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A little theory for start. According to the law on military service of 1939 all male citizen regardless of origin, social status were liable for military service. Constriction to active service was made on the year when the recruit turned 19 (18 in case of a completed secondary school course). Men who completed active service or who were exempt from conscription were assigned to reserve, from where they could be called to the armed forces in case of mobilization. Reservists they stayed in reserve until the age of 50 (unlike the earlier law of 1930 where the age of enlisted reservists was limited to 40). Reserve also included women with special qualification (medical, veterinary, technical). Citizens arrested or sentenced to imprisonment or sent to exile without sentences and also those were found physically unfit were excluded from military service and therefore not included in reserve.
Registration of reservists was performed by local military offices (military commissariats) at cities and districts. The earlier law of 1930 established the following types of reservist registries:
a) general – all reservists excluding b) and c)
b) special – reservists having deferments due to their occupation in economy
c) separate – workers of water and rail transport, employees of the OGPU (NKVD)
Apparently this classification remained in force even after a new law of 1939 was adopted.
On 10 July 1940 the People’s Commissariat for Defense ordered a general inventory of reserve privates and NCO. The inventory was to include
- reservists from general and special registries
- reservists from separate registry, except active employees of NKVD state security or in reserve of NKVD state security organs
- men from 40 to 50 years old previously excluded from registration due to age
- USSR citizens from 19 to 50 years old belonging to nationalities previously exempt from military service
Men sentenced to penalties, exiled without sentences, and special settlers (exiled “kulaks” etc) were excluded from registration.
So theoretically the inventory was to register all men between ages of 19 and 50 liable for military service, except those in active service in military forces, officers of reserve and officers of NKVD state security (active or reserve).
There is a somewhat contradicting information regarding the number of registered reservists in various sources.
According to Khisamutdinova and Ivanova (2015, with reference to Osetrov (2008) after inventory of 1940 the registries of reserve privates and NCOs as of 1 January 1941 included 20.3 mln men in general registry and 2.1 in special registry (with deferments). Of them 15.8 mln had military training, 2.3 had partial (short-term) training, and 4.2 mln were untrained.
Report by general Schadenko to Stalin of 10.9.42 lists the following numbers
- 20 023 800 reservists (1890-1921) as of 1.01.1941 – apparently general registry only
- 2 781 000 reservists with deferments
- 893 200 reserve officers
- 3 679 200 privates and NCOs on active service in the military
- 554 200 active officers
So total 27 931 400 men on active service or in reserve by the start of the war.
There is a small difference in the size of the general reserve with Osetrov (20.3 vs. 20.02 mln). I believe that Schadenko didn’t count reservists assigned to Navy and NKVD forces, since the difference corresponds to augmentation of NKVD and Navy strength after mobilization by about 0.3 mln. Then detailed analysis suggests that the number of deferments given by Schadenko pertains to the September 1942. On the other hand the number of deferments given by Osetrov is too small and apparently doesn’t include employees of railroads, water transport and NKVD. That assumption is supported by the fact that G.Zhukov reported in February 1941 that mobilization plan of 1940 included 2 802 000 reserve NCOs and privates (up to the age of 40) and 109 000 reserve officers with deferments. After the inventory of 1940 which registered reservists previously exempt from military service the numbers were supposed to become larger.
Finally the GKO decree No.675 of 1941 lists 3 671 930 NCOs in privates of reserve having deferments due to their employment.
The number included the entire Soviet territory and apparently pertained to the pre-war situation. After all it was too early to calculate losses of men on occupied territories. Of all deferments 1 465 617 belonged to the NKVD, People’s Commissariat for Railroads, and People’s Commissariat for River Fleet or former “separate registry”. That leaves about 2.2 mln reservists with deferments employed in other sectors, in good agreement with Osetrov’s 2.1 mln. So I believe that the 3.67 mln given by GKO can be assumed as an ultimate number of reservists having deferments from mobilization.
The number of reserve officers is given with a good precision by “Military cadres of the Soviet state” published in 1963 and initially classified as “restricted”. According to this book as 1 April 1941 the pool of reserve officers included:
- 891 224 Army officers in general registry (including 147 811 women medical officers)
- 93 296 Army officers in special registry (with deferments)
- 24 732 Navy officers in general registry
- 7013 Navy officers in special registry (with deferments)
http://www.teatrskazka.com/Raznoe/Voenn ... y.html#t10
Total 1 016 265 reserve officers of the Red Army and Navy, of them 100 314 having deferments. Comparison with Schadenko’s report (893 200 reserve officers) suggests that he counted only reserve officers belonging the Red Army. That reinforces assumption made above that the same is true for other ranks.
So finally we arrive to the following estimate of Soviet reserves by the start of 1941:
- 20.3 mln reserve NCOs and privates liable for mobilization
- 3.67 mln reserve NCOs and privates with deferments
- 1.06 mln officers of reserve officers (incl. 0.1 mln with deferments)
For a total of 25.3 mln reservists. That doesn’t include reserve officers of the NKVD military forces and NKVD state security organs.
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Red Army - 3 858 765 (Krivosheev, 2009)
attached to the Red Army (construction units etc) - 64 949 (Krivosheev as of June 41)
Navy - 352 046 as of 1.2.41 (Zhumatiy, 2010)
attached to the Navy (construction etc) - 44 656 as of 1.2.41 (Zhumatiy, 2010)
NKVD forces - about 340 000 as of June 41 (Meltyukhov, 1998)
Total about 4 660 000. Schadenko provided a smaller number in September 1942 since he counted only Red Army and Navy personnel.
Reservists plus active strength give a pool of 30 million (29.96) personnel which could be potentially used by the military at the start of 1941. This number includes:
- a limited number of officers older than 50 (several thousand at most)
- a limited number of women personnel with the military (several thousand, mostly medical personnel)
- recruits born in 1922 with a full secondary school education inducted in 1940 (about tens thousand)
- women reservists (about 150 000 medical personnel plus reserve personnel with other qualifications)
Total estimated from 200 to 300 thousand. That leaves about 29.7 million men born in 1890-1921. From data provided in "Population of the Soviet Union in 1921-1991" by Andreyev, Darskiy and Kharkova the aggregate number of men of these ages in the Soviet population by the start of 1941 can be estimated as approximately 41 million. The difference of 11-11.5 million can be attributed to
- men of military ages in prisons, GULag camps, colonies, administrative exile and settlement, excluded from registration of reservists (at least 2 million)
- men physically unfit for military service and excluded from registration of reservists
- accounting failure of the 1940's inventory
- personnel of NKVD state security (active and reserve), reserve officers of NKVD forces - altogether a limited number within a calculation error.
Also recruits of younger classes (born in 1922 and later) became available and were inducted to military after the war start, the size of each annual class was about 2 million men. At the same time older classes were gradually excluded from the pool of reservists after they reached 51.