Many acquaintances and unfamiliar readers of our publication ask to tell about the famous Soviet special forces. About those groups that performed combat missions worthy of regiments or even divisions in complexity. People read Western publications. Send links to some materials. They demand to give reliable information on one or another issue related to special forces in general or to individual operations in particular.
Yes, there were units in the GRU system whose activities were strictly classified. And they performed tasks almost anywhere in the world. Specific tasks, which sometimes only the first persons knew about. The officers of such units, even in the family, did not have the right to talk about the place and specifics of the service. And the disclosure of any information about the operation entailed criminal liability. Even the titles.
With the collapse of the USSR, a stream of our former compatriots poured over the borders of the country. Among them were former military personnel. Not to mention the multitude of journalists and other creative people who considered themselves to be experts in the military secrets of the Soviet Army. It was the symbiosis of these two categories of emigrants that gave birth to the product that you can read today. And the need to quickly receive royalties, the Western layman’s need for “hot news” from the “evil empire”, and the order of some government agencies to create an image of the enemy, gave rise to a lot of pseudo-history materials, including about special forces of the Soviet Army.
We will take the liberty (not without reason, however) to talk about this topic. Moreover, recently such materials have begun to appear that simply conscience does not allow to be silent. From stuffing data on the NKVD from Memorial to Mr. Steinberg’s pseudo-historic brew about the Soviet special forces.
Let’s start with Mr. Steinberg and his opus “Soviet Special Forces: Ups and Tragedies”
“… the Soviet special forces in the first period of the war seemed to be inactive, but in fact by that time it practically did not exist. Some of the army saboteurs were shot, some died in Siberia. The measures planned in the event of a German invasion were not carried out, the selection and training of people for sabotage and reconnaissance actions was not carried out, the bases of weapons and ammunition were not laid, radio communication was not organized. As already mentioned in the first essay, everything that was created before the Stalinist repressions was almost completely destroyed by the NKVD. “
The fact that for Mr. Steinberg the special forces are continuous scouts and saboteurs, we will simply omit, so as not to sink to his level ourselves. But let’s just give some numbers and mention a few documents.
Directive of the Council of People’s Commissars of the USSR and the Central Committee of the All-Union Communist Party (Bolsheviks) “Party and Soviet organizations of the front-line regions” dated June 29, 1941, No. 624. Decree of the Central Committee of the All-Union Communist Party (Bolsheviks) dated July 18, 1941 “On organizing the struggle in the rear of German troops.” Order of the NKO of the USSR JV Stalin of September 5, 1942 No. 00189 “On the tasks of the partisan movement.”
Thanks to the precise and timely, although perhaps somewhat belated reaction, the result was more than 6,000 partisan detachments, numbering about 1 million people, operating in 1941-1944 in the occupied territory of the USSR.
Having, we note, communication with the mainland, supply, removal of the seriously wounded.
The fact that these units acted successfully, we think, is not worth proving.
Judging by Steinberg, it turns out that this million people simply conjured up. Trained, armed, and so on. Undoubtedly, many of the guerrilla units were recharged from the battlefield in terms of weapons and ammunition. But not in such quantities, obviously. The Wehrmacht and the gendarmerie, of course, were forced to share their reserves with the partisans, but this was definitely not the first priority of the Germans.
Well, Steinberg’s conclusion about the actions of the Soviet special forces is simply a masterpiece:
“… due to the lack of trained commanders, haste in preparation (from three to ten days), poor-quality selection of personnel, poor material and technical support, the overwhelming majority of reconnaissance and sabotage groups did not fulfill the tasks assigned to them, suffered large unjustified losses. Those who survived during this period, after one or two sabotage, were forced to deal only with their own survival in the future. “
We will not comment. What can be said against this? Arguing about the actions of the NKVD partisan detachments? OMSBON? Kovpak brigades? Detachment “Mitya” (reconnaissance and sabotage residency No. 4/70 of the troops of the Special Group under the NKVD of the USSR) under the command of D. N. Medvedev? Nikolai Kuznetsov’s groups?
A tolerant person understands that none of this happened. And there were thousands of unprepared people who were thrown in batches into the rear of the enemy and died there without result.
I will only allow myself to remind readers of a real fact from the activities of the German “Abwehr”. Several groups were prepared for the operation at once (in some cases, the score went to dozens). Moreover, in reality, only one operation should have been performed. The rest were thrown to create a “smokescreen”. The NKVD, employees of special departments and SMERSH captured them in the hundreds. And they had to work out false information. By the way, these “saboteurs for the dust” were then put on a par with the really innocent victims.
Here’s the other side. Counterintelligence and the fight against enemy saboteurs. For such a struggle, the militia and the police seemed not to be suitable. The best way to neutralize a well-trained spetsnaz is another, no less well-trained spetsnaz.
Only the lazy one from the camp of our enemies over the past 25 years has not tried to throw dirt at this abbreviation. Meanwhile, it was the fighters of these structures (in the plural, because there were three SMERSH) who quite successfully neutralized all the activities of the “Abwehr”.
Very well-trained fighters were really taken to SMERSH. With special pleasure – border guards and scouts. That is, those who perfectly understood the essence of the enemy’s actions. This means that he could perform neutralization with the greatest efficiency.
In principle, no one has spoken about the work of counterintelligence better than Vladimir Bogomolov. And, apparently, he will not tell. Not those times in the yard.
It was the counterintelligence officers who had to take upon themselves the hard work of catching and eliminating saboteurs and spies, whom the Abwehr threw on our side. And, what can I say, SMERSH coped with this task.
But Mr. Steinberg always remembers the first task. On the creation of a terrible image of the Russian special forces. And the very outcome of the war must be somehow substantiated. Who in their right mind would believe in the victory of the weak over the strong?
“… by the end of 1943, on the basis of the Higher School of the General Staff of the Red Army, Central sabotage and reconnaissance courses were opened that trained army special forces specialists. But here too they were fond of primarily quantity, not quality, graduating 500 people every four months. The same courses were created In addition, there was a Central School in Moscow that trained commanders of special forces groups and detachments.So by the end of 1944, the number of reconnaissance saboteurs in the Red Army was no less than 5-7 thousand. regiment “Brandenburg”, numbering up to two thousand soldiers and officers, quite successfully coping with numerous tasks on different fronts of Europe. “
Oh, what a familiar song about the small number of Germans and how we “filled up with corpses” everything and everyone!
It is a pity that Mr. Steinberg did not strain himself to study (at least superficially) on such an organization as the Valley Headquarters.
The operational headquarters of the Abwehr, codenamed Valli, was created on the initiative of Canaris near Warsaw in 1941. It was headed by one of the admiral’s assistants, Colonel Heinz Schmalschläger.
“Valley”, similar to the management of the Abwehr-abroad, had three departments: the first – intelligence, the second – sabotage and terror, the third – counterintelligence. The Valley was entrusted with direct control of the Abwehr field bodies: the Abwehr Commands at the North, Center, and South groups of forces and the Abwehr groups at the invading armies.
At the headquarters, the famous Warsaw reconnaissance school was created, where personnel were trained to be sent to the Soviet rear.
With each group of the Wehrmacht armies, the “Valley” headquarters had two Abwehr command, subordinate to each of the departments and bore the corresponding numbering. Directly at the headquarters of the field and tank armies, each of the mentioned Abwehr commandos had their own Abwehrgroups, numbering from 3 to 6.
Considering that the permanent composition of one Abwehr team was from 30 to 80 people, the Abwehr group numbered from 15 to 25 people, plus seconded and agents …
In 1942, in connection with the active actions of the partisans in the rear, a special counterintelligence body “Sonderstab-R” (“Russia”) was created at the “Valley” headquarters. This institution prepared provocateurs for the anti-fascist underground and agents for infiltration into partisan detachments.
And Mr. Steinberg is crying about the unfortunate two thousand from “Brandenburg-800” …
We were still modest and did not recall the German paratroopers who belonged to the structure of the Luftwaffe, but were used in reconnaissance and sabotage activities everywhere, from Belgium and Crete to Rostov and Donetsk regions. And about the nationalist battalions.
It was on the territory of the Rostov and Donetsk regions that one of the battles between SMERSH and German specialists unfolded, unfortunately not yet known. This is the so-called “war for the wells”. But we will definitely return to this episode.
If we sum up some intermediate result (just an intermediate result, because a continuation will follow), then we can say quite confidently: it was by 1943 that the Soviet special forces acquired the form that made it possible to defeat their German colleagues, moreover, in all directions, starting from reconnaissance and sabotage activities behind enemy lines and ending with the capture and destruction of enemy agents on their territory.
Proved by the Abwehr, OUN-UPA, Home Army, Green Brothers and other formations and organizations.
The fact that the Red Army and the NKVD were able to organize the training and education of intelligence officers and counterintelligence officers who were quantitatively and qualitatively superior to their opponents is in no way a confirmation of the thesis about “filling up with corpses.” This is evidence that the Supreme Command Headquarters was well aware of the need for a clear work of intelligence and counterintelligence agencies.
And these bodies and structures worked and worked effectively. Otherwise, the result of the war would have been different.
The article was posted on the website 2016-12-16