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tv   American Artifacts World War II Soviet Army  CSPAN  April 6, 2020 3:03pm-3:34pm EDT

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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. army heritage days takes place each may at the u.s. army heritage and education center in carlisle, pennsylvania. hundreds of living history 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. hundredsing h in hundreds of living history
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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 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, 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
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happened on 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, dated may of 1944. the first article in it has to do with the liberation of the 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 push and when you liberate the ukraine, you have 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
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best german troops fighting us. if we hadn't done that, if they hadn't failed that, if we failed at moscow or stollengrad or kurtz, all of those troops could have been on normandy beaches and it could be a different outcome. and the story told is that that is a significant contribution to winning the war that needs to be, if you will, explained to us as americans because we all contributed that, and there's nothing wrong with 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 million 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
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numbers, if you were to cut them in half, that's a lot of people. we it comes to the soviets, for example, at least half -- i'm sorry -- about as many red army soldiers died in one battle in stalingrad as all of the americans killed in action in the entire war. so we could see that is a significant contribution, a part of the story that needs to be told. when it comes to the soviet contribution, the interesting thing that i find that i try to communicate to 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
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or belgium. all of those were underground, okay? they were -- 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 a military fashion. there were, as i say, not only numbers but because of the geography of that place, they could obviously hide, if you will, from the germans. >> an for action behind the german lines a new army was formed. an army without uniforms whose whom was the forest and whose front was the enemy's rear. a 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
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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, he reminded them and 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 growing under the yoke of fascism. >> when you said that, you
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probably didn't mean it. there were either red army soldiers 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 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 or the fact that collectivization cost them tens of thousands of people who died
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of starvation because of that system. but -- oh, by the way, we see that today. that juxtaposition and term between the ukraines and russians and the animosity that they have there. but what happened is that now they realized there was another devil. that is hitler and the nazis. because they are killing people who are -- just because they're slobs. because they're on the low totem pole of the racial nazis project and send them back to yegermany and slave labor. so at that point we're 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
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said, and increase in numbers through that period of time. and most everything they did as an organized group was designed to support the regular army, the red army. okay? and so, for example, they did basically four different things, let's say, as a bipartisan movement. again, three of them in adjunct to or support of the red army. one was to provide intelligence. 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 a 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.
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in this case he wears the camouflage outfit, it is 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 which is 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. rrt? his weapon is the pps 4041. 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 or whatever.
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the scout knife was provided to scouts by the soviet army. and unique thing about it, of course, is it's used in a particular way. as you could see, the knife has a blade edge and non-blade edge. and one would think you use the knife in that manner but a scout is actually trained to use it in one particular way. if you see the hilt, the way 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
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did, for example, were then raids, sabotage. the things that we normally think of guerilla 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 directed from moscow. they knew they were going to be attacked. they were defending against it. orders went out to the various units of the partisan that they should begin attacking the germans' communications, the supply and whatever. and that is what they did. and those would be small unit operations in which you would have, let say, half a dozen man or a dozen men, again, with munitions to go out and blow things up, attack convoys and whatever. the other thing they did is
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raids which were different in the sense of the size and purpose. for example, co-pac ukrainian were directed by stalin, as we called him, the boss. they should conduct a raid down to the carpithian mountains. this would be a unit involving a substantial number of arms, mortars, like machine guns, to draw the germans away to chase them and that was the idea of the raid as opposed to the sabotage. so those are the three things, for example, that the partisans did in support of the army itself. 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
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weapons on this other display. most of them are german. one of them, by the way, is italian. again, an axis ally or ally of the german. even the belt buckle, of course, is german, but the point is the directive was that we were supposed to be self-sufficient. so getting arms, one of the way to do it, of course, was to capture them from the germans and that's exactly -- we used the german supply chain to supply the partisans. even including, as i said, the belt buckle. we adopted it to the soviet union partisan group by covering the swastika with the soviet star. so you're somewhat directive -- that doesn't mean that we weren't provided supplies by the soviet union. we were. but we supplemented them, if you will, to try to be as self-sufficient as possible. when it came to food, though, then had you to go to the collective farms. and you went to the collective
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farms and the theory would be you would bring along your commissar 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. oh, 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 won and comrade stalin is still in 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 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.
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the partisans continued on until 1944, the last operation being the operation of the galathian, which as it indicates in that article we saw, ukraine was libera liberated. they were pushed out of the soviet union. now there is no need for partisans any more because there are no lines to fight behind. so most of the units were disbanded and they were amalgamated into the regular red army units. one of those units that i portray, as i say, one of the other things that i find that is interesting about the soviet contribution, as i said, one of them was the partisan. the other one was calvary. so i represent a calvary and 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
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pants to represent the calvary movement. my hat also, of course, has various combinations of colors. the idea being, again, the blue here and i also have a symbol with the cross sabers. of course, i'm carrying a saber, what they call the shotska. harks back. but there are other types of sabers. and again, calvary men were lightly armored, they were mounted. and the point here, the advantage, the interesting thing about the soviet military in terms of calvary is that they have the large numbers of mounted calvary groups. for example, i might represent the 4th guards cavalry corps. by the way, a guard, he has this medal. what happened, of course, as the war progressed, things changed
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in the military and part of the change was to adopt a -- i'll call it a pre-war 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'd then be distinguished as a guard unit and you would be given better pay and better supplies. so say i'm the 4th guard. the point being, though, as we would take that large mounted farce, again, all they're armored with is pistols, a sword, maybe a poppashaw as we saw earlier, a submachine gun. maybe mortars, maybe light submachine guns. and they would take that corps
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or division and combine it with a mechanized group or mechanized division. so the two of them were a group that worked in tandem. so they w of course, armored with the soviet t-34 and the kv-1 and also some american tanks that were provided under land lease. and the way they would work theoretically, is first of all the cavalry would perform a function since the american revolutionary war, intelligence, recognizance. calvary is sent out and they gain information and bring it back to the commander to use. when they're going to mount an operation, the theory of working together is this -- that the calvary first will come in on the flanks and get into the rear and enter deck, 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
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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 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 the polish cavalry and german cavalry in world war ii, a country that used large groups of mount eed cavalry in 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.
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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 fellows 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. 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 a war to raise money. it was a war bond tour. so that was the soviet contribution to world war ii. >> how do you do this portrayal? >> it is a story that hasn't been told and craig and i enjoy doing things that are just a
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little bit different. and people seem to respond very well to it. these events are always well-attended. to me, it's an interesting story and it's something that doesn't get told a lot. >> what sort of questions, interactions, do you get from the public? >> we get a lot of, oh, i didn't know that. oh. i mean, quite honestly. i learned, 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 and i learn something every time i come and do one of these events. so we get a lot of questions about the spam, actually. >> well, the spam, by the way, represents on our table and part of 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 supply the tanks and the
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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? he'll say, we have potato soup all week. we will say, what is the bad news? he will say, no potatoes. so, thank you, america, for spam to help us substitute for the potato soup during the week. and, again, this is, again, part of our display. you know, the interesting thing, i kind of touched on it a little bit about the regular red army because as i said, our goal is not to describe the red army in detail. there are many re-enactors or living historians like myself who can give a lot of information about the red army. this book, for example, again, down here on my display, emphasizes quite obviously a picture of the red army soldier. over here we have the "life"
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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 star" which, again, depicts partisans to some 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 -- we saw them very seldomly in the movies. excuse me. until the soviet union fell. and then all of a sudden we began to see movies again. for example, again, "defiance."
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about soviet jewish partisans. and many others that came along. but as i was saying about the uniform and about the reference that i'm a guard, when the red army was first organized in the 1920s by trotski, one thing he wanted to do was eliminate the uniform of the past, of the czarist regime. so under the czars, the uniform of a regular soldier would many cases look like the one that i'm wearing. the difference would be the raised collar and they would have endlppilets. so trotski said i want to make it a working man's army. so when you go to work, you don't wear a suit with a raised collar and epillets, you have a
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suit that has a lay-down collar. so as we saw on the front of the book, that is what we call the early war uniform and it was just a simple smock like this with a lay-down collar and all of the rank insignia were on the collar. but there was more and more reference to the past, to the heroics of the military 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-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 there were famous czarist guard units, well now we're going to have elite red army guard units to, again, raise morale and 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,
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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 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 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.
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retaking town after town, soviet forces find the ravaged country left by the nazis. but hitler paid a price for this wanton destruction. that price was more than 5 million nazi soldiers. weeknights this is month, we're featuring american history tv programs as a preview of what is available every weekend on c-span3. monday the national history center which hosts events on
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capitol hill for congressional members and star 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 country for "lectures in history." >> why do you all know who lizzie borden is, and raise your hand if you've ever heard of this murder, the gene 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. >> so we're going to talk about both of these sides of the story here, right? the tools, the techniques, of slaveowner power and we'll also talk about the tools and techniques of power that were
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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 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. next on "american artifacts," we visit a medical tent set up as a world war ii u.s. army battalion aid station, a mobile emergency room that would have been located close to the front lines.


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