Nazi German Weapons as Trophies at the Service of the Red Army in World War II

Editor’s and Translator’s Notes:

There has been much discussion about the trophies used by each side in the current conflict in Ukraine. For this reason, it is worthwhile to return to World War II and examine the captured weapons used by the Red Army to its advantage. The following article, originally entitled “Red Army’s Trophies: What Did Our Fighters Take from the Germans?” was translated as is. Exceptions include 1) using “Soviet” or “Red Army” instead of “our,” and “World War II” instead of the “Great Patriotic War” for an English-speaking audience; 2) minor clarifications on weapons’ names; 4) a clarification about the incident with Vasily Vatanam; 4) two inset stories about Vasily Vataman and Mikhail Devyatayev, respectively, written specifically for this translation by me or translated from another source.

Nazi German Weapons as Trophies at the Service of the Red Army in World War II

By Boris Semionov

We have already written about trophies in the global history of wars and conflicts and that the trophy business is an important part of any war.

Now let us consider World War II, in which both warring parties gladly used captured enemy weapons or equipment. Today we will discuss the preferred types of trophy small-caliber firearms and other weapons manufactured by the enemy that also served the Red Army in the liberation of the Soviet Union and Europe from the Nazi invaders.

Small-Caliber Firearms

Undoubtedly, the most important aspect of World War II for the Soviet Union was the large-scale land battles along the entire front from the Baltic to the Black Sea. And, of course, they would not have been possible without the small-caliber firearms. During the war, such firearms were actively developed and improved as dozens of new models emerged. Yet the warring parties approached the question of arming and supplying their infantrymen in completely different ways. By the way, we should note that the Red Army was better armed in almost all categories.

Red Army soldiers with captured firearms.

Nevertheless, in the massive battles of the Second World War, the Red Army collected a multitude of trophy firearms.

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Stepan Bandera—the Cat Strangler

Notes on context, editing, and translation:

The original article was entitled “Stories from Oles Buzina: Bandera—the Cat Strangler” written by a prominent Ukrainian journalist Oles Buzina and published on January 29, 2010. Buzina was a Ukrainian patriot who believed Russians, Ukrainians, and Belarussians were triune. He was critical of the gradual imposition of the minority Galician (western Ukrainian) identity onto the majority of Ukraine even before the 2014 Maidan. For example, in this article, the author criticizes Ukraine’s former President Viktor Yushchenko brought to power through the so-called Orange Revolution in 2004. Some consider the 2004 event to be a proto-regime change in that country that succeeded in 2014. In 2010, Yushchenko posthumously granted Nazi collaborator Stepan Bandera the Hero of Ukraine title. Bandera lived in Polish-controlled Galicia outside the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic in the 1920s-1930s and then in Munich, Germany. The latter is an early negative-identity example along the same trajectory as the post-2014 attempts to “cancel” the Russian language and heritage and even remove monuments to the Soviet WWII military leaders.

«Any politician who tries to impose Bandera as Ukraine’s hero will not only destroy his personal career…but will also destroy the country.»

Oles Buzina, in “Unheroic ‘bandera’,” January 2011

In April 2015, Buzina was assassinated outside his Kiev home—allegedly for his vocal criticism of the Maidan. The murder was one of the first key signs of political radicalization in Ukraine. I have previously translated him here.

Oles Buzina in 2008. Source: Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported.

The article is presented in its entirety. The only deviation from the original is using the first name the first time each new individual is mentioned. Square brackets are editorial clarifications.

Stepan Bandera—the Cat Strangler

by Oles Buzina

It’s too bad that [Ukraine’s President (2005-2010)] Viktor Yushchenko doesn’t know history very well. With his decree making Stepan Bandera a national hero [of Ukraine], he spat in the soul of animal rights advocates all around the world by awarding an animal abuser.

As a writer, what impresses me the most in the story of the newly minted “hero of Ukraine,” is the completeness of the gastronomical theme. On Bandera’s order in 1934, the Interior Minister of Poland, Bronisław Pieracki, was assassinated as he entered a cafe in Warsaw to grab a bite to eat. The mastermind and organizer of this “attentat” (what they call assassination attempts in Galicia [Ukraine]), the half-educated student Bandera was only 25 years old. He was halfway through his life path which he did not suspect.

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