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Culture, Ideology and Combat in the Red Army, 1939-45
Author(s): Catherine Merridale
Source: Journal of Contemporary History, Vol. 41, No. 2 (Apr., 2006), pp. 305-324
Published by: Sage Publications, Ltd.
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c 2006 SAGEPublications,
of Contemporary
New Delhi,Vol41(2),305-324. ISSN0022-0094.
DOI:10.I 177/0022009406062072


Culture, Ideology and Combat in the
Red Army, 1939-45
Russian soldiers have always impressed foreigners. 'They are very patient of
hunger, thirst, and cold', an English traveller remarked in 1698, 'obedient
to their officers, and ready to charge the enemy on all occasions.'" Broadly
speaking, this is the view that has persisted ever since. 'They probably provide
the best material in the world from which to form an army', the British
Lieutenant-General Martel concluded after watching Soviet manoeuvres.
'Their bravery on the battlefield is beyond dispute, but the most outstanding
feature is their astonishing strength and toughness.'2 Even Hitler's Germans,
who were keen to amass any evidence that they could find of Slavic dissipation, conceded that Ivan, the Russian soldier, was special. According to the
V6lkischer Beobachter of 1941, the Russian 'surpasses our adversary in the
West in his contempt for death'. It was a view that direct engagement with
Soviet troops would soon confirm. By the winter of 1941, with the Battle of
Moscow behind them, German observers were describing the Red Army as
'the craftiest and most stubborn enemy that we have ever faced'. If you want
to resist a Russian-style attack, a captured German report observed that
winter, 'you will need strong nerves'.3
Its formidable reputation - and more formidable suffering - has drawn
historians to write about the Red Army for decades. The topic, which combines the appeal of the grittiest war stories with the chill of a spy thriller,
continues to fascinate. Strangely, however, while strategy and leadership are
well-researched, very little is known about the lives, background and motivation of the troops themselves.4 Perversely, indeed, most of what is known
about soldiers on the Eastern Front currently relies on evidence from Hitler's
This article draws on research generously funded by the Economic and Social Research Council
between 2002 and 2005, and also on writing completed during research leave made possible by
the Arts and Humanities Research Board and the University of Bristol. I am grateful to each of
these for their support and encouragement, and also to Queen Mary, University of London, for
further sabbatical leave in which to complete both manuscripts. Finally, my thanks to the Centre
for History and Economics for its unfailing support over many years, and also to each of the
participants at the Culture and Combat Motivation workshop for their comments.
1 Baldwin, 'A New and Exact Description of Muscovy', cited in Raymond L. Garthoff, How
Russia Makes War (London 1954), 225.
2 Ibid.
3 Cited in P.N. Knyshevskii, Skrytaya pravda voiny (Moscow 1992), 227.
4 Among the works dealing with strategy, David Glantz's numerous volumes are outstanding, as
are the older, but still classic, works of John Erickson.
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have managed to tarnish. In these versions. 'There is nothing else to say. 235.105. This figure represents just over a quarter of the total number mobilized between 1941 and 1945. however. many of which suggest problems common to all writing about combat motivation. which draws on research for a larger social history of the Red Army in the second world war. but he remained a formidable soldier. the victors. the article will then ask the specific question: why did Ivan fight? When it comes to research.' Instead of looking at the minds and culture of Red Army soldiers. Soldiers. This Ivan was inhuman. the argument can run. even emotionless. it will investigate the reasons for our relative ignorance about Red Army troops. a group of Moscow-based survivors assured me. most histories from any source have focused on the heavy price that they were forced to pay.6 will explore two specific aspects of culture and combat motivation in the Red Army. Having established these boundaries. As long as Stalin was an ally against Hitler. is offered by Soviet and even post-Soviet writing about the war. a new Ivan. however. The Red Army. 6 Ivan's War. Addison and A. one problem. even expressed in numerical terms.' Very few of the remainder escaped injury. That price. has been the weight of prejudice. 13 Oct 2015 02:24:20 UTC All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . This article. This content downloaded from 77. At the same time.9 on Tue. see John Erickson's essay. From the 1950s. 1939-45 (London 2005). remain shadowy. was overwhelming. the image of second world war Soviet riflemen remains so powerful that the question of human motivation seems almost superfluous in their case. These men were forced to fight. The Soldier's Experience of War in the West (London 1997). political officers and ethnic Jews. in the few cases where coercion was not needed it was because the victims of dictatorship had never exercised much choice. stone-faced military automaton. a similarly two-dimensional image. Whatever damage the disasters in Afghanistan and Chechnya may have caused to Soviet military reputations. 'The System and the Soldier' in P.sustained an image of invincible troops that only the most recent wars. the Germans seized three million Red Army soldiers in the first six months alone. historically. First. took over in imagination. Capture itself could amount to a death sentence.25. albeit heroes little understood. In all. the slant-eyed. and notably Chechnya. Red Army troops were heroes to the English-speaking world. 7 For a discussion of figures. Time to Kill. a patriot. No fewer than eight million men and women in the Soviet armed forces lost their lives during the Great Patriotic War. The victory at Stalingrad . It was not unusual for a single battle to claim thousands of lives in a matter of hours. Ivan is nothing less than a hero.306 Journalof ContemporaryHistoryVol 41 No 2 army. as the Cold War encouraged stereotyping and suspicion. It is certainly 5 See Omer Bartov. and many were wounded several times. Calder (eds). especially for Communist Party members. Hitler's Army. the scale and cruelty of the war almost defy imagination. Nazis and War in the Third Reich (New York 1992).5 Red Army soldiers. Survivors could be taken prisoner. 'The people were extraordinary'.and the triumph that followed in Berlin . albeit a positive one.

like the society from which it sprang. 13 Oct 2015 02:24:20 UTC All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . To write about an army 30 million strong. after all. have good reasons for reticence. One starting point for the discussion of Ivan. The young recruits that I have met. even veterans of the second world war. today's soldiers. Ideologyand Combatin the RedArmy 307 difficult to create a space in which to think about the soldiers' motivation. crime. Generalizations about Ivan. is almost the only source of self-congratulation remaining to the Russian army in its dismal post-Soviet incarnation. moreover. is comparison with other armies and societies at war.the temptation to imagine the worst will remain strong. The myth of the war is as important to some elderly survivors as the enhanced pensions that they This content downloaded from 77. Because official myth remains so strong. and even the educational level of peasants among the new recruits. One reason was that the bulk of the army died (or was captured) and was replaced several times .soldiers . police surveillance. remains invested in the memories of war and victory. did not remain the same over four years. cold. And this army.25. I have always doubted the crude. about their lives. but nonetheless there is a special quality about the Soviet Union's war. in other words. The people who might remember the the army's own culture and fortunes changed. Researchers have been chipping at the patriotic edifice for years. Russia's pride. and this in turn gave way to something like professional confidence. This search for an alternative is probably as sterile as the golden fable that it seeks to overturn.105.even on a partial basis . Many have spent so long warming their hands at the official version of the Patriotic War that they cannot face the cold blasts of scepticism that blow in when the archive door is forced. are either crude shorthand or cruder racism. hungry and frightened. The museums that guard war relics in Russia are reminiscent of shrines. but until the Defence Ministry archives are open . the veterans themselves. faceless image of the Russian soldier. albeit one that faced extreme crisis. is to take on an entire society. and yet Russians take pride in having saved the world from fascism. but in this case the memory is like a cult. historians must speculate about such matters as front-line executions for cowardice. a dogged stoicism would emerge by the time of Stalingrad. and a good part of its identity. historians seem almost bound to dig for dirt. Where panic and despair had reigned in 1941. atrocities in East Prussia. The costly feat. are endlessly diverse. always a fruitful source of themes and questions. preserving the secrets and myths. since statistics are largely secret. The Soviet Union has collapsed. to write of panic and betrayal. while the veterans. All wars cast shadows and create heroes. while many of the most important war archives are least twice . punishment battalions. bear no resemblance to Martel's Ivan. and that is its continuing political and symbolic importance. Another was the changing mood of people . its rulers have been exposed as corrupt and cruel. In particular. to say nothing of including thousands of women.9 on Tue.Merridale: Culture. and ten years' worth of interviews have reinforced my the course of the war. their culture and ideas. The articles in this collection have sparked ideas in just this way. the proportion of officers arrested for drunkenness.

an ex-soldier. This content downloaded from 77.Thewar.Oldagealsoplaysits the of time. Inflationhas slashedthe value of their fixed incomes.theguiltof the survivor. Forone thing.quicklylost.includingthe wrenchinglonelinessof the demobilized man.IlyaNatanovichNemanovof Smolenskand Lev LvovichLyakhov from Moscow. But thoughthese images endure.whilethosewho foughtarestillalive. passage difficultythatveteransexperience is also a combat to war.about200 talkingto theveteransthemselves.lettersfromhome.8 for maymakethemunrepresentative.butit was alsofrustratingfor us all.Memoryis selective.To stepbackfromold age .thegriefof the bereaved.105. the still refuse to to and manyself-styled patriots speak foreigners.We rummagedthroughold photographsand lettersand we walkedaroundthe battlesitesto talk. volunteer veterans.andmostwereco-operative.They caughtfire. Thatsaid.alone or with assistants.'It wasa privilegeto heartheirstories. ablein all thetreasurethatsomeold peoplehaveleft. of themsharedtheirwarstorieswithme. Theirstories haveinspiredme as I write.or anyage. 9 Two of these new conductsomein my absence.We werestruckafterwardsby the lackof variation in the contentof the veterans'answers.and the close friendbackground.The communismthey believedin has been discredited.but northe emotionalimpactof combatseemsreadilyavailneitherthe narrative at Prokhorovka. andthe electronicmediahavedestroyedthe primandenclosed pornography worldthatshelteredthemin middleage. 13 Oct 2015 02:24:20 UTC All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . the way he alwaysused to drinkhis tea.but I also askeda Russian man. in as does But the part. speaking group of theyoungestandmostfortunate. They are also overlaidwith otherfeelings.for Forthepurposesof thisproject.while advertising.thelastwordsthathe saidto them.andheavilyinfluencedby thefablesthatgroupsof peopletellin subsequent years.the veteranswerestrugglingto reassemble theirown storiesas we talked.thereis no substitute.thescenesandfeelingsthatrelateto combatturnoutto be evanescent traces.all of them powerful.multiple layers. engaged Thesecharacteristics andforthcoming.308 Journalof ContemporaryHistoryVol 41 No 2 usedto receive.have died this year.It is also an episodeof fractured.25. shipsthat theyformed. a wallof smoke.9 on Tue.when thesecondsdragslowlyandentirehoursspeedby.AsI walkedroundthecornfields thesceneof the largesttank battlein history. emergency collapsedtime.the collectivismthat providedfor theirhealthand welfarehas crumbledaway.The emotionsattachingto theseremainstrong. Most veteransarehappyto talk abouteventsfor whichthe war provided includinglove affairs.To questionhow it was is to threatenthe lastthingthatallowsthemto makesenseof theirlong lives.the dour 8 I conductedmost of the interviewsmyself.Mosthada taleabouta guidesremembered picturesfromthe me that the told dust that the horizon vanishedin very past.especially invalids.withits romanceof heroic struggle. Battle is moment of extreme specific recollecting andstress.intothatworldmaybe almostimpossible.someof whomwouldbecomefriends. majorityof I the was to a are dead. respectivelyveteransof Stalingradand Kursk.

It was alwayspossibleto makeexamplesof individual soldierswho brokethe rules. The Sharp End (London 1980). The outlines in your memory are vague. and all your efforts are directed towards a single goal. 109. Avrora. part II. and you can't quite manage it. 3 (1990).but therewere too manyinfringementsand too many corrupt or exhausted officials . When you're under stress.1'It would be sayingmuch the same a year later. 11 David Samoilov. 'Lyudi odnogo varianta'.who fought in the front line for two years. 'Whenyou wake up and think back to the thingsthat happenedthey are alreadybecomingdreamlike'. authoritywas over-stretched.he explained. except the temporarycalm.. you don't think about anything..spies and hangers-onto consider.25. Archive of the Komsomol (hereafter RGASPI-M). but with six million troops to control. or even the work of the Sovinformburo.Merridale: Culture. who visitedRussiajust afterthe war. drivemen's memoriesinto shadow. 13 Oct 2015 02:24:20 UTC All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . vol. no. 107. explainedthat he could never write about this war." Amnesia of this variety is not a purely Russian problem. the political administrationcomplainedon 3 February1942. then you really need a bit of a shaking. In these situations the same well-known reaction always sets in. 56. and unnumberedrefugees.have been no adequatewords for battle at the time. And when afterwards they seem to be reticent. These observationscarryinto everywrittenkind of source. Velikaya otechestvennaya. His poems at the time were pureescapism. 13 Russkii arkhiv. The secretivedesignsof the Sovietstate were realizedin part becausethey worked in harmonywith genuinehumandesires. because for a moment nothing seems to matter.althougha great deal remainsto be learnedfrom wartimedocuments. The strain of effort is replaced by inertia. perhaps they don't remember very well. moreover.sweet little songs or folk stories composedto dodge the turmoilin his head.105. This content downloaded from 77.John Steinbeck. also found memorya doubtfultool after combat.10 Nothing. which is explained by tiredness. The poet David Samoilov.a soldiercalled Ageevwrote to his wife in 1943. not least becausethe lettersin 10 Russian Centre for Social and Political History.when the war was over. until very little is left at all . 'Lettersfrom the front reveal that militarysecrets are being disclosed on a mass scale'.9 on Tue. Later.for control to be absolute. But when the stress is replaced by inertia.deserters.The censor could grasp his blue penciland the policemanhis gun. 33/1/1454. The next day the memory slips further. he could no longerrecollecthow it had been. Theremay. Men in prolonged battle are not normal men. 6 (Moscow 1996). 'I got back from operations only tonight'. You try to remember what it was like."2 It did not need a revolution.All these reasonstogetherare probablynecessaryto explainthe silenceabout combat after60 years. 12 Cited in John Ellis. Ideologyand Combatin the RedArmy 309 pleasureof the veteran.the wartimepropagandadepartment. Its memory is repressedalmost at once. that is.

38. Gilgen.A new professionalismlifted spirits in the army.The menhad littleto lose. a young man wrote to his motherin 1941. our men have nothing to escape in.D. to understandone processand one kind of job precisely. Oleinik. no one would write with that frankness.'like moles' .' The myth of the Red Army as its country'sglorious defenderhad collapsedin full view of the world.they even used the censor as an excuse for their silences. Politicalofficerswere subordinatedto their militarycomrades.Thiswas the timewhenthe hubristicbubbleof the 1930s burst. Soviet and American Psychology during World War Two (Westport.The Sovietpeoplehad been promisedeasy victory.'the enemywill be defeatedon his own soil'15and now they facednear-certaindeath. 'Whenthe war is over'. 'I can't write much to you'. Gorinov et al.lettersdo describethe changingcontoursof the soldiers' factoryworkerson a productionline. toothbrushesand a Russianbath.M. 'Wesleepon straw. nadezhdy. war becamea job. and with it the sense that authority was always wrong.'As anotherfranklytold his wife: 'I cannot describeall my feelingsor all my experiences.R. Snetkova.).especially afterStalingrad.' But the defeatist. lyubvy. 17 On the psychologyof training. fromthe first few monthsof hostilities. the problemwith the lettersis that they become bombastic.see A.17 Meanwhile. 'If Thereis WarTomorrow'... This content downloaded from 77. and even then. an engineerwrote home on 16 April 1945. (eds).K. one man wrote.Most were trained.enraged languageof the early months had gone. a tank mechanictoldhis cattle.M. War became the new norm. 'The things they say are lies. We get five spoonfulsof soup in the morning. Shindel' (ed. Indeed. 'Don't believe the newspapers'.The men were still living in dugouts . Pis'ma very.and least numerous. . In the last phaseof the war.Wartimerecruitsfound a new senseof purpose.105.lived on soup.A.but not because conditionsthemselveswere much better. he continued. 'At 4 14 A. we're hungryall day.the fog of ideologicalrhetoricthat had blurredmilitarythinkingfor so long was swept away. C.'16 Two years later.twice a day.310 of Contemporary Journal HistoryVol41 No 2 questionwereoftenthe last thatsoldierswouldwrite.'We'relivingin dugoutsin the woods'. when an entiregenerationstruggledwith its shock. but even so few wrote about fighting itself.they still fought to exhaustion.anothersoldier wrote.colouredwith triumphantpropaganda. 'I am going to take a bath everytwo weeks. Pis'ma s fronta (Moscow 1999).. 167-8. andwas the guidingthemeof EfimDzigan's 1938 film.N. 'We've got nothing to fight with. and dreamed of soap.25.'Therehas not been a day at the front yet like today'. 13 Oct 2015 02:24:20 UTC All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . Thousandsof people knew they were about to die for it. E. not what we need. The most moving.9 on Tue. 99. Moskva voennaya (Moscow 1995). We've been through it all and seen it all'. Po obe storony fronta (Moscow 1995). V. 16 All excerpts cited from M.' Another bleakly added a remarkthat his own words belied: 'Theymake us keep our mouthsshut.'It'snot allowed.''14 Forall that.They feed us very badly. and when the Germanscatch up with us. CT 1997).. 15 This sloganwas repeatedendlesslyin the 1930s. Koltsova and Y.

Likeall letters. which in 1945 meant rape and wanton destruction. those from this time are silent about crime.21 claim to reparations. The lettersof 1944 and 1945 are also interestingfor the valuesthey reflect.'In general.were especiallystilted.the state'sstock phrases.the maineffectof blanket media censorshipand saturatingpolitical education was not so much that they forbadesome kinds of talk but ratherthat they shaped an outlook and vocabulary.are borrowedfrom the stiltedlanguageof the press. Victory will be ours. a relativelymodest character.perhapsthe largest group among infantrymen.not in Aronov'scard. RGASPI-M. Most men could write a little. severalsets of sheets. by 1943.'I am alive and well and send you this with best wishes'. Our cause is just.).could be more critical. most officershad been recruitsthemselves.Merridale: Culture. 33/1/1405.and looting was transformedinto a duty. 152. 160..105. were vulnerableto this kind of pressure.took a radio ('for this. but many were unused to the written word. Loveto Vanyaand Masha.merechildren. of course. Today it is called Chernyakovsk. Po obe storony fronta.only monthsbefore. and especially the young. Murder and rape remainedtaboo. than we might expect. parcelsof food. op. Gosudarstvennyi arkhiv obshchestvenno-politicheskoi istorii Kurskoi oblasti (GAOPIKO). yellow leather to make boots. we will need electricity')as well as a bolt of black silk. 5-9. Aronov'sunit was in East Prussia. Whateverthe advantagesof letters.Quotas of loot were set . Men with limited education. One man. an a city then called Insterburg.too.Older men. after the general who died in the Battle of Konigsberg. 13 Oct 2015 02:24:20 UTC All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions .however.and those of the least literate.a feathereiderdownwith a silk cover. 33/1/ manykilos for each man per month .he did not add that this brightday had endedwith one of the few disastersfor which Zhukov himselfwas responsible. RGASPI-M. he wrote. as they understood. Ideologyand Combatin the RedArmy 31 1 o'clock in the morningthousandsof katyushasand machineguns openedfire. The whole businesswas so open that stationmastersin Russia and Ukrainehad to constructspecialdepots to store the parcelswhile they waited for a horse and cart to take them to the soldiers'home a source about their lives.then.'"Tactfully. especiallyofficers.20This was a time when thousandsof Germanwomen and girls were being raped near the front line.when it comes to the question 18 19 20 21 22 Shindel' (ed. aremore promising. This content downloaded from 77. But not every letter was spontaneous.9 on Tue. which meant that they reachedfor stockphrases.The soldier'sportion. but the patternon a Meissencup was a legitimatetopic for men's letters home. 1/1/3754. and a pair of paddedtrousersfor Stalin'sregimewas makinggood its those huntingexpeditionsof the future. and the sky was as brightas day from horizonto horizon. but the only hints .25."9 when he sent a polite postcardto his sister.when the timecameto send a card backto the village:'I am alive and well.but this was a war in which. the things that seem to cause no shame.22 The lettersthat the soldiersof a totalitarianstatecould write.was no more than theirrecompense. cit. woollen cloth. 27. Looting was one thing that became routine.

9 on Tue. 26 Gosudarstvennyi arkhivSmolenskoioblasti(GASO).no'. about yourhusbandandits father. to the thingshe mighthavesaid (or even thought) bore scantresemblance the during workingday.33/1/1454.Journalof ContemporaryHistoryVol 41 No 2 312 of motivation.the menfoundthatwardistancedthemfromeveryone theyloved. Ageev wrote to his wife in the earlyspringof 1944.somemenfoughtonlyfor theirfamilies.frequently.pleasebringit up accordingto yourown was out of place.realproblemsstart.23 Thefirsttwo canbe describedin letters. 'Simochka'. This content downloaded from 77.Theyareunlikelyto discusslessnobleor attractivefeelings.2482/1/1. specialists longobserved. Stroki. theirfamiliesandhomes.Manywerewrittenin a sortof dream.As one confidedto his wife in 1943: 'The questionof our meetingafterthe victorythat is what is worryinga lot of us right now. Perhapsthereareno easywordsfor somethingas instinctiveas an adrenalin rush. 1791-94 (Urbana.makingit difficultto imaginereunion.'Youcouldn'tsaythatI'malive.thereis a differencebetweenthemotivethatimpelssomeoneto volunteer.Tellit aboutme. anothermanwroteto his wife anddaughter. 78.andthe specificdriveto runtowardsnear-certain injury or death. As a veteranofficerassuredme. Motivation and Tactics in the Army of Revolutionary France.Andthereis anotherstrandto catch.Shewasexpectingtheirfirstchild.Whata soldierwrotethen.Somefeltthattheyhad aged. to defend evenin writingthisintimate. 115-16.'24 Judgingfromlettersof this kind.a manwroteto hiswifeinJanuary1942. 24 onlyconcern is to rememberyou.violentand quicklyrepressedwhen the emergencyis is almostcertainthatthewriteris a newrecruit or non-combatant. perhapsthe complexset of impulsesthat get a personthroughare mattersfor a confusedkindof shame.'whetherit is a boyor a girl. beyondeasydescription. he wrote.he 23 John Lynn.'Therewas nothinghereaboutthe war.'26Like thousandsof others. 35.opalennyevoiny (Belgorod1998).'I'vehad fourlettersfromyou'.'A deadpersonis a blindone.105.Eitherway.likecombat itself. andfor thatreasonthe onlythingthatinterestsme is yourlife.Nina!It'sthe biggest questionfor all of us frontoviki.What'sgoing to happenwhen the war ends?'25 Lifeat the fronthad set the troopsapartfromnon-combatantsfor ever. parentsor friends. 25 RGASPI-M. 4.oftenat night.whenthe writer founda momentto escapehis comradesand summonthe imageof his wife.but he knewhe wouldneverseeit. The Bayonets of the Republic. Theotherproblemwithlettersis thattheywereaddressed to a specificaudience. 13 Oct 2015 02:24:20 UTC All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions .Combatandsoldiering do not dependon a emotional As have single impulse. 'At least I have some basis for believingthatmy familyhas beenpreserved intact.33/1/276. IL 1984). is dark. if wartime letterstalkof gloriousbattle.oftenthroughhis exhaustion.'It is hardto knowhow longI will remainalive'.and claimedto fearrejection. andevento remain in a collapsingarmy. Butlettersarewrittenwithlittleotherpurposein mind.thebestthatletterseverdo is mutteraboutthe inexpressible.

As a result.'I can be verytolerant.finding and exposing ideologicalfoes. are seldomvery helpfulabout soldiersin the field. 'There are no letters from home. and often breakingoff suddenly. I have also consulted a selection of similar reports from the regular army on the Don and Belorussian Fronts in 1942 and 1944.loss and hope.25. to analyse the men. These include the writings of political officers .friendships.F.This type recordsthe numberof milesmarched. 470 and 464-5.if he could everface his formerself.and then I'll forget everything. They are about the writer'smood. The second kind of diary.Like the letters. Both wrote daily reports. but there were always compulsivewriterswhose desire to make notes was strongerthan the fear of punishment. Instead. combat itself would come as a relief. He had been worrying about his general.105. 'The days drag endlessly . Diaries.stool pigeon andconveyorof news .becausewe'll soon be in battle. 13 Oct 2015 02:24:20 UTC All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions .are no morehelpfulabout fighting.the men who insulatedthemselvesfromwar by keepingwads of secret scribblednotes. they were filling in the blanks on notional lists. which includes the most revealingtexts. 'In that regard'. They had neitherthe incentive nor the trainingto discusswhat was reallygoing on in theirmen'sheads. these do not deal with combat.but the peoplewho kept them had no time for sentiment. or curt detailsabout the 'Fritz'..The first is little more than an accountof action. signallingthat the authorwas capturedor killed. There are two basic kinds of journal. 1941-1944' (hereafter 'Belov') in Vologda. . confessor.'28 The testimoniesof witnesses. the devil take them'. 28 'Belov'. 473-4 (15 June 1944). But thingswere changingin his world.the communists who combinedin a single man the roles of priest. the rise of professionalism.but neitherwas trying to convey truth.It was illegalto keep them duringthe war. This content downloaded from 77.they chart changesin morale. agitator. . there exist diariesof battle. beginning on the Don Front just before Stalingrad and ending with the occupying forces in Berlin.9 on Tue.and also the NKVD troopswho watchedover the men at the front line.29 27 'Frontovoi dnevnik N.boredom. of capture. op. and mutteringthat they were headingfor a row. lifting the preoccupationsthat impelled him to write in the first place. 'Time is going slowly again'.'27For men like him. But diaries do not say much about the writers' thoughts in combat. intended for posterity.the impactof propaganda.Merridale: intheRedArmy Culture. andCombat Ideology 313 was wonderingif the old world was worth recovering. vyp 2 (Vologda 1997). an officer complainson the eve of OperationBagrationin 1944. reportingthat morale was 'healthy'. In the last while I have been feeling an acute tirednessfrom the war. As a rule.and of the long months of waiting between operations. was writtenby the introspectivetypes.too. . My comments are based on a continuous run of these. 29 Regular reports on morale were filed by NKVD troops at the front line. cit. Belova. keepingthe red bannerin view. They are available at the Russian State Military Archive (RGVA) in Moscow.he continued. available (with effort) at the Central Archive of the Ministry of Defence (TsAMO) in Podolsk. the same officer wrote a few weeks later.

nor need the veterans'recollectionof the word's meaningtoday. from Moscow university students. 13 Oct 2015 02:24:20 UTC All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . each comma. and nowherewere the changesmore acutethan amongthe peoplewho fought. let alone to think. are reprinted in M. The last few years have uneartheda streamof such cases from the archivesof the KGB. leaving those who fought for Stalin'sstate with little but its mythsto cherish. kotorogo uzhe net (Moscow 1995). discoveredon a visit to Moscow that she was not allowedto referto starvation when she talked of her ordealon nationalradio. The CommunistParty 30 I am grateful to Memorial in Moscow for making manuscript reports of these available. Its editing was so meticulous that even patriots like Simonov eventuallycomplained. The whole enterprisewas so secretivethat on one occasion Sovinformburostaff were banned from their own building on the grounds that they did not have high enough levels of In practice. cooked up on fabricatedevidenceto makearrests secure. Love of the motherland. was taboo.stampedand signed.Ya.V.The war marked a watershedin the short history of the Soviet Union.but hunger. Gefter (ed.9 on Tue.the poet of the Leningradblockade.The question of motivation in this case must surely help to understandthe problemin more generalterms.the story of Red Armytroops representsland-based combat at the extreme.314 of Contemporary Journal HistoryVol41 No 2 The instancesof defeatistor anti-communisttalk that they 'exposed'in their reportswere often false.and it has been burnished first by victory and then by years of Soviet stagnationand decline. Druzhba.105. even today . The firstexplanationthat veteransthemselveswould cite for Ivan'svalouris the least fashionableamong English-speakinghistoriansof this war.32 It is difficultto find out justwhy Ivanfought. that therewas no time to write new pieces.that theywrote.but nonethelessit does bearcloser scrutiny.25. 17/125/ is so powerfulthat it shines like a faith. 33 The evidence includes hundreds of soldiers' letters. was clearlysomethingthat drove millions to sign up for the front.and on the possibilitiesfor popular patriotism. and certainlyof heroism.).31 were completelybanned.30Officialreports. Just as seriously.doubt or even boredom clearance. some of the most lucid of which. The Sovinformburocontrolledeachword. it opens valuable windows upon Stalin's regime. Soviet war correspondentswere even less able to write the truth. 32 O. 23.It would be arrogantto dismissthe idea .however. but the questionof motivationis still worthwhile.albeit witnessed. For one thing. are scarcelymore reliablethan the soldiers'own tall tales. Golosa iz mira. 31 Russian State Archive of Social and Political History (RGASPI).33The state'sown use of words like patriot.referencesto cowardice. Patriotism is the centralmyth for the survivorsthemselves.Olga Berggolts. This content downloaded from 77. Ehrenburgreportedthat he spent entiredays on corrections. Velikaya otechestvennaya voina v soznanii i podsoznanii sovetskogo i postsovetskogo obshchestvo (Rostov on Don 2000).even in 1943. She could speakof hardship.on the levels of supportand belief.too.panic. need not have coincidedwith its people's view of their homeland.

25.'34 Patriotism. of their mothers. family. op. as opposed to Soviet.for some . This content downloaded from 77. of schoolfriends (and school buildings) that they might never see again. And homesickness was not merely nostalgia. the thirst for revenge. It was also enraged. It was also reflected in the doggerel verse they wrote themselves . was not just a matter for the articulate. the smell of Russia.105. 'It was a war of extermination'. cit. was universally popular). 91. whether that were Kiev or Ashkhabad. 'It stirred up hatred. language and even .the songs they favoured and the verse they loved (the fable of private Tyorkin. If love of country and a sense of outrage drove soldiers to volunteer and 34 GabrielTemkin. but the soldiers' own version of the patriotic was likely to embrace love for home patriotic . that brought back the sharpest memories. Many of the men were thinking of invasion. CA 1998). cruelty and pain. now I can see it with my own any communist. a way of clinging to the pre-war world that had been lost.9 on Tue. 13 Oct 2015 02:24:20 UTC All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . finally ripening into a cause. of village. 'I knew Ukraine only from books. a progressive. was shorthand for a range of sentiments that ideological leaders might not have recognized (although they tried to harness them by reviving the notion of a Russian. a tank man wrote. The name of that cause was patriotism. desperate. home. incorporating the stock images of village.Merridale: Culture. wives and children. full of sentimental references to birch trees and open skies. lots of gardens. but that was only possible because reality was vivid.3"Rank and file soldiers were as deeply attached to their homes .screeds of it. 'Our people' and 'our country' did not have to mean Stalin's empire. 'In the past'. This love of home. p. which would inspire the Red Army into furious battles over a four-year period. the term may well have meant no more than loyalty to what was 'ours' at a time of great collective danger. Pis'ma s fronta. Russia itself. a former private soldier informal nostalgia for peasant religion. In fact. It was that smell. the relief of sharing favourite songs.The Memoirof a JewishRed ArmySoldierin WorldWarII (Novato. It stood for the frenzy of volunteering in the summer of 1941. Thousands of letters make it clear that what each man was thinking of was his own home. a way of honouring the friends who died. but it also covered the doomed persistence at Stalingrad.'36The state made use of all of this. even of the smell of Russian earth. then.My Just War. 34. 35 A woman veteran told Alexiyevich that her comrades would crowd around anyone who came from 'home' to smell their clothes. people). of tanks pounding familiar streets. comradeship and struggle. for millions. it combined with a new awareness of the size and beauty of the country for which they had been fighting. Ideologyand Combatin the RedArmy 315 portrayed the patriot as a good proletarian. or even. As the men travelled west.. for officers. It was maudlin. driven by real images of outrage. and the community of longing for one's home. 36 Snetkova. for example. the picturesque nature. This war had ways of igniting collective emotion. motherland. Their passion was reflected in their tastes . bitter. The patriotism of the front was not the dour stuff of later ceremonial.

the patois of obscenitythat Russianscall mat.The momentof volunteering.ethnographerand front-line veteran.Jokes were also intimate. This content downloaded from 77. were followed by just suchan interval. they reflectedthe men's real world.suggeststhat what got recruits through the first weeks was a combination of drink.for a time. the military police.things of the momentand the group of mates that could not be shared with outsiders. what sustained them through episodesof shock is anotherquestion. who permitted songs to be recorded but not humour. carving out a niche. A recruit'sletters home were unlikelyto mentionthese. Gudoshnikov.9 on Tue. But other evidence.a fact that Krupyanskaya.25. and subversivein that it puncturedthe solemnityof patrioticwar.includingreportson crime.non-regulation.though little is known of it. informed me that his own attempt to collect his comrades' jokes at the front line had been quashed by the Special say nothingof familyand friends(and.Again. almostall contact.home cooking and an entirelandscape. however. Almostwithin a single day. 1939-45 (London 2005). some of which reflectedthe coarser social milieu to which each man had to adapt.316 Journalof ContemporaryHistoryVol 41 No 2 warmed them as they rested after battle. 27. Lev Pushkarev. explainedto me that the secretpolice bannedhim from writing down men's jokes. the veteran ethnographer Lev Pushkarev. Above all.38Censored. 5. the richest collections are often to be found in German archives. but the jokes that helped troops with their daily lives went unrecorded. Songswerea differentmatter. 6.whetherthat meantpilferingfood. RH2-2468.'You put on a uniform'. Russkie narodnye pesny i chastushki velikoi otechestevnnoi voiny (Tambov 1997). 6-7. the taboo arose from the languageof the jokes itself.approved humour featuredin the Russianpress. 'and it is like a second skin.37Crude. On these aspects of soldiers' culture. New kinds of motivationsoon took over. the one that everyonehas been turningto epic or romanticfable eversince.To some extent. often racist. see my Ivan's War. or mother.'The processwas like losing an old self. a new recruitlost not just his civilianclothesand lank civilianhair but also freedom. with membersof the femalesex).105. It is your new personality. 13 Oct 2015 02:24:20 UTC All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . for letterswere a lifeline back to vanishedworlds. Idealsalone were unlikelyto have sustained many people through so profound a psychologicaland physical upheaval. the men'shumouris absentfrom Sovietcollections of front-line folklore. individuality. 38 For examples.for men. too.later explainedwhen she revealedthat she had been forbiddento publishthe wordsto any song that lackeda patriotictheme. see Bundesarchiv-Militararchiv.and even the last farewellsat home. comradeshipand the comfort to be gained by stealing tiny marcheson the system.a veterantold me.andthe textsof manyfavouritessurvive. 39 Ya. the written versionsare innocentof obscenity.home comforts. These small pleasuresand little triumphswould continueto keep the men's spiritsup throughoutthe war. stealinga few hoursof illicit sleep or arrangingto wear morecomfortable.39 As a 37 One respondent. chap. where screeds of the antisemitic remarks and jibes reported by capturedRed Armymen were cataloguedfor later use. So. I. did front-linehumour.the wartime ethnographer. The Red Army.

informally. But it was also through repetition like this (and through hundreds of songs) that Stalin acquired the almost sacred aura with which some soldiers later imbued him. although the ones that survive suggest that the propagandists remained hard at work. songs and slogans. and sometimes it was ideology that won.25. van Creveld. even when they seemed to belong to the soldiers themselves. partly because they served a purpose when people sought things to say and believe in collectively. more powerful (and less vulnerable) than any group of individuals. gave the words their power. and a collective battle cry was potent.Merridale: Culture. was the drawn-out and blood-curdling 'Urrah!'. then. but. Totems and protective rituals deriving from religion were another matter. the men probably did so in much the same way as they moved their limbs in unison rather than dragging behind. is an abiding image of this war. The Komsomol had seen to that. explaining and even hallowing the progress that Red Army soldiers made. starring Jude Law. Many soldiers joined up because the alternative . In other societies. Ideologyand Combatin the RedArmy 317 result. 'We may have shouted something'.obuza. The sound. that ideology must be an irrelevance in soldiers' lives. 'Za Rodinu! Za Stalina!'. Though beliefs varied. Rodina.was so much worse than army service. large numbers of lyrics have disappeared. 6-7 (1991) ('My . Nonetheless. as had the widespread anticlericalism of the 1920s. and not the meaning. The veterans I met were all amused by today's confusion over that roar: 'For the Motherland! For Stalin!' Some claimed that they had never used the phrase. When they used the Stalinist battle cry. Enemy at the Gates. in the recent film of Stalingrad.was reprinted in Rodina. as even the Germans attested. 42 It is the opening sequence.105.9 on Tue. shooting stragglers in the back.40By far the most common.43You could be worked to death on a construction site. Official language and official images became important. 'but I doubt if it was that polite.42Fear began well before a man's first battle. Catchphrases. Soviet troops were as likely to carry a dog-eared photograph or a copy of Simonov's poem 'Wait for Me' as a tin cross.another diary . The NKVD soldier with his pistol. for example. they wrote slogans. frightened riflemen needed encouragement. religion might have played a comparable role. a member of a punishment battalion commented. Fighting Power (London 1983). Western Ukraine and Western Belorussia. This content downloaded from 77. became a part of daily life. there was little formal religious belief among Soviet troops. making them feel part of a mass. 41 M. 30-7. slipping away like water off a duck's back. 5 (1995). all soldiers shared some measure of fear. 83. This observation ought to modify van Creveld's claim. and all the time 40 Vasil Bykov.' The writer Vasil Bykov pointed out that officers and police spies were usually too far behind the front line to hear what words the men shouted. 43 A testimonial to this .41The ideology of patriotic war. could interact with ideology. and they also encouraged the use of a famous battle cry. based on American soldiers.a labour battalion . 13 Oct 2015 02:24:20 UTC All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . Thousands of troops joined the Communist Party as their faith in victory grew stronger. Propagandists supplied words to the jolliest tunes. with the exception of some Muslims from Central Asia and some of the recruits from Poland.

NJ 1943). Outragecomes closer to explainingthe men's enduranceand their victory. Stalin'sfamous orderno. the leader orderedthat 'persuasion. At least untilthe end of 1942.cited by Hew Strachanin this issue. In the first months.' An armyin this mood. Poor trainingand scant faith in possible successallowed for panic. 45 Velikaya otechestvennaya. 227. They also fearedfor theirhomes. part 2. The point was that they needed repetition.were used along the front from 1941.many withdrew and watched proceedingsfrom the safety of a moving .not fear' was neededto keep soldiersin the field.45Frederickthe Great'smaxim. Masters of Mobile Warfare (Princeton. It was only after Kursk.vragi').More decently. they expected.would scarcelywin a war. 2.that the numberswould dropto a few hundreda month and '1943 partisans'. or else you would not know whichway they would shoot.the specialbattalionswhose guns were trained on their own fellow-Soviets. fearof the NKVD was balancedby the fear of certaindeath at the front line. formedclose comradeshipsbasedon sharedexperienceand a sensethat they were now set apart from the civilianworld.merelyreiteratedregulationsthat were alreadyin force. The hated agents of their state were often the first to catch the bulletsin the field.' Most.and retreating. 4. whose early chapters recreate the labour battalion in literary form. after all. Astaf'ev. In 1941.25. emergedto offertheirsupportto the side that seemedset to win. This content downloaded from 77. This kind of fear drove thousandsto pick up their packs and walk.318 Journalof ContemporaryHistoryVol 41 No 2 you riskedthe knivesand fists of the professionalcriminalswho reallyran the camps. knowing that theirown familieswere in dangerwhile they sat rottingin the woods. 8/1/212. 108-9. and it was also double-edgedbecause soldiers themselveswere armed.a formerconvicttold me. a formerofficertold me.But 'blockingunits'. See also V.Fear of their officers was not enoughto makeRed Armysoldiersfight.then. too. 66-9.9 on Tue. Colby.'At least when we got to the front'.vehicle. 46 Hew Strachan cited in E. as even Stalin realized. 83. vol. officers (many of whom had been promotedfrom the ranks) and men. Their own police would only shoot the hindmost. and sometimes the officersthemselvescould be the firstto turn and run. Proklyaty i ubyti (reprinted Moscow 2002). by now much better-trainedand seasonedin the field. Fearwas only partiallyeffective. The penaltyfor cowardicewas death. 'Oh yes'.that a soldiershould be 'more afraidof his officersthan of the dangersto which he was exposed' was an irrelevancein the battlefieldconditionsof Stalin'swar. despairwas common. 'It happenedquite often. Desertions continuedwell into 1943. 44 Tsentr dokumentatsii noveishei istorii Smolenskoi oblasti (TsDNISO). 13 Oct 2015 02:24:20 UTC All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions .46Laterin the war. Some mutteredthat one my .44The men had so little faith in such commandersthat most fearedGermanbulletsmore. would issue from the guns ahead. 'we knew which direction the bullets would be coming from.105. 'Not a StepBack'.the stragglerswho had held out in the woods for months. and brutalmethodswere employedto make men fight and keep them in the field. You had to win the friendshipof the men.when the Red Army was advancingrapidlyto victory.

Most armiesuse hatredin one way or another. 5-8.. 12.many soldiersbegan to mutterthat their job was done.the corpses of women and children.they were told. and it has grown in all our soldiers. 'We are taking revenge for everything. RGASPI. whose consciousnesswas formedin the brutalityof civil war. Germanatrocities on Sovietsoil compoundedimagesthat had been part of life for 20 years.a Ukrainianofficerwrote to his wife. As the Red Army drew close to its own border.33/1/360.9 on Tue. and Ehrenburgwould becomethe apostleof hatred.brutal world.47Surrenderwas better. A. andCombat Ideology 319 dictatorshipwas very like another. one man wrote to his parents.'48The Soviet authoritiesnurturedthe mood. and the word echoes in the lettersof 1945.Russiaat War(New York 1964. RGASPI-M. Therewas no shortage of men in the Red Armywhose lives had been markedby state violence. especiallyamongthe huge numbersconscriptedin the last year of the war. a Sovietcolonel told AlexanderWerthin 1942.Merridale: intheRedArmy Culture.49'If the Germanstreatedour prisonerswell'.would soon becomean end in itself. the Germansare helpingus. A kind of wild amoralityprevailedalong the front.tens of thousands. This themebecamethe leitmotivof Stalin'sspeechesfrom 1 May 1944. 3-8. 'Happyis the heartas you drivethrougha burning German town'.were high on theirlist of private 47 48 49 50 51 52 Knyshevskii. 422. Most of these came from regionsthat had survivednot just Germanoccupationbut also the horrorsof Sovietinvasionback in 1939. But the Wehrmachtitself destroyedthis mood.cold. Fire for fire. RH2-2688.The rest had died of hunger. death for death. Many had little reason to love Stalin. than death.17/125/169. One refugeereportedthat the populationof his prisoncamp had fallenfrom about 80.enjoiningmen to kill and kill again.s1Vengeance. This content downloaded from 77. Capturedfieldpost. 13 Oct 2015 02:24:20 UTC All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions .The spiritof those places has affectedme.would escape.The Germanarmytook so many prisonersthat many .'52 Violence. Those who escapedtold storiesthat would chill the blood. The makeshift camps were simply too crude to contain thousands of men.105.and personalsurvival. The spur that Stalin used to force them on was hatred.'S0 The balancebetweenpatriotismand vengeancetipped in 1944. 184. was theirs.and our revengeis just. But vengeance. but in this case there were abundantreservesupon which to draw.000 in the summerof 1941 to 3000 the following spring. letterswrittenas the army crossedonto Prussiansoil. disease or from the torture and baiting of their captors. but by ill-treatingand starvingour prisonersto death.cit. reprinted2002). 'it would soon be known. 'However much they write in the papersabout atrocities'. the need 'to destroythe beast in his own lair'.25. Werth. Bundesarchiv-Militararchiv. I've seen the burned-outtowns and villages. Twelve had been shot for cannibalismin a single week. it was felt. let alone his party.op. Theserecruitshad learnedhow to survivein an anarchic.indeed. It's a horriblething to say. 'the realityis muchworse. blood for blood.

however. 2 (2).'Itwas enoughfor him to know just this. the fatalism that comes from having no alternative. op.9 on Tue.home-brewedalcohol. and that knowledgeitself made him strong. making it difficult to assess how many reached their breakingpoint despiteall this. 1128/1/4.'Thesoldierof 1941 fought for his land. began to analyse the men's conduct. he added.Backthen. The wristwatchesand bicycles and schnappsthat brightenedthe road towards Berlinare well-documented.Soviettroopshad been fighting a true. Hundredsof tons of goods went missingeveryyear.leaders whose backgroundwas in war.afterthe enforcedcollectivization of agriculture. Adrenalinapart. andprivategain in general. Wherea man's class or social originhad definedhim before. just war. First came a reshuffleamong the militaryleadershipthat saw the removalof incompetents like KlimentVoroshilovand the poisonous Lev Mekhlis.artilleryand tanks. no.the prospectof booty was more likely to divert a man's attentionthan to keep him in the field. just as some army transportsmeant for stocks of shells were hijackedto take food and featherduvetshome. The main sources include the army's own reports in Velikaya otechestvennaya. More emphasiswould now be placedon drill and less on comic-stripheroics.56Aftertwo decadesof Sovietpoverty. as Samoilovalso observed. part II. 3 (1990). cit.' The rot set in. 61.was too attractiveto resist.320 Journalof ContemporaryHistoryVol 41 No 2 goals."Like manyothers. and panic on the battlefield. above all. he was defendinghis own soil'."5 Habits that dated from the civil war were quietly abandoned. wastage of shells. For an eyewitness account..appallingmortalityrates disguisedthe numberof psychological casualties. These issues are explored in my Ivan's War. Samoilov. cit. see Lev Kopelev. When it cameto the heat of battle. They also seemedfar too keen to amasspersonalwealth. Now they seemed capable of outragesthat looked uncannily like those that their enemy had perpetratedin 1941.25. Even the Sovinformburowas shocked by the stories from Romaniain 1944. 13 Oct 2015 02:24:20 UTC All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . from army food suppliesto livestock. A fourth.54 Fastidiouspatriotsbeganto expressmisgivings.Thenceforth. Samoilovwrote.'Unfortunately. 91-5. and for what reasons.when the war of self-defencebecamea war of aggression. 53 54 55 56 This content downloaded from 77.They noted.the armystarted emphasizing skill. 81. and also to make sense of miserablearmylife by turningit to advantage.was bolstered by reservesof black humour.he was nostalgicfor Stalingrad. and especially the tactical RGASPI. The effects of trainingwere clear from the autumnof 1942. No Jail for Thought (London 1977).105.Theynoted the weak liaisonbetweenthe infantry. The secretof Ivan'sresiliencein the field surelylies somewhere else.1"and thesewere just a preludeto the rampagein the north.'therecannot be a humanewar. Orders to improve training. the lack of disciplinethat led to randomfire.the chance to amass real wealth. Meanwhile. They noted the poor state of militaryintelligence.friendshipand pride seem to have helped the men to get throughreal Avrora.had featuredwhile the armywas on Sovietsoil. but in fact looting. not politics. op.three things. 57 TsAMO. 17/125/241. blackmarketguns and even boots.

an officer wrote to his wife just before Stalingrad. Russia's War (London 1999). 63 RGASPI-M. in theory. Troops soon dubbed it the 'matchbox'. 287. 2 (2). 62 Velikaya otechestvennaya. a campaignbegan to get the soldiers' boots mendedand polished. RGASPI. 66 Among the earliest offerings are Samuel Stouffer et al. Front-linefriendshipswere even more vital than pride or recognition. cit.On 30 August 1942.66Whatevergot themto the 58 For examples.Elevenmillion decorationswere awardedto membersof the Soviet militarybetween 1941 and 1945. 112. shellsand tanks recovered after monthsof dislocation. 36. op. 'Nina. cit. Public Opinion Quarterly..61 Bettertrainingand supplywere backedup by a new emphasison hierarchy and appearance.105. 423-6.A. Men Against Fire.allowedmen'sfamiliesto receiveextra food. 12..s8As the correspondent of the soldiers'paper Red Star put it that autumn:'Nothing in the Soviet land will sustain an ignorant or unskilled leader . 64 Garthoff.earningthe nicknameTankograd. 59 TsAMO. the USAawardedonly 1. 17/125/78. S.. 622.not personal courage. 2 (2). Werth.25..9 on Tue. 'Cohesion and Disintegration in the Wehrmacht in World War II'. for instance. to inspect officers'uniforms.partly becauseit caughtfire all too readily. 61 See Richard Overy. cit. aeroplanesand food. op. 195.. 123.62 leathersoles and sewing seams. op. beganto make a crucialdifferenceto the supplyof weapons. don't worry about our uniforms'. The American Soldier. the Soviets'capacityto turn out weapons. In the summer of 1942.'We dress better these days than any commanderfrom the capitalist countries. principallyfromthe USA. NJ 1949). 6. not cast. This content downloaded from 77. 249. For more on the play. see also Werth. see Velikaya otechestvennaya. 33/1/1454. Armiesof women scrubbedand launderedin makeshift wash-houses near the front. 137.409.60Meanwhile. cit. 281-3 and 318-20. Ideology 321 preparationof infantrymen. cit. The Problem of Battle Command in Future War (New York 1947).' The time for 'conservatism'was over.Tanks and aeroplanessoon cameto symbolizethe Sovietrecovery. and Edward Shils and Morris Janowitz. was adapted so that the turretscould be stamped.The literatureon wartime 'buddies'in armiesacross the world is voluminous. the new manufacturingcentrein the Urals.L. 13 Oct 2015 02:24:20 UTC All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions .men seemto fightout of a kind of love.Manufactureof the world-beating T-34 mediumtank. By contrast.with Chelyabinsk.. Combat and its Aftermath (Princeton.In otherwars.6 Most medalsentitledtheir bearersto additionalprivileges.So many factorieshad been destroyedin the first weeks of war that the revivalof manufacturingseemedlike a miracle.not honoursfrom the past.In Stalin'sarmy the equivalentwas frequentlythreedays.64The US army often took as long as six monthsto processindividualawards. op.eliminatedirt.streamedfrom the GeneralStaff. and The men themselves were set to cobbling drill the ranks in self-respect.intheRedArmy Merridale: andCombat Culture."s Hard economicfact would underscorethe changeof mood. op. Mass-productionacceleratedeverything. 2 (1948).400. 65 Van Creveld. lend-lease military aid.but also becauseT-34s pouredoff productionlines in such prolific numbers after 1942. Marshall.'63They also boasted new ordersto distinguishthe brave. and some. 60 Temkin. 206/298/4.

RGASPI-M.' Lads from the villages were no longer peasants. they say. In the 1930s. the strongest friendships were often between people from the same locality. the dreaded ears and eyes of SMERSh. 2. By 1945. one writer remembered.322 Journalof ContemporaryHistoryVol 41 No 2 front in the first place.Avrora.9 on Tue. the exchange of news. and some even returned after the war to marry fallen comrades' sisters or become honorary sons in their lost buddies' homes.vol. 'It does not take long'. they were heroes. learned mutual dependence rapidly. 13 Oct 2015 02:24:20 UTC All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . 'We looked in our hearts'. someone from a man's own region.' As he added. Red Army men noted the toll that war had taken . and the arrival of a 'countryman'.grey hair.33/1/261. 'and did not find slaves there.25. was often the occasion for long conversations. The new sense of self-worth came at a price. Aside from these. average life expectancy would drop to a mere 24 hours in the winter of 1942. not days. few soldiers escaped physical injury. Far from growing confident about their manly strength. Red Army policy on replacements was more thoughtful than its American equivalent at this time. grew with successive victories. combatants knew their lives depended on their training and personal skill. Quite apart from the millions who died. and many also carried psychological wounds. for units were withdrawn for retraining and replenishment. 'But in the end it corrupted our strong sense of being a people facing invasion together. the power of front-line loyalties endured and even strengthened in the midst of death. 33-8. Samoilov wrote. and rendered each man's cause more sacred. aches 67 Samoilov. This content downloaded from 77. 'We almost never knew who the SMERSh informers were among us. To the people they would liberate. Blood cried for vengeance. At Stalingrad. but the rate of turnover was so rapid that many soldiers scarcely had the time to make close friends. 67.105. Meanwhile. jammed together in a confined space and destined.68 Pride. By 1943. indeed. to die together. for a tank or air crew. especially under pressure. if one failed. to follow crowds. disfigurement.'67 The veterans discount each of these points. not filled piecemeal with individual recruits. The love that soldiers felt for their fallen friends was often the strongest of all. In the Soviet case. 68 Examplesof each of these areto be foundin soldiers'lettersand memoirs. Technology also dictated certain kinds of trust. Relationships were hardly sure before they shattered for ever. finally.See. Soviet citizens had learned to avoid responsibility. 'The fear of SMERSh truly cemented relations at the front for a time'. The fires of Stalingrad gave birth to a sense of citizenship that even postwar levels of repression took several years to kill. at least on Russian soil. Some that survived were overshadowed by the attentions of spies and informers. They would seek out and learn the qualities of their mates in hours. such combatants would feel that they had earned the right to comment on government policy and even to advise their leaders.for example. the argument is problematical. fear of disgracing themselves or of betraying their frontline companions becomes the primary motive for some soldiers' efforts. Those who survived would discover a different sense of self. 1990. True.

The Germans could not believe it. It takes an effort to get beyond the enduring legend of Ivan.69was frequently a sign of exhaustion and battle stress. 71 Cited in C. but Soviet soldiers felt the cold like everyone else. Some soldiers were heroes. since crime. Red Army doctors gave trauma and battle stress short shrift throughout the war. Those who fell ill without a clearly physical cause. although in general women at home had aged no less during the war.000 of the Red Army's active service troops eventually became permanent casualities of the mind. which diarists recorded but could not explain. It was not some exceptional national characteristic that turned Ivan into a fighter. 13 Oct 2015 02:24:20 UTC All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . a figure so low that it suggests that only acute mental illnesses like schizophrenia were recognized as disabling. and patients who did not recover from disabling symptoms often underwent punitive tests. suffered when they were hungry and grieved for their dead friends. commented the nationalist writer Victor Astafev. but in the end. It is estimated that about 100. 'Perhaps you will not recognize me'. On his own soil. 70 The figure is cited in Richard A.25. Soviet Military Psychiatry (Westport. 464. but there is much to find. drawn from his culture and times. alcoholism and domestic violence would all reach record levels in the shadow of the war. and compares with 36-9 per thousand in the US army at the same time. Ivan was not a superman.70 The general exhaustion of most veterans played into the hands of a regime staffed by people who had stayed at home. 'The most painful thing'. the likelihood is that Soviet doctors were recognizing adult-onset schizophrenia in youths recruited before the symptoms appeared. because we were exhausted by the war. was no easier for Russians. Apathy. was a common anxiety as they wrote to their wives. Eventually. But through it all. because of the strain of the postwar years. Gabriel. Ivan was human. he fought with a tenacity that invaders. even when that seventeenth-century Englishman had first observed them. They always had done. however. He may explain it in more epic ways. 'was the realization that.9 on Tue. he simply had no choice. shivering in their own dugouts. again despite German beliefs. Merridale. could only fear. but it was at least the cold of home. As Simon Wessely pointed out to me. we were not going to be able to maintain the high level of moral development that we had achieved during the war. the quality of his training played a part. including simulated drowning. and which we had created for ourselves. the main impulse that kept him in the field was the emergency itself. were likely to find little help. CT 1986).'71He might have added that this high moral development was anyway a sham. In other words. It is not present in the ceremonial and banqueting of today's 69 'Belov'. Ideologyand Combatin the RedArmy 323 and pains. This content downloaded from 77. The cold he noticed.Merridale: Culture. 316. most made the best of war.105. 12 December 1943. The crucial element in almost every war in which Ivan showed the qualities that outsiders would admire was self-defence. that made the Germans swear and long for Paris and Berlin. before they were sent for treatment. Night of Stone (London 2000). so far from all that was familiar. but large numbers were wracked by memories of violence and many never shed their brutal sense of the life and death. 47.

13 Oct 2015 02:24:20 UTC All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . is a kind of triumph.if they have now retiredto sit and chatterover cups of tea.If their bloodcurdlingstories seem incongruous on elderlylips.chosen new careers. CatherineMerridale is Professorof ContemporaryHistoryat QueenMary College.105. Universityof London. raised children.25. This content downloaded from 77. for their very ordinariness. the woman who looks after the monumentat Prokhorovkatold me.trauma and memory.She specializesin Russiansocial and cultural historyand has a particularinterestin the historyof violence. 'Sometimesthey just stand and weep.It is more likely to be found in the silenceof the old men as they gather at their battle sites each year. too.324 of Contemporary Journal HistoryVol41 No 2 dignitariesand town councillors.9 on Tue. 'They don't talk much'. 1939-45 (London2005).The Red Army. these old people commandrespect.' For that. that. if they have lived a seriesof morepeacefullives.Her most recentpublicationis Ivan's War.