Soviet Armor Units in Armenia 1937-1938

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Volyn
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Soviet Armor Units in Armenia 1937-1938

Post by Volyn » 06 Aug 2019 18:33

This soldier was a victim of Stalin's purge of the Red Army, he was killed in Leninakan, Armenia (modern-day Gyumri) on an unknown date sometime between 1937 or 1938. He was a member of the armor corps as the tank icon is clearly seen on his collar tab. I am attempting to identify which armor unit he was assigned to when he was killed.

Is it known which Soviet armor units were based in or near Leninakan during "The Great Terror" (Большой террор)?
Was there an NKVD unit based in this area as well?
Is there a list for the military victims of the purge?


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Art
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Re: Soviet Armor Units in Armenia 1937-1938

Post by Art » 07 Aug 2019 23:08

76 Tank Company of the 76 (Armenian) Rifle Division
17 Mechanized Battalion of the 17 Mountain Cavalry Division.
Both division had elements stationed at Leninakan, but I don't know exact location of the units in question.
Was there an NKVD unit based in this area as well?
Border guards for sure.

Volyn
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Re: Soviet Armor Units in Armenia 1937-1938

Post by Volyn » 08 Aug 2019 13:22

Art wrote:
07 Aug 2019 23:08
76 Tank Company of the 76 (Armenian) Rifle Division
17 Mechanized Battalion of the 17 Mountain Cavalry Division.
Both division had elements stationed at Leninakan, but I don't know exact location of the units in question.
Thank you Art!

From what I have read the 76th Armenian Rifle Division was almost exclusively made up of Armenians until 1938 when other Soviet nationalities joined the unit. The victim that I am researching is from Belarus originally, I wonder if he would have had time to join that unit and then get purged?

Perhaps the 17th Mountain Cavalry Division might be a more plausible location for him to have been sent to?

Is he wearing the M35 Gymnastyorka in the photo?

Art
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Re: Soviet Armor Units in Armenia 1937-1938

Post by Art » 08 Aug 2019 19:09

I don't know, unfortunately. Officers of the 76 RD in 1937-38 seemed to be predominantly Armenian, whereas 17 MCD had a more mixed composition with plenty of Russians, Ukrainians, Belorussians. For example, 17 Mechanized Battalion was commanded by major S.S. Vasilenko, who was also sentenced to death during the purge campaign. Details on political purges in the Transcaucasus Military District can be found in a PhD thesis by V.V. Lar'kin:
https://isu.ru/filearchive/dissert/ar_Larkin.pdf
Which also contains a list of purged officers, but not only fragmentary info on enlisted personnel.

Volyn
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Location: Georgia, USA

Re: Soviet Armor Units in Armenia 1937-1938

Post by Volyn » 09 Aug 2019 03:27

Thank you, I will review the thesis and see if helps to reveal anything relevant.

Do you know if enlisted soldiers (i.e. Private, Sergeant, etc.) were also targeted for killing during the purge, or was it strictly against the officers? I do not see any rank on his uniform in the photo, so I am curious why a soldier like him would have been killed if he was a low rank at the time.

If Major Vasilenko was killed than it shows that the 17 Mechanized Battalion was affected by the purge, and it appears more likely that this may have been his unit.

Also, I have heard that the Armor Corps suffered disproportionately and more severely than the other military professions, is this true or false?

Art
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Re: Soviet Armor Units in Armenia 1937-1938

Post by Art » 09 Aug 2019 07:05

Arrested by the NKVD state security in 1937:
7650 officers
6689 privates and NCOs
http://istmat.info/node/288

So a lot of enlisted personnel affected.

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