History 19/01/20 “Ural demons”: how to fight the winter the forces of the red army

Skis are regularly used in the military since the XI century. In the red army they were appreciated during the Winter war with Finland in 1939-1940: then came the first battalions and brigades skiers. The Finns, who used skis without exception, set an example. During the great Patriotic war the red army EN masse came to the track.

Shaped ski battalions quickly proved its effectiveness. Mobile and agile, well camouflaged, they might suddenly attack the enemy at vulnerable parts of the front and just as quickly go. During the battle of Moscow and the December counter-offensive on Germans more than 30 ski parts fought for the capital. Almost all winter operations 1941-1943 was conducted with the participation of skiers. In the first winter of the war they proved especially useful to compensate for the lack of motorized parts. To infiltrate behind enemy lines to commit acts of sabotage — these tasks were decided by the soldiers on skis. They devastated the settlements of the German front rear. In the autumn of 1941 in Chelyabinsk, Perm, Sverdlovsk, Kurgan and Zlatoust formed a separate ski battalions, OLB (in the amount of 67, more than 50 thousand people). Recruits were athletes and hunters from the Urals and Siberia, as well as the sailors of the Pacific fleet. The fighters tried to provide ammunition, food and communications so that they can autonomously conduct a fighting few days. The battalions took mentally stable soldiers. These pieces were sort of winter special forces of the red army. Well-trained, they fought on the most difficult parts of the front, and courage, impact and power has earned the Germans the nickname “the white devils”, “the snow ghosts” and “Ural demons”. The appearance of these “demons” in the rear did not promise the Germans anything good. Only three ski battalion from Chelyabinsk, who started fighting the way in November 1941 in the first year of the war destroyed 87 railway bridge, derailed more than a thousand cars with manpower and supplies, the Germans attacked on 24 field airfield by the Luftwaffe. The dead and wounded enemy soldiers is not even considered.

James I. Sazanov, who served in the 112 ski battalion, thus recalled one of the fights near Moscow: “the Two ski battalions managed to go unnoticed by the enemy in his flank and rear. This fact decided the outcome of the battle. A sudden attack in flank and rear, as well as from the front, that is, from all sides, stunned the Germans, and soon they began a panicked, chaotic retreat”. In a panic fleeing soldiers of the Wehrmacht abandoned in the flight stuff, rifles and guns, but are unable to escape from his pursuers. Ran 200-300 meters from the abandoned village, they were met with heavy defensive fire Russian skiers who are pre-populated in anticipation of the enemy along the prospective path of their flight. Long the battle lasted. All the Germans destroyed or captured and all their property, including equipment and supplies of food and ammunition, became the trophy of the squad Sazonov. At 40-degree frost quick and decisive “snow ghosts” did not give the Wehrmacht a chance. In his memoirs carps recalls, all his colleagues as worthy and valiant defenders of the Motherland. Sometimes too: “the Main disadvantage we believed then useless umarstvo individual commanders”, which the skiers should not have to lose their levity brave officers.

According to Sazonov, the Germans themselves gave the best score fighting qualities of the ski battalions: “Interrogations of many captured German soldiers and officers showed that the skiers they are always mentioned with horror.” Praised them after the war and the Soviet Marshal K. K. Rokossovsky, who says that “ski battalions of the Soviet Army played a prominent role in the defeat of the enemy, especially in the early stages of the war.” Rokossovsky thanked the skiers for their deeds and promised to remember the dashing “snow cavalry” of the Soviet army.

Skiers doingt honor and the fact that early in the war when they played an important role, supplying they have been more wrong. For example, the skis did a bad quality, too heavy: “one Solid bar! So the Board took, bent, everything. These boards are often crooked”. But even on them and loaded with machine guns and other weapons skiers could easily make 40 km a day (despite the fact that the transitions in the enemy’s rear is always carried out at night). Siberian A. A. Tereshchenko said: “our battalion had 3 companies. The first were armed with machine guns PPSH, second rifles with ammunition from 3 to 9 rounds for each shooter, third — militia without weapons. They commander said, “Your weapons on the battlefield”. And died in the beginning of the war were many, and ammunition is not enough, and weapons. But the task they performed their. Defended Moscow and was brutally beaten by the Wehrmacht. The Germans, incidentally, was also skiers, but such glory as the Soviet, they had not. And the Urals and Siberian the end of the war defended the reputation of the “white demons””.

Konstantin Dmitriev

© Russian Seven

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