Why on the front of the Red Army and the Wehrmacht did not respect burial rituals

History 09/01/20 Why on the front of the Red Army and the Wehrmacht did not respect burial rituals

In war, the bodies of the soldiers weren’t always able to convey to the relatives. Sometimes even just to be buried and not left on the battlefield was for luxury. For the final resting of the warriors there was a special funeral team. Funerary rituals in the Soviet Army and troops of the Wehrmacht during the great Patriotic war was governed by the relevant decrees and were significantly different from each other.

the Soviet funeral Directive

three months before the beginning of the great Patriotic war, the people’s Commissar of defence Semyon Timoshenko signed the order No. 138 “On the procedure for the burial of the dead officers, non-commissioned officers and privates”. This eight-page document dated March 15, 1941, all the details describing the rules of burial of Soviet soldiers and officers.

In paragraph 108 of this order means that the removal of the corpses from the battlefield for later legends of earth is a compulsory action, regardless of combat conditions. To dig graves to bury the men who died directly in battle and died of his wounds after the battle, had the members of the special team of burial, which was created a commander of a regiment.

According to the Directive, the soldiers of the red army might be buried in individual and mass graves, at the same time, officers had to enter into the eternal rest in a private burial.

the Soldiers had to be buried in underwear, shirts, pants and shoes.

For digging the graves is recommended to choose a dry area. If the burial was carried out in urban areas, the priority was given to areas of the cemetery, parks, plazas, squares, outside the settlements were considered the best places mounds, crossroads, groves.

Each grave would haveth 1.5-meter depth and definitely have an identification sign – a temporary monument on which are recorded the personal data of the dead: name, surname, patronymic, rank, date of birth and death.

the Order of military salute was not regulated, it was noted only that the commander of the regiment was able to install them depending on the significance of the feat, in the Commission of which killed the soldiers, NCOs and officers.

In case of death of officers in high command, the body needed to convey to the employees of the red cross that were supposed to transport it to the relatives of the deceased.

the Reality of the red army

Immediately after the beginning of the great Patriotic war it became obvious that the unquestioning execution of items order No. 138 in terms of maneuvering blitzkrieg impossible.

Designed for the conditions of slow positional struggle, he did not answer the current situation, when under the onslaught of the Wehrmacht, the Soviet fighters were forced to hastily take their positions and to shift inland.

In those terrible days no one thought about the disposal of colleagues in accordance with the Directive with a choice of good places for digging pits and individual graves for the officers.

In the terrible slaughter was considered a success just to bury the body of the victim to feral dogs and ravens devoured his remains.

In a collection of Konstantin Somov “War – fast life”, which describes the everyday life of the soldier, are the memories of soldiers who testified that the victims, without distinction of rank had been hastily buried in mass graves, which were craters from bombs, trenches, road ditches, and natural ravines.

Caught in August 1941 in the environment for the Communicator of the 9th army, ion Dubare, told me that once when he awoke after the battle, he saw his colleague in darkness buried directly in a trench three dead beside him a soldier.

Funeral team divisions just don’t have time to do their work – roofing significant were the losses of the red army in the first months of the war. However, after a critical time, when the Soviet troops moved to the attack, the funeral team could not cope with their work, and to help them came the peasants of the liberated villages. They men were buried in mass graves, but not always sent to the military information about the military buried, increasing the lists of missing soldiers.

the Funerary ritual of the Germans,

Pedantic Germans were attributed on the Eastern front to stick to funeral ritual developed for the army during the time of Kaiser Wilhelm II and slightly edited by the Supreme command of the Wehrmacht.

According to the document, the German soldiers were supposed to be buried with all of the latest honors, under music of a military orchestra.

Every dead soldier was given an individual grave and the coffin, which was covered with a military flag. To lead the funeral procession were the people who were carrying on the balls of awards of the deceased soldier. Before to give body to the ground, the officer was obliged to give the team the start of the triple fireworks. After the burial the grave was to lay a wreath from the Wehrmacht with the inscription “German Armed forces” took two red ribbons, one of them was decorated with the Iron cross, another was a swastika.

If the fighting has killed an officer of high rank, his body through the medical service should be sent to Germany and handed over to relatives.

the Reality of the Wehrmacht

While many historians have noted the coordinated work of the burial teams of the Wehrmacht, the funeral rule they also observed not always and not everywhere. At the initial stage, when the German troops only attacked, not being surrounded by not fleeing, they calmly followed the instructions by burying soldiers in individual graves, and installing them on wooden crosses with signs with personal data of the deceased.

But with the changing situation on the Eastern front, the reality made its corrections and pompous ritual burial, intended to demonstrate to the soldiers that the government appreciates the contribution of each soldier to a victory and the triumph of the ideology of Nazism.

Corporal 10th infantry division of the German troops, Helmut Klausman, who, along with colleagues hastily left the Crimea, noted in his memoirs: “the Dead were buried in different ways. If there was time and opportunity, each relied a separate grave, and a simple coffin. But if the fighting was heavy and we retreated, then buried the dead in some way. In ordinary funnels out of the shells, wrapped in capes, or tarp. In this pit at one time had buried so many people, how many died in this battle and was able to fit. Well, if you ran, it wasn’t until dead.”

the amendments in the funeral activities of the Wehrmacht made the harsh climate that has frost bound the ground, making digging graves in the hard work. In these conditions, few thought about the fact that burial in a mass grave does not correspond to the military funeral ritual, as important was to bring the body of the dead earth.

Ashkhen Avanesova

© Russian Seven

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