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Blood, Fire and Steel 1

Blood, Fire, and Steel

An Institutional Study of the Development of Soviet Armored Forces, 1917 to 1941. By Kevin M. Brisson

Norwich University Masters of Arts in Military History Program, Group 3 Dr. Russ Ramsey May 26, 2006

Blood, Fire and Steel 2

Blood, Fire, and Steel: An Institutional Study of the Development of Soviet Armored Forces, 1917 to 1941. Introduction The fate of the world was fought upon the scar-strewn steppes of Russia from 1941 to 1945, but it was decided decades prior to the German invasion. Adolph Hitlers plan for the conquest of the Soviet Union began on June 22, 1941, with the initiation of a military operation infamously titled by the German General Staff as Operation Barbarossa. It proved a hazardous enterprise, one that he and the German nation were to forever regret. The onerous task of annihilating the Nazi menace was forced upon the beleaguered armored legions of the Red Army. The scale and ferocity with which these tank battles were fought remains unrivalled and historically unprecedented. Though there is

considerable literature on the battles of the Eastern Front, few are devoted to some of the peripheral but critical events preceding this conflict. Moreover, we discover that

compared to what has been written by historians about the Western Front, the amount of attention focused on how the Soviet prepared its military industrial complex for the coming of the Russo-German War is conspicuously smaller. In fact, more work has been devoted to logistical efforts that went into the Normandy Invasion and the Battle of the Bulge than of Kursk or Stalingrad, the latter events inarguably bearing much greater apocalyptic implications for the outcome of World War Two altogether. However, there are legitimate reasons for this, for Walter S. Dunn, Jr. notes, in Hitlers Nemesis: The Red Army, 1930-1945, that Little has been written of the war on the Eastern Front because of a lack of access to Soviet archives. (p.3) Yet, this shortcoming among the historical

Blood, Fire and Steel 3 narratives of Western scholarship must be reviewed and accounted for, if we are to understand World War Two in its totality, for this represents a serious breach in its historiography. This essay does not propose to offer an exhaustive analysis of the Soviet contribution to World War Two; rather, it will endeavor to provide a cursory examination of the institutionalization of the Soviet Armor Program during the interwar years. Exploring the organizations and institutional bodies that labored for the inception and continued success for military mechanization within the Red Army will enable us to put flesh on the bones of statistical analysis and excessive technical detail so reminiscent of works commonly found among discussions of this particular topic. In adhering to the war and history perspective, detailed discussions regarding the more prominent personalities involved will be relinquished in favor of this institutional focus. Lastly, a discussion on the relative value of sources noted in this paper will be brought forth as a way of monitoring what progress has been made thus far in efforts to rectify this gap in historical scholarship.

Early Beginnings of the Soviet Tank Program The Soviet armored program was originally created to consolidate the power of the Bolshevik State. After successfully concluding their war with the reactionary forces of the White Army, the Workers and Peasants Red Army (RKKA) had captured small numbers of tanks, all of whom were of foreign design and manufacture, primarily British and French. Shunned by the nations of the West for having withdrawn from the First World War, the embryonic Soviet government could not import new tanks for the

Blood, Fire and Steel 4 fledgling Red Army as the Czar once could for his own forces. It would have to make its own. What industrial base there was left standing after Russias exit from the Great War was not even capable of providing spare parts and tools for the existing fleet of captured tanks. It became obvious that if the Soviet tank was to forge a future for itself by making a decisive contribution to the offensive capabilities of the RKKA, some semblance of institutional organization would be required.

Centrobron and the RKKA In early recognition of the value and importance in possessing a tank force, the Bolshevik government, via the Peoples Commissariat (Sovnarkom), created the Provisional Armored Board (Centrobron) in November 1917, to take over the avtobronie or armored car department of the RKKA. This ad-hoc committee was involved with

sponsoring conferences devoted to exploring new possibilities of tank design and even offered cash prizes to inspire creative ideas on how to develop an indigenous tank arm. It was not long, however, before the Board was replaced by a new agency called the Revolutionary Military Council (RVS) in 1918, a politically controlled organ of the RKKA.

Revolutionary Military Council (RVS) The Revvoensovet or Revolutionary Military Council (RVS) went one step further than its predecessor in that it established and coordinated a logistical network which provided support to the Soviet Unions existing repertoire of tanks. It also began

recognizing that tanks with certain characteristics were capable of performing specific

Blood, Fire and Steel 5 roles on the battlefield, organizing them into weight categories of large, medium and light. (Bean, p.10). Though it initially failed to develop policies regarding training principles, field maneuvering exercises, technical support, and other elements comprising tactical doctrine, the RVS did, nonetheless, lay the groundwork for how to properly organize armored units for future battles, a system that continued to be seen well into the first half of the twentieth century. However, in terms of jurisdiction and power of authority, it is noted that Questions that were entirely military in nature, involving training, maneuvers, and approval of weapons systems, and any matters not impinging on the rest of the Soviet state and society were generally left to the Revvoensovet to decide. Any questions involving finance, industry, or educationhad to be decided in another forum. For the defense industry in particular, the Revvoensovet could formulate In effect, the

proposals, lobby, and petition but could not make decisions alone.

Revvoensovet had a relatively free hand on strictly military questions but had restricted authority outside that sphere. (Stone, p.19) Tactical innovation and experimentation with mechanized vehicles were not under serious study until cooperation with German military officials under the Rapallo Treaty of 1922. (Zaloga, p.43)

A Fickle but Fruitful Friendship: The Treaty of Rapallo A variety of examined sources confirm that several years prior to the signing of the Treaty of Rapallo, a secret relationship had already formed between the outcast states of Weimar Germany and Soviet Russia within the spheres of industrial-military cooperation. Forbidden to produce arms on any significant scale by the terms dictated in the Versailles Treaty, the German military staff was quite willing to reach a military concordat with

Blood, Fire and Steel 6 Soviet Russia where, outside the limits of Allied control, the organization of war industries, the development of mechanized warfare, the effects of new firepower, the tactical co-operation of different arms and servicescould be studied and developed. (Milsom, p. 25) In exchange, Russia was to receive engineering and technical assistance from Germany in order to re-build a military industrial complex that could meet whatever unpredictable challenges arose from the battlefield, producing the necessary panoply of arms (e.g. tanks) in the numbers needed to confront those unforeseen requirements. It is strangely ironic that Soviet Russia, through Rapallo, became a proving ground for the future Wermacht forces who would later revisit the Soviet Union in 1941 under Barbarossa, marking a grave betrayal that was to find a savage and merciless expression in the character of the Russo-German War.

Vesenkha or The Supreme Council of the National Economy (VSNKh) Among those organizations devoted to the task of fostering greater progress towards Soviet armored power was the Vesenkha or The Supreme Council of the National Economy (VSNKh), led by five Stalinist cohorts in the following succession: Valerian Osinski (1917-1918), Alexei Rykov (1918-1920), Felix Dzerzhinsky (1924-1926), Valerian Kuibyshev (1928-1930), and Sergo Ordzhonikidze (1930-1932). (Stone, p.6) Created by decree on December 15, 1917, Vesenkha was an immensely powerful institution assigned to supervise the advancement of the entire Soviet defense industry. It was authorized to seize and commandeer, by whatever means necessary, the needed manpower and materials required to continue the Bolshevik program of radical rearmament. Such power was vested in VSNKh by the Council of Peoples Commissars,

Blood, Fire and Steel 7 (Sovnarkom) thus making it an adjoining arm of the latter. Alec Nove tells us that VSNKhs mission was The organization of the national economy and state finance. With this object VSNKh elaborates general norms and the plan for regulating the economic life of the country, reconciles, and unites the activities of central and local regulating agenciesVSNKh [is] to have the right of confiscation, requisition, sequestration, compulsory syndication of the various branches of industry, trade and other measures in the area of production, distribution and state finance. (Nove, 2002) Reinforcing this even further is Solokov, who writes: sharp clashesbetween the state and the entrepreneurs and many private establishments working for defense underwent sequestration, opening the way for the subsequent Bolshevik nationalization of factories. (p.1) This method of procurement was typical of early Soviet planning for crash

industrialization, a style of breakneck economic development that was to reach unparalleled intensity during Stalins First (1928-1933) and Second (1933-197) FiveYear Plans. Milsom quotes Only in 1929, when we began to carry the First Five-Year Plan [that] our industry maturednot by days but by hoursdid we have a basic home tank industry. (p.27) What should be mentioned, however, is that State leadership of the VSNKh met infrequently to deliberate over economic matters and was chaired by only 12-15 people at any given time. Yet, in a greater effort to mobilize labor and material resources for the infant Soviet military-industrial complex, the Supreme Council, in 1926, created branches within each Soviet republic called glavki, agencies structured much like VSNKh but with regional authority. The glavki were to deal with the actual problems of establishing control and organization of local industries. Leaders from each glavki would

Blood, Fire and Steel 8 arrange for members of industry to congregate periodically to contemplate matters of economic priority and policy, especially as it related to the future needs of military production. After War Communisms disastrous failure, Lenins New Economic Policy (NEP) from 1921 to 1928 allowed for the temporary collaboration between State-owned industries with private companies from Europe and America, such as the Ford Motor Company. One of the immediate benefits of this erstwhile partnership with these

bourgeois enterprises laid the beginnings of an indigenous Soviet armored program: the creation of an automobile industry. To host an automobile industry capable of producing, in large scale, for the military, armored cars and tanks, it was necessary for the First FiveYear Plan to focus on the establishment of a highly-developed complex of metallurgical, motor-building, electric motor building, automobile, tractor, optical equipment, armament building, ammunition, fuel industries and so on. (Milsom, p.31) There are those who may ask whether or not the VSNKh was successful in its avowed mission to create in Soviet Russia the industrial capacity for automotive production, at least one that could undergo future modification for tank production. The most

appropriate answer would be to note that, with help from the United States, the VSNKh did, in fact, establish automotive factories in numerous Soviet cities: Chelyabinsk Tractor Factory (ChTZ), Gorki Works (GAZ), Stalingrad Tractor Factory (STZ), Bryansk (Molotov), Moscow Spartak Factory (ZIS), Leningrads Red Putilov Factory, Kharkov Locomotive Factory and the Yaroslavl Automobile Factory (YaZ). The speed with which these manufacturing facilities were built was nothing less than impressive, even by Western standards. One scholar notes: Most of the plants were built or reconstructed from 1929 to 1933 as automobile and tractor factories, under technical assistance

Blood, Fire and Steel 9 contracts with American companies. In 1928 the Soviets hired a Detroit architect, Albert Kahn, to design a tractor plant and other buildings. Kahn had designed the Ford River Rouge plant, the largest automotive factory complex in the world, and factories for Chevrolet, Packard, Hudson, Oldsmobile, and Cadillac, Chrysler, and DeSoto automobiles. His designs remain as landmarks scattered across Detroit.The Russians obviously wanted the best. (Dunn, p.126) However, it would take more than the agglomeration of mineral wealth and wide-scale construction of automotive factories to initiate a viable armored program; it would also require an organization dedicated to overcoming other challenges: training of personnel and tank design. This assignment would be given to another subordinate agency, namely the Main Department of War Industry, otherwise known as the GUVP.

The Main Department of War Industry (GUVP) In the spirit of serious efforts to reform the Red Army into a modern fighting machine, the GUVP (Glavno Upravleniy Voennoy Promishlennosti) or the Main Department of War Industry was created in 1926 and was entrusted with the goal of creating a training program for troops selected for service in the armored forces. By 1929, the GUVP issued field regulation manuals regarding the deployment of tanks and spawned two new technical bureaus that would be responsible for experimental tank design: (1) UMM (Upravleniy Mechanizatsiyi i Motorizatsiyi RKKA) or Directorate of the Mechanization and Motorization of the Red Army; (2) VTU (Voennoy-Tekhnicheskoye Upravleniy or Military Technical Directorate). These two agencies were critical in guiding the

production of Soviet armor, for we are told that Further experimentation with actual

Blood, Fire and Steel 10 mechanized units would be required before a clear grasp of the material needs of the Red Army could be formulated. (Zaloga, p.44-46) There were differences between these

two researching bodies, however. Led by Dr. V. Zaslavskiy, VTU would focus on indigenous designs while UMM, under I.A. Khalepskiy, would explore foreign concepts. These technical directorates were limited in vision in that both the viewed the raison detre for tanks as being primarily for the infantry support role in trench warfare. It was

believed that small fast tankettes were ideal for infantry support operations compared to the slow moving behemoths that crawled about the mud-filled battlefields of World War One. Though tankettes were much faster than larger tanks, they were discovered to be unsuitable for the battlefield as they were vulnerable to artillery and small arms fire. This insistence on small fast tanks discouraged the development of heavy tanks for some time until it became apparent that trench warfare would fade before the introduction of the mobile warfare concept. Nonetheless, what was to be salvaged from this reigning mentality at the time was that mobility was crucial to battlefield success, but only when added with the appropriate armor and firepower. Training, on the other hand, would

come from an unlikely ally: the German General Staff at the Kama or Kazan Tank School.

The Kama School Generally referred to by the Germans as the Heavy Vehicle Experimentation and Test Station or by the Soviets as the Kama or Kazan Tank School, this clandestine training facility was founded in 1927 by German General Werner Eduard Fritz von Blomberg to enable joint participation between Soviet and German military officers in the field of tank

Blood, Fire and Steel 11 combat. (Stoecker, p.112) Plans for the school dated back to 1922, but it was not until the consolidation of heavy industry in Soviet Union that the Kama could finally be utilized as a proving ground for German and Soviet tank programs. (Milsom, p.29) This collaboration enabled the school to become the most prolific generator of tactical ideas, field maneuvers, theory, and doctrinal thought, producing profound benefits for both sides. Although the Rapallo Treaty did much to overcome the political obstacles standing in the way of this partnership, there was a degree of reluctance and concern from military officials on both sides. It is known that The Soviets were similarly mistrustful of their German counterparts. Having been bred on the belief that capitalists were untrustworthy and dangerous -- despite the aforementioned Leninist dictate condoning the need to exploit capitalist contradictions -- the Red Army officers found themselves in a very awkward position working and negotiating with their traditional Teutonic foes. Worries as to whether or not the Germans were really telling them the truth and sharing with them all they knew constantly plagued the relationship and probably affected the Soviet assessment of German tactics and weapons. Both the official and personal documentation retrieved from German and Soviet archives indicates that these suspicions persisted throughout the period of collaboration. (Stoecker, p.81) Despite this bizarre

arrangement between these two former adversaries, it was calculated by political leaders from both sides that the rewards would far outweigh the risks. Both developed identical doctrines, which emphasized speed and firepower. For the Germans, this emerged, as blitzkrieg whereas for the Soviets, this same combined arms doctrine would be referred to as Deep Battle. The exchange program at Kama lasted a mere three years but with mutually fruitful results. The closing of the Kazan school closely coincided with the

Blood, Fire and Steel 12 opening of a new training institute, one commissioned to continue Soviet efforts to radically improve its tank projects. The Stalin Academy of Mechanization and Motorization of the Workers and Peasants Red Army (VAMM) Situated in the outer environs of eastern Moscow, the Stalin Academy was created in 1932 to replace the Kazan School in order that all aspects of armored battle could be studied and explored in one location. Its primary directive was to gather into one nucleus the principal agencies of experiment, test, and exploitation of the motorized and mechanized instruments of warfare; to arrive at correct principles of tactics and strategy in the use of motorized vehicles and mechanized equipment in warfare; to train a sufficient number of student officers in these principles so that new methods of warfare might be thoroughly understood throughout the Red Army; and to train...specialists [for] the success of procurement programmes (Milsom, p.37) Yet, VAMM was more

than its stated mission; it represented a clean break from the Soviet Unions former dependence on foreign assistance. Moreover, it assured a positive future for the armored forces of the Soviet Army. Only the most highly selected officers were sent to VAMM, for it became increasingly viewed as an elite institution, churning out top quality graduates schooled in the art of mechanized warfare in the same way Soviet factories were turning out first rate armored vehicles. Shortly after Stalins death in 1953, it was renamed The Malinovsky Tank Academy, in honor of Rodion Malinovsky, one of the Soviet Russias most prominent tank generals of World War Two. It is fitting that such a prestigious academy was named after him, for he was among the few to survive what

Blood, Fire and Steel 13 became one of the greatest disasters in the history of the Soviet tank program: Stalins Red Army Purges. The Great Red Army Purges Though many would view the early Stalinist era as one that discouraged free thought by means of police terror, it was, in actuality, a time of experimentation and invention, at least until the 1930s when the leader embarked on a campaign of repression and murder in what later became known as the Great Purges. In what could only be described as the most coldly calculated and diabolically deliberate plan to commit systematic, indiscriminate murder, on an unimaginable scale, against the most talented leadership of the Red Army, Joseph Stalins purges nearly brought the Soviet Union to the verge of ruin and defeat, heralding a dark age for innovation and personal initiative among the officer corps of all branches of service. The Red Armys armored forces were not immune from suspicion by the Narodnyi Komissariat Vnutrennikh Del (NKVD) or Peoples Commissariat for Internal Affairs. Determined to root out politically questionable elements within all branches of the Red Army, the NKVD liquidated enormous numbers of the best and most able military officers, including those within Soviet Russias armored forces. Moreover, Soviet tank officers,

from the high command down to junior level, were among those who suffered the most. (Conquest, p. 208) Stalins purges did much to destroy years of hard-earned work in the tactical development of armored warfare; but in a strange quirk of fate, the designers of Soviet

Blood, Fire and Steel 14 tanks were left unscathed. Milsom states, In spite of the purges within the [Red] Army, little interference took place in the existing group of Soviet tank designers (the GUVP), and the improvements in tank design projected during 1938-9 were to lead to some excellent machines. There were more and more indications that the Soviet tank designers were competent to turn out some very sound, powerful, and effective military vehicles. Hence, whereas the tactical ideas for the operational use of tanks [were] seemingly fallacious, the correct deductions were made regarding the design of further tank models with greater armour and more powerful armament. (p.52) By sparing the lives of his tank designers, Stalin unwittingly gave the young inexperienced officers who were to face the devastating onslaught of the Wermacht in 1941, a fighting chance much later on by allowing such war-winning tanks, like the T-34 and the KV series, to make their appearance on the battlefield. Though encountered in small numbers during the initial phases of Barbarossa, these Soviet tanks shocked German panzer troops with their outstanding performance; in fact, it would send engineers from Hitlers tank factories scrambling back to the drawing board, to create an armored equivalent capable of challenging what was recognized as superior tanks. It became clear that Soviet tanks were an entire generation ahead of the best armored vehicle the Germans could field; but even in the wake of Barbarossa, Soviet Russia would find itself doing more than display armored vehicles of unsurpassed workmanship. It would perform feats of industrial genius that made obvious to the Nazi invaders, Hitlers underestimation of the potential of Russian military power.

Blood, Fire and Steel 15 To the Urals! The War moves East! In the first few months of Barbarossa, the German Army captured millions of Red Army soldiers while also seizing over seventy-five percent of the Soviet Unions heavy industrial plants, a loss of over 300 factories. (Erickson, p.233) What was initially thought to be a crippling blow to Stalins capacity to maintain military production was later proven incorrect. Stalins foreign minister, Vyachesalv Molotov, created the

Peoples Commissariat for Tank Production (NKTP), to be lead by V.A. Malyshev. Its first step was to issue an emergency ukase or decree which stated that all factories and manufacturing plants based in the Ukraine and Western Russia were to be relocated to the Urals and Western Siberia with immediate haste. Zaloga tells us that the ukase had three primary goals: to re-establish thetank factories in the Urals and restart production as soon as possible; to simplify tank designs as much as possible so as to increase production with unskilled labour [sic], and to cut out redundant tank types. (p.129) Under the watchful eyes of the ever-suspicious NKVD troops, Russian workers, brick by brick, disassembled with reckless speed whole industrial plants to throw upon the beds of trucks and railcars for transfer to the Ural Mountains, from outside the range of the Wermacht and Luftwaffe. The Soviets began calling this effort na kolesakh or What could not be evacuated was either

industries on wheels. (Erickson, p. 233)

demolished or rendered useless to the Germans as part of the typical scorched-earth defense tactics popularly employed by the Soviets throughout the beginning of the war. To understand the degree of importance attached to the NKTPs responsibility for continuing the output of Soviet armor, one need only look to see that In the first half of

Blood, Fire and Steel 16 1941, steel production had been 11.4 million tons, but by the second half of 1942, this had dropped to a mere 3.9 million tons. The only way that tank production could be expanded in the face of these shortages was to sizably cut back production of other goods requiring heavy industrial resources. Production of warships, locomotives, railroad cars, machine tools, and other major steel consuming items was virtually halted by 1942 in favour [sic] of tank production. (Zaloga, pp.128-129) Though not alone in its struggle to perform this colossal task, the NKTP must be given its credit in that it not only managed to successfully relocate the remaining industries from the Ukraine and Western Russia amid the harshest conditions, but that it also ensured that production of tanks began by the end of 1941, a feat that has yet to be repeated among contemporary economic planners since. A rejoinder to this, of course, would be to debate whether or not this could be regarded as a flawless execution of success, for Dunn writes: Finding buildings to house the evacuated factories was a major problem. The central accounting office made an inventory of available spacethe planning staff for the five-year plans, organized the resettlement [while sending] parts of some factories to different locations and combined others into a new enterprise. Some factories were expanded or used to rebuild an existing factory--for example, the tank factories. The factory at Magnitogorsk received machinery from 34 evacuated factories. Other factories relocated in theaters and cultural centers. Despite all efforts, much material and machinery remained in warehouses by the spring of 1942At times, inadequate planning resulted in trains having been loaded with materials and dispatched with no destination to prevent capture by the Germans. These

Blood, Fire and Steel 17 orphan trains moved around the country for long periods because there were no plans to use the equipment and no one knew what to do with them. (p.33) To enforce this order, evacuation committees for each industry were created to supervise the relocation, with each receiving orders from the NKTP who, in turn, reported to the Gosudarstvenny Komitet po Planirovaniyu or State Committee for (Economic) Planning, otherwise called by its abbreviation, Gosplan. Gosplan It ought to be mentioned briefly here that Gosplan played an indirect but vital role in the development and production of Soviet armor. Decreed into existence by Sovnarkom during the Russian Civil War on February 22, 1921, Gosplan transformed Soviet Russia from a market-driven agricultural economy into an industrialized command economy controlled by the State. Its role in the implementation of the First and Second Five-Year Plans did much to ensure that the Soviet armored program received generous allocations of manpower, material wealth and natural resources necessary for its continuation. Gosplan commanded numerous subordinate agencies, which provided it with statistics, banking data, financial information, and monetary reserves. The first economic steps of the Soviet regime were inspired by: (a) ideological considerations promoting collectivist solutions; (b) political considerations aimed at the utmost strengthening of the new regime's central authority; and (c) the practical necessity of assuring the subsistence of the population and satisfying the needs of the army and the administration. (MacAndrew, p.13) Given that the survival of Stalins regime and the fate of the Soviet

Blood, Fire and Steel 18 people rested primarily upon their ability to manufacture tanks in vast quantities, it appeared that this priority aptly met all three criteria listed above. Summary After withdrawing from the Great War, Soviet political and military leaders alike understood that tanks and armored vehicles were going to be a critical component in the projection of future military power. It was also known that just as a viable tank program could only be realized with sound design and technical concepts, its very actualization would involve establishing dynamic organizations devoted to its support. The Soviet Unions beginnings as a state was one wracked with tumultuous and chaotic political conditions, complicated by years of inter-party friction, civil strife and foreign military intervention. Yet, it was this background that encouraged the Soviets to come into partnership with Germany, for though they were former enemies, both were, nonetheless, held as pariahs among the Allied Powers. The Treaty of Rapallo appeared, for a time, as a marriage of convenience between two countries anxious to recover from the ravages of the war. The Germans, humiliated by Versailles, needed to rebuild an army, but from outside the monitoring eyes of the Allies. In exchange for allowing them to perform tactical exercises and for utilizing parcels of land as proving grounds for new experimental weapons on Soviet territory, the Germans would provide the USSR with valuable engineering expertise in the industrial production of armored vehicles. The

Kama school became the focal point of this odd newfound relationship and though collaboration was short-lived, it yielded bountiful results for both, each drawing valuable

Blood, Fire and Steel 19 knowledge and experience in the industrial production and tactical conduct of mobile warfare operations. Long before achieving the ability to independently produce tanks without foreign assistance, proponents of Soviets armor worked diligently to link existing economic instutitutions to the Soviet tank program as a means of guaranteeing its longevity. This included such large and powerful organizations as The Supreme Council of the National Economy (VSNKh), The Main Department of War Industry (GUVP), and The State Planning Committee (Gosplan). The First Five-Year Plan was a collective effort on the

part of many of these economic institutions to create a heavy industrial base capable of producing enormous quantities of tanks and armored vehicles. Political support for Soviet armor development originated from high-ranking bodies, such as Sovnarkom or the NKVD, who wielded and disseminated extraordinary police powers. This fared well for a time for armor enthusiasts among the Red Army staff; however, like the Roman Janus, this same authority proved itself to be as great a danger to them as they were of supporting the tank concept. Though Stalins Purges did much

to set back the valuable lessons learned in the field of armored tactics from collaboration with Germany through the Kazan School, what Red Army tank officers and personnel that survived would eventually go on to see victory in Berlin 1945. Yet, this could not have been achieved had the Soviets not committed themselves headlong into the task of moving their factories before the arrival German forces. Among the most remarkable feats of industrial relocation in the history of the world began within days of Operation Barbarossa. The massive transfer of factories and manufacturing plants from the Ukraine

Blood, Fire and Steel 20 and Western Russia proved ultimately successful, for within six months of the evacuation, tanks were coming off the assembly lines in the Urals. The performance of the T-34 medium tank and the elephantine KV series traumatized German troops at the onset of the war, sending tank technicians scurrying to design and produce an equivalent to the Russian tank unique and highly effective firepower, armor and mobility. It is not likely that Soviet armor would have made such a profound impression on the Wermacht had Stalin decided to destroy the tank programs designers (UMM and VTU) along with those staff officers unfortunate enough to have met their fate through an NKVD firing squad during the height of the Great Purges. The Eastern Front proved to be the ultimate test of Soviet armored development. Battlefield conditions were quick to show what worked and what didnt, not just in terms of armor, firepower and mobility but, more importantly, in organization and institutional support.

A Note on Cited Sources The overall value of sources used in the composition of this paper proved immense but varied. Perhaps the most compelling in its treatment of Soviet armored development was John Milsoms Russian Tanks, 1900-1970. Though somewhat dated, it continues to be among the most thorough works devoted to the subject, for Milsom provides a plethora of detail in his discussion on the institutionalization of Soviet tank production, creating for the reader a lucid understanding of how important organizational deftness, on the part of early Soviet planners, enabled successful designs to revolutionize mobile

Blood, Fire and Steel 21 warfare. It is highly recommended for those interested in learning more about the

earliest beginnings of the Soviet armored program and the pains of its infancy. Another source to rival Milsom is Steven Zaloga and James Grandsens Soviet Tanks and Combat Vehicles of World War Two. As impressive as this book is with its bounty of handsome illustrations and rare photos, it is also remarkable for its historical content and sizable bibliography. Excessive technical jargon is an unfortunate feature of this

narrative; Soviet Tanks and Combat Vehicles is not undone by this, however; in fact, it is strongly fortified by its continuous presentation of highly interesting facts with astounding accuracy, and undeniably worthy of mention given its pervasive presence among numerous citations within a variety of books dealing with this topic. One of the more current sources drawn for this paper was Russian Tanks of World War II: Stalins Armored Might by Will Fowler and Tim Bean. Like Zaloga, there is a bent towards the technical but always correct in its details. The work offers a modern perspective on what institutional motivations lurked behind the many organizational changes affecting the Soviet armored forces. Fowler and Bean identify the origins of the Deep Battle concept, its temporary demise during the Purges and its resurrection shortly after Barbarossa. All in all, Russian Tanks proves exceptional in its comprehensive recounting of an historical military issue yet to receive broad attention among Western scholarship. David Stones Hammer and Rifle: The Militarization of the Soviet Union, 1926-1933, is a invaluable authoritative contribution to those serious in their intent to uncover the nebulous institutional meanderings during initial efforts to create a powerful military

Blood, Fire and Steel 22 industrial base within Soviet Russia. It delves deeply into the political relationship

between the Soviet administrative system and the powerful economic organizations that sought to enforce its policies, especially within the field of defense. It would have unquestionably proven extremely arduous to have dealt with this subject without having consulted this indispensable work. Prior to David Glantzs de facto inheritance as literary leader, John Erickson, prior to his death in 2002, was the reigning authority on Soviet military history during World War Two. The works Professor Erickson left behind could only be described as among the greatest acts of intellectual largesse to this highly neglected field of study. For this paper, his Road to Stalingrad was chosen particularly for his insights into the nature of such mystery and mercurial organizations as Vesenkha (VSNKh) and the NKVD. Though

Erickson is given to the more traditional analytical style of narration, it is, nonetheless, done with considerable panache without succumbing to authorial flamboyance or pedantic embroidery. Lack of exposure to this work would be to reveal a profound shortcoming in ones powers of historical investigation in a realm of study that requires utter clarity and insight. Stumbling Colossus and Colossus Reborn can be said to be among David Glantzs many masterpieces. These tomes offer a highly voluminous account of events leading to the Russo-German War. Both are tightly compacted with detail, backed by unrivalled bibliographies while Reborn is partnered with a separate companion book devoted solely to statistically supporting arguments written in it. The field of Soviet military history is

Blood, Fire and Steel 23 truly fortunate to have among its contributors an author so devoted to producing prolific work of high-grade value.

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Bean, Time and Fowler, Will. (2002). Russian Tanks of World War II: Stalins Armored Might. St. Paul, MN: MBI Publishing Company. Conquest, Robert. University Press. (1991). The Great Terror: A Reassessment. Oxford: Oxford

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