Thursday 11 June 2020

Penal Company

371st Rifle Division
Personnel department
August 8th, 1942

To the Chief of Staff of the 30th ARmy
RE: #04/01114

I report that a penalty company could not be organized within the 371st Rifle Division due to a lack of personnel guilty of crimes against the Motherland. The tank units did not send anyone guilty of crimes against the Motherland either.

Chief of Staff, Lieutenant Colonel Sakayev
Staff Military Commissar, Battalion Commissar Popov"


  1. A shortage of guilty people in Stalins Soviet Union? Surely not? Sorry, this made me laugh out loud, what an appalling person I must be!

    1. Probably because none of the unit commanders wanted to "volunteer" the "guilty" and thus lose them. Simple organizational self-interest.

      When reading this, I am reminded of the Jack Welsh "school" of 'rank-and-yank' business management pioneered at GE, where managers were encouraged to hunt out and label and purge the 10 % bottom 'nonperformers"; and they were supposed to do this irregardless if the bottom 10 % were actually doing perfectly satisfactory work. This mal-practice encouraged all sorts of bad and weird behaviors, including companies deliberately seeking out and hiring bad people so that they could have people to "shoot" when the time came to meet their 10 % quota without losing their good people.

      So---enforced stupidity from the top is also common in capitalist organizations. Jack Welsh became an acclaimed business 'guru' despite his stupid system (which also tells you something) which was adopted by many US companies, in one form or another. Only recently has the management of some companies realize how destructive it is to a firm's long-term interest.)