On August 16, 1941, the order of the Headquarters of the Supreme High Command No. 270 was signed and came into effect. In essence, this normative document was much tougher and more terrible than the famous 227th order of the USSR People's Commissariat of Defense, which appeared almost a year later and bore the unspoken name "not a step back." On the 227th it was possible to get into the penal units created in pursuance of its provisions. The order "On the responsibility of servicemen for surrendering and leaving weapons to the enemy" defined one measure as a punishment - execution in front of the formation ...
Nevertheless, domestic liberals are almost worn about as the main "proof of Stalin's cannibalism during the war", as a rule, with the order from 1942, and the 270th that preceded it, of course, is mentioned, but in passing, without going into details. Why so, we will consider a little later. For now, I will outline the main thing - the order adopted in August 1941 concerned, first of all, not ordinary soldiers, but the command staff of the Red Army.
With a story about him, we, in fact, will begin a conversation on a much larger, incredibly confusing, extremely tragic and, as usual, mercilessly distorted topic - about the fate of the top leaders of the Red Army, who fell into enemy captivity during the Great Patriotic War. As a rule, Soviet historians tried not to touch upon this extremely painful issue at all. Well, with the exception of absolutely outstanding and absolutely unambiguous examples of heroism, like General Dmitry Karbyshev. Nevertheless, this military leader, who was martyred at the hands of Hitler's executioners, was only one "pole" of a fairly considerable number of captured Soviet generals. On the other, as you might guess, is the traitor and traitor Vlasov. And those who were "in between"? Who were these people, what is known about them, and how did their stories develop during and after the war? Analyzing these questions, we will inevitably touch upon the mysterious and ominous events that took place in the Red Army five years after the Victory and which, again, affected the top commanders. What happened then and why? We will try to find answers to all these questions in due course. For now, let's get back to where we started.
To destroy cowards and deserters!
I'll start with the fact that I will substantively and specifically explain why the Russian liberals were so displeased with Order No. 270, which would seem to fit perfectly into their slanderous versions of the Great Patriotic War, like "they filled up with corpses." The fact is that this document in one fell swoop breaks the vile picture they diligently draw of how the hysterical and vicious commanders of regiments and divisions “drove to slaughter” by crowds of “unfortunate soldiers” led by “green lieutenants”. These unfortunate people died senselessly and tragically, of course, solely because of the stupidity and bloodthirstiness of the superiors who were sitting away from the front line in the safe bunkers. Such barbarism, of course, was promoted with might and main by the oak-headed and fanatical commissars in the company of maniacs-specialists in cornflower-blue caps, who were downright eager to shoot all the Red Army men indiscriminately to the right and left.
A similar, truly schizophrenic, version of the Great Patriotic War (especially its initial period) turned out to be so tenacious that to this day it continues to walk not only in the writings of liberoid "historians" and "publicists", but, alas, in most domestic "film masterpieces" military theme, generously funded from the state budget. The public of a certain kind does not want to refuse it ... But it will have to! Since the order No. 270 that we have mentioned just says that "cowards and deserters" should be considered those commanders of battalions and regiments (not platoons and not companies!), Who during the battle are not present in the forward order, but "hide in the cracks or mess around in the office. " Such "commanders" are ordered in plain text "to be removed from their posts and positions, transferring to the rank and file", and "in some cases" - and to be shot in front of the formation. Again, do not let everyone into the flow, but understand a specific situation ...
But there can be no options with regard to those who “showed cowardice”, “ripping off the insignia”, fleeing from the battlefield and surrendering. "Cowards and deserters must be destroyed!" - this is a literal quote from the order. At the same time, it is clarified that they mean not only colonels and generals in command of combat units, but also “members of military councils of armies”, political workers, heads of special departments and their employees. Of the categories listed above, only a few “sat out” in reality. But after Order No. 270, such actions became a death sentence, not in a figurative, but in the most direct sense of the word. In addition, the responsibility extended to family members who disgraced their own high ranks - they were not shot, but sent into exile. Moreover, “all Red Army men, regardless of their position and rank,” were directly instructed to “destroy by any means” ... military commanders who preferred surrender to “fighting the enemy to the last opportunity”! This is how it was in reality, not in liberal delirium. So what was this order? "Stalin's atrocities"?
First of all, in addition to the signature of the Supreme Commander, under the document were also autographs of his former deputy, Molotov, Marshals Voroshilov, Budyonny, Timoshenko, Shaposhnikov, as well as Zhukov, then an army general. Yes, the 270th actually obliged all the soldiers of the Red Army, from privates to front commanders, to fight to the death, even if they did not have the slightest chance of winning a battle, to die on the battlefield, but not to retreat and not surrender to the enemy. Fanaticism? Forgive me, but in this case, the military oath should be recognized as such, by taking which every serviceman vows to defend the Motherland "not sparing his life." And by the way, at the time of the signing of the ruthless order, exactly one month had passed since the son of the Supreme Commander went missing at the front. In fact, the story of Jacob's "captivity" was a Nazi fake, he died in battle, but that doesn't change matters. Signing such an order, Stalin did not know this yet, but he was certainly aware of the disappearance of his son.
Instead of captivity - a bullet in the forehead
That was the “salt” of Order No. 270, that he put everyone on the same level - from a soldier to a marshal. It was precisely this equality of responsibility that distinguished the Stalinist era, which did not know the non-judgmental and untouchable. The children of almost all representatives of the country's top leadership and the party (who had them) fought at the front, the nephew of the same Voroshilov will go to the forefront in 1943 - and he will die heroically ... of universal human values ”, it is extremely shocking that this order, in fact, directly forbade the representatives of the highest command personnel from falling into the enemy's hands alive. There is not a word in it that instructs commanders, if it is impossible to continue resistance and heroically die in battle, to destroy themselves, but this is meant quite transparently.
What can you say here? The tradition of shooting, not only with the threat of capture, but after a lost battle, was very common among the officers and generals of the Russian Imperial Army. The example of General Samsonov is far from unique ... However, as one literary hero said, "then they were shooting not out of fear of responsibility, but out of shame." As for a later time, any high-ranking commander is, first of all, a real storehouse of information most valuable to the enemy. Can I not say a word during interrogations? Sorry for the cynicism, but only those who do not have the slightest idea about the interrogations of real, not cinematic, think so. It all depends solely on the level of specialists, this very interrogation is conducted. The Nazis specialists were simply excellent ... Yes, there were cases when our commanders were silent until the last. But what is interesting - almost always it was those who were captured being wounded, unconscious. Those who surrendered voluntarily most often sooner or later began to "cooperate."
There was one more aspect. The Nazis immediately tried to use any more or less major commander of the Red Army for propaganda purposes. Dr. Joseph Goebbels was a scoundrel, an exceptional cynic and a fantastic liar, but he knew his business perfectly. The propaganda machine of the Third Reich, launched and debugged by him, expelled incredible volumes of misinformation aimed at disintegrating the desperately fighting Red Army, breaking its will to resist, and persuading as many of its soldiers and commanders to surrender. If something genuine that could be used for the same purposes fell into the clutches of Goebbels's subordinates, they clung to it tightly, like pincers. And they used it 100%. Captured red commanders were especially appreciated and were, as they say, snapped up. Yes, today it seems wild to demand that a person deliberately and voluntarily end his own life.
Nevertheless, everyone who wore commander insignia in 1941 took the oath (and some more than once, given their pre-revolutionary past) and knew that having chosen military affairs as their life path, sooner or later they might find themselves in front of such choice. By the way, in order No. 270 were given quite specific names of those generals who "set a bad example for the troops", betraying their military duty and being captured. These included the commander of the 28th Army, Lieutenant General Vladimir Kachalov, the commander of the 12th Army, Lieutenant General Pavel Ponedelin, and the commander of the 13th Rifle Corps, Major General Nikolai Kirillov. They became the first "victims" of this extremely harsh order, since all three were recognized as traitors and deserters, and sentenced to death in absentia. Well, using the examples of these specific people, we will consider the situation, how much there was "cannibalism" in 270, and how many - following the harsh realities of war.
"Leafing through the old notebook of the executed general ..."
With General Katchalov, let's make a reservation right away, a terrible mistake came out. By the time the order was signed, he was no longer alive. Moreover, he did not spend a day, not an hour or a minute in captivity - while trying to break through from the encirclement, he died in a battle near the village of Starinki in the Roslavl region. The point in doubts was raised after the end of the Great Patriotic War, when the remains of the general were found in a mass grave found there. Then the words of a German officer, who wrote in a report, that "we found the body of a Russian commander in a tank we had broken," were added. However, how did it happen that Kachalov fell into traitors? A confluence of circumstances, and an extremely nasty one - in the last minutes, when they saw him, the general jumped into the tank and rushed towards the enemy. At the same time, he did not begin to explain either the goal or the meaning of his own maneuver to anyone. As a result, a very nasty wording was born: "I drove a tank towards the enemy with unidentified intentions." Then someone thought of remembering that on August 4, 1941, the general allegedly picked up one of the German leaflets dropped from the planes that served as "prisoner passes" and put it in his pocket with the words: "Maybe it will come in handy ..." was there a roll of paper? Hard to believe. Is the whole story a lie? More than possible. However, investigators and judges felt differently. It was such a time ... Comrade Mehlis personally reported this episode to Stalin - a man who, to put it mildly, was keen on finding and exposing "enemies of the people" in the army. Subsequently, Kachalov, of course, was rehabilitated, but during the war years, his relatives took a dare, as they say, in full ...
With Ponedelin and Kirillov, the situation is radically different. These two commanders were in the hands of the Nazis at the same time, during the so-called "Uman catastrophe". Not only their stay in captivity, but also quite civilized communication with representatives of the Wehrmacht has a lot of documentary evidence, including in the form of photographs. Looking ahead, I note that in these photographs both generals do not look, of course, blooming and rejoicing in life, however, they also lack clear traces of ill-treatment in the form of beatings or prolonged starvation. Shaved, cropped, tucked up, dressed in a completely clean and neat uniform, even with insignia. And the Germans around them look good-natured, relaxed - therefore, they do not expect any dangerous surprises from Soviet generals. As for Ponedelin specifically, he managed to please the Germans with his own personal diary (a thing that any commander, if there is a risk of capture, must immediately destroy). Subsequently, this very diary allegedly ended up in the hands of SMERSH employees. On its pages, the general scolded both the Soviet government and its leaders, and collectivization with industrialization ... Again, lies?
I will make a reservation right away that Ponedelin and Kirillov, who were shot after the end of the Great Patriotic War and their return to the USSR, were rehabilitated "outright" in Khrushchev's times as completely innocent. Like, in captivity they behaved with dignity, all offers of cooperation were rejected. The photographs, which are definitely not fake, raise doubts about this. Moreover, some Russian military historians directly point to the extremely strange, whether unprofessional, or simply going into the hands of the enemy actions of General Ponedelin when he surrendered the Letichevsky Stronghold, as well as during the battles in the same "Uman pit". One more thing. Together with these two generals at the same time and in the same place, the Nazis also captured the commander of the 6th Army, Lieutenant General Ivan Muzychenko. At the same time, he was seriously wounded in the leg and could not move independently. So - also returned to the Soviet Union in 1945, Muzychenko was not subjected to any repressions. He was reinstated in the party and in the cadres of the Red Army, after a thorough investigation, of course.
Kirillov and Ponedelin were also arrested and were far from suddenly convicted - as were a number of Soviet generals who survived German captivity. The fates of their other comrades in misfortune have developed in a completely different way. However, this is a topic for a completely different conversation, which will take place next time.