Helots and hiwis : Joseph Stalin, Adolph Hitler, and the employment of peasants, partisans, and anti-partisan campaigns in the Great Patriotic War of liberation, 1941-1945 / Patrick Marino Albano.
In 1941, the Soviet Union was invaded by Germany. Within six months a structured partisan movement developed to blunt the German advance and to prevent the destruction of Soviet society. After 1942, partisans became centrally organized as Joseph Stalin took control of the movement to thwart any potential threat to his regime. Once accomplished, he simply assimilated partisans into Red Army ranks. Hitler's strategy called for invasion and annihilation of the Soviet Union, yet ideological imperatives deprived the Germans from exploiting a disheartened Soviet society. Instead, German ignorance and prejudice led to anti-partisan campaigns and self-defeating war strategies. The actions of Hitler and Stalin moved the conflict on the eastern front beyond total war as fear, intimidation, hunger and death pushed and pulled at Soviet society in one prodigious struggle to survive. Post-war historians depict the Red Army as winning the war and downplay partisan significance as at least inconsequential and at best auxiliary. Even less attention is given by historians to ordinary people within Soviet society. Yet, given the slim margin of victory by the Red Army in many campaigns, partisans and ordinary communities were contributing factors, at times tipping the balance. Tactically, the Red Army won the war. But many other elements aided in achieving victory. As partisan numbers grew to regimental and brigade strength, Germany was forced to divert troops to anti-partisan operations, thereby creating shortages in men and materiel. More importantly, these anti-partisan campaign's became a cloak for systematic annihilation, prompting further reprisals by Soviet partisans. In granting significance to previously forgotten elements in the Soviet victory, it must be remembered that these groups at times could be as cruel as Stalin; in part their violence was shaped by his effort to control the movement after 1942. The contributions of ordinary men and women were affected by Stalin's manipulation of gender, nationalism, propaganda and partisans. Those who fought and died in the Great Patriotic War, including its forgotten heros, merit greater recognition.
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