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Why "hand-to-hand" at all times was the "superweapon" of Russian soldiers, and How it helped them out in the most desperate situations
Why "hand-to-hand" at all times was the "superweapon" of Russian soldiers, and How it helped them out in the most desperate situations

The words of the commander Suvorov: "A bullet is a fool, and a bayonet is a fine fellow", did not lose their urgency during the Patriotic War of 1942. The powerful "superweapon" of the Russians called "hand-to-hand combat" more than once helped the Red Army to defeat enemies, despite the numerical superiority of the latter. The skill of using melee weapons, plus the moral strength of the soldiers, made them deadly opponents in close combat both at the end of the 18th century and in the middle of the 20th century.

Bayonet fighting is a special kind of military art

Bayonet training in units

The soldiers were taught bayonet techniques back in imperial times, and such occupations were preserved in the armed forces of the Soviet state. Before the Finnish war, in 1938, the Union used a manual for preparing for hand-to-hand combat: using it, all Red Army soldiers learned the basics of close combat with the use of piercing weapons. In 1941, before the German attack, a new training manual was published, in which the material was supplemented by practical experience of hand-to-hand confrontations with the Finns and the Japanese (Khalkhin-Gol).

Army training was not in vain - already in the first months of the war, engaging in close combat with the enemy, Soviet fighters almost always won. So, on June 25, 1941, the Red Army in a hand-to-hand combat that took place near the village of Melniki in Belarus, were able to destroy the entire composition of two enemy artillery batteries. The enemy, who did not expect fierce resistance "manually", over time began to increase firepower in order to minimize the possibility of a bayonet collision.

After the announcement of full mobilization, the recruits were given accelerated training in the use of a sapper blade and a knife in battle; here, bayonet strikes were also practiced, which qualified for long, medium and short. But best of all the bayonet art was mastered by the marines, whom the Germans called the "Black Death" for their fearlessness in long-range and close combat.

How bayonet tactics terrified the Germans

Bayonet fight

The phrase, popular among German soldiers: “Whoever has not been in hand-to-hand combat with the Russians, has not seen war,” shows how seriously the Nazis took this type of battle. Having attacked the USSR, the Nazis, among other factors, relied on the high-tech equipment of their army. Tanks, aircraft, ground weapons and automatic small arms were an order of magnitude better than the similar military equipment available to the Soviets by 1941.

It seemed that the Red Army soldiers had no chance to successfully resist an experienced and well-armed enemy: how can you give a worthy rebuff, having a primitive rifle in your hands? However, almost immediately the invaders got acquainted with a more dangerous weapon - hand-to-hand combat, which, as it turned out, could take much more lives than shots from Mosin's three-line.

Therefore, having already in the first months of the war with the USSR repeated experience of bayonet clashes, the Nazis tried to avoid close battles. This happened often unsuccessfully, since Soviet soldiers, if possible, went hand-to-hand, despite the fierce oncoming fire.According to statistics, for the entire Great Patriotic War, more than two-thirds of the battles with the Germans ended at the initiative of the Red Army in close range battles.

Here is how one of the commanders of the active army formulated for them the tactics of attacking German positions: “Being at a distance of 40-50 meters from the enemy's fortifications, the attacking infantrymen cease fire in order to reach the enemy trench with one throw. Then, from a distance of up to 25 meters, hand grenades are thrown on the run. And then you should shoot at close range and hit the fascist with a bayonet or other melee weapon."

Why the Nazis were afraid of hand-to-hand combat with the Red Army

Hand-to-hand combat of Soviet soldiers with the Germans

The close combat tactics used by the soldiers of the Red Army terrified the invaders. They were frightened by the fierce fearlessness and frenzy with which the Russians engaged in hand-to-hand combat. To relieve tension and get rid of the fear of a fatal meeting face to face, the Germans often "pumped" themselves with alcohol. True, although this method increased self-confidence and courage, it disturbed the coordination of movement and clarity of thought, which ultimately significantly reduced the chances of winning.

After the war, the Germans, who went through hand-to-hand combat, recognized the psychological unpreparedness of the Nazi army for this type of battle. In a contact battle, only elite German units, consisting of the so-called "rangers", could resist the Soviet fighters. However, they also avoided such clashes, knowing about the moral strength and training of their opponents. From the memoirs of Sergei Leonov, who commanded the 181st special reconnaissance and sabotage detachment of the Northern Fleet during the war: “Before hand-to-hand combat, our soldiers undressed to their vests and fought with a smile on their faces. It was a powerful psychological technique, the pressure of which the Fritzes often could not bear."

Instructions on how to disarm the enemy with bare hands, or how the Red Army soldiers acted in emergency situations

"Fight without shots" has long been the strong point of our soldiers

It is clear that to go hand-to-hand, the fighters were forced to stop when there was no other choice. The fight at the closest possible distance put everyone on an equal footing and made it possible to win, despite the superiority of the enemy's reinforcement and armament. Only an instant reaction, a piercing-cutting weapon (sapper blade, bayonet, knife) in hand and self-confidence could radically change the situation.

The data that the Germans were giving up in close combat, of course, did not escape the attention of military leaders. In 1942, the instruction “Destroy the enemy in hand-to-hand combat” was issued for the army units. Its author, Major General AA Tarasov, wrote in the introductory part of the manual: “German fascism is an insidious and extremely dangerous enemy of our Fatherland, and it has excellent technical and firepower to wage war. Nevertheless, the Nazis avoid hand-to-hand fighting, as our soldiers have repeatedly proved their courage, dexterity and superiority in such fights."

Further, the senior officer gives a detailed description of techniques using the usual three-ruler and a sapper shovel, and also tells how to get close to the enemy in order to start hand-to-hand combat. From the instruction: “Throw a grenade 40-45 meters from the enemy to stop his fire. Once in position, eliminate the survivors with shots, bayonet or stock. Hit with a shovel and fight back with sharp, fast and continuous movements. Grabbing the fascist's weapon with your hand, manage to get close to him and hit him on the head with a spatula.

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