“Dear son, they haven’t given bread for a month, they don’t give any help, they don’t give us firewood. They do not pay attention that you are an order-bearer three times <...> What are you fighting for? ”, - the words of the mother of one of the soldiers are imbued with an insult to local authority.
Indeed, difficult conditions and bureaucratic abuses also created grounds for anti-Soviet sentiments, and not only in the rear, but also at the front.
Shied away from military service for ideological or religious reasons. They deserted, trying to join their relatives in the occupied territory. However, the majority of those who did not want to defend the Fatherland did this for a completely everyday reason - because of the fear of their own lives.

"Booked"

In order to be able to legally be liable to be legally in the rear, it was necessary to get a reservation - a document exempting from sending to the front.
First of all, the reservations were given to high-class specialists in industries of strategic importance for defense, the country needed them more than ever. The reservation also extended to some representatives of science, culture, art and sports.13
Frame from the movie “The Cranes Are Flying”

Often, thanks to unscrupulous officials, people were given reservations who did not have any right to it, but who had enough money or position. Recently, the Starostin Brothers Case, well-known football players, who thanks to their connections bought about 60 people from the front, received wide publicity.
Most of all "booked" was in Moscow - about 45% of the total number of persons subject to military service. For comparison, in the cities of Western Siberia, their number did not exceed 28%, and in the countryside - 5%. Such figures have allowed some researchers to assert that the main merit in the Great Victory belongs to the peasantry, almost completely sent to the front line.

Just not to the front!

They were also exempted from military service for health reasons. What they did for this purpose only - they were poisoned, engaged in self-mutilation, shot, imitating injury. First, the sick and the maimed were sent to the medical unit, and there, if they were lucky, they were demobilized.
To obtain the cherished armor, some went to collusion with the doctors. The sum of 5 thousand rubles helped to get a salutary diagnosis, for example, “schizophrenia” or “tuberculosis”, which was forever exempt from military service.
There were cases when, for money, the medical staff injected a gasoline injection under the skin of a draft person: it caused a tumor, and this allowed for a long time to be treated.14
Korzhev G.M. "Deserter"

However, draft dodgers could do without the help of medical professionals: having the necessary amount of money or forging a stamp seal, they received a dummy document.Often there was an option with the "loss" of a military ID. They believed in the word: in exchange, the sly one received a new document, another surname and untainted reputation.
Money or food aid was readily accepted by some employees of military registration desks. They, referring to the confusion of accounting, destroyed the cards of military service or simply transferred their personal files from one card file to another.
The supreme power seriously concerned about this problem only on November 18, 1944, when Beria, in his report to Stalin, noted that "cases of illegal release by the military registration and enlistment offices and employees of military-medical commissions of military service in the Red Army were revealed"

Hunting for deserters

Ways to avoid getting to the front were the most diverse. They sometimes gave rise to funny cases. For example, in April 1943, when inspecting a barn in one of the Uzbek villages, the police officers frightened a flock of sheep, except for one - a deserter wrapped in lamb skin.
A certain Inamov, who had been hiding from representatives of the law in the stork's nest for more than a year, was also found nearby.
Desertion has become a favorable environment for the flourishing of banditry: 56% of all robberies and robberies are the work of deserters.A huge number of armed groups acted on the not yet occupied territory of the USSR, robbing peasants, attacking food carts and warehouses.15
In Saratov, for 2 years, they could not cope with the gang of Lugovskiy-Bizyaeva, which almost daily carried out impudent assassinations with bold attacks on state institutions and shops.
In connection with the emergency conditions of wartime, the departments of the NKVD, and later “SMERSH”, were vested with special powers, including the right to shoot traitors on the spot.
The most large-scale operation to search for and capture deserters was carried out in the summer and early autumn of 1944. Then, as a result of the efforts of the NKVD, the NKGB and SMERSH, 171,000 fugitives were arrested. They are about 104 thousand poisoned to the front.

Deserter recidivist

Contrary to the prevailing opinion, the Soviet authorities tried to be as loyal as possible towards deserters and draft dodgers. For example, in relation to the thief-recidivist Razmahova, she was too humane.16
After being convicted with a 10-year reprieve, he was sent to the front for “atonement”, but he escaped. The offender was caught again and after the new verdict was issued, he was again sent to fight.The story of escape and condemnation was repeated twice more! In the end, in the Bitter Swings they knock together a gang, and its tracks disappear.
Such a seemingly strange case is explained by the elementary shortage of manpower on the fronts of the Great Patriotic War, and the authorities preferred to send deserters to the front line than to keep them in prisons. Moreover, the authorities of “SMERSH” stopped the affairs of those servicemen who particularly distinguished themselves in battles and thus confirmed their courage and loyalty to the oath.

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  • Desertion during the Great Patriotic War

    Desertion during the Great Patriotic War

    Desertion during the Great Patriotic War

    Desertion during the Great Patriotic War

    Desertion during the Great Patriotic War

    Desertion during the Great Patriotic War

    Desertion during the Great Patriotic War

    Desertion during the Great Patriotic War

    Desertion during the Great Patriotic War

    Desertion during the Great Patriotic War

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