A formally volunteer armed organisation that helped the security organs in the western regions of the Soviet Union to suppress the resistance movement in the 1940s
Two days after war broke out between Germany and the Soviet Union on 24 June 1941, the Soviet government started forming destruction battalions of 100-200 men at the NKVD sections in towns and rural areas, in the western parts of the Union, including Estonia. Their task was to keep order behind the front, clearing the roads from refugees, organising evacuation and communication. Besides fighting against “the enemy diversionists and parachutists“, the battalions also fought against the Forest Brothers and carried out the “scorched earth tactics” (i.e. destroying the material resources that could not be evacuated during the retreat). This brought about an extensive terror against the civil population, who were thought to be supporting or hiding Forest Brothers.
In 1944 when the Red Army arrived and forced the German troops out, the destruction battalions were reassembled (they were afterwards called "people’s protection battalions" and "bandit-destruction battalions"). The formally voluntary armed organisation of the destruction battalions fulfilled various defence tasks, helping the security organs, armed forces and militia. The core of these battalions was made up of members of the Communist Party, Komsomol and the "Soviet activists".
In November 1946, at the heyday of the destruction battalions, they had about 7000 members. The battalions were kept active in the countries and territories joined to the Soviet Union in Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Belarus, Ukraine, Moldova and the three districts of Pskov oblast in Russia (parts of Estonia and Latvia joined to the Russian SFSR in 1945), where they fought against the armed resistance movement. The morale and battle readiness of the battalions was usually low. The destruction battalions were disbanded at the end of 1954, when the armed resistance movement had disappeared and the battalions lost their practical purpose.
Created: 26.02.2010 15:59
Modified: 02.10.2012 13:52