Viktor Suvorov Icebreaker Who Started World War Two - Fair use statement. This piece of literature is provided under conditions of fair use. Viktor Suvorov Translated by Thomas B. Beattie HAMISH HAMILTON London For my brother Hamish Hamilton Ltd Published by the Penguin Group 27 Wrights. Viktor Suvorov, 11 books A. V. Isaev, 3 books. Dmitriĭ Khmelʹnit︠s︡kiĭ, 2 books. Vladimir Gryzun, 1 book A. A. Pomogaĭbo, 1 book. Gabriel Gorodetsky, 1 book.
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Download as PDF, TXT or read online from Scribd Viktor Suvorov commanded a tank company. Viktor Suvorov is in his thirties and now lives in the West. spetznaz, viktor suvorov - Free download as PDF File .pdf), Text File .txt) or read online for free. Vladimir Bogdanovich Rezun known as Viktor Suvorov (Russian: Ви́ктор Суво́ров), is a . Print/export. Create a book · Download as PDF · Printable version.
A critical piece of evidence in this regard is his speech of August 19, , recently uncovered in Soviet archives quoted in part in the Nov. In it, Lenin's heir states: The experience of the last 20 years has shown that in peacetime the Communist movement is never strong enough to seize power.
The dictatorship of such a party will only become possible as the result of a major war Later on, all the countries who had accepted protection from resurgent Germany would also become our allies. We shall have a wide field to develop the world revolution Furthermore, and as Soviet theoreticians had always insisted, Communism could never peacefully coexist over the long run with other socio-political systems.
Accordingly, Communist rule inevitably would have to be imposed throughout the world. So integral was this goal of "world revolution" to the nature and development of the "first workers' state" that it was a cardinal feature of the Soviet agenda even before Hitler and his National Socialist movement came to power in Germany in Stalin elected to strike at a time and place of his choosing.
To this end, Soviet development of the most advanced offensive weapons systems, primarily tanks, aircraft, and airborne forces, had already begun in the early s. To ensure the success of his bold undertaking, in late Stalin ordered the build up a powerful war machine that would be superior in quantity and quality to all possible opposing forces.
His first secret order for the total military-industrial mobilization of the country was issued in August A second total mobilization order, this one for military mobilization, would be issued on the day the war was to begin. Disappointment The German "Barbarossa" attack shattered Stalin's well-laid plan to "liberate" all of Europe.
The Soviet premier could regard "merely" defeating Germany and conquering eastern and central Europe only as a disappointment. According to Suvorov, Stalin revealed his disappointment over the war's outcome in several ways. First, he had Marshal Georgi Zhukov, not himself, the supreme commander, lead the victory parade in Second, no official May 9 victory parade was even authorized until after Stalin's death.
Third, Stalin never wore any of the medals he was awarded after the end of the Second World War. Fourth, once, in a depressed mood, he expressed to members of his close circle his desire to retire now that the war was over.
Fifth, and perhaps most telling, Stalin abandoned work on the long-planned Palace of Soviets. An Unfinished Monument The enormous Palace of Soviets, approved by the Soviet government in the early s, was to be 1, feet tall, surmounted with a statue of Lenin feet in height -- taller than New York's Empire State Building.
It was to be built on the site of the former Cathedral of Christ the Savior. On Stalin's order, this magnificent symbol of old Russia was blown up in -- an act whereby the nation's Communist rulers symbolically erased the soul of old Russia to make room for the centerpiece of the world USSR.
All the world's "socialist republics," including the "last republic," would ultimately be represented in the Palace. The main hall of this secular shrine was to be inscribed with the oath that Stalin had delivered in quasi-religious cadences at Lenin's burial. It included the words: "When he left us, Comrade Lenin bequeathed to us the responsibility to strengthen and expand the Union of Socialist Republics.
We vow to you, Comrade Lenin, that we shall honorably carry out this, your sacred commandment. The Official View For decades the official version of the German-Soviet conflict, supported by establishment historians in both Russia and the West, has been something like this: Hitler launched a surprise "Blitzkrieg" attack against the woefully unprepared Soviet Union, fooling its leader, the unsuspecting and trusting Stalin.
In this treacherous attack, which was an important part of Hitler's mad drive for "world conquest," the "Nazi" or "fascist" aggressors initially overwhelmed all resistance with their preponderance of modern tanks and aircraft. This view, which was affirmed by the Allied judges at the postwar Nuremberg Tribunal, is still widely accepted in both Russia and the United States. In Russia today, most of the general public and not merely those who are nostalgic for the old Soviet regime , accepts this "politically correct" line.
Doomed from the Start Contrary to the official view that the Soviet Union was not prepared for war in June , in fact, Suvorov stresses, it was the Germans who were not really prepared. Germany's hastily drawn up "Operation Barbarossa" plan, which called for a "Blitzkrieg" victory in four or five months by numerically inferior forces advancing in three broad military thrusts, was doomed from the outset. Moreover, Suvorov goes on to note, Germany lacked the raw materials including petroleum essential in sustaining a drawn out war of such dimensions.
Another reason for Germany's lack of preparedness, Suvorov contends, was that her military leaders seriously under-estimated the performance of Soviet forces in the Winter War against Finland, They fought, it must be stressed, under extremely severe winter conditions -- temperatures of minus 40 degrees Celsius and snow depths of several feet -- against the well-designed reinforced concrete fortifications and underground facilities of Finland's "Mannerheim Line.
It is always a mistake, Suvorov emphasizes, to underestimate your enemy. But Hitler made this critical miscalculation. In , after the tide of war had shifted against Germany, he admitted his mistaken evaluation of Soviet forces two years earlier. Tank Disparity Compared To prove that it was Stalin, and not Hitler, who was really prepared for war, Suvorov compares German and Soviet weaponry in mid, especially with respect to the all-important offensive weapons systems -- tanks and airborne forces.
It is a generally accepted axiom in military science that attacking forces should have a numerical superiority of three to one over the defenders. Yet, as Suvorov explains, when the Germans struck on the morning of June 22, , they attacked with a total of 3, tanks, while the Soviet defenders had a total of 24, tanks -- that is, Stalin had seven times more tanks than Hitler, or 21 times more tanks than would have been considered sufficient for an adequate defense.
Moreover, Suvorov stresses, the Soviet tanks were superior in all technical respects, including firepower, range, and armor plating. As it was, Soviet development of heavy tank production had already begun in the early s. For example, as early as the Soviets were already turning out in series production, and distributing to their forces, the T model, a ton heavy tank with three cannons, six machine guns, and mm armor plating.
By contrast, the Germans began development and production of a comparable ton tank only after the war had begun in mid By the Soviets had already added three heavy tank models to their inventory. Moreover, the Soviets designed their tanks with wider tracks, and to operate with diesel engines which were less flammable than those using conventional carburetor mix fuels. Furthermore, Soviet tanks were built with both the engine and the drive in the rear, thereby improving general efficiency and operator viewing.
German tanks had a less efficient arrangement, with the engine in the rear and the drive in the forward area. When the conflict began in June , Suvorov shows, Germany had no heavy tanks at all, only medium tanks, and just 2, light, inferior tanks.
For their part, the Soviets at the outbreak of the war had at their disposal tanks that were not only heavier but of higher quality. The Russian officers in question firmly refused to believe that the Panzer IV was in fact our heaviest tank. They said repeatedly that we must be hiding our newest models from them, and complained that we were not carrying out Hitler's order to show them everything.
The military commission was so insistent on this point that eventually our manufacturers and Ordnance Office officials concluded: "It seems that the Russians must already possess better and heavier tanks than we do.
On June 24, -- just two days after the outbreak of the German-Soviet war: The Russians introduced their giant Klim Voroshilov tanks into action near Raseiniai [Lithuania]. Models weighing 43 and 52 tons surprised the Germans, who found the KVs nearly unstoppable.
One of these Russian tanks took 70 direct hits, but none penetrated its armor. In short, Germany took on the Soviet colossus with tanks that were too light, too few in number, and inferior in performance and fire power. And this disparity continued as the war progressed. In alone, Soviet factories produced 2, heavy tanks, while the Germans produced just Suvorov sarcastically urges establishment military historians to study a book on Soviet tanks by Igor P. The work of an honest amateur military analyst such as Shmelev, one who is sincerely interested in and loves his hobby and the truth, says Suvorov, is often superior to that of a paid government employee.
Airborne Forces Disparity Even more lopsided was the Soviet superiority in airborne forces. By mid the Soviet military had trained hundreds of thousands of paratroopers Suvorov says almost a million for the planned attack against Germany and the West. These airborne troops were to be deployed and dropped behind enemy lines in several waves, each wave consisting of five airborne assault corps VDKs , each corps consisting of 10, men, staff and service personnel, an artillery division, and a separate tank battalion 50 tanks.
Suvorov lists the commanding officers and home bases of the first two waves or ten corps. The second and third wave corps included troops who spoke French and Spanish.
There is fragmentary information about their tactics and training. But it is known, for example, that one of the training schools was situated in Kiev. It was a secret school and operated under the disguise of a parachute club, while being completely under the control of the Razvedupr GRU. It included a lot of women. It is known that terrorist techniques were already well advanced.
For example, a mine had been developed for blowing up railway bridges as trains passed over them. However, bridges are always especially well guarded, so the experts of the Razvedupr and the Engineering Directorate of the Red Army produced a mine that could be laid on the tracks several kilometres away from the bridge. A passing train would pick up the mine which would detonate at the very moment when the train was on the bridge.
To give some idea of the scale of the VDV, on manoeuvres in men were dropped simultaneously by parachute. At the famous Kiev manoeuvres in no less than airborne troops were dropped at once, followed by a normal landing of men with light tanks, armoured cars and artillery. In Belorussia in there was an air drop of troops and a landing of men with heavy weapons. Large-scale and well armed airborne attacks were always accompanied by the dropping in neighbouring districts of commando units which operated both in the interests of the security of the major force and in the interests of Razvedupr.
In the Soviet Union had six airborne brigades with a total of 18, men. In these clubs had parachute towers from which members made up to half a million jumps, adding to their experience by jumps from planes and balloons. Many Western experts reckon that the Soviet Union entered the Second World War with a million trained parachutists, who could be used both as airborne troops and in special units -- in the language of today, in spetsnaz.
A continual, hotly contested struggle was going on in the General Staff of the Red Army. On what territory were the special detachments to operate -- on the enemy's territory, or on Soviet territory when it was occupied by the enemy?
For a long time the two policies existed side by side. Detachments were trained to operate both on home territory and enemy territory as part of the preparations to meet the enemy in the Western regions of the Soviet Union. These were carried out very seriously. First of all large partisan units were formed, made up of carefully screened and selected soldiers. The partisans went on living in the towns and villages, but went through their regular military training and were ready at any moment to take off into the forests.
The units were only the basis upon which to develop much larger-scale partisan warfare. In peacetime they were made up largely of leaders and specialists; in the course of the fighting each unit was expected to expand into a huge formation consisting of several thousand men. For these formations hiding places were prepared in secluded locations and stocked with weapons, ammunition, means of communications and other necessary equipment.
Apart from the partisans who were to take to the forests a vast network of reconnaissance and commando troops was prepared. The local inhabitants were trained to carry out reconnaissance and terrorist operations and, if the enemy arrived, they were supposed to remain in place and pretend to submit to the enemy, and even work for him. These networks were supposed later to organise a fierce campaign of terror inside the enemy garrisons.
To make it easier for the partisans and the terrorists to operate, secret communication networks and supplies were set up in peacetime, along with secret meeting places, underground hospitals, command posts and even arms factories. This was a strip running the length of the Western frontiers of the Soviet Union between and kilometres wide. Within that strip all bridges, railway depots, tunnels, water storage tanks and electric power stations were prepared for destruction by explosive.
Means of communication, telephone lines, even the permanent way, all were prepared for destruction. At the same time the partisans would be constantly attacking him in the rear. It was a magnificent defence system. Bearing in mind the vast territories involved and the poor network of roads, such a system could well have made the whole of Soviet territory practically impassable for an enemy.
But -- in the Ribbentrop-Molotov pact was signed. The Pact was the signal for a tremendous expansion of Soviet military strength. Everything connected with defence was destroyed, while everything connected with offensive actions was expanded at a great rate, particularly Soviet sabotage troops and the airborne troops connected with them. In April five airborne corps were formed. All five were in the first strategic echelon of the Red Army, three facing Germany and two facing Rumania.
The latter were more dangerous for Germany than the other three, because the dropping of even one airborne corps in Rumania and the cutting off, even temporarily, of supplies of oil to Germany meant the end of the war for the Germans.
Five airborne corps in was more than there were in all the other countries of the world together. But this was not enough for Stalin. There was a plan to create another five airborne corps, and the plan was carried out in August and September But in a defensive war Stalin did not, of course, need either the first five or the second five. In a war on one's own territory it is far easier during a temporary retreat to leave partisan forces or even complete fighting formations hidden on the ground than it is to drop them in later by parachute.
But Stalin had destroyed such formations, from which one can draw only one conclusion; Stalin had prepared the airborne corps specifically for dropping on other people's territory. At the same time as the rapid expansion of the airborne forces there was an equally rapid growth of the special reconnaissance units intended for operations on enemy territory.
The great British strategist and historian B. Germany had thrown all her forces against France at that time, and the Soviet Union rushed troops into the Baltic states and Bessarabia. The airborne troops especially distinguished themselves. In June the th Soviet airborne brigade was dropped with the idea of seizing a group of aerodromes in the region of Shaulyai in Lithuania, under a hundred kilometres from the East Prussian border. In the same month the st and th airborne brigades were dropped in Bessarabia to capture the towns of Ismail and Belgrad-Dnestrovsky.
This was close by the Ploesti oilfields. The Indirect Approach, p. It is easy to understand why Hitler took the decision in that next month, July , to prepare for war against the USSR. It was quite impossible for him to move off the continent of Europe and into the British Isles or Africa, leaving Stalin with his huge army and terrifying airborne forces which were of no use to him for anything but a large-scale offensive.
Hitler guessed rightly what Stalin's plans were, as is apparent from his letter to Mussolini of 21 June In this case we probably can. The letter was not intended for publication and was never published in Hitler's lifetime. It is interesting in that it repeats the thought that Stalin had voiced at a secret meeting of the Central Committee. Moreover, in his speech at the 18th Congress of the Soviet Communist Party Stalin had had this to say about Britain and France; In their policy of nonintervention can be detected an attempt and a desire not to prevent the aggressors from doing their dirty work Stalin wanted Europe to exhaust itself.
And Hitler understood that. But he understood too late. He should have understood before the Pact was signed. The concentration of Soviet force is enormous All available Soviet armed forces are now on our border It is quite possible that Russia will try to destroy the Rumanian oilfields.
However, Hitler still managed to upset Stalin's plans by starting the war first. The airborne corps were used as ordinary infantry against the advancing German tanks.
The many units and groups of airborne troops and commandos were forced to retreat or to dig trenches to halt the advancing German troops. The airborne troops trained for operations in the territory of foreign countries were able to be used in the enemy's rear, but not in his territory so much as in Soviet territory occupied by the German army. The reshaping of the whole philosophy of the Red Army, which had been taught to conduct an offensive war on other people's territory, was very painful but relatively short.
Six months later the Red Army had learnt to defend itself and in another year it had gone over to offensive operations. From that moment everything fell into place and the Red Army, created only for offensive operations, became once again victorious.
The process of reorganising the armed forces for operations on its own territory affected all branches of the services, including the special forces. At the beginning of thirteen guards battalions6 of spetsnaz were organised in the Red Army for operations in the enemy's rear, as well as one guards engineering brigade of spetsnaz, consisting of five battalions. The number of separate battalions corresponded exactly to the number of fighting fronts.
Each front received one such battalion under its command. A guards brigade of spetsnaz remained at the disposal of the Supreme Commander-in-Chief, to be used only with Stalin's personal permission in the most crucial locations. These included spetsnaz detachments. Only a very limited circle of people knew what the name concealed. Each department had at its disposal a battalion of spetsnaz. Later the special razvedka departments began recruiting spetsnaz agents in territories occupied by the enemy.
Subsequently each special razvedka department was provided with a reconaissance point of spetsnaz to recruit agents.
The guards brigade of spetsnaz was headed by one of the outstanding Soviet practitioners of fighting in the rear of the enemy -- Colonel later Lieutenant-General Moshe Ioffe. The number of spetsnaz increased very quickly.
In unclassified Soviet writings we come across references to the 16th and the 33rd engineering brigade of spetsnaz. Apart from detachments operating behind the enemy's lines, other spetsnaz units were formed for different purposes: It is known that from there existed the th, st, nd and th independent radio battalions of spetsnaz.
They usually turned up behind the enemy's lines in small groups. Sometimes they operated independently, at others they combined their operations with the partisans. These joint operations always benefited both the partisans and spetsnaz. The minelayers taught the partisans the most difficult aspects of minelaying, the most complicated technology and the most advanced tactics.
When they were with the partisans they had a reliable hiding place, protection while they carried out their operation, and medical and other aid in case of need. The partisans knew the area well and could serve as guides. It was an excellent combination: The principal way of transporting them behind the enemy's lines was to drop them by parachute.
Their return was carried out by aircraft using secret partisan airfields, or they made their way by foot across the enemy's front line.
The high point in the partisan war against Germany consisted of two operations carried out in As a result of spetsnaz work the partisan movement had been taught the latest methods of warfare and the most advanced techniques of sabotage. It was a very fortunate time to have chosen. It was at that moment when the Soviet forces, having exhausted the German army in defensive battles at Kursk, themselves suddenly went over to the offensive. To support the advance a huge operation was undertaken in the rear of the enemy with the object of paralysing his supply routes, preventing him from bringing up ammunition and fuel for the troops, and making it impossible for him to move his reserves around.
The operation involved the participation of partisan units with a total strength of , men. All the units of spetsnaz were sent behind the enemy lines to help the partisans. More than tons of explosives, more than kilometres of wire and over half a million detonators were transported to the partisan units by air. The spetsnaz units were instructed to maintain a strict watch over the fulfilment of their tasks. Most of them operated independently in the most dangerous and important places, and they also appointed men from their units to instruct the partisan units in the use of explosives.
On the first night of the operation 42, explosions took place on the railway lines, and the partisan activity increased with every night that passed. The German high command threw in tremendous forces to defend their lines of communication, so that every night could be heard not only the sound of bridges and railway lines being blown up but also the sounds of battle with the German forces as the partisans fought their way through to whatever they had to destroy.
Altogether, in the course of the operation , rails, complete trains, rail and road bridges were blown up. A vast quantity of enemy equipment and ammunition was also destroyed.
Having won the enormous battle at Kursk, the Red Army sped towards the river Dnieper and crossed it in several places. In the final stage of that operation all the spetsnaz units were taken off to new areas and were enabled to rest along with the partisan formations which had not taken part in it.
Now their time had come. That night in Belorussia alone 19, rails were blown up. On the night of 25 September 15, rails were destroyed. The total number of participants in the operation exceeded , Despite a shortage of explosives and other material needed for such work, on the eve of the operation only eighty tons of explosives could be sent to the partisan. After the Red Army moved into the territory of neighbouring states spetsnaz went through a radical reorganisation.
The independent reconnaissance units, the reconnaissance posts which recruited agents for terrorist actions, and the independent radio battalions for conducting disinformation, were all retained in their entirety. There are plenty of references in the Soviet military press to operations by special intelligence units in the final stages of the war. For example, in the course of an operation in the Vistula-Oder area special groups from the Intelligence directorate of the headquarters of the 1st Ukrainian Front established the scope of the network of aerodromes and the exact position of the enemy's air bases, found the headquarters of the 4th Tank Army and the 17th Army, the 48th Tank Corps and the 42nd Army Corps, and also gathered a great deal of other very necessary information.
Such a decision was absolutely right for the times. The maintargets for spetsnaz operations had been the enemy's lines of communication. But that had been before the Red Army had started to advance at great speed.
When that happened, there was no longer any need to blow up bridges. They needed to be captured and preserved, not destroyed. For this work the Red Army had separate shock brigades of motorised guards engineering troops which, operating jointly with the forward units, would capture especially important buildings and other objects, clear them of mines and defend them until the main force arrived. The guards formations of spetsnaz were used mainly for strengthening these special engineering brigades.
Some of the surviving guards battalions of spetsnaz were transferred to the Far East where, in August , they were used against the Japanese Army. The use of spetsnaz in the Manchurian offensive of is of special interest, because it provides the best illustration of what was supposed to happen to Germany if she had not attacked the USSR.
Japan had a peace treaty with the Soviet Union. But Japan had gone to war with other states and had exhausted her military, economic and other resources. Japan had seized vast territories inhabited by hundreds of millions of people who wanted to be liberated and were ready to welcome and support any liberator who came along. Japan was in exactly the situation in which Stalin had wanted to see Germany: Thus, in the interests naturally of peace and humanity Stalin struck a sudden crushing blow at the armed forces of Japan in Manchuria and China, violating the treaty signed four years earlier.
The operation took place over vast areas. In terms of the distances covered and the speed at which it moved, this operation has no equal in world history. Soviet troops operated over territories kilometres in width and kilometres in depth. More than a million and a half soldiers took part in the operation, with over tanks and nearly aircraft.
It really was a lightning operation, in the course of which 84, Japanese officers and men were killed and , taken prisoner. A tremendous quantity of arms, ammunition and other equipment was seized.
It may be objected that Japan was already on the brink of catastrophe. That is true. But therein lies Soviet strategy: That is precisely how the war against Germany was planned and that was why the partisan units, the barriers and defensive installations were all dispensed with, and why the ten airborne corps were created in In the Manchurian offensive the spetsnaz detachments put up their best performance.
Twenty airborne landings were made not by airborne troops, but by special reconnaissance troops. Spetsnaz units of the Pacific Fleet were landed from submarines and surface boats.
Some spetsnaz units crossed the frontier by foot, captured Japanese cars and used them for their operations. Worried about the railway tunnels on a strip of the 1st Far Eastern front, the Soviet high command created special units for capturing the tunnels. The groups crossed the frontier secretly, cut the throats of the guards, severed the wires connected to the explosive charges, and put the detonators out of action.
They then held the tunnels until their own forces arrived. In the course of the offensive a new and very risky type of operation was employed by spetsnaz. Senior GRU officers, with the rank of colonel or even major-general, were put in charge of small groups. Such a group would suddenly land on an airfield close to an important Japanese headquarters.
The appearance of a Soviet colonel or general deep in the Japanese rear never failed to provoke astonished reactions from both the Japanese high command and the Japanese troops, as well as from the local population. The transport planes carrying these were escorted by Soviet fighter aircraft, but the fighters were soon obliged to return to their bases, leaving the Soviet transport undefended until it landed.
Even after it landed it had at best only one high-ranking officer, the crew and no more than a platoon of soldiers to guard over the plane. The Soviet officer would demand and usually obtain a meeting with a Japanese general, at which he would demand the surrender of the Japanese garrison.
He and his group really had nothing to back them up: Soviet troops were still hundreds of kilometres away and it was still weeks to the end of the war. But the local Japanese military leaders and the Soviet officers too, for that matter naturally did not realise this.
Perhaps the Emperor had decided to fight on to the last man In several recorded instances, senior Japanese military leaders decided independently to surrender without having permission to do so from their superiors.
The improvement in the morale and position of the Soviet troops can be imagined. After the end of the Second World War spetsnaz practically ceased to exist for several years. Its reorganisation was eventually carried out under the direction of several generals who were fanatically devoted to the idea of spetsnaz.
Kharchenko was an outstanding sportsman and expert in the theory and practice of the use of explosives.
In he graduated from the military electrotechnical academy which, apart from training specialists in communications, at that time also produced experts in the business of applying the most complicated way of blowing up buildings and other objectives. During the war he was chief of staff of the directorate of special works on the Western front. From May he was chief of staff on the independent guards spetsnaz brigade, and from June he was deputy commander of that brigade.
In July his brigade was reorganised into an independent guards motorised engineering brigade. Kharchenko was working in the General Staff after the war when he wrote a letter to Stalin, the basic point of which was: In Kharchenko completed his studies at the Academy of the General Staff. From he headed the scientific research institute of the engineering troops. Under his direction major researches and experiments were carried out in an effort to develop new engineering equipment and armaments, especially for small detachments of saboteurs operating behind the enemy's lines.
In the immediate postwar years Kharchenko strove to demonstrate at the very highest level the necessity for reconstructing spetsnaz on a new technical level.
He had a great many opponents. So then he decided not to argue any more. He selected a group of sportsmen from among the students at the engineering academy, succeeded in interesting them in his idea, and trained them personally for carrying out very difficult tasks. During manoeuvres held at the Totskyie camps, when on Marshal Zhukov's instructions a real nuclear explosion was carried out, and then the behaviour of the troops in conditions extremely close to real warfare was studied, Kharchenko decided to deploy his own group of men at his own risk.
The discussions that took place after the manoeuvres were, the senior officers all agreed, instructive -- all except General Kharchenko. He pointed out that in circumstances of actual warfare nothing of what they had been discussing would have taken place because, he said, a small group of trained people had been close to where the nuclear charges had been stored and had had every opportunity to destroy the transport when the charges were being moved from the store to the airfield.
Moreover, he said, the officers who took the decision to use nuclear weapons could easily have been killed before they took the decision. Kharchenko produced proof in support of his statements. Eventually he obtained permission to form a battalion for operations in the enemy's rear directed at his nuclear weapons and his command posts. The battalion operated very successfully, and that was the beginning of the resurrection of spetsnaz.
All the contemporary formations of spetsnaz have been created anew. From he was deputy to the Chief of Engineering troops and from February he was head of the same service. In he was promoted Marshal of engineering troops. Spetsnaz is made up of three distinct elements: In numerical terms the fighting units of spetsnaz are the largest.
They are composed of soldiers from the ranks, out of those who are especially strong, especially tough and especially loyal. A factor that facilitates the selection process is that within the Soviet Army there exists a hidden system for the selection of soldiers. The Soviet soldier does not know to which category he belongs, and in fact he knows nothing about the existence of the various categories. If a soldier is included in a higher category than his comrades that does not necessarily mean that he is fortunate.
On the contrary, the best thing for a soldier is to be put into the lowest category and to perform his two years of military service in some remote and God-forsaken pioneer battalion in which there is neither discipline nor supervision, or in units of which the officers have long since drunk away all the authority they had.
The higher the category the soldier is put into the more difficult his military service will be. Soldiers of the highest category make up the Kremlin guard, the troops protecting the government communications, the frontier troops of the KGB and spetsnaz.
Being included in the highest category does not necessarily mean being posted to the Kremlin, to a spetsnaz brigade or to a government communications centre. All those who do not appeal to the customers move down to a lower level and are offered to representatives of the next echelon, that of the strategic missile troops, the airborne forces and crews of nuclear submarines.
The young soldier does not realise, of course, what is going on. He is simply summoned to a room where people he doesn't know ask him a lot of questions. A few days later he is called to the room again and finds a different set of strangers there who also ask him questions. This system of sorting out recruits reminds one of the system of closed shops for leading comrades.
The highest official has the first choice. Then his deputy can go to the shop and choose something from what remains. Then lower ranking officials are allowed into the shop, then their deputies, and so on. In this system spetsnaz rank as the very highest category. The soldiers who have been picked out by spetsnaz officers are gathered together into groups and are convoyed by officers and sergeants to fighting units of spetsnaz, where they are formed into groups and go through an intensive course of training lasting several weeks.
At the end of the course the soldier fires shots from his Kalashnikov automatic rifle for the first time and is then made to take the military oath.
The best out of the group of young soldiers are then sent to a spetsnaz training unit from which they return six months later with the rank of sergeant, while the rest are posted to fighting units. A real salaga is a soldier who has only just started his service. A man who is neither a real starik nor a real salaga falls between the two, a starik being compared to anyone who has done less time than he has, and a salaga to anyone who has served in the army a few months longer than he.
Having been recruited into spetsnaz, the soldier has to sign an undertaking not to disclose secret information. He has no right ever to tell anyone where he has served or what his service consisted of. At most he has the right to say he served with the airborne corps. Disclosure of the secrets of spetsnaz is treated as high treason, punishable by death according to article 64 of the Soviet criminal code.
Once he has completed his two years' service in spetsnaz a soldier has three choices. He can become an officer, in which case he is offered special terms for entering the higher school for officers of the airborne forces in Ryazan. He can become a regular soldier in spetsnaz, for which he has to go through a number of supplementary courses. Or he has the option to join the reserve. If he chooses the last course he is regarded as being a member of the spetsnaz reserve and is with it for the next five years.
Then, up to the age of 30, he is part of the airborne reserve. After that he is considered to belong to the ordinary infantry reserve until he is fifty. Like any other reserve force, the existence of a spetsnaz reserve makes it possible at a time of mobilisation to multiply the size of the spetsnaz fighting units with reservists if necessary.
Mud, nothing but mud all round, and it was pouring with rain. It had been raining throughout the summer, so that everything was wet and hanging limp. Everything was stuck in the mud.
Every soldier's boot carried kilograms of it. But their bodies were covered in mud as well, and their hands and faces up to their ears and further.
It was clear that the sergeant had not taken pity on the young spetsnaz recruits that day. They had been called up only a month before. They had been formed up into a provisional group and been put through a month's course for young soldiers which every one of them would remember all his life in his worst nightmare.
That morning they had been divided up into companies and platoons. Before letting them back into their mud-covered, sodden tent at the end of the day each sergeant had time to show his platoon the extent of his authority. The first soldier thrust aside the heavy wet tarpaulin which served as a door and was about to enter when something stopped him.
On the muddy, much trampled ground just inside the entrance a dazzlingly white towel had been laid down in place of a doormat. The soldier hesitated. But behind him the sergeant was pushing and shouting: At the same time he couldn't make up his mind to jump over it, because the mud from his boots would inevitably land on the towel.
Eventually he jumped, and the others jumped across the towel after him. For some reason no one dared to take the towel away. Everyone could see that there was some reason why it had been put there right in the entrance. A beautiful clean towel. With mud all around it. What was it doing there? A whole platoon lived in one huge tent. The men slept in two-tier metal bunks. The salagi slept on the bottom bunks. They had served only six months. By comparison with those who were now jumping over the towel they were of course stariki too.
They had all in their day jumped awkwardly across the towel. Now they were watching silently, patiently and attentively to see how the new men behaved in that situation. The new men behaved as anybody would in their situation. Some pushed from behind, and there was the towel in front. So they jumped, and clustered together in the centre of the tent, not knowing where to put their hands or where to look.
It was strange. They seemed to want to look at the ground. All the young men behaved in exactly the same way: But no -- the last soldier behaved quite differently. He burst into the tent, helped by a kick from the sergeant. On seeing the white towel he pulled himself up sharply, stood on it in his dirty boots and proceeded to wipe them as if he really were standing on a doormat. Having wiped his feet he didn't join the crowd but marched to the far corner of the tent where he had seen a spare bed.
Do you want to eat? And they would be beaten on the following nights. They would be driven out into the mud barefoot, and they would be made to sleep in the lavatories standing up or lying down, as you wish. They would be beaten with belts, with slippers and with spoons, with anything suitable for causing pain.
The stariki would use the salagi on which to ride horseback in battles with their friends. There would be the same goings-on as in the rest of the Soviet Army. Stariki everywhere play the same kind of tricks on the recruits.
The rituals and the rules are the same everywhere. The sense of this particular ritual is clear and simple: We are nice people. We welcome you, young man, cordially into our friendly collective. Our work is very hard, the hardest in the whole army, but we do not let it harden our hearts. Gome into our house, young man, and make yourself at home. We respect you and will spare nothing for you. You see -- we have even put the towel with which we wipe our faces for you to walk on in your dirty feet.
So that's it, is it -- you don't accept our welcome? You reject our modest gift? You don't even wish to wipe your boots on what we wipe our faces with!
What sort of people do you take us for? You may certainly not respect us, but why did you come into our house with dirty boots? Only one of the salagi, the one who wiped his feet on the towel, will be able to sleep undisturbed.
He will receive his full ration of food and will clean only his own weapon; and perhaps the stariki will give instructions that he should not do even that. There are many others in the platoon to do it. Where on earth could a young eighteen-year-old soldier have learnt about the spetsnaz tradition? Where could he have heard about the white towel? Spetsnaz is a secret organisation which treasures its traditions and keeps them to itself. A former spetsnaz soldier must never tell tales: In any case he is unlikely to tell anyone about the towel trick, especially someone who has yet to be called up.
I was beaten up, so let him be beaten up as well, he reasons. There are only three possible ways the young soldier could have found out about the towel.
Either he simply guessed what was happening himself. The towel had been laid down at the entrance, so it must be to wipe his feet on. What else could it be for? Or perhaps his elder brother had been through the spetsnaz. He had, of course, never called it by that name or said what it was for, but he might have said about the towel: But just take care -- if you let on I'll knock your head off. And I can. Perhaps he had been in spetsnaz and in a penal battalion.
For the custom of laying out a towel in the entrance before the arrival of recruits did not originate in spetsnaz but in the penal battalions. It is possible that it was handed on to the present-day penal battalions from the prisons of the past. The links between spetsnaz and the penal battalions are invisible, but they are many and very strong. In the first place, service in spetsnaz is the toughest form of service in the Soviet Army.
The physical and psychological demands are not only increased deliberately to the very highest point that a man can bear; they are frequently, and also deliberately, taken beyond any permissible limits. It is quite understandable that a spetsnaz soldier should find he cannot withstand these extreme demands and breaks down. The breakdown may take many different forms: As I was leaving an intelligence unit of a military district on promotion to Moscow I suddenly came across, on a little railway station, a spetsnaz officer I knew being escorted by two armed soldiers.
Only another month to go. How the search ended I do not know. At the very next station soldiers of the Interior Ministry's troops were searching the carriages. The alarm had gone out all over the district. Men run away from spetsnaz more often than from other branches of the services.
But it is usually a case of a new recruit who has been stretched to the limit and who usually takes a rifle with him. A man like that will kill anyone who gets in his path. But he is usually quickly run down and killed. But in this case it was a starik who had run off, and without a rifle. Where had he gone, and why? I didn't know. Did they find him? I didn't know that either. Of course they found him. They are good at that.
If he wasn't carrying a rifle he would not have been killed.
They don't kill people without reason. So what could he expect? Two years in a penal battalion and then the month in spetsnaz that he had not completed. Spetsnaz has no distinguishing badge or insignia -- officially, at any rate. But unofficially the spetsnaz badge is a wolf, or rather a pack of wolves. The wolf is a strong, proud animal which is remarkable for its quite incredible powers of endurance.
A wolf can run for hours through deep snow at great speed, and then, when he scents his prey, put on another astonishing burst of speed. Sometimes he will chase his prey for days, reducing it to a state of exhaustion. Exploiting their great capacity for endurance, wolves first exhaust and then attack animals noted for their tremendous strength, such as the elk.
Wolves will bring down a huge elk, not so much by the strength of their teeth as by the strength of their legs. The wolf also has a powerful intellect. He is proud and independent. You can tame and domesticate a squirrel, a fox or even a great elk with bloodshot eyes.
And there are many animals that can be trained to perform. A performing bear can do really miraculous things. But you cannot tame a wolf or train it to perform.
The wolf lives in a pack, a closely knit and well organised fighting unit of frightful predators. The tactics of a wolf pack are the very embodiment of flexibility and daring.
The wolves' tactics are an enormous collection of various tricks and combinations, a mixture of cunning and strength, confusing manoeuvres and sudden attacks. No other animal in the world could better serve as a symbol of the spetsnaz. And there is good reason why the training of a spetsnaz soldier starts with the training of his legs. A man is as strong and young as his legs are strong and young.
If a man has a sloppy way of walking and if he drags his feet along the ground, that means he himself is weak. On the other hand, a dancing, springy gait is a sure sign of physical and metal health. Spetsnaz soldiers are often dressed up in the uniform of other branches of the services and stationed in the same military camps as other especially secret units, usually with communications troops.
But one doesn't need any special experience to pick out the spetsnaz man from the crowd. You can tell him by the way he walks. He was not very tall, slightly stooping and round-shouldered.
But his feet were never still. He kept dancing about the whole time. The military commissariat whose job it was to select the young soldiers and sort them out paid no attention to him and he fetched up in an army missile brigade. He had served almost a year there when the brigade had to take part in manoeuvres in which a spetsnaz company was used against them.
When the exercise was over the spetsnaz company was fed there in the forest next to the missile troops. The officer commanding the spetsnaz company noticed the soldier in the missile unit who kept dancing about all the time he was standing in the queue for his soup. The company commander did not have anything with him to measure the length of the jump, but there was no need. The officer was experienced in such things and knew what was good and what was excellent.
I will speak up for you and tell the right people where you have been. This time there was a tape measure handy and it showed he had jumped centimetres. The commander of the spetsnaz company took off his own blue beret and gave it to the soldier. The chief of intelligence immediately phoned the chief of staff of the army, who gave the appropriate order to the missile brigade -- forget you ever had such a man.
He had never previously taken a serious interest in sport, but he was a born athlete. Under the direction of experienced trainers his talents were revealed and he immediately performed brilliantly. A year later, when he completed his military service, he was already clearing 2 metres 90 centimetres. He was invited to join the professional athletic service of spetsnaz, and he agreed.
The long jump with no run has been undeservedly forgotten and is no longer included in the programme of official competitions. When it was included in the Olympic Games the record set in , was 3 metres 33 centimetres.
As an athletic skill the long jump without a run is the most reliable indication of the strength of a person's legs. And the strength of his legs is a reliable indicator of the whole physical condition of a soldier. Practically half a person's muscles are to be found in his legs. Spetsnaz devotes colossal attention to developing the legs of its men, using many simple but very effective exercises: A spetsnaz soldier knows that he is invincible. This may be a matter of opinion, but other people's opinions do not interest the soldier.
He knows himself that he is invincible and that's enough for him. The idea is instilled into him carefully, delicately, not too insistently, but continually and effectively. The process of psychological training is inseparably linked to the physical toughening.
The development of a spirit of self-confidence and of independence and of a feeling of superiority over any opponent is carried out at the same time as the development of the heart, the muscles and the lungs. The most important element in training a spetsnaz soldier is to make him believe in his own strength. A man's potential is unlimited, the reasoning goes. A man can reach any heights in life in any sphere of activity. But in order to defeat his opponents a man must first overcome himself, combat his own fears, his lack of confidence and laziness.
The path upwards is one of continual battle with oneself. A man must force himself to rise sooner than the others and go to bed later. He must exclude from his life everything that prevents him from achieving his objective. He must subordinate the whole of his existence to the strictest regime. He must give up taking days off.
He must use his time to the best possible advantage and fit in even more than was thought possible. A man aiming for a particular target can succeed only if he uses every minute of his life to the maximum advantage for carrying out his plan. A man should find four hours' sleep quite sufficient, and the rest of his time can be used for concentrating on the achievement of his objective.
I imagine that to instil this psychology into a mass army formed by means of compulsory mobilisation would be impossible and probably unnecessary. But in separate units carefully composed of the best human material such a philosophy is entirely acceptable.
In numbers spetsnaz amounts to less than one per cent of all the Soviet armed forces in peacetime. Spetsnaz is the best, carefully selected part of the armed forces, and the philosophy of each man's unlimited potential has been adopted in its entirety by every member of the organisation.
It is a philosophy which cannot be put into words. The soldier grasps it not with his head, but with his feet, his shoulders and his sweat.
He soon becomes convinced that the path to victory and self-perfection is a battle with himself, with his own mental and physical weakness. Training of any kind makes sense only if it brings a man to the very brink of his physical and mental powers. To begin with, he must know precisely the limits of his capabilities.
For example: He must know this figure precisely and that it really is the limit of his capacity. No matter how he strains he can do no more. But every training session is a cruel battle to beat his previous record. As he starts a training session a soldier has to promise himself that he will beat his own record today or die in the attempt. The only people who become champions are those who go into each training session as if they are going to their death or to their last battle in which they will either win or die.
The victor is the one for whom victory is more important than life. The victor is the one who dives a centimetre deeper than his maximum depth, knowing that his lungs will not hold out and that death lies beyond his limit.
And once he has overcome the fear of death, the next time he will dive even deeper! It is a ditch with metal spikes stuck into the bottom. The narrowest width is three metres. From there it gets wider and wider. Nobody is forced to jump the ditch. But if someone wants to test himself, to conquer himself and to overcome his own cowardice, let him go and jump.
It can be a standing jump or a running jump, in running shoes and a track suit, with heavy boots and a big rucksack on your back, or carrying a weapon. It is up to you. You start jumping at the narrow part and gradually move outwards. If you make a mistake, trip on something or don't reach the other side you land with your side on the spikes. There are not many who wanted to risk their guts at the Devil's Ditch, until a strict warning was put up: There are always plenty of people there and always somebody jumping, summer and winter, on slippery mud and snow, in gas-masks and without them, carrying an ammunition box, hand-in-hand, with hands tied together, and even with someone on the back.
The man who jumps the Devil's Ditch has confidence in himself, considers himself invincible, and has grounds for doing so. The relations within spetsnaz units are very similar to those within the wolf pack. We do not know everything about the habits and the ways of wolves. But I have heard Soviet zoologists talk about the life and behaviour of wolves and, listening to them, I have been reminded of spetsnaz.
They say the wolf has not only a very developed brain but is also the noblest of all the living things inhabiting our planet. The mental capacity of the wolf is reckoned to be far greater than the dog's. What I have heard from experts who have spent their whole lives in the taiga of the Ussuri, coming across wolves every day, is sharply at odds with what people say about them who have seen them only in zoos. The experts say that the she-wolf never kills her sickly wolf-cubs. She makes her other cubs do it.
The she-wolf herself gives the cubs the first lesson in hunting in a group. And the cubs' first victim is their weaker brother. But once the weaker ones are disposed of, the she-wolf protects the rest.
In case of danger she would rather sacrifice herself than let anyone harm them. By destroying the weaker cubs the she-wolf preserves the purity and strength of her offspring, permitting only the strong to live. This is very close to the process of selection within spetsnaz.
At the outset the weaker soldier is naturally not killed but thrown out of spetsnaz into a more restful service. When a unit is carrying out a serious operation behind enemy lines, however, the wolf-cubs of spetsnaz will kill their comrade without a second thought if he appears to weaken. The killing of the weak is not the result of a court decision but of lynch law. It may appear to be an act of barbarism, but it is only by doing so that the wolves have retained their strength for millions of years and remained masters of the forests until such a time as an even more frightful predator -- man -- started to destroy them on a massive scale.
But the she-wolf has also another reputation, and it is no accident that the Romans for centuries had a she-wolf as the symbol of their empire. A strong, wise, cruel and at the same time caring and affectionate she-wolf reared two human cubs: Within their pack the wolves conduct a running battle to gain a higher place in the hierarchy.
And I never saw anything inside spetsnaz that could be described as soldier's friendship, at least nothing like what I had seen among the tank troops and the infantry. Within spetsnaz a bitter battle goes on for a place in the pack, closer to the leader and even in the leader's place. In the course of this bitter battle for a place in the pack the spetsnaz soldier is sometimes capable of displaying such strength of character as I have never seen elsewhere. The beating up of the young recruits who are just starting their service is an effort on the part of the stariki to preserve their dominating position in the section, platoon or company.
But among the recruits too there is right from the beginning a no less bitter battle going on for priority. This struggle takes the form of continual fighting between groups and individuals. Even among the stariki not everyone is not on the same level: The more senior levels strive to keep the inferior ones under their control.
The inferior ones try to extract themselves from that control. It is very difficult, because if a young soldier tries to oppose someone who has served half a year more than he has, the longer-serving man will be supported not only by the whole of his class but also by the other senior classes: In spite of all this, attempts at protest by the inferior classes occur regularly and are sometimes successful.
He was good at sensing the mood of a company. He and his group never attacked stariki in normal circumstances. They would wait patiently until one of the stariki did something which by spetsnaz standards is considered a disgrace, like stealing. Only then would they set about him, usually at night. The Demon was skilful at making use of provocation.
For example, having stolen a bottle of aftershave from a soldier, he would slip it to one of his enemies.
There is no theft in spetsnaz. The thief is, then, always discovered very quickly and punished mercilessly. And The Demon was, of course, in charge of the punitive action. But seniority in spetsnaz units is not determined only by means of fists.
I do not know how it came about, but it soon became apparent that, although The Demon was lording it over the whole company, he never opposed The Squint. One day The Squint made fun of him in public, drawing attention to his ugly nostrils.
There was some mild laughter in the company and The Demon was clearly humiliated, but for some reason he did not choose to exercise his strength. The Squint soon came to dominate the whole company, but it never occurred to him to fight anyone or to order anybody about.
He simply told The Demon out loud what he wanted, and The Demon used his strength to influence the whole company.