World War II in the News is a review of WWII articles providing thought-provoking collection of hand-picked WW2 information.

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If you like classic turn-based PC war games and legendary strategy board games make sure to check out the highly rated Conflict-series.

Red Army

The Soviet Red Army and Russian soldiers in the World War II.
Latest hand-picked WWII news. See also: Mass rapes by the Red Army, Battle of Moscow, Latvia Divided, Battle of Stalingrad, Kursk: Biggest Tank Battle, WW2 Tanks.

The Red Army in the Second World War, by Alexander Hill
Hill gives us an institutional history of the Red Army, from the mid-1920s through the horrors and triumphs of the Great Patriotic War. Hill is particularly interested in the factors that shaped the Red Army in developing the logistical, organizational and administrative institutions necessary for the conduct of mass mobile combat. He devotes nearly half the book to events before the German onslaught of 1941.

Classic turn-based strategy games: Conflict-Series
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(available on Google Play & Amazon App Store since 2011)

For The Motherland! For Stalin!: A Red Army Officer`s Memoir Of The Eastern Front
Boris Bogachev he volunteered for service in 1941 when he was 16 and fought in three decisive battles as a platoon commander, in each of which he was wounded. That service began from October 1941 to August 1942 on the Ryzhev/Sychevka front, north of Moscow, where he was wounded. He returned after treatment and further training to become, at the age of 17, a mortar platoon commander on the north-west Kalinin front from November to December 1942. Both offensives were under the command of Marshal Konev. Their objective was to stem the German advance on Moscow and Stalingrad. Stalin`s order `Not a Step Back` meant that there could be no retreat. The slaughter of the under-equipped and hastily trained Soviet recruits appalled the Germans occupying Ryzhev but they slowed the German advance. Those who survived were as heroic as the defenders of Stalingrad.

Stalin`s Defectors: How Red Army Soldiers became Hitler`s Collaborators, 1941-1945, by Mark Edele
During WWII the 1.6 million Soviet soldiers who defected were condemned, in Moscow`s words, as `Hitlerite dupes`.The debate on why these men went over to the Germans has put forward numerous valid reasons. It has been suggested that they hated Stalin and his regime, came from Russian minorities, resented collectivisation and, above all, despised Bolshevism. These contentions are arguable,but none was as significant as exhaustion, near-famine and fear of being killed.

Captured by the Germans, Russian soldier Ilja Buz lived thanks to bravery and luck
To explain his life's philosophy, 96-year-old Ilja Buz tells the story of when, as a young Russian soldier in the Second World War, he was almost hit by a machine gun fired by a German plane. He'd been so nervous about being killed, he couldn't eat or drink. But after escaping death so narrowly, Buz realized the truth of what a schoolteacher uncle had tried to tell him as a teenager — your destiny is written, and you don't die until your appointed time.

Last Soviet Red Army Soldier from Leningrad to Storm the Nazi Reichstag has Died
The last member of the Soviet Red Army division that lived in St. Petersburg and stormed the German Reichstag in Berlin at the end of World War Two has died aged 93. Nikolay Belyaev was the last survivor that lived in St. Petersburg who took part in storming the German Reichstag, which was undertaken by troops of the Soviet Third Shock Army. Nikolay served with the 756th Regiment, which headed for the German Reichstag. When they reached the famous building, they removed the Nazi swastika flag that hung over the Nazi Parliament`s rooftop and replaced it with the Soviet`s own Red Flag. The date was the first of May, 1945.

Study: 15,000 Koreans drafted by Soviets during World War II
15,000 ethnic Koreans who lived in Central Asia were conscripted by the Soviet Union during World War II (1941-1945), a new study claims. Shim Heon-yong, a researcher from the Institute for Military History, said 372 of them volunteered to join the Soviet military; of that number, 195 were killed or disappeared during the war, 50 were undocumented and 127 returned home. A majority of the 372 people were soldiers in the ground war, but there was also a pilot and a spy.

Why Stalin's Soldiers Fought: The Red Army's Military Effectiveness in World War II by Roger Reese
Inept leadership, inefficient campaigning, and enormous losses would have collapsed any western country. Yet despite these factors, the Soviet Union won its war against Nazi Germany thanks to its "military effectiveness": its ability to put troops in the field even after previous armies had been wiped out. Reese probes the Red Army through a close analysis of soldiers' views about mobilization, motivation, and morale. In doing so, he illuminates the Soviets' ability to recruit and retain soldiers, revealing why so many were willing to fight in the service of a repressive regime. He examines the motivations to serve and shows that many fought simply out of loyalty to the idea of historic Russia and hatred for the invading Nazis.

An American Volunteer in the Soviet Red Army by Nicholas Burlak
U.S. citizen Nicholas Burlak was in Ukraine when Hitler unleashed the Operation Barbarossa - the Nazi invasion of the Soviet Union. Traveling back to the United States to join the Marines was impossible, so Burlak joined the Soviet Red Army.

Soviet Red Army veterans - now living in U.S. - recall end Of World War II
From a school auditorium near the ruins of Berlin in May 1945, Soviet soldier Boris Polyakov radioed Soviet leaders the message that German Field Marshal Wilhelm Keitel had signed the Unconditional Surrender. Later, it was celebration time for the soldiers at Karlhorst, the German Army school where Soviet Field Marshal Georgy Zhokov had his HQ, said Polyakov, one of the Soviet Jews who moved to the U.S. in the 1970s. During the Cold War, Jewish WW2 veterans were treated as second-class citizens. Survival on the Eastern Front was a matter of luck: one unit Vladimir Ioffe served in went into battle 300 strong. 8 survived.

Zhukov admitted USSR came close to defeat by Nazis - Interview broadcast in Russia for the first time
The Soviet Union almost lost the war in 1941 and suffered from poor planning, claims Marshal Georgy Zhukov in the frank TV interview that has been banned since it was recorded in 1966. Zhukov, the most decorated general in the history of both Russia and the Soviet Union, stated that Soviet generals were not confident that they could hold the Wehrmacht at the Mozhaisk defence line outside Moscow. Zhukov also revealed details of his exchanges with Joseph Stalin: How Stalin summoned him to Moscow in October 1941 to save what until then had been a faltering defence on the Western front outside Moscow.

Exhausted by Stalin's regime Russians were ready simply to surrender to the Nazis
There are two views about World War II. The first: Stalin's regime was tyrannical, but the war was fought for freedom. The second: WWII was in fact two wars: the one on the Western Front a battle for freedom; the other on the Eastern Front between dictators enslaving nations. People in the Soviet Union had little idea of democracy or Nazism, and were just fighting for the Motherland. And even then they thought long and hard before fighting: Stalin's regime had "exhausted" them, and many were ready to give up. This explains why millions and millions of Red Army soldiers surrendered in the early stages of the war.

Abdulkhakim Ismailov: The Red Army soldier who helped raise Russian flag over Hitler's Reichstag
A Red Army soldier in an iconic photo of a Soviet flag flying from the ruins of Reichstag has passed away at 93. Abdulkhakim Ismailov fought all the way to Berlin from the Battle of Stalingrad, where the encircling of the German 6th Army turned the tide against the Third Reich. He was recognised 50 years later as one of 3 soldiers raising the Hammer and Sickle flag in a picture staged by the Tass photographer Yevgeny Khaldei 3 days after the Nazi capital fell. A group of Soviet soldiers had raised a Soviet flag over the Riechstag on April 30 but it had been brought down by German snipers.

Exhibition about the American who fought for Soviet Red Army in World War II
An exhibition about the only man known to have fought for both the U.S. and Soviet armies during World War II will open on Feb 18 in St. Petersburg, Russia. Joe Beyrle was captured by Nazi forces after parachuting into Normandy in June 1944. He attempted to escape two times, but only his third effort was a success and he made contact with a Russian tank division. In spite of only knowing only two words of Russian ("Amerikanskii tovarishch" -"American comrade"), he became a member of the unit, participating in a number of battles. After being wounded in a battle, he met Marshal Georgy Zhukov, who gave him a letter of transit to the American embassy in Moscow.

70th anniversary of the Battle of Khalkhin Gol, which made Georgy Zhukov famous, remembered
Russia and Mongolia are marking the 70th anniversary of the battle of Khalkhin-Gol, when the Soviet Union and Mongolia defeated Japanese forces, preventing Japan from possible invasion of Russia's Far East. The battle took place on the Mongolian border in 1939, just weeks before Adolf Hitler's Wehrmacht overran Poland. Because of the Khalkhin-Gol battle, World War II began 2 years earlier for some Red Army soldiers. "It was a horrible battle on such a small plot of land... It was impossible to see the ground because of the smoke and explosions," recalled Red Army veteran Nikolay Ganin. Marshal Georgy Zhukov became a famous military leader because of the battle.

Metal detectors and shovels - Russia still searching for World War II dead
Every spring searchers fan out across Russia's swamps and forests armed with metal detectors and shovels, searching for bones. Most are are just teenagers, their nails caked in the dirt of this valley near Moscow, where the Red Army's 32nd Rifle Division held Adolf Hitler's Nazi troops for 15 days in 1941. Their friends prepare to celebrate the May 9 Victory Day holiday by watching the military parade on Red Square, but the volunteers say the memory of the war is stronger here. 5 hours of seeking with metal detectors revealed an exploded helmet, a gas mask, bullets, leg bones, shrapnel, a pair of boots riddled with more bones and one mossy shoe.

Russians in South Florida recall the cost of World War II victory   (Article no longer available from the original source)
Yevgenia Ryabaya did hundreds of amputations under heavy fire and bombardment—operations that still give her nightmares. Lt. Alexander Groch was shot 6 times in his head, chest and legs but never left the front to go home. And infantryman Mikhail Fishman, still alive with his dead comrades all around him, attempted to kill himself before being taken POW by the Germans. "But the gun was wet - I was all night under rain in a pile of bodies - so I was sent off to a labor camp." These were just some of the World War II stories told by the dozens of surviving veterans now living in South Florida.

Red Army Master Sergeant Peter Gitelman took part in the Battle of Stalingrad
Peter Gitelman was a Red Army Master Sergeant who participated in the Battle of Stalingrad and who was decorated for bravery following the bloody Russian offensive against the Germans that took over one million lives during the winter of 1942-1943. He came to Canada as a refugee in 1992 after the collapse of the Soviet Union. When Stalingrad was attacked, Gitelman was sent to work in military field hospital #833. "He would always say that Stalingrad was a good experience for him because it was there where he met his wife, Elena Gritsenko, who was a nurse working in the same field hospital."

Mikhail Minin, who raised the USSR flag over Reichstag in 1945, died
World War II veteran Mikhail Minin, a Hero of the Soviet Union, who set up the USSR flag, the banner of Victory, over Nazi Germany’s Reichstag in May of 1945, died. He took part in battles to liberate Leningrad from blockade and made his way across the fronts to Berlin. When the Soviet army was assaulting Reichstag on April 30, 1945 Minin broke into the building and became the first man to raise the Red Banner on its tower. However, the famous picture does not show Minin but a Georgian soldier, because it was not taken at the actual event. Minin was recognized for his effort, but not rewarded, as there were no photos taken when the flag was put on the roof on 10 p.m.

Absolute War: Soviet Russia in the Second World War
Between late 1941 and 1944 D-Day, the British saw how little their own armies were doing to defeat Nazism. They admired Russian heroism. But British might have been less impressed had they known that Stalin’s forces were impelled not only by love for Mother Russia, but also by the knowledge that if they flinched they would be shot by their own leaders, as were at least 200,000 Red Army soldiers. Westerners have wasted lot of sympathy on the fate of the Cossacks whom Britain shipped back to their deaths at Stalin’s hands in 1945, after they had fought for Adolf Hitler. What about all the Russian POWs who had fought for the allied cause - also sent home to die?

800 Days on the Eastern Front - A Red Army Memoir of World War II
It is June 1944, and the Red Army is pressing its offensive against the Wehrmacht in Belarus. In the late afternoon of June 29, a Russian assault battalion reaches the outskirts of Bobruisk, where thousands of German defenders have been caught in a Red Army noose. The only escape route for the Germans is across a large field of rye overlooked by Soviet machine-gun emplacements. One such emplacement is manned by Nikolai Litvin, a Russian soldier who recounts the experience in "800 Days on the Eastern Front." His memoir is a vivid reminder, for those transfixed by D-Day, of the brutal fighting that was taking place on the other side of Europe.

Suppressed Red Army soldiers are now telling their WW2 stories   (Article no longer available from the original source)
Russian soldiers whose voices were suppressed for half a century are now telling their stories, with the help of Stuart Britton, who is translating their wartime memoirs. " bring to light the voices of the average Russian soldier, the private in the trenches. For decades German sources dominated our view of the Eastern Front." "800 Days on the Eastern Front: A Russian Soldier Remembers World War II" tells of war as Nikolai Litvin saw it on the front lines in the tank battles at Kursk. His roles, ranging from antitank gunner at Kursk to heavy machine gunner in a penal battalion to staff driver for the 352nd Rifle Division, offer unique perspectives on the Red Army.

Russia's conquest overshadows heroic sacrifices of the Soviet Army
Russia marks Victory Day on May 9, the day Russians remember as the end of WWII and victory over Third Reich. Boris Ochkin fingers his long line of medals and remembers the day when the Soviet Army claimed victory in Berlin. "We celebrated with gun shots and with anything else we could lay our hands on. With submachine guns, with everything we could find. And of course we drank to victory." He remembers how the Soviet troops fought against German battle tanks with only small arms and grenades. Mikhail Borisov says about Estonia: "How were we occupiers when we were met with flowers? I was on horseback and an old man came up to me and kissed my boots."

Gabriel Temkin was a Red Army Soldier in World War II
Gabriel Temkin wrote a book, "My Just War: The Memoir of a Jewish Red Army Soldier in World War II", about his experiences helping the Soviet Army defeat Adolf Hitler. He fled behind Soviet lines in 1939 following Hitler's invasion of Poland. In 1941, he was called into military service and spent a year in a labor battalion digging combat trenches and anti-tank ditches before being captured. He later escaped during a march. With the help of a Soviet soldier, he took on a new identity and name Ivan Denin. After a second capture and escape he was assigned to a rifle regiment and helped Soviet troops force the Nazis to retreat. Temkin received three medals of valor.

WW2 Red Army: Female T-34 tank driver in the battle   (Article no longer available from the original source)
When the war began Alexandra Rashchupkina volunteered, but she was rejected. She had her hair cropped, put on man’s uniform and applied again - passing. After driving course she was moved to Stalingrad where she learned to drive a tank. She survived her first air raid: "Instead of being happy to be alive I was worrying about my new uniform, all turned to rags," she smiles. No one in her regiment ever suspected a thing: "You don’t get undressed often on the frontline." In Feb 1945 her secret was revealed. The Soviet tanks were ambushed by Nazi troops. Her tank caught fire, she wounded and a serviceman saved her from the burning machine.

Horrors of Russian Front - World War II as Red Army soldiers   (Article no longer available from the original source)
Memorial Day is a somber time for a group of Minnesotans who saw WWII as Red Army soldiers. They can't help but think about Red Army soldiers who weren't lucky enough to avoid the staggering death tolls of the Eastern Front. Now US citizens, Geykhman and Grichener don't diminish the sacrifices of the 300,000 American troops killed. But for every US soldier killed more than 30 Russians died. Grichener was forced into the Red army as a teenager. "An infantry soldier was worth nothing, not a penny. Stalin treated us like slabs of meat and pushed us in front of the enemy until they ran out of lead."

A Writer at War: Vasily Grossman with the Red Army 1941-1945   (Article no longer available from the original source)
Grossman chronicled the War in a set of Notebooks, which have now been translated. It is a collection of accounts of soldiers’ lives, written by a man who witnessed at first hand the panic retreat in 1941, the defence of Moscow, the battle of Stalingrad and Kursk, and finally the Russian advance into Third Reich. The Notes are antidote to the censured histories and the decades of propaganda that the Red army was prepared for the nazi invasion. "2 May 1945: The day of Berlin’s capitulation. A monstrous concentration of impressions. Fires, smoke... Corpses squashed by tanks. Almost all of them are clutching grenades and sub-machine guns in their hands..."

Myths and Realities of the Great Patriotic War and Red Army
Before rallying to defeat Hitler’s Wehrmacht in Berlin, Red Army suffered numerous devastating setbacks. It nearly collapsed within first weeks of the June 1941 invasion. By October, Red Army defeats caused Third Reich to control more than 90 million soviet citizens. Even during the victorious battle at Kursk, "defections increased from 2,555 in June to 6,574 in July." Tank fright and self-inflicted wounds were two forms of cowardice. Ivan loved to drink samogon (moonshine), which also served as currency. Rape was one form of "People’s justice" that his political officers exhorted Ivan to exact as he advanced into Germany.

Red Army Veteran Recalls Agony and Ecstasy of War
On July 1, 13 days after war had begun, came Altshuller’s first battle. The regiment was located south of Leningrad near Pskov and the men were begging to be sent to a frontline. "Suddenly a shout rang out. Tanks, German! On the left! Confusion set in. The enemy onslaught was so strong that our regiment was falling back. It was impossible to hold out." That evening he arrived at Luga: it was chaos, crying, and terror. In 1943 Volkhov front offensive began, his regiment had to cross Lake Ilmen. They used horse-drawn vehicles pulled by small Mongolian horses. The Germans fired at us and we had losses, but many of our soldiers managed to get by.

Rokossovski's hedgehogs: Stopping advancing German panzers
Moscow 1941: The Russian capital in its darkest hour. At the roadside from the airport is a unique set of metal "hedgehogs", towering obstructions embedded in the ground in summer 1941. Their purpose was to stop the advancing German tanks. Operation Barbarossa had been launched on June 22. Moscow quickly came within the Wehrmacht's artillery range. The inhabitants trembled with fear, and hundreds of thousands tried to flee. They had been told that if any state invaded the USSR the Red Army would counterattack and take the conflict back on to enemy soil. Instead the Third Reich won a crushing series of victories. The overthrow of Stalin seemed imminent.

Chechen Heroes of the Great Patriotic War   (Article no longer available from the original source)
Almost 400 Chechens and Ingush took part in the heroic defence of the Brest Fortress. Machine –gunner Khanpasha Huradilov was posthumously awarded the "Gold Star Hero of the Soviet Union" having personally destroyed 920 fascists. Khakim Ismailov hoisted the banner above the Reichstag in Berlin. Cavalryman Movlid Visaitov was the first Soviet soldier to meet the American allies on the Elbe. There were around 20,000 – 40,000 Chechen front-line soldiers. However, today almost any Russian resident will tell you that the Chechens were traitors, that they waited for the arrival of the Wehrmacht and even got a white horse ready to present to Hitler.

Red Army phrasebook hints at plans to fight Hitler on British front
A newly discovered relic of the WWII shows how the Red Army was expected to take a no-nonsense attitude if they ever encountered English speakers. The Russian-English military phrasebook told officers how to interrogate English-speaking soldiers and civilians. But the date of the phrasebook's publication, summer 1940 - a year before the Soviets published their German phrasebook - is seen as highly significant. Some historians believe it adds weight to a controversial theory that Stalin would have sent troops to Britain if the Nazis invaded in order to open up a "Second Front" against Hitler.

Stalin's shame wiped WWII's greatest battle from history   (Article no longer available from the original source)
Few Westerners have heard of the greatest battle of WWII, fought on a scale never matched in western Europe. The Russians wrote the battle of Moscow out of their history books after their suicidal bravery smashed the myth of German invincibility. More than 7 million combatants took part, compared with the 4 million at Stalingrad and the 2 million at Kursk. The Soviet Union lost 926,000 soldiers killed, more than the British lost in all of WWI. Initially, the blitzkrieg attack left the Russians in disarray. The Red air force lost 1200 aircraft on the first morning. Stalin retreated to his country house for 36 hours until his commanders demanded his return.

Ivan's War - Life and Death in the Red Army, 1939-1945
The observations, words, thoughts of Russian soldiers were lost amid the patriotic zeal of the Cold War. The cause of the Russian soldier was never popular in the West. Turns out, it wasn't popular in Russia, either. Joseph Stalin's idea of the perfect war hero was Joseph Stalin. In the recently unsealed documents, Catherine Merridale found a tale of absurdity. In interviews with veterans, she found a reluctance, even today, to speak against the state. It's not an American-style history. There is no Band of Brothers, no Private Ryan worth saving.

What Russia's soldiers suffered
Fresh research shapes a fascinating yet also devastating portrait of Russian infantrymen in World War II. Josef Stalin and his successors made sure the story of Soviet history in the war was crafted and protected in a way that served their political purposes. Great monuments were built, but documents were sealed. Pensioned soldiers and their families were honored as "heroes," but they were kept from telling of experiences that might have deviated from the official line - especially anything traumatic. Historians, Russian and foreign, were prevented from working independently.

Woman who executed 1,500 people in WWII
Many years after WWII, the Soviet Interior Ministry and the KGB were still disclosing war crimes and exposed those who assisted the Fascist army. In 1978, the KGB found traces of a Soviet woman who executed partisans and their families by shooting by order of Fascist commanders. Within 1941-1943, Antonina Makarova worked as a machine gunner on the occupied Soviet territory. At that time she was just 20, too young and wishing to stay alive, so she chose to work for Nazis and carried out death sentences, instead of dying when defending the motherland from enemies.

The Red Army routed the million-strong Imperial Japanese Kwantung Army
The Red Army routed the million-strong Imperial Japanese Kwantung Army, the biggest enemy group in Asia and the Pacific, which had 1,155 tanks, 5,360 artillery weapons and 1,800 war planes. The Japanese had set up long-term, multi-level concrete fortifications linked by underground tunnels. The Manchurian strategic offensive conducted by the Soviet troops in the Far East has gone down as one of the brightest pages of WWII war history. The Red Army killed about 84,000 officers and men, took prisoner about 700,000, and lost less than 1% of its troops involved. Neither the Wehrmacht, nor the Anglo-American allies scored such a success in any operation during WWII.
(RIA Novosti)

When Troops Were Advancing To The Elbe
In 1945, Albert Kotzebue was a lieutenant with the 273rd regiment of the 69th infantry division of the 1st US Army. The American and Russian armies met just 75 miles south of Berlin, dividing Germany into two parts and closing the final gap between the Eastern and Western fronts. Kotzebue shared the overwhelming joy. He, then a lieutenant, was in command of the U.S. patrolmen who were the first to shake Russian soldiers' hands on the Elbe. Were his patrolmen really the first to meet with Russians on the Elbe? We cannot be certain, just as we do not know who was the first to hoist the Russian flag on the Reichstag.
(RIA Novosti)

Joseph Beyrle: The Only U.S. Soldier To Fight For Soviets
Joseph Beyrle is believed to be the only soldier to have fought for both the United States and the former Soviet Union during WWII. Mr. Beyrle was among the first paratroopers to land in Normandy, as part of the 101st Airborne Division's 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment. The Germans captured him shortly after he landed. He escaped from a POW camp in Poland and joined a Soviet tank unit headed for Berlin. He fought alongside the Soviets for three weeks or so, and they called him "Joe." He got wounded in the leg along the way, and had to be hospitalized. While he was staying in the hospital, Marshal Georgy Zhukov came over for a visit.
(RIA Novosti)

Saving Private Ivan - Red army's decisive role in defeating Nazi Germany
Operation Bagration began when a Soviet guerrilla army emerged from the forests of Belorussia to launch a surprise attack on the Wehrmacht's rear. The partisan brigades planted 40,000 demolition charges, which devastated the rail lines. 3 days later, on June 22 1944, Marshal Zhukov started the main assault on German front lines. The screams of the Katyusha rockets were followed by the roar of 4,000 tanks and 1.6 million Soviet soldiers. This "great military earthquake" stopped near Warsaw as Hitler rushed elite reserves from western Europe to stem the Red Army. As a result, US and UK troops fighting in Normandy would not have to face the best Panzer divisions.

The man who really beat Hitler - Marshal Georgi Zhukov
Marshal Georgi Zhukov was the commander of the Red Army which came back from near defeat at Stalingrad and pushed the Wehrmacht back to Berlin, where the Nazi regime collapsed. He became a hero in the Soviet Union but Stalin, and later Khrushchev, were so jealous of his stature they forced him into taking a series of dead-end projects and tried to airbrush him out of the history books. By the time of his death in 1974 Marshal Zhukov had been rehabilitated by the Soviets. His leadership during the "Great Patriotic War" is still studied at West Point and Sandhurst, as well as the great Russian military academies.