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The Researchers' Corner Research; the mysterious process which slowly sweeps away the passage of time to reveal the unique history within every award and unit.

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Old 12-23-2003, 08:02 PM   #1
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Why Become a Commissar?

I've often wondered why someone would become a Commissar, instead of remaining in the "combat arms". Most of the time it was due to age, but I just got some research in that has a soldier (who started the war as a "krasnoarmeets', and ended it as a Major!) becoming a Commissar for a different reason. This is a letter that was in his personnel file. Enjoy!


"My request regarding being appointed to do political instruction work in the armoured trains union was passed on to you on November 8 of this year.

As far as my professional experience is concerned, I am a railway electrician. Since 1935, I have been working in the economic, administrative and party lines of work. By my higher education degree, I am a junior aviation specialist.

On 16 July 1941, as a volunteer political instructor/soldier, I was dispatched to the Leningrad Front. I served as a Communications Engineer, and the Commander of the Communications Unit of the 313th Artillery Regiment of the 115th Rifle Division.

In December, I was transferred to the infantry as a Company Political Instructor of the 638th Rifle Regiment, and in January this year, I was appointed the Military Commissar of a Rifle Battalion.

I took part in battles from August to April of this year. On 10 April, I was heavily wounded in my face: My lower jaw was destroyed, and I lost all teeth in the upper jaw. I was discharged from the hospital on 18 October this year.

Possessing a physical impediment (prosthesis in my mouth) I am no longer able to serve in rifle units as I cannot eat solid food, even bite bread crusts, and each time I eat, I have to wash my prosthesis to avoid inflammation.

I am asking you to grant my request as I am familiar with railway service, and I will quickly learn the new type of fighting and will be able to crush the enemy with no lesser strength.

In the beginning of April this year, I was to be attested and appointed Battalion Commander and given the rank of a Captain by the leadership of the 638th Rifle Regiment but I was wounded soon after and was evacuated far away from the front line.

On 7 July this year, according to the order across the units of the 115th Rifle Division and on the order of the Military Council No.284 from 18 June 1942 of the Volkovsk Front I was given the rank of Senior Political Instructor.

I am asking you to honour my request."

Last edited by Dave; 12-23-2003 at 08:13 PM.
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Old 12-24-2003, 03:47 AM   #2
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Thanks for sharing the letter. Another genuine hero of the war!

A few quick points though. The letter is not really about him becoming a commissar as he already was one in effect. He had already been a company politruk (December 41 to April 42) and before that a "volunteer political instructor" - in other words a member of the party cell in his unit.

I would argue that most commisar and politruks did not gain their positions due to age. Instead they usually entered directly as such. They were almost always party functionaries prior to joining/being drafted. They in fact remained part of the party through GLAVPU - the chief directorate of political work which was part of the military but under CPSU control.

Many were older as it was one way they could be drafted or volunteer.

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Old 12-24-2003, 11:01 AM   #3
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That's a nice story.

Thanks for sharing it with us.

"Be civil to all, sociable to many, familiar with few, friend to one, enemy to none." Benjamin Franklin
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Old 12-24-2003, 11:03 AM   #4
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Dear Dave

Very interesting. I have a nice group that goes the other way round.

Col SIROTA, Lev Semenovich (Solomonovitch)

He started life off as a Politruk (1934)
Politruck Instructor (1936) -13th Special Task Air Brigade,
senior Politruck (1939) - 36 Light Tank Brigade
Ass Commander of Political matters (1940) 381 Det Artly Air defence 191 Rif Div
Military Commissar(1941) HQ 125th Rif Div (Leningrad Mill Dist)
Head of Political dept (1942) 55th Det Rif Div (Len Frnt)
from 1943- Feb 1944 on course Vystrel Solnechnogorsk
March 1944 - Commander of Rif Regt - 543 Rif Reg 120 Rif Div (Len Front)

He hold this position till end of war, when he is directed to Moscow for participation in the Victory parade

He was one of the few Commissars that in 1943 was converted to Regimental commander. I think this is a very good fact that attests to his abilities.

He was wounded on 22/8/1941 (heavily)

His awards
Red Star 93645 April 1943 - for political issues
Alexander Nevsky 1468 May 1944 for fighting
Combat service 1523995 1944 for long service
Red Banner 201716 May 1944 - for fighting
Red banner221674 May 1945 for fighting (upgrade of PW 1st class)
Suvorov 3rd class 2453 June 1945 for fighting (downgrade of Bogdan 2nd class)
He then has 2 more long service awards Red star 2918108 and Red banner#3 9645.

I will send some pics

regards to all

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