Between Peace and War
Hidden Mobilization

In the Structure of the Siberian Military District

Before the Krasnoyarsk Territory appeared, its future territory was shared by two bodies of the Military-Administrative Department of the Workers' and Peasants' Red Army (WPRA): the Siberian military district and the Special Red Banner Far-Eastern Army (SRBFEA). The border between them ran along the Yenisei river.

Parade in Krasnoyarsk on May, 1st 1940.

The Siberian military district comprised the West-Siberian territory and the Oyrot and Khakassia autonomous districts. The headquarters of the district was located in Novosibirsk. In the summer of 1935, the newly formed Omsk Region and Krasnoyarsk Territory were included in the Siberian military district. In accordance with the USSR's new military doctrine, the Siberian military district was to become a "rear", i.e. the one that supplies its human and material resources to the so-called "front" (border) districts. The district was becoming the main advanced reserve for the Red Army troops located in the Special Red Banner Far-Eastern Army and for the Pacific fleet.

By Order No.0139 of the People's Commissar for Defense of the USSR dated July 9th, 1945, the Siberian military district was transformed into the West-Siberian military district consisting of the Novosibirsk, Tyumen, Omsk, Tomsk, and Kemerovo Regions and the Altai Territory with the headquarters in Novosibirsk.

The command of the district was formed out of the field command of Army 8 and the command of the Siberian military district. Simultaneously the East-Siberian military district was created. It encompassed the Krasnoyarsk Territory, the Irkutsk Region, the Yakutsk ASSR and the Tuva Autonomous Region, the district command being located in Irkutsk. The command of the district was formed out of the command of Army 48.


Hidden Mobilization. 1939-1941 

According to the USSR laws, mobilization must have been declared by the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR. However, on May 20th, 1939, 10 days after the beginning of a military conflict in the territory of the Mongolian People's Republic, regional military registration and enlistment offices of the Siberian military district received Directive No.1/50698 of the People's Commissar for Defense introducing a "hidden mobilization", which was called a "Major Training Period". At the same time they received an instruction to call up conscriptees, which was to be done secretly by delivering personal call-up papers notifying of the training period. For example, at the Maklakovsk timber mill in the Eniseisk district the call-up was announced as a war game, and by May 30th all draftees had appeared in the village Soviet.

Mobilized men were sent to encampments to joint the units of Rifle Division 94 stationed in the Krasnoyarsk Territory. By July 1st, the division was practically fully staffed to the war-time strength (about 18,000 men) and started training in camps. Altogether, in June 1939 around 9000 men were called up for a three-month training period in the Territory. 

At the same time, Rifle Division 94 was divided into two military units under notional numbers. Military Unit 7138, which was formed under the direction of the commander of Rifle Division 94 Colonel A.D. Berezin, was staffed as a rifle division and left the Territory at the beginning of August to join the Trans-Baikal military district. Soon afterwards, it received the number of Rifle Division 94.

After the "new" Rifle Division 94 was sent to the east, the second part started the training period in the Territory. A new call-up of conscriptees started in late June. It was planned to call up 8000 men of the ranks and the junior and medium command staff. In fact, 7932 men arrived and began training.

On August 15th, 1939, the headquarters of the Siberian military district received Directive No.4/2/48603 of the WPRA General Staff to expand four district divisions (71, 73, 78 and 94) into 10 new rifle divisions and three commands of infantry corps.

By December 1st, 1939, new formations were created in the Krasnoyarsk Territory on the basis of the remaining units and subunits of the "old" Rifle Division 94: Rifle Division 91 in Achinsk (Military Unit 5686 under the command of the brigade commander N.F. Lebedenko), Rifle Division 102 in Kansk (Military Unit 7145), Rifle Division 119 in Krasnoyarsk (Military Unit 5696 under the command of Colonel A.D. Berezin), and the command of Infantry Corps 52 with service units (Military Unit 5703 under the command of the brigade commander D.I. Andreev). Divisions were created with the peace-time strength of 6000 men. 

At the same time, on September 1st, 1939, a session of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR issued a new law on general conscription. Now all male citizens of the USSR, regardless of their race, nationality, religion, education qualification, social origin and status, were liable to military service in the Armed Forces of the USSR. The active duty period increased for certain categories of servicemen. 

The age limit for conscription was lowered to 19. The voluntarily enlistment age remained unchanged, 18 years, however students of secondary schools were registered in enlistment offices at 17. All conscription privileges were cancelled. Prisoners, exiled, deportees and disenfranchised by court were not drafted to the army and the fleet only during the service of sentence. The primary military training was introduced as a subject in all schools in Forms 5-7, and senior students of secondary schools (Forms 8, 9, 10), secondary professional (vocational schools, workers' courses, and Factory Trade Apprenticeship schools) and higher educational institutions (institutes, universities, etc.) were liable to a pre-conscription military training.

Accordingly, the Soviet government used in advance all possible mobilization resources to sharply expand the Armed Forces, which from May to September 1939 grew from 1,910,000 to 5 million men. The greater part of draftees from the Krasnoyarsk Territory of the autumn of 1939 (more than 9000 men) was sent to complete the staff of newly formed divisions of the Siberian military district and to join formations of Separate Red Banner Armies 1 and 2 and the Pacific fleet on the Far East. 

Owing to the normalization of the situation on the eastern and western boundaries of the USSR, a successful settlement of a conflict at the Khalkhin-Gol river and the accession of Western Belarus and Western Ukraine, a part of conscriptees called up for the "Major Training Period" was demobilized starting from October. A part of Krasnoyarsk people returned from the Trans-Baikal military district and the Far East. But the respite was short.

The unsuccessful beginning of the Soviet-Finnish war forced the USSR to resume a partial mobilization in the territory of the country and start sending units and formations from internal districts to the acting army. Pursuant to an order dated January 5th, 1940, the troops of the Siberian military district were to expand Rifle Divisions 119 and 91 to a war-time strength and reorganize them into motorized infantry divisions consisting of three rifle regiments (one infantry division to include an artillery regiment), battalions of the reconnaissance, communication, field engineer, tank, medical and sanitary, motor transport, anti-aircraft and anti-tank divisions, and rear-based units. The deadline was January 10. Light artillery regiments of the division remained in place. 

At the same time, Rifle Division 102 was disbanded to form the Kansk infantry school for 1600 students and the reserve command staff advanced training courses for 450 people at the Klyukvennaya station.

During January-February 1940, Ski Volunteer Battalions 116 (attached to Division 102) and 117 (attached to Rifle Corps 52), counting 785 people each, were sent from the Krasnoyarsk Territory. In addition, the Krasnoyarsk regional military registration and enlistment office was prescribed to form two draft battalions for 1000 men. However, the office did not succeed, and the task was reassigned to the Novosibirsk regional commissariat.

Motorized Infantry Division 91 took an active part in hostilities, while Division 119 was represented at the front by an artillery regiment alone. At the beginning of April 1940, Krasnoyarsk units, which had been sent to the Finnish war, came back home. The command of Rifle Division 119 (the brigade commander A.D. Berezin and the military commissar Regimental Commissar D.I. Shershin) was taken by the People's Commissar for Defense K.E. Voroshilov in the General Staff. The People's Commissar was interested in the division's life, fighting efficiency, available arms and the Siberians' combativity. Motorized Infantry Divisions 91 and 119 were newly re-formed into rifle formations, reduced to the peace-time strength and were quartered: Division 91 in Achinsk, Division 119 in Krasnoyarsk, Kansk (Separate Engineer Battalion 224), and at the Klyukvennaya station (Rifle Regiment 421).

Komandirsky study of 119th shooting division

Considering the results of the Soviet-Finnish war and the nature of hostilities in the ongoing war in Europe, the new People's Commissar for Defense of the USSR Marshal S.K. Timoshenko, who replaced K.E. Voroshilov at the post on May 7th, 1940, set a task to "teach those things today, which will be needed in the war tomorrow". A reorganization of all types of armed forces and branches of arms was launched. Serious measures were taken to enhance the unity of command (the institute of military commissars was abolished and a stricter Disciplinary Regulation of the WPRA was given effect to). Commanders and chiefs of all degrees were required to change the combat training and education system. It was necessary to train personnel so that they could overcome a long exercise stress, tactical studies must have been conducted day and night, in any weather, following the principle of always being in the state of military combat readiness. The People's Commissar's orders forced general commanders to study thoroughly the capabilities and fighting features of other branches of arms so that they could skillfully cooperate with them in all kinds of swift fights. 

In early September 1940, Siberian regional military registration and enlistment offices received a directive from the staff of the Siberian military district to begin the next call-up. It was ordered to call up draftees for military service in the WPRA, the Navy and the People's Commissariat for Internal Affairs in the period between September 20th to October 10th of the following ages:

a) all men born in 1920, all men born in 1921 from January 1 to August 31, and all graduates of secondary educational institutions born in 1921-1922;

b) older citizens born in 1911 (inclusive) and later, if they had not been called up and used
deferments expiring in 1940; and

c) citizens, which at the call-up in 1939 were included in the Category 2 reserve on the basis of their family status, if by the time of the call-up in 1940 their family status had changed, and the right to a privilege had been annulled. 

It was prescribed to send only reliable draftees for the reinforcement of military units located in the borderland of the Leningrad, Western Special, Baltic Special, Kiev Special, Odessa, Transcaucasian, and Trans-Baikal military districts and the Far East front, and to such special troops as the Navy, the Air Force, armored, local rifle, and forfeited localities and the People's Commissariat for Internal Affairs.

It was allowed to call up draftees of the Lithuanian, Latvian, Estonian, German, Polish, Bulgarian and Greek nationalities, but they could only be sent to complete the staff of military units in Moscow, Orlov, Kharkov, Privolzhsky, North Caucasian, Transcaucasian, Middling-Asiatic, Urals, Siberian, and Trans-Baikal military districts and the Far East front.


The following categories were called up, thought they were not sent to the army, but were enlisted for the service in labor battalions:

  • draftees of Turkish, Japanese, Korean, Chinese and Romanian origin;
  • draftees, whose parents and relatives were repressed for counter-revolutionary, spy and subversive work;
  • draftees, who had been deported or exiled, but had been reinstated in their civil rights by the call-up time, though were not allowed to live in restricted areas; and
  • draftees having multiple convictions.

For the troops of the Siberian military district the autumn of 1940 and the winter of 1941 years passed in intensive combat training and political studies. The requirement of the new People's Commissar for Defense Marshal of the Soviet Union S.K. Timoshenko to train the troops for what is required in the war forced commanders to intensify combat training. In early 1941, the inspection group of the General Staff visited Division 119. The inspection was thorough, scrupulous and captious. Thereafter the division started major battle exercises using live ammunition. The exercises continued for three days to exhaustion. The military skills of the division were recognized as satisfactory.

On the 22nd of June the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet with its decree has announced mobilization of people liable for military service and born from 1905 to 1918 inclusive in the territory of Leningradsky, Pribaltiysky Special, Kievsky Special, Odessky, Kharkovsky, Orlovsky, Moskovsky, Arkhangelsky, Uralsky, Sibirsky, Privolzhsky, Severo-Kavkassky and Zakavkassky military districts. The first day of the mobilization was set for the 23rd of June.

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