The Stalingrad Protocols

The Stalingrad Protocols' have been compiled by the German historian, Jochen Hellbeck, who gained access to several thousand interviews with World War II Red Army soldiers, held in archives at the Russian Academy of Sciences in Moscow.

The first hand accounts were originally intended as a record of the Soviet Union's "Great Patriotic War". Due to the graphic nature of the accounts, the Kremlin published only a small portion of them after 1945, preferring to opt for more orthodox Stalinist propaganda. The "protocols" languished in Moscow's archives until 2008, when, acting on a tip, Hellbeck was able to gain access to 10,000 pages.

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The accounts suggest the invading German army's murderous and brutal occupation of the Soviet Union was one of the prime motives behind the Red Army's ferocious counter-offensive.

Whether some of the interviews were given purely for Soviet propaganda purposes remains open to question. Those given by political officers suggest they played an important role in providing the inspiration to fight. There are accounts of them distributing leaflets during the height of battle depicting "the hero of the day". Brigade Commissar Vasilyev recalls: "It was viewed as a disgrace if a communist was not the first to lead the soldiers into battle."

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Hellbeck notes in his edition of the protocols that on the Soviet side at Stalingrad, the number of card-carrying Communist Party members rose from 28,500 to 53,500 between August and October 1942 and that the Red Army saw itself as politically and morally superior to its Nazi opponent. "The Red Army was a political army," he told Der Spiegel magazine.

Auckland Libraries resources relating to Stalingrad.

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