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tv   American Artifacts World War II Soviet Army  CSPAN  April 6, 2020 9:03am-9:34am EDT

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lizzie borden is? and raise your hand if you had ever heard of this murder, the jean harris murder trial before this class. >> the deepest cause, where we'll find the true meaning of the revolution, was in this transformation that took place in the minds of the americans people. >> and so, we're going to talk about both of these sides of this story here, right? the tools, the techniques of slave owner power, and we'll also talk about the tools and techniques of power that were practiced by enslaved people. >> watch history professors lead discussions with their students on topics ranging from the american revolution to september 11th. "lectures in history" on c-span3, every saturday at 8:00 p.m. eastern on american history tv. and "lectures in history" is available as a podcast. find it where you listen to podcasts. army heritage days takes place each may at the u.s. army heritage and education center in carlisle, pennsylvania. hundreds of living history
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hobbyists conduct demonstrations and talk to the public about military subjects ranging from the american revolution to the war on terror. this year's theme was the 75th anniversary of d-day. up next, we visit an exhibit about world war ii soviet soldiers. >> army heritage days is an annual event held in may at the u.s. army heritage and education center in carlisle, pennsylvania. hundreds of living history hobbyists are selected by the center to conduct demonstrations and talk to the public about military subjects ranging from the american revolution to the war on terror. the theme this year was the 75th anniversary of d-day. next, on "american artifacts," we visit an exhibit about world war ii: soviet soldiers. >> my name is craig hall. i basically consider myself an amateur military historian. i do various impressions. and this impression here today
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is to represent the contribution of the soviet union as an ally of the americans and the british to helping them win world war ii. we have to give equal credit to our allies. now, some would say we couldn't have done it by ourselves, but the point is that people ask me, why do i do this impression? and i think because the reason is that we need to tell the story about the eastern front, okay? if you don't understand what happened in the eastern front, you don't understand world war ii. the soviets made a significant contribution to winning that war. now, for example, what i normally do is on my display on the table over here, i have a "national geographic" magazine. it's dated may of 1944. the first article in it has to do with the liberation of the
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ukraine. the point being, the significance of that is that, of course, one month later, we had d-day. and the point, the relationship of the soviet contribution is that as of that date, when we pushed -- when you liberated the ukraine, you have effectively pushed the germans out of your country. so, by that point in time, one month before d-day, we had been occupying 65%, maybe, of the best german troops, fighting us. if we hadn't done that, if they hadn't failed -- if we had failed at moscow or stalingrad or kirsk, all of those troops could have been on the normandy beaches, and it could have been a different outcome. so, the story that has to be told is that's a significant contribution to winning the war that needs to be, if you would, explained to us as americans, because we all contributed. and there's nothing wrong with
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supporting, as we all do -- my father fought in world war ii -- our contribution, but we have to understand the war as a total picture and the eastern front. that's where we need to do it. as well as that strategic advantage, just the numbers, the sacrifice is a story that needs to be told. there were something in the area of 20 to 22 million people who died on the eastern front, half of whom they allege may be military. and even if you don't like those numbers, if you were to cut them in half, that's a lot of people. and when it comes to the soviets, for example, at least half -- i'm sorry, about -- many red army soldiers died in one battle, in stalingrad, as all of the americans killed in action in the entire war. so we can see that that's a significant contribution, a part of the story that needs to be told. when it really comes to, though, the soviet contribution, the interesting thing that i find, that i try to communicate to
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people, is the differences, if you will, in the soviet contribution, as opposed to the british and the americans. and i find there are three significant differences. one of them has to do with the partisan movement. now, the partisan movement in the soviet union as a resistance-type function, is totally different than all of the other resistance in france or belgium. all of those were under ground, okay? they did good things, no doubt about it. for example, the french found a lot of american -- got a lot of american airmen back to london. but in the soviet union, the partisan movement was big, it was well organized, it was organized in the military fashion. there were, as i say, not only numbers, but because of the
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geography of that place, they could, obviously, hide, if you will, from the germans. >> and for action behind the german lines, a new army was formed, an army without uniforms, whose home was the forest and whose front was the enemy's rear, the guerrilla army. a minimum of glory and a maximum of determination. their achievements were seldom recorded. look well at these faces. you will never see them again in the ranks of war prisoners or read their names over heroes' graves. ahead of them lay nothing but the rope and the halter, but they stayed behind and went on fighting. their only goal was merciless destruction. >> now, the partisan movement began in 1941, basically, in terms of its composition, when stalin made his first speech to the people, okay?
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he reminded them, urged them to become partisans, to rise up like the russians did when napoleon invaded russia, referencing back to the history of russia. >> this war is not an ordinary war. it is the war of the entire russian people, not only to eliminate the danger hanging over our heads, but to aid all people groaning under the yoke of fascism. >> now, when he said that, he probably didn't really mean it, because for the first year, the only partisans that were allowed in the partisan movement were either red army soldiers who were caught behind the lines or communist party members. now, in many cases, that wasn't a bad deal, because you weren't getting a lot of other volunteers, especially in places like the ukraine, which were behind the lines, because the ukrainians were initially, when the germans first invaded the ukraine, the ukrainians welcomed
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them, thinking, of course, like in world war i, when the germans came into ukraine and made them an independent nation, that they would again be an independent nation. i think after about a year, they began to realize that they have two devils -- stalin on the one hand, because they don't like the soviet system, they don't like the fact that it cost them tens of thousands of people who died of starvation because of that system. by the way, we also, of course, see that today, that juxtaposition in terms of, between the ucranes and the russians and the animosity that they have there. but what happened is that now they realize there is another devil, that is hitler and the nazis, because they are killing people who are, just because they are slavs, because they're on the low totem pole, if you will, of the racial identity that the nazis project.
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and they send their young back to germany as slave laborers. so, at that point now, we were able to get people to join the partisan movement. and in the soviet union -- in moscow, the leader of the partisan bureaucracy finally convinced stalin that he should actually issue an order that would now open the partisan movement to all people of the soviet union, whether they were red army or communist party members. so, they began to move, as i said, and increase in numbers through that period of time. and most everything they did as an organized group was design to support the regular army, the red army, okay? and, so, for example, they did basically four different things, let's say, as a partisan movement. again, three of them in adjunct to or in support of the red army. one was to provide intelligence.
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now, again, on my table over here, we have a picture, okay? and this picture depicts one of those elements. a red army scout dressed in the camouflage uniform is consulting with partisan members. so, moving back over here to this display, we then see parts of the uniform and equipment that he would have worn. in this case, he wears the camouflage outfit. it's in this case a leaf pattern, as opposed to what they call the amoeba pattern in that picture. he's lightly dressed with that. he doesn't have a helmet. he has a soft cap. he has a bag with his backpack with a few items in it. that's his map case. he has binoculars. he has a canteen. he has a belt and his compass,
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all right? his weapon is the popper shah or the pps-41. again, lightly dressed. this is what he does. he provides intelligence. also, i have another element that he would be carrying, and this is the scout knife. very few red army soldiers were provided with knives of any sort, unlike the americans who had things like the k. bar and whatever. the scout knife was provided to scouts by the soviet army. and the unique thing about it, of course, is it -- is it's used in a particular way. as you can see, the knife has a blade edge and a nonblade edge, and one would think you would use a knife in that manner. but a scout is actually trained to use it in one particular way. and if you see the hilt, the way
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that it fits my fingers, it is designed for two motions. one motion is across the neck from behind, and the other one is from the bottom and up. it's designed to be lethal, quick, and silent, which is the role of the scout, not to be discovered, to take his intelligence back to the main red army. unobserved. the other thing that partisans did, for example, were then raids, sabotage, the things that we normally think of guerrilla fighters being involved in, sabotage. one of the more significant ones was what they called the railroad war, as part of the battle of kirsk. again, the partisan movement is being driven from moscow. there is a bureaucracy in moscow. they knew about the battle of kursk. they knew they were going to be attacked. they were defending against it. so orders went out to all of the
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various units of the partisan that they should begin attacking the germans' communications, the supply and whatever, and that's what they did. and those would be small, unit operations in which you would have, let's say a half dozen men or a dozen men, again, with munitions to go out and blow things up, attack convoys and whatever. the other thing they did is raids, which were different in the sense of the size and purpose. for example, the codpak ukrainian partisans were actually directed by stalin, as we called him, the boss, that they should conduct the raid down to the car pithan mountains, and this would be a unit involving something like 700 partisans, which is a substantial number of arms, mortars, machine guns, to draw the germans away, to chase them. and that was the idea of the
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raid, as opposed to the sabotage. so, those are the three things, for example, that the partisans did in support of the army. the other thing the partisans did is they represented the government of the soviet union to the people behind the lines. for example, one of the directives, by the way, as an aside -- over, again, to my display. you'll note here a number of weapons on this other display. most of them are german. one of them, by the way, is italian. again, an axis ally, or an ally of the german. even the belt buckle, of course, is german. but the point is that the directive was that we were supposed to be self-sufficient. so, getting arms, one way to do it was, of course, capture them from the germans. and that's exactly -- we used the germans' supply chain to supply the partisans, even including, as i said, the belt buckle, but we adopted it to the
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soviet union partisan group by covering the swastika with the soviet star. so, your somewhat directive -- now, that doesn't mean that we weren't provided supplies by the soviet union. we were. but we supplemented them, as you will, to try to be as self-sufficient as possible. when it came to food, though, then you had to go to the collect of farms. and you went to the collect of farms, and the theory would be, you would bring along your convisar or political officer, and he would talk to the people. he would say, "you must give food to the partisans because they are fighting to support the motherland, just like your motherland." and by the way, a speech of giving support, if you will, and motivation and confidence to the people about the fact that the war is going to be run and comrade stalin is still in
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moscow, and we're going to win. but then also probably a directive, a warning -- do not give aid to fritz, as they were called, the germans. if you collaborate and give aid, you might be given permanent discipline. and we know, of course, permanent discipline would involve a firing squad. and sometimes, the partisans did have to exercise that kind of discipline in terms of representing the government. the partisans continued on until 1944, the last operation being the operation in which as it indicates in that article we saw, ukraine was liberated. they were pushed out of the soviet union. now there's no need for partisans anymore because there are no lines to fight behind. so, most of the units were disbanded, and they wrl amalgamated into the regular red
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army units. one of those units that i portray -- as i say, one of the other things that i find is interesting about the soviet contribution is, as i said, one of them was the partisan. the other one was cavalry. so, i represent a cavalry, in my case, a cavalry sergeant. my uniform is a fairly standard, late-war uniform, we'll call it. i have my red stripe on my pants to represent the cavalry movement. my hat also, of course, has various combinations of colors, the idea being, again, the blue on my epilets and i also have a symbol with the cross sabres. and of course, i am carrying a saber, what they call the shoshga, which harps back to the
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kosaks, all right? but there were other types of sabers. and again, cavalry men were lightly armored. they were mounted. and the point here, the advantage, the interesting thing about the soviet military in terms of cavalry is that they had these large numbers of mounted cavalry groups. for example, i might represent the fourth guard's cavalry corps. oh, by the way, a guard, he has this medal. what happened, of course, is as the war progressed, things changed in the military. and part of the change was to adopt a -- i'll call it a prewar set of medals and uniform. and so, in the times of the czars, there were elite units, guard units. so, when you were a unit that did something very good, notable, probably heroic, you would then be distinguished as a guard unit, and you would be given better pay and better
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supplies. and so, let's say i'm the fourth guard. the point being, though, is we would take that large, mounted force -- again, all they're armored with is pistols, a sword, maybe a poppashah as we saw earlier, that submachine gun, maybe mortars, maybe light submachine guns. but they would then take that corps or division, and they would combine it with a mechanized group or a mechanized division. so, the two of them were a group that worked in tandem. so, they were, of course, armored with the soviet t-34, the kv-1, and also some american tanks that were provided under lend-lease. and the way they would work, theoretically, is, first of all, the cavalry would perform a function which cavalry had been provided since the american revolutionary war -- intelligence, reconnaissance. cavalry is sent out. they gain information. they bring it back to the
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commander to use. when they're going to mount an operation, the theory of their working together is this, that the cavalry first will come in on the flanks and then get into the rear. they will enter the supply, transportation, attack headquarters, cause turmoil in the rear. and as they're doing that -- again, trying to extricate themselves because they're many times outnumbered and outgunned -- is then the mechanized part of the team hits the front, and that causes the germans to respond to that, giving time for the cavalry to escape. and then, therefore, accomplishing their purpose of surprise and causing turmoil in the rear. now, that's the theory. didn't always work. there are certain battles where, unfortunately, the mechanized group didn't get there fast enough and cavalry units were pretty badly mauled up. but that, as i say, is a very unique part. outside of like the polish cavalry and the german cavalry in world war ii, a country that used large groups of mounted
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cavalry in a somewhat very effective manner. the other big thing or important thing, i think, about the soviet contribution, is the use of women in combat. and with that, i'll turn it over to -- do you want to introduce yourself? >> yes. my name is sheryl williams. and i am representing the female contribution to the soviet effort in world war ii. i guess just to start off, just to let you know, the soviets were actually unique at that time in their desire and ability to include women in combat. so, the women served as medics. they served as tank drivers. they served as pilots. they were actually called not quite so affectionately by the germans, they were called the night witches. the fellas would bomb the germans during the day, and the ladies would come in at night and bomb them at night. therefore, they were called the night witches.
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also, most flamboyantly and most famously, there were the women snipers, the soviet women snipers. and they were lethal and very effective. one of them actually went on tour with eleanor roosevelt during the war to raise money. it was a war bond tour. so, that is the female contribution, the soviet contribution to world war ii. >> how do you do this portrayal thing? >> it's something that isn't done a lot. it's really a story that hasn't been told. and we, typically, craig and i enjoy doing things that are just a little bit different. and people seem to respond very well to it. these events are always well attended. it's -- to me, it's an interesting story and it's something that doesn't get told a lot. >> what sorts of questions and reactions do you get from the public? >> we get a lot of, "oh, i didn't know that!" "oh!" i mean, quite honestly. i'll tell you something, conversely, i learn something every time i do this. i learn from the people who come. i learn from my partner here. i learn something every time i come and i do one of these
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events. so, we get a lot of questions about the spam, actually. >> well, the spam, by the way, represents on our, if you will, our table and our scenario, the fact that we, of course, were an ally of the united states and britain, and it represents lend-lease, that we were provided supplies, both military and non, to help us fight the germans, everything from spam to tanks for locomotives. the interesting thing about the spam, of course, we also like to add a little humor to our presentation. so, i'll tell you the bad joke. for example, we say some mornings the cook will come to the troops and say, "i have good news and bad news." and we will say, "well, what is the good news?" and he will say, "we have potato soup all week!" and we'll say "what is the bad news?" and he'll say, "no potatoes." so, thank you, america, for spam, for helping us substitute for potato soup during the week. and again, this is again part of
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our display. the interesting thing -- i kind of touched on it a little bit, about the regular red army. but as i said, our goal here is not to describe the red army in detail. there are many re-enactors or living historians like myself who could give a lot of information about the red army. this book, for example, again, down here on my display, emphasizes, obviously a picture of the red army soldier. over here, we have the "life" magazine, 1944. that's a red army soldier in the "life" magazine. again, we were allies. we were -- even to the point of being in the movies! you probably heard of this fellow, gregory peck. well, this is his first movie, and it's about red army partisans. and of course, he dies a noble death fighting for the soviet union. and then over here is also another one called "the north
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star," which, again, depicts partisans to come degree. containing many of the famous actors and actresses of the 1940s. but of course, 1945 -- we have to say, after 1945, things changed. the soviets became our enemies. we saw them very seldom in the movies, until the soviet union fell. and then, all of a sudden, we began to see movies again. for example, again, "defiance," about soviet jewish partisans, and many others that came along. but as i was saying about the uniform and about the reference that i am a guard -- the red army was first organized in the 1920s by trotsky. one thing he wanted to do is to eliminate the uniform of the past, of the czarist regime. and so, under the czars, the uniform of a regular soldier
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would many cases look very much like the one i'm wearing. the difference being, for example, they would have the raised collar and they would have epilets. so, trotsky took the red army and said i want to make it a working man's army. so, when you go to work, you don't wear a suit that has a raised collar and epi lets. you have a suit that has a laydown collar. so as we saw on the front of that book, that was what we called the early war uniform. and it was just a simple smock like this with a laydown collar, and all the rank and insignia were on the collar. but as the war progressed, as i suggested, there was more and more reference to the past, to the heroics of the military achie achievements under the czars. so, a lot of the changes were made to kind of encourage that, to reinforce that. so, later on during the war, the uniform was now changed back to, in a sense, the czarist-looking
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type uniform with the boards and the raised collar, okay? again, the medals came back. medals were prolific. as i said, the guard medal, the idea of there were famous czarist guard units. well, now we're going to have elite red army guard units, to, again, raise morale, encourage the men to fight. so, i guess i'd like people to take away from this -- i'll give -- i will say, for example, that c-span is a source of much of the information that we use in our hobby. and i've heard numerous occasions on various historical presentations made on c-span by the professional historians about how we downplay or we don't say enough about the soviet contribution to winning world war ii and the story of the soviets in world war ii. and with that, i guess i'd like
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people to take away that story and understand that it was a significant contribution, both in terms of its strategic impact on winning the war as well as the total and great sacrifice that the soviets incurred in winning that war. >> the war in russia enters its third year with soviet armies pounding the nazis from the black sea to the baltic. >> retaking town after town, soviet forces find the ravaged country left by the nazis.
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but hitler paid a price for this wanton destruction. that price was more than 5 million nazi soldiers. weeknights this month, we're featuring american history tv programs as a preview of what's available every weekend on c-span3. tonight, the national history center, which hosts events on capitol hill for congressional members and staff to learn the history behind contemporary issues. we begin with scholars from rice and georgetown universities and the u.s. naval war college on the role of middle east oil in american foreign policy since the end of world war ii. american history tv, this week and every weekend on c-span3. every saturday night, american history tv takes you to college classrooms around the
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country for "lectures in history." >> why do you all know who lizzie borden is, and raise your hand if you had ever heard of this murder, the jean harris murder trial, before this class? >> the deepest cause where we'll find the true meaning of the revolution was in this transformation that took place in the minds of the american people. >> and so, we're going to talk about both of these sides of this story here, right? the tools, the techniques of slave owner power. and we'll also talk about the tools and techniques of power that were practiced by enslaved people. >> watch history professors lead discussions with their students on topics ranging from the american revolution to september 11th. "lectures in history" on c-span3, every saturday at 8:00 p.m. eastern on american history tv and "lectures in history" is available as a podcast. find it where you listen to podcasts. >> army heritage days is an annual event held in may at the u.s. army heritage and


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