However, immediately after the start of the Great Patriotic War, they had to return to this practice. Among the mobilized residents of the remote regions of the autonomous and union republics, many spoke Russian poorly and did not understand their commanders. At the front, it ended tragically .
By the decision of the State Defense Committee, the regions of the country at the expense of their own resources manned military units with personnel, transport, horses, and then completely ready-made formations were transferred to the Armed Forces. In total, 37 national formations fought on the fronts of the Great Patriotic War: one squadron, 23 rifle and 6 cavalry divisions, 8 rifle brigades.
The 201st Latvian Rifle Division became the first unit formed according to the national-territorial principle. A little later, Lithuanians and Estonians had similar connections.
Now the Baltic politicians claim that in 1940 Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania became part of the USSR, allegedly not of their own free will. But here's an interesting fact: the 201st division was 70 percent staffed with volunteers! 90 percent of the personnel were citizens of the Latvian SSR. And more than half of the Latvians themselves fought here. In the 8th Estonian Rifle Corps, Estonians fought even more: almost 80 percent!
At the end of February 1943, the cavalry destroyed 56 tanks, about 6 thousand vehicles and even 6 aircraft in one raid! Photo: Museumrb.ru
The baptism of fire was accepted by the Latvian riflemen in December 1941 near Moscow. They fought heroically, for which the division was soon awarded the honorary title of the Guards.
The 88th separate rifle brigade, formed in the Far East, earned no less fame. She was being prepared for the war with Japan. The brigade consisted of Soviet citizens of Chinese and Korean nationalities, as well as representatives of neighboring countries. In particular, the brigade was commanded by Zhou Baozhong , a former partisan from Northern Manchuria. After the war, he returned to his native China and headed the government of Yunnan province. And the commander of the 1st battalion was Kim Il Sung – the future Juche, the founder and leader of North Korea.
The members of the brigade practiced a lot of parachute jumping. It was planned that after the start of hostilities against Japan, they would be sent to partisan behind enemy lines. However, the Land of the Rising Sun quickly surrendered, so the airborne troops were canceled, and the brigade was soon disbanded. Officially, the 88th OSB fought as part of the 2nd Far Eastern Front for about three weeks: from August 9 to September 2, 1945.
Yakov Novichenko saved Kim Il Sung by covering himself with a grenade. The Siberian lost an arm and an eye and became a national hero of North Korea. A monument was erected to him in Pyongyang, and Korean schoolchildren study the feat of a Soviet officer from textbooks
General's Forgotten Feat
When creating national connections, they tried to take into account the peculiarities and traditions of local residents. This is how one of the most famous military formations of the Red Army that participated in the Great Patriotic War, the 112th Bashkir Cavalry Division, appeared.
“They tried to form the cavalry in areas in which the horse was historically widely used,” explains military historian Alexei Isaev . – Bashkiria is one of the regions where it was possible to find people capable of riding, that is, already prepared for these actions.
There were legends about the fighters of the Bashkavdivision on both sides of the front. The Germans in letters to their homeland complained that some wild horsemen who did not know fear had begun to fight against them. It was said that the Bashkir horsemen attacked tanks with sabers at their heads, and the fascists fled in panic, abandoning their equipment. The most amazing thing is that this is not a myth!
“Such a case was near Stalingrad,” says Ramil Rakhimov, head of the republican branch of the Russian Military Historical Society. – True, not with sabers bald, but on horses they slipped through the ranks of the German tank group and threw grenades at the enemy vehicles from behind.
Shaimuratov, who became general at the age of 13, worked as a loader at a mill
In addition to the Bashkirs, the unit also included Tatars, Russians, Armenians, Jews, Chechens and Turkmens. 78 soldiers of the division became Heroes of the Soviet Union – this is a record among soldiers of equestrian formations. The last high rank was awarded to General Minigali Shaimuratov . The legendary commander died in 1943, during a phenomenal raid by Bashkir horsemen on enemy rear lines. To distract the enemy's attention and give his soldiers the opportunity to cross the front line, Shaimuratov with four officers and two soldiers from the division headquarters guards called fire on themselves. The general's body was never found. This gave reason to refuse all submissions for the award. No body, no title. Only last year, Vladimir Putin signed a decree conferring the title of Hero of Russia to Minigali Mingazovich.
The cavalrymen from Bashkiria completed their combat path in May 1945 in Berlin. Then the unit was already called the 16th Guards Cavalry Division. Its commander, General Grigory Belov , tried to keep the old name. But the management was cool about it. By that time, it was again decided that representatives of only one nationality could live in the USSR – Soviet citizens.
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