Imposition of order in areas behind the front lines

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wwilson
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Imposition of order in areas behind the front lines

Post by wwilson » 01 Dec 2021 14:02

As the USSR advanced westward into other countries in 1944 and 1945, which forces did they use to ensure security of their supply lines and enforcement of orders/directives etc. in cities and rural areas behind the front line? Was it all NKVD troops, or were Red Army forces also involved? An example might be which forces garrisoned Warsaw and Budapest after the front moved westward.

Thanks for any information.

Cheers

Dann Falk
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Re: Imposition of order in areas behind the front lines

Post by Dann Falk » 01 Dec 2021 17:11

Greetings,

Quoting from my next book "The 7th Guards Army from Kursk to Prague 1943-1945" (soon to be published), a few items.

On page 229
23 February 1944
On the orders of Stalin, as reprisals for real or imagined acts against Soviet authority or for “cooperating with the Nazi invaders,” over 100,000 NKVD officers and soldiers began the roundup and deportation of Chechens and Ingush peoples from the North Caucasus region to Central Asia. The plan was to deport some 450,000 people, later revised to 495,000, but some Chechen sources put the total at 650,000. The total death count during and after the deportation was put at over 220,000, but the true total will never be known. In 2004, the European Parliament acknowledged this campaign by the Soviet Union, against its own people, as an act of genocide.

On page 230
28 February 1944
David Glantz, in his book Fallen Soviet Commanders, on page 203, relates how General N. F Vatutin, commander of the 1 UF (former commander of the Voronezh Front during the battle for Kursk) was traveling between HQs far behind the front lines when he and his escort were ambushed by Ukrainian nationalists of the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA). Vatutin was seriously wounded in the leg and was quickly taken to a hospital in Kiev. He died on 15 April 1944 from sepsis (blood infection).
The UPA was a force to be reckoned with as it controlled large sections of Ukrainian territory. In response to this attack upon Vatutin and the destruction of (a reported) NKVD battalion, the Soviets deployed 30,000 troops on an anti-partisan sweep against the UPA throughout the Volyn province in northwest Ukraine. Losses were heavy on both sides during this fighting, but the UPA survived to fight on for independence long after the war.

On page 227
11 May 1944
With the fall of Sevastopol, the Soviet GKO (State Defense Committee) anticipated the complete liberation of the Crimea. The GKO issued a decree that required all Tatars (native people who were members of a Turkic ethnic group) to be deported from the Crimea to Uzbek SSR (Soviet Socialist Republic, modern day Uzbekistan), which was some 1,600 miles east of the Crimea on the far side of the Caspian Sea. This was done to punish the indigenous population en masse for collaboration with the Germans. On 20 May the NKVD/NKGB (State Security) issued a report, “[On] 18 May 180,014 persons have been deported, loaded into 67 trains…6,000 Tatars were conscripted [into the military] …8,000 people have been sent to work for the Moscow Coal Trust [of them] 5,000 are Tatars…. During the deportation 5,989 persons, from amongst anti-Soviet elements, were arrested” [in other words killed or enslaved]. While Stalin’s actions were not as heinous as Hitler’s attempt to eliminate the Jews, Stalin’s treatment of the Tatars and other ethnic groups within the Soviet Union, although not widely known, was just as despicable. In nine days, the deed was done; the state security services were very efficient.

On page 422,
11 January 1945
Along with advancing Red Army troops, behind the front came NKVD (Secret Police) troops to “secure” the rear area. In other words, they were there to control the local people, their movements and actions. They also apprehended spies, exposed saboteurs, and capture deserters. Additionally, they conducted executions, filled the labor camps with workers, oversaw mass deportations and suppressed (terminated) any opposition to Soviet policies or actions. The Red Army liberated the subjugated peoples of Eastern Europe from Nazi or Fascist rule, while the NKVD introduced them to the Soviet Union’s equivalent form of tyranny.

On 18 December 1944, the GKO (State Defense Committee) issued a decree raising additional NKVD divisions for security of rear areas in Eastern Europe. By 11 January 1945, it was planned that the 2 UF would have six NKVD Regiments, with 8,528 troops and one new NKVD division, #61, with 5,000 men. The 3 UF was planned to have four NKVD regiments with 6,223 troops. So, just for Hungary, a total of 19,751 NKVD troops would be on hand to secure the rear area. Most likely this GKO decree was carried out as ordered.

Hope this helps.

Dann

wwilson
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Re: Imposition of order in areas behind the front lines

Post by wwilson » 01 Dec 2021 17:45

Thanks Mister Falk.

Thinking on this, I recall the Soviets had specialized railway security units and I knew that late-war, some NKVD divisions followed the fronts, but their deployment isn't (to me) very clear.

I doubt the Soviets had a lot of interest in "policeman on the corner" type policing in large urban areas; yet, they needed basic order to ensure good communications through cities. Perhaps entire divisions of the NKVD garrisoned cities like Budapest after their capture. I assume after the initial disorder subsided after an area was overrun, party personnel began organizing municipal police organizations loyal to communist authority, but it would have taken time to get such functions running again.

I like the focus of your book; the late war phase interests me.

Cheers

Art
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Re: Imposition of order in areas behind the front lines

Post by Art » 01 Dec 2021 20:10

Typically military commandants were appointed in regional and district centers and large settlements with the task of liaison with civil authorities, maintenance of civil order and military discipline. Military commandants had garrisons of Army or NKVD troops under their command. For example, a provisional instruction on military commandants on Romanian territory:
https://pamyat-naroda.ru/documents/view/?id=454917088

As far as security troops are concerned there were a group of NKVD troops attached to every Soviet front and from the beginning of 1945 10 additional NKVD divisions were formed for security and police functions in Eastern Europe:
viewtopic.php?p=2061649#p2061649

As for railroad and road traffic - it was controlled and organized by other agencies.

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Re: Imposition of order in areas behind the front lines

Post by Art » 02 Dec 2021 08:49

Dann Falk wrote:
01 Dec 2021 17:11
On the orders of Stalin, as reprisals for real or imagined acts against Soviet authority or for “cooperating with the Nazi invaders,” over 100,000 NKVD officers and soldiers began the roundup and deportation of Chechens and Ingush peoples from the North Caucasus region to Central Asia. The plan was to deport some 450,000 people, later revised to 495,000, but some Chechen sources put the total at 650,000. The total death count during and after the deportation was put at over 220,000, but the true total will never be known.
There is no need to listen to some murky "Chechen sources". All the stats were known already 20 years ago, see e.g. Polyan
The number of Chechens and Ingush registered by the census of 1939 was circa 490,000. In no feasible way it could increase to 650,000 five years later.
from amongst anti-Soviet elements, were arrested” [in other words killed or enslaved]
There is no need to fantasize. The word "arrest" means "arrest", nothing else. Then the very idea that arrest and punishment of Nazi collaborators and genocide perpetrators was something wrong and unfair is a thing I cannot agree in principle. Then, you should distinguish between punishment of ethnic groups and punishment of individuals for their own deeds after investigation and by court decisions. The second was fully legal according to Soviet laws and wasn't somehow selective - Soviet authorities arrested collaborators regardless of their ethnicity.
Additionally, they conducted executions, filled the labor camps with workers
Again some dubious piece. Execution were made by sentences of military tribunals which didn't have anything to do with NKVD or NKVD troops. Sentences to jail or camp terms were assigned by tribunals and courts. Maximum what NKVD troops had to do with that was convoying prisoners between prisons and camps. It should be added that such important function as guarding POWs camps and escorting POWs somehow dropped from the description above.
Generally speaking security of the lines of communication and police functions in rear areas were a normal and trivial thing for every army in the WW2, there was nothing exceptional about that.

Dann Falk
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Re: Imposition of order in areas behind the front lines

Post by Dann Falk » 02 Dec 2021 17:09

Greetings Art.

You make some great points. I will need to add the POW transporting and guarding part. Thanks.

But the forced deportation of Chechens and Ingush peoples from the North Caucasus region did not take all the people. The Soviets did not depopulate the entire region. These people had reason to fear Stalin, so saying that everyone was registered beforehand or deported is not realistic.

In the Crimea, the NKVD was forcibly deporting thousands of people at gun point, and they found the need to arrest 5,989 persons? In the Soviet system that certainly meant swift execution or 30 years as slave labor. Also, all Tatars were collaborators? and they all were killers? Once again not realistic. They were deported because Stalin wanted to punish them.

So NKVD troops never killed anyone? What about Blocking Detachments/Barrier units?

Best regards

Dann

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Re: Imposition of order in areas behind the front lines

Post by wwilson » 04 Dec 2021 08:49

Typically military commandants were appointed in regional and district centers and large settlements with the task of liaison with civil authorities, maintenance of civil order and military discipline. Military commandants had garrisons of Army or NKVD troops under their command.
Art, thank you for the comments. The 'garrisons of troops' is interesting for me. I wonder if that is somehow reflected in the order of battle produced by Stavka (or perhaps not). At times, one sees rifle divisions controlled directly at the echelon of front headquarters. I am fairly certain the NKVD divisions mentioned in the thread you quoted are -not- in the official order of battle, but that may be simply because they were not units of the Soviet Army.

My guess is that countries for which the Soviets had already organized allied armies (like Poland and Czechoslovakia), that personnel from those organizations contributed to ensuring the security of lines of communication and maintenance of order. But for Axis nations like Germany and Hungary, the occupied territory was probably dominantly controlled by Soviet military forces and other organizations. It would be interesting to know, for example, what kind of occupation force was kept in Budapest after the front moved westward towards Austria.

Cheers

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Re: Imposition of order in areas behind the front lines

Post by Art » 04 Dec 2021 14:57

STATE DEFENSE COMITTEE

DECREEE of July 29, 1944 No. GKO-6269ss

ON MEASURES OF RED ARMY'S COMMAND ON THE LIBERATED TERRITORY OF POLAND

Moscow, Kremlin

The State Defense Committee decrees:

In connection with the entry of Soviet troops into the territory of Poland, the State Defense Committee decrees:

1. In every district and parish center and the largest settlements, as well as at railway stations, roads and waterways occupied by Soviet troops, military commandants are appointed by the order of the corresponding Military Command.

The military commandants are responsible for the establishment and maintenance of order in the rear of the Red Army in accordance with the military situation. Military commanders will operate in the above points until the normal operation of the Polish Administration is restored.

2. As soon as any part of the liberated territory of Poland ceases to be a zone of direct military operations, the Polish Committee for National Liberation will fully assume the leadership of all matters of civil administration. From that time on, the military commandant's offices were to be abolished, with the exception of the commandant's offices at railway stations, waterways and highways-unpaved communications.

3. In each administrative center and in the largest settlements, at the discretion of the Soviet Military Command, military garrisons are left from the troops of the Red Army or the Polish Army.

4. Railways, telegraph, telephone and other means of communication, as well as military enterprises operate under the control of the Soviet Military Command.


Chairman of the State Defense Committee
I. Stalin
https://ru.wikisource.org/wiki/%D0%9F%D ... 2_29.07.44

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Re: Imposition of order in areas behind the front lines

Post by Art » 04 Dec 2021 15:46

Chief of staff of the 1 Belorussian Front
17 February 1945
....
To the chief of staff of the 2 Guards Tank Army

In accordance with the State Defense Committee's Decree No.6269 of 29.7.44 and USSR's Council of People's Commissars Decree No. 07-31s of 10.1.45 and directive of the USSR's Deputy People's Commissar for Defense No. ORG/6/8378 the following order for organization of the military commandant offices on the liberated territory of Poland, Czechoslovakia and also territory of Germany and Hungary occupied by our troops is established:

1. Military commandant's offices consisting of 44 men are formed in capital cities and large industrial centers with population of 300 thousand and larger.
Military commandants of these cities are given the power of divisional commander.
Attached to military commandants are:
a) in capital cities - security battalion of 326 men;
b) in large industrial cities with population of 200 thousand or larger - security company of 250 men.
In addition district commandant offices are formed for every district in cities, they consist of 8 men with a security section of 15 men.
2. In cities military commandant offices of three ranks are formed:
a) first rank - in cities with population of 100-2000 thousand men, consisting of 29 men;
b) second rank - in cities with population of 30-100 thousand men, consisting of 21 men;
c) third rank - in cities with population of of 5-30 thousand men, consisting of 17 men.
Military commandants of the cities are granted the power:
a) city commandant of the 1st rank - of the deputy divisional commander;
b) city commandant of the 2nd rank - of the regimental commander;
c) city commandant of the 3rd rank - of the battalion commander;
Security troops are attached to the city commandants:
a) 1st and 2nd rank - rifle platoon of 55 men, and to the commandant of the 1st tank on German territory, Poznan, Pomorie and Silezian Województwo of Poland - a rifle company of 100 men.;
b) to the 3rd rank commandant - rifle platoon of 25 men.
3. In districts and corresponding centers commandant offices of three ranks:
a) first rank - in districts with 20 or more parishes, consisting of 29 men;
b) second rank - in distircts with 15-20 parishes, consisting of 21 men;
c) third rank - in districts with less than 15 parishes, consisting of 17 men;

District military commandants are given the power of the regimental commander.
Attached to the district military commandant is a rifle section of 15 men, and on the territory of German and Poznan, Pomorie and Silezian Województwo of Poland

4. City military commandant offices additionally include in accordance with the CPC decree No.67-31s assistant commandant for economical matters according to the table of organization published by the People's Commissar for Defense order No. 04 of 19.1.45.

5. Separate commandant offices are not formed in all cities which are also district centers, but are merged with the district offices.

6. In parish and equivalent administrative centers military commandant offices are not authorized but formed where the front's military council finds it necessary using officer reserve of front or army. When they are not needed anymore parish offices are disbanded by the order of the Front's military council.

7. Authorized military commandant's offices are formed by the order of the Red Army's General Staff according to requests of the front's military council.

8. Military commandant offices formed on the Polish territory are kept until normal operation of the Poland's administration is restored and as soon as any part of the liberated territory of Poland ceases to be a zone of military operations and Polish administration assumes control over all matters of civil governance, by the front's military council they are disbanded, except offices at railroad stations, waterways and roads.

9. Disbandment of the authorized military commandant's offices in cities and districts of Germany, Hungary and Czechoslovakia is only made with permission of the Red Army's General Staff.
Chief of staff of the 1 Belorussian Front colonel general Malinin
Chief of the organization and staffing department colonel of the administrative service Sosenkov
https://pamyat-naroda.ru/documents/view/?id=136926414
All numbers are rather poorly readable.

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Re: Imposition of order in areas behind the front lines

Post by Art » 04 Dec 2021 16:21

wwilson wrote:
04 Dec 2021 08:49
Art, thank you for the comments. The 'garrisons of troops' is interesting for me. I wonder if that is somehow reflected in the order of battle produced by Stavka (or perhaps not).
I haven't seen orders of battle produced by Stavka. Published offical orders of battles were compiled long after the war and don't show NKVD troops or Navy or any other elements, unless directly under Red Army's control.

Formally speaking the Soviet military never had territorial command of the rear zone similar to Communication Zone of the US Army. Although they introduced the commanders of supply services on all military levels, they didn't control the rear zone or commanded all the troops situated there. Neither the Soviet military had an established system for security of the rear zone (or any military police equivalent) by the war start and it was imporvised based on commands of the NKVD border forces already in the process of hostilities. So each Soviet Front beginning from the June 1941 had a group of NKVD troops for security and police function in the rear zone. This group was under double control - operational of the respective front and administrative - of the NKVD. Beginning from January 1942 the NKVD additionally formed garrison divisions and brigades for a more distant rear areas. See some overview there:
viewtopic.php?f=55&t=243738

In January 1945 NKVD representatives were established at all fronts operating north of Carpathians and had commanders of the NKVD troops and SMERSH commanders of the respective fronts as their deputies. These representatives were given control of existing NKVD troops at the fronts and additional NKVD rifle (security) divisions were formed as already mentioned here. Soviet leadership apparently overdramatized the threat of German resistance as they decided to prevent it by all-out arrest and internment of rank and file of NSDAP and German governmental agencies and administration. Which was the primary mission of NKVD representatives. Three months later it became clear that this policy was out of proportion and it was scaled down to arrest and internment of the top brass. Anyway by that moment several tens of thousand of German citizens were trasnported to the Soviet territory.
How were these NKVD division were employed or between January and May 1945 - I don't have an exact idea. Elements of the 64 NKVD rifle division were employed at the siege of Poznan or were combatting Polish AK. Others don't seem to see much combat.

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Re: Imposition of order in areas behind the front lines

Post by gebhk » 04 Dec 2021 17:51

Hi Dann Falk

Comgrats on book. Probably too late but just two minor details that sprang out at me.

You say
this campaign by the Soviet Union, against its own people,
I would suggest the term 'citizens' a better one because 'its own people' has a familial connotation that neither side would probably ascribe to.

You also say (or perhaps quote Glantz) in relation to the death of Vatutin
He died on 15 April 1944 from sepsis (blood infection).
Blood infection is a septicaemia. Sepsis is not a blood infection, it is a complex immune (and very dangerous) condition which is triggered by an infection (which can be of any sort, not just of the blood). It is, however, the final common pathway by which the vast majority of patients with severe infections die. So while Vatutin most likely did die of sepsis as a result of septicaemia, the two are not the same.

Otherwise I agree with the conclusions of your penultimate patagraph.

However 'imposition of order' is somewhar overstating the case. Art explains very well why - the Red Army did not have a structure for policing its troops behind the lines - this was left to the NKVD which was dedicated to securing Soviet lines of communication, Soviet property and crushing political opposition. It had little interest (with notable, if rare, exceptions) in doing anything about the wave of armed robberies, aggravated rapes and murders committed by Red Army personnel that plagued Polish citizens 1944-47. I doubt it was much different in other country's overrun by the Red Army.

Art - do you know which organisation was responsible for dismantling and shipping off local infrastructure (factories, railways, cable, etc) into the USSR? Was it also the NKVD or some other organisation?

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Re: Imposition of order in areas behind the front lines

Post by wwilson » 05 Dec 2021 08:22

@Art
I haven't seen orders of battles produced by Stavka.
Art, you are correct. That was a mistaken assumption of mine. I was referring to this (I think this is the correct Russian title of the documents) -- Боевои состав Советскои армии. And yes, published postwar.

Interested me that not so many soldiers were assigned to these military commandants.

One more question. Phrases like "power of the regimental commander" -- does that mean they had the authority of the rank in the Soviet Army at which regiments were commanded (I assume 'colonel'). Or were battalion, regimental commanders etc. in the field army given specific "powers" regarding orders they could give?

Thanks again, what you have posted here is something I've never read before.

Cheers

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Re: Imposition of order in areas behind the front lines

Post by Art » 05 Dec 2021 09:13

gebhk wrote:
04 Dec 2021 17:51
Art explains very well why - the Red Army did not have a structure for policing its troops behind the lines
Didn't have by the start of the war (June 1941), rather policing was to be performed by patrols detached from common units. Further on it was impovised based on OO NKVD/SMERSH, blocking detachments and OT NKVD troops.
it had little interest (with notable, if rare, exceptions) in doing anything about the wave of armed robberies, aggravated rapes and murders
Prevention of marauding or any other illegal activity was one of tasks explicitly given to military commandants.
Art - do you know which organisation was responsible for dismantling and shipping off local infrastructure (factories, railways, cable, etc) into the USSR?
Trophey comittee under marshal Voroshilov, Main Trophey Directorate of the Red Army, trophey section in HQ from Front to division, trophey brigades and battalions, trophey depots etc.

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Re: Imposition of order in areas behind the front lines

Post by Art » 05 Dec 2021 09:35

wwilson wrote:
05 Dec 2021 08:22
One more question. Phrases like "power of the regimental commander" -- does that mean they had the authority of the rank in the Soviet Army at which regiments were commanded (I assume 'colonel'). Or were battalion, regimental commanders etc. in the field army given specific "powers" regarding orders they could give?
I believe they refer to the power granted by the Disciplinary Regulation of the Red Army (1940). The division commander, for example, had the power to reprimand or place under arrest or strip of ranks all enlisted men, reprimand, place under home arrest, deprive of leave or remove from positions all officers under his command. He was also given some "carrot" powers like presents, cash bonus or rank promotion in regard to enlisted men. From 1942 the division commander had the right to assign a term in penal units to officers, and regimental (or separate battalion) commanders - to enlisted men as a way of disciplinary punishment.

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Re: Imposition of order in areas behind the front lines

Post by Art » 05 Dec 2021 09:41

Proposed deployment of NKVD divisions in Romania:

HQ 65 Rifle Division and 88 Rifle Regiment - Bucharest
387 Rifle Regiment - Ploesti
324 Rifle Regiment - Krajova

HQ 66 Rifle Division and 337 Rifle Regiment - Sibiu
40 Rifle Regiment - Timisoara
201 Rifle Regiment - Brasov

Report from Beria ro Stalin, 11 January 1945
http://docs.historyrussia.org/ru/nodes/ ... e/1/zoom/5

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