Author Topic: New T34 movie - Did Russians use convicts to man T34 tanks in ww2?  (Read 707 times)

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Offline Destraex

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There is a new movie coming in 2018. A Russian production. The trailer seems to show what seem to be criminals manning a T34 for some sort of suicide mission. Now I know the Russians had Penal battalions they used for a lot of dangerous duties. But I would have thought tank crews would be more of a prestige role. Don't get me wrong. I realise the T-34 in a lot of cases was a scratch job of shoddy workmanship. Holes in the welding being common.

But they seem to have given a T-34 upgunned 85mm version to a penal or criminal element. What ever the case may be. I really love the kit they have in this movie.

I really hated the recent movie, Stalingrad 2013. A real propaganda stunt. I hope this one is not the same. White Tiger also had some good kit but was more of a ghost fantasy style movie.

premiere (RF)27.12.2018





https://en.film.ru/movies/t-34
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Offline JasonPratt

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Re: New T34 movie - Did Russians use convicts to man T34 tanks in ww2?
« Reply #1 on: August 22, 2018, 02:57:24 PM »
The Russians had whole penal corps. Almost the entire 2nd strategic echelon was based around penal corps -- they didn't call them that officially (as far as I recall), but the troops were collected from eastern lumberjack sites (the sorts of lumberjack camps that Solzhenitsyn described in such detail from personal experience.)

These were political prisoners, or even just random people scooped up to go man the worksites and so "prisoners" in that special sense, but also included a ton of the officers purged by Stalin. This was part of Stalin's prewar mobilization plan, to be worked out in such a way that it didn't look like mobilization: get a million able-bodied men together to learn how to live and follow orders in harsh, disciplined conditions (get some productive work out of them along the way), and then send them to the western border. They were collected and mobilized long before Barbarossa kicked off, back in autumn of 40. It just took that long for them to be collected, slotted into military organization, entrained, and transported across the country (mostly during winter, on a logistic system that was busy with normal harvest and industrial tasks and also busy bringing the 1st Strategic Echelon to the western front). They were scheduled (back in late 40) to arrive on the front (where the 1st Strategic Echelon was already camping out) about four weeks after Barbarossa eventually started.

The plan worked, too, though not exactly as planned! -- Stalin wasn't expecting Hitler to blitzkrieg him first. But neither did anyone on Hitler's side know the 2nd Strategic Echelon was on the way, and suddenly, far beyond the front line, the German armies started running into whole fresh armies of troops with fanatical fighting zeal and decent equipment, not reservist armies exactly. Whole corps of these armies were outfitted in special black uniforms, with different military markings and insignias, and their commanders used the old X-Com command designations from before the purges, e.g. Korcoms for Corps Commanders, instead of the new more modern designations that Stalin had handed out to the generals he kept and promoted after the purging. The Germans took to calling these odd formations by various nicknames, like Black Corps (and divisions and brigades etc.), and developed strong respect for them.

Now, I don't know the context of the film (yet), and I strenuously doubt Russia would allow a film to be made which referenced Stalin's plans to attack westward. But actually, yes, it would be totally normal for Gulag prisoners in these corps and divisions to be given command of decent fighting equipment like upgunned T-34s.


It's also possible that the characters are supposed to be prisoners of the various Soviet NKVD political police divisions, which much like the Nazi SS divisions were given top-line equipment even before the war started. (At the start of the war they probably wouldn't be using prisoners as soldiers much -- they had their own shock troops for that, again like the SS. But later when things had gotten bad for Russia, they'd be in a position to use Russian and other prisoners.)
« Last Edit: August 22, 2018, 03:02:26 PM by JasonPratt »
ICEBREAKER THESIS CHRONOLOGY! -- Victor Suvorov's Stalin Grand Strategy theory, in chronological order. Lots and lots of order...

Dawn of Armageddon -- a narrative AAR for Dawn of War: Soulstorm: Ultimate Apocalypse: The Hunt Begins: Insert Joke Here!

Survive Harder! In the grim darkness of the bowl there is only, um, Amazons. And tentacles and midgets. Not remotely what you're thinking! ...okay, maybe a little remotely.

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Offline Destraex

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Re: New T34 movie - Did Russians use convicts to man T34 tanks in ww2?
« Reply #2 on: August 22, 2018, 05:37:58 PM »
I see. Fascinating that they got such fanatical troops from prisoners.
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Offline JasonPratt

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Re: New T34 movie - Did Russians use convicts to man T34 tanks in ww2?
« Reply #3 on: August 22, 2018, 06:35:24 PM »
It was a psychological carrot and stick thing. You can regain lost honor and kick ass while doing it, protecting your home from Hunnish Nazi rapist scum (and work out some of your own frustrations while doing so); or you can go back to the "lumberjack camp" where you have "nothing to do all day but count trees". (That's apparently an old grim joke about being sent to Siberia.)

Since a lot of the prisoners had been arbitrarily picked up, they had motivation (in such a highly propagandized society) to prove that their arrest had been a mistake, that they were faithful Russian patriots. Much the same was true of the older-school Soviet commanders still using the old "Commandant" rank system to distinguish them from the new 'faithful' ranks.

The system of oppression was so, so huge that most people saw only a few trees instead of the forest, so to speak. Stalin himself had avoided operating in the open, except in publicly positive ways -- as his defenders stress even today (or literally last month in my experience ;) ), he never once signed any orders for people to be sent to the Gulag. The system was sort-of treated like the faceless bureaucracy in the Cube movie series which just accidentally created the horrifying inescapable death-trap while going about its normal business. (The original film is a bit of a parable on several things. ;) )
ICEBREAKER THESIS CHRONOLOGY! -- Victor Suvorov's Stalin Grand Strategy theory, in chronological order. Lots and lots of order...

Dawn of Armageddon -- a narrative AAR for Dawn of War: Soulstorm: Ultimate Apocalypse: The Hunt Begins: Insert Joke Here!

Survive Harder! In the grim darkness of the bowl there is only, um, Amazons. And tentacles and midgets. Not remotely what you're thinking! ...okay, maybe a little remotely.

PanzOrc Corpz Generals -- Season One complete; Fantasy Wars AAR, lots of screenies.

Offline JasonPratt

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Re: New T34 movie - Did Russians use convicts to man T34 tanks in ww2?
« Reply #4 on: August 22, 2018, 06:46:58 PM »
Stalin did eventually start operating out in the open publicly as leader of the government, btw. But he did so only a few weeks before Barbarossa, and with grand but vague promises about some great accomplishment he was about to achieve which would finally start the world revolution of international communism. Which implicitly was why he had taken the reins of power publicly, so that he could personally take responsibility for this achievement.

Then Barbarossa happened. Which wasn't whatever it was he was promising he was about to achieve.

He didn't try to go back into hiding immediately -- although he did insist that Molotov or someone else should address the people about the German invasion. Soviet logs showed Stalin was working almost 24 hours a day on average the first week, trying to keep up with and manage the situation. Then he retired to his dacha to rest.

Zhukov (iirc) said in his autobiography that the other high rankers were worried that he might shoot himself, and anyway that they had no intention of letting him slip back into the shadow government to let them take the blame publicly for any bad news again. So they rolled out to his dacha in a group and demanded that he return and do his damned duty as the leader of the people. He agreed with reluctance, and with some relief, since as he said, he had thought they had come there to shoot him. But he went back and got back up on the horse and, credit where it's due, he rallied the nation for years through some dark, catastrophic days to come.
ICEBREAKER THESIS CHRONOLOGY! -- Victor Suvorov's Stalin Grand Strategy theory, in chronological order. Lots and lots of order...

Dawn of Armageddon -- a narrative AAR for Dawn of War: Soulstorm: Ultimate Apocalypse: The Hunt Begins: Insert Joke Here!

Survive Harder! In the grim darkness of the bowl there is only, um, Amazons. And tentacles and midgets. Not remotely what you're thinking! ...okay, maybe a little remotely.

PanzOrc Corpz Generals -- Season One complete; Fantasy Wars AAR, lots of screenies.

Offline Destraex

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Re: New T34 movie - Did Russians use convicts to man T34 tanks in ww2?
« Reply #5 on: August 25, 2018, 04:08:21 AM »
Yeah I see what you are saying. Such huge numbers mean an individual cannot comprehend the forest outside of their own massive forest. Systems within systems. Such large systems are scary. Reminds me of the 40k universe.
"They only asked the Light Brigade to do it once"

Offline Destraex

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Re: New T34 movie - Did Russians use convicts to man T34 tanks in ww2?
« Reply #6 on: June 19, 2020, 07:35:40 AM »
I just rented and watched Iron Fury (T-34) on Apple (it's on google play as well) and have to say I rate it as a casual action movie. Why? It has Panthers and T-34s in it. The effects are actually really good. Gonna watch it again tomorrow. Defo a Russian bias but hey, it's a Russian movie. I don't care as long as their is some good kit to look at. It's at least as good as fury but more "action" and less depressing. You get to see Russian heros instead of American ones for a change.
"They only asked the Light Brigade to do it once"

Offline Destraex

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Re: New T34 movie - Did Russians use convicts to man T34 tanks in ww2?
« Reply #7 on: June 20, 2020, 12:24:01 AM »
Is the Russian Version of Iron Fury (Russian version is called T-34) better. Just watched it on apple and the trailer has more footage I did not see in the movie I rented off apple TV. This movie was a lot of fun and I would not mind a 4k version. But it really does sound like the western version got watered down somewhat. Also how do I get a 4k of this? I take it that it will not come out in the west on 4k unless through some specialist store?
Heck even the cover art has aircraft you never see.
I can see the googleplay store seems to have both t-34 and Iron Fury listed separately even though they are supposed to be the same film.
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Offline Destraex

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Re: New T34 movie - Did Russians use convicts to man T34 tanks in ww2?
« Reply #8 on: June 20, 2020, 12:33:37 AM »
Potential spoilers in this article but very interesting comments by Russian politicians. Apparently this film was huge in Russia.
According to this article the movie is loosely based on real events.
https://www.reuters.com/article/us-russia-politics-film/patriotic-war-film-draws-8-million-russians-as-ties-with-west-fray-idUSKCN1PO1VD
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Offline JasonPratt

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Re: New T34 movie - Did Russians use convicts to man T34 tanks in ww2?
« Reply #9 on: June 20, 2020, 03:11:15 PM »
I can see the googleplay store seems to have both t-34 and Iron Fury listed separately even though they are supposed to be the same film.

Are the runtimes substantially identical?
ICEBREAKER THESIS CHRONOLOGY! -- Victor Suvorov's Stalin Grand Strategy theory, in chronological order. Lots and lots of order...

Dawn of Armageddon -- a narrative AAR for Dawn of War: Soulstorm: Ultimate Apocalypse: The Hunt Begins: Insert Joke Here!

Survive Harder! In the grim darkness of the bowl there is only, um, Amazons. And tentacles and midgets. Not remotely what you're thinking! ...okay, maybe a little remotely.

PanzOrc Corpz Generals -- Season One complete; Fantasy Wars AAR, lots of screenies.

Offline Destraex

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Re: New T34 movie - Did Russians use convicts to man T34 tanks in ww2?
« Reply #10 on: June 23, 2020, 06:30:47 AM »
I will have to look if it lets me.
"They only asked the Light Brigade to do it once"