May 01, 2011

A Short History of the Crimea Partisans


The partisan movement in Crimea developed in a complex context, given the USSR’s general lack of war-readiness and the defeats in the fall of 1941 on the Crimean section of the front.

Many of those who were enlisted in the divisions – civilians with no military experience – did not show up to join the partisans. The partisan movement needed only a comparatively small mountain region, criss-crossed by roads and paths. Yet, serious mistakes were made when establishing the initial partisan bases. The secrecy surrounding them was broken early on; in the first few weeks, the Nazis discovered the bases and destroyed them; some bases were also looted by local residents.

Even as many bases were lost, the partisan headquarters in Crimea did not take it upon itself to preserve the remaining provisions and ration them. As the deputy head of the Special Unit at partisan headquarters, Lieutenant of State Security Popov, wrote in one dispatch: “While lavish meals were being prepared at headquarters, fighters in the units were receiving a couple of bread rolls each.” Moreover, from October 13, 1941, to February 12, 1942, neither Alexei Mokrousov, the commander of the partisan units, nor Commissar Martynov visited even one of the units.


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