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DEFENSE CAMPAIGN MEDALS

Leningrad

Sevastopol

For Defense of Stalingrad

Odessa

“For Our Soviet Motherland”

For Defense of Moscow

Caucasus

Kiev

Soviet Polar Region

The reverse side of each defense medal:

This Polar medal was given to a Russian female fighter with the troops in the Polar region - most likely a combat nurse, or a sniper.  Some of the best Russian snipers were females.

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“ОТСТОИМ МОСКВУ!”

                                                       “WE STAND WITH MOSCOW!”

Was the rallying cry of the Red Army as the Germans confidently marched to the gates of Moscow in the late Fall of 1941.  The German High Command was oblivious to Russian determination to defend Moscow, and to the true extent of Russian resources for defense of the city.  Hitler’s time-consuming and resource-wasting blunders permitted the Russians to form new armies east of Moscow and transfer 40 divisions from Siberia to the Moscow Front.  When the Russians counter attacked, Hitler’s grand strategy for the Russian campaign was kaput, and he was exposed for what he is - a reckless gambler with the lives of the German soldiers.   No amount of bluster by Hitler and his Nazis could hide the fact the Wehrmacht suffered a devastating defeat that eliminated any chance of German victory in WW II.  Hitler was doomed to repeat these very same mistakes again at Stalingrad.

This monument, in a Moscow suburb, pinpoints the exact spot where the German troops were stopped in their closest advance to Moscow.  Some German advance scouts could see the towers of the Kremlin with their field glasses, but they got no closer. I was the guest of a Moscow police officer as he proudly explained the significance of this spot to the Russians. The suffering endured during the German invasion is indelibly burned into the soul of the Russian people - just like the terror of the Mongol Yoke.

Viktor Leonov, twice Hero of the Soviet Union, authored this interesting book about Soviet morskiye razvedchiki (naval scouts) who fought the Germans in far northern Norway and Finland.  These small-scale battles were hardly known in the West because of the titanic struggles further south. The elite morskiye razvedchiki took on Germany’s formidable 20th Mountain Army in the polar regions of Scandinavia and defeated them in sharp ruthless close-quarter combats that went on day and night regardless of the harsh conditions. No mercy was shown the Germans.


Translated from Russian.

This book is a chilling account of the brutal terror employed by both Stalin and Hitler in their titanic battles during the months leading up to Germany’s defeat at Moscow in the winter of 1941.                                                                                


Stalin’s reign of terror was in full swing on the eve of WW II and the months leading to the pivotal battle at the gates of Moscow.  Prior to the German invasion, Stalin’s terror purges had eliminated the Red Army’s best senior officers:  “...including three of the five marshals, thirteen of the fifteen army commanders, eight of the nine fleet admirals, fifty of the fifty-seven corps commanders, 154 of the 186 divisional commanders, and so on down the chain of the command” (page 79).  Stalin in effect beheaded the Red Army and was responsible for their initial defeats in 1941.


Stalin’s pathological distrust of anyone who might pose a threat to his rule led to the arrests or deaths of millions of Soviet citizens. For example: .“...approximately sixty thousand Estonians, thirty-five thousand Latvians, and thirty-four thousand Lithuanians were deported by the Soviet occupiers before the Germans  struck...” (page 83).  “For such tiny states, those were staggering figures - in Estonia’s case about 4 percent of its population...” (page 83).  Stalin’s terror reigned in the Baltics from 1939 to 1953.


Hitler’s “Grand Plan” in the East was to exterminate the Slavs and the Jews of USSR.  Even prior to the invasion, Hitler and his top Nazis issued directives to the German troops that they were to show no mercy and exhibit no human kindness to these people. Initially, the invading Germans were greeted by some as “liberators”, especially in Western Ukraine, but this friendly reception soon evaporated once the true intentions of the Germans became known.  The brutality of the Germans fueled the hatred of the invaders and gave rise to the popular wartime Russian slogan: “Comrade, kill a German today”. 

 

                                         ШТРАФБАТ

                                    (“PENAL BATTALION”)

I consider this 11-part serial probably one of the most poignant renditions of WW II ever produced.  It deals with the a penal battalion of the Red Army, and touches on emotional subjects which would never have been put into a film during the USSR.   The purpose of the movie is to realistically depict the hell men went through in the Red Army’s penal battalions where NKVD terror sat on every man’s shoulder and NKVD troops were ready to shoot them down should they not fulfill a mission.  The dialog and interaction between the actors is dramatic and portrays how each survived, or surrendered, to their daily hell as only Russian troops could.  There is a final scene where all the men turn to a priest, instead of the commissar, as they are about to be sent to certain death. The movie ends dramatically with a scene of carnage and an image of Mary and Child rising between the clouds to bless the field of dead and dying.  This DVD is in Russian without English subtitles.

“Soldiers, Brave Chaps”, Russian Army Chorus

                                                                                             ❉

The Russian military has a long history of deceiving the enemy, and then striking a devastating counter blow.  Mikheil Saakashvili, of Georgia, and his US advisors, forgot that lesson when they attacked South Ossetia in August, 2008 - only to be defeated by an “unexpected” Russian counter-attack.  Only Saakashvili, who probably envisions himself as the “Napoleon of the Caucasus”, could seriously believe that Russia would not dare to react to his attack. The Russian 58th Army waited for the attack, and then routed Misha’s American-trained army.  The Kremlin probably knew Misha’s plans because the Georgian military and government is full of Russian spies.

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“Certificate for Participation in the Heroic Defense of Stalingrad”

“We Stand With Moscow”

“Certificate for Participation in the Heroic Defense of Moscow”

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