Thursday 18 June 2015

Order #227 in the 4th Tank Army

"August 14th, 1942

To the deputy People's Commissar of Internal Affairs, Commissar of State Security 3rd class, comrade Abakumov

Despite the overall positive reaction to comrade Stalin's order #227, there were a series of negative and downright anti-Soviet statements made by individual troops and commanders, such as:
  • Red Armyman Katasanov from the 2nd battalion, 22nd Motorized Infantry Brigade said that "There are a lot of orders, but if there is no strength left, you can write as many orders as you want, nothing will help."
  • Red Armyman Shelopayev of the 113rd Tank Brigade's motorized infantry battalion said: "It's nonsense, there were similar orders before, and we still leave cities behind. This order won't help, we'll keep running until the Volga."
  • Red Armyman Andreev from the administrative platoon of the 121st Tank Brigade said: "You can write any order you want for us, we won't do it, same as before. Other orders said that you must fight cowards and panic-mongers up to execution on the spot, but there were no measures taken. It will be the same with this order. It will soon be forgotten."
  • Deputy commander of a tank battalion in the same brigade, Korotayev, said: "Innocent commanders and groups of infantry will suffer from this order, when they panic it's hard to hold them. Good commanders may suffer."
  • Red Armyman Kizshin from the HQ battery of the 18th Infantry Division said: "To battle, so that I might get wounded and go to the hospital for a few months, then the war will be over. The order says not one step back, but the ones that wrote it run first."
Up to 20 such statements were made in the units of the 4th Tank Army. The unit commanders have been informed by NKVD special departments. Despite discussions of comrade Stalin's order with personnel, there were cases of cowardice, sabotage, and dereliction of duty by individual soldiers and commanders. NKVD special departments take measures against cowards and panic-mongers, who sap the resolve of units, throw down their weapons, and flee from the battlefield.

During the aforementioned time period, 24 men were executed. This includes squad commanders in the 414th Infantry Regiment, 18th Infantry Division, Styrkov and Dobrynin, who cowardly ran from the battlefield, abandoning their squads. They were detained by a blocking squad and executed in front of their units on the orders of the special department.

Red Armyman Ogorodnikov from the same regiment shot himself in the left arm. His deed was discovered and he was handed over to a military tribunal.

There were cases where entire operations failed due to cowardice. For instance, during the night between July 31st and August 1st of this year, 176th Tank Brigade left positions without orders, and let the enemy take these valuable heights. An investigation revealed that the HQ chief Major Maksimov was at fault, who was arrested by the special department and is awaiting trial.

The commander of the 6th Battery, 616th Artillery Regiment, 184th Infantry Division, Lieutenant Radbil, did not fulfil the order to support infantry and tanks on July 30th, and when the battery was shelled by the enemy, he said "Anyone who wants to can save the battery, I'm walking away from this"

Based on Order #227, three blocking squads were composed, each of 200 men. These units are armed with rifles, submachineguns, and light machineguns. Members of the special departments command these units. As of August 7th, 1942, 363 men have been detained by these units, of which 93 just escaped encirclement, 146 fell behind their units, 52 lost their units, 12 escaped from enemy captivity, 54 ran from the battlefield, and 2 had questionable wounds.

After careful checking, 187 were sent back to their units, 43 to a reinforcements base, 73 to NKVD camps, 27 to penalty companies, 2 to medical examination, 6 were arrested, and as mentioned above, 24 were executed.

The military council has been informed of the above.



  1. Somehow the words of various armymen were recorded.
    And we thought the commissars job was to Raise Bolshevik awareness.

    1. source

    2. There were definitely some witnesses that reported offenders. NKVD did not come suddenly.

  2. Almost two thirds sent back to units/reinforcment [most likely because of "honest mistakes"]. Better than I expected.

  3. Those soldiers were executed for being right...commands can issue any orders they want, but for those to be followed they must be based on a realistic assessment of the situation. What you see here in the Red Army you saw later in the German army from 1943-45. Abraham Lincoln, in the US Civil war, would almost always pardon such offenders, saying that a brave man could be betrayed by cowardly legs.

    Besides, as a practical matter, the retreats in the summer of 1942 saved a lot of Soviet units to fight again, and made the victories of the winter possible.

  4. this is a good information and thanks for updating me with army stuff.