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Military Intelligence during WWII



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    Describe the subjects of the work, the author’s thesis and the evidence the author uses to support the thesis.

    The Soviet Military Counter Intelligence established by the Osobyye Otdeli (OO) also known as the VeCheks is considered as a watershed in the recent history of civil military relations in modern states and is subordinate to the state security apparatus. It was the army’s checklist as it eliminated people who were thought to be spies or traitors and secured the victory of the Red army. During the German invasion in 1941 when they attacked the Soviet Union, many lives were lost and thousands injured. This led to the reorganization of sudden reorganization of the army and OO being under GUGB make it have little influence on the situation as that arose.

    The OO was designed as an instrument of political repression as well as to combat espionage and sabotage in the operation of the red Army. The OO officer has executive agents to help them when they are carrying out their work. Even if the OOs were never thought to have helped the Red Army from collapse in 1941, they had helped them to regroup their activities so that they could have a better framework with which they could operate. As a result of this strategy, communication was improved among the OO officers since there was proper coordination of information.

    The soviet Military counter –Intelligence during the WWII consisted of two organizations; the special departments of the (OO/NKVD) and later the Directorate for Counter-intelligence of the People’s Commissariat of Defense (GUKR-NKO) otherwise known as Smersh. According to the Soviet History of the Special Departments, Smersh was established so that to unify the defense leaders and enhance security. In addition, it trained its officers so that they could tackle problems that arose with the German Intelligence Service (GIS).

    The OO was reorganized several times so as to keep up with the changing times as the days progressed and the war intensified. However, the functions of the OO were different from those of Smersh. The responsibilities of each official were listed down and the ranks were organized with regard to command. Smersh had a responsibility of protecting the army both internally and externally from any form of spying. It is also claimed that they protected Stalin; the then leader. When the war ended, the work of the OO was to see that the process of sovietalization proceeded smoothly. Up to now, the main goal of the soviet military counter-intelligence is to provide security and the counter intelligence operations in the Soviet military.

    To support his thesis, the author Robert Stephan, has used several documented works which included:

    Captured German report and documents, declassified CIC reports and defector/traitor information for example a declassified US army CIC Counter-intelligence Corps (CIC) and document which stated that due to its need to comb at desertion, OO/NKVD had achieved a high degree of notoriety among members of the Red Army.

    Did the author list the sources used? What were they?

     Yes, the author listed the sources the sources he had used. Some of them were:

    On 31 May 1919 a proclamation entitled ‘Beware of Spies’ was printed in Pravda, an FHO (Foreign Armies East) document in 1943, in 1948 US army study on Soviet intelligence during the Second World War, there is also a Journal of Contemporary History second world war several German intelligence document, GIS study in 1943, The Soviet Military Encyclopedia and an example from Alexander Werth’s book, titled ‘Russia at War’ 1941-1945.

    The sources can be found in the notes list for example, the Articles on Soviet Intelligence and Security Operations, 115-32. 33. Ostryakov, op. cit., 182-91. 34. Ostryakov, op. cit., 163-5. 35. Nosryev, op. cit., 113; US Army, German Counter-intelligence in Occupied Soviet.

    Were sources of high or low quality in your opinion?

    The overall quality of work is good because it is backed by sources that are well referenced. But there still needs to be original sources from the Soviets as there are several places in the journal where it is stated that the Soviet has never published in open sources the number of personnel assigned to Smersh or even to OO/NKVD during the WWII (p. 595).  In addition, “no organizational chart of Smersh has ever been published by the Soviets in open sources and that is why there are numerous contradictions concerning the numbering system for the various directorates under the GUKR (P. 593).” This is because different publications give different thoughts on the ways they thought the numbering system was done hence the confusion.

    The sources were of high quality considering that they managed to give most of the information regarding this topic. Moreover, the author did intensive and extensive research on the area such that he managed to get information from reports and documents in the United States, Russia and also Germany. This is a person who took his time since he read through various journals, interrogation reports and magazine articles so that he could compile the information presented in this journal.

    Does the author use footnotes or endnotes?

                The author uses endnotes because the notes have come at the end of the journal in that they are numbered. This is because there are many in text citations and it will make it difficult to comprehend if they were inserted in the text.

    Did the author base the work on research or personal experiences?

                The work was done on research as he has had to refer works done by various persons and articles written by written organizations. More over, he could not have been in all the places at the same time. Hence he had to get the help he needed.

    How valuable is it to students

                The work is valuable students because they get to understand the history of the Soviet Military Counter Intelligence and why it still plays a big role in the Russian military.  It is also valuable to the students because it provides them with a number of other sources which they can read if they want to know more about the topic and other works that the author is working on.

    How could the author have improved the work?

    The author could have improved the work by first at the beginning of the paper illustrating the various abbreviations used and what they stand for. So that it becomes easier to read the journal. There is no proper cohesion in the first pages as it is difficult to tell exactly what information is being passed. In that the ideas are jumbled up and the reader is confused as to what is being talked about. The author should use simple sentences as at first most of the terms are foreign so that the reader can understand then easily.


    Stephan R. (Oct, 1987). Journal of Contemporary History: Intelligence Services during the Second World War. Sage Publications, Part 2, Vol. 22, No. 4 and pp. 585-613 Ltd. Stable URL: retrieved on 06/03/2009

    Military Intelligence during WWII. (2016, Dec 07). Retrieved from

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