The Ethnic Aspect in Red Army Recruitment During the Great Patriotic War: A Historical and Statistical Review

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Due to the multi-ethnic nature of our state, the ethnic factor has always been important in the recruitment, organization and combat use of the Russian armed forces. The deeper the ethnocultural, especially linguistic differences of the personnel, the more urgent was the need for a special organization of military service of the non-Russian contingent. The article is devoted to the analysis of ethnic processes in the Red Army during the Great Patriotic War of 1941-1945. Much attention is given to the dynamics of the quantitative and specific representation of Soviet ethnic groups during the war, the reasons for the reduction or, on the contrary, the expansion of this representation. The research is based on normative and policy documents that regulated mobilization and conscription work, as well as office documents that reflect the execution of state decisions. Among the latter, the author has identified a set of accounting and statistical materials of the central organizational and mobilization institutions of the People's Commissariat of Defense of the USSR. The scientific novelty of the presented research is that for the first time the ethnonational aspect of the history of the red army during the Great Patriotic War was analyzed using quantitative research methods. This made it possible to significantly deepen the understanding of the ethnic processes taking place in the Soviet armed forces.

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Figure 1. Change in the headcount of the Red Army in 1939–1945 (person)


Figure 2. The share of Ukrainians in the Red Army units from 1939 to 1945 (in percent)


Figure 3. The dynamics of the number of Russian troops in the ranks of the Red Army from July 1943 to January 1945


About the authors

Alexey Yu. Bezugolny

Scientific Research Institute of Military History of Military Academy of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Russia

Author for correspondence.

Kandidat Istoricheskikh Nauk [PhD in history], Leading Researcher at Scientific Research

14, University Av., Moscow, 119330, Russia


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Supplementary files

Supplementary Files
1. Figure 1. Change in the headcount of the Red Army in 1939–1945 (person)

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2. Figure 2. The share of Ukrainians in the Red Army units from 1939 to 1945 (in percent)

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3. Figure 3. The dynamics of the number of Russian troops in the ranks of the Red Army from July 1943 to January 1945

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Copyright (c) 2020 Bezugolny A.Y.

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