In regards to Soviet Blocking Deatachements

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Oleg Grigoryev
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In regards to Soviet Blocking Deatachements

Post by Oleg Grigoryev » 09 Sep 2003 03:00

Memorandum by NKVD STF to UOO NKVD of USSR in regards to activities of blocking detachments of Stalingrad and Don Fronts
October 15th 1942.

In accordance with NKO (Peoples Commissar of the Defense – Oleg) order # 227, 193 blocking detachments were formed, among the acting units of the Red Army, as of October 15th 1942. Out this number, among the units of Stalingrad Front, there are 16 detachments, among the units of the Don Front -25 detachments, all of which are subordinated to Special NKVD sections belonging to the Fronts’ Armies.
Between August 1st and October 15th blocking detachments (BD –from here on -Oleg) detained 140755 soldiers that were suppose to be at the front line.
Out of this number: arrested – 3980, executed – 1189, sent to penal companies -2776, sent to penal battalions -185, sent back to their units and distribution points 131094 men.
Most of the arrests and detentions were conducted by the BDs of Stalingrad and Don Fronts.
Statistic for the Don Front: detained – 36109, arrested 736, executed -433, sent to penal companies 1056 men, penal battalions -33, sent back to their units and distribution points – 32933 men.
Statistics for Stalingrad Front: detained – 15649, arrested -244, executed -278, sent to penal companies -218, sent to penal battalions -42, sent back to their units and distribution points -14833 men.
It should be noted that BDs, especially those at Stalingrad and Don Fronts, during the heavy fighting did play their positive role in business of upholding of discipline and order in the units and preventing t unorganized retreats from the defended position, and retuning considerable number of servicemen back to their units.
On August 29, Staff of 29 Rifle Division of the 64 Army of the Stalingrad Front was encircled by the enemy tanks that broke through our lines; divisional units lost their leadership and began chaotic retreat. BD under Lieutenant of State Security Filatov ,that was positioned behind the divisional lines, stopped running units and returned them back to the defenses.
At the different sector of the same division enemy attempt at breakthrough was beaten off by BD.
On September 14, enemy attacked units of 399 Rifle Davison of the 62 Army that was defending Stalingrad. Personnel of 396 and 472 Rifle Regiments panicked and began retreat leaving their defended positions. CO of the BD (junior lieutenant of State Security Elman) ordered his troops to fire above the heads of the retreating units (compare to ever so truthful movie ETAG – Oleg). As a result personnel of these regiments halted and in 2 hours they returned to the positions.
On September 20 enemy took Eastern part of Melehovskaya. Combined brigade, under the enemy pressure, began unauthorized retreat to the next position. BD of 47th Army rectified the situation. Brigade reoccupied its positions; BD with fire support from brigade threw the enemy out of Melehovskaya.
BD on numerous critical occasions, when support was needed in order to hold the line, were used for direct engagement of the enemy.
On the September the 13th of this year 112 Rifle Davison under the enemy pressure pulled back form the defended line. BD of the 62nd Army under lieutenant of State Security Hlistov positioned itself at the approaches to an important height. For 4 days BD personnel were beating off enemy attacks causing him grave casualties. BD was eventually relived by the Army Units

Between September 15 and 16, BD of the 62nd Army successfully battled numerically superior enemy forces in the General Area of Stalingrad Railway Station. Despite its small numbers, BD not only was beating off the attacks ,but counterattacked as well, inflicting sever casualties on the enemy. Eventually it was relived by the units from the 10th Rifle Division.
We also have noted several occasion when BD were not used as intended. Considerable numbers of these units were used as regular line formations, consequently suffered casualties, that caused them to be pulled back, in order to be refit, and as result the blocking service was not organized.
On September the 19th, Command of 240th Rifle Division of Voronezh Front, ordered one of the companies that belonged to the 38th Army’s BD, to clear out the forest of German infantry. While doing that, company suffered 31 casualty – among them 18 are dead.
BD of the 29th Army of the Western Front, while operationally subordinated to the commander of 246th Rifle Division ,was used as regular line formation. As a result BD losses in killed and wounded amounted to 109 men out of 118. The BD had to be reformed.
6th Army of the Voronezh Front, in accordance with an order of its military council, subordinated 2 of its BDs to the 174 Rifle Division that used them in combat as regular line formation. As a result BDs suffered 70% casualties, remaining personnel was absorbed by other units of the 174RD and BDs consequently were disbanded. 3rd BD of the same Army was used as regular formation in the defense.
1st Guards Army of the Don Front in accordance with order of its commander Chistiakov and the member of the Military Council Abrmov 2 BDs were used on multiple occasions as regular troops and suffered as a result 65% casualties, and were consequently disbanded.
Because of that order of the Front Military Council that mandated subordination of five BDs to 24th Army could not be complied with.


Kazakevich.
Central Archive of FSB ( Federal Security Agency) – fond 14, list 4 file 386 pages 22-24.

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RE: In Regards to Soviet Blocking Detachments.

Post by Robert Rojas » 09 Sep 2003 07:09

Greetings to both citizen Oleg and the community as a whole. In respect to your illuminating entry of Tuesday - September 09, 2003 - 3:00am, old Uncle Bob would like to thank you for posting that intriguing excerpt gleaned from the files of the Federal Security Agency. By chance, did you come across any similar blocking detachment information for the events of 1941 and the remainder of 1942? In addition, yours truly has never been clear about the operational control of these unique formations. In terms of bureaucratic delineation, were the blocking detachments purely a creature of the N.K.V.D. or did the Red Army have their own field or military police units to act in a similar role? I have a plethora of incidental questions gravitating on the combat units of the N.K.V.D. but I will save those for another day. Finally, please allow yours truly to commend you for your candid testicular fortitude. You have provided the forum's various Red Army critics an opening to thoroughly trash the battlefield sacrifices and accomplishments of the Red Army. I hope "they" appreciate your forthrightness on this contentious matter. Sir, my hat is off to you! As always, I would like to bid you a wonderful day over in the Motherland.

Best Regards,
Uncle Bob :)

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Oleg Grigoryev
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Post by Oleg Grigoryev » 09 Sep 2003 08:09

Thanks Uncle Bob :)
Verbatim translation of order 227 that established BDs is as follows:
1. To the military councils of Fronts in general and to the Fronts commanders in particular:
a) unconditionally liquidate retreating moods in the armed forces and with iron hand stop the propaganda of the idea that we can and should retreat further east, and that such a retreat would not cause us any harm;
b) unconditionally remove from the command and sent to Stavka, for investigation and prosecution by military tribunal, army commanders who were responsible for the retreat of the forces from the defended positions, without order of the Front Command;
c) to form, under Front command, from 1 to 3 (in accordance with situation) punishment battalions to which send mid-range and senior commanders and equivalent in rank political commissars of all arms of service, who are responsible fro the breeches of discipline due to cowardness or shakiness, and to position these battalions onto the most difficult sectors of the Front, so that they would have a chance to repay their misdeeds against the Motherland in blood.
2. to the military councils of the Armies in general and to the Army Commanders in particular
a) unconditionally remove form the command and sent to the Front’s Military Councils, for investigation and prosecution by military tribunal, any corps or divisional commander and commissar who were responsible for the retreat of the forces from the defended positions, without order of the Army Command;
b) to form ,under the army command, from 3 to 5 well armed blocking detachments (200 men each), and to position them directly behind the least reliable divisions and order them, in case of disorderly retreat of the division, to shot cowards and panic-spreaders, thus helping honest soldiers of the division to perform their duty.
c) to form ,under the army command, form 5 to 10 punishment companies (150 to 200 men each), to which send privates and junior commanders , who are responsible fro the breeches of discipline due to cowardness or shakiness, and to post them onto the most difficult sectors of the Front, so that they would have a chance to repay their misdeeds against the Motherland in blood.
3. to commanders and commissars of corps and divisions
a) unconditionally remove form the command and sent to the Front’s Military Councils, for investigation and prosecution by military tribunal, any regimental or battalion commanders and commissars who were responsible for the retreat of the forces from the defended positions, without order of the Corps or Division Command;
b) to help and support in any way possible blocking detachments in the business of discipline and order strengthening.
To be read in all units.
People’s Commissar of Defense I.V. Stalin.
As you cans see blocking detachments were subordinated directly to the army commander and were his responsibility to form and position. It seems, that most commanders, used available to them NKVD personnel to men these units, but they were not subordinated to NKVD central apparatus. Blocking detachments were very often the used as mobile reserves – to patch up German breakthroughs etc, they were never (or at least there is not a single recorded instance) used as it portrayed in “Enemy at the Gates”

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Re: RE: In Regards to Soviet Blocking Detachments.

Post by Dmitry » 09 Sep 2003 10:27

Robert Rojas wrote:By chance, did you come across any similar blocking detachment information for the events of 1941 and the remainder of 1942? In addition, yours truly has never been clear about the operational control of these unique formations. In terms of bureaucratic delineation, were the blocking detachments purely a creature of the N.K.V.D. or did the Red Army have their own field or military police units to act in a similar role
The blocking detachments were formed in accordance with Order 227 (July 28 1942). So there were not any before that date:

http://www.stalingrad-info.com/order227.htm

The blocking detachments were formed within Red Army itself:

"b) Form within the limits of each army 3 to 5 well-armed defensive squads (up to 200 persons in each), and put them 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 and thus help the honest soldiers of the division execute their duty to the Motherland;"

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RE: In Regards to Soviet Blocking Detachments - (Continued).

Post by Robert Rojas » 09 Sep 2003 15:28

Greetings to both citizens Oleg and Dmitry. Again, thank you for your respective commentaries as noted on Tuesday - September 09, 2003 - 8:09am and Tuesday - September 09, 2003 - 10:27am. It is gratifying to see such an overlooked subject finally broached with formal documentation. In terms of the grim realities of the WAR IN THE EAST, it is refreshing to absorb information that is other than anecdotal. I hope your contributions will encourage others from the former Soviet Union to offer their perceptions on this important subject. I look forward to the potential wealth of input on this subject. Well, that's my two kopecks on the this controversial matter. As always, I would like to bid the both of you a wonderful day over in the Motherland.

Best Regards,
Uncle Bob :)

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Re: In regards to Soviet Blocking Deatachements

Post by Art » 24 Jan 2009 12:21

If someone is interested here is a composition of the army blocking detachment according to the TO&E 04/391 approved by the Order of the People Commissar for Defence #298 of 26 September 1942:

I. Organization
1. HQ
2. 2 submachinegun platoons
3. 2 rifle platoons
4. machinegun platoon
5. medical platoon
6. transport&service platton

II. Personnel
Command personnel - 9+3
junior commanders (NCOs) - 41
privates - 147

III. Armament
Rifles - 71
submachinguns - 107
light machineguns - 8
heavy machineguns - 6

IV. Transport
car - 1
trucks - 4
field kitchen -1

Composition by units:

I. HQ
detachment commander (major) - 1
military commissar (battlion commissar) -1
deputy commander (captain) -1
senior adyutant (senoir lieutenant) - 1
head of office&treasurer (senior lieutenant)- 1
total - 5 men

II. two submachinegun platoons
platoon commander (senior lieutenant) - 2
assistant commander (senior sergant) -2
squad commander (sergant) - 8
submachinegunner (private) - 80
Total - 92

III. two rifle platoons
platoon commander (senior lieutenant) - 2
assistant commander (senior sergant) -2
squad commander (sergant) - 4
deputy squad commander (junior sergant) - 8
machinegunner (private) - 8
rifleman (private) - 28
Total - 52

IV. Machinegun platoon
platoon commander (senior lieutenant) - 1
assistant commander (senior sergant) - 1
squad commander (sergant) - 6
deputy squad commander (junior sergant) - 6
machinegunner (privates) - 24
Total - 38

V. Medical platoon
doctor's assistant (feldsher) - 1
medical instructor (senior sergant) - 1
medic (private) - 2
Total - 4

VI. Transport&service platoon
sergant major - 1
quater-master&clerc (senoir sergant of administrative service) - 1
senior cook (sergant of administrative service) - 1
senoir driver (yefreitor [coporal]) - 1
driver (private) - 4
Total - 8

Total in the detachment - 200 men

Source: E.V.Kovyrshin 'In regard to blosking detachments in the Red Army"/VIZh[Military history journal]
It's interesting to note that positions were hold by officers of higher ranks than it was in equivalent formations. For example, the detachment itself (in fact a reinforced company) was to be commanded by major, while typically officers of this rank commanded battalions or even regiments.

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Re: In regards to Soviet Blocking Deatachements

Post by Kunikov » 03 Feb 2009 08:22

In the current book I'm reading there is a document from October of 1941 addressed "To the People's Commissar of Internal Affairs SSSR" which discusses "From the start of the war up to 10 October of this year special sections of the NKVD and blocking detachments of the NKVD for rear area security have held 657,364 servicemen separated from their units and running away from the front.
Of these 249,969 people have been held by operational screens of the special sections and 407,395 by blocking detachments of NKVD rear-area security forces."

I also thought that during 1941 it was mainly soldiers themselves that served as blocking detachments, so is this report accurate?
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Re: In regards to Soviet Blocking Deatachements

Post by Art » 05 Feb 2009 15:10

Is it this document?
http://www.idf.ru/fond/issues-doc/62057/58840
I didn't fully understand: what makes you doubt its accuracy?

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Re: In regards to Soviet Blocking Deatachements

Post by Kunikov » 05 Feb 2009 18:18

Art wrote:Is it this document?
http://www.idf.ru/fond/issues-doc/62057/58840
I didn't fully understand: what makes you doubt its accuracy?
Because I had assumed the NKVD played a limited role in 1941 in regards to blocking detachments and that it was mainly Red Army soldiers themselves out of whom blocking detachments were created.
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Re: In regards to Soviet Blocking Deatachements

Post by Art » 06 Feb 2009 12:18

Beginning from June 1941 when NKVD forces for rear security were established, they were responsible for detaining stragglers, retreating soldiers, deserters etc in he frontline zone. It must be said that ad-hoc blocking detachments of the Red Army were formed beginning from September 1941 and regular army blocking detachments - after the order #227 was issued in July 1942. Counteritellegence service (NKVD special section and later SMERSh) was also charged with detaining deserters and when needed punishing them. NKVD special sections had special rifle units in their disposal, though if I remember correctly these units didn't belong fomally to the NKVD forces which could be used for orgainizing improvised blocks. I tried to give a short description of the subject here:
http://forum.axishistory.com/viewtopic. ... 0#p1130210
As opposed to "pure" blocking detachments NKVD forces for rear security continued to function till the very end of the war. For example, according to the report by Beria of of 11 July 1944 from April to June of this year they detained 115 973 military men and 151 168 civilians. Among military perosonell there were
615 men retreating from the battlefield in an unorganized fashion
25 364 stragglers
243 escaping from encirclement
5 288 escaping from enemy rear
2 466 violating the NKO order #0860 ("On measures for strengthening discipline in garrisones and on lines
of communications")
81 997 having incorrectly filled documents
Pay attention to a relatively small number of soldiers classified as retreating.

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Re: In regards to Soviet Blocking Deatachements

Post by Kunikov » 07 Feb 2009 03:59

Thanks for the explanation Art.
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Re: In regards to Soviet Blocking Deatachements

Post by Panzermahn » 11 Aug 2010 19:34

A question on the Soviet Blocking Detachments.

Do they generally used in conjunction with Strafbattalions (penal battalions) moving forwards or would they be generally an independent unit in an Front or Corps and were stationed at the area of the front where it suspected most likely collapse?

Also any recorded instances of a Red Army blocking detachments working together with NKVD security troops?

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Re: In regards to Soviet Blocking Deatachements

Post by Art » 11 Aug 2010 20:22

Red Army's penal detachments were subordinated to armies and carried out their orders. Penal battalions were subordinated to fronts (one and more battalion in each front) though it was a custom to detach elements of them and place tham under control of rifle divisions for example. NKVD rear security troops were under control of fronts via the chiefs of rear security. In general blocking detachments should be closer the the frontline than NKVD units. As concerns employment my impression is that in the second half of the war blocking detachments were used for whatever tasks but their direct mission, that included securing headquarters, combing rear areas, holding passive sectors of the front etc. I've copied some documents regarding employment of the 9th Blocking Detachment/59 Army and they look pretty prosaic, I assure. And from what I know it wasn't an exception.

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Re: In regards to Soviet Blocking Deatachements

Post by Art » 11 Aug 2010 21:49

To give several examples:
To the commander of the 9th Blocking Detachment

The army chief of staff ordered:
The blocking detachment from 15.00 29.06.44, without one submachinegun platoon /22 men/ is to be placed under control of the chief of the army’s rear services colonel BOGDANOV until a special order for carrying out loading-unloading operations and securing the army’s supply station.
The submachinegun platoon is to be charged with securing and patrolling of the Army [HQ] first echelon until a special order.
Report execution by 29.6.44 22.00

SENIOR AIDE FOR REAR SERVICES OF THE OPERATIONS DEPARTMENT'S CHIEF, 59 ARMY’S STAFF
LIEUTENANT COLONEL /Boikov/
TsAMO f.416, 10437, d.518, l.122, signed by Boikov
Combat instruction
The chief of the 9th Army Blocking Detachment major com.Voltzuk is to dispatch a group of 150 men under command of officers to the Somme station on 7 July by 6.00 a.m for combing the forest tract and settlements.
You are personally responsible for organization and timely arrival of men.
Chief of the 59 Army’s staff major general /Kovalchuk/
6.07.44

TsAMO f.416, 10437, d.518, l.128, in script, signature by Kovalchuk
And my favorite one:
TO THE COMMANDER OF THE 178 SEPARATE ENGINEER-SAPPER BATTALION

A patrol of the 9 Blocking Detachment on 25 July 1944 detained servicemen of your unit – lieutenant Aleksander Pavlovich UKHABOV and junior sergeant Aleksander Ilyich SMIRNOV who were stunning fishes in the Vyborg Gulf using captured antitank mines.
Thus they openly violated the order to the army troops No.0230 of 19.7.44, creating an emergency situation, which was reported to the army’s Military Council.
By 03.8.44 you are to present a written explanation to the army’s Military Council on your violation of abovementioned order and report measures taken in regard to lieutenant UKHABOV and junior sergeant SMIRNOV.

DEPUTY CHIEF OF THE 59 ARMY’S STAFF
COLONEL /KRYLOV/
SEN. AIDE OF THE OPERATIONS DEPARTMENT’S CHIEF
LIEUTENANT COLONEL /BOIKOV/

19.7.44
TsAMO f.416, 10437, d.518, l.144, signatures by Krylov and Boikov.
Other missions included combing rear areas to detain remaining Finns who periodically appeared in this region.

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Re: In regards to Soviet Blocking Deatachements

Post by Panzermahn » 12 Aug 2010 01:30

Hi Art

Many thanks for the information you provided. I believed the morale situation has been largely restored in the Red Army after the victory at Stalingrad.

I would be most interested in the operations of the Soviet blocking detachments especially from the start of Barbarossa right and the encirclement battles at Kiev, Bryansk, Vyazma. Do you know any books (in English) regarding this subject?

Here is a link I found on wikipedia on the subject of Red Army barrier troops

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Barrier_troops

Thanks
Panzermahn

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