Tuesday 10 December 2019

Leningrad People's Militia

I've previously looked into the effectiveness of the Leningrad People's Militia units hurriedly raised in the summer of 1941. The popular narrative is that they were composed of semi-unarmed expendable "volunteers" sent into the meat grinder to stall the Germans, but the documents tell a different story. Aleksey Isayev confirmed my suspicions.

"Based on surviving documents that can be accessed today, the Leningrad militia was armed to the teeth, specifically the Leningrad militia of 1941 that moved out to the Luga line and the Guards divisions that fought closer to Leningrad proper. They were armed well according to the TO&E and had mortars above that, which were produced in Leningrad and were naturally issued in droves to their militia. In addition, they were given improvised Izhora armoured cars. Ordinary trucks were equipped with armour, they didn't have turrets, but they had armour to protect from shells, splinters, and bullets and they had machine guns. These were very predatory looking cars and periodically you can see them in eBay photos, the Germans took photos of them when they knocked them out, sadly there are few photos from our side. 

So the Leningrad militia was well armed, decently trained by the standards of 1941, and had high morale. The Leningrad militia that played an important role in holding the Luga line, especially the approaches to Ivanovsk and Sabsk. I would say they played a key role there. Based on how the front line moved, the militia fought with the same skill as cadets. Cadets were fighting nearby and the resilience of the militia was equivalent to that of the cadets, which is impressive.

Let's say you don't believe Soviet documents and you think it's all lies and fraud by damned Stalinists. There are German documents, including interrogations of prisoners captured in battle with the militia, they write that everyone had a rifle, a gas mask, ammunition, and the fact that they were well armed is confirmed. The fact that the Germans decided to cancel the assault on Leningrad envisioned by Barbarossa is, in no small part, an achievement of the militia on the Luga line, specifically in July and in August when the Germans attacked and the offensive developed very slowly, slowly enough that it became clear that the planned assault will not go forward."

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