Another curious document from the same book:
24 October 1942
To the Chairman of the USSR’s State Defense Committee
The following report was received from the NKVD Special department of the Don Front:
“Commander-in-chief of the Front lieutenant general Rokossovksy has ordered to position blocking detachments of the 66 Army immediately behind battle lines of attacking infantry.
He explains this order by the fact that the infantry doesn’t go to attack despite all orders.
Blocking detachments are ordered to drive infantry to attack by force of arms.
I ask to give your instructions immediately, because with such number of weapons on hostile positions and the need to walk on the battlefield under hostile fire in order to raise infantry to attack, the blocking detachments are going to be wiped out in one day or two.
USSR’ People’s Commissar for Internal Affair
For comparison the NKVD officers reported the following in regard of the same local operation of the Don Front in late October 1942:
On 26.10.42 chief of staff of the Front major general Malinin, deputy commander-in-chief of the front major general Trubnikov in presence of our officer shared their opinion about the offensive of our forces.
When the officer asked them if the artillery preparation was effective, how our air force is operating, if it neutralized hostile weapons, Trubnikov just made a gesture and answered “The thing is not about the air force, our infantry doesn’t cost a dime, infantry doesn’t fight, and that is the whole problem…”
Malinin, while supporting Trubnikov, said: “…Infantry doesn’t go to attack, artillery preparation was sufficient, we have so much artillery that it is beyond any doubt, 74 gun per a kilometer. And, besides, we have 12 mortar regiments.
The Germans here don’t have anything; they must suffer heavy losses due to our artillery fire. In this sector we have a definitive large superiority in anything and superiority in aviation.
Hostile air forces don’t bother us, and we have a quite a number of tanks…But our infantry is worthless…
If we had a well-trained regiment of resolute men, this regiment would just walk to Stalingrad…The reason is not artillery, you cannot knock out all the weapons anyway. Artillery is doing its business, pressing the enemy to the ground, but the infantry doesn’t raise and doesn’t go to attack…”
Commander-in-chief of the Front Rokossovsky, under impression that the failure was caused by poor performance of infantry soldiers, tried to use blocking detachments to exert pressure on infantry.
Rokossovsky insisted that blocking detachment should advance behind infantry and drive soldiers to attack by force of arms.
Curiously, in this case the NKVD happened to be more sober-minded than Army's generals.