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Soviet Military Personnel Records (Archival)


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When Things Fell Apart in the mid-1990s, among the brown shopping bags full of local Veterans Commissariat portrait photos was this bunch of papers, which are exactly what SHOULD be still in the Soviet military archives to this day. I would like to make it clear that these papers were NOT stolen from there at my behest or to my knowledge-- I simply rescued flea market papers that were in BAGS full of stuff that came west in the Yeltsin thaw. Theft from archives is an abomination and inexcusable. These may have been the officer's private copies.

I post these as examples of what the ORIGINAL documents that research is xeroxed from actually looks like. The personnel card is actually on faded blue thick paper of the sort that small school children cut up and paste into arts and crafts projects. The scan brightened the real-world color-- but that makes legibility better.

Page 1, Personnel Card of Yevgeny Yevgenyevich Kharitonov

with standard bureaucratic lines for

1) his name

2) date of birth (21 June 1921)

3) nationality

4) knowledge of foreign languages (German-- useful, if suspicious!!!)

5) place of birth

6) class background

7) Party status

8) education

then the dangerous lines--

9) service in the tsarist military (note had ALWAYS to be "answered" and here "not applicable" rolleyes.gif )

10) service in the White forces (9 was excusable, 10 was NOT, "not applicable")

and what we can call the "automatic arrest whenever The Usual Suspects were needed to round out quotas" question (I have an ORB research with a "yes," in fact)

11) if ever POW, behind enemy lines, out of Soviet control, etc ("wasn't" Whew!!)

12) Ranks and decrees authorizing, with dates of commissions (LtCol in 10 years!)

13) frontline service

14) wounds and "contusions" (none= lucky!)

15) summary list of decorations (full details/dates on Award Record Card)

16) family members, spouse and children

17) issuance of military photo ID book

Notice the many "reviewed" stamps as Security Minions combed and recombed looking for ANY "reason" to pounce.

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On the reverse, most bear a microscopic, literally postage stamp sized photo.

This details an officer's day to day commands and assignments. Kharitonov was a electro-technical and sappers engineering officer, and this ends at the end of calendar year 1954 with him still on active duty, suggesting there were other pages out there than what tumbled out of a brown bag for me.

Photo shows him circa 1949 as a Major, wearing his awards on a gimnastyorka smock.

18) military training

19) military career as (positions held), in what units, per what decrees, and from which effective dates

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And here is a copy of his actual award citation for an Order of the Patriotic War 2nd Class, typical of the format, citation text, and showing the nomination on the obverse and approval on the back, in this case on 8 May 1944.

The newsprint type paper, browned and decaying with every passing moment, is typical. Imagine billions of pages exactly like this!

A peculiarity of Soviet records keeping is that nowhere on the CITATION form is there any mention of the serial number of the actual Order awarded-- that was entered on the Award Record Card, with details of the Orders Book serial number etc. Citations and awards were two separate systems.

I won't go through translating all of this-- these are stray papers shown only as examples of what the originals look like, not anything I have awards for. Nothing of LtCol Kharitonov's possessions were otherwise in evidence when I slid this bag out on the cement floor of a show hall to sift through.

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Among the random wartime fitness reports and so on in this partial file-cabinet-life was an Autobiography.

These were updated pathologically, apprently in the ever hope of Catching Someone Out in.... anything. Including having the Wrong parents, spouse, or siblings, if all else failed.

Kharitonov's was typed up (same cheap paper) 14 June 1947 and like "Great Expectations," begins with birth and runs thereafter.

The son of a peasant (good) who worked himself up into white-collar "class" (dubious: watch those quotas!) as a career Red Army school bandsman, and his factory worker wife, Kharitonov wades through the required formulas (personnel born decades afterwards HAD to attest that they had not served in the Tsarist forces or White Army... Just Because. It would be interesting to know if someone born in the 1930s was ever arrested for neglecting to put that disclaimer IN. :speechless1: ) Here we have in stilted Communist Officialese the pre-trial transcript format self-incrimination of his life, military career, and marriage.

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One thing is sure, i would never have been an archivist at this times. :Cat-Scratch: Also seems to have been a very paranoic system with that question asked (and for sure much more personally, before they were allowed to enter service)

I am glad, that the citations are typed, so i am maybe able to translate parts of it myself. What exactly will be part of a research, when i get the award card and the citation for the researched order. Are Citations the same like the German "Urkunden" or will it describe the act of heroism or act of duty the Order was awarded for?

If you were in the party, did that speed up your career? For sure, or not? And if you answered the questions with the Tsarist Army or the White Forces, that was the end of your career, right? :Cat-Scratch:

Edited by Rick Research
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Actually, most of the WW2 citations that I have seen are handwritten! BADLY handwritten, as if neat handwriting was a sign of Bourgeois Tendencies. ohmy.gif

Service in the Tsarist army does not seem to have been TOO bad-- "everybody did," I suppose. I have two Red Banners from a former Imperial officer who served in WW1, through the Kronshtadt Mutiny, and in Leningrad all that time (city's name changed three times while he was there) straight through to post-WW2 retirement with no problem. He joined the Party during the siege, in 1943-- when he was 50.

But ex-Whites...

I've never seen anything WW2+ to one. I suspect they all went in the Great Purge 1937-38.

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  • 4 months later...

Since I've owned about 3000 photos over the past decade, I've found that they've come from several sources.

First, most came out of the archives. Many of the original service records had more than one photo, often two, three or more. Somehow, direction came out (probably dollar motivated) to dispose of the extra photos. I'm not sure if this instruction was completely followed exactly - it appears that many service records were simply raped of all photos available. :angry: I can only imagine the number of photos that were released into "the wild" at the time!

Second, I believe that a good number of them came out of local military archives. It appears that military regions stored the personnel files for the personnel within that region and they too collected the photos of the officers to update the files. After the fall of the USSR, many of these records remained in the archives now belonging to individual countries. Some of these former republics couldn't give two cents for old Soviet records and just dumped those as well. So, the whole record (photos included) ended up out on the market.

Third, it looks like officers were also able to keep some of their record photos (perhaps they had a chance to view their records from time to time and "purge" them of old documents) and they got to keep the old photos. That's why you occasionally see photos with unresearched groups.

Finally, earlier in the 90s, when research first started, it would often come back with the original photo of the recipient. Nowadays that doesn't happen, but I saw it quite a bit years ago.

If you'd like to see scans of an entire (lengthy) personnel file to a twice-HSU general, please follow this link. http://www.forvalor.com/Ark.htm

On my website I also have some original citations as well for viewing.

Dave

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