Корейки не было. Вместо него на великого комбинатора смотрела потрясающая харя со стеклянными водолазными очами и резиновым хоботом, в конце которого болтался жестяной цилиндр цвета хаки. Остап так удивился, что даже подпрыгнул. [….]
— Товарищ! Вы отравлены!
— Кто отравлен? — закричал Остап, вырываясь. — Пустите!
— Товарищ, вы отравлены газом, — радостно повторил санитар. — Вы попали в отравленную зону! Видите, газовая бомба.
— Кроме того, товарищ, вы ранены осколком в руку. Не сердитесь, товарищ! Будьте сознательны. Вы же знаете, что идут маневры. Сейчас мы вас перевяжем и отнесем в газоубежище. [….]
К Остапу подбежала комсомолка с красным крестом на переднике. Она вытащила из брезентовой сумки бинты и вату и, хмуря брови, чтобы не рассмеяться, обмотала руку великого комбинатора поверх рукава. Закончив акт милосердия, девушка все-таки засмеялась и убежала к следующему раненому, который покорно отдал ей свою ногу. Остапа потащили к носилкам.
(Koreiko was gone. In his place there stood, gazing upon the Great Combinator, a terrifying visage with scuba goggle eyes and a rubber elephant’s trunk, at the end of which dangled a tin cylinder the color of khaki. Ostap was so asotnished that he even gave a little leap into the air. “Comrade! You have been poisoned!” “Who has been poisoned?” Ostap screamed. “Let me go!” “Comrade, you have been poisoned with gas,” the MedTech repeated joyfully. “You have entered into the poison zone. See, over there, that gas bomb.” […] “Besides which, Comrade, you have also been wounded in the hand by shrapnel. Don’t be angry, Comrade! Be conscientioius. You should have knowon that we were conducting drills. Now we have to bind your wounds and takes you off to Poison Gas Shelter #34.” A Komsomol girl wearing a red cross on her apron, ran up to Ostap. She pulled out of her tarpaulin bag bandages and gauze and, screwing up her face so as not to laugh, she bandaged the hand of the Great Combinator just above his sleeves. Completing this act of mercy, the young girl giggled all the same and ran off to help the next wounded man, who obediently offered her his foot. Ostap was carried away on a stretcher.)
[Humorous scene from Ilf/Petrov, The Little Golden Calf, in which Ostap Bender finds himself swept up in a poison-gas drill while on the hunt for his nemesis, Koreiko. The scene is funny, but also demonstrates how Communist Party and Soviet people were conscientious about conducting appropriate safety drills, as the war approached.]
We just finished discussing the pre-war Soviet military doctrine of “Offensive War”, also called “Waging war deep into the enemy’s rear”. Worked out over the course of years and refined by elaborate war games, this was the official doctrine of the Red Army. According to this doctrine, the Red Army would quickly repulse any intrusion across Soviet borders, and then swiftly proceed into enemy territory to finish the war, employing a kaleidoscope of coordinated components: Infantry, cavalry, tanks and air support.
Returning to Diunov’s analysis: This strategy was codified in the field manual of 1939: “The Workers and Peasants Red Army will itself become the most offensive of all the offensive armies. We will conduct the war in an offensive manner, having as our most decisive goal the complete crushing of the enemy on his own territory.”
Along with this, as we saw illustrated in that awesome Soviet propaganda movie, If War Comes Tomorrow, the Red Army threatened to completely overturn the societies of any nation bold enough to attack the Soviet Union: “The Red Army will enter the territory of the attacking enemy as a liberating force for the oppressed and humiliated masses. An important goal of the Red Army is to attract to the side of the proletarian revolution the broad masses of the army of the enemy and the population dwelling in the theater of military actions.” In other words, Red Army men, from the highest command to the lowly soldier, were indoctrinated with the completely absurd notion, that the moment the Red Army crossed the border [into enemy territory], the oppressed masses will rise up against capitalism.
[yalensis: Well, it wasn’t as completely absurd as Diunov seems to think. I mean, the way it panned out in reality, there were some communist elements of the population, particularly in Poland and Czeschoslovakia, who greeted the Red Army as liberators. But Diunov, blinded by his own anti-communist dogma, cannot fathom that an ordinary working person might welcome some perks of a socialist life, even when delivered by such a cynical beast as Stalin.]
Where this notion came from, is unknown. The only possible thing which could explain the appearance of such a doctrine — is the fanatical dogmatism of the Soviet leadership, which was unwilling to depart from Marxist ideological dogmas, however absurd they might be.
[yalensis: I have a different theory. The Stalin faction, with its doctrine of “Socialism in One Country”, had long ago departed from Marxist
dogmas principles. The very last thing in the world that Stalin ever wanted to see was a bona fide proletarian revolution in a neighboring country. For the same reason he did everything in his power to squelch a possible communist revolution in Spain, instead sheep-herding the Spanish proletariat into the Republican party: Stalin feared that a real revolution, possibly led by a charistmatic national leader, might come to undermine his own status as Great and Fantastical Leader of the World Proletariat.
No. My theory is this: Stalin and his clique did not believe for one second that the populations stuck in the theater of war, would uprise against capitalism. But they did believe they could use this bogeyman to scare their potential enemies. In other words: “If you attack us, you will be overthrown by your own enslaved masses.” And this is actually an effective deterrence, given the slave owners perennial fear of a slave revolt from within.]
Stalin’s Nervous Breakdown
Diunov: In the first days of the war, it was very confusing trying to learn what was happening at the front, and hard to know what to expect from the Germans. But when Minsk fell, on June 28, it became clear that the situation at the front was catastrophic. Stalin was in such a state of shock that he simply fell apart. For two full days he recused himself from leading a nation which had gotten used to letting the First Secretary of the Communist Party decide literally all issues. Logs (journals) of Stalin’s appointment schedule, which had scrupulously fixated every hour of his day for many years, show that: On June 29 and June 30 the leader did not speak with anyone, had no visitors, and did not make any decisions. On June 30 Soviet officials of a lesser calibre gathered at Molotov’s office to try to figure out what to do. Molotov, who was the Number #2 man in the government, after Stalin, informed them that the leader of the nation was in a state of complete prostration and incapable of making any decisions.
[yalensis: Military men say that all the carefully-laid plans for a war go up in smoke on the very first day the actual shooting starts. Note how much reality differed from what we saw in that movie. In which a decisive Stalin and Voroshilov get their butts out there on the Kremlin Wall and speak forcefully and manfully to the nation on the very first day of the invasion.
On the other hand: Speaking as devil’s advocate, maybe Stalin had a logical reason for not receiving visitors those two days. Maybe he and Voroshilov were hunkered down in his office pouring over maps and coming up with a clever plan?]
Diunov: This crisis of leadership was overcome only after a delegation consisting of the highest governmental and Party leadership, on the evening of that same day, went to see Stalin. They demanded that he return to his office, assume leadership, and form a State Committee of Defense. This would be a new organ of government, combining all the powers that existed in the USSR.
One should also note that it took Stalin quite a long time before he addressed the Soviet people. He even delegated the first war speech to Molotov, and it was Molotov who informed the people that they were at war. [yalensis: Stalin reminds me of one of the I.T. managers at my workplace. He is such a coward he always sends his second-in-command lackey to deliver bad news to upper management. Good news he delivers himself, it goes without saying…] It was only on July 3, after the creation of the State Committee of Defense, which he headed, that Stalin decided to address the people. Resorting to blatant lies, he declared [in his speech]: “The best divisions of the enemy, and the best units of their aviation, have already been smashed and found for themselves graves on the field of battle.”
I Get The Praise, Somebody Else Takes The Blame
Stalin was determined to not assume for himself any responsibility for the defeats at the front. The retreat of the Soviet troops during the first days of the war were blamed on General Dmitry Grigorievich Pavlov, who commanded the Western Front. Pavlov was arrested and shot. Other generals were similarly punished, accused of “defeatism”. The decree blaming Pavlov for the castrophe of the summer of 1941, was signed by Stalin.
Soviet commanders were accused, by Stalin and his circle, of “not taking any initiative”, a trait that was also commented upon by the German foe. Which is highly ironic, given the repressions and purges of the army just prior to the war. Seeing so many of their comrades arrested and shot, taught officers and generals the lesson that showing any kind of free thought or initiative, would land them in jail or the firing squad.
Stalin’s basic instinct was to solve any problem using force and fear. [yalensis: This is true. Stalin was a hammer, and every problem was a nail!] This propensity showed itself again on August 16, 1941, when he signed Order #270. This order contradicted every known rule for the conduct of war. Soldiers who surrendered to become POWs were declared to be traitors of the Motherland and were subjected to execution by firing squad. Troops were told to keep on fighting to their last drop of blood, never withdrawing from any held position. [yalensis: Marshal Kutuzov would have been shocked by that rule!] This gesture of desperation led to the formation of Terror politics: Those soldiers who surrendered were threatened with death, and their completely innocent families — with imprisonment. Moreover, Order #270 led to a dire situation at the front: The weakest units surrendered all the same, in the face of the enemy onslaught; whereas the strongest units did indeed fight to the bitter end, obeying the Order and never withdrawing; and hence finding themselves surrounded. This led to excessive and completely unjustified losses.
Stalin’s cruelty continued to negatively affect the course of the military actions…
[to be continued]