It is impossible to overestimate the contribution to the Victory of the people’s avengers, Soviet partisans and underground fighters of the Great Patriotic War. The disorganized rear of the Wehrmacht, disrupted communications that interfered with the supply of enemy troops on the front line, a merciless struggle against the occupiers, forcing them to literally shy away from every bush … And most importantly, a clear signal for all those who ended up in the occupation: the Motherland does not surrender, its best sons and daughters are fighting the enemy even in his rear. So there is hope and there will be victory!
The life of partisans, as, indeed, of any warrior, is not only clever ambushes, sudden raids, crushing blows to the enemy. The effectiveness of a soldier’s actions is determined by providing him with everything he needs. How much can you fight on an empty stomach, sick, in torn clothes and shoes, and besides with faulty weapons, ammunition for which is scarce? Alas, quite often this situation was typical of our partisans, especially in the initial period of their activity. Corrected it in different ways.
Some very smart compatriots, who consider themselves great experts in military affairs, allow themselves to reproach the leadership of the USSR for ditching the entire potential of the partisan movement that was created in the country in the 1920s and 1930s. Now, if by 1941 the warehouses and “burial grounds” created then were preserved, if they had not been squandered, and the cadres of trained saboteurs were “completely repressed”, then the partisans would show the Germans! And so … What could they? ..
This corresponds to reality to a rather small extent. About “universal repressions” – just nonsense. The fact that from the end of the 30s the Soviet Union really began to curtail preparations for a partisan war on its territory does not at all testify to the shortsightedness of the country’s leadership, army and special services. Those who today undertake to criticize such a decision, in fact, reproach Stalin and others for not going to allow the enemy to reach Moscow and the Volga, but had a firm intention to beat “with little blood on foreign territory.” And, by the way, there were all grounds for adopting just such a military doctrine, but this is a completely different topic …
Warehouses for partisans. These are hundreds of thousands of small arms buried in the ground, tons of ammunition, food and medicine. All this was necessary for the Red Army, which was to advance to the West. How it happened is another question. And they did not completely eliminate these caches, they were seriously reduced. One way or another, but at the first, most difficult stage of the Great Patriotic War, the people’s avengers, whose detachments, as a rule, were created spontaneously from among the Red Army fighters, members of the party and Soviet activists, law enforcement officers, had to be content with what was at hand …
As for weapons, the partisans basically got what was left on the battlefield. Sometimes something remained in military warehouses that they did not manage to evacuate or destroy, but this was rare. Get it in battle? Well, of course: in most of the not very reliable films about the war, the partisans are armed entirely with German “guns”, from which they fire, not counting the cartridges. Only those who do not know that in reality it is possible to remove the ammunition from the corpse of the enemy, with which you will not fight for half a day later, are filming these pictures. And there is no need to talk about such specific things as mines, fuses and detonators, which are especially necessary in a guerrilla war. Their rank and file infantrymen do not carry on themselves.
In fact, the number of, for example, automatic weapons taken from the enemy by the partisans was scanty: no more than 5% of the total. Yes, they got out as best they could: they attacked the garrisons and German warehouses, smelted tar from unexploded shells and bombs, “gutted” the enemy’s minefields. But such escapades often ended in irreparable losses … Therefore, the main source of supply for the partisans was weapons and ammunition, delivered to them, as a rule, by air from the “mainland”.
During the Great Patriotic War, pilots of the Red Army’s air fleet alone carried out more than 100 thousand deliveries to the enemy’s rear for partisans. Cargoes were usually dropped by parachute (but often without – from low altitudes, so as not to “unmask”) or were taken at improvised field airfields specially equipped under the enemy’s nose. For example, the Ukrainian people’s avengers during the war received in this way more than 12 and a half thousand submachine guns, 3.5 thousand rifles, more than 1200 machine guns, 272 mortars, about half a thousand anti-tank rifles and even 20 cannons. And also 13 million rounds of ammunition for various weapons.
The organization of these supplies was created in 1942 by the Central Headquarters of the Partisan Movement, headed by Panteleimon Ponomarenko, as well as similar headquarters created at each of the fronts of the Red Army. I must say that the misconceptions about the ability of the partisans to provide themselves with weapons and ammunition were initially present among the leaders of these bodies, but reality quickly made adjustments.
Naturally, another important point that could only be provided by help from the “mainland” was the supply of the detachments with medicines, medical materials and, in general, everything necessary to treat the wounded and sick soldiers who were in Spartan conditions. Alas, alcohol as anesthesia and a household saw used for surgical operations were commonplace for them in the absence of supplies from the front line …
It is impossible not to mention also the supply of the partisans with clothing allowance and, of course, food. It would seem that here the issue should have been unambiguously solved “on the spot”. However, even with this, everything was far from so simple. Yes, the locals, as a rule, gave the partisans literally the last absolutely voluntarily, and not “at the point of rifles”, contrary to the insinuations spread today. The question was that just this “last” often did not exist at all: everything that was in the peasant farms was cleaned up by the occupiers and their local accomplices, the policemen. The partisans could not take bread from hungry children and often swelled from hunger themselves or carried out raids on German garrisons not only for the sake of weapons, but also in the hope of getting food. With luck, they subsequently generously shared with the local population.
Many detachments organized “subsidiary plots”, supplemented their diet with “pasture”: hunting, fishing, picking mushrooms and berries. They themselves sewed and patched clothes, shoes, in some detachments there were even workshops that not only repaired, but also made weapons. However, without the help of the “mainland”, there would definitely be more casualties among the partisans, and the effectiveness of the detachments would be lower. With her support, which became more and more significant every month, whole partisan lands arose in the enemy’s rear, where not only detachments, but also whole formations of people’s avengers operated, carrying out Stalin’s order: “To beat the invaders in their rear continuously and mercilessly, not giving them a respite “.